Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The TL358-158 SWC

This morning after posting the .38 Special post below, I went out to my bench and realized that I was out of the bullet that I prefer in that cartridge, Lee's TL358-158 SWC.  It's a 358 diameter, 158 grain semi-wadcutter and it is the bees knees for the .38 Special.

So, after a few chores, and making a lunch-time sandwich for myself and the dawg, I took the pot down and put some scrap lead in it.

Lee Production Pot IV
My pot is an old Lee Production Pot IV.  Lee still makes the darned things, even though mine is 20 years old and has cast thousands upon thousands of lead bullets.    If I ever need another one, I'll spend the extra $10 and get the bigger pot.  Mine holds 10 pounds of metal, but I normally only fill it to about 8 lbs.

The very first bullet mold I ever bought was one of Dick Lee's tumble lube molds, the TL358-158SWC.  You can still buy it from lots of places.  Mine is the little 2-cavity mold and if I ever decide to get another, it will be one of his bigger 6-cavity molds, but in the mean time, the little 2-cavity mold has been making bullets for over 20 years, and still throws a pretty bullet.

I cranked up the pot just before one o'clock today and let it heat for half an hour before I even approached it.  Fluxed the lead, then started casting.  For handgun bullets I don't worry so much about bullet harness.  These things are going to be shot at about 750 fps, so hard bullets aren't necessary.  Even if I decide to load some in .357 magnum cases, I won't push them much above 1300 fps, so hard bullets really aren't necessary.  I generally use whatever scrap is available.  Today, it was a bunch of old sprues from earlier casting sessions, and added a little dead soft lead that I had scrounged from roof flashings.

The secret to bullet casting is to be in a well ventilated area (in my case, the garage), wear eye protection, and have no distractions.  You'll establish a rhythm and before long, you'll realize you've got a pile of bullets.  I stopped halfway through to see about the dawg, refill the pot, and get a glass of ice water indoors.  In a few minutes I was back ourside in the heat, with that rhythm until the pot was almost empty.  So, I unplugged it, dropped the sprues back into the melt, and cleaned up my work area.  After the bullets were cool emough to handle, I put them in a quart zipper bag and weighed them on my household scale. About 5.75 lbs of nice, clean bullets.  I estimate a few over 250, based on weight.


That's a pretty good pile of bullets for an hour's casting and a 2-cavity mold.  Later this afternoon after the pot cools, I'll put it away and lube the bullets in Alox.  After they dry overnight, I'll store them for a future reloading session.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Nicely done! :-) And yes, concentration IS required!