Sunday, May 01, 2016

Ordered an Accurate Molds 43-215C

Today I ordered a custom bullet mold from Accurate Molds, the 43-215C. It will be a dual cavity aluminum mold that I specced to drop bullets at .430" +/- 0.002", when using 1:20 tin:lead alloy.

(Pictures borrowed from

This bullet was designed specifically to carry enough lubricant so that when fired in a 24" barrel and propelled by Goex black powder, the rifle doesn't "foul out." I.e., it won't develop an accuracy destroying ring of fouling for a few inches back from the muzzle.

Bullets of the original design, such as those cast in my original Winchester mold, or the similar Lyman 427098 carry enough lube for use with Swiss black powder, but not the dirtier burning Goex. Since I have plenty of Goex, I wanted a mold to cast bullets useful with it.

Accurate Molds bores their bullet molds on a CNC lathe and from what I've read over on Castboolits, they are very nice. Mold handles aren't included so I'll need to order a set. I'm expecting about a three week turnaround for the mold.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Loaded Some .44-40 Cartridges to Chronograph

While drinking some Tennessee sour mash last night with my brother, I learned that he has a Shooting Crony Beta Master chronograph. Well, that's one less thing I need to buy.

This morning I loaded up the last 7 bullets that I cast in my original Winchester mold. Powder charge was 2.2cc (about 35 grains) of Swiss 3Fg. I also resized some of the .430 200 grainers that I bought from down to .429, and loaded 25 of them them on top of 23.5 grains of Alliant Reloder 7.

I'm not sure if you can see it but the Reloder 7 fills the case up nearly to the bottom of the neck. My choice of this powder stems from this thread on, along with some other discussions found online. Note that in the CAS City thread, the author used 240 grain bullets, while I loaded 200 grain bullets.

Because of Reloder 7's relatively slow burn rate, it offers the potential of duplicating or bettering the original ballistics while keeping pressures within the limits of the 1873's toggle link action. If accuracy is acceptable this should make a good hunting load.

On the other hand, Reloder 7's slow burning rate means that it's probably not a good choice if you're loading cartridges to be shot in revolvers.

I'm hoping to chronograph both loads, along with some of my handloads with 8.6 grains of Unique next weekend.

While I was in reloading mode, I decided to get myself a digital scale, a Frankford Arsenal DS-750. It will be verified with my Lyman calibration weights and checked against my Redding No.2, which is a great piece of equipment. The digital scale will be easier to read and take up less room on my bench, however.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

More Handload Testing in the Cimarron Uberti 1873

Today I shot my .44 WCF Cimarron Uberti 1873 Sporting Rifle with two variants of smokeless loads and then with black powder cartridges.

The two batches of smokeless loads were shot first. Both were loaded with 8.5 grains of Alliant Unique and 200 grain cast bullets. The first batch were from an old box of Lyman .429 hard cast with a moly lube, while the second batch were .428 soft cast from Desperado Cowboy Bullets. Both loads shot to the same point of aim and grouped about the same. Either would hold the black of an SR-1 target at 50 yards offhand. Recoil was very mild, similar to the low power commercial cowboy action shooting loads.

After cleaning the bore of the smokeless lube residue, I put 50 rounds of black powder cartridges through the rifle. They were loaded with 35 grains of Swiss 3Fg with a 200 grain soft lead bullet cast in an original Winchester mold. The bullets were lubed with a mix of beeswax and mutton tallow with a little canning paraffin.

The bullets in the black powder rounds dropped from the mold undersized, at about .425 - .426. I was hoping that the soft lead would bump up but based on my group at 50 yards, they didn't bump up enough. The group was about 8" offhand, not particularly good. I'm looking to develop a hunting load that will do 4" or less at 100 yards from a bench.

However, I was very pleased with the minimal amount of fouling in the bore and on the cases. Even after 50 black powder rounds there was no crud buildup in the bore, and no sudden deterioration in accuracy (such as it was). When I cleaned the rifle afterwards with MPro-7, all it took was two wet patches (running both sides through the bore). When I ran the first side of the third wet patch through it came out clean. With this bullet style, lube, and Swiss powder, I could probably shoot 100 rounds without it fouling out.

Before I cleaned the rifle I took a picture of the muzzle, showing the nice "lube star," indicating that the bullets carried enough lube for the length of the barrel.

(I'd placed a cleaning patch in the open breech to reflect light up the bore. I couldn't capture the state of the bore but it was a lot cleaner than I'd expected.)

The rifle's action stayed clean. The thin .44 WCF brass expands under the pressure of the full load to seal the chamber and prevent fouling from getting back into the action.

One problem I ran into today was that about 1/3 of the BP rounds didn't feed smoothly into the chamber. They seemed to hang up on the case mouth, indicating that the crimp wasn't uniform or deep enough. All the BP loads were assembled using the Winchester Model 1882 tool, while the smokeless rounds were loaded on my Lee Classic Turret press. All the smokeless rounds fed smoothly. The next time I use the Winchester tool I'll need to pay more attention to the crimping operation.

Even though the accuracy of the BP loads wasn't acceptable they were a good proof of concept, in that I've found a style of bullet that with the right lube will allow me to shoot at least 50 rounds without the bore fouling out. Also, the smokeless loads will make for good plinking rounds when I'm feeling lazy about cleaning the rifle the same day I shoot it. My club is having a lever action match next month and I'll probably use the remaining smokeless rounds in it.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Loaded Up Some More Smokeless .44-40s

Well, not really "smokeless," since I used Alliant Unique, and anyone who's ever loaded cast bullets on top of it knows that's it's relatively dirty for a smokeless powder. Between the powder and bullet lube there's a fair amount of smoke. Anyway, tonight I loaded up the 45 remaining 200 grain .428" projectiles on top of ~8.5 grains of Unique.

Last night I'd setup my Lee Perfect Powder Measure by mounting it to a piece of scrap 1x4. I was going to load up some rounds after that, but my brother came over and we wound up in my living room with some sour mash. And of course, alcohol and reloading is a bad combination, so I didn't load any rounds until tonight.

After setting the measure I weighed every 10th charge or so. I need to work on my technique but I figure the loads are consistent enough for plinking. Using the Lee powder measure is a lot faster than an undersized dipper or RCBS Little Dandy rotor and then bringing the charge up to weight with a powder trickler.

Once I finished loading those rounds I primed another 50 cases using the Winchester Model 1882 tool. I've come to really like the Winchester tool for priming because it gives a great feel for how the primer is being seated. The only downside to it for this is that it's slow, compared with using a Lee hand primer.

I also received a few things today: 10 pounds of 20:1 alloy and 2 pounds of tin wire cut into chunks, from Rotometals, and a Lee .429 sizing kit. Before I cast up my next batch of .44 WCF bullets I'm going to add some tin to my soft lead, to get it to fill out the mold better and shrink less after casting. After I go through the soft lead I'll try the 20:1 alloy.

Tomorrow I'm expecting another package from, with 500 of the same 200 grain bullets I'd ordered before, but this time sized to .430. If they'll chamber in my Cimarron 1873 rifle, great, otherwise, I'll size them down to .429. These will be reserved for smokeless loads.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Apple Discontinuing Support for QuickTime for Windows

Windows users should be aware of is the fact that Apple is discontinuing development of QuickTime for Windows, so it's time to uninstall it. There are known vulnerabilities that will not be patched. 

QuickTime .MOV files can be played in iTunes or VLC.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pulled My Goex .44 WCF Loads

A few weeks ago when I shot my Cimarron 1873 Sporting Rifle with black powder loads I discovered that the bullets I'd used from didn't carry enough lube to keep the fouling soft in my rifle's 24" barrel. I was able to get about 15 to 20 shots between cleanings with the ammo loaded with Swiss powder, but the cartridges loaded with Goex fouled out in about 10.

Tonight I pulled the bullets from the 40 remaining rounds loaded with Goex. I pulled the first one or two with a RCBS collet bullet puller but then switched to a Frankford Arsenal impact puller, which uses the momentum of the bullet when you hit the unit against a hard surface. The impact puller was easier to use with the .44-40 rounds because there isn't much straight area on the bullet for a collet to grab onto.

After pulling the bullets and returning the powder back to the Goex can, I belled the case mouths in preparation for loading them. I have 45 bullets of the original batch left, and I'll probably load them on top of ~8.5 grains of Unique.

This coming Saturday I'm planning to shoot the rifle again with a previous batch of Unique loads and the 50 rounds I finished loading last night, using bullets cast from the original Winchester mold and 35 grains of Swiss 3Fg.

Range report to follow.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

First .44 WCF Rounds Loaded With The Winchester Tool

Today I loaded my first .44 WCF rounds with the Winchester Model 1882 tool. Since I'll be shooting the bullets I cast yesterday unsized, I pan lubed them with my homebrew mix of beeswax, mutton tallow, and a little canning paraffin. An electric hotplate was used to melt the lube.

In the picture above, the lube in the top pan has mostly cooled while the lower pan still has some liquid lube in the center. Once the lube solidified I used needle nose pliers to pick out the bullets.

In the picture below, you can see the loading tool with a cartridge in the seating chamber, a complete cartridge, a round with the bullet waiting to be seated, and a lubed bullet.

When used with the components it was designed for -- .44 WCF case, black powder, and a bullet cast from the Winchester mold -- this tool is very easy to use. Because the seating chamber is not adjustable, it has to be used with bullets cast from the matching mold in order for the cartridge to have the correct overall length. Also, because the bullet doesn't have a crimp groove, it needs to be supported by a full case of powder or powder plus a filler, to prevent it from telescoping into the case under the pressure of the magazine spring.

I only had time to load 15 rounds today but plan to finish up a box of 50 later this week. I'm hoping to get a chance to try them next weekend.