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Apr 29

RCBS Bullet Moulds

RCBS Company offers an extensive line of reloading tools including, presses, primer seaters, case preparation and bullet casting. Their moulds include pistol, rifle and roundball moulds and many special order moulds for old and obsolete calibers. They are machined from cast iron blocks which can be a two-edged sword. I own several of these ranging from a 22 caliber gas check model I use in my 22 Hi-Power to a 300 grainer for my 45 Colt revolver. The handles must be purchased separately and since I am rather lazy by nature I have multiple sets of handle to avoid having to swap moulds to handles every time I want to cast.

First the good points, with them bring made if iron if taken care of properly they will last virtually forever. They tend to heat up a little more slowly but then retain that heat and if you are casting using two or three moulds they tend to maintain a consistent temperature which aids in pouring good bullets. They are available in many popular sizes and styles and the heavy sprue plate aids in cutting of the excess lead.

The bad points are the weight which can wear on you over time. The fact that iron rusts if not taken care of pThe best way to prevent it is to leave the last two bullets you cast in the mould. This is no guarantee but I always do it and have not lost a mould to rusting yet. The time to break in the mould which I will explain shortly and for some reason RCBS seems to have a lot of moulds that do not like to let go of the bullets.

I’ll take the last one first. In use, when you fill a mould with lead it is set aside for a short time to allow it to harden, usually while filling a different mould. One that is done the sprue plate is struck with a piece of wood or rubber mallet which then cuts off the excess lead on top. Then the mould can be opened and in a perfect world the bullets fall out onto the soft cloth. In reality many moulds like to hold onto their bullets and RCBS is not the only company that has this issue but in my experience they seem to have more mould that do it than other manufacturers. The up side to using their products is they have one of most extensive lists of available choices. When the bullets don’t fall out the mould can be tapped to try and get the bullets to fall out. I use a rubber mallet to tap on the back side of the moulds but sometimes it can take several hits to dislodge a particularly stubborn bullet. The more sharp edges and driving bands and lube grooves the bullet has the more this can be the issue. This can be somewhat nullified by proper mould break in but that is no guarantee.

When you receive a new mould it will be coated with cutting oil which is used when cutting the mould and then left on at least in part to combat rusting. At this point some sharp eyed reader is probably asking him or herself why you can’t just coat the mould in oil to prevent rusting when they are done with it. You can do that but it will require breaking in the mould again the next time you use it. Anyway I use a Q-tip and clean off all of the old oil with mineral spirits. Next I set the mould aside and let the residue evaporate. If you are heating up lead in the pot I then set the mould on top of the pot to start preheating and this will aid in drying it out. The next thing I do is use a barbeque lighter and smoke the mould cavities. The residue from the flame seems to coat the mould and let the bullets drop out easier. There are mould prep chemicals that advertise quick break in but in my experience they leave the bullets with a rough finish after they are cast. Next approx 10 casts are made and the bullets set aside to go back into the pot. By cast 11 if the bullets are not starting to look good I clean the mould with mineral spirits again and start all over. If you spend a couple of hours breaking in a mould you will not want to oil it so you have to do it all over again.

Since all iron moulds share some of these traits there is no real advantage one over another. The final decision will usually be the weight, style and diameter of the mould when matched to the use intended.

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