Pet Loads With Cast Bullets


Although a bit cluttered, Tank cranks out some quality bullets in his garage
with his LEE and RCBS casting furnaces.

As a handloader, nothing is more satisfying than taking game, or punching the bullseye with your own handloads. It provides a feeling of accomplishment, self-satisfaction and self-reliance like no other. It only makes sense to have acquired some favorite loads over the years. Shot, and deemed to be determined “tried and true” loads, I figured I’d share them with you.

.32 H&R

This small-bore dynamo has been underloaded for years because of the H&R revolvers still on the market. Loaded to full potential in Ruger Single-Six single-action revolvers, the little round takes on a whole new personality.

My pet load is using an LBT radiused flat-nosed bullet with plain base weighing 120 grains. Loaded over 10 grains of 2400 and sparked with a small pistol primer (SSP), I get around 1,200 FPS, depending on barrel length. Groups of 1" or better at 25 yards are not uncommon.

Here’s Tank’s GP-100 in .327 Federal with a bunch of .32 H&R cases loaded with his LBT
120-grain radiused flat-nosed bullet.

.38 Special

I’ve got two favorites here, and they’re oldies, but goodies, and considered +P loads. Both use the Keith bullet, the Lyman 358429, a 170-grain SWC. The first load uses five grains of Unique and SPP. It drives the Keith slug round 1,000 FPS. The second, one Elmer himself used, calls for 13.0 grains of 2400 over his bullet. I’ve clocked this load at 1,260 from a 6.5" Ruger OM Blackhawk. Both loads are extremely accurate and make the .38 Special a real performer. Who needs .357 brass?

Here’s Tank’s S&W model 28 and a Simply Rugged holster carved by Rick Gittlein,
with some hot-loaded .38 Special “Keith’s”.

.41 Magnum

I have one pet load for two favorite bullets. The first bullet is a Saeco 230-grain Keith SWC and the second slug is an LBT 250-grain WFNPB, or wide flat-nose, plain base bullet. Both loads are sparked by a LPP (over a charge of 17 grains of 2400.) Velocity is around 1,300 FPS, give or take. Again, these loads are accurate. 50- yard groups of 2" are the norm.

.44 Special

My favorite hands-down load is the famous “Skeeter” load consisting of 7.5 grains of Unique under a “Keith” SWC. I’ve shot zillions of the Lyman 429421version of this iconic bullet. But these days, I use a Miha version of this bullet, which was copied from Hensley & Gibbs. It drops at 265 grains, 15 grains heavier than the Lyman “Keith.” This load clocks out at around an even 1,000 FPS and is pleasant, accurate and fun to shoot.

.44 Magnum

The .44 Maggie provides me with three different load levels, and they all serve a purpose. Two of the loads use the same Miha “Keith” bullet used in the .44 Special and the third is a heavyweight LBT 320 grain slug. My lightweight load uses 10 grains of Unique under the 265-grain Keith. I get 1,100 FPS, just a tad faster than the .44 Special “Skeeter” load. It’s great for teaching beginners, or simply a perfect plinking companion.

The next load also uses the Miha “Keith” bullet, but its loaded over 21 grains of 2400, duplicating Elmer’s load of the then, slower burning 2400 of the day. Elmer used 22 grains, but today’s 2400 is slightly faster burning. Anyway, we get 1,400 FPS using 21 grains, which is plenty fast. It’s a great all-around load and accurate.

Lastly, we have the LBT LFNDCGC, or long, flat-nosed, dual crimp, gas check slug. Loaded with 22 grains of H110 and ignited with a CCI 350 magnum pistol primer, we get 1,300 FPS of fun. This load has been shot clear through a buffalo, and is a heavy hitter — accurate too!

Tanks uses LEE dies for loading .44 Special and Magnum loads.

.45 Colt

In my book my favorite cartridge, the .45 Colt, has it all. I have dozens of loads for this cartridge, but will share my two most-used and favorite loads. One load consists of bullets dropped from a LEE 6-cavity mold, a 255-grain radiused flat-nose design, and the other, from a 70’s vintage Lyman 454424 4-cavity mold.

For the LEE bullet, I duplicate the original cowboy style slug loaded over eight grains of 231 and a LPP. This load duplicates factory 900 FPS loadings, and is accurate and up for practically anything.

My second favorite load uses the “Keith” bullet loaded over 20 grains of 2400, for Ruger pistols only. It clocks over 1,200 FPS and is deadly accurate and has taken a lot of game for me, including a cow elk.

A close up of Lyman 454424 cast slugs loaded over 20 grains of 2400.

Common Cause

I’m sure you’ll notice the use of cast bullets in all these loads. I believe the humble cast slug has what it takes for top game performance while hunting, plus I get to make them to my specifications, i.e. how hard, soft, sizing diameter, etc., to get the performance I want. I take pride in my handloads and using them in my guns just makes the circle complete.

I hope this helped any fledgling handloader, or at least sparked an interest. If you have any questions, give me a shout [email protected]