Thursday, February 23, 2017


Bullets = Commercially made mass production projectiles .

Boolits = Hand cast, home made , custom sized projectiles for hand loading ammunition .
A while back I picked up an old single shot Harrington and Richardson Model 58 Handyrifle in 44 Magnum . Upon doing some research I learn it has the less than optimal Marlin 1 in 38 micro-grove rifling that is known to be over bore beyond the normal .429/.430 thousands . From what I read due to the slow rifling they seem to perform best with projectiles under 250 grain .
When I slugged the barrel with a soft lead weight and measured it we show .431 thousands
Before I bothered to do that I had ordered a Lee 429-200 RF mold . . . that is , four hundred and twenty nine thousands diameter , two hundred grain , round nose , flat point mold .
Looks like this . So after doing some digging I knew it might drop under size pills for my rifle and some additional fiddling might be needed to make them work . Either powder coating them or honing out the mold with some valve dressing compound might be in order .
 So I fired up the hot plate and the casting pot and figured I might as well find out what it does .
Needed some extra heat to get things going in the cold garage . Yes, I was next to the window and had a fan extracting the fumes .
Poured and sprue cut off
After some initial fumbling I got in to a rhythm .
An hour of work gets me a nice pile of decent looking 44 mag pills .
Half a cashew tub full .
They measure out between .430 thousands . . . .
. . . . and .428 thousands . . .  hmmmmm
They weigh out from 206.7 grains . . .
 . . . . to 209 grains as cast with my wheel weight lead mix .
I pushed a couple down the barrel with a dowel, and though a bit undersized according to the micrometer, they appear to be engaging the rifling well . So they might work just like that without resizing . Still have to see how they do for accuracy . If they don't work I might get a sizing die and size them all to .429 thousands and try my hand at powder-coating them to gain a couple thousands of an inch .
Alternatively I could hog out the mold using one of these boolits with some valve grinding compound and a screw in the base chucked in a drill .

02/24/17 Addendum: 
Referencing crimp question by Harry
 The Lyman cast bullet handbook does call for a heavy crimp on 44 mag for the reasons I mentioned in the comments.


  1. When I reload .44 magnum, I get a very tight seal on the bullet at the case neck. I use fmj commercial bullets. I don't see the same seal ring around the necks of commercial loaded ammo. Do you get that?

    1. Not quite sure what you mean. Are you talking about the crimp groove on the bullet?

    2. OK yes you mean the hard neck crimp on the case mouth you get from your dies. I have not noticed it on commercial 44 ammo, But then I have not looked for it either. But given the power for the 44 mag I'd think it is appropriate to have a heavy roll crimp on the case mouth especially in a revolver cause those pills can jump out of the case just from the shock of the previous shot and lock up your cylinder. Not an issue with a single shot like mine. I have some PPU 310 grain 44 mag ammo here that does not show a roll crimp. But I can tell it is a very fierce taper crimp as you can clearly see the outline of the bullet through the case, and can tell exactly where the bottom of the pill is.

    3. Well, the stuff I loaded shoots from a Ruger Vaquero, but it made me uneasy that my reloads had a feature the commercial stuff didn't. I am largely self taught on reloading. I had an old man from the gun club help me get started, he gave me a set of dies for the 9mm luger, and I bought a Lee starters kit, then he walked me through a couple of sessions and that was it. Most stuff is easy, because I always case size my reloads, I don't fireform them and then just neck size them because I have more than one weapon in each chambering. I don't make cartridges out of other chamberings because I have enough boxer primed brass for everything now. But that obvious crimp on the .44 mag gave me pause. The round you described in your last sentence is what my reloads look like.

      Thanks for the info.

    4. FWIW I am also completely self taught. From what I have read on the 44 Mag you do want a good crimp as the bullets can jump out of the case just from recoil of previous rounds fired. And that would lock up a revolver cylinder. The crimp can be either a roll crimp as you describe on home loads or a taper crimp. On a 44 mag you do want a hard crimp on it as you don't want the bullet to jump the case prematurely and want the powder ignition to build up to proper levels to ensure full combustion and thus full pressures to achieve correct performance. A lot of lever guns with tubular magazines also use 44 Mag and a hard crimp is critical there to prevent pushing the bullets back in to the case when they are stacked end to end. The roll crimp is a more secure hold on the bullet. Nothing wrong with it. Taper crimp are typically seen on a semi-auto rimless case where the case seats on the mouth and that diameter is critical. I suspect that they do a taper crimp on commercial rimmed ammo like the 44 Mag as it is easier to control via pressure adjustments on a machine to adjust as needed for particular bullet characteristics, but then I don't know for sure. Another thought is that perhaps they do a taper crimp to accommodate 44 Mag semi auto handguns like the Desert Eagle and the LAR Grizzly that perhaps are set up to seat on the case mouth in the chamber.

    5. Added a photo from the 44 Mag page of the Lyman cast bullet handbook above referencing the need for a heavy crimp. In answer to your initial question, a roll crimp is easier to achieve consistently for a handloader at home using a manually operated hand press VS a taper crimp done with a big pneumatic machine in a factory.