44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

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    Cornmastah
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    44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Cornmastah on Fri Mar 13, 2015 1:10 pm

    Let's see if I can turn a bunch of rambling thoughts into something understandable.

    I've been thinking lately about the 44 mag cartridge, lead alloys, and hollow point bullets.  Jacketed soft point/hollow point ammo has a copper jacket over the bearing surfaces of the bullet and contains a soft lead core/tip/point.  The copper jacket allows the bullet to be pushed to higher velocities (without leaving behind lead in the bore)--which also aids in the expansion of the soft point/hollow point bullet.  This allows the hollow point bullet design to be functional as intended.  

    A couple days ago I was offered a great deal on another bullet mold from the NOE bullet mold guys while I was picking up a previous order.  I ended up getting a NOE 240-250 gr hollow point gas check 44 mag mold for a significant discount.  It was such a good deal that I could not turn it down.  This got me thinking about what kind of alloy to use with this mold: harder? softer?  

    If I were to use a harder alloy and were to make hard cast bullets using this mold, I believe the hollow point would be just for aesthetics, right?  A hard cast hollow point bullet would probably not expand much due to the hardness of the alloy, so I would end up with a cool looking hollow point bullet that would have great penetration with minimal expansion.  I would assume that it would perform similarly to hard cast ball ammo.  I would probably need to test with milk jugs or something similar to know for sure.

    So, in order to get proper expansion with a hollow point cast bullet, I would have to use a soft alloy and send it down range fast enough.  To get the bullet velocities up high enough for expansion with softer lead (without leading of the barrel), I would probably need to use either:
    1. a gas checked bullet with the proper lube
    2. or a powder coated bullet
    3. or maybe a combination of gas checked powder coated bullets.

    If I were to go the powder coating route, I wonder if the powder coating would act like a jacket and hold the bullet together enough that it would eliminate proper expansion.  If that is the case, if I took a file and lightly filed off the powder coating off of the top of the hollow point--do you think that would be enough to allow it to break the "jacket" and expand?  I guess I might have to save up milk jugs, fill them with water, and do some testing. Lots of assumptions here.

    Anyways, what are your thoughts?
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Tennessee Jed on Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:01 pm

    As always Corn, you come up with something that gets me really interested.

    If I was taking on this project, I'd focus on soft lead and gas checks. Unless I'm missing something, the primary reason for the powder coating is to prevent leading, and wouldn't the gas checks take care of that issue?

    The fiendish geniuses at Buffalo Bore seem to have similar ideas (big bore cast hollowpoints). They've got a "medium cast" 180 grain lead gas checked hollowpoint for 44 magnum at 1550 fps, and a "soft cast" (6 BHN) 225 grain lead gas checked hollowpoint for 45 Colt at 1060 fps. They say to expect 18 inches of penetration.

    Oh yeah, I love those fiendish geniuses.

    If I was doing this, I'd start pretty low on the BHN scale with gas checks, crank the velocity up to around 1100 fps (probably with Unique powder), and see how they work. I think the stopping point for velocity would be when you start getting some bad leading.

    I'm very anxious to hear how this works out for you. Now that I think about it, I'm befuddled why ammo makers aren't making something similar. This could me a 44 caliber equivalent of the beloved "FBI load" for 38 Special, but much better. Because bigger is always better.
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    Cornmastah
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Cornmastah on Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:22 pm

    Tennessee Jed wrote:Unless I'm missing something, the primary reason for the powder coating is to prevent leading, and wouldn't the gas checks take care of that issue?

    If I was doing this, I'd start pretty low on the BHN scale with gas checks, crank the velocity up to around 1100 fps (probably with Unique powder), and see how they work.  I think the stopping point for velocity would be when you start getting some bad leading... 

    The powder coating does a few things: replaces lube and the lubing process, replaces the need for gas checks in certain instances, acts somewhat like a jacket allowing softer alloys to be pushed at higher velocities without leading, and looks cool.  I agree with starting low on the BHN scale and using Unique.  I think Unique will provide the most flexibility load wise.  In the casting lyman book, they list a starting load for a similar bullet weight/shape at 9.5 gr unique and a ?max at 10.5 gr unique for a #2 alloy.  Pressures for the listed max load of unique are going to be well under the max for the cartridge.  I'm thinking that with a gas checked, powder coated bullet, I might start with a starting load of 10 gr.  Bookwise, that should put me around 1000 fps.   I will probably want to shoot about 50 of them at that load and check for leading (probably check after 10 shots then after 30, then after 50).  If there is no leading present in the bore, I will probably test more loads in increments of .3 gr.  At the same time, I will be chronographing and checking for satisfactory groups.  What I am guessing is that I will see groups open up much earlier than I will see leading in the bore--but that is just a guess.  I will also need to test bullets with water jugs to see expansion and to catch the bullets.  After I am done testing the gas checked bullets, I want to run the powder coated non-gas checked bullets through the same test.  One thing--gas checks on gas checked bullets seem to be more accurate than gas check bullet designs without the gas checks.  I'm hoping that just powder coating without gas checks will be accurate enough, fly fast enough, and expand enough.  This would reduce my costs quite a bit (gas checks cost about $30-$40 per 1k while powder coating costs hardly anything).  Anyways, I'm going to try to take the first batch out this Saturday if I can get everything made and loaded.  Here is one of the gas checked bullets with a mix of pink, purple, and blue powder coating (the kids got me different colors of PC for my birthday).

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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Devereaux on Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:57 pm

    ?Doesn't the powder coating make the bullet more like a copper jacketed one than a lead one. ?What does your book say about jacketed rounds.
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Tennessee Jed on Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:14 pm

    Cornmastah wrote:

    There's something so...wrong...about a purple, gaping hole, 44 mag hollowpoint.

    I keep hearing "Flying Purple People Eater" in the back of my head.

    I think you're really on to something here Corn.
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    Cornmastah
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Cornmastah on Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:38 pm

    Dev, kind of some where in between.  The powder coating is like a soft jacket.  It isn't super hard or rigid like a copper one.  It does stick to the lead really well though--if you take a powder coated bullet and pound it flat with a hammer, the powder coating (jacket) may stretch and split but not flake off.  Some people are saying they can push powder coated bullets to copper jacket velocities without leading, but accuracy is not there when they use soft alloys.
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Devereaux on Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:19 pm

    Interesting. Sounds a bit like you might want to make a somewhat harder lead bullet and then push the velocity and see what you get.

    ?Are you planning on hunting with these or are they just practice stuff.
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    Cornmastah
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Cornmastah on Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:37 am

    No hunting purpose, I just want to have different kinds of ammo on hand for different purposes. Maybe if I really want to explode milk jugs without using the the more expensive jacketed hp's--or some other purpose in the future. Or maybe if I ever get into hunting?
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Cornmastah on Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:55 am

    I took a group of people shooting yesterday (saturday), and was only able to do some minor testing. I didn't get to test expansion in water jugs, due to all of them being obliterated by the 500 mag. I did, however, chrono the 10 gr unique loads and they were going around 1200 fps, which seems significantly faster than what I expected. I got no leading using a soft alloy with a gas check (those purple bullets shown above). I did not have time to test grouping sizes, but I was able to consistently flip the swinger on my hostage target @ about 20 yards. Accuracy is probably good enough, but I can test that a little later on paper targets. I also want to test the speed through the 44 lever to see how different that is--and if I get any leading with the same loads. I might want to drop the load down a little for use in the lever action rifle.
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Cornmastah on Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:29 pm

    Quick update:  

    I was able to do a little of the penetration/expansion testing this last Saturday.  I will include some pics to show my results.  I loaded up some of them pretty purple hollow points under 9.5 gr Unique.  I shot them through my long barrel Super Redhawk.  They shot very accurately and packed a decent punch.  Recoil was not bad at all.  To test expansion and penetration, I lined up 4 water jugs up in a row.
     


     I shot them from about 5 yards back and kept the barrel parallel with the stand the jugs were sitting on to make sure I could catch the bullet in a jug.



    The first two jugs absolutely exploded, (soaking me and my wife who was taking pictures).



    The bullet penetrated the third one barely (doing hardly any damage).



    The bullet stopped in the 4th jug.



    I pulled out the bullet and fragments.  The hollow point tip separated from the rest of the bullet.  The bullet expanded a little, mushrooming out a bit on the top.



    My wife liked the load and was hitting steel plates consistently out to about 40-50 yards.
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Devereaux on Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:18 pm

    So I guess the question of a cast hollow point that works has been solved - it doesn't.

    You should talk to Jim Fleming some time. He is a big-time bullet swager. He claims to make THE most accurate .223 bullets around. The gear to swage isn't all that expensive, and the brass for the jacket is spent .22's. MIGHT be something interesting to look into, seeing as you seem to have gotten the hang of casting right quick.
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Tennessee Jed on Fri Apr 03, 2015 11:52 am

    Well, maybe not. I think the fragmentation by itself is pretty cool.

    But I would guess that if the next batch were not purple-fied, but still gas checked, there might still be good expansion.
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Devereaux on Sun Apr 05, 2015 3:00 pm

    Tennessee Jed wrote:Well, maybe not.  I think the fragmentation by itself is pretty cool.  

    But I would guess that if the next batch were not purple-fied, but still gas checked, there might still be good expansion.

    I think fragmentation IS important - and undesireable. Check any study of bullet effect and you find fragmentation negatively affects the performance. One reason for bonded bullets in SD ammo.
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    Cornmastah
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Cornmastah on Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:38 am

    I don't think that I am not done with the cast lead HP bullets quite yet. I think I need to tinker with the alloys and loads still. I wish I had a high speed camera so I could see how and when the HP fragmentation started. All the pieces were found in the last jug together--so I wonder if they broke off at the very end, or if they broke off earlier and continued to penetrate in the same hole. Also, a few things to note, I am not going to be using these for self defense for obvious reasons. I will also most likely not be using these HP to hunt since I am not a hunter... yet... As far as a huge splash, explosion, and destruction of milk jugs, it does that very well. More tinkering and experimentation required.
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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

    Post by Devereaux on Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:18 am

    Tinkering can be fun. But given your caveats, you really don't need to. It does what you want, and you aren't using it for anything else where the fragmentation can be a problem.

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    Re: 44 Mag, Soft Lead, Hard Lead, Soft Points & Hollow Points

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