Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Well, I'm now a ladle believer

In casting big bullets.

I've mentioned before that I have a Lee bottom-pour melter for casting.  Generally it works great, but when casting the big(.45 caliber), heavy(500 grains and more) bullets I was getting a lot of rejects: the lube grooves wouldn't fill out completely, or the base wouldn't be right*.  Did some research and a lot of people mentioned they'd not had good results on those bullets with a melter like this, that a ladle worked better.  I'd read that before, but this was at the point of "I'm sick of throwing them back in the pot", so last time I cast I found my old ladle and tried it.  Short trial, but seemed to work.

So I invested in a small Lee melter designed for ladle use, and today was able to give it a try with the Lyman 535-grain mold.  And holy crap, the difference!  Once the mold was up to heat, very few bullets with defects.  The ladle is slower, and the pot's only four-pound capacity, but that works out: between the ladle use and adding metal to the pot, the mold didn't get so hot it needed to cool more**, and with the low reject rate it's better this way. 

I also tried it with another mold, a Lee that throws a 405-grain hollowbase bullet.  Reject rate a lot lower with this one as well.

So ladle it is for these from now on.

* In case you're not familiar with this, a defect on the base- not filled out, a crease, whatever- is worse than a defect elsewhere; that's the last place airflow can affect the bullet, and can really affect accuracy.

**A mold gets too hot, the bullets come out with a frosted appearance, and in some molds can actually have a somewhat rough(very slightly, but there) surface.

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