Index Home About Blog
From: (John Bercovitz)

Warning! - you could be had by Lyman:

I'm a bit angry with Lyman right now.  OK, I'm livid.  A 
few weeks ago I bought Lyman mold #401638 which casts a 
175 gn truncated cone for the 10 mm auto.  I also bought 
the correct (.401) Lyman sizing die for my Lyman 450 
sizer/lubricator.  I cast up a batch of bullets using 
Lyman #2 alloy which the Lyman book says is the alloy the 
molds are designed around.  The bullets cast out at .404.  

Using 50-50 alox/beeswax, I tried to size and lubricate 
the bullets.  I could barely move the operating handle; 
the press groaned and squawked.  The bullets came out .402 
diameter.  So I called up Lyman (1-800-22 LYMAN).  The 
nice man on the other end of the line said that you can't 
size a bullet of that diameter and alloy down more than 
.002 so I had to either go to a soft (1Sn/40Pb) alloy (In 
a 10 mm auto?  You gotta be nuts!) or get a mold that 
would cast .403 diameter.  He said that if I continued to 
size down those oversize bullets, I would permanently 
damage my Lyman sizer/lubricator.

Then he went on to say that .404 was within Lyman's 
tolerances for that mold!!!  But he added that if I sent 
the mold back to the factory with an explanation of the 
problem, the factory would send me a new mold.

So I did just that - wrote them a nice letter telling them 
that the mold cast .404 and about what the nice man on the 
phone had said.  I got my mold back last night; the only 
paperwork with it was a computer print out with one 
sentence on it:  


I could tell by looking at the mold that they had actually 
taken the time to cast bullets in #2 alloy and measure 
them!  If they had that kind of money to waste, why not 
send me a mold of the correct diameter?  Because they 
don't make the mold in the correct diameter, that's why!  

It's a new mold design and the tooling hasn't worn in enough 
yet to make a correctly-sized mold and it won't for sometime 
to come.  Apparently Lyman makes their tooling extra-large 
so that it will last a long time.  Consequently, first 
they make a lot of molds that are much too large, then 
they regrind the tooling, make a lot of molds that are a 
little too big, then regrind again and make a lot of molds 
which are just right.  

So what's a mother to do?  I don't know; you tell me.
It seemed the least I could do was warn you guys to buy 
from a manufacturer other than Lyman.

    John Bercovitz

From: (John Bercovitz)
Organization: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California

In article <> (Geoff Kotzar) writes:
#I regularly size cast bullets down .008-.009 inch without
#trouble, so I don't believe what Lyman has told you. To
#use Lee's 350 and 405 .458 slugs in my Casull I have to
#reduce their diameters from .460 to .451 and my Lyman 450
#does the job just fine in steps of .003 inches. The only
#times I have had the problem you describe is when I have 
#put a new sizing die in the press.
#An air pocket would sometimes develop which would prevent
#the lube from getting in the die and only the packing grease
#would be present to ease the passage of the first few bullets.
#Once I really cranked down on the lube reservoir and got the
#bullet lube into the die body things straightened right out.
#There have been two occasions in recent memory that I would
#have sworn that I had ruined a sizing die and strained the
#press for all it was worth.

I pushed the bullet ejector down and pre-lubed the die by
cranking on the lube handle, so I know I had plenty of lube.
(Messy but effective.)  Besides, the problem was still
occurring 150 bullets later when I gave up.  What could be
different between your set up and mine?  The alloy?  Are
you using Lyman #2 alloy (5 Sn, 5 Sb, 90 Pb)?  The fellow at
Lyman didn't say anything about the age of the press - mine's
about 20 years old - he just flat out said that .003 was too
much for the press with #2 alloy and a bullet that big.  I 
wonder if your press is newer/hardier somehow?  My brand
of lube is Javelina Alox/beeswax; I presume that's as good
as any other in regards to this problem?

Another fellow mailed me a reply in which he stated that when
he sizes down .003", he pre-lubes the bullets with liquid
Alox or similar product to avert this problem.  I'm definitely
going to give that a try with the next batch I cast up.

If that fails, I'll get one of those Lee dies which work in
one's reloading press, hone it out to .402/.403, and pre-
size them that way (also using liquid Alox).  The Lee dies
are so rough that you have to hone them anyway if you have
any pride in your tools.  Fortunately, Lee dies are tight
and leave plenty of room for clean up.

Thanks very much for the reply relating your experiences.    (John Bercovitz)

From: (John Bercovitz)
Subject: Lee bullet sizer

I got a 10 mm caliber Lee sizer yesterday.  Its quality seems much
improved over that of the two previous Lee sizers I have bought.
I believe this one was drilled with a _sharp_ drill bit rather
than a _dull_ drill bit as before.  At any rate, it was easy to
polish up, using 220 grit wet-and-dry on a dowel in a hand drill
followed by 600 grit.  Time invested was about 5 minutes.  The bullets
come out nice and round and with a mirror finish.  They are .4015
diameter rather than the .401 diameter stamped on the die; I presume
this is a result of my polishing job.

     (John Bercovitz)

From: (John Bercovitz)
Subject: Bullet Sizing Success!
Organization: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California

Many thanks to those of you who sent all of the suggestions about how
to size bullets from my oversize Lyman mold.  It was really heart-warming 
and beyond that, all of your suggestions worked.

The suggestions fell into two basic categories: prelube the bullets 
before sizing and size down in steps.  I tried both.  I cast a bunch of
bullets and ended up with 120 keepers which I split into 3 groups; 
control, presize, prelube.  The alloy was again Lyman #2: 5-5-90.

I treated the control bullets in the normal way - cast and then run through
the Lyman 450 sizer/lubricator.  Again the bullets came out .404 as cast
and .402 as sized in the .401 sizer.

To presize the bullets, I purchased a Lee reloading press bullet sizer
which I polished out.  I used the supplied liquid alox for the sizing lube.
Bullets came out of this sizer at .4015.  I then ran them thru the Lyman
sizer/lubricator and they came out .4011 with a range of diameter readings
on any given bullet of .0001.  The sizer/lubricator was loaded with the 
usual 50-50 Alox beeswax.

To prelube the bullets, I used the suggestion of employing liquid Alox.
The bullets then went directly to the sizer/lubricator and came out
.4013 diameter with a range of .0003.

So it looks like the better results came from the presizing but that it
would make no difference, from a practical standpoint, which method was 
used.  But why did the pre-lubed-only bullets come out smaller than the 
bullets which were not prelubed?  This doesn't compute for me.

It occurs to me that the best method might be to run the bullets through
the sizer/lubricator first, only with a large die in it; say .4025 diameter.
_Then_ run it through the Lee sizer which gives a mirror finish and a
rounder bullet probably because of its thicker die walls and lack of 
lube ports.

Thanks again, guys!    (John Bercovitz)

Index Home About Blog