Every household.....


Staff member
Let me tell you a story – a story about a .30-06, some cast bullets, and a damn good friend. My buddy Dave and I got pushed into retirement at about the same time, so it just made sense that we took advantage of that fact and we would get together for breakfast on a regular basis, then go out and spend the rest of the morning shooting whatever project(s) we were working on at the time. During one of these shooting sessions, I was working with my Husqvarna .30-06 and a variety of cast bullet handloads. Dave asked me what my motivation was, and I told him that I thought every household should have a cast bullet .30-06. That concept seemed to resonate with him. Over the next several weeks, he would bring it up and then one day he said, “You know, I’ve got an 03A3 action sitting at home, in the box, that I haven’t done anything with since I got it in 1969. I think I’m going to build an 03A3 cast bullet gun.” And he did. Over the next several months, with the help of friends, he found the parts he needed and the rifle came together. So then he asked me what my favorite .30 caliber cast bullet was, and I told him the RCBS 30-180-FN, or the NOE copy (the RCBS bullet weighs about 190 grains with WW alloy, and the NOE is a few grains heavier and comes in 4 and 5-cavity gang moulds). He bought the NOE gang mould and cast up a pile of bullets. He asked me for suggestions for powder charges with these cast bullets, and I told him I liked 4895, and I gave him some guidance based on my experience and what E. H. Harrison had written up in the NRA Cast Bullet Handbook, so he started working up loads. That first day we took at 03A3 out to get it dialed in, he was having no problem getting 5-shot groups right at 1” at 50 yards. Dave was one happy camper! The next time out didn’t go so well. Turns out, the first time out he had only been single-loading the rounds. This time, he was filling the magazine. Well, the flat-nosed cast bullets were feeding smooth as silk out of the right side of the magazine, and steadfastly refused to enter the chamber from the left side of the staggered Springfield magazine. I told Dave that I had had no such problems with my Husky, and that I thought it might be due to his OAL (he was loading the bullets significantly longer than I had; I had seated them to the crimp groove). He tried a variety of OALs and none of them fed worth guano from the left side of the magazine (and I went home and checked my 1903 Springfield, and it did the same thing as Dave’s 03A3). Dave was ready to just relegate this 03A3 to a steady diet of jacketed spritzers. I figured he just needed a different nose profile on his cast bullets. E. H. Harrison said that he got best results from a 2-groove 03A3 barrel with a long bore-riding nose. So, last September I bought him an NOE 4-cavity mould for their 311-218-RN (a copy of the old Lyman/Ideal 311331), and was going to give it to Dave as a Christmas present. Unfortunately, Dave died in October, before I gave him this mould. As it worked out, I ended up buying the 03A3 from his estate – I kinda felt like I owed it to him to see his project through to completion. Well, tonight I sat down and cast up a few of those NOE 311-218-RNs. I made up a few dummy rounds, and they feed, from BOTH sides of the magazine, just fine thank you. I’ll shoot some targets next week with these bullets, but I think I already know how they are going to shoot. Every household should have a cast bullet .30-06, right Dave?