Cast bullets for longer range

If you are going to shoot long range with cast bullets, the traditional answer has been a “big bore buffalo rifle” type setup. After all a 45-70 launching a 500 grain bullet at even modest velocity is going to reach out an slap someone like a flying anvil. But there are other options as well.

If you have a spitzer bullet mold for .308 bore or .323 (8mm) bore like the NOE 311365 or 325365 then you can cast bullets with an estimated BC in the 0.42 range. If you launch those bullets at 2,300 fps from a rifle then you are looking at the bullet staying supersonic past 700 meters. If you find your accuracy is only at 2,100 fps then the bullet is supersonic past 600 meters. Even an extremely sedate 2,000 fps is supersonic past 500 meters.

Now this is not threatening the 175gr Sierra Match King (or various other HPBT match bullets) when it comes to long range performance, but it does offer a useful range for target work.

If you don’t happen to get one of the higher BC bullet molds, a cheap Lee C312-155-2R will have a BC in the 0.268 range. This means at 2,300 fps from the muzzle (easily within the velocity range of even a 30-30) that the bullet will be supersonic past 400 meters AND hit harder on impact than a jacketed flat nose 150gr bullet from a 30-30.

The tricky part is finding accuracy at those velocity levels. Some folks paper patch, some lower the tin content and raise the antimony content of their mix, some add a small amount of copper to the mix. Some use lube and sizing, some use powder coating.

And what is “accuracy” in terms of cast bullets? Honestly anything under 2 minute of angle. A WWII sniper rifle would generally group between 1 and 2 MOA at 100 yards or meters. The British didn’t even bother to arm their snipers with a telescopic sight with adjustments finer than 2 MOA. But those old sniper rifles, in the hands of men who are old, and most often gone now, were deadly battlefield instruments.

Now the modern hunter is generally disgusted if his brand new economy rifle with flimsy injected molded stock doesn’t shoot sub minute of angle right out of the box with no break in. Of course the average modern hunter isn’t capable of maintaining MOA or better groups without a rest, so I wouldn’t expect sniper level performance from a shooter even if they have a sniper quality rifle.

I got interested in cast bullets after getting into handloading. I like to shoot, so handloading lowered my cost significantly. But of the consumables used in handloading (bullet, primer, powder) the bullet is the most expensive part. And the supply chain is erratic with highly variable demand based on how scary the politicians are at diminishing your rights. Hence the desire to become my own partial bullet manufacturer.

Now casting bullets is not truly “free” because you have to spend time on finding lead, or purchasing lead, gas checks, and an energy source to melt it (generally electricity although some folks are using propane or natural gas for lead prep). You’ll also spend a lot of time in load development figuring out what works for you with your rifle.

And, if you have the economic resources to buy jacketed bullets by the ten thousand lot, casting your own one at a time seems like a big waste of time. But if you don’t have the ability to buy 10,000 factory bullets, casting a couple hundred every weekend for a year will get you there.

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