Custom Shop Extras

Trigger overtravel stop, Lightened trigger pull, Match-grade barrel, Extended mag release, Oversize mag well

The oversize "flower pot" chute Iwhich makes this gun illegal for IDPA) means use of Arredondo mag extensions are necessary. The extensions give you an extra 3 rounds for a total 22+1-round capacity.

opposed to the classic description of a 'glass rod break.' Recoil tends to roll in the hand instead of straight back. Probably the weight is at the top with the slide being metal and the lower being polymer. The grip is compact in circumference providing confident control. The square tabs providing (grip) traction are adequate. Magazine spring tension is strong. Recommend a (magazine) loading device if shooting a lot for training or competition," Mayne concluded.

I shot a 7- to 25-yard informal PPC match on the forgiving BLEA (Basic Law Enforcement Academy) silhouette. Three of the 22 of us who shot it "cleaned" it with a 600 out of 600 score with the XD(M) Custom giving the tightest group for the tie-breaker win. Gail Pepin, petite Florida State and Florida/Georgia Regional Woman Champion in IDPA, shot this pistol in a double-speed qualification test, and scored an impressive 294 out of 300, with a 299 on a standard-speed run. Another straight-shooting gal with small hands, Kathy Jackson of the Cornered Cat Web site, shot the Custom XD(M) on the practice range and really liked it.

Clearly, this pistol won the affections of experienced pistol shooters. What about novices? I had it with me during one LFI-I class in New Hampshire that included a new shooter. Not yet comfortable with auto pistols, she had chosen a Smith & Wesson revolver, and was doing quite well with it until, in the last stage of her qualification shoot on the last day, it locked up on a high primer in one of the reloaded cartridges

she had been provided by a friend. It was her last six shots and she was out of speedloaders. I was near her behind the line and swapped her for the XD(M) test gun I was wearing on my hip, telling her quickly that the trigger pull would feel like her revolver when it was cocked. She squeezed off six rounds from the unfamiliar autoloader, and was surprised to find them all in the center 5-point zone of the IPSC target 15 yards distant. Before she left, she asked, "Where do I get a pistol like the one you handed me?"

That says it all. This is a very likable pistol. Personally, I'd order it with the smaller mag well added, or none at all, and with a somewhat heavier trigger pull, and standard mag release buttons. With the Springfield Armory Custom Shop, you can order these pistols exactly as you want them. Dave tells me delivery will run about 12 weeks. Fflira

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By Mike "Duke" Venturino Photos: Yvonne Venturino

I cast darn good bullets and I can prove it in competition. I ought to be able to after more than 40 years of enthusiastic experience. What is an onerous chore for many is quality time for me. My mind can be active while my hands are busy and the end result is a product from which I get much satisfaction. I refuse to have any distractions like television or telephones in my casting area and Yvonne knows she will get growled at if I'm disturbed while casting.

My first sentence begs a question. That is: how good are my "good bullets?" It's simple. They are as good as they need to be. That's not avoiding the question. It's true.

When I'm shooting at a metallic ram silhouette standing well over a quarter mile away during a Black Powder Cartridge Rifle (BPCR) Silhouette event I know with certainty my own home-cast projectile is more than good enough to stay on the small speck I'm seeing. A ram silhouette target measures 12" from belly line to backbone and they're placed at 500 meters (547 yards) yet knocking down 10 in a row isn't a great feat—for me or many other experienced competitors. My .40 and .45 caliber match-grade cast bullets are that good.

On the other end I also shoot pistols and revolvers at steel plates measuring from 6" in diameter to 2' tall. They're placed from 10 to 30 yards and I'm usually shooting fast, swinging from dueling tree to torso size plate and back to falling disks. The quality of a cast bullet for such antics does not need be anywhere near what is needed for smacking down those rams at distance. With handguns I feel having enough

Duke has foi tarv rifles. Duke tinus it is best to use a harti ailov such as linotype tarv rifles. Duke tinus it is best to use a harti ailov such as linotype

bullets is more important than having perfect ones.

Here's what I mean. A day's worth of silhouette shooting will eat up from 60 to 80 rounds. An afternoon's worth of handgun fun can empty out a few hundred rounds of pistol brass, and if I drag out one of my 9mm or .45 ACP submachine guns, then look out. There could be buckets of empty cases then.

In between those two extremes are my military rifle collection in which

I sometimes shoot cast bullets, too. They're seldom fired past 100 yards but with some of them my cast bullet loads will shoot groups just as small as that rifle will do with the finest jacketed bullets. My US Model 1903A3 .30-06s are prime examples. (And some of my military rifles won't shoot cast bullets well enough to hit a barn, for reasons undetermined as yet.)

Making good cast bullets is in the details. They must be of the proper alloy for the purpose. They need to fit the gun for which they are intended and they need to carry a lubricant suited for the propellant being fired. Also the bullet mould itself should be of a type also fitting the shooting purpose. And lastly the manner in which the alloy is put into the mould is an important consideration.

Ok, here goes. I would never try to cast BPCR Silhouette bullets in a multiple cavity mould. Mine are all one-holers. Some people do use multiple cavity moulds for such bullets and I can't say they're wrong when they sometimes outshoot me at events. But, I've tried double cavity moulds and just can't get the consistency from them that comes easily from a single cavity. What sort of consistency? I weigh each and every bullet fired in BPCR Silhouette, using only those within a plus or minus 3/10 of a grain variance (6/10 total variation). That's whether the bullets are 425-grain 40-caliber ones or huge 45-caliber 560

grainers.

To do that, I use only alloys of pure lead and pure tin blended in proportions of 20 to 1. Then when the lead furnace has that alloy melted to about 750 degrees it is dipped into the mould; holding the dipper to the mould's sprue plate for a few seconds and then breaking contact slowly. By removing the dipper slowly alloy flows on top of the mould leaving a big puddle. The puddle furnishes alloy for the cooling bullet to draw on as it hardens. A properly cast bullet's sprue puddle will have a small depression in it upon fully hardening. Also it should be mentioned that the mould is preheated from sitting on top of the lead furnace while the alloy is melting. Still, however,

15 bullets are cast rather fast and never even looked at before there are any "keepers." The mould then will be at proper temperature for perfect bullets.

After alloy is dipped into the mould, then it is set in front of a small, highspeed fan for a few seconds. You can actually see the sprue puddle change color when it solidifies. Then it is cut using a rubber hammer filled with lead shot, taking care to strike the sprue plate in the same plane in which it swings. That's so it doesn't get bent or warped from the blows. Then the bullets are dropped on a soft pad — a towel folded to many layers suffices there — taking care never to actually strike the bullet mould blocks if the bullet is recalcitrant about leaving the cavity. Always tap the mould handle hinge instead.

And finally to get the consistency needed I never cast more than 115 match-grade bullets at a sitting. Why? Because then fatigue becomes a factor. Instead of going for quantity I take those 115 bullets to my electronic scale and weigh them. Very seldom do I end up with fewer than 100 that meet my weight criterion, and one time I actually had 111 of 115 inside those parameters.

Now what about handgun bullets? The details are just about opposite for them. Casting handgun bullets in a single cavity mould is an exercise in futility. I know! As a youth all I could afford in the beginning was a single cavity mould

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for my S&W K-38 revolver. It nearly worked me to death in order to shoot as much as I wanted to. With handgun moulds the more cavities the merrier. In days gone by there were "gang moulds" available with 8, 10, or even 12 cavities. They're pretty much a thing of the past. Available today are mostly 3- or 4-cavity moulds.

Dipping alloy for handgun bullets is also a waste of time. This is where the bottom pour lead furnace comes into its own. Hold that bullet mould under the spout and let gravity put the alloy in it. This is simple; watch the alloy go into a cavity and when it is full slide the mould to the next one and so forth until all have their fill. Again be generous with the sprue puddle. I start with the foremost cavity and work backwards but it can be done in reverse too. Bottom pour electric lead furnaces have an accessory called a mould guide to hold the heavy moulds under the spigot but I sometimes just set the bullet mould on top of an inverted ingot mould. It works as well. (A bottom pour lead pot can also be used for dipping bullets but with its narrow opening at top it can be awkward. I keep both types of pots on hand.)

After filling multiple cavity moulds the process is the same as with matchgrade bullets: fan to cool the sprue, cutting the sprue with the lead-filled rubber hammer, and tapping out the bullets being careful not to whack the mould blocks. But here's a big difference. The only inspection I give handgun bullets is to look at their bases when the sprue plate is opened. If the bullet base is fully filled out then it's a keeper. If it's rounded it goes back in the pot. At 10- to 30-yards range a handgun bullet can have all sorts of wrinkles and still shoot just as good as one appearing perfect.

Here are two more differences: Because of the vast assortment of handgun types, not one alloy suffices for all. When casting bullets for autoloaders I go hard, such as linotype hard. When casting low-speed revolver bullets, soft is better, as in the same 1-20 alloy used for BPCR Silhouette bullets. Autoloading pistols generally have shallow rifling and also the bullet must

As the dipper is removed from the sprue plate hole (above, left) Duke allows a generous puddle of alloy to remain. When there is a depression in the middle of the sprue puddle it is likely that the bullets have filled out well. When casting bullets only the handles should be tapped with soft hammer or wood mallet (above, right) to get the bullets to drop from their cavities. Duke dips his bullets for BPCR Silhouette competition. Note he applies the alloy to the mould with it turned sideways. After Duke presses the ladle to the mould then both are rotated upright.

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Cast bullet groups can equal the groups fired with jacketed bullets. The alloy used is linotype and a gas check is applied as well.

travel from magazine up a feed ramp and into a chamber. Harder ones make that journey better.

The second difference is when casting handgun bullets I often use more than one mould. The first is filled and set in front of the fan while the second one is being filled. While it sets in front of the fan the first one is filled again. Alternating moulds like that can help produce a huge pile of bullets in short order. My favorite .44-40 bullet is RCBS 44-200FN and the unenlightened folks at RCBS can't seem to understand they also need to make some 3- and 4-cavity handgun moulds. They staunchly insist on only making 2-holers. So to compensate for their failing, I have two 44-200FN moulds and use the alternate mould casting method when I want to produce piles of them.

Am I forgetting bullets for the military rifle collection? Nope. They are made just the same as handgun bullets except with those rifle cartridges capable of higher velocities and higher pressures only linotype alloy is used. And on the end of those rifle bullets I always use gas checks, but seldom use them for any other cast bullets. They're not allowed

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This is Duke's casting area. There is also a large exhaust fan above the lead pot pulling fumes out the window.

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