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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone have any suggestions for a good bullet to use for reloads for a judge? I've heard that the taurus has issues with leading and I'm wondering of i should avoid lead and go for a coated bullet? (sorry for any poor terminology- new to handgun reloading).
 

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I can't speak specifically about the Judge but I have had a lot of experience with leading. I currently load cast lead for a PT1911 9mm, a Springfield EMP 9mm, a GI .45, and a few other handguns, none of which lead. That doesn't mean they didn't when I started shooting them. Fortunately leading is usually easy to fix. Notice I said "usually".

The most common cause of leading is using a cast bullet that is too small for the barrel. The first step is determining the inside diameter of your barrel. That's done by driving a soft lead slug through the barrell and then measuring it with a micrometer. I usually do a couple. Start by getting some soft lead slugs that are slightly larger than the bore. I use egg fishing sinkers and file them a little if necessary to a diameter a few thousandths of an inch larger than the anticipated bore diameter. For example, a 9mm should be 0.355". They seldom are. My Taurus mikes at 0.3570 and the EMP at 0.3545 and I used a slug that was about 0.360. Select a bullet that is 1 to 2 thousandths larger and you should be good to go. I size at 0.356 in the EMP and 0.358 for the Taurus.

When driving the slug through the barrel I use a piece of the largest dowel rod that will slide into the barrel, cut about 1 1/2" longer than the barrel, and drive it with a plastic mallet. Easier on the barrel if I miss.

Yeah, it's kind of a pain to do it but you only have to do it once.
 

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Leading and revolvers, a nemesis of mine. After decades of reloading I still have yet to learn all there is to know about this. Johnson covered barrel leading pretty well, the only thing I could add is the reason for the barrel leading with a too-small a diameter bullet is caused by gas blowing past the base of the bullet, between the bullet and the barrel surface as it's fired. This also doesn't help accuracy. Slugging the barrel is a good idea, but if there's an odd number of lands/grooves it's not possible without specialized equipment. There simply is no groove impression on the opposite side of the bullet to measure. Smith & Wessons are this way.

In addition, the throats of the chamber are also critical. Not sure if the judge even has these since it chambers a .410 shell. You can slug your barrel, get the perfect fit, but if your cylinder throats are too tight they will swage the bullet down to undersized when it's fired. The bullet you're shooting should pass through the throats at the front of the cylinder with firm finger pressure. Likewise the Lee Factory Crimp die can swage lead bullets down to undersized.

If you're getting a coating of lead on the face of the cylinder, it can be one of several things. Undersized throats, a slight misalignment of the chambers (or some of the chambers) to the barrel, an excessive gap, a rough forcing cone, or a forcing cone cut to an inappropriate angle. Or a combination of any of those. Usually it's more than one. The forcing cone is there to allow for a slight misalignment. Rugers are cut with a 5 degree forcing cone, and often have problems with lead bullets. 11 or 18 degrees is more appropriate. The work around on this problem is to fire about half a box (at the most) of jacketed bullet loads at the end of your firing session and that will blow the lead off the face of the cylinder, and if you have any leading in the barrel it usually takes care of that too.

If you're getting a ridge of lead building up on the outside of the cylinder at the very front, close to the gap, it most often is excessive gap. If the gap is O.K. it's the forcing cone, or an alignment problem, or both.

The Judged should not be a match grade accurate revolver. The .45 Colt fits, but I would think this gun has a long freebore before the bullet gets to the forcing cone, rattling loosely down the over-sized chamber before it hits the forcing cone. But I've seen revolvers with multiple symptoms of the ones I've listed above that still shot amazingly well, considering. But I have no experience with a judge to be able to know if that assessment is correct.

You'll often hear people talk about "hard cast" lead bullets, but in some cases I think the lead is so hard it doesn't seal well enough under pressure and you get leading. With hotter loads, you want harder bullets, in my experience. Sometimes with lighter loads a hard bullet will lead. I have a Model 66 that won't lead at magnum velocities with a very hard bullet (Linotype) but the same bullet with .38 Special velocity loads leads (a little). A softer alloy (something a tad softer than Lyman #2) doesn't lead at all. The bullet is under tremendous pressure when it hits the rifling. It does expand (well let's say swell maybe) a bit to fill the rifling tightly. Even Linotpye with 25,000-35,000 PSI behind it smashing into the rifling isn't going to remain unaffected. Exactly how much it expands is the important part, it depends on the hardness of the bullet and pressure of the load. Within a certain range (and it's a pretty wide range, so chances are good you may never see this) you won't get leading, either side of the range it will lead. Since there's no way to measure this really, it's trial and error.

So even if your bullet is correct for your throats and your barrel, you can still get leading if the hardness of the bullet doesn't match the power of the load. You won't run into most of this unless you shoot a lot with a wide range of loads and a variety of cast lead bullets. It's most common with .357 shooters who use both full power magnum loads and lighter .38's.

There's so many variables with this it will drive you nuts.
 

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what I took away from that informative information was. 1 correct fit. and 2.. low grain starting loads use soft lead. high end hot loads use hard..
 

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Bullet fit in the throat and then bore is the worst cause of leading. If you can get those two right then the rest is easy. I would say bullet lube is next. There is no one lube fits all that I know of. Tumble lube in liquid alox should be all you need for an easy shooter like the .45 Colt.
 

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what I took away from that informative information was. 1 correct fit. and 2.. low grain starting loads use soft lead. high end hot loads use hard..
I should add that unlubricated swaged lead bullets often lead no matter what you do. Pure lead is just too soft. This is most common with .38 HBWC. I usually use Hornady HBWC which have a dry lube, the Remingtons don't, I'll lube those with Lee Liquid Allox. Very hard bullets may work in lighter loads, but at the very least it's a waste of money / Linotype.
 

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I don't cast. and still don't really know what swagging is. excuse my ignorance. From my understanding ordered bullets from places like midway have a little line of lube on the bullet already. Not saying a little spritz of allox wouldn't hurt.
 

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I don't cast. and still don't really know what swagging is. excuse my ignorance. From my understanding ordered bullets from places like midway have a little line of lube on the bullet already. Not saying a little spritz of allox wouldn't hurt.
Anything with a visible lube line is cast. The swaged lead bullets are formed by compression of lead wire. These are usually only from big names like Speer, Remington, Hornady. They are also used in factory lead bullet loads.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks all. Really helpful. What would you all recommend as a great all around good bullet for me to start using for my judge reloads? I plan to use a 150gn bullet with unique- moderate amt. just don't know enough to know what the right bullet is for me- ie lead or jacketed. Thanks
 

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Thanks all. Really helpful. What would you all recommend as a great all around good bullet for me to start using for my judge reloads? I plan to use a 150gn bullet with unique- moderate amt. just don't know enough to know what the right bullet is for me- ie lead or jacketed. Thanks
That's a really light bullet for the .45 Colt. Most of the 150 gr. .45 bullets are SWC's intended for the .45 ACP. Not that it won't work, but the lighter the bullet the more case volume you have, since the light bullets are short they don't take up much room in the case. Generally that's not a good combination. The standard bullet weight for the .45 Colt would be something north of 200 gr. in a SWC or RNFP ("cowboy").

I've never loaded for the .45 Colt, but if I was going to start, I'd try a 255 gr SWC first, as that seem to be the most common lead bullet I see used in this caliber. If I wanted to go lighter to save some money I'd try the 200 gr FP. If I wanted to use something more widely available, the 230 gr RN often used in the .45 ACP should be easier to find, in both cast and jacketed.

A couple of cast bullet vendors I've used:

45 Caliber
dardas cast bullets: Semi-Wadcutter

Jacketed bullets: I have a bias towards lead bullets, I wouldn't know where to start to pick one. I sort of think they are inappropriate for light .45 Colt loads unless you're really pushing the limits of the cartridge in a gun like the Ruger Blackhawk. Those big giant bullets probably aren't going to expand at low velocities, they're expensive, and the .45 Colt was designed around lead bullets in the first place. But I think I'd try the 230 gr RN meant for the .45 ACP.

Reloading is all about experimentation. When you look around the different sites for bullets, note which one everybody seems to have. If there's a big demand for a bullet, it tends to mean that's what works. Doesn't mean you can't give something a try, you never know.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sorry-- I mistyped-- I meant 250g!! Thanks. So from what I gather I should stick with lead to start. I didn't know if lead or jacketed was better to start with/ but your post helps clarify that a bit. Appreciate it.
 

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Sorry-- I mistyped-- I meant 250g!! Thanks. So from what I gather I should stick with lead to start. I didn't know if lead or jacketed was better to start with/ but your post helps clarify that a bit. Appreciate it.
Neither is better, or worse. Lead is a lot cheaper, usually just as accurate, but a bit messier. You pay your money and make your choices. I tend to see if the least expensive will work out first.

I like that Dardas will sell you 100 for testing purposes before you have to get into a committed relationship with a particular design that may or may not work out.
 

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Anything with a visible lube line is cast. The swaged lead bullets are formed by compression of lead wire. These are usually only from big names like Speer, Remington, Hornady. They are also used in factory lead bullet loads.
A swaged bullet can have lube grooves roll pressed into them. Hornady roll presses that checkered pattern into their swaged bullets before they add their dry lube to them. I have given serious thought about buying a Corbin S press and rolls of lead wire to swage my own bullets. I would buy roll press with a similar pattern but I would tumble lube them with alox. It would cost but I'm in it more for the hobby than any savings at this point. I just love the gear and operation of it all.
 

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A swaged bullet can have lube grooves roll pressed into them. Hornady roll presses that checkered pattern into their swaged bullets before they add their dry lube to them. I have given serious thought about buying a Corbin S press and rolls of lead wire to swage my own bullets. I would buy roll press with a similar pattern but I would tumble lube them with alox. It would cost but I'm in it more for the hobby than any savings at this point. I just love the gear and operation of it all.
Yes, you are correct, I didn't describe it very well. How about "If it has one (maybe two with full wadcutters) large lube groove(s) filled with visible colored lube, it's cast. If it's imprinted with smaller lube grooves over a majority of the bullet's surface, it's swaged." I almost bought a swaging press off eBay once. I got outbid and almost pulled the trigger.......
 

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If your bullet is the right size, your gun is mechanically correct (Throats .001 to .0015 over groove diameter), you have enough lube for the travel down the barrel, the alloy is tough enough to hold the lands at the velocity, and the alloy is soft enough to bump up and seal the throats/grooves, you will not have leading.

If not, you can have a solid lead tube in no time. Harder is not always better.
 

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An apology to the OP for thread highjacking. On the swaged bullets it is also possible to swage with a gas check. Turning a lube groove or pattern for something like Lees lube is not that hard. I cast bullets for years and because of a lack of time started buying cast from some of the custom cast guys. Swaging was a different thing, shooting wildcats that I could not buy bullets for made it necessary. Shooting lead or cast in handguns is usually first choice for me. There are cast companies that have great bullets with and without gas checks. Learning to cast your own is better, Lee has made it easy to get into without spending an arm and leg. Like a lot of old guys casting was built around Lyman molds and sizing equipment. A young friend got into casting using Lee's equipment and his bullets are as good as you could ask for. He said the equipment should pay for itself in what he is saving on bullets. Casting and reloading is not for everyone, but if you enjoy loading and making your own it is more than worth the investment.
 
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