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  #1  
Old 02-03-2012, 01:56 PM
JohnnyU JohnnyU is offline
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How to slug a barrel?




New to the forum here -

I want to get serious about reloading cast lead bullets and I've always heard one should "slug" their barrel to get the true barrel diameter. How do you this? What do you use, and where do you get these "slugs" to drive down the barrel? Specifically, I'm looking to slug a .44 mag, .45 acp, and .38 special barrel.

Thanks for any info - regards
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  #2  
Old 02-03-2012, 02:01 PM
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Strip down the pistol and take a regular lead bullet and drop it into the chamber - tap the bullet through the barrel using a brass rod (some folks prefer wooden dowels, whichever) until it pops out the muzzle. On a revolver, you'll probably have to start at the muzzle and drive it backwards - go easy so you don't mess up the muzzle's crown.

Measure the bullet's diameter with calipers and now you know
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  #3  
Old 02-03-2012, 02:34 PM
ExMachina ExMachina is offline
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The key is to use soft lead. Hard lead will not give you an accurate measurement. I use soft lead round balls (intended for black powder).
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  #4  
Old 02-03-2012, 02:50 PM
gunnut606 gunnut606 is offline
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It should help if you put a light coat of oil thru the bore first.
.
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  #5  
Old 02-03-2012, 02:55 PM
superdude superdude is offline
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What you'll need:

1) Oversized, soft bullet. The bullet needs to be oversized so you'll know that it will be squeezed down as it passes through the bore. Use a swaged or plated or cast bullet. Jacketed bullets are too hard.

2) Soft tamping rod: brass or bronze is best. Wood, aluminum, nylon, etc. might or might not be sturdy enough. Do NOT use a steel rod because this can damage your bore.

3) Hammer.

4) A vice to hold the barrel. It's not absolutely necessary but it makes it a much easier job.

5) You'll need calipers or a micrometer accurate to within at least .001 inches.


Procedure:

1) Remove your barrel from the gun. This isn't necessary if your slugging a revolver barrel.

2) Lube the barrel well to make the job a bit easier and to reduce the chance of bullet material tearing off and making an accurate measurement more difficult.

3) Measure the bullet before you use it so you'll be confident that it has "shrunken" from going through the bore.

4) Clamp the barrel in the vice (if you have one) with the chamber end up. Use aluminum jaws or something soft to protect the barrel finish because it might slip during pounding.

5) Drop the bullet in the barrel's chamber. Starting from this end is easier because the riflings are beveled in the chamber throat and this will help ensure that the bullet is aligned. If you're slugging a revolver barrel you have to start from the muzzle end.

6) Use the tamping rod and hammer to push (pound) the bullet though the full length of the barrel.

7) Measure the bullet diameter. The largest measurement you get is the bore groove diameter.
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  #6  
Old 02-03-2012, 03:15 PM
JohnnyU JohnnyU is offline
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All great responses. thanks everyone.

superdude - where would I get these "oversized soft bullets"?
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  #7  
Old 02-03-2012, 03:37 PM
Moneypit Moneypit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyU View Post
All great responses. thanks everyone.

superdude - where would I get these "oversized soft bullets"?
I have seen people use black powder bullets for .45
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  #8  
Old 02-03-2012, 03:39 PM
superdude superdude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyU View Post
All great responses. thanks everyone.

superdude - where would I get these "oversized soft bullets"?
you weren't supposed to ask me that!

bore diameters vary and can be a little bigger sometimes than what the usual diameter is or what it is "supposed" to be.. Ideally you would want .454 for the 45, .431 for the 44, and .359 for the 38. this is to ensure that the bullet is bigger than what the actual bore is.

For example, 9mm bores (which is what i usually test, and are supposed to be .355) can run up to .357 (some report even larger!) so i start with a .358 bullet.

it might be that pounding a bullet through your bore will get it to expand a bit since it is soft (plated, swaged) and you're hammering the hell out of it, so you might get good results with a .357 bullets in a .358 bore. but i'm only guessing here, so don't rely on this.

the usual available soft bullets for those calibers are .452-.454 for the 45, .430 for the 44, and .358 for the 38 special. if you try those and they come out smaller, you're golden. if they come out the same diameter, then there is room for doubt (hence my advice).

anyone on this forum have advice on a source for oversize bullets for this job?

ExMachina might have the key - check for black powder bullet diameters and see if they fill the bill.
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Old 02-03-2012, 03:47 PM
al45 al45 is offline
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Visit with your shooting buddies who are using swaged (preferred) or SOFT cast bullets and see if you can talk them out of a couple bullets.

Early on, before I picked up a Dillon 550, I used an RCBS 4x4 that relied on ME remembering to drop the powder charge every time. I probably had a half dozen or so out of about 10,000 rounds that didn't have a powder charge in them (kids or phone interruptions). Since switching to the Dillon, I've not had the issue repeat for the last 30,000 or so rounds.

I know for a fact that a primer will push a 45 ACP 200 gr SWC a couple inches down the barrel. Luckily a buddy had a range rod the first time (and I had one every other time).

Everyone above has already described how to do it. When you determine what your bore diameter is, make sure your cast bullets are at least .0005-.001 over your bore diameter and make sure you use a soft lube.
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  #10  
Old 02-03-2012, 03:48 PM
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A micrometer is far better than calipers, it will give you a more dependable measurement.

If your 38 special is S&W you might have a problem. They use a 5 groove barrel that cannot be measured with a normal mic or caliper. The 5 groove has a groove opposite a land.
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  #11  
Old 02-03-2012, 05:12 PM
Bill Mannatt Bill Mannatt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alland View Post
A micrometer is far better than calipers, it will give you a more dependable measurement.

If your 38 special is S&W you might have a problem. They use a 5 groove barrel that cannot be measured with a normal mic or caliper. The 5 groove has a groove opposite a land.
If you don't use a micrometer,you are wasting your time.A caliper will only get you plus or minus .001" in accuracy,and the blades are thin enough to deform the bullet and go even further out of tolerance in regards to true O.D. of the bullet.If you know how to use and read a mike,then you should get within .0002" of true diameter,at the very least.And just for the record,Unless you are a bench rest shooter,it's pointless to slug a pistol barrel.Too many people with not enough to do.
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  #12  
Old 02-03-2012, 08:08 PM
Alland Alland is offline
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I wouldn't say that slugging a handgun barrel is useless. I have a 1911 that had a terrible leading problem. That is until I slugged the barrel at .4524. I went to .453 cast bullets and the leading is gone.
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  #13  
Old 02-03-2012, 11:11 PM
bruce381 bruce381 is offline
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easiest way to make 'slugs" is to use an empty fired case of the caliber you want to test.
Like take a old 45 acp case pour or melt SOFT lead into the case I heat the case with a propane torch to melt the lead fully, let cool and use a boolit puller to pop out the "slug"
this will also have a taper on one side due to the case shape and the taper end is what you start into the barrel reasl easy once you have done it. Also note that heating the case with a torch will really soften it so I crush and throw away that case csue i do not want o load it by mistake and have some kinda problem.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:24 PM
speedfreeq speedfreeq is offline
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There's a short article on doing this, with pictures, in the latest issue of American Handgunner (on newsstands Feb 1/12).
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  #15  
Old 02-04-2012, 01:17 AM
Roper1628 Roper1628 is offline
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I use soft lead for making steelhead jigs, it comes on a spool. I cut a "slug" of it and squeeze it in a vice to about the right diameter for the given barrel. The rest is as stated above, pound it down the barrel and "mic" it afterward.
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  #16  
Old 07-30-2012, 10:54 PM
zenkoji zenkoji is offline
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Odd resutls from slugging and measuring with calipers

Greetings all:

I have an ATI GI 45, 4.25" barrel. Nice little gun, though it's had it's issues.

A few months ago I decided to get into reloading, then a couple of months later decided I wanted to cast my own bullets. Did the usual thing, collected wheel weights from local shops, melted them down, removed the slag/dross, and cast them into ingots, etc. etc. Then proceeded to make a few hundred bullets using a Lee 6-cavity 452-228-1R.

I used the Lee Lube & size kit to size them to .452 initially, but the initial load runs had the bullets oozing over the sides of the casings. So I switched to a .451 sizer, which sized the bullet nicely so they seated easily. Lube with Alox prior to sizing, and after sizing, before loading.

Having now shot a couple hundred of my own cast lead bullets, I've been seeing some rather large lead buildups in my barrel. At one point, it actually looked like hot lead had been dripped into the barrel and pooled/cooled, covering a spot perhaps 1/4" in diameter. I scrubbed and scrubbed with Hoppe's #9, researched, bought some Shooter's Choice Lead Remover, scrubbed some more. Got most out but was not satisfied.

Researched more and bought a Lewis Lead Remover. Complete disaster, most likely due to operator error along with some shoddy instructions. The big chunks are gone, and I haven't seen any major issues again, though I've been mixing up shooting my cast lead and the rest of the store-bought jacketed bullets I had made before I switched. I haven't shot just my lead for fear of having excessive buildup again.

So tonight I slugged my barrel, using one of the bullets I had previously made, then measured with calipers. The largest reading I got was .448. The bullets I've cast are being resized to .451. Is that too large of a difference in diameters? Would that be a potential cause for the excessive leading I saw initially?

My reloading stats follow:

Lee Pro 1000 progressive press
TiteGroup powder, ~5 grains
228 grain bullet form the Lee mold, as mentioned

I am obviously still quite new to this game, so suggestions welcome. Could it also be a powder selection issue? Or powder charge?

Thanks in advance...

Last edited by zenkoji; 07-30-2012 at 10:59 PM.
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  #17  
Old 07-30-2012, 11:21 PM
Don2 Don2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruce381 View Post
easiest way to make 'slugs" is to use an empty fired case of the caliber you want to test.
Like take a old 45 acp case pour or melt SOFT lead into the case I heat the case with a propane torch to melt the lead fully, let cool and use a boolit puller to pop out the "slug"
this will also have a taper on one side due to the case shape and the taper end is what you start into the barrel reasl easy once you have done it. Also note that heating the case with a torch will really soften it so I crush and throw away that case csue i do not want o load it by mistake and have some kinda problem.
This is exactly what I was going to suggest.
over sized and tapered on one end....
What more could you ask for...might take a few times to get it to mold perfectly, heat brass as noted above with FIRED primer in. ( Pure lead only )
Great minds and all that

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  #18  
Old 07-31-2012, 09:18 AM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zenkoji View Post
Greetings all:

I have an ATI GI 45, 4.25" barrel. Nice little gun, though it's had it's issues.

A few months ago I decided to get into reloading, then a couple of months later decided I wanted to cast my own bullets. Did the usual thing, collected wheel weights from local shops, melted them down, removed the slag/dross, and cast them into ingots, etc. etc. Then proceeded to make a few hundred bullets using a Lee 6-cavity 452-228-1R.

I used the Lee Lube & size kit to size them to .452 initially, but the initial load runs had the bullets oozing over the sides of the casings. So I switched to a .451 sizer, which sized the bullet nicely so they seated easily. Lube with Alox prior to sizing, and after sizing, before loading.

I doubt if it was the dia. of the bullet that caused them to "ooze" over the side of the case (not casing - that's for sausages). The problem most likely was that you were not belling or flaring your case mouth enough prior to seating the bullet.

Having now shot a couple hundred of my own cast lead bullets, I've been seeing some rather large lead buildups in my barrel. At one point, it actually looked like hot lead had been dripped into the barrel and pooled/cooled, covering a spot perhaps 1/4" in diameter. I scrubbed and scrubbed with Hoppe's #9, researched, bought some Shooter's Choice Lead Remover, scrubbed some more. Got most out but was not satisfied.

I've never had much success removing lead build up in the barrel using traditional powder residue solvents, like the ones you mention.

Researched more and bought a Lewis Lead Remover. Complete disaster, most likely due to operator error along with some shoddy instructions. The big chunks are gone, and I haven't seen any major issues again, though I've been mixing up shooting my cast lead and the rest of the store-bought jacketed bullets I had made before I switched. I haven't shot just my lead for fear of having excessive buildup again.

I had similar issues with a Lewis Lead Remover. What works best for getting lead build up out of a barrel is using the pot scrubber called "Chore Boy". Make sure it's all copper, some are copper-coated stainless steel. Cut a section from the "wad" and wrap it around an undersize bore brush. Make sure it's a tight fit in the barrel, and "scrub" with a half dozen passes of the brush. 99% of the leading will come right out.

So tonight I slugged my barrel, using one of the bullets I had previously made, then measured with calipers. The largest reading I got was .448. The bullets I've cast are being resized to .451. Is that too large of a difference in diameters? Would that be a potential cause for the excessive leading I saw initially?

Are you pretty sure about that .448 measurement? Most 45acp barrels are .450". Generally, it's an undersize bullet that causes barrel leading, rather than an oversize bullet. I'm not going to offer an opinion about shooting .451 bullet thru a .448 barrel (bullet .003" oversize). Typically, lead bullets are sized .002" greater than bore diameter. Will that extra .001" be a problem? Probably not, but I dunno.
My reloading stats follow:

Lee Pro 1000 progressive press
TiteGroup powder, ~5 grains
228 grain bullet form the Lee mold, as mentioned

I am obviously still quite new to this game, so suggestions welcome. Could it also be a powder selection issue? Or powder charge?

Your load may be safe, but IMO 5 grains of TG is more than needed for a 228gr bullet. I would suggest you try 4.2-4.5gr TG. I think you'll find the accuracy "sweet spot" in that range.

Thanks in advance...
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:50 PM
zenkoji zenkoji is offline
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RE: Retired Rod

Rod - thanks for the reply.

I'm pretty certain on the diameter of the slugged round. I'm going to do it again tonight to see what I get. I didn't lube the barrel on the last run, so that may have skewed the resultant slug a bit.

As for not flaring the case - I'm not aware of any adjustment I can make to the Lee sizing/decapping die, though I had considered this originally. Would it flare more if I seated the die deeper into the turret?

I'm also going to adjust the powder load and see if that makes any difference. I have enough spent brass to play with loads this week.

Thanks again.
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Old 07-31-2012, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by zenkoji View Post
As for not flaring the case - I'm not aware of any adjustment I can make to the Lee sizing/decapping die, though I had considered this originally. Would it flare more if I seated the die deeper into the turret?

Thanks again.
You are correct. Flaring the case mouth is not done by the sizing/de-capping die. If you're using a Lee 3-die set, it is done with the powder-through die. Adjust that down far enough to flare the case mouth so that the lead bullet will balance upright easily as it enters the seating die.

If you are using a combined seating/crimping die it needs to be carefully adjusted so that the crimping operation doesn't begin until the seating operation if complete. Mis-adjustment of this die could be the cause of your oozing problems.
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:58 PM
zenkoji zenkoji is offline
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Rod - thanks again!

Ok, now I feel like an idiot

A SMARTER idiot, now, but... after I read your message, and thought about it again.... "powder through/RESIZING die"... duh

I checked my dies tonight, and sure enough the aforementioned die was not seated properly. I reseated all of the dies, and bingo - proper flaring of the case. (I did like your joke about "casings" are for sausages, BTW. I love sausage).

I didn't have any bullets left to test the new die seating, so I guess I know what I'm doing tomorrow night. I expect the oozing will be completely gone now. I'm not crimping (I think), based on the instructions for installation of the bullet seating/crimping die.

I also set my powder measure to ~4 grains, which after reviewing the Lee charts is where I should have been in the first place.

On a side note: nowhere in the Lee instructions (for the Pro 1000 or any of the die material I received) is it clearly indicated exactly how to seat the powder through/expander die. So I guess I don't feel TOO dumb for missing it.

Thanks again!
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:48 AM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is offline
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zenkoji,

Well, you're certainly not an idiot. Just a newby trying to figure out how to correctly set your dies, based on Lee's written instructions. Those instructions may make perfect sense to an experienced person, but can easily be misinterpreted by a beginner. Most of us have been there.

One more point: You worry me when you say you set your powder measure to "approximately" 4 grains, and in your first post you said "approximately" 5 grains. You need to be sure exactly how much powder you're putting in the case (no sausage). This is important - especially for some powders that have a narrow range from safe to unsafe. We always want to know, as exactly as possible, how much powder is going into the case. In fact, some of us are kind of fanatical about it. Read the thread here about the possible inconsistent powder drops on the Dillon presses.

Surely you have a powder scale. Use it to set your powder dispenser accurately, and check occasionally during the reloading process to make sure nothing has gotten out of whack.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:53 PM
NonPCnraRN NonPCnraRN is offline
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Use dead soft egg shaped fishing sinkers. The tapered end makes it easy to insert in the barrel. The lead has has to be pure as any harder alloy will spring back after being compressed. Beartooth Bullets makes a kit for firelapping whch includes these egg sinkers, or they can be purchased seperately. Beartooth Bullets has a Tech Manual for $13 that will answer any queestion you can think of regarding lead bullets, shooting lead bullets, slugging barrels and firelapping. Since you mentioned revolvers you should slug the chamber throats along with the barrel. If the chamber throats are undersized compared to the bore you will have poor accuracy.

Last edited by NonPCnraRN; 08-01-2012 at 01:58 PM.
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  #24  
Old 08-01-2012, 11:35 PM
zenkoji zenkoji is offline
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Re: Rod, again :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredRod View Post
zenkoji,

Well, you're certainly not an idiot. Just a newby trying to figure out how to correctly set your dies, based on Lee's written instructions. Those instructions may make perfect sense to an experienced person, but can easily be misinterpreted by a beginner. Most of us have been there.

One more point: You worry me when you say you set your powder measure to "approximately" 4 grains, and in your first post you said "approximately" 5 grains. You need to be sure exactly how much powder you're putting in the case (no sausage). This is important - especially for some powders that have a narrow range from safe to unsafe. We always want to know, as exactly as possible, how much powder is going into the case. In fact, some of us are kind of fanatical about it. Read the thread here about the possible inconsistent powder drops on the Dillon presses.

Surely you have a powder scale. Use it to set your powder dispenser accurately, and check occasionally during the reloading process to make sure nothing has gotten out of whack.
I say approximately because it's usually +/- .1 grain... I double checked tonight after switching to the .34 hole in the Lee powder measure, and it was consistently dropping 3.9-4.0 grains.

I cast another 250ish bullets tonight, lubed and sized them to .451, and loaded 40 rounds after making all of the adjustments we discussed. Amazing how much easier it is to load when you have the press set properly .

No lead ooze, of course!

Thanks again!
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  #25  
Old 08-02-2012, 01:41 AM
MidwestRookie MidwestRookie is offline
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This is quite the informative thread already, but just wanted to add one more thing.

I ordered this for the guys at Alchemy Custom to use on my barrel so I could make sure to order the right sized boolits for my Brown..they send almost 30 pieces of soft lead and a wooden rod to push them through the barrel. Instructions tell you how to measure the lead after it goes through the barrel, I assume.

Slug Kit # 9
http://www.meisterbullets.com/asccus...24&navParent=0
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