Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 7

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 2 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 3 Bore size versus performance
Part 4 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 5 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 6 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges

This report covers:

  • Bullets
  • Ton to the rescue
  • Sheathe the mold handles
  • Change gloves
  • Hotter lead pot temp for soft lead bullets
  • Better bullets
  • 38-grain bullets
  • Flashing
  • 25-grain bullets
  • Summary

Now that we know how to get positive ignition with a reloaded rimfire cartridge, it’s time to reload some more and get to testing.  In Part 6 we learned that both the primer powder that I bought commercially from Sharpshooter and the powder I removed from toy caps were successful to prime .22 rimfire cartridges, when used according to the directions that came from Sharpshooter. It’s time to move on and load more cartridges to test.

Bullets

If you recall, I was disappointed by the bullets I cast the first time around. The little mold I got from Sharpshooter is all-aluminum and also too small. The aluminum handles heat up so hot I cannot hold them, so I was casting from a relatively cold bullet mold last time. That’s never good. It was 300 to 400 degrees, which is too hot to hold and too cold to cast well.

On top of that I used up all the barely acceptable bullets when I reloaded the 28 unsuccessful cartridges. So I had to cast more bullets and they had to be better.

Ton to the rescue

Ton Jones was reading my report and called me over to AirForce. He gave me a pair of Ton Jones barbecue gloves to hold the hot handles of the bullet mold. What a great gift! Thank you, Ton!

Jones gloves
Ton Jones gave me a pair of his famous barbecue gloves to help me hold the small bullet mold.

Ton told me the amount of time and at what heat these gloves will work. They are effective for temperatures of up to 900 degrees F for 10 seconds, but at the estimated 400-degree heat of the mold handles they work for several minutes.

Sheathe the mold handles

Besides the gloves I decided to sheathe the mold handles with wood. My neighbor Denny had made a nice pair of wooden handle covers that I tried fastening with electrician’s tape last time. The tape melted from the heat, so it was ineffective, but these wood handles are now held to the mold handles by two bolts with nuts on each side. Some reader suggested to use epoxy, but there is no commercial epoxy including muffler cement that can withstand the intense heat for as long as it is needed.

mold handles
The wood handles Denny made are held on the aluminum mold handles with two bolts on each handle.

Using the wooden handles and the gloves I was able to get the mold up to a good casting temperature and cast enough bullets of both sizes for a really good test. The bolts that hold the wooden handles on do transmit the temperature, but the gloves allow me to hold the mold better. I hold the handles toward the rear where the bolts are not located, though I do come in contact with them. 

Change gloves

I found I only need one glove on my left hand, so the other one sits around until I need it. Every few minutes the glove I’m using gets too warm and I switch with the idle glove. This allows for an unlimited time of casting.

Hotter lead pot temp for soft lead bullets

I also discovered this time that I needed to set my Lyman lead furnace hotter because I was casting softer lead that has less tin. Pure lead flows at a higher temperature than lead alloyed with tin and antimony. There was some of each of those metals in the pot, but less than if I was casting bullets for a large caliber firearm pistol. As a note to myself I set the pot at 7.5 on the scale instead of the usual 6.5 for the harder alloys. And the bullets that came from the mold remained shiny, which indicates they were formed at a good casting temperature.

Better bullets

The worst of the bullets I retained from this casting session are better than the best bullets from the first cast. There are still some problems, but they look mold-related and are unlikely to improve.

38-grain bullets

Here are some of the 40 or so 38-grain round-nose bullets that I kept after inspection.

38-grain
The 38-grain round-nosed bullets cast cleaner this time.

38-grain flashing
Some 38-grain bullets had flashing that has to be removed before they can be used.

Flashing

The flashing occurs because the mold halves don’t come together tightly and the sprue plate doesn’t fit the top of the mold tightly. That is a function of the mold. A better mold would not have those problems, but the bullets I get from this mold are suitable for the current project. If I was going to cast thousands of bullets it would be worth spending the money on a better custom mold.

25-grain bullets

The first time I cast bullets the smaller pointed 25-grain bullets fell easily from the mold and the longer 38-grain bullets were harder to get out. This time that was reversed. I believe the hotter mold was the principal reason for this.

I did get about the same number of keeper bullets in the smaller size this time. But some of them also had some flashing on them. I will clean that off before loading the bullets, but I plan to use all of the keepers, or as many as possible.

25-grain flashing
Most of the 25-grain bullets have a little flashing on their base, but these two were the worst.

25-graion tweezers
The 25-grain bullets came from the mold cleaner than the 38-grain bullets. One of them is held in the cross-locking reverse tweezers I mentioned recently.

Summary

This casting session went better because I was better prepared for it. I am also better prepared to load the next set of cartridges for testing because of the experience I have gained from recent testing The next test will be the velocity of both types of bullets with smokeless powder and with Pyrodex, using both kinds of priming compound.

After that I will shoot the cartridges for accuracy, but I’m looking to pare down all the test variables, to keep this testing manageable. I think I will wait to see the results of the velocity test before I load for the accuracy test.

38 thoughts on “Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 7


    • Siraniko,

      I think the nominal major diameter that B.B. is casting is 0.223. That would require quite a bit of down sizing with a press and sizing dies or a swaging powerful rig. Since airgun bores are in the nominal 0.217 range.

      Hope that helps,

      shootski


      • Shootski,

        Yeah that would be it as far as airgun barrels are over there. Over here with the scarcity of proper airgun barrels of locals actually use barrels chopped off of firearms. Two years ago I was asked by a friend to identify a slew of barrels he was able to get as salvage. They only had partial markings but I finally figured out that they are Rock Island barrels from their 10/22 copy they were making then. Which brings me back to needing to slug the bore with the local airguns to determine what type of pellet to use.

        Siraniko


        • Siraniko,

          Well then B.B.’s bullets might even work “as cast” (WITHOUT all the flash of course) in powerful PCP’s, or even CO2 with a big enough liquid to gas transition plenum! I worked on a valved bottle CO2 rifle powerful enough to push above 850 FPS using a big plenum to help “warm” the gas; one plan was to do a selector valved double plenum to allow faster and more powerful follow up shots. Then I moved to colder spots from Florida and found HPA Big Bore and dropped that project like a cold Balut.

          shootski


          • Shootski,

            Yeah that wouldn’t work well over there with the variety of temperatures experienced. Over here with our tropical weather it would work until the temperatures climb up to the point of causing valve lock. Cold Balut? Definitely unappetizing! You have to put it in a bowl of hot water to warm it up first. Then crack the shell and add salt before enjoying.

            Siraniko


            • Siraniko,

              Yes! So few of us from the USA ever understood Balut. I really miss a great Lumpia…something happens and they become ordinary Egg Rolls here…but don’t get me started! Painted Label…

              shootski

              shootski


        • Siraniko,

          Sounds like you all need some oversized air gun ammo per your (and Shootski’s) description.

          Tell “the powers that be” to hurry up and get their request in. We are passing out/wasting money like candy at a parade. I am sure that we could spare a million or two for the cause.

          Serious though,… oversized barrels and undersized stock ammo would not be good. Sounds like a good market for someone to be casting conventional .22 (sized) ammo.

          Chris


          • Chris USA,

            Pellet shortage is already felt here in some places with some people ordering pellet molds at about $200 each. The pellets are supposed to be sized and patterned to JSB pellets about 18 and 21 grains I think. Don’t quite know what diameter though. Informal test/demonstration by one of those who purchased showed that the accuracy at 25 meters seems within acceptable limits of under an inch.

            Siraniko


  1. B.B.,

    If you could/would drill out the holes in the metal handles a bit oversized the aluminum wouldn’t transfer as much heat as quickly to the bolt shanks by conduction. The wood sheath would still be clamped just as firmly to the handles by the bolts. To be anal you could “blind” pin them to keep the wood sheaths straight.

    shootski


  2. B.B.

    Quality is much improving. Now about those gloves….
    So Ton Jones of Airforce, moonlights as a maker of BBQ gloves? Can I get a pair with my name on them?

    Wouldn’t welding gloves be even better?

    -Y


  3. BB,

    Progress! Looking good!

    The ones with the flashing make the supreme argument to spend a little more out of the gate for a top quality mold. Removing the flashing would get old pretty quick. I know this is what came with the kit, so I speak in general.

    Looking forwards to further testing.

    Chris

    Q: So how do you get the mold to be hotter before pouring the lead?



      • BB,

        Ok. My thoughts would lean towards preheating,… with something like a torch or hot plate. 30 minutes seems a bit long to be working and producing nothing that is usable. I don’t cast, so maybe I am just talking out my keester. 😉

        Chris

        Edit: I missed the heating shelf comment you made and preheating that way. Obviously, not hot enough to get a quicker start.


  4. BB,

    Have they done the switch over to the new format? I noticed I had to open the comments separately from the article.

    These “slugs” do look much better this time around.


  5. BB,

    Do you have a few broken break barrel airgun springs lying around? You could possibly drive them down over the aluminum handles of your mold and they would dissipate the heat much like the latch handle on a wood burning stove’s door or the damper handle on the stove’s chimney pipe.

    Half



    • Half,

      Great in concept but…

      I don’t know if you cast but keeping the handles HOT helps keep the mold cavity(ies) at casting temperature in between pours. Casting is like a corriographed dance with temperature and timing being totally involved.
      When Asbestos was still a great thing it really made casting SO Much better. Asbestos gauntlet Gloves, Apron, handle covers! Some new stuff $$$ is available but just not as good! This is my current choice: https://jetsinc.com/casting-and-melting/gloves-and-goggles/gloves-high-temperature-protection-heat-resistant-glove-pbi-18-pair/

      shootski


      • Shootski,

        I haven’t cast bullets, but I have cast lead fishing sinkers of all sorts and jig heads with huge 2 oz heads. It’s been awhile and I used friends’ molds, but my recollection is that they had wooden handles bolted to the molds rather than aluminum handles and they didn’t have sprue plates. I used side cutters to remove the sprue. Some of the molds were homemade, so they possibly weren’t made “right”. Or maybe sinker making just isn’t as demanding. I’ve also cast decoy weights in oil dampened sand using a 4″ steel bearing ball as the form.

        I think drilling and tapping the mold handles and using a countersink in the wood would have worked better than the overly long through bolts, if not touching hot metal was the aim.

        Have you ever used carbon felt as a insulator?

        Half


        • Half,

          I have ridden a Carbon Felt bicycle!
          Okay, that may be what is inside my casting glove!
          So far my Kiln has not been condemned by the EPA or state and local subsidiaries as an Asbestos Superfund site! But that stuff looks like it has a future in my life.

          Thanks Half!

          shootski



  6. B.B. and Readership,

    Some of you didn’t get SIG AIR to give you your ASP20 like Tom and then didn’t buy one just like me! Well you may have seen my post after the rumors about SIG getting out of the airgun business or at least no longer making some models to include the ASP20. I posted a question on the SIG page about IF an estimated availability could be had. SIG replyed today:

    “02/24/21
    Q: Is there an estimated availability for the SIG ASP20 in .22 with Synthetic Stock?
    02/25/21
    A: Currently, we are not quoting time frames for out of stock items due to the uncertainty of supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19 and the large increase in demand for firearms, ammunition, and accessories. Most items can be placed on backorder and would automatically ship when back in stock. You can sign up to be notified when most products are restocked. Please find the ‘notify me’ option on the product listing (where available). If you would like to place a backorder, please contact our Customer Service Department at 1-603-610-3000 and select option 1. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:00pm EST.”

    Certainly not a “definitive” answer but better than the rumors.

    shootski


  7. BB
    I will Ditto the remark by Big Iron and add try to recess the hardware while your at it. I congratulate you on a rapid functioning solution to the problem but I think a mechanic or wood worker would cringe at the sight of it knowing that down the line someplace you will have a problem with it that may cause you to use God’s name in vain. And you gained some squeezing leverage too.
    This Covid thing Is screwing up everything however I got a morale boost yesterday getting my first shot. On two separate occasions the waiting line managers thought I was my ex wife’s son pushing her around in a wheel chair and not old enough to qualify.
    Then the woman needle jabber remarked that I had a big hard knot in my shoulder. I told her it was just the usual side effect of doing 20 push-ups every day … It’s called hard muscles. 🙂 Not too common in most there over 65 I guess. Especially us over 70. Good reinforcement.
    Bob M


    • Bob M,

      I know how you feel! Got my first Pfizer at Walter Reed yesterday and looking forward to my next dose and then the Booster, and then the Booster- Booster addinfinitum!
      They also asked for my ID card and the screener kept asking me to confirm my DOB! You need to add BOSU Ball BURPEES, LOL: https://www.dalemaynorfitnesstraining.com/how-to-lose-weight/bosu-balance-trainer-burpees
      Even if you don’t need to lose any Mass!
      Also, check out EVIKE

      shootski


      • Shootski
        Burpees? Looks like old fashion squat thrusts to me. I’m not on some well balanced exercise routine. Just trying to keep the parts that I hurt all the time from spraining and pulling when I act like I’m 21. But I guess I really ought to pay more attention.
        Went to the Doc a while back for possible heart problems. Turns out I was just suffering from an inflamed sternum from doing 40 push-ups all the time and crushing my ribs into it.
        Knock it off, your to old for that kind of exercise, Acting 21 again. So I cut it in half and do mild ones off the bath counter now. There is no way to postpone old age. Just do what you can to deal with it. (175 )
        I visit EVIKE often. That’s where I got those Custom BB Race pistols.
        Bob M


        • Bob M,

          “Just do what you can to deal with it.” A fact!

          All I can add to your great advice is: Start early and never give in more than you absolutely must to advancing decrepitude. It helps to be blessed with a little luck in health for certain.
          I guess i will just need to do the burpee elements build sequence in reverse until I’m doing the walking burpee!

          May you be blessed,

          shootski


        • Bob,

          Check into those exercise bands. They are like giant rubber bands (not looped) and come in different strengths. I think they come in kits. Different colors for different strengths. My sister gave me one. You can stand on one end, grab it and do curls like you would lifting weights. It is almost endless what you can do with them. They are (not) the bungee cord type with handles at each end. Mine is 4″x56″.

          Chris


  8. Gents – and ladies – don’t underestimate the value of weight-bearing exercise to maintain mobility and adequate muscle mass. Of course, don’t exceed your operational limits and hurt yourself. FM’s rule is, “thou shalt not hurt yourself while exercising.” Have a close friend of many years who is a cardiologist. His advice for staying as fit and functional as possible for as long as feasible is, in addition to eating sensibly, take daily walks. As he puts it, “if you can’t do anything else but are still mobile, walk, walk, walk!” Then you can keep on airgunning longer.


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