Squirrel Bullet Mold Tests

  • Last Post 16 July 2019
John Alexander posted this 12 July 2019

I have just finished some quick and dirty testing of two relative new molds. After many years of listing no 22 bullet molds Lee now offers a 55-grain design which looks a bit like the more recent Lyman 225415. The other mold the NOE 22560 RN has always looked like a reasonable design. I shot 20, 5-shot groups with each bullet using each both with gas checks and as cast without gas checks.

Half the shooting was with a classic Sako L461 (14 inch twist, 12 grooves) and half with a stainless steel and plastic Tikka T3 lite (8 inch twist, 6 grooves) -- Beauty and the Beast but good lightweight hunting rifles in 222 and 223

I tested the bullets as a beginning CB shooter, or one who wanted to shoot with the least trouble, might test them. No load development, no tinkering with sizing or alloys, no weighing of bullets, powder, or cases, no discarding small to medium wrinkles, no cleaning of necks or primer pockets, no neck turning or trimming, no swaging, no case prep., Sizing was with Lee Collet die so no case lubing, no cleaning, no M die, no crimp. I guessed at a load, alloy, and lube stuck with them. I had fun shooting. 4.5 grains of TiteGroup (5.0 for gas checked), WSR, 24:1, and one coat of tumble lube for all 200 shots. No gazing at and analyzing groups, no shots called out, but 2 wild shots more than doubled their groups and were disregarded as unrepresentative. 198 of 200 consecutive shots counted.

When I get the results sorted I plan to write a detailed article, or maybe one for each bullet for TFS but thought some of the initial findings might be of interest to the denizens of this forum.

Both molds were hard to clean but when clean, cast great bullets. The diameters at the bands were both over .226" and the noses just right for my two rifles. Mold halves matched better than any of my other molds. Magnification was helpful to see seams. Cast bullets don't have to be round to win, matches and most of mine are pretty lopsided from beagling, but both molds produced very round bullets.

Short bullets like these are harder to shoot well than long ones and I have never been able to shoot an honest aggregate smaller than about 1.5 moa with 22 bullets that will stabilize in a 14" twist and I've never seen anybody else do it (although JoeB gave it a good try and came, close as reported on the forum, a couple of years ago.) But surprisingly, the NOE gas checked bullet averaged 1.02 moa for five consecutive groups and the Lee averaged 1.21 for six consecutive groups from the Tikka.

The results showed that either gas checked bullet, if pointed in the right direction, would hit a squirrel's head every time at 50 yards from either rifle. The plain based bullets in the Sako would do the same.  The percentage would go down a bit for the plain based in the Tikka but most of them would get a squirrel. I certainly recommend either mold for anybody wanting the ultimate squirrel rifle in a 22 centerfire. They don't require any special fussy loading techniques to shoot very well.

I enjoyed just banging away without worrying about whether this or that would improve matters. I had a great time seeing what these two bullets would do with guessed at loads.  It would be even more interesting to see how well they would shoot in a load they really liked.

I recommend a similar test of other bullets and rifles as an enjoyable project. 


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admiral posted this 13 July 2019


I find your post interesting because I have used 18.0 gr of IMR4198 under the NOE 45gr. BPR in my Marlin .219 Zipper. Also there was no load development either, I just picked that powder charge to start with. That load shoots 2810 fps and will shoot 5 shots @ 100 into 7/8 - 1 1/4" groups over and over again. I had read horror stories for years about .224" centerfire rifles being the devil to get cast to shoot out of so thinking I got lucky I tried the same bullet in both my Ruger No.1 and Browning M65 .218 Bee rifles. They both shot great @ 2600 fps. Maybe I just got a great mold?

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 13 July 2019

great report, john. i really liked the part where you said "  i had fun .. "  .

looking forward to your full report .... especially on the plainbase exercise  ....


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Scearcy posted this 13 July 2019

Bravo, John! This is a test that really needed to be done.

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cfp4570 posted this 13 July 2019

That Lee 55 grain is my only .22 mold and feeds a pair of .223's, one a model 700 that I used I the bunny shoot, and the other is an H&R handi. I heard about how hard .22 centerfires are to get success with cast, but I have had nothing but great luck with my plinking loads and a minimum of effort. Nothing match grade, but plenty accurate for my steel targets, pest control, and generic diet soda can busting. I look forward to your report!

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 13 July 2019

The way it should be. Great write-up John. I think I enjoyed reading about it as you did actually doing it.

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
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Shopdog posted this 13 July 2019

John,better lucky than good? Snagged a barely used 14T Sendero 22-250 barrel on the cheap because the P.O. wanted a faster twist? I bought it awhile back but got sidetracked with a 3000fps 100g 7-08...... Anyway,cheap barrel got fitted to an old ADL reciever and is being fed Lee 225-55 RF. We have pretty much a complete machine shop so can't say the tooling is anything but one off. Short version is,these bullets are swaged/bumped/loaded as close as possible. With 19g of H4198 10 shots go in a ragged hole.... as fast as you can work them up through the magwell. Lube is 3-1,BW to vaseline....with a slight twist. Lube is mixed 1-1,very carefully then the other "parts" of BW are chopped in. Think dirty mashed potatoes.

"Less is more" on lube vs velocity. Iowa's, as velocity goes up,these rigs require less lube. They are lubed by hand in just the space above GC.

Cracking 3k fps was the goal if this rig,which it does with H4895... but to be honest the factory barred Savage #10 7-08 (Savage made an 11.5T barrel in this chambering for a cpl years... much to everyone's dismay...got it REALLY cheap with less than 40 rds through it) packs a much heavier smack factor on varmints so it sort of puts the 250 to shame in this respect.

There was NO load development with the 19g of H4198. It is simply the varmint load from a tack driver 223,same bullet,R700. And this load was derived from 222 jacketed loads. And yes,there is a pattern.....

The wannabe Sendero is a decent rig. I'm mainly a varmint hunter.

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Scearcy posted this 13 July 2019

Interesting indeed. 17-18 gr of IMR 4198 is the best load I have found for my 243s (95 gr bullet). H 4198 never has worked as well.

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gpidaho posted this 13 July 2019

The Noe 225-60-RN is my favorite 22cal. mould.  Seems to work well in all my 22cal. rifles. Gp

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Coydog posted this 14 July 2019

I had got in the past from NOE  the mold for 45gr at the time he did had a mold for GC and PB  on the same mold. I got it and did a test on my Rem 700 22-250  I wanted a light load to shoot like a 22lr . So I load and test the GC to get POA  and then I chorny it and then I found a site to make reduced loads and put in the information and did the test after with the PB and now got it to shoot like a 22lr and on target. 

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John Alexander posted this 14 July 2019

Shopdog and Admiral:

Getting 3,000 and 2810 fps with good accuracy is outstanding. Tell us more. What alloys were you shooting. What about sizing? Any special loading tricks, wads? fillers?


What powder and charge did you use to get that 22lr equivalent load in your 22-250?  What alloy? 

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tlkeizer posted this 15 July 2019


John, I like the part of doing what a beginner would do, and had fun.  Hey, if you want to try some small squirrels, c'mon up here to Alaska and we can sit in either the shade or sun, drink root beers (or diet coke for those us us watching our sugars), and shoot those %$@# pesky little rodents when they appear.  Shots usually not over 35 yards.  We can take a break for fishing time to time.


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John Alexander posted this 16 July 2019


Thanks for the invitation.  I would enjoy that kind of safari.

When I lived in Alaska in the mid to late 1950 you would still occasionally see native women wearing coats made of the pelts. It must have taken several hundred and they left the tails on making a distinctly different fashion.


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