Saturday, April 28, 2012

A somewhat laborious way to avoid fouling

A while back I picked up a box of Hornady bullets; specifically, .38 caliber 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoints. Back when jacketed hollowpoints were a very iffy thing(tended to either not expand at all, or break up on impact or right after), this bullet was chosen for the FBI load, and by a bunch of other departments(I think Dallas PD used it in a .38 Special +P load) because it would pretty reliably expand. I thought having some of these might be handy for home-defense loads. Well, they shoot beautifully, but no matter what load I tried I got lead fouling in the bore*. Which I hate having to mess with. Then something popped to mind I read in a forum somewhere(no idea which forum or when, I think a couple of years back) on how to take a plain-base bullet and modify it to take a gas check. So some experimentation was called for.

It works.

So, if you’re of a mind to try it, or just want to see what kind of idiocy I’m willing to go through to see if something works, here goes:
You need a collet-type bullet puller; mine is a Forster, and here it is with a .357 collet:

Use a cartridge case in the shellholder to both hold the bullet high enough to and to keep it level.

Some experimentation will be needed to find if you can adjust the puller high enough so the ram goes all the way up, or if you’ll have to manually move it to the right level. Using a .38 case I was able to run it all the way up

And once it’s there, you tighten the collet. In its proper use, you take a cartridge you need to pull the bullet from, run it up, screw the pressure screw down, which forces the collet down into a tapered area, which causes the four leaves to tighten on the bullet; then raise the lever to lower the ram, and it should neatly pull the bullet from the case. Here, when you tighten the collet it squeezes a short section of the bullet base and compresses it, forming(if you get it right) a shank that a gas check will seat on. You can barely see it in the pic,
but it's there

Note: I found that, after forming one, I had to use something to push up into the die to push the collet up, as it tended to stick a bit, before could do the next one.

Set the gas check on, run the bullet through a sizer to crimp the check on(here a Lee sizer in .358),

and here’s your bullet.

First time I tried this I formed 12, loaded them up with Titegroup and tried them out; they fired perfectly and accuracy seemed equal to the un-modified bullets. And not a trace of lead fouling in the bore.

I checked around, and did find a place where I could buy similar bullets already gas-checked, but the shipping was about half what the bullets cost. Besides, I wanted to use these up, and this’ll do the job.

And yeah, these bullets are on the list for ‘Test to be run when I have enough jugs’.


Anonymous said...

What are you using for lube?

If it's just plain lead, you might want to try using Alox or Xlox and tumble lubing them before messing with the gas check.

Firehand said...

The Hornady bullets come lubed. It's a dry stuff, some comes off on your fingers when you handle them. I even tried stripping some with mineral spirits and lubing with Liquid Alox, same problem.

Unknown said...

I'd read that you can anneal gas checks by placing them in an iron skillet. Essentially, you heat them up to allow them to expand slightly, making them more readily fit onto the base of the bullet.

Never tried it myself, been looking around for cast lead hollowpoints for .38, but can't find any current manufacturers.

Firehand said...

I've done that; put them in a small skillet, put the heat on low and let it sit until they all show even discoloring to a dark shade, then turn off the heat and let cool. Does seem to make it a bit easier to crimp them on