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American Handgunner Sep/Oct 2011 Digital Edition - Page 26
To CheCk or NoT To CheCk? I Needed? John Taffin HANDLOADING SAGE ADVICE FROM THE HANDLOADING GURUS nvented in 1906, a gas check is simply a copper cup that attaches to the base of a lead alloy bullet to protect it against hot powder gases. It allows much higher velocities than standard bullets, and also re gas checks necessary? They are defiworks to prevent leading. In 1935 the Smith nitely not always necessary. Normally & Wesson .357 Magnum arrived and sixthe Keith bullet works just fine in .44 gunners found they had the same problem and .45 sixguns, however I have never been faced by a rifle shooters when trying to push able to get the across-the-board accuracy using lead alloy bullets at higher speeds. Some a plain-based bullet in .38/44 and .357 Magnum time in the 1930s, a fellow by the name of loads I can achieve with gas checked bullets. Cramer was offering bullet molds cut for When it comes to the bigger bores, I’ve found gas checks, however it remained for Ray it’s strictly up to your gun. Some work superbly Thompson to bring them to a high art. with plain-based bullets, others require gas Thompson was a member of the .44 checked bullets. When the Ruger stainless steel Taffin’s Associates, a group which also numbered Redhawk arrived in the early 1980s, I tried it set up for amongst its members one Elmer Keith. All for silhouetting using my loads with Keith bulapplying gas checks. of the Associates shared recipes for the .44 lets. The first time out I took down the first five Notice the Special in the early 1940s. Elmer Keith was chickens and then proceeded to miss the next Lyman Gas adamant in his belief gas checks had no five cleanly. A look down the bore provided the Check Seater place on sixgun bullets. All of his bullets answer — leading. I switched to the Thompson snapped in place at the bottom of were designed as plain-based bullets with gas check bullet and solved the problem. the RCBS Lubri-Sizer. three equal diameter driving bands and a Gas checks are expensive, and require extra large grease groove. Ray Thompson kept the time, just about doubling the time required for same basic SWC profile of the Keith bullet, sizing and lubricating cast bullets. They can also be an absolute bear to however he made three distinct changes. The attach. One thing that helps is to first anneal the gas checks. Place them base was cut for the adding of a gas check, in a cast-iron skillet on the stove until they change color, then allow them the grease groove is much smaller, and to cool. This softens them making attachment easier. finally Thompson believed the front driving All cast bullet diameters are not the same. Normally the harder the alloy, band on the bullet should be smaller in the larger the bullet casts. For example using one of my .357 gas check diameter than the rest of the bullet to enable bullet molds, linotype metal gives me a base diameter where the gas check the bullet to be line up properly in the barrel. is seated of .344" while a 50:50 mixture of lead and linotype drops bullets For example his .44 bullets, normally size to at .340", making seating gas Are gas checks worth .431" have .427" front driving bands. checks much easier. the effort? You In the early 1950s, Lyman began make the call. offering their molds cut for Ray ThompLyman’s lineup of Ray Thompson designed gas check bullets include #358156, son’s four gas checked bullets, and they #429215, #431244, and #452490. are still available today. The #358156 designed for the .357 Magnum is my favorite .357 bullet and I have found it This Ruger to be the best bullet available for full Stainless Steel .44 Special Flat-Top power loads in .357 Magnum sixguns, has been engraved and its gas checked feature is absolutely by Michael Gouse. mandatory when using cast bullets in .357 leverguns. Thompson’s bullets predate the .44 Magnum, however his two bullets for the .44 Special work equally well in the .44 Magnum and are mandatory for full house or me a mandatory tool is the Lyman Gas Check Seater. This snaps loads in leverguns. His .44 bullets are the on under the sizing die on a Lyman, RCBS or Lachmiller Lubri215-gr. #429215 and the 255-gr. #431244. cator/Sizer. Using the Gas Check Seater, the gas check is placed His fourth bullet was designed for the .45 on top followed by the bullet and the operation of the handle seats the Auto Rim in the Smith & Wesson 1950 gas check. This is a totally separate operation, and all gas checked bullets Target, however it also works exceptionmust still be run through the sizing die in the normal way to be sized and ally well in the .45 Colt. When loaded over lubricated, crimping the gas check in place in the process. 21.5 grains of #2400 in .45 Colt brass it If you’re having accuracy or leading problems with cast bullets gives over 1,400 fps and is for use only in in sixguns the easiest solution to either problem just the Ruger Blackhawk. Lyman catalogs this might be gas checked bullets. bullet as #452490. A Gotta’ Have It Tool F * 26 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2011