In order to get any sort of accuracy from my two .44-77’s I have to cast bullets of a very soft alloy—say one part tin to 40 parts pure lead. The explosion of black powder upon ignition bumps up the soft bullets to fill the barrel. In fact I keep one electric lead furnace just with that alloy. It also works well with .38 and .41 Colt rounds.

Speaking of casting bullets, I’ve done that as a handloader since day one. In fact in the home area of my youth—Mingo County, West Virginia—there was no other source of bullets when I began reloading in 1966. There are plenty of bullets around for nigh-on everything nowadays, but I personally remain stuck in the bullet casting era and enjoy it. Many consider it an onerous chore but I treasure time spent casting as relaxing. Of the 50+ cartridges I reload currently, there are only five for which I do not have bullet molds. They are .223 Remington, .222 Remington Magnum, 6.5mm Italian Carcano, 7.62x39mm and 7.92x33mm Kurz.

In the first 20 years of my reloading career I put together perhaps 100 rounds with black powder as propellant. Those were .45-70’s for an original Trapdoor Springfield carbine. Now I load black powder to the tune of about a 25-pound case every year. The igniting spark was the game of NRA Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette. I’m one of the game’s oldest competitors and from over 25 years of experimentation I know for sure that with 1870’s vintage rifles (or replicas), black powder gives the very best long-range accuracy in cartridges originally designed for it.