Tumble lubing cast bullets with Lee Allox mixed with floor polish
The only bullet lube I’ve ever used is Lee Liquid Allox and like some parts of the USA, it’s pretty cool where I live, here in the North East of England. The Lee Liquid Allox is always cold and never runs, so, after sizing/gas checking my bullets with a Lee sizing die, I open the spout on the Lee Liquid Allox and put it in the microwave on full power for about half a minute (give or take ten seconds or so). That usually gives the right consistency and I build up the coating by adding a little at a time before swirling round in my plastic container and leaving it for 5 – 10 mins between times to allow drying.
Some of my friends and fellow casters have seen my tumble lube bullets and asked me if they were done with a lubrisizer. Using my method the lube seems to come back off the bullets as the Liquid Allox starts to set, apart from in the grooves; where it builds up into a nice thick coating. I do agree though that the Lee Liquid Allox does take a while to completely dry and I tend to lube my bullets at least a month before I need them. After reading a post on the Cast Bullet Book forum of the Cast Bullet Association of America, I was interested in the Idea of mixing wax floor polish with Lee Liquid Allox to aid with this problem. Unfortunately I can’t remember when I last spotted tins of solid/paste wax polish in the UK; as it seams always to be in aerosol cans nowadays. I decided to go straight to my local hardware shop to see if I could get some of the old fashioned stuff and give it a try.
First of all let me clarify a couple of things. The reason I use a lot of Lee Liquid Allox on my bullets, is that most of my bullets go through long barrelled rifles, 25 – 30 inches, at speeds of 2200+ fps. You see in our country we aren’t allowed pistols any more, so even my 38 special loads go down the 30 inch tube of a Pedersoli Remington rolling block.
My reloading experience started off with home cast pistol bullets for a beautiful 38/357 Smith & Wesson mod 19, K frame revolver and a clinically accurate 9 mm Glock mod 17. For these guns I used micro groove tumble lube bullets with literally a varnish like coating and yes, for those short barrels it worked fine. When I first started reloading for my rifles, I tried the same thing and I got leading problems. Still using the micro groove bullets, I discovered that they were not capable of holding enough lube for anything more than a 38 special shot through a short barrelled lever action carbine. Apart from one or two of my favourites I put the micro groove moulds on the top shelf and eventually sold them on ebay.
I then started to use Lyman 314299 200gn and lee 309-200gn with reasonable success, but found that I had to fill the grooves with lube or I’d get leading after less than 50 rounds. Now, with my groove filling tumble lube method, I could shoot a rifle all year, not clean it and there would still be no sign of leading. Unfortunately that brings us to the problem of the tacky bullets, which is why I lube them a month before I need them, if I can. I’m not saying that it takes a month for the stuff to dry, only that I leave them that long to be sure they are dry. I could of course, have bought a one of those lubrisizing gadgets but I’m much too stubborn for that. I also believe that the Lee sizing die method gives more concentric bullets as the nose of the bullet self centres in the sizing die, without the need for nose and base punches for each different shaped bullet. The Gas check is also fitted much better because the bullet is straightened as it goes into the die, keeping the gas check at right angles as it is crimped in place.
I’ve now managed to find some paste type floor polish (Briwax) that contains bee’s wax and carnauba wax along with some kind of petroleum distillate; which should be used with good ventilation! I’ve mixed it 50-50 with Lee Liquid Allox, then warmed in the microwave to blend. When tumble lubing with the mixture and leaving it overnight, it is as dry as Lee Liquid Allox gets after a week. As luck would have it this mixture stays thin enough to use without re warming in all but the coldest weather, presumably because of the petroleum distillate content of the floor polish.
I also tried mixing pure bees wax with Lee Liquid Allox, but it would only stay liquid long enough to tumble lube, in a mixture of 25% bees wax and 75% Lee Liquid Allox, then it reverts to a very waxy solid state which has to be re heated to use again. I may try 20% bees wax and 80% Lee Liquid Allox to see if it stays thinner.
Last night at the 20 yard indoor range I test fired 3 groups in my 38 special, from a rest, using bullets lubricated with Lee Liquid Allox on its own as well as the other two mixtures, there was no difference in group size (a five shot half inch ragged hole) and no leading to be seen in the rifle. I’ve already lubed some 30cal bullets with the paste floor polish and Lee Liquid Allox, to shoot in competition later in the year and they are touch dry already after a day.
(Two weeks later) I was at the range a couple of days ago and I’ve now test fired my 30 cal cast bullets, lubed with LLA and floor polish mixture at 200 yards. Although the 90 degree 20 – 25 mph wind did make me think about aborting the test till conditions improved. I found the target centre after winding on about 12 minutes of wind and despite two of my shots being blown an inch either side of the main group, I managed to get a 5 shot group of just over 2 inches. I’d say this proves that mixing floor polish 50/50 with LLA does help with drying but does not adversely affect accuracy.
The load used was Winchester 308 Win cases (neck sized using Lee collet die), Lee Gas Check 309-180-R bullet (sized to .310 and seated to touch the lead with the forward driving band), in front of 24 grains of Accurate 5744, ignited by Federal large rifle primers (Federal match primers if used in competition). The bullets actually weigh about 170 grains as I use a slightly harder alloy of 2 parts linotype and 1 part soft indoor range waste (made up of .22 and soft pistol bullets) The rifle used was an Enfield Enforcer with chordal 1 in 12 twist rifling. Incidentally I used to use the Lee 200 grain bullet but the 1 in 12 twist wouldn’t stabilize the heavier bullet quite so well as my 1 in 10 twist military rifles. When I changed to the 180 grain bullet, accuracy improved dramatically.
I may try out a mixture of the floor polish, Lee Liquid Allox and bees wax and test that as well, although I’m not sure of the point, other than to use up the bar of bees wax that I got to experiment with.
Cheers and keep on experimenting.
Griff Elliott, UK.