Author Topic: Heel base bullet loading  (Read 2646 times)

Offline Hoof Hearted

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Heel base bullet loading
« on: November 29, 2011, 07:19:39 PM »
At the request of the powers that be..............

This is so much easier than most people think  {'P

While this shows 38 caliber (.380) projectiles for the 36 caliber cap and ball conversion the method is the same for 44 heel base loading (which actually uses .452 to .454 sized bullets).

I'm sure most of you know that a 36 cap and ball revolver has a bore of somewhere around .360 and is the rifled to approximately .376 to .380, well the conversions used the supplied cylinder (about .380) and the case OD was designed to fit in that (still same size today in 38 special and 357 magnum). But modern cartridges use inside lubed bullets because the bore size it the inside dimension of the 38 case (approx. .356 to .358). Seeing that the first designs had to work around the existing cylinder and barrel dimensions they used outside lubed bullets of the same OD as the case.

While many people try to work around using heel base bullets by loading hollow base ones I choose to shoot the heel base and here is why:

#1. In my experience heel base grouping is not adequate. There are a number of reasons but mostly the store bought Speer wadcutters have too shallow of a hoolw cavity casing erratic expansion which leads to flyers (holes way outside the rest of the group). The home cast ones like the Rapine, Lyman ond others are tedious to cast (one at a time), the cull rate is very high (mould too hot or base plug too cold) and they really dont shhot any better than the Speers.

#2. Heel base is "correct". Period correct, accurate (which is correct) and they look really cool when eyeballed by your peers............

This is really pretty simple if you have a modcum of reloading experience and Old West Moulds is a one stop source for all the things you need (if you already cast and own reloading tools) so here goes:

Brass preparation is pretty straight forward:

First- Clean (I prefer tumbling)

Second- Resize This is easy as any correct sizer for the contemporary version of your case will work fine (44 special/mag for 44 Russian/Colt) and (38/357 for 38 long/short Colt).

Third- Bell case mouth. This can be tricky and may require some adjustment for case length, also you want a very MINIMUM flare (in fact you may be able to skip this step completely depending on the mould).

Fourth- Powder charge.

Fifth- Seat bullet. I find that most bullet types will seat by finger pressure. As mentioned above shortening or adjusting of dies here can be tricky (depends on die manfacturer). 9mm seater works well for problematic 38 short.

~If you dedicate a set of dies to the caliber you are loading, you may want to belt sand the expander and seater die shorter by the difference in case length. Then rechamfer.~

This is a pic of Bernie's (Old West Moulds) crimp arrangement. This is very important. There is no better way to crimp a heel base bullet, period! He uses a modified Lee Collet Crimp die and a specially designed adjustable shell holder. It is inexpensive and worth ten times as much (just don't tell him)!

Sixth- Crimp as above.

This is a pic of Bernie's ingenious way to lube your "outside lubed" 19th century recreation!
It is so simple it makes you say, "wow, why didn't I think of that".
He uses the same Cherry that he cut your mould with to grind a new "ejector pin" for your lube sizer die that matches the ogive of the bullet. Along with a shell holder that replaces the "top punch" and you size and lube the loaded round upside down...........

Seventh- Lube and size.

Set up right you CAN load heelbased bullets almost (maybe just) as fast as "regular" or inside lubed bullets ;D

As a resource link:

Goodluck on ya ;)
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 07:20:08 PM by Hoof Hearted »
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