Lyman’s 4th Edition Cast Bullet Handbook
Helps Expand The Reloader’s Universe.
In my continually cluttered work area reside a host of reloading manuals but the most tattered of all are Lyman’s various cast bullet handbooks. There have only been four editions with the newest arriving in 2010.
It is the one most dear to me. Why? Because in its table of contents I am listed as “author.” That’s not 100-percent exact. I did 15 of the 18 informational or “how-to” chapters. The other three chapters were done by experts in their fields. Also the amazing amount of data that makes up the bulk of this book was tested and compiled by Lyman’s own technicians in their Middletown, Connecticut, laboratory. Still I was extremely pleased to be asked to help and to be listed as it primary author.
In the mid-1960s upon taking up bullet casting myself, it seemed a mysterious art. Even then good information concerning its ins and outs and ups and downs was scarce. Then one of the older gents who helped me along loaned me his Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook (1st Edition) but only with my promise to return it promptly. With its reading, many details of pouring good bullets became clear. That 1st edition was so rare that it wasn’t until the 1990s that I found one for my own library.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Lyman produced 2nd and 3rd Editions of their cast bullet manual and I devoured their contents page by page. In the 2nd Edition, Lyman listed all their hundreds of cast bullet designs with sample photos of each. As I acquired molds and tried shooting those bullets an X was placed with its photo. There are scores of Xs there now.
Lest someone assumes I’m so happy with Lyman’s new cast bullet book because I was instrumental in producing it, let me stress that’s only one reason. The primary reasons I’m enthusiastic are three. One is that for the first time they have included other companies’ bullet designs. RCBS, Lee, and Redding/SAECO molds are represented along with their own molds. A second reason is that new powders are used including black powder and Pyrodex where applicable. The third and most important reason that this book will be useful to a wide range of shooters is that it is so comprehensive.
This array of cast bullet loaded cartridges (above) shows some of the data variety you will find in Lyman’s new Cast Bullet Handbook, 4th Edition. From left to right: .30 Carbine, .308 Winchester, .38-55, .44 WCF (.44-40) and .50-70 Government. Duke was satisfied to see in the manual that his 8mm Mauser cast bullet load coincides closely with Lyman’s data (below).
Host Of Calibers
Let’s look at that factor for a moment. In its rifle data section Lyman’s new manual starts with .22 Hornet on the little end and finishes with the .50-70 Government on the large side. Along with run of the mill standbys such as .30-30 and .30-06, there is cast bullet information for such esoteric rounds as .30-378 Weatherby Magnum, .375 Ruger, and even .460 Weatherby Magnum. Did you know that 52 grains of Accurate 5744 will give about 1,700 fps from a Weatherby Mark V .460 rifle? That tones it down enough for practice shooting.
It is also nice when perusing this new book to see that some of my own cast bullet load favorites coincide with Lyman’s data. For instance, in my array of German K98k Mausers Redding/SAECO’s bullet mold 081 over 27 grains of Accurate 5744 is my standard load. Lyman uses that same bullet with a starting charge of 25.5 grains (1,702 fps) to a maximum of 31 grains (2,156 fps).
Antique and obsolete rifle rounds are not ignored either. There is loading information for .40-65 Winchester and .40-70 Sharps Straight, .45-90, .45-100, .45-110 and .45-120 Sharps along with .45-70. There is even information for the .56-50 Spencer Centerfire which has been brought back to replicate the original Spencer rimfire cartridge.
Cast bullet handgun information has also been covered in great detail starting with .30 Luger and progressing to the .500 Smith & Wesson. Other big boomers covered are .480 Ruger and .475 Linebaugh but some of the old smaller-capacity Old West rounds have gotten modern coverage in this book. Here, I’m talking about .44 S&W Russian and .45 S&W Schofield.
Finally at the end of this new book are reference charts that can come in handy. Such are a crossover chart of top punches necessary for cast bullet sizing. This chart shows which Lyman top punches might be compatible with Redding/SAECO and Lee bullet designs. For some reason, RCBS is left out. Also there is a shell holder chart, which I have found very useful. There are some interesting anomalies in it. For instance, Lyman lists a No. 17 shell holder for 7.62x54R Russian and for most magnum cartridges up to and including .460 Weatherby Magnum. Yet Hornady, RCBS and Redding list a specific shell holder for the old Russian military round (numbers 23, 13 and 15 respectively) that is shared with no other cartridge. A minor point but interesting to us “handloading loonies.”
With reloading component supply being so spotty nowadays with the political inspired hoarding and panic buying happening in 2013, bullet casting is on the upswing. In my opinion new casters and many older casters would benefit from this Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook 4th Edition.
By Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos By Yvonne Venturino
475 Smith St., Middletown, CT 06457