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  1. #1
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    Making cheap lead bullets for the 8x56R.

    After looking at the Steyr M95 short rifles for a long time, and thinking that one would be great fun to play with, I couldn’t resist any longer when they were offered by a large seller for $89. The problem with this rifle is the obsolete 8x56R caliber it shoots.

    As if not bad enough that the 56R case is odd and not readily available (ammo and cases are offered but they are not cheap and to me this is a cheap plinking rifle) but it also takes a strange .329 bullet rather than the .323 of the more familiar 8x57 Mauser. Lee makes dies and they also make a .329 bullet sizing die that works in a standard reloading press. I have heard of guys resizing jacketed .338 bullets but these are pricey and not in keeping with my cheap theme for this rifle. I needed to look elsewhere. Some lead .338 bullets can be purchased but they are a little expensive and at 250 grains the recoil will be rather stiff. I wanted a lighter bullet for fun shooting.

    Then I thought about the .357 revolver bullet. Could a lead .357 bullet be squeezed through the .329 die to make a cheap plinking load? I had to try. What I wound up doing was rather than using the die as intended, I screwed it in the press upside down from the bottom. Then I took a lead .357 bullet and coated it with the lube Lee includes with the sizer die and dropped it into the die nose down, just as it would pass through the die if it were mounted correctly. Then I used a steel punch that was just slightly smaller in diameter than the base of the bullet and a 24 ounce hammer to tap the bullet through the die. I truly believe this is easier and requires much less physical effort than using the ram to drive the bullet through the die.

    I was a bit surprised at how easily it slipped through. I had thought that perhaps going from .357 to .329 would be too great a leap and I might have to buy a custom die from Lee (they will make one in any size you want for $25) in maybe .342 and resize the bullets in two stages. But it wasn’t necessary. Just a couple of sharp taps and it fell out the bottom. The bullet looked perfect, no different than it looked before being resized except for a very shallow indentation perfectly centered in the base where the punch made contact. I don’t think this will affect the bullet’s performance one bit. It just made it a slightly hollow base design. Only now the calipers showed it was .329” instead of the original .357”. Woo-hoo! Cheap plinking bullets for the 8x56R had been achieved!

    I think a 158 grain round nose will work fine, but I believe 180 and even 200 grain .357 bullets are readily available if more weight is desired. To me the small amount of time needed to resize the pistol bullets is justified in the cost savings.

    Now I need to acquire some cases and actually try these out.
    "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money to spend." -Margaret Thatcher.

  2. #2
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    Re: Making cheap lead bullets for the 8x56R.

    Interesting project SP!

    Some years ago I did some research on this subject. Some single shot riflemen I knew regularly swaged oversized bullets down to fit their odd and obsolete cartridges when moulds were not available. They all concurred that for least deformity and best accuracy, you should try to stage the sizings at .002" each. Sizings greater than that may or may not give satisfactory accuracy.

    I gathered up my sizing dies and borrowed all I could and staged some .45-70 bullets (457125) from their nominal diameter of .458" to .445" for a .44 cal. Maynard rifle - and some down to .435" for a 11mm Mauser. They all worked just fine for my needs and rifle-shooting ability.

    I eventually got a proper mould for the .44 and could tell no real difference in accuracy between my unsized and sized bullets.

    Condition of the bullet base is critical to accuracy - particularly at longer rifle distances. I would try to see if I could swage some with the ram to see if the dimple in the base can be avoided.

    Please let me know if you can't find any acceptable 200gr. candidates for swaging to .329".......

    xtm

  3. #3
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    Re: Making cheap lead bullets for the 8x56R.

    I assume using the ram would be easier on the bullet base but I would to remount my press on a sturdier platform. It's now on a portable bench and it works for reloading but sizing bullets requires more stress and the bench flexes. Being lazy, it's just easier to invert the die and tap the bullets through than to relocate the press to the bench in the garage every time I wanted to size some bullets.

    Take the bullets in .002 increments? Hell, I'm going from .357 to .329. That would require 14 dies and repeating the process 14 times! This is not a match rifle, it's a former military gun and a plinker. The bullets look pretty good coming out of the die and although they may not be perfect I think they will be fine for what I need.

    As for the deformed base, the indentation is shallow and centered. I doubt it would have any real effect.
    "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money to spend." -Margaret Thatcher.


 

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