Let's get started casting - Part 3
Sizing bullets
By "histed"

[Lee bullet sizer in use.]

Now that your bullets have been cast and lubed, they MAY need to be sized and/or gas checked. Both operations have the same two goals - to make the bullets as accurate as possible while keeping barrel leading to a minimum. I also say MAY need sized because many bullets can be shot in handguns as they fall from the mould. How do you tell if the bullet needs to be sized and, if it does, how do you size it?

First, does it need to be sized. The typical 9 mm has an internal barrel measurement of .355 inches. (Yes, I know they vary. Explaining that is way beyond this article) To fit snuggly, a lead bullet should measure between .356 and .358. If they drop from the mould that size, you're good to skip this part of the article. If they measure over .358, you'll need to reduce the diameter to prevent excessive pressure or a stuck bullet. This is a fairly simple process, but, just like lubing, it can be as cheap or expensive as you want to make it.

[Lee bullet lube and sizing kit.]

The least expensive sizing dies that I know of are from Lee. As the photo shows, the Lee kit comes with a sizing die, push pin and Liquid Alox. In practice, the die is screwed into a press, just like a reloading die. The pin slips into the same groove that usually takes the shell holder. Then, place the base of the bullet on the pin and push it through the die. The plastic storage container can be used to catch the sized bullets. This is the method I use for all my sizing. The die kits are inexpensive, easy to use, and work quite well.

If you are using a lubrisizer for you lube, the die in the lubrisizer also sizes the bullet in the same operation. One advantage to this method is that most manufacturers make design different sizes for each caliber. For instance, you may find 9 mm/.38 dies in .356, .3565,.357 and so on. Lee's dies tend to be more standard sizes. As noted before, these machines are not inexpensive and there are a number of makes and models. Trying to explain specifics for each would make more of a book than an article, so be sure to read the specifics for your machine carefully.

Next time, we'll look at gas checks. What are they? Why use them? Are there different kinds? How do I install them? Do all bullets need a gas check? These are the questions we'll try to answer.