By Bob Wright
I was musing the recently about some handgun bullets from the past, from my recollection. I remember reading much of Elmer Keith's opinions, and that he totally condemned jacketed handgun bullets, preferring cast bullets, mostly of his design. And cast, or as far as factory ammunition was concerned, swaged lead bullets, remained the stand-by for a long time, up until the introduction of the .44 Magnum cartridge in 1955. The .44 ushered in a new era in revolver bullets. Jacketed bullets, full metal jacketed, soft point, and hollow point jacketed bullets had been around for a long time, mostly in the European auto pistol cartridges, such as the .30 Mauser and 7.65mm Luger. And the .38-40 and .44-40 were offered in hollow point bullets, but these actually intended for use in rifles.
There was a company that originated about the time the .44 was introduced that offered a line of bullets cast of a zinc based alloy. This company, the Cladaloy Bullet Co. sold bullets by mail through magazine advertising. Their bullets were cast of Zinc, and copper coated. Zinc being roughly half the density of lead were very light in weight. A bullet cast from a mold throwing a.44 caliber bullet of lead weighed 246 grs. while the same mold yielded a 128 gr. zinc based bullet. Those who tested those bullet claimed velocities in a .44 Special hit 1100 ~ 1200 fps. The advantage was high velocities with minimum recoil. So far as I can determine, the company lasted from about 1955 through maybe 1958.
The late Jim Harvey developed his Pro-Tex-Bore bullets which were swaged of pure lead but had a zinc washer riveted to the base of the bullet. These bullets ran toward the nominal lead bullet weights. His claim was that the zinc washer prevented any leading of the bore when pushed to high velocities, as his loading data pushed .44 Magnum bullets above the 1400 fps level.
Harvey also became a proponent of the half jacketed bullet, using a pure lead core swaged into a copper cup, really sort of an elongated gas check. Speer made and marketed these bullets for many years, still offering one style, I believe, a 225 gr. Half Jacketed bullet. One drawback to these is that if the velocity level falls below a certain point there is the possibility the lead core will separate and leave the jacket stuck in the bore.
With the coming of new powders that easily develop 1300 fps or higher, the jacketed bullets having an ogive have become commonplace and now good hunting bullets from Speer, Hornady, Sierra and factory fodder from Remington, Winchester and Federal are available, all of which give good performance in the field.
I have a bunch of assorted brass that came from a range here in town that closed up. I have probably almsot two 5 gallon pails of it and I am thinking about sitting down in spare time and going through the pails and seperating out all the different calibers into different cans. Now with that said, are there any calibers that would be wanted more than another for reloading. I figure it will give me something to do this winter when I get bored. I know the 22caliber is junk but just looking to find out what might be the more popular calibers..............