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Straight Shooters Cast Bullets
Rifle Magazine
February - March 1999
Volume 34, Number 1
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 197
On the cover...
The Winchester Model 1873 .38 WCF rifle with a ful
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RCBS has come up with a new line of cast bullet moulds designed specifically for the cowboy action crowd. Designated CAS (for Cowboy Action Shooting), they cover the gamut, including a 230-grain 45-230 for the .45 Colt and Schofield, 44-200 for the .44 WCF, .44 Special, .44 Russian and .44 Magnum, 40-180 for the .38 WCF, 38-140 and 38-150 for the .38 Special and .38 Long Colt, 32-90 for the .32-20 WCF and .32 H&R Magnum, 30-150 for the .30 WCF and 25-85 for the .25-20 and .25-35 WCFs.

As-cast diameters for the moulds on hand using a one-in-20 tin/lead alloy mix ran .455 inch for the .45-caliber mould, .430 inch for the .44 and .403 inch for the 40-180. Weights were 231, 202 and 182 grains for the .45, .44 and .40 calibers, respectively. Cast from harder alloys, the weights will be a bit less and just a bit heavier for softer alloys.

All the moulds that were shipped to Prescott had custom fitted nose punches included with each dual-cavity mould. I didn't use them during the sizing and lubricating process with the RCBS Lube-A-Matic-2 but prefer to use a single flatnose punch that ensures the bullets enter the sizing die perfectly straight. Quite often the fitted nose punches have a tendency to hold the nose of the bullet off center with the die, resulting in a slightly lopsided bullet. Flatnose punches basically eliminate the problem with flatnose bullet designs.

Time restraints and other commitments precluded a thorough testing of all the moulds, but I did get a little shooting in with the 45-230-CAS and 40-180-CAS moulds in a couple of Colt Single Actions. Accuracy at 25 yards was fine. A number of groups had three out of five shots clustered inside 1.25 inches. I can't shoot any better than that. Velocities were held down around 850 fps in the interest of duplicating the type of loads cowboy action shooters tend to prefer, but with a slightly harder alloy I'm sure they can be boosted to 1,000 fps or so and still produce good results without leading.


While all these moulds were designed with the cowboy action shooter in mind -a few shooters and writers, including myself, had a hand in the overall design criterion - these broad-nosed slugs should do quite well in the field as well. The 45-230-CAS produced a decided "whap" when it hit downrange and no doubt will have a similar effect on rabbits or coyote-sized critters, like javelina.
All the CAS moulds are plain base designs but can be loaded with a cardboard wad, Ox-Yoke felt wad or CFVentures wax gas check in the interest of preventing leading at higher velocities from rifles or carbines or hot-stepping loads in sixguns.

While I haven't cast bullets in all the CAS moulds yet, it is probably appropriate to note that the 32-90-CAS mould will drop bullets around .313 to .314 inch, depending on the alloy. That's the historically correct diameter for the .32-20 WCF for sizing to .312 inch or so, depending on the cylinder throat and barrel groove diameters of the individual handgun. That's right on the nail for the .32 H&R Magnum as well. The 38-140 and 38-158 measure .359 inch and should require little, if any, sizing.

Another new mould from RCBS is the 403-185-SWC for the .38 WCF. It is basically a scaled-down version of the popular RCBS 44-200 mould that has earned a stellar reputation for accuracy and performance in the .44 WCF. Bullets cast from a one-in-16 tin/lead mixture measure .403 inch, which is about right for sizing to .400 or .401 inch for Colt single actions or as-cast for Winchester and Marlin carbines and rifles. When I dreamed up this bullet some months back, it was just another custom design, but it appears RCBS will include it in their standard lineup, along with my RCBS 45-270 Colt bullet, for their 1999 catalog.
Some folks have apparently expressed displeasure that the big 45-270 bullet with an overall loaded length of nearly 1.7 inches can't be run through the various Winchester or reproduction .45 Colt rifles and carbines. About all I can say is that it was designed specifically for Colt .45 Colt sixguns, not rifles. That's why it has those .10 inch wide driving bands up front to hold the narrow lands in Colt barrels. Reproduction sixguns and rifles usually have much wider lands so they will handle most any well-designed cast bullet, or jacketed bullets for that matter.

For anyone who would like to use that bullet in lever-action carbines and rifles, or some Smith & Wesson sixguns, just trim a selected batch of cases back .010 inch so the bullet can still be crimped in the crimping groove and still conform to the proper overall loaded length of 1.6 inches or so. Then reduce top loads about one grain to account for the slightly shorter case length. This bullet can also be loaded in the .45 Schofield case and used in lever actions, but the shorter overall loaded length might cause jams in the Model 92 Winchesters or reproductions thereof. The shorter loaded length won't affect feeding in clones of the Model 73 Winchester or current Marlin Model 94s.

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