In part one, we cast some bullets. They were 510 grain .45-70 bullets with a groove for a gas check. Today I will show how we size and lubricate the bullets for reloading.
The bullets drop from the mold slightly larger in diameter than needed. This is to allow them to be swedged down to the final diameter. In this case, the bullets drop at around .459 caliber, but we will swedge them down to the final diameter of .458, to match the rifle I will shoot them through.
This is my Lyman 450, Sizer-Lubricator.
It has a lot of miles on it, much like its owner.
This machine will swedge the bullets to a perfectly round .458 inches, and at the same time it will attach a gas check and also put lubricant in all the grooves.
The Sizer-Lubricator had changeable dies for each desired caliber.
Here you can see the .429 die that I just took out (for the .44 Magnum), and the .458 die that I will put in and use today.
The sizes are marked on the top of the die.
You just place them into the body of the Sizer-Lubricator and screw down the nut that holds them in place with the provided wrench.
In the rear of the machine, there is a reservoir that holds the bullet lubricant.
There is a screw mechanism in the center that creates pressure to squeeze the lubricant through the holes in the die to lubricate the bullet grooves.
There are many lubricants that you can use, but I have been using the NRA Alox formula for 40 years and I still like it.
I use a brand called Javelina Bullet Lube that has a hole through the center to allow it to be easily placed in the lube reservoir.
The purpose of the lubricant is to allow the bullets to be fired down the firearm barrel without scraping any lead off and fouling the barrel.
There is also a changeable part called the Top Punch that pushes the bullet down into the die, and it is shaped to prevent damage to the nose of the bullet.
Here are the gas checks.
A gas check is to prevent the gas from the burning powder from cutting past the base of the bullet and harming accuracy.
Some folks also believe that the burning gasses can melt the base of the bullet and this copper gas check will protect the base of the bullet from the hot gasses.
The gas checks are slightly “opened” at the top, and will crimp onto the base of the bullet when forced through the die.
You might not think that they would stay on, but I have often recovered spent bullets from the 100 yard berm, and they still had the gas checks attached.
Some folks think that gas checks are a waste of time, but I have had very good luck with them and like them on bullets that will be driven to higher velocities.
They are unnecessary on moderate velocity loads.
You just place the gas check into the die…
…and then place a cast bullet on top of it.
You make sure that the bullet is straight…
Then you pull down hard on the handle, pushing the bullet into the die.
This will crimp on the gas check.
Then you hold pressure down on the handle and then turn the screw that applies pressure to the lubricant reservoir.
This will fill the grooves with lubricant.
Then raise the handle and remove the bullet.
And there it is, a sized and lubricated and gas checked bullet.
Many years ago I made some bullet boxes out of some Masonite and they serve well as places to keep the finished bullets.
The white stuff you see in the bottom of the box is some Mica that I bought from Midway.
It helps keep the lubricant from sticking to the bottom of the box.
I also sprinkle some on top of the finished bullets to make them less sticky to handle.
A little work and you have a box of bullets, lined up like little soldiers, ready for reloading.
I will be shooting these in my Shiloh Sharps Long Range Express .45-70.
The bullets are loaded over a stiff charge of AA-2495 for a velocity of around 1,500 fps.
They are extremely accurate at 100 yards, and hold up well in the wind at longer ranges.
There are few hobbies more satisfying as starting out with some old wheel weights and turning them into accurate ammunition.
If you don’t cast bullets yet, you really ought to consider doing it. It is a great hobby.