In 1967 at age 16 I purchased an 1851 .36 caliber cap and ball revolver. In those days if you had a black powder firearm of any kind, you pretty much became a bullet caster. In my area there were no commercial round ball or bullets readily available. As time went on, and my interest in firearms expanded, so did my casting. I thought “If I can make a round ball, why not a bullet for a rifle?”
In 1975 I bought a 7.7 Arisaka, which got me into handloading. The only available ammunition was from Norma, and it was very expensive. At this point I was already casting for my muzzle loaders, and along the way I had picked up a .43 Spanish Rolling Block, which needs cast bullets.
Eventually I began using Lyman’s Cast bullet manual and experimenting with cast bullets in centerfire rifles. Around this same time I started getting into centerfire handguns (I had been using black powder revolvers all this time, but had not spent much time with ‘modern’ handguns). One of the first was a Smith&Wesson model 28, “Highway Patrolman”. It was a long time before any jacketed rounds went through this gun, in all it’s life maybe 100 jacketed rounds have passed through that gun out of well over 1000 rounds fired. The bore is mint, and there has never been any leading.
In 2009 I began teaching reloading classes, using whatever the customer needed as a teaching medium. I have taught 100 plus people, all of whom still have their eyes and fingers.
So over time (45 years), I have learned how to do it all: Rifle, Handgun, and Muzzle Loader. I am more than willing to help people with their cast bullet and reloading problems.
Why use cast bullets?
- They are cheaper.
- Less wear on the bore. A given rifle that is good for 10,000 rounds of jacketed would be good for at least 50,000 in cast.
- Very accurate, if done correctly. One of my customers shoots 190 Grain Cast Gas Check, 30 caliber bullet out of a .308 rifle, traveling about 1750 feet per second. He brags about half inch groups at 100 yards. I have seen him do it.
- If hunting in close cover, or shots 100 yards or less, the slower speed of a cast bullet is less damaging to the meat. No hydrostatic shock. But the “deer” is just as dead. If you don’t think you can hunt with cast bullets, just go ask all those dead buffalo.
- Old black powder cartridge guns (Stevens dropping block, Springfield trapdoor, Remington rolling block) use steel that doesn’t hold up to jacketed bullets as well as cast. For them, cast should be used.
There are other reasons to use cast, but you will discover them for yourself.