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NEI bullet molds: make lead pouring easy.

I started casting bullets as a teenager 50 years ago using a single-cavity mold, a dipper and a cast-iron pot on my mom's gas kitchen range. When I married and moved out on my own I found our electric range would not put out enough heat to melt lead, so I began adding other items for casting.

I moved outside with a Coleman stove still using single-cavity molds for roundnosed bullets for the .38 Special and .45 Colt. I soon added double-cavity molds to throw Keith SWC bullets as well as a bottom-pour pot. I tried using a four-cavity steel mold, but they're too heavy for long casting sessions, so I went to two double-cavity molds so I could use one while the other was cooling. Then nearly 30 years ago I acquired my first NEI mold, a four-cavity aluminum affair throwing .44 Keith bullets. The number of this mold is 429.260PB and it is still in service and still throwing excellent bullets.

I've since added many NEI molds including those casting the .44 and .45 bullets designed by J.D. Jones as well as three of my favorite heavyweight bullets. The Jones design features a wide flatpoint and I've used his 320-grain .44 and 345-grain .45 for more than 25 years to build heavy-duty hunting loads for .44 Magnum, .45 Colt and .454 Casull. In the Keith-style design, heavyweight favorites from NEI include the .429.285GC for the .44 Magnum and for the .45 Colt, the 451.310PB and 454.325PB. In the NEI numbering system, the first three digits signify caliber while the last three are the weights, approximately speaking of course. GC is gas check and PB is plain base.

For many years I went along with the idea of determining barrel groove diameter by tapping a pure lead oversized bullet or ball down the barrel, measuring the lead slug, and then sizing the bullet accordingly. It took awhile but I finally realized this was backwards. In a sixgun, the bullet doesn't enter the barrel first, but rather the cylinder's chamber throat and this determines the size of the bullet when it enters the barrel. Now I keep a record of the chamber throats (much easier to measure using plug gauges) and size bullets accordingly. Few others have put this in print except myself, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the following quotation from NEI's catalog concerning revolvers: "The chamber mouth of the cylinder dictates the size of the bullet, not the groove size of the barrel. The bullet must be sized for a tight push fit through the cylinder. Example: some .44s have a groove size of .429" and the cylinder mouths are .432" or more, in this example, size the bullet to .432"+ and don't worry when the big light hits the bullet, it will fit the barrel. If the mouth of the cylinder is smaller than the groove size of the barrel the pistol will never shoot worth a hoot. Send it back to the factory, or have it reamed to .001" over groove size. Remember a hard linotype bullet will lead faster if it doesn't fit."

If I had never used any NEI molds, this one quote would tell me the folks at NEI know what they are about. There are aluminum molds and there are aluminum molds. Do not confuse the quality aluminum blocks from NEI with any cheap molds being offered. My .44 four-cavity mold is as good as it was when it was brand-new and after throwing thousands upon thousands of bullets it is still in perfect shape except for being blackened by smoking with a candle to aid the bullet's release from the cavities.

NEI offers a full line of molds in virtually every caliber, size and style including heel-type bullets for loading some of the 19th-century cartridges as the .41 Long Colt and .44 Colt. In addition to aluminum, NEI also offers molds made of Meehanite, which they describe as a very dense cast iron alloy. These molds are offered only in one-or two-cavity, while aluminum blocks can be had in two-, three-, four-, or six-cavity persuasions. All NEI mold blocks are cut with a cherry, the same cherry is used for all the cavities in a multiple cavity mold and cast diameters are normally .001" to .003" larger than the listed diameter in the mold number. Sprue plates are made of 3/16" steel, ground and stress relieved. In all the years I've been using NEI molds, I have never experienced any problems whatsoever with either mold blocks or sprue plates. Any mold cataloged as a gas check can be cut without the gas check feature and bullets may also be shortened. RCBS handles fit NEI mold blocks.


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Title Annotation:OUT of the BOX[TM]
Author:Taffin, John
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 2007
Previous Article:Magazines: the gun kind.
Next Article:Clean scene.

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