SMALL CHARGES IN
CARTRIDGE CASES : CAST
This is a feature study on cast bullets in standard cases with fast and medium fast powders. From silent loads to reduced loads, from the 22 Hornet to the 45-70...we will be taking the cartridge cases in classes...the Hornet is in a class of it’s own....222 class has four cases, the .221/222/223 and the 222 Magnum. There is the 30-30 case of rimmed and small rimless cases, including such rounds as the 32 Special, 7-Waters, 303 British, 38-55, 375 WWBB, and more..then the 308 size cases and the 55mm thru 57mm class...on thru to the 06 size ...and lastly, the larger caliber leveraction class cases like the 444, and the 45-70 sizes.....
There is a good deal of confusion with copper units of pressure...CUP, and PSI which is pressure per square inch. Usually CUP is a higher pressure figure than PSI...for example 39,000 cup runs around 42,000 psi. THEY ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE...when a top load for your rifle is say 47,000 psi (strong 30-40 Krag) 47,000 CUP will be well over that top pressure...take care when you read pressure figures. Also velocity figures vary a lot from gun to gun...well that is minor to the variances you get in pressure gun to gun. For example we use a custom rebuilt (for strength/it’s down right ugly) T/C with interchangeable barrels that are set up for the Oehler Research chrono/pressure testing equipment. The 30-30 loads that test above 43,000 psi in new Winchester and Marlin rifles seem like very moderate to heavy loads, for those guns. But in two 30-30s, one built in the 1930s and the other in 1898, those loads show definite pressure problems. I am saying this to confirm friend John Taffin’s famous line....
"...every gun is a law unto it self..." Which means dear reader you have to know your gun when you go to reload for it...especially if you are going to try to squeeze more out of it than commercial loads. I load to full potential with many loads for my guns...I stay away from hot loads in them...unless there is a very good but limited reason for them. But what may be full potential in one gun could be badly over pressure in another of the same make and caliber.
Which means that the admonishment to start low and work up...is not a way for writers to get away from damage suits. It is an absolute must for the reloader with a new gun...new load, new powder, etc....
The 22 Hornet is a unique case...it has been necked down to 14 and 17 caliber and up to 25, 26, and 27 caliber. Personally the 25 Hornet holds some appeal to me in small frame handguns for small game...but it is the 22 caliber Hornet that is hard to beat. All the rest even the 25 caliber I find no interest in for rifles. The rechambered revolvers for the 22 Hornet are also excellent...Magnum Research makes a Ruger look a like S/S single action in 22 Hornet. The one I tested was very impressive.
The loads given here will also work in the 25 Hornet if the handgun is strong and safe. The velocities quoted are for rifle length barrels and are an average of cartridges in any one class and of the same caliber...for example the 30-30 and the 300 Savage will get very near the same velocities with the same loads.....
The Hornet case is so small that with a 24 inch barrel a silent load is fairly simple...a ½ to 3/4ths grain of Bullseye or Clays will do it. I welded 3/4 inch steel plate around the back of my Outers pellet trap...it will now stop a 44 magnum handgun round. I placed a inch piece of plywood in front of the trap...and the 55 grain Lyman flatnose over 1.2 grains of Clays from my Ruger 20 inch barreled bolt action rifle, surprisingly punched right thru it. Glad I had the trap behind the wood. Even from the 20 inch barrel the sound was fairly low, around a kid’s cap gun level of sound, inside my reloading facility. And a vital shot on any varmint would ruin his whole day..without the neighbors calling 911...about shots fired.
Triple two class......
The 221 Fireball was designed for the Remington XP 100...a 10 inch barreled bolt action handgun made from a Remington 600 rifle action. I found that 5 grains of Unique under a 55 grain cast bullet would still break 1500 fps from that short barrel. And six grains would go over 1700 fps. In comparison it took 7.5 grains in the 14 inch T/C 223 barrel to break 1700 fps. In a 24 inch barrel .223 rifle 7.5 Unique gives close to 2000 fps with the same bullet.
Only seven grains of Unique in the 222 Remington case broke 2000 fps with the same 55 gr. bullet...and it took and 8 grs in the 222Rem/Mag case for the same velocity. So except for the Fireball case...the 222 class is very close. SR4759 is just a fantastic powder for reduced to medium loads with cast bullets...12.5. grains of it under the 55 grain bullet from the 24 inch 223 gave 2150fps...and that will zap coyotes well past 100 yards...if you use the right temper.....
In the 222 magnum case a 55 grain cast bullet over 7 grains of Green Dot will hit 1700 fps, 6 grains of Red Dot will go 1800 fps....3 grains of Bullseye will break 1000 fps. So it is easy to go from the level of a 22 rim fire velocity to that of a 22 MagnumRF with a much heavier bullet. The muzzle energy of the 22 rimfire magnum is around 360 pounds, the muzzle energy of the 12.5 grains of SR4759/55 grain cast bullet is near 600 pounds.
A Paco secret...
Here’s a trick I write about often...to get soft nose and hard body cast bullets, cast them hard and hot, frosty bullets are better no matter what the experts say... drop them from the mold into water to temper....then place your bullets standing in water to their shoulder just above the top crimp groove, so the nose is exposed....take a butane torch and run it over the noses sticking out of the water...this detempers just the noses, so you in effect have a soft nose-hard body, cast bullet. It takes a little practice...but as soon as you see the bullet noses change color at all, pull the flame...or the nose will slump over...it doesn’t take much flame time, especially on small caliber bullets. Cast bullets made this way will resist fouling but will expand in any size animal....from rabbits on up.
22-250 & 250-3000..in a class of their own....
The 22-250...using an RCBS 55 grain flat nose bullet...22-055-FN...I get outstanding accuracy with the 22-250...I have always used WW760 with varmint class SX jacketed bullets in my Sako rifle...it has produced the best accuracy and given remarkable velocities...so even though this is a article on fast powders I thought I would try 760 under cast bullets. A BNH 23 level hardness was used...gas checked..noses softened and loaded over 26/760 for 2370 fps...with 1 and ½ inch groups. Raising the powder level to 29grains raised the velocity to just under 2600 fps...and the groups shrunk to 1.1 inches. 29.3 grains tightened the groups to 3/4ths of an inch...that was the best group I could get...these are 100 yard groups...not 25 yards. With 14 grains of 2400 I got 1550 fps...14 grains of SR4759 gave near 1900 fps. Five grains of Red Dot went 1300 fps and kept them in nice little clusters with bullet holes touching at 50 yards.
In the 250-3000 I used a 100 grain cast bullet and 6.5 grains of Red Dot gave a little over 1000 fps, and it’s a great training load for kids...or just a fun load for a walk in the woods. 9 grains of Unique will go near 1400 fps, 14 grains of SR4759 goes 1700 fps...where 16 grains of the same powder will break 2000 fps and 19.5 went to 2400 fps with very good 100 yard groups.
The bullet I really like in the 250-3000 is in the 120 grain class...it gives a B.C. of .340 even with a flat nose. With 18 grains of 4759 you get over 2000 fps and near 1100 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy...better than a 44 magnum handgun loaded warm. For a light load 5 grains of Red Dot will go 1200 fps...6 grains of Unique will give about the same. For a full load and over 2800 fps WW760 gives the outstanding velocity and accuracy in this caliber on the same case as the 22-250. I use 30 grains in my 24 inch bolt gun.
308 & 55-57mm class
The 308 case and the 55 and 57 mm cases are very close...the Mauser cases usually need 1 grain more of powder to reach what the 308 size case gets in velocity with one grain less...that’s a general rule we have found.
Tests have shown the internal capacity of the 55mm case and the 57 mm case are relatively the same...The 6.5X55 case is the exception to the standard case base size, the base of the 6.5X55mm case for example is .480, the case base in the 57mm case is .470 like the 30-06 class of cases. Since most standard cases come from the father of cases the 8X57 born in the late 1880s. And the 30-03/30-06 case is the father of most standard cases in this country...with the 57mm case base size.
The 55mm case is larger in body and more straight sided and sharper shouldered so it makes up internally for the 57mm extra external length. The two Mauser cases are about 10% larger than the .308 class cases...so 10% of a 10 grain load is 1 grain. About what we found in our tests to equal velocity between the two cases with the same bullet weight and caliber. The 308 class cases are 51mm in length.
The 220 Swift, even though there are a number of great wildcat 22s based on the 308 case..I’m not sure why folks bother, when we have the 220 swift. Pushing a 55 grain bullet in the Swift...17 grains of 4759 will give close to 2400 fps...and that’s about tops for that powder in my Ruger 220 Swift (1976 Bicentennial model, heavy barrel bolt action). 14 grains will easily give 2000 fps and 11 grains goes 1500+fps. 4759 is a very accurate powder in my rifle...and in two of my shooting friends rifles....thou they can’t use quite as much 4759 as my rifle can. 12 grains of 2400 will go thru 2000 fps also with good accuracy..5 grains of Red Dot will give a very nice 1200 fps. These larger cases with fast powders like Red Dot and Clays and such, need a little pillow stuffing (Dacron fiber), to hold the powder to the primer to get excellent accuracy. Again for a silent load I would use 3+ grains of Bullseye and work down till it is as quiet as it can be and the bullet still leaving the muzzle.
The 3+ grain rule works with the larger 308 and 57mm cases also for silent loads...remember you are going to get around 800 to 1000 fps with 3+ grains of Clays and or Bullseye...so quiet doesn’t mean they are not deadly, they are! Quiet doesn’t mean they are totally silent either...it takes a very long barrel...26 to 28 inches...a good size case and a heavy cast bullet for the caliber. The heavier the bullet the better the ability to silence.
The .243 Winchester and the 6mm Remington case size are the next step up in caliber in this .308/57mm class size. 95 to 100 grain cast bullets over 18 grains of 4759 will give close to 2200 fps...and 16 grains of 2400 will come just a bit under that at 2100 fps. And well over 1000 ft.lbs. of muzzle punch. 5 grains of Red Dot will go about 1100 fps and is a great training and woods loafing load...good accuracy...and 10 grains of Unique will go around 1500 fps...and all these loads are fun in the 6mm class of calibers.
The 257 Roberts...a 25 caliber on the 57mm case like the 6mm is on the same case...20 grains of 4759 will break 2000 fps with the 100 grain cast bullets, but surprise-surprise, the 120 grain bullets with 20 grains went 2190 fps...we tested it twice...10 grains of Red Dot under the 120 grainer goes 1500 fps...and 6 grains of Unique under the same 120 grainer was a blast to play with, at a little over 1000 fps...and still over 240 ft.lbs. of energy.
7mm08 and the 7X57mm, with a 140 grain bullet with 21 grains of 4759 broke 2000 fps and it was the accuracy champ with my 7X57 Mauser. The same weight bullet in the 6.5X55mm gave 2150 fps with the same load of 4759 and accuracy was certainly on par with the 7X57. I shot a large Coyote in the butt with the 6.5 load...140/2150fps. The bullet went the length of him and out his chest. With the bullet nose softened as I described earlier, I would have no problem popping a good sized mule deer...if that was all that I had when he came into view.
The 160 grain 6.5 cast bullets and the 168 grain cast 7mm bullets at around 2000 fps can fly better than many jacketed loads in larger calibers at higher speeds. For example RCBS makes a 7mm mould that drops a 165 grain bullet in my alloy...it’s B.C. has to be close to .450 or higher...24 grains of either 4227 gives over 2200 fps in my 7mm Mauser...and almost 1800 pounds of muzzle energy, for such a mild shooting load that is excellent power and gives outstanding range. It could be the deer load for youngsters, or folks for one reason or another that can’t take recoil....when set for 2 inch high at 100 yards, it will be ½ inch high at 150 and 2 inches low at 200 yards, and down only four inches at 250 yards by actual tests. The new .260 on the 308 case, and the 7mm08 are in this section of loads also. Again 4759 is very good and the best load I found with this heavy 7mm bullet was 23.5 grains for 2050 fps...and near 1500 ft.lbs. of energy. 6 grains of Red Dot went 1150 fps and good accuracy with a bit of filler over the powder. 12.5 grains of Unique went 1500+ fps...also accurate.
The .308 and .307, ( 307 in the Winchester ‘94 Big Bore), the 7.62X54 class, (7.65X53mm Argentine Mauser). The .308 and 307 cases are 51mm, the 30-40 Krag in strong rifles is near 58mm. But it’s internal space is very similar, it’s the Krag rifle that is not rated for the 308's Winchester’s pressure levels. The Lyman #311466 is a 155 grain bullet from my mould, and of the Loverin style...I don’t particularly like it, but some do. It and RCBS’s 30-150-FN are top cast 150 grainers. The small loads with fast powder’s pressures are under the strength level of good strong and tight Krags, older Mausers, and older Argentine Mauser rifles’ pressure thresholds. (The 7.62X39mm will be dealt with later) With the slow powders the Krags, Argentines, and any of the early Mausers before a 20th century built 96 class or better rifles....the loads must be cut below 45,000 psi.
Faster powders in all these first. With the 150+ grain class the best powder I found for medium fast loads is again SR4759. 20 grains in the 30-40 case pushes them around 1850fps. A safe slow load would be 45 grains of H414 for 2450 fps @ 29,000 cup. 11 grains of Unique and 1600 fps would be the very top load with this powder at 30,000 cup..it’s not that you couldn’t go higher with a strong Krag rifle but the excursion/burn in pressure rises fast, 15 grains hits 41,000 cup and only 1750 fps. The SR4759 load is better at velocity, better accuracy, and lower pressure @ 25,000 cup.
With five grains of Red Dot around 800 fps...and 8 grains around 1000 fps. For low noise loads, with Bullseye or Clays, you need a minimum run of at least 3+ grains in this class of cases. Remember as you lower the bullet weight in any caliber with cast bullets for quiet loads...you actually need more powder...the bullet weight is the determining factor in the efficiency of the powder burn and silence is measured in barrel length. In a 26 inch barrel...with a 220 grain NEI .308 cast bullet over 3 grains of Clays...almost silent...With a 150 grain RCBS bullet, 3 and ½ grains was needed and it was like a loud cap gun from a 24 inch barrel .308 Winchester. So you have to play with powder levels of Bullseye or Clays for silent loads...but you are not going to get there with 180 grain cast slugs and under. The NEI 220 grain slug is also a fine elk and moose bullet if made correctly and pushed to 2500 fps.
The 170 thru 190 grain cast slugs...8 grains of Unique goes 1250 fps. With 20 grains of 2400 you will get 1800 fps as will 18 grains of SR 4759. Five grains of WW231 or HP38 will go around 1000 fps.
The heavy 200 grain thru the 220 grainers give a great deal of power even with low loads, and the above loads for the 180 thru 190 grain cast bullets are fine. Full power loads in the weaker rifles you can push these heavy weights to approx 2250 fps with Acc2460/35 grains. In the 308 class where you can up the pressure to 47,000 cup 46 grains of 760 will go 2600 fps with the 220s and 2800 with the 200 grainers at 46,000 to 48,000 cup. That’s 3300 to 3500 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy, cast right...it would take moose size critters.
The 8X57mm is much like the 7X57...outstanding caliber and cartridge size. Unfortunately it wasn’t accepted in this country...but if you see one on a military rack in good shape for a decent price and need a deer and elk rifle with more power potential than the .308 Winchester and getting close to the mighty 30-06, grab it. With the RCBS 08-170-FN over 21 grains of 4759 a 24 inch barrel runs over 1700 fps...15 Unique will give a nice round 1600 fps and excellent accuracy. While Green Dot with 12 grains will give 1350 fps. 8 grains of Red Dot will go 1000 fps...same with 6 grains of WW231. For a fully power load 50 grains of 748 goes close to 2500 fps and 57 grains of H414 goes near 2800 fps.. If the bullet is cast 21 to 23 BNH, and the noses detempered, then we have a incredibly effective elk load with very good range to 300 yards plus.
Lyman makes a .323 caliber double cavity mould that drops a 160 to 165 grain bullet, it’s made for deep penetration and long range, it is the #323470. It has five lube rings and a gas check...it is one of only three Loverin type bullets I use often....with de-tempered noses these bullets will do the job on big critters when started at 2600 fps to 2800 fps.
In the 8X57mm with heavier slugs in the 220 grain to 225 grain weights, in strong Mauser actions...2500 fps to 2700 fps is more than possible with H414 powder...starting at 52 grains (2500 fps/24 inch barrels) and carefully working up. Starting with 53 grains of WW 760, the same way carefully...use the one that gives best accuracy. This 8X57 power level is in the heavy jacketed bullet velocities of the 30-06..I told you it was a shame it was over looked by the U.S. public.
The 358s. Another excellent round that went by the way side is the 358 Winchester. The .358 caliber on the 308 case. Try to buy a used .358 Winchester chambered rifle today, on any action...bolt...slide...auto...or leveraction....(the leveraction is the 356 WinBB). People who have them know and tend to hold on to them. As much as the 35 caliber in rifles has been poo-pooed for years by Americans...once they are owned folks realize how good they are. The 358 Winchester...and the 356 Winchester Big Bore round...which is the 358 case with a rim and longer neck. I make brass for my Winchester Big Bore 356 by firing .308 military loads in the 356 chamber. Gives perfectly fire formed brass, that is thick and lasts forever. Some 356 Win ‘94s will cycle rimless cases...the neck on the 307 and the 356 are longer so the 308 won’t chamber in the 307, but it will in the 356 for fire forming...and the 358 case will not chamber in the 356.
The same thing with the 348 Winchester...died of dis-interest...but try to buy one today. Even if you do find one the price hits ones gag point. Even the magnum 35s like the Norma series failed. Only the 35 Remington and the 35 Whelen seemed to hold on..both having a resurgence in the 1980s. The 35 Whelen becoming a Remington chambered round in 1988 or so. We will cover the 348 in the 35 Whelen/06 class...and the 35 Remington in the 30-30 class sections.
Of course one of the big advantages of the 35 calibers in rifles is the use of .358 caliber handgun bullets...the moulds are plentiful as are their shapes and designs...so we will go with bullet weights. From the 158 grain Keith shapes to the heavy weights in LBT designs to rifle bullets to 300 grains from Lyman and others. Varity is the name of the game with 35 caliber bullets.
For me the all time finest heavy weight .358 cast bullet is the Lyman..#3589. It has been renumbered no doubt to something like 358009. But that doesn’t change the fact that at 290 grains with #2 lead, heat treated to 20 BNH or so...and the nose de-tempered as I described, you have a cast bullet that will kill 90%+ of all the game on earth! It has the distinction of being one of the few of the first bullets ever offered when Ideal Company started in 1895...and still in the line. It’s still a winner because it delivers.
20 grains of 2400 under this 290 grainer will break 1500 fps for near 1500 ft. lbs of muzzle punch. Yet it is an easy load with around 10 lbs of recoil. 10 grns of Unique will go around 1250 fps and near 1000 lbs of energy, again a fine training load or just for woods loafing, yet it can easily knock over a deer or black bear...it’s in the 41 magnum range of power...why not? For a full hunting load 48grns/Acc 2520/2400 fps and 3700 ft.lbs. of muzzle energy. This is a top load and it has to be worked up to carefully. The best medium load I found in both the 356 and the 358, with this bullet is 22 to 23 grains of 2400 for near 1800 fps...accuracy with 2400 is superb with many of the heavy bullets in the 356/358 cases.
There are a number of 250 grain bullet moulds on the market...Lyman’s 358318 gc is one of the good ones...certainly the loads for the 3589/290 grainer will work well with the 250 grainers...giving a little higher velocities. Both these bullets with 3½ to 4 grains of Bullseye will in long barrels give very quiet but powerful loads. Remember in the low velocity loads below 1500 fps soften the alloy so you won’t get fouling. The old standby IMR3031 is fairly good with these two for around 2000 fps loads...38 grains with the 290 and 2000 fps...41 grains with the 250 grain and around 2200 fps. One of the accuracy loads I have found with the 250 grain cast bullets in both the 358 and 356 is again 2400 powder from 24 grains to 26 grains...running around 1900 to 2000 fps.
You can go from 38 special ballistics thru 357 magnum, from 35 Remington ballistics into 358 ballistics and beyond...with 150 grain or so cast bullets thru 160, 180, 200, 220 grain weights.....the 250 grainers thru 290 grains for big game and silent loads. Why are the 358 caliber cartridges so lonely...?
The ‘06 class..the daddy of American rounds...
Even though there are a number of 22 and 24 caliber wildcats on the ‘06 case...the number rifles chambered for them...like my Winslow 240 Gibbs...are rare. And from my experience, especially with today’s powders, very much overbore. The 25-06 is the smallest caliber that should be put on the full ‘06 case. That’s my feeling, and other may feel differently and have very good cause too...but my experience with the 240 Gibbs leads me to believe this. If the rifle twist was very fast say 1 in 6.5 to 1 in7, and very heavy bullets were used...meaning long for the caliber, it might work out very well. But even the 1 in 9 twist of my Winslow/Gibbs isn’t enough. And then there is the problem of finding bullets. Though I do get outstanding accuracy with 110 grain cast bullets at 2800 fps. The 240 Weatherby magnum is the same as the Gibbs...an overbore but it’s not a wildcat.
As for the 25-06, and the overbore problem...bullet weight saves it, up to the 95 grain slugs...and even the 100 grainers with some powders...the 6mm Remington loaded to it’s full potential..like 37 grains of 3031 under a 100 grain jacketed spire point in the 6mm gives 3050 fps...for the same pressure with H4831 will push a 100 grainer from a 25-06 at over 3200 fps...that’s not too much difference for over 15 grains more powder. But when you go to the 117 grain thru 125 grain bullets and push them from near 3000 fps for the 117, to over 2900 fps for the 125 grainer....your in a whole new category. And with the ability if you want it to push the lighter bullets to varmint hunting speeds...even with that extra powder usage...the 25-06 becomes a very good all around light rifle and round. If there is anything better for long range deer and antelope it would be the 270 Winchester...and the only fight there would be the .277 caliber’s number of heavier bullet weights offered on the market..
With a 120 grain cast bullet 24 grains of 2400 will give it near 2500 fps..and that’s deadly on medium sized game up to black bear. 8 grains of WW231 or HP-38 will go 1200 fps...10 grains of Unique will do around 1300 fps. With 20 grains of 4759 it gives near 2000 fps and if you up that to 30 grains it puts it in the 2700 to 2800 fps levels...according to barrel length. Remember the smaller the bore the more important the barrel length is with the larger cases.
The Great 270 Winchester, since 1925, 75 years old and still modern. Taking two bullet weights with the 270 Winchester will show what I meant about it’s flexibility being better than the 25-06. First of all the 270 is not on the ‘06 case...for some reason in the 1920s the Winchester company chose the ‘03 case which is nearly the same but is a tenth of an inch longer. The military went from the 30-03 military to the 30-06 military round in ‘06. The 270 was designed around the 03 case. Means little to velocity and pressure and such...just that 270 rounds developed on 06 brass comes out a little short. Under a cast 125 grain bullet 10 grains of WW231 will give 1200 fps+ while 13 grains will jump it over 1300 fps...as you can see one grain gives about 100 fps with this cast bullet weight...by the way the pressure for that 13 grain load is over 42,000 psi...so like I said before just because it’s a small amount of powder and low velocity doesn’t mean the pressure is also low. For example 44 grains of 748 will give the same weight bullet 2500+ fps and at almost the same pressure. As I am always stressing..it’s the quickness of the pressure...going to it’s peak, not just the pressure. When you try to get very heavy velocities with cast bullets with fast burning powders, it very hard to get corresponding accuracy...but small amounts of fast powder in the 1000 to 1500 fps range can be and often are excellent. Lyman’s very unusual 280642 mould drops a 155 grain bullet in my alloy, it’s gas checked and has a bore riding nose...accuracy is outstanding.
To make a big game bullet out of it...I de-temper the noses and load it over 50 grains of H414 for 2700 fps and good 1 and ½ inch groups at 100 yards...the other big game load is 52 grains of WW760 under this 155 grainer and 2850 fps with ragged one hole groups at 100 yards. The 270 will push a jacketed 170 grain bullet well over 2800 fps....that makes the difference of it with the 25-06...the 270 with the right bullets will carry you right into very large game like moose.
With the 155 grain cast bullet SR4759 does very well with midrange loads...32 grains will go over 2500 fps...and 23 grains will just break 2000 fps.
With a 24 inch barrel 3 ½+ grains of Bullseye or Clays is very low in noise...and a little fiddling with it will get almost silent....
Everything said for the 270 is true for the 284 Winchester and the 280 Remington ( no matter what they call it this week...7mmExpress Rem./7mm06/280/etc)...except that there are a good selection of heavier cast bullets. The same loads in the 270 with the RCBS 7mm168-SP in the 280 and 284 Winchester cartridge cases with a little fiddling with levels will give close to the same performance..also Lyman’s 284641 in the same weight class is a real performer again with the same powder levels. I have never had real performance with Lyman’s 287405/150 grainer...it’s of the old Loverin style and I never could do good work with that design...the only exception was the one 95 grainer I have in 6mm...loaded hot in the Gibbs with BNH of over 25...pushing velocities well over 3200 fps with very slow powders. Every rule has an exception I guess, ask Al Gore he seems to know them all.
In the 30-06 there is one bullet I have to hold out as excellent in every 06 I have ever owned...as well as in other class cartridge sizes....Lyman’s 308284 (it’s probably called 311284 now with the latest number changes) at 210 grains in #2 alloy. 10 grains of Red Dot will go around the magic 1200 fps..and is a deadly little load without recoil and thunder. It gives nearly 700 ft.lbs of muzzle energy, a nice 100 to 125 yards training and small game hunting load for youngsters. For those that use Green Dot 12 grains will match the Red Dot load...and 13 grains of Unique will go 1500 (as of general interest the pressure is close to 40,000 psi). 28 grains of 4759 will give 2000 fps and over, way over 1800 ft.lbs of muzzle punch. For a full load try around 50 to 52 grains of IMR4350 (IMR..H is faster) for the magic 2500 fps and plenty of power near 3000 lbs of punch. That’s in the jacket bullet power range of the 30-06. This bullet cast hard and with a de-tempered nose will give very deep penetration and plenty of expansion for swift killing power.
RCBS makes a flat nose gas checked 180 grainer...numbered 30-180-FN (I think) the same loads tweaked for accuracy as the Lyman 210 grainer and again the killing power is excellent. I use the FN 180 when I know the range with full loads won’t go past 250 yards or so...the 210 grainer when long range to 400 yards and deep penetration is needed. The 180 is good to elk and such...the 210 goes to the moose and grizzly level. For close range, low recoil loads, the RCBS 30-150-FN at around 150 grains a little lighter in my alloy....and the Lyman 311041 another flat nosed killer at 165 grains in my alloy....over 10 grains of Red Dot goes 1400 fps and 10 grains of 231 goes 1100 fps. Careful with both these powders the jump in pressure very quickly...for example, 3 more grains of 231 going to 13 grains from 10 grains...jumps the pressure an additional13,000+psi...that’s over 3330 lbs of pressure per grain!
Twelve grains of Unique with either of these bullets will go around 1500 fps...32 grains of 4759 gives 2400 fps (and 50,000 psi) 28/2400 goes 2200 fps at 39,000 psi or so. All good loads...all deadly with those flat noses on decent sized game. What other cartridge in 308 is in the same class as the 30-06..none! That’s why if we like it or not, it doesn’t change the fact the 30-06 is the all around rifle/caliber combination for 90% of the worlds game and 99% of the lower 48 states game...the Norma 308 Magnum is a short magnum that is an excellent cartridge but it’s not popular in America and the 30-06 can do anything it can do...it’s about the same power level as the 30/284 wildcat...which is again a duplicate of the 30-06.
If the 30-06 has any real competition in it’s class, it is with a round that really is still a wildcat somewhat. But very popular at one time. I find it a joy to have and shoot. It’s the 8mm06. The .323 caliber size being a larger bore than the .308 bore gives a better expansion ratio (more velocity for the same pressure as the bore gets larger...general rule of ballistics). Many of the commercial casters like Beartooth make some fine selections and with flat nose design for killing authority for this caliber. But RCBS makes a mould called 08-170-FN...for some reason even with my fairly hard allow it drops closer to 180 grains. This does it all for me....
I have a 1932 Mauser (‘98) 8mm Mauser that was reamed to the 8mm06 cartridge. Don’t know how it would have perform as the original 8mmX57 but I suspect it would have been awfully good. The conversion was done in Texas in the 1950s...Nicely sporterized to the European style, which always gets to my blood pressure...I bought the rifle in a pawn shot in San Antonio in the early 1960s for the terrible price of $24.99. Everybody thought that was way over priced at the time...since military rifles from all over the world were pouring into the States at very cheap prices. But this one has had excellent work done to it...all the bells and whistles, and the labor alone was worth well over 25 bucks even then.
The last offer I had on it was the price of any standard caliber Remington/Ruger/Winchester rifle on the commercial rack....thanks but no thanks. I know what I have...it will be past down in the family....
The 338/06 wildcat is an impressive round...certainly some rifle manufacturer will legitimize it someday...but the problem with it in my perspective is the lack of bullet weights, especially in the cast area. The 35 Whelen will do every thing the 338/06 will do. Though statement that has caused some controversy over the years.
The absolutely Great 35 Whelen. The old question of: if you only had one gun (rifle in this sense) what would it be.....???? Well thank the good Lord, Americans don’t have to worry over that....but if...it would be for me the 35 Whelen! And it would be on a new Winchester/Browning 1895 leveraction. I would have one that is re-barreled to that excellent round! And I could hunt the world.
Now I’m going to get my self in trouble with some shooters with this next statement...so be sure you lovers of the also great 375 H&H read on for the explanation of what I am really saying. In my bolt action Mauser rifle the 35 Whelen loaded correctly will do everything the 375 H&H will do in Africa!
Explanation: When I was in Africa in the late 1950s I had a 375 H&H on a Continental Double (over/under, unfortunately it wasn’t mine). We used British ammo...it came in tin wrapped packages and was marked, "African Loads", or some such. It was years later that I discovered what that meant. It was loaded down because of the heat in Africa...they were afraid of pressure excursions. The point of all this is...I harvested some of the largest, meanest, most aggressive, toughest, thick skinned animals there...with that ammo. And that ammo, was loaded to the same power levels that the 35 Whelen can easily reach! With the right bullets the Whelen will do the same work. Certainly the 375's .017 thousandths larger bullets make little difference over the .358 caliber bullets. It is the bullet and how it is constructed that is important...and the velocity.
Now comes the part I love to share, I have four loads in the Whelen within the pressure limits of my commercial Mauser action custom rifle that will give 2500 fps with the 3589 (358009) Lyman 290 grain bullet. That’s over 4000 pounds of muzzle energy! I have one load that gives 2600 fps+ with that bullet and that is almost 4400 pounds of punch....and that is in the very top load country of the 375 H&H...not the loaded down ammo for hot weather. At last count, I have five pages of 358 loading data collected over 30 plus years.
When we realize that a number of the very biggest and toughest animals on earth have now been taken cleanly with the heavy new class of revolvers..like the 454 FA..the 475 Linebaugh and such with cast bullets, as well as custom full jacket types....the Whelen can certainly do the same. I am sure having a 460 Weatherby, 600 Nitro, or a number of other big bores is wonderful....but they have two things about them that bother me. Their recoil is out of sight! A 400 grain bullet from a 460 Weatherby can reach 2700 fps, in a 9 pound rifle it generates 100 lbs of recoil! It’s for those that can take it and enjoy it....not me. Especially when I know it is power not needed for anything on earth other than Bradley Armored Vehicles. In 1916 the German Military had a Mauser Rifle that would shot thru tanks...it was big and cumbersome but did the job well...it had less power than a 600 Nitro or 460 Weatherby. And number two reason....they are terribly expensive to buy and shoot. A new 600 Nitro can cost as much as a new car. Commercial ammo runs from 10 to 20 dollars a round! Can you imagine trying to find a silent load for a 600 Nitro...???
A 2500fps/4000 M.E. load that gives excellent accuracy in my Whelen with the 290 grain Lyman is 45 grains of IMR4198. A 250 grain cast bullet over the same powder charge will go over 2800 fps/4350 M.E. A 30/06 with it’s best weight bullets loaded hot can’t come close to these power levels.
Also for gilt edge accuracy and power I worked up to 63.5 grains of WW760 in my Mauser under the 290 grainer for 2626 fps and 4400 ft.lbs. of muzzle energy. I have a very special mold for a 350 grain cast bullet for my Whelen...I won’t give the load because it runs 62,700 psi. It is safe in my rifle...but I only shot a few dozen a year at this pressure and brass dies quickly. But it gives near 4500 ft.lbs. of muzzle energy and the penetration power with hard cast bullets with hard noses, is awesome. And that level is the top of the line for the 375 H&H also.
But since those kinds of loads are for a very limited hunting and play time use...and the recoil is 44 lbs with the 350gr/2400fps load. Lets go into the small charges of fast and medium fast powder.
Lyman makes several good bullets in 358 caliber for rifles...358627 is the design made for the 357 Maxi revolver, it drops at 220 grains in my alloy and is of the Keith shape it is a premier game killer. 358156 is the old Thompson designed gas checked Keith type shape with a gas check at 155 grains....great bullet for rabbits to big deer and black bear...from velocities of 600 fps to 3000 fps. RCBS has a good set of bullets with gas check designs...38-158-SWC, the 38-175-RN is a round nose design that is very blunt and a good game bullet...but the best of their offerings is the 35-200-FN. As a point of comparison...the 30-06 with a jacketed 180 grain bullet will get 2800+ fps...the 35 Whelen with a 200 grain jacketed bullet will do that, and go on to 2950fps with careful loading. Some of my heavy loads??? No, Lyman’s 47th edition Reloading Handbook.
30 grains of 4759 under a 200 grain cast bullet will give 2000 fps. 13 grains of Red Dot will give close to 1500 fps and 17 grains of Unique will go 1700 fps. 4+ grains of Bullseye will go 900 fps and quiet 9, (under the 290 grain it will be even quieter). My barrel length is 23 inches so I can’t get them silent...but past 25 to 30 yards it’s less then that cap gun we spoke of. 15 grains of Green Dot goes 1600+ fps. 9 to 10 grains of 231 will break 1000 fps...all with the 200 to 250 grain cast bullets.
I had my Whelen made in 1968 in Richmond Va., it was first chambered in .358 Winchester...then rechambered to 35 Whelen...for 30 years I used it as a standard 35 Whelen. In 1999 I rechambered it to the 35 Brown/Whelen Improved...it’s velocities went up over 10% of the standard when the pressure is kept the same. And that is the problem with those that write about the improved over the standard in the Whelen and in a number of other caliber/cases...like the 30-30 Imp. They don’t load to the same pressure in the new imp/case. So they report then that the conversion isn’t worth it....and barley-corn comes in different flavors too...if you want to believe it.
And now for the fun part...Rimmed Cartridges...
the 30-30 class cases....
The 30-30 first; I know like many the 30-30 wasn’t the first commercial smokeless power cartridge offered in the U.S. The 30-40 Krag in a single shot rifle was...in 1892/3 but that had limited sales. The 30-30 as most know was designed by John Browning for the 1894 Winchester Levergun which he also designed by redesigning the 1892 Winchester levergun. He did that so the rifle would take longer cartridges than the pistol rounds chambered in the ‘92. Though the 30-30 was to be the first on the market in the new rifle...it didn’t make it...stress flaws in the soft steel used in those days allowed friction wear with jacketed bullets....so the 32-40 was first chambered in the ‘94. By 1895 ‘Nickel Steel’ barrels were put on the 30-30 chambered guns. They found by adding a small amount of nickel to the steel it’s wear quotient was much higher. But then they had problems bluing the barrels...because the nickel created the same condition that stainless steel has...it doesn’t blue well if at all. So if you see an old 30-30 Winchester with what appears to be a brownish-blue barrel... it’s really old, turn of the 19/20th century.
The 30-30 started the great and never ending argument about big fat bullets at slow to moderate velocities vrs. lighter smaller bullets at high velocity and killing ability. The boys back then that used to 45-70s...44-40s...and such, looked at the small hole in the end of the 30-30 barrel and couldn’t believe it would kill well. We it did then...and still does now. And with the new powders, bullets, cartridges cases of great strength, guns made of fantastic steel today, compared to the 1890s...the 30-30 today does illustriously better than yesteryear. Certainly a 150 grain jacketed bullet at 2500 fps is a fine hunting load. The Improved case is better, and cast bullets really make it shine.
A farmer in Rhodesia (it was Northern and Southern Rhodesia in those days) had a Savage 250-3000 and a 30-30 Marlin. The man kept four large families on farms (ranches..stations..what ever they called them then) around him, in meat all the time while I was there...and I’m sure for decades later. He harvested animals as big as our elk with the 30-30 and the standard British loaded 170 grain round softnose (flat tip). Varmints and even up to large deer types, with the 250-3000 went down also. The 7.62X51mm Rimmed as the 30-30 is called in Europe, was always considered a fine target round..as well as perfect for drillings, single shot break opens, and even a few doubles. Can you image a small, trim, 30-30 double rifle...goodness that would be sweet. Our so called poor 30-30 is really an international caliber and cartridge.
Loading for it is easy...cartridge cases today are much stronger than just a few decades ago....at least I seem to crush fewer with the reloading press then I did back in the 1960s and 70s.
There are so many cast bullet molds in .308 thru .311 that it is staggering. So I use just a few here....the number one cast mold I have for the 30-30 class of leveraction rifles and the 32-20 and 30 Carbine in rifles and handguns is the Lyman .308440 which probably has been renumbered to .311440. It is a flat faced almost cylindrical bullet in my softest alloy it runs 155 grains and in my hard cast 151 grains. It’s perfect for loading tubes and transmitting shock to animals. I hear all the time this shape bullet in the 30-30 will have terrible down range ballistics.
Well loaded to 2500 fps with 36 grains of Reloader15 from my 24 inch Marlin...with a 3 inch high at 100 yards, this bullet with it’s B.C. of near .250, will be on at 200 yards and down a scant foot at 300 yards! Actual tests...not from the books. It will still be trucking at a velocity of near 2000 fps at 300 and giving all most 1300 lbs of punch out there. And that flat nose will transmit its energy well. We are not talking about some big fat flatfaced 44 or 45 caliber bullet with a ballistic co-efficient so low it’s only in the double digits. The 30 caliber starts off long and narrow for it’s weight. A comparable jacketed bullet is the Speer 130 grain Flatnosed 30-30 bullet. Loaded the same it gives basically the same ballistics. See my articles on the 30-30 for top loads for hunting and such.
This bullet over 7 grains of Red Dot in the 30-30 case or the 300 Savage case (the savage case takes one grain more of fast powder to met these 30-30 velocities with fast powder), gives near 1200 fps and near 500 lbs of punch for around 25000 CUP. 8.5 grains jumps the pressure to well over 35,000 CUP for only an additional 150 fps. Try 11 grains of Unique, it will give 1650 fps and 1000 lbs of M.E. and it is a fun load at the same pressure . Out to 150 yards it will kill game to 100 lbs without problems. I use moderate lead tempered to 16 to 18 on the B-Scale with de-tempered noses.
19.5 grains of 4759 will give close to 2000 fps..recoil is nothing and over 1300 lbs of muzzle energy. Good deer load for the younger shooters, or those that can’t take recoil. 4 grains of Bullseye will give around 1000 fps...it’s a better squirrel load than any 22RF...cheaper too. You can shoot right up thru a branch a squirrel is laying on...he’ll come off and right down into your game bag. The 311041 is a 170 grain flat nose that can take the above fast powder loads, and it kills better and is one of the most accurate I have used in my 30 caliber rifles...nice gas checked bullet that flies very flat.
The 210 grain Lyman cast soft, lubed with a flat faced nose insert in the lube sizer...will give a flat nose to this bullet so it can be loaded in the tube. Start with 3 grains of Bullseye and work down for the silent/near silent load that has power enough for close range vermin. Careful it’s not a toy load...it will kill. In my 32-40 Winchester High wall 26 inch barrel...I can hear the hammer drop...but it knocked over my 70 lb bullet trap. The trap was on a unstable 3 legged stool and that helped the topple...but still I was impressed. The 32 Winchester Special is in the same class as the 30-30 so the same loads with heavier cast bullets can be used. I use a number of .323 or 8mm molds in different weights in my 32 Specials.
Heavy cast bullets in the 16 to 18 hardness area, gas checked...nose de-tempered, I use a premium lube like ApacheBlu...with the 170 grain 311041 in my 30-30 Marlin over 31 grains of 335, it goes 2290 fps and is better than any jacketed load I have put together on large game animals like small elk. Remember the lube is important...I developed ApacheBlu back in the 1980s to over come hot temperatures...like we have in the southwest. Also it was made to allow very high velocity without the fouling....Hanned manufactures it now, and I have no real interest in the company other than the owners are friends. They make it just like I did for so many years...and it isn’t cheap. But it’s for high velocity, high temp, high pressure cast loads...the ingredients are not cheap. And there are other lubes that are cheaper...but they won’t do what ApacheBlu will do under the conditions described above. Sure a few shots will go well...but I have fired hundreds of rounds with A’Blu without fouling or the groups opening.
One trick I use is to fire a flat based jacketed bullet, loaded backwards at moderate velocity for every 20 to 30 cast rounds...cleans the barrel slick as anything else and is quick. Don’t even have to change your shooting position. The old saying is, want to find the quickest way to solve a labor problem, ask a lazy man...ApacheBlu does it...and a backwards flatbase jacketed slug every once in a while. ApacheBlu also conditions the barrel for cast loads...make sure the barrel is clean and start with A’Blu loads the groups get better with use. At least it does for me.
The 7.62X54R Russian and the 303 British also can use the above loads...but be careful with old miliary rifles some have seen a lot of abuse. These two can use heavier bullets than the 30-30 like the Lyman 314299 a bore riding 200 grain bullet and the 311284/210 grain. 10 grains of Red Dot with both will go 1300 fps..14 grains of Unique will hit 1550 fps. 21 grains of 4759 is a top load with these two and they will get close to 2000 fps. But for a full power load 45 grains of H-380 gives 2300 fps and excellent accuracy.
7-30 WATERS...I like this round. They 135 grain Lyman 287346 is a round nose gas checked bullet that I lube as described above, to make it a flat tip for loading tubes. One of the fun and accurate loads with this bullet is 22 grains of 4759 for 2150 fps and moderate pressure. If the nose is not de-tempered it will punch thru a deer long ways. A full load of my favorite powder H335, 34.5 grains gives this bullet just under 2500 fps in my long barrel Winchester 94. That’s a ton of muzzle thump...black bear anyone.
SR4759 with 20 grains will go 2000 fps. But yet with the same powder, a low pressure load without recoil yet with good power is 17 grains of SR4759 for 1800 fps at 18,000 CUP....raise that to 20 grains and the pressure almost doubles to 35,000 CUP. Still a good load, but it is an example of what I said about fast powders jumping quickly and high in pressure with a few grains...fast powders don’t burn in a logical or linear fashion. I don’t try to figure them out with a formula...I test them and carefully. 6 grains of Red Dot will go 1300 fps, and 9 grains of Unique will top 1600 fps.
They just don’t make enough cast bullet weight molds in 7mm. But again Lyman makes a mold for a strange looking 160 grain flat tipped bullet 287641. This can be the quiet bullet with 3+ grains of Bullseye or Clays, and work down. Of course you can’t silence 20 inch barrels very well...but you can quiet them substantially for deadly across the front yard ranges. Bullseye or Clays will do it, again start with 3+ grains and work down. Reloading books don’t show loads for the 160 grain bullets...not sure why...the 7-Waters can stabilize them. 30 grains of H335 will give the magic 2000 fps....that’s better than the first 30-30 loads, and they took a lot of game thru the years. 18 grains of 4759 will go near 1700 and is a top load, but very accurate with this bullet. 6 grains of Green Dot...5 grains of Red Dot, both will go 1200 fps. 8 grains of Unique will hit 1400 fps and is a very nice load...again a small game to 50 to 60 lbs without much of a fuss.
The 7.62X39mm is in a class of it’s own with many plus’ and also a few minus’. Most of the rifle it’s chambered for are auto loaders and cast bullets will foul up the auto’s piston and pressure line...it’s a pain to clean them out, so I don’t recommend them in the autoloaders. Ruger put a bolt action out a few years ago...I’m not sure if there are others...but the Ruger bolt is a strong rifle. These loads are for that action. A 120 to 130 grain cast bullet...and the flat faced 150 grain 311440...are very good in this small cartridge case. A full load of IMR 4198/25 grains will give the 120 and 130 grain cast bullets near 2375 fps...the 150 grain will get 2300 fps...that’s about tops for the little round, unless you go above 40,000 CUP. I didn’t. With 3 grains of Bullseye or Clays and any cast bullet to 150 grains you will be near 1000 fps, quiet and better than any 22RF. Squirrel and rabbit hunting takes on a new slant with this little round and that load.
4759 with 15 grains will go 1800 fps...8 grains of Unique will give 1500 fps. 4 grains of Red Dot will go close to 1300 fps...all excellent replacement loads for a 22 RF or 22 RF magnum. And cheap to assemble and shoot.
The 32-40 is basically the 32 Winchester Special without the shoulder, it requires one grain less with most medium fast loads for the same pressure and velocity...with the heavy loads 10% less at a minimum....It is a little longer than the 32 Special and 30-30 and was brought about first by Ballard as a target round it the 1880s. Marlin chambered it next, and then Winchester picked it up. All before the turn of the 19/20 centuries. It is still one heck of an accuracy cartridge.
35 Remington (Marlin Levergun) and the 35-30 (30-30 necked up to 358 caliber). It is not as popular as it was a number of years back... shot out 30-30s used to be re-bored to 358 caliber. It makes one fine accuracy and hunting round, just like the 35 Remington. Up until a few years ago the Marlin 336/35 Rem was in Marlin’s line...sad to say it has been dropped. Since around 1950 this fine little Marlin rifle has offered a power level above the 30-30.
One of the mistakes folks make about the cartridge itself is that it is basically the 30-06 or 308 base size and that brass can be made from them. It can’t...because it isn’t. It has a .460 base and a .458 body before the base...where the 06 base is .470/3 and the body before the base is the same. It is only 1.92 inches long which is only around 48/9 mm. About the same length as the 300 Savage. And cast bullets should be cast to .356 if the barrel is indeed 9mm or .355, many are.
Just like the other .358 caliber cartridges the 35 Remington can use a number of cast bullets from 38/357 handgun slugs to the 200 grain heavy weights. I have found that the loads used for 38 Specials thru .357 magnum handguns work exceedingly well in the 35 Rem case from rifles. For example 16 grains of 2400 will give 1600 fps to the 150/160 grain weight level cast slugs regardless of shape. 18 grains of the same powder will break 1800 fps and 20 grains will hit 2000 fps. And a 160 grainer at 2000 fps is generating over 1400 lbs of punch. 9 grains of Unique will go over 1250 fps...6 grains of Red Dot will give near 1000 fps. The bullets I tend to use in the 35 Rem/Marlin are Lyman’s 358430 200 round nose, the Keith 173 grain famous 358429, the Lyman gas checked 358156 Thompson/Keith, the RCBS G.C. 35-200 grainer.
The 180 and 200 grain cast over 9 grains of Red Dot will hit over 1300 from the 20 inch barrel...while 11 grains will go over 1500 fps. 1500 fps with the 200 grain bullet gives 1000 ft.lbs. of energy. 22 grains of 4759 is pushing the same 200 grainer at 1850 fps and the same load under a 180 grain cast goes 2000 fps. With 25 grains of 4759 under the 180 grainers you will get a good load with power at 2200+ fps. 38/H335 under the 173 gr Keith will come close to 2400 fps and it is deadly...with the nose de-tempered it will knock deer and black bear over quickly.
A PACO SECRET....Even though this bullet doesn’t have a gas check, when it is cast hard..a small disk of bullet base size, of thin polypropylene with a very small amount of glue against the base stops any fouling. I cut the poly with a fabric punch, can cut hundreds in minutes...a little glue on a sponge and just tap the bullet base on it and put the disk to it...faster than gas checks almost.
38-55/375 WBB. I have two Win/High Wall single shot rifles...a 32-40 and a 38-55. This year I got a hold of one of the hard to get 38-55 Marlins with 24 inch octagon barrel. I love this round...and I love the 375 Winchester BB. 38-55 brass will work in the 375 Winchester levergun. The Winchester BB ‘94 action was built to withstand 52,000 to 55,000+ psi (NOT CUP) with sustained use. Folks tell me they can load the Big Bore Winchesters much warmer than I claim. But I have seen these fine rifles begin to fail...and fail badly after a few hundred rounds. They will not take being rebuilt to 454 at all! We found that out back in the early 1980s when Freedom Arms tried with two chambered for the round. Lately a number of fine gunsmiths have tried again...same failures. 60,000 psi is just too far over the actions abilities with pressure.
BUT...and it is a big but...52,000+psi in a small bodied case like the 375/38-55 will give some outstanding velocities...but since we are talking of the 38-55 Marlin as the low man on the strength pole...I will keep the pressure rates quoted at no higher than 45,000 psi. The old premier bullet for this rifle and the 375BB..only difference is sizing for each rifle. The Lyman 375248 which has been renumbered from is old style is 250 grains, I size it .376 for the BB and .378 for the Marlin. It doesn’t have a gas check but the same trick with the polypropylene does it for heavy loads. Also Lyman makes a primer gas check 270 grainer ( it’s rated 265 or such but drops heavy from mine)..for a full load with either of these or other 250-270 grain cast bullets 40 grains of AA2230 gives over 2050 fps from the Marlin. And near2600 ft.lbs, it’s silly to say it’s under powered for big game.
For years until the 1970s the traditional leveraction in Canada was the 38-55. It was considered an excellent elk and moose round. 6.5 grains of Red Dot will with the 255- thru 270 grain cast slugs give 1000 fps for a fun load without recoil for almost 600 lbs of muzzle energy...like a heavy loaded 357 at the muzzle. 20 grains of 2400 goes 1600 fps...and 23 grains of 4759 will get close to 1800 fps.
Both Beartooth and Cast Performance, bullet companies make some excellent bullets for these two rifles...just tell them if you are going to shoot them in a 38-55 or the WinBB 375...they will size accordingly. They use LBT designs and have a number of bullet weights. Cast Performance makes a 300 grainer that is excellent. Even on a small elk I wouldn’t side shoot it with this 300 grainer if another animal was standing behind it...it’s penetration is extraordinary. I would wind up killing two birds...as big as they are...with one stone. In my Winchester BB 375 only...I push this 300 grainer at 1875 fps over 33 grains of ReL#7. The 375 WinBB is one of my best leveraction rifles.
THE BONE CRUSHERS....348...444...45-70...
For the 348 Winchester..Lyman used to offer a bullet in the same design as the 3589/290 grainer..it was around 260 grains and it could be pushed to 2600fps with out a lot of strain on the gun...because the 1886 and Mod.71 actions (the are not exactly the same, one has tapered bolt lugs, the other is straight) are the strongest design in leverguns. And can easily compete with any levergun, even the Winchester 95s chambered for such worthies as the 30-06 and 270 Winchester rounds. It only lasted 22 years on the market...from 1936 to 1958. But like I said about the 35 calibers...try to find a 348 today...and if you do, hold your breath before you look at the price tag.
There are a number of fine jacketed bullets out there...Barnes for example makes four sizes from 200 grains to 250 grains. But try to find bullet molds. The really good provider is NEI. They still have a few in their line. I’m sure some custom mold makers will make one up for you...and I know that Cast Performance bullets has started cutting molds in the LBT styles so they probably could provide them. But mostly it is short bread for cast bullets...and too bad it’s one of the great rounds. The case is 2.255 inches long but the base is .535, so the powder room is substantial. The improved version is even better equaling the 35 Whelen in a shorter case.
13 grains of Red Dot will go 1200 plus fps. with 200 to 220 grain bullets. 16 grains of Unique will break 1500 fps...25 grains of 4759 will go the 2000 level. It really is a fine round and deserves more. I wish the New Browning/Winchester 95s could be chambered for the 348...but I think the rim size might be too big. The 30-40 on the 95s take up a lot of room with their rims at .545...the 348's rim is .610...
The 444 works very well with lite loads....and any of the 44 magnum loads will be very good. Custom mold makers and commercial cast bullet makers produce cast bullets to 350 grains or more. But the bullet I like more than most is the 250 LBT or the same weight Keith. The Marlin again is not as strong as the WinBigBore. But that doesn’t mean the Marlin is weak. Pushing a 250 grain cast bullet to 2600 fps+ in the Winchester is within pressure limits...to 2400 fps in the Marlin is also within it’s pressure limits. Both will kill like lightning...We will go with pressures that are fine in the Marlin...so the Winchester 444 will take them without a problem.
48 grains of IMR 4198 will send the 250 gr. cast bullets over the 2400 fps level...with 3200 lbs of muzzle punch it doesn’t come close to the Winchester’s full load and muzzle energy of over 3900 lbs. But with the game hunted in the lower 48 states...either will do the job quickly and easily if we do ours. 15 grains of Blue Dot will go 1250 fps and 20 grains will hit 1650 fps, 21grs will go 1750 fps. Lyman’s 429244 is a Keith shaped gas checked 250 grainer...LBT molds are gas checked and come in all kinds of weights....RCBS’ 44-245-SWC is actually truer to the Keith design than today’s Lyman. SR 4759 is again very good in these large cases for medium loads...32 grains will go 1900 fps. Red Dot is the fastest powder with decent accuracy...unless you want to develop 25 yards vermin quiet loads. With 8 grains you get 1000 fps, 11 grains goes 1250 fps, and 13 grains goes 1450 fps...pressure begins to top out.
Unique did start giving good accuracy at 50 yards till I hit 12 grains under the 250s for 1300 fps. I went to 18 grains for 1600 fps...but accuracy began to go out again...but it might just be my gun. For quiet loads start with 4.5 grains of Clays or Bullseye and 300 grain cast bullets...
Cast performance makes some fine heavy weights in .429 caliber...maybe you should try some to see how the work in your gun before you invest in a mold. I like the 444 in the Winchester probably more than the 45-70 Marlin..but not more than the 45-70 1886. All in all this 35 year old cartridge has hung on for one reason...it is effective. And with the Winchester’s Black Shadow with the 1 in 12 rifling, extra strength, and handiness I could hunt anything in the world.....
45-70...one hundred and thirty years old...and still modern!!!!
With the new steels, powders, strong brass...and wonderful bullets both cast and jacketed...this is the modern campion levergun gun cartridge. From mice to elephants it can do it all.
Ammo makers like Randy Garrett and Tim Sundles...Garrett’s Cartridges, and Buffalo Bore Ammo, have led the path for heavy rounds in this cartridge in new strong rifles. Also Cor-Bon with it’s penetrator bullets in 45-70...these will take any animal on earth. Garrett’s 530 gr HAMMERHEAD from my 24 inch Marlin went thru 48 inches of wet phone books with 3/4 inch thick pine boards every 8 inches (six of them) and exited! That’s performance....that’s an elephant load.
There are also many..many molds in all kinds of weight. From 300 grains, Lyman’s 457191..this is the bullet Keith used first with his 45 Colts in the 1920s, he cut a little off the bottom and sized it down to .454 which was the basic bore size of 45 Colt Single Actions in those days. But at .458/9 in the 45-70 it can do it all, along with LBT shaped 300 to 320 grain cast bullets. 56 grains of IMR 4198 will give me 2350 fps in my Reeder/Marlin. 49 grains of IMR 4198 under the 400 to 420 grain bullets will break 2000 fps. With the 450 grainers...like Lyman’s 457406...a gas checked beauty...43 grains will break 1800 fps....and then to the mighty 500 grainers, but this time with surprising powder, SR4759 which becomes a slow/fast powder in the big case with heavy slugs...34 grains under the 45-500-FN (gas checked) just under 1700 fps and a top pressure of 38,500 CUP. In fact all of the above loads are under 40,000 CUP pressure levels. Well within the Marlin’s strength.
One of the play loads I love is to take the RCBS 500 grain without the gas check...over 12.5 grains of Unique for 1000 fps...and over 1000 lbs of punch with no real recoil. 25 grains of 2400 will break 1400 fps...for quiet loads start with 5 grains of Bullseye or Clays and work down. 450 grain bullets over 17 grains of 2400 will give you 1300 fps...
That’s the list...fast to medium powders with cast bullets...they are fun...they are powerful...they are cheap....and the help us learn our rifles, loads and give confidence from practice.