.480 lead ball

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RanchRoper

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I see some Hornady .480 lead balls available in Canada. I have been using .490 with .015 patch.
Any reason why .480 would not work with same patch?

Also Canadian members: can we buy lead balls in USA or can’t come across border??

Thank you!
 

Walkingeagle

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Haven’t done it in years but I have bought balls once in the past from the US. No border issues but today I would think the freight would be expensive due to weight.
.480 balls will be fine and I would try them with your existing patches but also try with .020” material and compare results.
Fyi, there is a feller in Lethbridge sells salvaged roofing lead. PM me if you want contact info.
Walk
 
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I have been reading up on casting my own. Might be the way to go. Thanks.
Casting your own is easy to do. Its the only way to go. I've never bought round balls again after I started casting 5 years ago.
You can pick up lead at a scrapyard or from a roofer/plumber.
It will only cost you about $125-150. ( pre covid prices ) to get started:

 

Notchy Bob

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@RanchRoper , I can't help you with the legal issues. I hope some of our Canadian members can comment on that.

I've used .480 balls in a .50 caliber rifle. Conventional wisdom maintains a very tight ball/patch combination gives best accuracy, but personally, I'm willing to sacrifice a little accuracy for easier loading, especially if a quick reload is needed. This was not a particularly accurate load, but it was adequate for my purposes and was definitely preferable to struggling with the ramrod. As @Walkingeagle suggested, a thicker patch of .020" or even .018" might be needed. I think I was using .018" with the .480 balls, and saw no evidence of blow-by or gas cutting. A bonus is that a thicker patch will hold more lube. Always a good thing.

I believe the old-timers probably shot smaller balls, relative to bore size, than is recommended now. For example, reading I have done recently indicates the service load for the .54 caliber US military rifles intended for patched round balls used a .525" ball, or .015" under bore size. Captain Dillin told us it was common to find more than one ball size in old hunting pouches... One size for accuracy, and the other for a quick reload. If .480" balls are the closest you can get, I think you should have no qualms about getting them, and spend some quality time on the range experimenting with patch material.

I have done some casting. I like the old Lyman Ideal lead ladle, but with the pouring spout drilled out to a little larger diameter for a faster flow in pouring. I use a Coleman camp stove (the old-fashioned kind that requires pumping the fuel tank to pressurize it), a cast-iron pot from Lee Precision, and beeswax for flux. With a piece of broomstick to gently knock the sprue cutter and a folded towel to catch the hot balls, you're good to go. The hardest part, right now, may be finding a mould!

Good luck with it, and by all means, let us know how things work out.

Notchy Bob
 
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@RanchRoper , I can't help you with the legal issues. I hope some of our Canadian members can comment on that.

I've used .480 balls in a .50 caliber rifle. Conventional wisdom maintains a very tight ball/patch combination gives best accuracy, but personally, I'm willing to sacrifice a little accuracy for easier loading, especially if a quick reload is needed. This was not a particularly accurate load, but it was adequate for my purposes and was definitely preferable to struggling with the ramrod. As @Walkingeagle suggested, a thicker patch of .020" or even .018" might be needed. I think I was using .018" with the .480 balls, and saw no evidence of blow-by or gas cutting. A bonus is that a thicker patch will hold more lube. Always a good thing.

I believe the old-timers probably shot smaller balls, relative to bore size, than is recommended now. For example, reading I have done recently indicates the service load for the .54 caliber US military rifles intended for patched round balls used a .525" ball, or .015" under bore size. Captain Dillin told us it was common to find more than one ball size in old hunting pouches... One size for accuracy, and the other for a quick reload. If .480" balls are the closest you can get, I think you should have no qualms about getting them, and spend some quality time on the range experimenting with patch material.

I have done some casting. I like the old Lyman Ideal lead ladle, but with the pouring spout drilled out to a little larger diameter for a faster flow in pouring. I use a Coleman camp stove (the old-fashioned kind that requires pumping the fuel tank to pressurize it), a cast-iron pot from Lee Precision, and beeswax for flux. With a piece of broomstick to gently knock the sprue cutter and a folded towel to catch the hot balls, you're good to go. The hardest part, right now, may be finding a mould!

Good luck with it, and by all means, let us know how things work out.

Notchy Bob
Totally agree...I couldn't have said that any better. I've used .480's in my 50's for years now. I have at least 5000+ of them poured ready to shoot. I often catch grief, but, when I load 75-100 balls during an afternoon of shooting, I don't want to "kill" myself stuffing the .490's in the gun. I don't use those longer steel/brass or aluminum rods either. I use a fiberglass rod that fits in the thimbles of the gun. The last thing I want to do is carry an extra rod around with me in the field.
 

Pioneer flinter

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Totally agree...I couldn't have said that any better. I've used .480's in my 50's for years now. I have at least 5000+ of them poured ready to shoot. I often catch grief, but, when I load 75-100 balls during an afternoon of shooting, I don't want to "kill" myself stuffing the .490's in the gun. I don't use those longer steel/brass or aluminum rods either. I use a fiberglass rod that fits in the thimbles of the gun. The last thing I want to do is carry an extra rod around with me in the field.
Hey BPM. I noticed you said you cast your own .480 round balls what mold do use? I know molds are hard to fine right now. But some time I would like to pick one up. Thank you for all your work.
 

JHB

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I use .480 balls cast from a Lee 6 cavity mold. Pillow ticking for a patch lubed with vegetable oil. No swabbing needed between shots. Accuracy is good enough if I miss it is my fault not the load.
The only time I use .490 balls is to see how accurate the gun will shoot then the targets are paper. Steel silhouettes are more fun and don't require guilt edge accuracy.
 

JohnnieT

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.480 with your current patches will load easily and still give reasonable accuracy. If you prefer a tighter load, use .480 with good ol’ fabric store pillow ticking. Unless you’re doing precision bench/target work, you’ll be fine.
 
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Hey BPM. I noticed you said you cast your own .480 round balls what mold do use? I know molds are hard to fine right now. But some time I would like to pick one up. Thank you for all your work.
I believe you will like pouring with a 6 cavity mould. You can really crank 'em out with one of those. Thanks for those kind words too.
 
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I use .480 balls cast from a Lee 6 cavity mold. Pillow ticking for a patch lubed with vegetable oil. No swabbing needed between shots. Accuracy is good enough if I miss it is my fault not the load.
The only time I use .490 balls is to see how accurate the gun will shoot then the targets are paper. Steel silhouettes are more fun and don't require guilt edge accuracy.
Your thinking and mine is VERY similar. I seldom shoot paper. Too boring! I'd rather shoot metal zoo critters, water jugs and anything else fun to shoot that destroys itself!
 

BigAl52

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Watch out for big foot you havent killed him yet he keeps re appearing
 

Banjoman

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I also think paper targets are boring. I like shooting targets that are approximately same size as what game I might hunt. I use a different loading technique than most in my .50 caliber rifle. First, 50gr of powder. Then a wad of wasp nest. Next is a bare .495 ball topped off with another wad of wasp nest. It’s quick and easy to load and surprisingly accurate. It’s similar to how civil war rifles were loaded with paper.
 

Notchy Bob

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Hey BPM. I noticed you said you cast your own .480 round balls what mold do use? I know molds are hard to fine right now. But some time I would like to pick one up. Thank you for all your work.
@Pioneer flinter

I'm pretty sure Track of the Wolf is the only source for the Lee .480" six-cavity gang moulds, but I checked a little while ago, and they are currently in stock. You will need to get a set of Lee handles for them, and the handles are unfortunately out of stock, but I suppose you could "borrow" some handles from another Lee mould until the extras become available.

I think Lee only makes the .480" mould in the six-cavity version. I've never tried a gang mould like that, but based on @B P Maniac Shooter 's recommendation, I may just have to get one. I got a good deal on multiple boxes of Hornady swaged .480" balls a while back, so haven't needed to cast any of that size.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

Pioneer flinter

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@Pioneer flinter

I'm pretty sure Track of the Wolf is the only source for the Lee .480" six-cavity gang moulds, but I checked a little while ago, and they are currently in stock. You will need to get a set of Lee handles for them, and the handles are unfortunately out of stock, but I suppose you could "borrow" some handles from another Lee mould until the extras become available.

I think Lee only makes the .480" mould in the six-cavity version. I've never tried a gang mould like that, but based on @B P Maniac Shooter 's recommendation, I may just have to get one. I got a good deal on multiple boxes of Hornady swaged .480" balls a while back, so haven't needed to cast any of that size.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
Thanks for the info. Never used a gang mold. May give it a shot.
 
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