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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have been working up a hunting hand load for my Marlin 336CS w/ a 20" micro-groove barrel.
Every factor being tested has passed with flying colors until I ran the "penetration/deformation" test.

Here's what I have achieved:
A 165 grain (.311) Cast boolit cartridge that achieves an average velocity of 1915 fps at 10' and a Standard Deviation = +/-13.7 fps.
At 100 yards, the velocity is calculated to be ~1597 fps and 935 ft-lbs.
5" pattern at 100 yards using a lousy, fixed, 5x scope (to be replaced).
No barrel leading observed.
No undue cartridge (primer and case) pressure observed
No bullet tumbling... nice round, clean holes at target entry.
The commercial boolit I'm testing is a hard cast, powder-coated RNFP w/ a Brinell rating of "18"

Shooting 4 of these boolits into a box of printer paper at 100 yards, these boolits only penetrated 2.25" - 2.325" (1.25 reams) and 3 out of 4 boolits completely shattered; only one held together.

This test result seems unacceptable to me for both depth of penetration and the boolit's ability to hold together. They are perfectly good for target shooting and plinking, but I'm highly skeptical of their ability to deliver a clean kill at 100-150 yards given this outcome. I am interested in finding a hard cast boolit that I can use for target, plinking and hunting. What should I be looking for? What should be my realistic expectations for a .30-30 165 grain cast boolit?
Is my velocity too fast? ...too slow?
Do I need a harder alloy boolit? Perhaps one with a Brinell rating of 20?
Is this particular boolit fabricator's quality (eg: hardness rating) possibly not reliable?
Any hard cast boolit manufacturer/sales source recommendations? (Ie: favorite hunting boolit source for .311 diameter Marlin?)

TY in advance

Shattered boolits ........ Whole boolit

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Sand Soil Landscape Paw Beige
 

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Cast bullets are great, but they have limits. If you want an expanding bullet you are pretty much stuck with a soft point jacketed bullet. Cast lead bullets don't expand like lead core jacketed bullets - never will. Personally in the .30-30 I prefer the 150 grain flat nose soft points that shoot a little flatter and expand better than heavier bullets on deer sized game than do the 170s.

Having said all of that - cast bullets are perfect for practice. You can practice a whole bunch between 'seasons with your cast bullets, then switch over to the jacketed bullets for serious use.

Final 'chirp': the harder the bullet you use - the less bullet deformation you will have on game.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Cast bullets are great, but they have limits. If you want an expanding bullet you are pretty much stuck with a soft point jacketed bullet. Cast lead bullets don't expand like lead core jacketed bullets - never will. Personally in the .30-30 I prefer the 150 grain flat nose soft points that shoot a little flatter and expand better than heavier bullets on deer sized game than do the 170s.

Having said all of that - cast bullets are perfect for practice. You can practice a whole bunch between 'seasons with your cast bullets, then switch over to the jacketed bullets for serious use.

Final 'chirp': the harder the bullet you use - the less bullet deformation you will have on game.
It would be preferable to have a hard cast bullet that gives little to no expansion over the shattering/disintegrating hard cast bullet I shot today. Even if a hard cast bullet passed clean through the game (ie: Whitetail Deer), I'd be fine with that. Then it's just a matter of shot placement. At least you are not going to have a wounded animal run off and die at some future date from lead poisoning, or be crippled for the remainder of its days. The problem right now is the hard cast bullet I've been testing - with superior results to this point - just failed the penetration/deformation test by breaking up (in paper).

Bottomline is, and you are absolutely correct, I can practice all year with cheaper cost hard cast hand loads and then purchase, practice and use retail jacketed soft point bullet cartridges for hunting season. I was hoping I would be able to use one cartridge I can shoot all year and use for target & hunting.
 

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I have been working up a hunting hand load for my Marlin 336CS w/ a 20" micro-groove barrel.
Every factor being tested has passed with flying colors until I ran the "penetration/deformation" test.

Here's what I have achieved:
A 165 grain (.311) Cast boolit cartridge that achieves an average velocity of 1915 fps at 10' and a Standard Deviation = +/-13.7 fps.
At 100 yards, the velocity is calculated to be ~1597 fps and 935 ft-lbs.
5" pattern at 100 yards using a lousy, fixed, 5x scope (to be replaced).
No barrel leading observed.
No undue cartridge (primer and case) pressure observed
No bullet tumbling... nice round, clean holes at target entry.
The commercial boolit I'm testing is a hard cast, powder-coated RNFP w/ a Brinell rating of "18"

Shooting 4 of these boolits into a box of printer paper at 100 yards, these boolits only penetrated 2.25" - 2.325" (1.25 reams) and 3 out of 4 boolits completely shattered; only one held together.

This test result seems unacceptable to me for both depth of penetration and the boolit's ability to hold together. They are perfectly good for target shooting and plinking, but I'm highly skeptical of their ability to deliver a clean kill at 100-150 yards given this outcome. I am interested in finding a hard cast boolit that I can use for target, plinking and hunting. What should I be looking for? What should be my realistic expectations for a .30-30 165 grain cast boolit?
Is my velocity too fast? ...too slow?
Do I need a harder alloy boolit? Perhaps one with a Brinell rating of 20?
Is this particular boolit fabricator's quality (eg: hardness rating) possibly not sufficient?
Any hard cast boolit manufacturer/sales source recommendations? (Ie: favorite hunting boolit source for .311 diameter Marlin?)

TY in advance

Shattered boolits ........ Whole boolit

View attachment 180344 View attachment 180342
Lyman has books that strictly deal with cast bullets. The #3 has several articles that address many of the issues in your post. The #4 is updated from the previous with more of the newer powders and other mold manufacturers used in the load data.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It would be preferable to have a hard cast bullet that gives little to no expansion over the shattering/disintegrating hard cast bullet I shot today. Even if a hard cast bullet passed clean through the game (ie: Whitetail Deer), I'd be fine with that. Then it's just a matter of shot placement. At least you are not going to have a wounded animal run off and die at some future date from lead poisoning, or be crippled for the remainder of its days. The problem right now is the hard cast bullet I've been testing - with superior results to this point - just failed the penetration/deformation test by breaking up (in paper).

Bottomline is, and you are absolutely correct, I can practice all year with cheaper cost hard cast hand loads and then purchase, practice and use retail jacketed soft point bullet cartridges for hunting season. I was hoping I would be able to use a cartridge I shoot with all year for hunting, too.
This is what these hard cast boolits looked like in the paper... just shattered particles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Lyman has books that strictly deal with cast bullets. The #3 has several articles that address many of the issues in your post. The #4 is updated from the previous with more of the newer powders and other mold manufacturers used in the load data.
I have and use both the Lee and the Lyman reloading manuals. However, I am not looking to pour my own hard cast boolits. I would like to find a reputable and reliable commercial source for a hard cast boolit that will hold up under the stress of hunting impact. Looking for a .30-30 boolit in the 165-170 grain range and .311 diameter.
 

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Ala, your bullet is shattering due to the impact medium...dry paper does not act like animal flesh.
Your hardness is about right. I use Lyman #2 alloy that checks in at about 15 - 15.5.
Try soaking the paper until it's saturated ( sloppy wet ).
 

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I’ve tried Montana Bullet Works with good success. You get to choose between a couple alloys and of course specify bullet OD.
 

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While I don't hunt anymore, I would not depend on cast bullets for expansion. Often a cast bullet soft enough for expansion will have other problems like leading and rifling skidding. I would look at a Ranch Dog design 160+ gr bullet from about 15 BHN. The flat point will deliver good tissue destruction and penetration.I believe RD designed the bullet for hunting with Marlin rifles. Harder alloy (20 BHN) tends to shatter more than "normal" lead bullet alloy...

My chioce would be; http://arsenalmolds.com/bullet-molds?product_id=84&limit=99999999999
 

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I have and use both the Lee and the Lyman reloading manuals. However, I am not looking to pour my own hard cast boolits. I would like to find a reputable and reliable commercial source for a hard cast boolit that will hold up under the stress of hunting impact. Looking for a .30-30 boolit in the 165-170 grain range and .311 diameter.
I'm not talking about regular reloading manuals, the books I referenced are for cast bullets only.
 

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Ouch! Now there's a jab if I've ever seen one. Dang, what touched you off @accident ?
I'm sure they've done a fine job on deer, elk, moose and bear over the years and not just Yankees like me.
It wasn't meant to be mean,or aggressive, I just know lead bullets have been killin'in things for a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Ala, your bullet is shattering due to the impact medium...dry paper does not act like animal flesh.
Your hardness is about right. I use Lyman #2 alloy that checks in at about 15 - 15.5.
Try soaking the paper until it's saturated ( sloppy wet ).
Thanks for the tip, I'll try that. However, I suspect that if these boolits are shattering in (dry) paper, then they would do the same if they were to hit bone. I am ordering a couple of different cast bullets from a few new sources to test with. One has a BHN = 16 (hardness). If these do not perform well, I will have to start looking at jacketed bullets.

I'm even considering setting up a Paul Harrell "Meat Target" in order to confirm that shooting into bone, meat and orange (lung tissue) will prove/reject the notion that shooting into a box of paper (medium) is the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1010248522/lyman-cast-bullet-handbook-4th-edition
This is the book I have and have read most of it.
EDIT: From what I've read, lead bullets had no problem killing Yankees and Rebels alike in the War of Northern Aggression.
That's why I was taken aback by the poor performance of these hard cast bullets. I had expected deep penetration and little to no deformation of the projectile. I was very surprised by the results I found. Makes me question whether the company's alloy formulation truly is what they say it is.

I've been to Gettysburg, PA and the old hard cast bullets recovered (from wood beams, ground, etc) are for the most part in one piece. Not sure what alloy formulation they used back then, but those projectiles were 'hard' (and accurate).

P/S No offense taken by the 'Northern Aggression' part of that quote. Made me chuckle actually. Neither side of my family was in America back in the mid-1800's. A lot of good men on both sides died in that war.

TY
 

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I'm like you in the sense that I don't cast my own bullets,I buy them as you do.I have some True Shot brand cast gas checked 170gr RNFP lead bullets that I'm going to try i my 30-30.If they shoot well, I wouldn't hesitate to use them on whitetails. I haven't hunted in several years so I don't really know if I'll ever find out what they would do on a whitetail. I just know others use lead for hunting and they've stated good performance. I'm not sure your tests are a fair comparison to flesh and bone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I wonder how the Marlin microrifling works with harder cast bullets?
Worked just fine with BHN = 18 boolits. Cannot imagine there would be any problem using BHN = 20 hardness, either. I know that there is a greater chance for projectile shattering with harder boolits, but I did not expect to see it happen at a 1600 fps impact velocity.

With the Marlin, you just have to verify the 'diameter' of your bore. Micro-groove rifling tends to make the bore diameter wider than Ballard rifling. Thus a .309" diameter hard cast will work, but may cause some barrel leading at higher velocities (over 1900 FPS) as it may not obturate (fit snuggly) in the bore to prevent hot gases from melting the sides of the projectile due to 'gas cutting' (as the powder charges leaks around the sides of a loose fitting cast bullet). I have found the .311 diameter hard cast to work best in my Marlin. I get the best accuracy with the .311" diameter hard cast boolits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
One of the interesting bit of information I uncovered in my initial research into putting together a custom hand load for the .30-30 WCF rifle cartridge was this:

"The original load was 30/30/160 at 1970 fps. Unfortunately, jacketed bullets proved incompatible with blackpowder, further loads where smokeless powder based."

UPDATE: According to the Rock Island Auction (RIA) Co., the original, John Brown designed, Winchester .30-30 rifle was manufactured from the get-go to only utilize a .30-30 smokeless powder cartridge. There never was a blackpowder .30-30 commercial cartridge. (Even with today's smokeless powders, a 30 grains load would be about right for a HOT .30-30 hand load using H-335 or Win-748 and a 160 grain bullet.)
 
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