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    • #31634
      Chris C
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      I’m in the early stages in the journey of trying to figure out “the” right bullet size, bullet style, seating depth, lube, powder, load, etc., etc., etc. for my C. Sharps 1885 Highwall, .38-55. Tim has been good enough to “tutor” me in this process. But I’ve got a burning question. I’m sure Tim would know the answer, and I respect his opinion, but I’m sure a lot of you have designed bullets for a specific firearm and I’d like a discussion on the process. Obviously, the easiest way to end up with the “right” bullet is to have it designed for me! If I send a good pound cast of my chamber throat, leade and rifling, Veral Smith of LBT Industries, he will design and make a mold that he says he “guarantees will be the most accurate bullet for my rifle”. That’s the easy way! But I learn nothing in the process. How do you go about actually designing a bullet to fit your specific firearm? The way I see it, if I take careful measurements on my pound cast and draw a blueprint of the chamber, throat and leade, I can start over-laying established bullet designs to see if they fit. If one doesn’t have one of the bullet designing programs, is that the way you’d do it?

    • #31644
      Goodsteel
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      Design in a logical progression according to your ballistics:
      1. Internal
      2. External
      3. Terminal

      INTERNAL
      Make it big enough in diameter and make it so it fits the neck and throat exactly.
      I start by designing a perfectly fitting, groovless wad cutter that when seated to the bottom of the neck, engraves the lead angle perfectly.
      Then I add a GC shank so it does not change the length of the wad cutter.
      Then I determine the length of the wad cutter and draw a line that is 40% longer. This is the point that the nose must not cross.
      Then I find a way to connect the wad cutter to the line I drew, terminating in a perfect sweeping point.
      Now all that’s left is the various sundry details that reduce bearing surface on the wad cutter section of the bullet (such as lube grooves, crimp groove, scraper grooves etc etc etc. remember less is more here, until less becomes too little. LOL!)
      Take a second look at your bullet and ask yourself if you designed a strong nose or not. If it’s weak, it could slump and you’ll have to stick to hardened alloys forever. It’s a good idea to have in mind the terminal ballistics you will be going for later as you make these decisions about the nose of your bullet, because your internal ballistics will fight with your external ballistics to see who owns your bullet. Whenever children are squabbling over a toy they both play with, it’s best to find a compromise that everybody hates, but can live with.

      EXTERNAL
      Make as sure as you can that the bullet’s center of pressure and center of gravity are properly located (this can be a crap chute, but it’s what separates the men from the boys if you’re going for a long range bullet design). You’re kind of off the map here without design software (at least I am) but read a lot, do your best to give this the best you can without making your bullet weak. It’s going to suck either way, but make them point north as best you can.

      TERMINAL
      You really need to know where you’re going with this ahead of time becasue this is often in direct competition with Internal and External ballistics. The children are fighting again. Keep your goal in mind, and find a compromise, but never forget your order of priorities! When all else fails, just leave this out of it, and shoot the deer so darn fast, the external ballistics are a forgone conclusion. Remember a guy named Eric with HP molds who can bring the sweetness.

      Fire up your hand drill or lathe, and make your bullet out of aluminum as perfectly as you can.
      Use the Hornady OAL gauge to see if you’ve got everything in the right place, and if the crimp groove lines up with the mouth of your trimmed brass etc etc etc.

      Perform routine sanity checks throughout your design. Remember to maintian 65% bearing surface MINIMUM, and keep in mind that dynamically speaking your bullet is like silly putty, so you must bolster it against slump, and give it every last bit of purchase on the barrel that you can get away with. Watch those lube grooves. Most of what you’re used to seeing is antiquated and if the old timers had the lube and propellants we have now, they wouldn’t have gone with big grooves either. You want just enough to get the job done.

    • #31657
      Chris C
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      Dang it, Tim………..I wish we could start a fire in the firepit in my backyard and sit a discuss this stuff. You’ve said a ton of stuff and I’ve a million questions. Like, what is a strong or weak nose? What do you mean by “terminal ballistics”? With the new lubes available, how much more shallow can lube grooves be made? Etc., etc., etc. !! Rather than keeping on writing questions, which I don’t really need you to answer at this point, I’d like to know if there are books that address this subject? You say study…………how do I do that?

    • #31663
      Goodsteel
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      I meant you should become familiar with internal, external, and terminal ballistics.

      Internal ballistics deals with everything static and dynamic that happens to the bullet between the case mouth and the crown.

      External ballistics deal with everything that happens to the bullet between the crown and the target.

      Termanal ballistics deals with everything that happens to the bullet as it strikes the target and decelerates to an at rest state.

      These three terms describe the three phases of a bullet’s life in flight, and the only control we have over making it so these three things happen in EXACTLY the same manner each time is through bullet design.

      The nose is made strong by preventing slump. I got a handle on this by getting some help from a friend with very advanced simulation software that showed me how a bullet stretches and bends under directional and rotational forces.
      I’m still getting a handle on it though, and I don’t have all the answers. I’ve been venturing out with certain Accurate bullet designs, and while all of them shoot well, I’ve gotten a little too close to the fence sometimes.
      One bullet had slightly less than 65% bearing surface and as a result needed to be hard in order to prevent slump. Another had lube grooves that were much too shallow for caliber, and as a result was very picky about lube used.

      Bullet design is an expensive hobby, and requires money, components, and time in order to learn. I’ve gotten very lucky with the 30 and 35 XCB designs, but I had a lot of help from more experienced shooters like Larry, who have radical ideas, that are very well tempered with prudence and a knowledge of balance.

      To be honest, I would rather just holler at someone that knows how to design cutting edge bullets and buy what they recommend, but unfortunately, I haven’t found that guy yet. Even the most acclaimed bullet designers sometimes put something out that I look at and wonder if the mold comes with some of what the guy was schmokin when he designed it. Designing for looks, or terminal performance at the expense of accuracy is a very tempting carrot that leads many a bullet designer down the garden path.
      For instance. You read that a WFN bullet is an excellent killer, so you go off the deep end and say “My bullet is going to have the widest flat nose in history! and design something that looks like a flying soda can. Then you realize that the bullet works exactly as advertised……..50 yards and closer. The trick is hitting the target so you can utilize the LOP sided performance in the first place.

      Balance. You’ve got to have balance.

    • #31671
      Goodsteel
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      Chris C;n11869 wrote: Like, what is a strong or weak nose?

      The nose of the bullet is where most folks bite the big one with bullet design. It’s hard to describe, but the fact is the bullet gets accelerated to its muzzle velocity within the space of only a few inches. If it’s still accelerating when it crosses the crown, get ready for the fireball.
      When that soft bullet is accelerated so fast, inertia takes it’s toll, as does gravity. When the bullet gets kicked by the powder, the lead tries to pile up like an accordion. The driving bands can’t go very far because they are fully supported, but the nose is going to try to bend, and it will bend towards the path of least resistance, and because gravity is always present, there is always unequal bias being exerted even in one of my XCB rifles with a perfectly concentric chamber and a tight neck.
      This bending of the nose is called slump.
      So, in order to counteract this slump, you have to design a bullet that doesn’t stick anything too far out. You’ve got to keep that nose short and stubby enough that it has trouble bending and wants to stay concentric and resist these forces. I call it a preslumped design strategy. In effect, you know where the lead is going to try to go, and that it’s going to get piled up against a wall somewhere and stop moving because it gets harder for it to do so. So you design the bullet to already be in that condition (only concentric) so it has more liklihood to stay there under duress.

      An example of a horrible bullet design (for accuracy and/or HV) is the Lyman 358318. Look that one up to see everything I try not to do. In contrast, look at the 30 or 35 XCB’s and the Lyman 311466 to see bullets that captured these principles perfectly. In fact, find me a bullet that is reported as a good HV/extreme accuracy projectile, and you’ll also be looking at a bullet that follows the guidelines of this article (either on purpose or on accident) almost perfectly.

      For instance, I recently stumbled across this fun article by Mountain Molds. Look at the bullet design. It works well, because it follows the guidelines mentioned above perfectly.
      http://www.mountainmolds.com/phpBB3/…4de51a85a195c1

      65% bearing surface: Check
      Small equally spaced lube grooves of modern design: Check
      Small, “preslumped” nose: Check
      Perfect fit in the rifle: Check
      Bias towards internal ballistics and external ballistics: Check
      He’s got himself an XCB ish bullet there. In fact, I won’t be designing an XCB bullet for 30BR because he totally nailed it. I had a very nice conversation with Mtngun when he was posting this back in spring 2015 and we kicked a few ideas back and forth. His science is solid and I think we see eye to eye on just about everything including slow twist barrels for HV. His slogan: A rational approach to cast bullets, is very well backed up.

    • #31674
      Chris C
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      Sounds plumb “compulated”! I imagine it takes a thorough knowledge of the arts of mathematics, aerodynamics, as well as a pile of things about ballistics of which I know nothing.

      “To be honest, I would rather just holler at someone that knows how to design cutting edge bullets and buy what they recommend, but unfortunately, I haven’t found that guy yet.”
      I thought that “someone” was Veral Smith. However, during a phone call I made to him a couple of years ago, he told me straight up he was through making custom bullets to match rifles. He said he’d come to the point he’d designed all the “perfect bullets” he needed to. So when a customer sends in a pound cast and tells him what the bullet’s terminal purpose is, he just picks a bullet from his extensive inventory list and makes the mold to the dimensions of that pound cast. He told me even he probably couldn’t tell the difference between a bullet he specifically designed for that specific rifle and a design he pulled out of his “list” when it came to accuracy at the target.

      When I bought my 1885 Highwall, I looked at the design of the #38-250B my peers on the Levergun Scoundrels forum had been using and called Tom at Accurate and had him make one for me. It didn’t do well. A friend told me the reason for that was I needed to have a bullet specifically picked for the 1:14 twist of my barrel. I misunderstood the information I gathered in that discussion…………I thought he was telling me I needed a heavier bullet for that twist. What he meant was I needed a longer bullet. So I “designed” my own bullet…………….or so I thought! I made some changes and now it’s Accurate #38-270C. It comes nowhere near having 65% of the length of the bullet dedicated to bearing surface. The lube grooves are probably way too deep for the superior lubes available today. The meplat is most likely too wide for target work. It’s plain based, which is what all my peers on the Scoundrels forum say is just fine……………but you say needs a gas check. If I can ever save up enough money, I may just go back to square one and send Veral a pound cast. My decision to “design” my own bullet hasn’t really worked out well and from what you’re saying, Tim, I don’t think I’ve the “smarts” to actually accomplish what you have with the XCB designs. And, as you’ve mentioned, I don’t have access to the bullet designing software. (and probably wouldn’t know how to work it if I did!)

    • #31675
      Goodsteel
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      I disagree. Your bullet is 1″ long and the uppermost drive band is .64 from the base. Once engraved, you have your 65% bearing surface almost exactly.
      However, you’ll never get a case full of smokeless powder under that bullet and maintain perfect accuracy without a gas check. You will be unable to give the rifle what it really wants, so all your time and components will be spent finding the best compromise unless you go with black powder.
      Your lube grooves are great if you plan on shooting black powder. If you’re going smokeless, you’re drowning the bullet in lube. No need for all that.
      Slim the grooves up. I say put four in there that are .010 deep and .040 wide.
      It’s a single shot rifle, so ditch the crimp groove. That’s screaming for a tubular magazine you don’t have.

      Apply these simple changes, and I think you’re going to be very very happy.

      One last thing, if you plan on shooting long range (200-600 yards) with this bullet, give it a .180 meplat and make it look as much like a RN as possible.

      That will shoot.

    • #31677
      Chris C
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      I misunderstood what you meant by 65% of the bullets length in bearing surface. Didn’t realize it meant distance from the base, thought it meant total surface. Couldn’t imagine how that was possible without casting a paper-patch style bullet. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get rid of the crimp groove without buying another mold. Would the .180″ meplat be satisfactory for 100 yds as well as the 200-600 you mention? I cringe at the thought of shooting black powder in my rifle. I’ve shot it before in other rifles and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a nasty, dirty mess to have to deal with. I’ll ponder all you recommend, though.

    • #31680
      Goodsteel
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      The crimp groove is difficult to remove without compromising the perfect balance of the bullets that drop from your mold and it’s about #5 on the list of things wrong with that design. Next time you design though, if you can’t justify a reason to do something to your bullet then don’t do it.

      Of course the .180 meplat is fine for 100 yards. It’s just that 100 is so close, you may not see the difference between the two. The further away you get, the easier it is to get bit by bad bullet design. There are many people who shoot an “impressive” 50 yard group that will not print the same loads at 100 yards and for very good reason. Same goes for 100 vs, 200 and further.
      My philosophy is, design for the long range shot and you’ll have the short range shot in the bag. Same with loading. Those who shoot far can shoot really well close. Not so much the other way around.

      Why would you cringe at shooting your rifle and cartridge and bullet with the propellant that all three were obviously designed for? Notice I said to shoot BLACK POWDER. That means real black powder. Not Pyrodex, 777, blackhorn, or any other kind of wonder crap that people call black powder. There is a huge difference. I can scope any bore and tell you if it has been shot with Pyrodex EVER IN ITS LIFE. The stuff is like corrosive priming, except it never quits. Do not shoot Pyrodex in your rifle and do not think it’s the same thing as Goex or Swiss.
      With real Holy Black, when you are done shooting, remove the forend from your rifle and put the barrel down in a plastic bucket full of steaming soapy water and mop the bore from the receiver end. This will totally neutralize the fowling and clean your rifle barrel perfectly.
      Once you’re finished with that, spray the action and barrel down inside and out with Eds Red, push through a few patches, blow it out with an air hose, and wipe the gun down with a cotton cloth, reattach your forend and you’re done.
      The whole process takes about 20 minutes tops and costs practically nothing.

    • #31683
      Chris C
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      Heck, Tim, I’m still shooting at 50 yds. Don’t think I’d even be on target at 100……………………and the very thought of 200-600 almost sounds like fantasy to me.

      I think what bothers me most is you know where I am in my “journey”…………….and then you mention I’m basically wasting my time trying to make a not-so-good bullet shoot as well as it can……………being not so good! :rolleyes: So do I just throw in the towel, quit wasting lead, powder, primers and lube and have a new mold made?

    • #31684
      Goodsteel
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      Chris C;n11900 wrote: Heck, Tim, I’m still shooting at 50 yds. Don’t think I’d even be on target at 100……………………and the very thought of 200-600 almost sounds like fantasy to me.

      I think what bothers me most is you know where I am in my “journey”…………….and then you mention I’m basically wasting my time trying to make a not-so-good bullet shoot as well as it can……………being not so good! :rolleyes: So do I just throw in the towel, quit wasting lead, powder, primers and lube and have a new mold made?

      To be honest, (and with as much brotherly love as I can possibly convey)
      I think you’re spinning your wheels right now,
      I think your last groups were about as good as you can possibly do with what you’ve got. I think the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
      I think you either need a very well designed cast bullet with a gas check, or you need to do what your current setup is screaming for which is a case full of black powder.
      I worry that if you keep doing what you are doing now, there will be no energy or fire in the belly left for the challenge of making a properly designed bullet shoot well (and considering your goals as stated, you’re going to need it).

      Don’t think the time and money you have burned on this project was a waste either. You dove right into the deep end of cast bullet shooting and learned to swim. That will be an invaluable foundation if you will build on it rather than throwing it away. Your method is solid as a rock, and you got a real good taste of what it’s like to use scientific method to ratchet your way into the best possible scenario.
      Unlike when you started, you went from spraying your bell curve all over the bench to being decidedly above average in your proficiency even with a “who knows” alloy. You’ve positioned yourself for superb results, but in order to claim them, you have to give the rifle what it needs, and that is a case full of powder with the right push.

    • #31689
      Chris C
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      Thanks for your honesty, Tim. I’ll step back and regroup and go back in the woods and do some pondering………………….I seem to be doing a lot of that recently. I’ve got components for mixing up a batch of Ben’s Red. I could mess with that. And I’ve got a sample pack of lube coming from White Lube. Guess I could get some “Holy Black” and mess with this existing bullet over the “real thing”. Or, since I live deep in the woods, I could go rake leaves………..which is what the little wife has been on my back for the past two weeks about.:rolleyes:

    • #31694
      Goodsteel
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      Keep an open mind. I started with black powder and I intend to end with it too. It’s addicting.

    • #31724
      Harter
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      I will poke in here with a bit that was touched but might not be clear if a reader didn’t read ever word . Chris you hit it with a hammer but not squarely .

      Bearing surface .
      The bearing length and area can be very different . Length is typically from first to last full contact with the groove . The area depends lube and crimp groove width and how many .
      A bullet can have a lot of bearing length with very little area like a Maxi ball for example , meanwhile a a full double ended WC with 1 .1″ lube groove is almost all bearing length minus Ï€d x .1 .

      Carry on .

    • #31727
      Reg
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      Not to hi jack the thread but I would like to see more discussion / information on this subject of bearing length,
      A couple of years back I had a good example of what it might be at least in the situation that I was in.
      It involved a Low Wall Winchester in 218 Bee. The barrel had been relined and I can’t tell you much about where it came from or who put it in.
      While working up loads I found it really liked the Hornaday V Max # 22252, groups were better than I had hoped for but alas, I only had the one box and at the time it didn’t look like any more were forthcoming at least for some time. This was all during our last materials shortage.
      I was making up some home made .22 cal bullets using fired .22 RF cases at the time and since the Hornaday was a 35 grain I thought why not make up some of my home brews in the same weight. They shot OK but nothing like the Hornaday.
      Scratching my head I wondered what the difference could be and finally came down it might have been the bearing length. Adjusting this to produce the same bearing length ( nose profile was different ) gave a 40 grain bullet as compared to a 35 grain.
      I did have to adjust the load ( reduce ) a bit but from the first firing the 40 grainers shot every bit as well as the 35’s.
      Now there were two other factors involved, powder charge and nose profile, but at 100 yds the final groups produced were identical. My thoughts are that the bearing length was the accuracy factor here.
      What say you ?????

    • #31729
      Goodsteel
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      Reg;n11955 wrote: Not to hi jack the thread but I would like to see more discussion / information on this subject of bearing length,
      A couple of years back I had a good example of what it might be at least in the situation that I was in.
      It involved a Low Wall Winchester in 218 Bee. The barrel had been relined and I can’t tell you much about where it came from or who put it in.
      While working up loads I found it really liked the Hornaday V Max # 22252, groups were better than I had hoped for but alas, I only had the one box and at the time it didn’t look like any more were forthcoming at least for some time. This was all during our last materials shortage.
      I was making up some home made .22 cal bullets using fired .22 RF cases at the time and since the Hornaday was a 35 grain I thought why not make up some of my home brews in the same weight. They shot OK but nothing like the Hornaday.
      Scratching my head I wondered what the difference could be and finally came down it might have been the bearing length. Adjusting this to produce the same bearing length ( nose profile was different ) gave a 40 grain bullet as compared to a 35 grain.
      I did have to adjust the load ( reduce ) a bit but from the first firing the 40 grainers shot every bit as well as the 35’s.
      Now there were two other factors involved, powder charge and nose profile, but at 100 yds the final groups produced were identical. My thoughts are that the bearing length was the accuracy factor here.
      What say you ?????

      I agree completely.
      The nose and powder determines how fast you get there and how quickly your bullet slows down in flight.
      The squareness of the base is what determines the precision possible, and if that base is crossing the crown at varying angles, your precision will be for shit. The base squareness is completely dependent on how straight your bullet enters the barrel, and to a certain point, that is completely dependent on whether you have enough bearing surface for the bullet to right itself while it’s being engraved and start running parrelell to the bore in the first place.

      It does not surprise me that your swaged bullets were heavier than the Hornady. Made from 22lr brass, your jacket is super thin and you’ve got more lead in there than Hornady does, even given bullets of identical profile.

    • #31737
      Reg
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      The Hornaday’s have a slightly longer pointed section with one of those plastic insert tips where as the design I wanted in the home brew’s is more rounder slightly like the old Winchester OPE. Hope to have time this winter and carry the design one step further and make it a hollow point. Used to use lots of the Winchesters years ago as they really didn’t cost much more than what else was on the market and the effects they had on prairie dogs had to be seen to be believed. This in both the Hornet and Bee.

    • #31738
      Chris C
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      Goodsteel;n11916 wrote: Keep an open mind. I started with black powder and I intend to end with it too. It’s addicting.

      I’ve been talking with all my on-line acquaintances who shoot black powder. While many breech seat, some use fixed cartridges. But what has been interesting to hear is that many of those who breech seat actually use smokeless powders.

      As far as delving into a new bullet design, I’ve decided to “go with what has worked in the past” rather than try to design a new bullet. Veral Smith says send in the chamber cast and he’ll make a bullet he guarantees will be the most accurate that firearm will shoot…………if the firearm is not the original problem. His molds are only about $30 more than most other good mold maker’s prices. I’ve never found anyone who can really say anything negative about his molds or his claim. I do have one friend who says while the bullets drop out of Veral’s molds easier than any of his other molds, “the jury is still out” on whether or not it’s his most accurate bullet. I told him he may just not have found the right alloy, powder, powder weight or bullet size. You’ve already bludgeoned my feeble brain with all the variables. I even downloaded, printed and have read the Houston Warehouse article three times.

    • #31831
      Phil
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      Years ago I bought a Winchester (Miroku) 38-55 for my wife to shoot in competition at our local club. I tried a few molds and of all things the Lee 2 cavity 250 grain gave very good results using 9 grains of Unique. I did not like using the Lee mold so Tom (Accurate) and I came up with 38-250C which is similar to the Lee but without the crimp groove. I love casting with the 3 hole brass mold. That bullet prefers a charge of 8.7 grains of Unique. My wife has won several matches with peep/aperture sights at 100 yards. While developing loads I fitted a scope. The Accurate bullet with 8.7 grains of Unique gives a single fat hole at 100 yards. It would be interesting to shoot 200-300 yards but I have no easy access to that range.

    • #31834
      popper
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      Make it big enough in diameter and make it so it fits the neck and throat exactly.
      I start by designing a perfectly fitting, groovless wad cutter that when seated to the bottom of the neck, engraves the lead angle perfectly.
      Then I add a GC shank so it does not change the length of the wad cutter.

      I did follow those rules but used an existing designed nose. I also experimented with the base – this is to be a PB boolit. basically removed all but 0.020″ of the GC shank. Gives several advantages, primarily a good flat base with crisp edge – defined by the shank bevel – an area I can cast (or cull) very well. I’m pushing accurate 2100 fps in BO, 1800 in 308MX. Also is self aligning for seating boolits.

    • #31836
      Chris C
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      Phil;n12084 wrote: Years ago I bought a Winchester (Miroku) 38-55 for my wife to shoot in competition at our local club. I tried a few molds and of all things the Lee 2 cavity 250 grain gave very good results using 9 grains of Unique. I did not like using the Lee mold so Tom (Accurate) and I came up with 38-250C which is similar to the Lee but without the crimp groove. I love casting with the 3 hole brass mold. That bullet prefers a charge of 8.7 grains of Unique. My wife has won several matches with peep/aperture sights at 100 yards. While developing loads I fitted a scope. The Accurate bullet with 8.7 grains of Unique gives a single fat hole at 100 yards. It would be interesting to shoot 200-300 yards but I have no easy access to that range.

      I have Tom’s #38-250B, which I mistakenly bought the size of my 1885 Highwall…………..but meant for it to be for my Marlin 1893. :rolleyes: Dumb!:o

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