Cast bullet hand loading for 22-250

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David R. posted this 13 March 2018

A little about myself first: I grew up shooting bushels of .22 LR. First with my grandfather, then boy scouts, afterwards Jr. ROTC. Later, in my twenties I shot some bullseye matches indoors with the .22 LR where I did fairly well. I moved on to .38 Special, .357 Magnum and .32 H&R Magnum. I had a wonderful mentor who had an encyclopedic knowledge of firearms, casting and reloading who helped me get started back in the late eighties and early nineties. I didn’t have the internet, but I had James and a Lyman manual and my results were satisfying. When I began reloading years ago my means were limited and my setup was minimal.  I started with a Lee Loader and a mallet and eventually moved up to a Lee hand press and a “Speed Die”. (I don’t think they even make those now). Casting a 105 SWC from wheel weights scrounged from all over, never sizing them and tumble lubing in Liquid Alox I was shooting groups out of my revolvers that I could cover with my palm at fifty feet.

 Fast forward to a couple of years ago and I had been away from my shooting hobby for twenty years. I was gifted a lovely Remington 700 chambered in 22-250. Initially I didn’t even know what I had. I began researching and learned a bit about the cartridge and that my gun was made in 1966, making it an early production version. I knew right away that I wanted to reload for this gun and use cast bullets if at all possible. It has been an interesting journey and it was what led me to find and join the CBA. I have very much enjoyed lurking and reading the posts of others and my only complaint is that the forum isn’t more active. Well, I’m making a contribution here that I hope will help a bit. 

 This is my first foray in to reloading for a rifle. The following is what I’m doing. I know that most of you in this group are much more experienced and knowledgable than myself and I welcome your insights and observations. Understanding that I am likely a bit vain, insecure and neurotic I trust that you will be gentle in your criticisms. 

 Lyman #225415 mold. This is a 55 grain bullet

Bullets cast in #2 alloy, tumble lubed in 45/45/10, gas check applied, sized .224 and lubed again. 

Norma Brass with flash hole cleaned with unifying tool

Winchester primers

Cartridge overall length 2.214 (Lyman manual calls for 2.325, but I used a gizmo on my cleaning rod and one of my bullets to come up with the above measurement. 

 15.3 grains of 5744 This was the starting load with a listed velocity of 2.032 fps

 Lee Factory Crimp

 My first trip to the range was a disaster. I made multiple mistakes. My scope was badly out of adjustment and I was never going to get any bullets on target at the ambitious 100 yard distance that I was starting from. After digging worms somewhere midways down range for twenty rounds I shook my head and went home. My barrel was an evil mess. I have never seen such fouling. After a week of alternate soaking and scrubbing with brushes and patches I went to work with Kroil and JB Bore cleaner before worrying the hell out of it with JB Bore polish. Candidly I don’t know if I ever got it perfectly clean but it’s certainly shiny. 

 During a subsequent trip to the range I got my scope adjusted for fifty yards using factory ammo. If I had been holding well enough I think that it could shoot one hole groups at that distance. 

 For my second attempt with hand loads I cast in straight Linotype and followed the same lubing, sizing and loading procedure as above. 

 This time I was peppering the target in groups that were about four or five inches across (too poor to bother measuring in my opinion)  This time I had a Chronograph and was able to check my velocity. The average was 2,240 fps. They only varied by fifty fps except for one wild shot that was 2,290. I was pleased with this and felt that I must have done something right to have my spread of velocity be that close.  When I got home the gun cleaned up with just a few patches after soaking with Kroil. 

 I’m now wondering if this is going to work or not. I am forming the opinion that in the mid sixties when this cartridge / rifle combo was being developed that no one was thinking of doing what I’m trying to do. This thing was meant to shoot fast and flat, period! I attempted to determine my rate of twist using masking tape and my cleaning rod. I came up with 14:1 twice in a row. Since my velocity is a tad more than the manual listed I’m thinking that I will reduce the load to 13 grains of 5744 and see what they clock and if my groups tighten up. 

 On another forum I read where someone else wanted to do the same thing. One person responded asking “why would you want to emasculate such a fine cartridge?”. That’s a fair question and my answer is that I was given a nice rifle that I would just like to enjoy shooting. I didn't get to select the cartridge that it was chambered in. I usually only have access to a 100 yard range and I know of no reason that I need a 3,500 fps screamer. If I can get good target accuracy at 100 yards while making it easier on myself and my gun then that’s the reason. 

 I have not as yet slugged my barrel. I probably should. 

 I now offer this up to the brain trust to see what else I need to consider. Thanx in advance! 

 

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GP Idaho posted this 13 March 2018

David: First of all, welcome to the group.  There are a few of us here toying with the 22-250s.  My Savage model 112 heavy barrel is also cursed with the 1 in 14 twist and I've found it to hate bullets over 55gr. 2250fps seems fast to me but if you're not getting a leaded bore, you're doing things close to right as far as alloy and lube go. I haven't come up with a round as yet to brag on but getting some in the 1.5-2" range at 100yrds.  I've been using TiteGroup in my testing and the charges have been in the 5.5-8gr. range, better on the upper end and I'll most likely go up a bit on that charge.  I powder coat most of my bullets and like the cleanliness of it. I'm sizing at .227 and seating just deep enough to get a good grip on the bullet. The throat of the Savage is much too long to seat the small bullets up tight like I do with most rifle rounds. Check out some of the testing that has been done by our friend Joe B. and good luck with the Remington. Gp

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JeffinNZ posted this 13 March 2018

Welcome about.  The 225415 (old and new version) is a great little bullet.  I have shot it a lot in .22 Hornet and .223 Rem with grand results and 1900-2300fps in both.  The flat nose is just the ticket on small game.  I shoot them pretty much as cast at lube them in a .225 die that is more like .2255 and a bit.  I'd be inclined to just gas check and lube them without sizing.  If you can get the bullets to hold snug in a fired case that's about perfect.  Otherwise use a 'M' style die to expand the case mouth to allow oversize cast bullets to be seated without damage.  I made a stepped expander for my .22 rifles; .222, .224, .226 inch.  I run in the .222/.224 for shooting jacketed (the .224 deep enough for the heel of the bullet to enter the mouth) and then deeper for .224/.226 for the cast.

Photo for reference shows new version of the 225415 on the far left and beside it the old version.

Cheers from New Zealand

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David R. posted this 13 March 2018

Thank you for the responses. This is encouraging. Who knows? Maybe this will work after all. What is a "M style die"? 

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GP Idaho posted this 13 March 2018

David: The M-die is a stepped expansion die made by Lyman. For expansion dies I prefer the NOE product as you have a choice to the one thousandth for the perfect fit.  Gp

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David R. posted this 14 March 2018

This evening, I slugged my bore and measured .225. I checked a couple of my bullets none of them are round. They measure between .225 and .226 as I rotate them in the micrometer. It's interesting to me that I didn't have leading on my second attempt. I suppose that I could try shooting them as they drop without sizing, but I have to admit that I like the idea of a bullet being round before it starts it's trip down the barrel. 

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OU812 posted this 14 March 2018

Good bullet choices (bore rider) are very limited in that caliber and for that slow twist rate barrel. The Lyman 225646 would be a good choice.Using softer alloy under 10 bhn will cure the out of roundness when fired. Size them larger .226 diameter or at least seat on the gas check with Lee sizer that has been honed larger .226. Quick burning powder such as Titegroup is a verygood choice...start with 8 grains and work up. Seat the bullet long so that it will be pushed back slightly into case neck when chambered and bore ride section engraves rifling full length.

Harder linotype or #2 bullets need to fit throat like a glove to work best. So softer will work better for your situation.

Maybe try a softer alloy (10 bhn or under) with the bullet you are currently using and size larger .226. Also try Titegroup powder.

Fine Bronze wool wrapped around a bore brush works verygood at removing lead fouling.

The Lee collet die will let you adjust neck tension larger. M die is not needed to seat bullet if neck is sized large enough and chamfered well. I like about .002-.003 neck tension.

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onondaga posted this 14 March 2018

Your initial leading problem indicates undersized bullets.

The glove fit to the chamber mentioned is verifiable by using ink on the bullet of a dummy round. The test is valid for a new loaded bullet only once as the best fit shows smeared ink on at least the first exposed driving band all the way around. That indicates a slide fit to the chamber and this gives a cast bullet a stable start. Any less than a slide fit subtracts accuracy potential from cast bullets. Actually the bore measurement is not applicable for cast bullets in your rifle as the chamber slide size can be quite a bit larger than bore size and the bore will size cast bullets as fired. This is NOT so with jacketed bullets as a slide fit with them will spike pressure. That basic is important to understand as a beginning point in fitting your rifle with cast bullets.

I shoot cast a Handi-Rifle in .223 with the 225646 sized/checked .225 and Titegroup consistently under 1" @ 50 yards but it wasn't easy getting there. In order to succeed it took fit, alloy strength to load selection. Lube is the least important problem when the first two are solved in order.

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OU812 posted this 14 March 2018

" Lube is the least important problem when the first two are solved in order."

 

I have seen perfect fitting bullets shoot very badly because of using too much of the wrong lube. There is a perfect balance.

 

Your tumble lube should work fine. Clean the barrel when accuracy starts to fade.

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John Alexander posted this 14 March 2018

David R. wrote: "I have to admit that I like the idea of a bullet being round before it starts it's trip down the barrel. "

David, We all like the idea of a round bullet it's just that we seldom see one that hasn't been either bumped (swaged) or sized. Bullet mold blocks are seldom perfectly aligned. Don't worry about it. A lot of matches have been won with less than round bullets.  How they fit is way more important.

You have already gotten a lot of good advice so I will restrain myself except to agree that softer alloy, lower velocities, more work on fit all are worth trying. I had my best accuracy in slow twist's with the 415 bullet.

Keep the posts coming on your progress.

John

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David R. posted this 14 March 2018

Thank you all for your responses. I do hope that this conversation will continue. I do not yet own a hardness tester for my alloy. I'm looking hard at the one offered by L.B.T. For now I stamp my ingots and I can tell that the ones I stamp with "PL" only require a light tap to leave a legible impression, but the ones I stamp "2" and "LT" require a bit more emphasis with the hammer. My blending is a bit like making chili.... a lump of this and a lump of that, seasoned with a dash of tin. I have a batch of .224 bullets loaded with 13.0 grains of 5744 waiting to go to the range, but now I suspect that I should just pull them and start over. OU812's suggestion is easy enough for me to follow. I'll look in to the larger expansion die as my bullets are getting squeezed as it is now and if I go to a softer alloy I can see this being an even bigger issue. 

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OU812 posted this 15 March 2018

John A. knows a lot about the .224 caliber. Most everything i learned about the 224, I learned from him.

BTW I do not own or have I ever shot a 22-250. All of my testing has been using .223 Remington in 1/12 twist  and 1/9 twist barrel.

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John Alexander posted this 15 March 2018

OU812,

Thanks for the kind words but you are too modest. That help goes both ways.  I hope the work you have been doing will help others finally show the 30 caliber competition shooters that they have been shooting the wrong size bullets all these years.

I don't have a 22 with a 12" twist but your success with that twist and slightly shortened NOE 80 grain bullets that should be too long to stabilize ought to be telling us something.  I'm not sure what, but when bullets that shouldn't stabilize in a given twist do just fine we ought to pay attention.

Nosee who has started posting here is also doing some interesting work with a 223 and powder coated NOE 80 grain bullets.

Other recent successes include JoeB's recent saga with the 223 and 22-250 as well as  R Dupraz in today's post in  "Contenders Get No Respect" shooting a 218 Bee with an even slower twist.

I hope others who have been put off by the old conventional wisdom that 22s won't shoot CBs accurately will be encouraged to give them a try.

John

 

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David R. posted this 15 March 2018

I have a Lee Universal neck expanding die as well as a N.O.E. expander for .226 on the way. I also ordered a Lee .225 sizing die that I suppose that can open to .226 if needed. Having a sizing die seems like a more tidy way of pressing on my gas checks. Is that how you guys do it? Regarding my alloy, I suppose that I can take some of my #2 and add a couple of lumps of pure lead to it and see how that works. 

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GP Idaho posted this 15 March 2018

David: I believe you'll be happy with your NOE purchase, I have over 50 of their expanders and size bushings for both body and nose sizing of various calibers. The bushing die and their gas check seating die are also fine tools. I'm a big fan of NOE moulds and tools.  Gp

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M3 Mitch posted this 17 March 2018

I actually got started on cast bullets with my old Ruger M77 light barrel 22-250.  Loading the 225415, old version, sized slightly to about .225, gas check, Alox lube.  The bullets were cast of wheel weights.  This was about 1980.  Loaded with a light charge of 700-X, velocity of about 1800 to 2000 fps.  I got decent but not match winning levels of accuracy right away.

Not many people would recommend a 22-250 as a first cast bullet gun, most people would start with a pistol or revolver, or at least a less overbore cartridge.  But, being a kid, I didn't know any better, and sort of like the bumble bee, who theoretically can't fly, with that big body and small wings - the bumblebee does not know any better, so goes ahead and flies anyway. 

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John Alexander posted this 17 March 2018

Anybody that still contends that an "overbore" cartridge prevents match winning accuracy in CBA matches just hasn't been paying attention. 

Joe Brennan's extensive shooting both the 223 and the 22-250 even hints that the larger case may even provide some advantages.

John

 

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David R. posted this 17 March 2018

I'm enjoying this tread immensely. I'm encouraged and looking forward to trying your suggestions. I had a package from Midway arrive today and yesterday I got a couple of goodies. Too tired to hold my head up tonight but I'll get to work on the soon. i really do appreciate the input from this group. 

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David R. posted this 20 March 2018

The other day I mixed up some softer alloy. I mixed #2 and pure lead half and half and cast a batch of my 55 grain bullets. I received my .225 Lee sizing die and used it to put my gas checks on. I measured a couple of my bullets afterwards and they were only a shade over .224. I'm concerned that my bullets are still undersized and thinking that I need to open up my die a bit. I have an extra .224 die that I don't need and I'm thinking that it needs to become a .226.  How does one do that? I'm not a machinist. I envision taking a piece of aluminum rod and cutting a split in the end where I can stick a strip of emory cloth. .224 seems like a tiny hole to attempt this in. Suggestions are welcome.  I now have the Lee Universal neck expander and the N.O.E. piece to go in it. May be show time soon unless I decide to hold off until I get the sizing die opened up and bit and make some more bullets. 

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R. Dupraz posted this 20 March 2018

I haven't read the entire thread but have you checked the as cast diameter of your bullets to confirm that they are not dropping .224" out of the mold?

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OU812 posted this 20 March 2018

Tape and wrap a small piece of 600-800 grit sand paper to wood dowel or any round stock. I cut sand paper into strips about 1" wide. Adjust for a slight snug fit inside die. Mount the dowel inside drill then hone die back and forth creating a cross hatch pattern. A small amount of thin oil on sand paper will cut a little better.  IT IS VERY EASY TO MAKE DIE TOO LARGE. Hone then size bullet and measure...repeat until die is size you need. I have screwed up more than one of these...so go easy.

Soft alloys will size smaller than harder alloys. So use the alloy you intend to use in rifle. Harder alloy springs back more after sizing.

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