I’m not a bullet caster; but I’ve wanted to give the Lee 452-255-RF a try in the 45 Colt. Trouble is, it’s not a commonly available as a bulk cast bullet. Considerable scouring of Al Gore’s internet eventually revealed it was available from Maplewood Bullets of Brattleboro VT.
A recent sour deal with another caster insured I’d ask questions this time. Maplewood’s proprietor, Ed Heathwaite, was more than accommodating. Here is a man who is actually interested in offering an excellent product and good customer service. So I ordered 500 of his 452-255-RF’s and requested he size them 0.454” to match my revolver’s cylinder throats. We settled on a BHN hardness of 11, practically bubble gum to folks who think you ought to be able to start a fire by hitting two cast bullets together. But there was method to this madness… I was looking to duplicate the original ballistics and I wanted the bullet soft enough to ‘bump up’ to throat diameter at those velocities.
Ed shipped the bullets the same day he received the money order. Yes, money order. Ed is an old-school guy and you mail him a money order; he mails you bullets. Ed’s bullets aren’t as cheap as some; but then again, he offers hard-to find bullets cast from classic, proven molds. Mine were $77.00 for 500, shipped. They are worth every dime. The sizing was right on and they shoot great.
I started with the basic 7.1 grain dose of HP38, but was not getting the velocity I wanted or quite the accuracy I expected. With a fresh pound of Hodgdon’s Universal on hand, I cracked open my tattered old copy of Metallic Cartridge Reloading, published just after Universal was introduced. In the 45 Colt section I found a single load listed. 8.5 grains of Universal, said to propel 240-250 grain jacketed bullets to 856 fps, producing 14,200 Copper Units of Pressure in the process. Substituting a lead bullet should do nothing but improve those numbers.
The 8.5 grain Universal load did 864 fps from my 4 1/2″ Bounty Hunter and (shooting from improvised rests) immediately grouped 1 1/2″ to 2” at 25 yards, right on top of the front sight. My old 16” Puma lever action did 1113 fps with it and kept three of them in 3 inches, at 100. Some casual plinking at 50 yards showed the load holds its own at distance. Looking for the outer limts of its usefulness, I backed off to 85-90 yards and fired six from the revolver, offhand, at the 11×17 plate. I’ll eat the high one; I could cover the rest with my hand.
To say I am pleased with these results would be an understatement. Maplewood Bullets has landed themselves another satisfied customer.