What's in YOUR Mix?

Bass Ackward

Active Member
It's been too quiet for too long & we need a controversy. Results are what they are, but STILL gonna upset somebody I'm sure.

I make my lead in massive batches for uniformity. As a result, my 14 BHN mix has been with me for 25 years. My problems with the high pressure, 44 Special shooting parachute base bullets in that gun with .433 throats & .429 bore caused me to investigate. I have bullets molded from .435, .434, down to .429 & sizers to give me anything I need. If I size 44 caliber OR larger with this mix, just .002 in a PB configuration, I start to get base deformation in that the bullet attempts to go to a hollow base design. So when I shoot this, .004 sizing by the bore at this massive pressure (5.5 gr, 231) is blowing off chunks of the base. That ain't good cause the base is the steering wheel of the bullet.

Ah, can't be, Uncle Elmer said bullets swell so he called it obturation. Bases don't blow out, that would be deformation. This lead to the famous line no GCs on revolver bullets. (rifles & autos require them) In this case, Elmer was wrong. I shot those 14 BHN bullets in Special cases sized .429 in .431 throats in a magnum cylinder. (I don't normally do this) That 240 gr bullet had 50% of the bullet length up in the throats, so nothing of the bullet could touch once the case expanded to let go of the bullet. The load, still 5.5 gr of 231 is about 11k psi max. Both the bullet and throat were lubed with LBT Blue & coated with Uncle Ben' Super Duper lube to minimize resistance, pressure, and expedite bullet travel. (I gave it EVERY chance) With one fired round in each chamber, I have a uniform, 360 degree lead ring around each chamber up to the ramps. That lead had to come off the parachute base blowing out. Most people would tell you that isn't even enough pressure to obturate 14 BHN little alone deform the crap out of it. Huh, surprised me.

So I have some slugs that were diluted with the "hard" mix at about 10 BHN. Should dilute the copper & what ever else AND …. it still won't size 44s for crap. If it won't size right in the controlled climate of a nose first sizer, no use wasting powder on it. (GCs appear to be no problem as the surface simply goes into the GC groove and the base remains square for an ideal launch. But 20-1 will size down .004 with only minimal to the eye, base deformation. With my "rifle" mix, no matter the hardness, the toughness of the slug forces the external portion of the bullet to react to ALL the sizing. In a nut shell, it's a crappy mix for plain base bullets above a certain caliber anyway. Works GREAT up to 35.

20-1 probably sizes uniformly through out the diameter which is why bases remain fairly (to my eye) undisturbed. I don't have any straight WW to try it, but it's no matter, I have been blessed with half a ton of pure & I still have @ 80 lbs of tin I bought from the other board a decade ago. (cheap) So I will be going the old school route of 16 -1 or maybe 11-1 if need be with that for parachute base designs in my 44 Special. What a PIA for one gun.

These 44 results are a little better. (see pic) This is 20-1 with the 5.5 gr of 231, standing supported @ 33 yds from the porch shooting at the center of the pie plate. (not the most precision) (too lazy to set up for 6 shots cause it's snowing) I'm happy.49D5D4DE-0F35-4C33-A6DD-E3B0500B1E35.jpeg
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Redlands, Kalifornistan
HERESY ALERT--right up front--Life is too short to mess around with either parachute-base or hollow-point bullet casting. There is nothing like trying to coax usable traditional Minie bullets out of HB moulds to turn a muzzle-loading shooter into a patched-round-ball adherent post haste. Hunting bullets? I use BruceB Soft Points for that. Or, DID until recently. Local hunting demands unleaded bullets now. That is another rant.


Staff member
The vast majority of my handgun bullets are plain based. Most are cast from plain old range scrap which for me air cools at a nice 12-14 BHn. I get very nice results in a variety of firearms. My 1911 and CZ 75B get plain based. My 357 and 44 specials are fed plain base, even the leverguns. My 44 mag has done OK with plain base, I just happen to have GC moulds that I use for most of my longer range shooting in them.

My 44 mag SRH has .432 throats and a .429 bore. It is very good at showing misaligned bullets with differential engraving. Seeing a smear of the bands on one side doesnt make me feel it is a gun set up for precision. That said it will certainly shoot well enough to hunt deer at 100 yards with complete confidence.

Upset anyone? Why? My Results are what they are. My gun is different from yours. My alloy and bullet designs are different from yours. My load is different from yours. Why should I be surprised if my results are different too?


Well-Known Member
Try running Unique, HS-6, or even 2400 at 11Kpsi with your bullet in Quickload and see if you can't move that pressure peak out into the throat instead of inside the case mouth. That should keep the bases from riveting up behind the cylinder throats and leaving lead rings or shuttlecock bases.

I know F.W. Mann and Veral Smith wouldn't argue with you about what's happening to your bullet bases, and I sure won't, either because I've had similar problems with......gas checked rifle bullets of all things.


Well-Known Member
My most recent mix of alloy ( since wheel weights have become non existant here in NEPA) is 1 part Range pick ( commercial cast bullets) BHN18 and 2 parts Range pick (about bhn 8) Jacketed bullet lead plus about 1/8 part pure tin
Comes close to bhn 11-12 when cured in about 3 weeks
Pistol & rifle ( Low Velocity)


High Steppes of Eastern Washington
Mr. Ackward, I am having a hard time trying to understand what you are saying. But if it is about hollow based bullets, that I use in the 455 Webley, the old Dick Lee stuff doesn't work. The reason is that pressure is perpendicular to the surface when exposed to a gas. Therefore, you have 11,000 psi tearing apart the hollow base. It is not linear as with a flat based bullet. Ric

Bass Ackward

Active Member
I’m afraid I’m not being very eloquent, I set this deformation test up specifically to achieve the results obtained. My mix is.... limited for larger diameter slugs if the gun requires more than .002 dimensional change for a PB. It was designed to show how hard 14 Bhn really isn’t. I have been using this mix for better than 2 decades without knowing this. I was believing that inaccuracy was bullet design or load. I took a .279 bullet down to .268 for use in a 6.5-06 with no indication sizing could ever be a problem. Any idea just how much money I wasted trying for loads that were impossible? Or how much I spent on new molds going to stronger designs to fight the transition when in fact I needed to get .... weaker designs. My 44 Special performs very well with the weakest 44 caliber design I know, the 429215. I understand better now why that is.

This .... understanding will help me in the future. How many others understand what the limitations of their mix is? The other big thing is that leading is very likely to be from the bullet’s base. Do you have any idea how many guns have been sold because they “spit lead” with the assumption that they had a misaligned chamber? What’s the best forcing cone angle for cast? Sometimes a forcing cone forces alignment. Sometime it is more of a sizer. Knowing how your mix sizes can improve your .... guesses. :)

Do you REALLY think that forcing cone or rifle throat enlarged / elongated was because of heat? Some maybe, Sb lead under pressure is abrasive unless it is controlled by tin. (Lyman#2) The more or harder it presses out under pressure, the more it cuts / wears. So the age old line about no need for GCs on bullets was only for pure lead & tin. GCs minimize ... deformation, therefore they cut / control gun wear. This was the purpose for my pressure test. And I’m not sure I’ll ever add copper again. That is what I suspect is causing the sizing issue.

Bass Ackward

Active Member
Lets try this. 1st pic is a bullet sized from .434 on the base (it’s actually tapered) down to .432 to choke the throat.

And here is .429 like the bore would size it only in a gentle way. The bore would be much more violent and blow the .... sharp edge or fake hollow base created by this mix. 20-1 still looks normal. I hope you can see from the photo. But this is why I think a GC should be called a base protector. And this design in the pic has a narrow base band. Imagine how a wide base band design would look.

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High Steppes of Eastern Washington
"What’s the best forcing cone angle for cast? Sometimes a forcing cone forces alignment. Sometime it is more of a sizer. Knowing how your mix sizes can improve your .... guesses."

I have been most successful by using 4 degrees included angle cut on the lathe. That will take you past any thread crush and the end is 0.002" over cylinder throat. Polish to 400 grit or finer works for me.

IMHO, the gas check is the piston that applies even pressure to the base of the bullet to allow equal obturation of the lube groove, and maybe the base band.


Well-Known Member
I have successfully shot 8 bhn Keith and LBT style Lee bullets with plain bases in .357 Mag and .44 Mag at
full power with good accy and no leading anywhere. Undersized and too hard will not do that, IME. These
bullets were fit to the throat.
In my SBH hot loads did well, even when the throats were .433 and the bullets .430, as long as the pressures were
up enough to obturate well.

I have essentially no GC handgun molds, find no benefit from them when I have tried them. I may, some day, try
them again, but so far, money and effort spent for zero gain is my result. YMMV.



Well-Known Member
Hmm. With a four degree taper in the .004 per side depth of the rifling, that will get you
forward 0.057 inches. If you cut the forcing cone out of a .452 groove diam by .010 per side
to .472 diam, that is 0.014 total inward and at 4 degrees that is 0.200.
I don't have the gun in front of me, but my guess is that the back of the barrel to the front of the
frame where the frame choke starts is about 3/4" or so.
I can't see how a 4 degree taper gets you anywhere near taking out the frame choke.
It would require smooth boring the first 3?4" of the barrel to do that.

Maybe it is 2 deg on a side, so the tangent of 2 deg is, instead of 0.069, now about half of that, 0.0349.
That makes the first calc 0.114, and the second calculation into 0.40. Still nowhere near the
end of the frame choke, IME.

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Well-Known Member
lets discuss the internal structure of the alloy.
20-1 and ww alloy with a little tin have the same BHN.

this is a perfect example of antimony not being the hard overbearing brittle monster it's been made out to be over the years.
it is in fact the exact opposite under pressure and it actually allows the lead to slide over itself easier after the crystals break down.
the big brittle alloys don't come in until the amount of antimony is raised up above 6% or so.

now tin is another matter, you don't bend and flex tin you actually have to break its structure for it to move and glide.
that's why when you bend a piece of pewter or higher tin bars you hear it creaking and popping you are actually tearing and breaking the tin nodules.

if you think of antimony as having a [*] shape and tin as having a shape within the alloy it will make more sense to you in how it works and why the antimony is affected by copper surrounding it and how water dropping an alloy keeps those * fingers spread out within the alloy making it appear to have a higher BHN.


West Central AR
In my preenlightenment days I had a 357 that did all sorts of strange things . It took me about 5 yr after we parted ways to figure it out .
Blue Dot with a start load for a 158 RNHP Speer jammed cases drive out tight .
38s shot tiny groups .
38+P shot great .
Those mimiced in 357 brass were still great .
75&85 gr Gold Dots intended for 380 over something like 9.0 Unique was amazing . Like quarter sized 6 shot groups at 50 yd and making wound golf balls evaporate at 75 was child's play .......
In hind sight I suspect a .355 barrel and .356 throats .......

I know an RBH that has .454 throats into .451 groove . Probably an 11° cone . It doesn't like the fire breathing loads . Top of the Colts maybe a little into the load gap between SAA and Ruger only for the 250-265 gr . It seems to prefer softer alloy by which we're looking at 50/50 WQ ......weird because ACWW should be about there and that doesn't really fly .......
It doesn't spit . It really doesn't even mark up the cylinder face much . Nil with lead mostly lube and powder .
I do know that it had 3 different sized throats in pairs of 2 and getting them all close to the same size fixed most of it's issues .

I have had several rifles that long throated doesn't even come close . Hotdog in a hallway is only a little bit of an exaggeration .
30-06' an SPBT could be loaded out to that magic .001-3 off the lands with about .1 touching the neck on the other end . It shoots better seated to the crimp groove with something like .250 jump . With cast it likes a .312 and as long as it doesn't slump it's not even really picky about shape . Paper patched it's happy with the same data as jacketed .

I don't know what any of that means . But I do know if I don't force stuff to what I want and follow it's lead it will go much smoother . Now if I can get that slug out of the Arisaka I'll be living larger than life .


High Steppes of Eastern Washington
"Maybe it is 2 deg on a side, so the tangent of 2 deg is, instead of 0.069, now about half of that, 0.0349.
That makes the first calc 0.114, and the second calculation into 0.40. Still nowhere near the
end of the frame choke, IME."

Yep, 2 degrees per side, 4 degrees included. Since my newest revolver is now 30 years old, I don't have a lot of experience with thread chock. And I don't own any Rugers. So is your thread chock at the rear of the barrel, where the barrel is screwed in deepest? or somewhere else? I would have thought that it was at the farthest back that had the most compression from being wound on so long.


St Lawrence river valley, NY
My observations- Elmer would have been wrong with your alloy in your gun with your loads Bass. But as a wise man one said, it doesn't matter- until it does! Perfect example of your saying coming into play. 2- Fivers #12 post shows exactly my theory on Bhn being a near useless number unless you know the make up of your alloy. "14 Bhn", okay what alloy? Good old COWW back in the day often ran 14 Bhn or even more. But what was in them?

Bass Ackward

Active Member
I don't want this to sound like I'm crying, I just wanted to get a discussion going. After sleeping on it, I assume that ALL mixes have a similar sizing problem. Cause I have a nice, famously problematic, Mod 25 from the 50s that is .456 / .451. SOMEBODY would have figured this out if it was possible by now. And I can tell you now, that 20-1 does the same thing at .004. (I started with a .435 slug in 20-1) You don't learn till you fail and I have been blessed with good enough guns or I gave up on them for dimensional issues without considering why or how to work around. The expansion test resulting in the chamber leading was expanding 14 BHN almost .020 or .010 a side hard enough to over come the lube & leave that ironed on stuff with NOTHING for pressure. One things for sure, that …. scientist that came up with that mathematical formula for hardness should be shot. Doesn't have a clue. Science fails us again.

The forcing cone & throat issues were rhetorical. We do what we have to do to solve the problems at hand. My taylor throated Redhawk is a nightmare & I have been considering having it re-barreled, but it is .433 / .430 too & I have better 44s now that I might be moving to 45s. Maybe Ruger has some BIG barrels laying around? Hmmm. We have all seen worn throats / forcing cones, BUT I assumed it was heat. That shouldn't be a problem for the Special, yet it is exhibiting similar progression. It WAS fairly flexible with .432 / .429 & maybe I made the mistake of following out the throats. Darn sure aught not have a problem even sizing to bore with 14 BHN …. obturation. I normally ….. push my guns, and I'm having to learn how to, as the neighbor's little girl says, "poof". I poof with the 625s, but that's almost perfect dimensions & that's all they can give. And since I started with Lino & WW's that were between 7 -9 % antimony, I LEARNED how to make hard work. Hearing folks say, hard bullets lead, makes me chuckle. My best shooting was with hard. Ultrahard? I'll define hard as lead that pressure doesn't obturate enough to overcome most lube. That figure has moved dramatically for me now.

And I pick on Elmer. Because I read & re-read Sixguns. You pick up things as you read. That book is a journey of "his" education that mirrors ours. His designs" aren't always his. That's why the 45 cals DON'T look like the 38 & 44 with long noses & wider bands. Lyman told him to hold the weight line. When people complained about them, he said the bands are too thin, use lino. WHAT? Yep. I have a new respect for Ray Thompson as his designs were meant to fight another problem. But seeing just how low lead expands under pressure also makes me value the gas check, or base protector, or launch device, & give it a new term, barrel protector. If lead don't expand under pressure or have to be sized, it can't cut as much. & copper cuts less. I haven't told ya about that yet.

3 / 4 yrs ago Dad & his friend chopped up & split 3 barrels. My 44 Mag (shooting WW only) his 45 Colt barrel (Lyman #2 only) & Doc's jacketed rifle take off. They sent those to Someplace, CA for surface measurement. The jacketed was 2400 micron, the 45 Colt was 2300, & my 44 was 1800 microns. This was up in the normal part of the tube, not worst case scenarios. These came back as nice reports that I can't locate in Dad's estate. Doc died 2 months before him & might have had them. They asked the tech about lead / tin & he said those associated with bearings run about 4000 / 5000 microns. So Sb lead is abrasive, more so than copper. IF you press harder on sand paper, it cuts more. So the GC has gone from a frame cutting issue (never have seen this on one of my guns) to throat & barrel wear …. minimizer. Wear drive my thought / technique train & perspective quite a bit these days.


West Central AR
Does that take us back aluminum oxide grinding matl' left behind from AL gaschecks now too ?
What about paper patched .........
No not contrary just wondering where it stands .


Staff member
Bass, regarding your comments on forcing cone wear. The worst thing for and the fastest forcing cone wear is from too soft an alloy at too high a velocity. That's not to say "hardcast" but too soft along with too fast is plenty tough on forcing cones.
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Well-Known Member
A couple other observations. Like Bill, I have successfully shot 16:1 flat-base bullets at near full power in .44 Mag, successful being <3" groups at 100 yards. BUT, the revolver was .427"x .430". Not much squish, and I used a design with deep lube and crimp grooves and used a powder that didn't bump the base up until it was at least into the cylinder throat. If there is a big dimensional disparity, then too much metal has to get moved with too little steel around it for guidance and control, then problems can sometimes arise.....but not always. Sometimes we expect trouble and it just doesn't show up. Sometimes we think we did everything exactly right and it don't work for chit and we may never be able to figure out why. Well, as they say "That's racin'".

My best shooting in any gun with cast bullets has come from moderation in all things. If any one thing is pushed to the ragged edge of its mechanical limits, the system eventually breaks down. Rely on one thing too much to get accuracy (such as an alloy blend and temper riding the razor's edge of being able to withstand the drive side abrasion of the lands) and it can get totally screwed up by a 20° change in ambient temperature, or shooting just one shot too many in a ten minute window.

As for Dick and John, the BHN/pressure formula was presented to us as a relevant correlation between best groups that a given RIFLE could produce, with Lee moulds, in THEIR hands. Dick of course put a huge marketing spin on the whole deal and tried to make the BHN/pressure formula chart one of the fundamental laws of the Universe, which of course it is not. Anyone who has spent time trying his formula has likely found that it works, but isn't the whole answer. I know someone who would correlate the velocities achieved with the Lee BHN/pressure/accuracy theory happen to fall right in line with the RPM theory, though he would never give credit to the Lee's or for BHN/pressure due to NIH syndrome. Anyone who has shot a lot of two-diameter bullets at low to medium velocity and relatively low pressure can tell you that there's a point where things come together....and it lines up with a lot of things such as RPM and BHN/pressure. So what is really the deal? It's all true to some degree. As Veral Smith observes, everything has mechanical limits. Many of us of us observe that accuracy deteriorates when bullets are damaged during the launch. If you can keep pressures and velocities below the point where the bullet is damaged, then the bullets will group well. If you can't or don't want to, then you must improve fit, alloy, and all the other things to increase the pressure/velocity limits to where you want them.