LYMAN CAST BULLET HANDBOOK

The Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook is a great source of cast bullet information.

The Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook is a great source of cast bullet information.

There are many reasons some shooters choose to “cast” their own bullets from lead and certain cast-off (pardon the pun) materials. Economy is one, satisfaction another – or the desire to have almost total control over the bullets used in our firearms. When casting your own bullets you can control the weight, shape, and “hardness” of the finished projectile by choosing the proper molds and materials. Harder bullets generally can be pushed to faster velocities and give better penetration on game, and the raw lead can be made “harder” by the addition of tin and/or antimony to make an alloy in the melting process, often by adding discarded automobile wheel balancing weights or old linotype from a printing process. If you only want to “make” bullets for target shooting, a straight, un-alloyed lead would be preferred.

In a former life, I was once a lab technician in a metal foundry, so much of the casting process is familiar – even most of the metals. I have not yet begun casting my own bullets, but would expect no big surprises, and I am familiar with the safety steps and equipment required.

Where would a person interested in casting bullets get the most information about this subject? The Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook is over 300 pages of information on bullets and bullet casting. Containing information on cast bullet use in both handguns and rifles, it is very heavy on the actual casting process, with 15 chapters by noted gun and reloading expert Mike Venturino, covering techniques, equipment, and safety issues. It does contain some load information, but don’t buy it for load data alone. The final chapter on the metallurgy of cast bullets, however, is especially informative. Heck it even has 7 blank pages in chart form you can use as a reloading “log”, burn rate charts of popular powders, charts for the proper shell holder for selected reloading equipment, alloy formulas, and Lyman bullet molds and equipment. There is also a valuable chart of the hardness of the various common bullet alloys – as tested on a Brinell testing machine – and suggestions for what hardness range to use for which purposes.

If all this is not enough, it contains recommendations for other reference books, and links to various websites.

This is truly a “bible” of sorts for those who cast and/or use their own bullets!

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Missouri Bullet Company Coated Hard Cast Bullets

The .475 "Thumper" bullet from Missouri Bullet Company for .475 Linebough/.480 Ruger is listed as being "For Vicious Critters"!

The .475 “Thumper” bullet from Missouri Bullet Company for .475 Linebough/.480 Ruger is listed as being “For Vicious Critters”!

Recently I became aware that my “stash” of bullets for loading .480 Ruger rounds was running low. I was completely out of 375 gr bullets, and in short supply for 410 gr. I had been using bullets from Cast Performance, and was happy with them. A post on the Ruger Forum about some humorous FAQ’s on the website of the Missouri Bullet Company led me to their site – and a new source of projectiles. MBC bills their .475 Thumper bullet as being “For Vicious Critters”, and this should not be considered as false or misleading advertising! This is a Round Nosed, Flat Point (RNFP), Flat Bottom bullet of .476″ actual diameter, with a Brinell Hardness number of 18.

The .475 Thumper is a RNFP, Flat Base bullet. These are coated with MBC's Hi-Tek coating.

The .475 Thumper is a RNFP, Flat Base bullet. These are coated with MBC’s Hi-Tek coating.

MBC offers bullets with or without their “Hi-Tek” coating, which is a powder coating that increases lubricity, which will increase velocities, reduces barrel leading and smoking from normal bullet lube, and almost completely eliminates lead exposure to a hand loader. The bullets are available in a “red copper” color, or “zombi green”. The bullets I am testing are in the copper flavor. For those who want to do their own coating, they will provide you with the materials and instructions to do so at a reasonable price.

This photo compares the 340 gr Thumper to a 410 gr hard cast from Cast Performance Bullets.

This photo compares the 340 gr Thumper to a 410 gr hard cast from Cast Performance Bullets.

Compared to the 410 gr hard cast bullets I am using from Cast Performance, the “Thumpers” are a bit shorter – .816″ vs .93″ – but when crimped in the last groove on the bullets the loaded over-all length (OAL) is the same as I load to with the heavier bullets – 1.65″. This length works best in my revolver, and with the slightly shorter bullet should be an extra insurance policy against over pressuring due to the bullet intruding into the powder space. The 410 gr bullets also have a broader nose, or metplate(?), which I really prefer for crushing impact – but any flat nose is superior in that respect to a sharp pointed or rounded nosed bullet. At this date, the Thumper is only available in the 340 gr weight, and not in heavier bullet weights. Still, a 340 is a bit heavier than the heaviest .44 bullets I use – 335 gr – and considerably heavier than the 300 – 310 gr bullets I shoot the most of from .44 and .45 revolvers – and with a much increased frontal profile.

MBC does not provide load data, for liability reasons, but their website allows customers to list their favorite loads, and they also have links to hand loading forums for more information. Since the lightest bullets I had previously loaded for my .480 Ruger was 375 gr, I started with five rounds using a fairly light charge of 8.0 grains of Titegroup powder – which has worked well in a variety of loads for .45 ACP. .45 Colt. .44 Special, and .44 magnum for me (the powder, not the charge weight), as well as the heavier bullet loads in .480 – and then “made up” 5 more with 8.5 grains of powder. The 8.0 grain load chronographed at an average velocity of 955 fps, while 8.5 grains produced 1010fps. Either of these loads should be death on hogs – pardon the pun – and the recoil is similar to a .44 mag or .45 Colt with a 300 gr bullet weight and similar velocity, or at least it is in my .480 Super Redhawk, which admittedly has a Magna-Ported 7.5″ barrel and wears Hogue “Tamer” grips to reduce recoil. I am anxious to actually test these on a hog(s), and hope to do so soon.

Pricing on a package of 300 Thumpers is $46.00 for “plain” or $53.00 for the coated version. MBC also sells “Sample” packages of most of their bullets, which gives you 100 coated Thumpers for $13.00, uncoated for $7.00. When I first contacted them, the .475 Thumpers were not actually on the sample list, but they added them soon after my inquiry.

www.MissouriBullet.com

And DO read their FAQ’s! Some are quite humorous!

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HOG HEAD, CHEESY?

Hog head cheesy? Using this sow's skull as my canvass, I have painted "High On The Hog"!

Hog head cheesy? Using this sow’s skull as my canvass, I have painted “High On The Hog”!

OK, it is common knowledge that a head mount of a large feral boar is an impressive trophy. Even a “European Skull Mount” can be very eye-catching. Sows, however, have small tusks for the size of their heads, and are not in great demand as wall hangers. After staring at one I saved from the bone pile for a long time and giving it a lot of thought, I finally settled on rattle-can spray painting the lower jaw, but could not decide what to do with the rest of the head. Finally, since I am working on an oil painting with a nice buck deer as its centerpiece and will not finish that one for some time, I decided to “paint” this sow – literally!

Yes, in my corner of the art world, the pig is my canvass!

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Ghost Ring Rear Sight for Ruger Revolvers

Not being a fan of open sights, I am always looking for better alternatives. This is why I have handguns with scopes, red dot optics, and laser sights. The one revolver I have that still wears its factory open sights is my Ruger Blackhawk Flattop .44 Special, and for some reason I can shoot it pretty well.

The ghost ring sight works very well on Ruger revolvers.

The ghost ring sight works very well on Ruger revolvers.

An interesting variation I gave a brief trial a few years back was a “Ghost Ring” rear sight called the “One Ragged Hole” sight. This was a replacement blade for a standard Ruger rear sight unit which is basically a rounded blade with a large hole in it to sight through – much larger than a “peep” sight, more like the Ghost rings sometimes used on shotguns. To aim, the shooter sights through the hole in the blade, centering the front sight roughly in the middle. More precise aiming can be done by “moving” the front sight blade up, down, or sideways in the hole.

The ghost right rear sight blade replace the standard Ruger rear blade.

The ghost right rear sight blade replace the standard Ruger rear blade.

It is actually more accurate than it probably sounds, and both faster and easier than shooting with a “normal” open sight.

I “lost” my original ghost ring sight after I left it on my .44 mag Super Blackhawk when I sent it back to the factory for repair work. Bad move. ANY after-market parts left on a gun sent back to Ruger will be taken off and replaced before they are returned, including grips and sights! When I tried to get another set last year, I found the company out of business and the website had turned into a porn site!

Luckily, another company is now offering pretty much the same sight (www.billllsidlemind.blogspot.com). It is made of quality steel, and for $10 you actually get two blades – one suggested for longer ranges, a different size hole for shorter range.

Installation should be simple, but has not been for me. The drill is to remove the original blade by loosening the windage adjustment screw, then use a tooth pick to push the screw which allows the blade to move when adjusted far enough to the left to allow the “foot” of the new blade to be seated so the spring and adjustment screw keep tension on it. I never could get the hang of this, nor could the maker “walk me” through it. I finally thought I had it figured out, but when I shot the gun – my Blackhawk .45 Colt – for a test, the blade flew off to parts unknown, and I put that gun back in the safe until I decided I had regrouped!

After nearly a year, I decided to give it another try. This time I was tempted to remove the spring altogether and glue the blade in place, as I don’t expect to need to adjust it – instead adjusting the sight picture when I shoot. Of course, as soon as I decided this, my try to get the blade in properly appeared to work! Just to be sure I didn’t lose my last remaining blade, though, I DID put a few drops of super glue in the track the blade is supposed to travel in!

The ghost ring sight principle is simple and a sound one.

The ghost ring sight principle is simple and a sound one.

Hopefully I will get to “range test” this sight tomorrow, if I can get some .45 Colt ammo loaded tonight. I will update this post with the results ASAP.

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Tools For Sighting In Handguns

No firearm is of any value unless it can hit what it is aimed at, at least if the shooter does his part. For this to happen, it must be “sighted in”. In the good old days, this often meant actually looking down the barrel from the chamber end and making sure the sight picture and what the barrel was pointing at were the same. Not precision “aiming”, to be sure, but this method would usually get the first shot close enough to where a shooter wanted his gun to hit than when just taking a chance on a first shot hitting on or near a target. This method worked OK on bolt action rifles if the bolt was removed for that look down the barrel, but was not applicable to most other types of actions – especially revolvers and semi-auto handguns.

Some sort of bore sighter greatly speeds up the sighting-in process, by allowing the sights to be initially set to a point even more accurate than looking down the barrel would give. The Collimater type uses a “stem” or arbor sized for the caliber of firearm being sighted in. The stem fits inside the muzzle end of the barrel, and the collimator fits on the stem. Inside the lens and screen of the collimator is a target grid usually set to simulate what a target would look like at 100 yards. Looking at the grid through your scope, the scope windage and elevation settings are moved to put the “center” of the crosshairs where you would like the bullet to hit on the target – dead center or a bit high or low, usually, depending on the trajectory of the cartridge being used. Normally, this technique will at least get a gun “on paper” – especially if starting at 25 yards before moving to a longer distance, so that it can be fine tuned by actually shooting a target at the range. A collimator is also useful for checking your scopes, as it requires no actual down-range target, and if the reticle position on the grid when the scope is actually sighted in is noted, it can be easily and quickly checked to make sure it has not changed due to being jarred somehow.

An update on the standard collimator is the type that uses no arbor, but instead mounts the device on a strong magnet that “sticks” to the muzzle end of the barrel. These types have the advantage of working with almost any gun and caliber, without needing an arbor to fit each one.

The only “drawbacks” to the collimator are it only works with scope sights, and it can be affected by the height of the scope above the bore – which is where the magnet type is handy.

The collimator on top is a newer magnetic version, while the lower one is of the standard type that fits on an arbor that goes inside the barrel.

The collimator on top is a newer magnetic version, while the lower one is of the standard type that fits on an arbor that goes inside the barrel.

A “more modern” approach to bore sighting uses a “laser pointer” on an arbor that is placed in the barrel and then “shined” at a target to show where the bullet should hit. The scope is then adjusted to “point” at that spot. If the arbor fits correctly, these bore sighters are quick and fairly accurate.

A laser bore sighter also can be used with red dot sights, or even open sights – as well as for adjusting a laser sight on a defensive gun.

The most modern wrinkle in bore sighters is a laser device coupled with a magnet, to fit on the end of the barrel and not require an arbor. This system is perhaps the most versatile of all. I use mine on several different scoped revolvers and one with a red dot sight. I also use it to set the laser sights on my two defensive handguns that wear these, and they can be used to “check” open sights, as well.

The device on the bottom has a stem with bushings for various barrel calibers, with a laser "pointer" to aim at. The top bore sighter is a magnetic laser type.

The device on the bottom has a stem with bushings for various barrel calibers, with a laser “pointer” to aim at. The top bore sighter is a magnetic laser type.

A laser bore sighter is the easiest, surest way to adjust a weapon-mounted laser sight.

A laser bore sighter is the easiest, surest way to adjust a weapon-mounted laser sight.

Laser bore sighters are the only type that can be used to at least check, if not adjust, open sights.

Laser bore sighters are the only type that can be used to at least check, if not adjust, open sights.

All of these devices require final adjustments to the sights or optics be made before they can be considered truly “sighted in”, but they will save a lot of ammo and time in that process, and allow check checks to make sure you will still have a chance to hit what you aim at when you need to.

(Editor’s Note: I have not mentioned the type of last bore sighter that is a cartridge type that fits in the chamber of the firearm, as I have not used these, and so cannot recommend them. Also, it SHOULD go without saying that care must be taken with ANY bore sighter to remove it before actually firing the weapon!)

As a side note, it is still an effective practice to get a first shot on target – by any means – and then adjust the scope to center on the hole that shot made!

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This One’s A “Keeper”!

Not a record class Copperhead, probably, but worth noting. Was on my canines hot tub room back porch, where I could have easily stepped on him at night when standing out there to dry off in a cool breeze – as I often do.

Not a record - class copperhead, but a big one.

Not a record – class copperhead, but a big one.

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FLOODING AND THE SAN BERNARD RIVER MOUTH

Mike – FYI

Jan Edwards

Floods Come – Mouth Still Closed

The attached picture of the mouth of the San Bernard was taken by Bert Smith 4-25-16. Though the San Bernard is, and has been at flood stage, the mouth of the river remains clogged with sand. Its closure is holding water in the flooded channel and adding a dangerous current at the intersection of the San Bernard and the Intracoastal Canal.

For your information, I have also enclosed a picture of the Brazos following the Memorial Day flood in 2015 showing the sand it pours into the Gulf which causes the closure of the San Bernard. The Brazos is flooding again. As you may know, We have been testing the water Quality for Texas Stream Team since before the mouth was open the first time in 2009. I’ve attached a comparison chart showing the salinity in the Bernard for the last couple of years. Last year, the flood waters kept the river fresh for 8 months of the year. It started out this year fresh and just started to get a little salt back in it when this flood came. The result of the fresh water last year was that all the oysters in the general area are dead. We won’t get regrowth this year with so much silt and fresh water.

For more information and historical data, visit www.sanbernardtx.com.

Regards –
Roy and Jan Edwards
979-964-4332
713-628-8991
jredwards@brazoriainet.com
www.sanbernardtx.com

Editor’s note: Check www.sanbernardtx.com to see the pictures referenced.

Posted in Conservation/The Environment | 1 Comment

UPDATING THE RUGER .22 SEMI-AUTO PISTOL – THREADED BARREL

Once upon a time, in a previous life, I had the best of several Ruger .22 LR semi-auto pistols that have come through my hands over the years. This one was a fancy target model – blued bull barrel with target sights and nice checkered walnut grips with a “finger ledge”. Sadly, I let this one get from me on a youthful whim. When I was lucky enough to find my original “Standard” model Ruger .22, I decided to give it better treatment this time around than it and other guns have been subjected to in the past. After cleaning it up, getting a new magazine, and some nice holsters, I mounted first a red dot, then a 3X scope on the little gun. Nice, but I still sort of yearned for that thicker barrel.

Since my ultimate plan was to have a suppressor on my .22 pistol, and the original tapered barrel was not suitable for threading, I had been looking around for solutions. A new threaded bull barrel/upper receiver is one option, but the cost is as much as a decent used pistol already wearing a threaded barrel!

Then I “found” a stainless, threaded Ruger MK II target bull barrel, with adjustable open sights, and the front sight “undercut” to fit over a suppressor – in the classified section of the Ruger Forum! Not absolutely sure this barrel would fit on my 1973 vintage standard frame, I took a chance on it anyway, and the results have been very satisfying!

Picked up this gently used SS barrel, threaded for suppressor use, for my Ruger Standard .22 pistol.

Picked up this gently used SS barrel, threaded for suppressor use, for my Ruger Standard .22 pistol.

The Ruger Standard .22 LR semi-auto pistol was Bill Ruger’s original firearm offering – the gun that started the “empire”, so to speak. Over the years MANY upgrades and even completely new models have been offered, but the basic design concept is still very close to the first pistol made. One of the really nice features of the little Ruger is the ease of take-down for cleaning – or replacing barrels. The mainspring slips into the grip frame and is held by a lever that holds it firmly in place, yet is easy to remove – getting the mainspring segment and “bolt stop” pin out in one piece. The barrel/receiver then can be pushed forwarded and removed. Since I was replacing the barrel, but hoped to use the same bolt – the interior of the receiver that loads and holds the cartridge in the chamber – as was in my original barrel, the bolt is also easily removed by just pulling it out of the end of the receiver.

Reassembly is a bit more tricky. There is a recess on the underside of the barrel that mates with a protrusion on the frame to hold the front of the barrel in place. Supposedly a “click” can be heard when this is accomplished, but this did not happen with mine, yet I knew it was engaged because the barrel was held firmly in place at the front. The mainspring theoretically simply slides back in and locks the back portion of the receiver in place, but there are ways to do this, and ways NOT to do this. After watching several You-Tube videos, I turned to my Kindle copy of “The Ruger .22 Automatic Pistol”, by Duncan Long and a parts diagram and instructions in the owners manual found on the Ruger website. It seems that the safety needs to be on in one step, off and the trigger pulled in another, and the “hammer strut” has to fit in a groove on the inside of the mainspring unit. The bolt stop pin protrudes slightly through the top of the receiver, and has to snap through the hole to push and hold the firing spring pin in place. Once you figure out how to do this, it is pretty easy, but it seems to be difficult to explain the process in print or even on video.

The stainless bull barrel fits exactly in the place vacated by the older, standard blued barrel.

The stainless bull barrel fits exactly in the place vacated by the older, standard blued barrel.

If the hammer strut is not positioned correctly, you will notice that the slide will not open (a dead-giveaway!). Also, with my gun, it is obviously not properly tight, and will rattle around when moved. When it IS in place, however, everything will work as it should with the old bolt in the near barrel.

This view shows where the mainspring housing pin goes through the receiver and holds the pistol basically together. Also shows the adjustable target sights standard on such barrels.

This view shows where the mainspring housing pin goes through the line and holds the pistol basically together. Also shows the adjustable target sights standard on such barrels.

My new barrel came with a threaded thread protector for when a suppressor is not attached.

My new barrel came with a threaded thread protector for when a suppressor is not attached.Note also the notched from sight, to fit over the “can”.

This is a "used" stainless target barrel for a Ruger MK II, threaded to use with a suppressor - and the latest addition to my 1973 Ruger Standard pistol!

This is a “used” stainless target barrel for a Ruger MK II, threaded to use with a suppressor – and the latest addition to my 1973 Ruger Standard pistol!

My B-Square mount holds the 3X scope on the new barrel just as well as on the "stock" barrel.

My B-Square mount holds the 3X scope on the new barrel just as well as on the “stock” barrel.

This nice leather holster from Classic Old West did not fit my Ruger very well with the thin original barrel, as it was actually designed for a MK with a bull barrel. I kept it, just in case - and now it works great! It was only available in a left hand version when I bought mine, but I use it to carry the .22 butt forward on my right hip, with one of my big bore revolvers - or a 1911 - on the left side in a shoulder holster when woods walking.

This nice leather holster from Classic Old West did not fit my Ruger very well with the thin original barrel, as it was actually designed for a MK with a bull barrel. I kept it, just in case – and now if works great! It was only available in a left hand version when I bought mine, but I use it to carry the .22 butt forward on my right hip, with one of my big bore revolver – or a 1911 – on the let side in a shoulder holster when woods walking.

My Kydex "Tactical" holster for a scoped Ruger .22 also likes the bull barrel better!

My Kydex “Tactical”holster for a scoped Ruger .22 also likes the bull barrel better!

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | 1 Comment

RITES OF SPRING

Whether almost shoat sized, as these pigs, or even younger, feral pigs will prove wild hogs are not always tough when eaten!

Whether almost shoat sized, as these pigs, or even younger, feral pigs will prove wild hogs are not always tough when eaten!

Anyone worried that feral hogs might be “tough” when cooked and eaten should think about targeting smaller hogs when strictly meat-hunting. Although hogs breed and bear young all year, spring seems to always bring forth a new “crop” of pigs. While the small carcasses can be cooked in a variety of ways, one of the most appealing to myself and my wife is to cook them whole in our electric smoker. A wood or charcoal fired unit does a good job, but the electric versions are a very easy way to get your pork ready for the table.

Young feral pigs just barely or not yet weaned make a very tender meal - or two!

Young feral pigs just barely or not yet weaned make a very tender meal – or two!

This pig just past weaning age was taken out of a group with a 20 gauge shotgun and #3 buckshot. I had hoped to get more than one pig with the shot, but this one fell and the others escaped into the brush to be taken another day.

On the small pigs, I like to split them to make for easier seasoning and cooking.

On the small pigs, I like to split them to make for easier seasoning and cooking.

After a suitable period bleeding out in a cooler with ice water, as with any other wild meat I cook, we like to “butterfly” the pigs, splitting them for easier seasoning – with commercial pork rub – and faster cooking, although I still cook slow (215 degrees or so).

One of the best ways to cook any wild pork is very slowly, with aromatic wood chips, in an electric smoker.


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One of the best ways to cook any wild pork is very slowly, with aromatic wood chips, in an electric smoker.

Several varieties of wood chips make for tasty smoked pork, including apple and mesquite.

After several hours in an electric smoker, the "butterflied" feral pig is tender and tasty!

After several hours in an electric smoker, the “butterflied” feral pig is tender and tasty!

Younger pigs are much better eating than trophy boars, and it still does the local environment good to take as many out of the woods as possible. To me, eating them makes much more sense than leaving them lay for the coyotes to feast on.

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More “Fancy” Grips!

This set were actually made for the Ruger 22/45 .22 semi auto pistol. Unfortunately, I am temporarily without one of those nice guns, but because the grip screw holes and most overall dimensions are the same as a 1911, I gave them a try on my Para 1911 .45ACP.

These grips are actually for a Ruger 22/45 pistol, but will fit on a 1911 - and look pretty darn good!

These grips are actually for a Ruger 22/45 pistol, but will fit on a 1911 – and look pretty darn good!

While I probably won’t replace the Elk antler grips Zane (Lone Star Custom Grips) made for me with these, They do look good as a contrast when the gun is in a different mood – or I am!

This close up shows the attractive grain of this wood

This close up shows the attractive grain of this wood

Of course, the real reason for these grips being in my possession now is I am actively looking for a Ruger .22 with a suppressed barrel, and a 22/45 is high on the list of possibles.

Contact Zane Thompson of Lone Start Custom Grips in Johnson City, Texas, at Lonestarcustomgrips.com

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | 7 Comments