03 April 2019
When I was a kid, my uncle Bub came to live with us for awhile. Bub, (Elmer), had been dragged away from behind a horse drawn plow and sent into the Battle of the Bulge in a glider. Some how he managed to become a gun crank despite that awful experience. He and my Dad and their little brother grew up on a small dairy farm and hunted small game as there were no deer in the area. In 1941 they saw a deer track in an oats field and it was the talk of the local folks. So deer rifles were just not needed. A twenny two and a shotgun was all that was necessary, and handguns scared the bejeebers out of the women.
Somehow uncle Bub got some military surplus Mausers and an Enfield and maybe a Springfield. The Mausers got sporterized and were exotic creatures to my young eyes. My Dad got the cartridge collector bug, but Bub started reloading, and then casting bullets. He used a Coleman stove, a cast iron pot, and a dipper to fill his single cavity moulds. He did this outside our old farm house and cautioned me to only try this on sunny days without a chance of rain. His most exotic attempt was to drop a air rifle BB in the nose of a spitzer 30 caliber mould. I was fascinated.
A few years later, Bub had a friend I always thought was just a bit odd. Hank was his name, and he a full military Model 1891 Argentine rifle. He was a hand loader and a bullet caster, and to my young and naive eyes, an expert. He told stories about loading lead bullets so fast in that Argie that when he shot a red tailed hawk off a pole over his chicken coop, he blew it to bits. That same load he claimed was so hot, that if he fired 10 shots, liquid lead would run out of the barrel when he tipped it muzzle down. As I said, I was young and ate up that BS with rapped attention.
Time passes and the moment I turned 21, a Ruger Super Black Hawk was bought. Oof dah, that thing was loud and kicked! An acquaintance told me to hand load for it with cast bullets. I was dumb lucky smart because I read Dean Grinnell's "The ABCs of Reloading" before I bought any reloading stuff. The only mould in .44 available at the local sporting goods store was a Lyman .421215. I bought that single cavity mould, a box of Lyman gaschecks, and sticks of that black Lyman lube, and a grey Lyman 450 Lubrisizer.
The next phase was getting hired on a fair sized municipal police department and being issued a rebuild Combat Masterpiece. The department maintained a bullet casting and reloading room. I wanted to do that but only guys with enough seniority got that job as it paid over time to cast with the H&G 10 cavity gang moulds and load on a big Star progressive. I could have all the .38 spl. wad cutter ammo I wanted to shoot, and that Smith was loose as a goose in a couple of years.
Today, I find myself nearly overwhelmed with the number of moulds, dies, sizers, lubes, calibers, brass and other detritus of this hobby/passion. Milsurp, black powder cartridge rifle, schuetzen, classic lever guns, other single shots, revolvers, pistols, all fed with cast. I scrounged every ounce of lead I could find. Taking to heart Dean Grinnell's admonition that he would make a bullet out of it if it were vaguely plumbous, I never foresaw a day when wheel weights and linotype were going to become scarce. So the thousands of pounds of lead in various permutations are a great comfort.
Now aren't you sorry you asked?