Installing Gas Checks with a Bullet Sizer


If you reload long enough the draw to cast your own bullets becomes almost impossible to resist.  It is one thing to assemble to bullets, but to actually make them is something entirely different.  Next comes swaging, but I am still trying to convince the wife to let me spend that money.

Casting is relatively simple.  Casting for rifles is harder.  Cast lead in high velocity rounds has to be able to resist being eroded by the hot gasses.  It can also be stripped bare by the rifling leaving heavy lead accumulations in your barrel.

It did not take gunsmiths and shooters to learn that if you apply a thin coating of copper or some other metal around the base of the bullet it would protect both the round from the hot gasses.  This cup of copper is called a gas check.  Gas Checks are so pliable that they are not matched as precisely to the caliber of bore as a round would be.  This is because the process of installing the check to the round will swage it to the proper size.  For example a .30 caliber gas check will work from .300 to about .315 so it will work on .30 caliber, 7.62, 308, and .303 British.

The most recent price I found was around $30 for a box of 1000.  This is pretty inexpensive, but you will need a tool to seat and crimp the base of the round.  You can buy premium tools that do this, however, what I have discovered and inexpensive option that works well.  I use a Lee Precision sizing die.

This die fits in your press and is designed to size cast bullets to an exact diameter.  This is needed because different lead alloys shrink by differing amounts, and some molds are a little large.  The sizing die compresses the bullet by forcing it through the die.  This process smashed (called swaging) to the proper size.  Put the check on the base of the bullet as you size the die.  The bullet sizer squeezes the check on the bullet.  Therefore causing a very tight connection.

The process is pretty simple, and the video below shows it all.  Additionally I will tell you that I left a step out in the video because I was going to try tumble lubing the bullets.  I was going to do that after I installed the checks (did not work like I had thought).  If you have a pan lube bullet, then you will need to go ahead and lube it before you install the checks.  You will need to wipe as much lube off the base as possible before you install the check, but other wise the video shows all the steps.

Run the bullet in backwards to swage the check.

While not proper, I got pretty good results by running the bullets in tip first just like I was simply sizing them.

Like I said, this is a pretty simple process, and pretty inexpensive.  However, it is absolutely vital if you are going to shoot lead bullets in centerfire rifles, or very fast handguns.

Lyman Reloading Gas Checks, 44-Caliber (Pack of 1000)

These gilding metal cups fit the cast bullet base and protect it from hot powder gases. Easily seated during bullet sizing, the gas checks also permit higher velocities. Crimp-on design
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