.41 Mag Slugs

From A To Zinc?
12

Tank uses his Ruger Bisley Hunter with a Leupold 4X scope to get the most accuracy
out of the .41 Mag, alongside his Marlin 1894 with Skinner peep sight.

Like most of my obsessions, it started by thumbing through a gun magazine — certain articles grab our attention, refusing to let go. I was reading about the .41 Magnum over 30 years ago. Described as the middle magnum, it fit perfectly between the .357 and .44 Magnum and was declared a great field caliber.

Historically Speaking

Developed by Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan for law enforcement officers in the early 1960s, it was supposed to be the answer for underloaded .38 Special duty rounds. Problem was, it was too much of a good thing — its muzzle blast and penetration too much for duty use. Factory ammo was pushing a 210-gr. jacketed soft point near 1,500 fps.

A lower velocity .41 Magnum load was designed, lowering velocities to 1,100 fps but officers complained of lugging the heavy N-Frame guns made for it. However, the .41 magnum excelled as a hunting round. Elmer loved it for hunting, saying its flatter trajectory made hits easier than his beloved .44 magnum.

Gun Shop Rat

Whenever checking my business establishments as a young copper, I paid particular attention to the local gun shops, always keeping an eye out for anything .41 Magnum. Funny thing — I never saw any. Seems guys who bought ’em, liked ’em, never trading them in.

Closest I came was buying .41 Magnum brass at a gun show for a great price. I bought it and several bullet molds before actually getting my first .41 Magnum handgun more than two years later but I had ammo loaded and ready. I finally got a Blackhawk in the early ’90s when Ruger decided to make a run of .41 Magnum Blackhawks.

After the first, the gates opened up and I started seeing them after I stopped looking. Of course, I never passed on any I saw.

Tank’s love for .41 Magnum guns is well-placed — they’re inherently accurate!

Straight Shooter

The .41 Magnum seems to have inherent accuracy. All of mine seem to shoot accurately. Maybe it’s the powder capacity to bore-size ratio, or the low number of runs keeps the tooling in spec longer? Maybe the manageable recoil has something to do with it? Maybe a combination of all three? Either way, I’ve always found the .41 Mag an accurate cartridge.

The Marlin provided all the accuracy Tank could hold at 50 yards, while the
carbine added 350–400 fps of “free” velocity with its 20" barrel.

The Molds

The first mold I obtained was an RCBS 210-gr. SWC. An accurate bullet, I shot it the first couple of years along with the “Keith” slug, Lyman 410459. I found a “used” double cavity, followed by a 4-banger, to speed-up production rate. I happily shot bullets from these molds for years over 20 grains of 2400, Elmer’s load, for nearly 1,500 fps.

About 7–8 years ago, I won an online bid for a rare 230-gr. four-cavity Saeco Keith mold which drops beautiful “Keith” style bullets, the only difference being a slightly heavier nose profile.

The cast of characters includes (L-R): 189-gr. zinc slug, RCBS 210-gr. SWC,
Lyman 410459, Saeco 230-gr. SWC, LBT 250-gr. WFN and Todd Corder’s 270-gr. LFNGC slug.

LBT

In the early ’90s I learned about a company called LBT and their radiused flat-nosed designs in Long Flat-Nose (LFN) and Wide Flat-Nose (WFN).

Veral Smith designed these bullets to keep more weight on the outside of the cartridge case to allow for more powder capacity inside. Along with his efficient bullet lube, higher velocity and better accuracy were obtained with the heavier bullets.
I borrowed friend Dick Thompson’s 250-gr. WFN mold and cast a lifetime’s worth of slugs with it before mailing it back to him. Loaded over 17 grains of 2400 gives you 1,300 fps from most revolvers and all the accuracy you can hold.

Custom Molds

Lastly, I have a mold from Todd Corder which drops a 270-gr. LFNGC design bullet. Todd had Lee Precision make a run of his design and sells them. It is a great design and shoots extremely well in my guns with the same 17 grains of 2400 at 1,300 fps.

Tank bought these zinc bullets from Midsouth Shooter’s Supply. Tank says he
might just try casting the non-traditional bullet material in the future.

Zinc?

A couple of winters ago I received a sales ad from a popular shooting supply house listing Zinc .41 caliber bullets for $7 a hundred. The price was too good to pass, plus it piqued my interest so I ordered six bags. Taller than my 270-gr. Corder bullets, the Zinc slugs only weighed 180 grains but boy did they shoot!

As a confirmed bullet caster, I’ve melted my fair share of wheel-weights (WW) for alloy. You always separate the lead WW from the Zinc WW as zinc and lead won’t mix. It ruins your whole pot of alloy if they melt together.

When loaded over 17 grains of 2400, velocities run just over 1,300 fps from handguns and are extremely accurate. I just might have to experiment with casting zinc bullets in the future, so stay tuned.

It will give me something to do with the buckets of separated zinc WW I already have, plus I like the results — and you never know when some ranges might call for lead free ammo.

Friendly Advice

The .41 magnum, the middle magnum, is a good one. If you happen to stumble across one, grab it, because you never know when you’ll see one again … especially if I see it first!

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