In the late 1970′s Lyman introduced several ‘composite’ bullets. These bullets were of two-piece construction. The idea was that the front half of the bullet would be cast from softer metal to promote expansion and the rear half of the bullet would be cast from a harder metal to allow top speed. This idea was not new, Ideal had made composite moulds about a hundred years earlier.
The new composite moulds were:
- #358624 – 170 gr.
- #429635 – 232 Gr.
- #452636 – 245 gr.
In addition to the usual 6-digit mould numbers, each mould was designated ‘A’ or’B’. For example, the complete #452636 set would include mould #452626A and #452636B.
The main drawback of these designs was that, unlike earlier composite designs that had one bullet formed by filling the mould with two different metals resulting in a fairly homogenous bullet, the newer composit bullet had the user epoxy the two halves together. The front half would nest into a hollowpoint-like portion of the rear half of the bullet.
In practice, it was very easy to epoxy the front half into a less-than-perfect-alignment and accuracy could be degraded.
The moulds were discontinued after a few years and are somewhat collectible. Unfortunately they do not always come as a matched set….a complete two-mould set is far more valuable than one set of blocks that is missing its mate.
Example of a .22 caliber combination mould for the .22 caliber bullets. Like virtually all combination moulds, this one was probably a special order. At various points in Ideal/Lyman’s history a customer could have moulds ordered with different cavities or with hollowpoints for a small extra charge. The moulds often, but not always, were shipped in the ‘special’ box.
Ideal offered adjustable weight moulds under the ‘Perfection’ name. The design was simple - a plug, which fit into the base of the mould like a hollowbase plug, was threaded to allow an increase or decrease in the length of the bullet, thereby changing it’s weight. To give as wide a range of weights as possible, the Perfection moulds favored bullet designs that had many narrow grooves. Popular weights of a particular Perfection bullet could be had in normal non-adjustable mould blocks as well.
Ideal Perfection mould for #37584
Ideal #37584 is a flat-nosed bullet for the .38-caliber rifles, and looks very similar to a Loverin bullet except for the lack of gas check. While the Perfection moulds were discontinued early in the twentieth century, Lyman offered the #37584 in a non-adjustable block all the way up until 1977 when it was last seen on the Special C list.
Every so often something unusual comes across the internet, usually on eBay, that leaves the bullet mould enthusiast scratching his head. This particular #323060 mould is one of those head-scratchers.
Original #323060 mould. This particular sample being an older, unvented Ideal single-cavity block. Like many bullets, this one was available in several weights…so some samples will have more or fewer grooves.
As you can imagine from the low cherry number, #60, this is a very old design. Like many old designs it was carried on the Special Order list until about 1978. After that, like many of the old designs, it was gone for good. Or was it? This mould not only resurfaced as a somewhat-current production but also as a special variation on the #323060.
Modern-manufacture version of the #32360 bullet. Note the modern 6-digit versin of the number, and the “AV” designating which specific cherry was used.
A very interesting quality of this mould is that it is for two different weights of the same bullet, but the difference in weight appears to come simply from running the cherry deeper into the block rather than from having more grooves added to the bullet.
And here’s the very modern box the mould came in. Note that it is marked “Special Mould”.
The history behind how this mould came to be is uncertain but it does provoke some interesting theories…the most obvious is that Lyman will, in some circumstances, produce an uncataloged special-order mould. It’s possible this was part of a large ‘group buy’ but my understanding has been that to make such a buy feasible the quantity purchased must be fairly high. That being the case, it would seem that other moulds like this would have turned up.
Regardless of how this mould came to be, it’s a fascinating and exciting addition to any collection.
Until the introduction of the .340 Weatherby there was only one factory .33-caliber cartridge that achieved any popularity – the .33 Winchester. There were a few wildcats, of course, but when it came to the .33 caliber the Winchester cartridge as pretty much it.
The #338320 was a 200-gr. FN GC. The flat-nose profile is one of the more obvious traits of a .33 Winchester bullet since the cartridge was chambered almost exclusively in lever-action guns using tubular magazines….making a flat-nose (or round-nosed) bullet a requirement in order to avoid some exciting magazine detonations.
Like many of the older designs, the #338320 eventually migrated to the Special List (in this case the Special ‘B’ List) and was discontinued in 1978. An interesting bit of trivia: Ideal started gas check bullet designs around cherry #319, making this bullet one of the earliest production gas check designs.
Although the .33 caliber never amounted to more than a handful of cartridges, Ideal/Lyman offered several designs in this caliber. One plain base and two gas check patterns were the entirety of Lymans efforts towards the .33 caliber.
Currently, RCBS offers a 200 grain .33 GC FN mould off their Special Order list.
A handy mould for the man with a Model 27 and a Model 29. Both designs are credited to Ray Thompson. Note that the #244 bullet is given the sizing of 431″ to make it “431244″. Many of the .44 bullets were listed at different sizes over their lives. Most common is .429″ as seen in #429421, but sometimes moulds are encountered as .430″ or even .431″.
Hollowbase version of the classic #429421 Keith bullet. Note that the pin is matched to the block with the assembly number “10″.
Lyman #410662 exclusively for Dixie Gun Works
In 1996 and 1997, Lyman introduced the #410660 and #410663 bullets for the .40 caliber rifles, which had seen a revival of interest. In addition to the cataloged moulds, a non-cataloged proprietary mould was introduced that was exclusive for Dixie Gun Works. Lyman has a previous history of making moulds specially for other companies and having those moulds only be available through those companies (Freedom Arms, Wildey, Lakeville Arms, etc.) so this was not a new idea. #410662 was a 400~ grain bullet of similar design to many of Lymans ‘blackpowder cartridge rifle’ moulds (BPCR). Since this mould was available exclusively through Dixie Gun Works, it is difficult to tell just how long it was offered.
Faces of the Lyman #410662
Since Lyman introduces new bullet sequentially, it is likely that at about this time another mould was introduced using the “661″ designation. However, if it was a proprietary product, like the #410662, it would be difficult to tell where it went without, essentially, just stumbling across it. It’s possible that #661 was another exclusive for Dixie Gun Works but without a catalog from that time period it is difficult to get a definitive answer.
Lyman’s list of hollowbase wadcutters is pretty brief….there’s one in .38, .41 and .44 and that’s pretty much it. The non-hollowbase wadcutters, however, are a different story. The non-hollowbase wadcutters were made in all of the popular pistol calibers…. .32, .38, .41, .44 and .45…..with the .38-caliber being represented pretty heavily. Unsurprising given the .38′s hand-in-hand history with the target disciplines such as bullseye. A somewhat complete list of the non-hollowbase wadcutters would be:
In hollowbase wadcutters, the choices were far more limited – #358395 for the .38 caliber, and #429398 for the .44 caliber. As best as can be determined, there were no hollowbase wadcutters for the .32 or .45 calibers. (Although hollowbase bullets of other design are encountered in those two calibers.)
The .41 Magnum had a non-hollowbase wadcutter introduced for it, the #41026, but a hollowbase wadcutter was also introduced – #41027. The original cherry #27 was for the #25727 bullet, a long-discontinued .25 caliber ‘Express’ bullet. It’s hard to say when the newer #41027 was introduced but it was certainly after 1965. The bullet was dropped to the ‘B’ list before disappearing completely in 1978.
A popular means of creating super-expanding hollowpoints used to be to take a hollowbase wadcutter and load it upside-down in the cartridge case, making an enormous-cavity hollowpoint bullet. This trick was very popular in .38 caliber and would probably work quite well with this bullet in .41. Care must be taken to using a charge too heavy and blowing out the ‘base’ of the bullet, leaving the user with a cylindrical ‘donut’ of lead in the bore of their pistol.
Although information is difficult to find, it appears this bullet could also be used int he .410 shotgun as a slug.
In the early 1990′s a large distributor had a closeout on this particular mould and they were sold for $5 each. Nowadays they turn up fairly rarely and one new-in-the-box, as the sample shown, command a premium price.
Originally, Ideal stated in their catalogs that any non-hollowbase bullet mould couldbe had as a hollowpoint for an additional fee. This means that for most mould numbers, there are two possible bullets – the standard version that is non-hollowpoint, or a hollowpoint version on a custom basis. Several bullets, however, were offered with a triad of options and each option had its own number despite the bullet being, broadly, the same.
#358439 w/ pin. Note the number 8 in the corner…a matching stamp will be found on the shank of the pin.
An excellent example of this is #358439. This bullet is simply a hollowpoint version of #358429, #358431 was a hollowbase version. Other than the base/point option, they are basically all the same Keith bullet.
In addition to the assembly numbers, which appear on both halves of the mould block, an assitional number is usually present on the mould and on the pin of the hollowpoint. This number, usually a single digit, is present for the same reason as assembly numbers – to keep the fitted pin from getting separated and mixed up with other blocks. Since pins were fitted to each particular moulds, they were not really interchangeable. Mixing up a handful of pins could be a problem.
#358439 cavity w/ pin
Like most of the interesting hollowpoint and hollowbase bullets, it was most likely discontinued by the time the 1978 catalog came out. #358429 is still being made, and the #358431 was discontinued in 1978 after being relegated to the Special list, but the #358439 doesn’t actually appear in very many catalogs at all.