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Practically Shooting

New Toy (.359-125HP Mould)


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This arrived the other day. I've wanted one for a while. They aren't cheap, and are only made in small runs several months apart that sell out quickly, so it took a while before I caught one.

It's a pretty thing, but it's pretty versatile too. It makes all of these bullets by swapping the HP pins around, or in the case of the Flat Point, by turning them over:

They are in .359" diameter, so I can make them work in several calibers I have from .38 S&W through 9mm and 38 Super to .38 and .357 mag.

The HPs are 125 grains and the FP is 130 grains (approx- depending on the alloy used).

The shape matches the bullet in my 9mm carry load almost exactly.

Casting HPs can be a pain. Messing around with a single cavity mould that needs the HP pin put in and taken out for each cast (while wearing gloves) is clumsy and slow. This mould is different, and uses captive pins that slide out when the mould is opened, and they slide back into place when it is closed. Bullets almost always dropped free when the pins started to move.

It is about as fast as using a regular two-cavity mould. Actually the brass construction might make it as fast or even faster in the long run, because I didn't have to stop and let it cool very often. I usually get about 20 casts when I start using a mould, then around 10-12 thereafter, before I have to put it aside to cool. I was getting twenty casts easy with this one.

This was not a cheap mould, but it was so easy to use and I can use it's bullets for so many things that it should be well worth it. The only way I could feel otherwise would be if it's bullets won't hit the broad side of a barn in any gun, but it should succeed in something. I guess when I think about it, it wasn't much more than a regular production Saeco mould, which wouldn't be a HP or brass.

I cast up some from four different alloys, and will make some from about that many more. I'll then shoot them into the Fackler Box (fixture that holds water filled ziploc bags) for some testing. I know water isn't the best test medium, but nothing else is perfect either and water is free.

I'll work with 9mm first, but since it's bullets can be used in guns/calibers that will shoot them from around 800 fps to 1,900-2,000 fps, I expect there will be a lot of testing in order to find what works best in which gun/caliber.

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Including shipping from Slovenia, where the maker has machine shop, it was $108. Considering where Lyman, RCBS, and Saeco prices have gotten in the past two years, it isn't bad.

I usually size 9mm bullets to .358 anyway. Most 9mm pistol bores run larger than the supposed .355 we have always been told. When I slugged the bores of my 9mm pistols, I found one at .356 (Sig P210) and the rest were at or around .357-.358.

From what I've gathered from others since then who have slugged the bores of 9mms, that is typical.

The 9mm had or still has a reputation for poor accuracy with cast bullets. I have a theory that is why. I'm guessing most run bigger than the .355 bullets that get tried in them.

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That depends on the lube-sizer. I have three lube-sizers because I tried to go cheap at first, then when I upgraded I could have gone two directions: get a better one that will do everything, or get a better one that was also faster but perhaps a little more limited in what it could do. I went for versatility, then found a deal on the fast one and got it. That made three.

The most common ones, like the Lyman, RCBS, and Saeco are incredibly slow. When I started casting, I was prepared for the actual casting to take time but was surprised at how slow going the lube and sizing process was. It really sucked up the time. Until I got the Star sizer, that is. With the conventional types, the bullet has to be placed with some care, then you work the handle to force it down into the die, then you bring the handle back up to push the bullet back out the top of the die.

There is lube in a reservoir that is pressurized by screwing a spring-loaded piston down against the lube. An opening into the die holding area let's the lube to the die, which has a series of holes around it's body. As the bullet passes through the die and it's lube grooves pass over these holes, lube is injected into to groove.

The process is slowed because of the need to start the bullet square and having to run it down into the die and back up and out again.

Then I got the used Star lube-sizer (now made by Magma). It is like the Dillon of lube-sizers.

With it, you drop the bullet in the die nose-down and it aligns itself in the gently tapered die. Then you swing the handle, and it pushes it through the die, lubing it at the bottom of the stroke, and pushing the previous bullet out the bottom. There is no in and out stuff; the bullets go through one after the other. As fast as you can drop bullets in and swing the handle, you lube and size bullets.

I can do 100 in maybe five minutes. That is ten to twenty times faster than the other type. And you can get bullet feeding tubes and air pressurized lube reservoirs to go faster yet.

The Star's drawbacks (that I see) are that dies cost more and its harder to seat gas checks only (without lubing). It is probably uncommon to seat checks without lubing, but I use one bullet a lot that I do that with. Dies cost nearly double to buy new than Lyman/RCBS/Saeco types, and used ones for those are plentiful for a lot less than that.

But I have dies for the sizes I use in .44, .45, and the 9mm/.38s, and that covers all of my handgun bullets and the majority of my casting.

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Oh yeah, he used to do each run with a choice of either .357 or .359 diameter. The intent, I assume, was to offer a diameter for 9mm use and another for 38/357 use. The last two runs I am aware of were made in .359 only, even though it was pushed as both a 9/38 bullet. I would guess the .359 outsold .357 by a fair margin, which might tell me that others find the fatter bullets more useful.

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