View Full Version : Shooting Cast Bullets in the RIA 1911 GI

Lead Head
6th June 2008, 23:30
Has anyone had experience shooting cast bullets in the RIA 1911 GI or similar models in the 38 Super.

I am wondering if any of the typical style cast bullets work best or worse. I am interested in 115gr to 125gr wad cutters or round nose as well as semi wad cutters. The next bullet weight would be 135gr to 150gr. I am interested in low to mid-range target loads for punching paper at 50 to 75 feet.

I am concerned from some of what I have heard, that lead bullets can be very hard to get to feed well. Some suggest the over all length of cast bullet cartridge is critical to good feeding and can be difficult to determine.

Any help that can make a switch to cast bullets some time in the future will be appreciated.

7th June 2008, 10:25
No help in .38 Super, but I shoot cast in my 45 just fine. I've used RN exclusivly cause I like them. Same OAL as my jacketed reloads. They feed fine.

Lead Head
7th June 2008, 11:11

Like you, my RIA 1911 45 ACP performs great with most anything I put through it. In fact, the 45 ACP RIA shoots so well that it is hard to tell if I am shooting the RIA or my Dan Wesson Pointman 7. I had a 185gr. JHP by Remington that doesn't want to feed well but all my cast from round nose to semi wad cutters never cause a problem.

I had geat expectations that this 38 Super would be of the same quality, but that is not the case.

This 38 Super has not seen the full 500 rounds suggested as a good break-in yet, but I am rapidly reaching the point when I am ready to say, "Any more firing of this particular RIA 1911 GI 38 Super is going to be a waste of ammunition."

I have identified a number of issues the gun has that any one or all of can be causing problems. I intend, in all fairness, to shoot another 200 rounds before I get on the phone and talk to Ray or Ivan about what needs to be done to put this pistol in the condition it should be to perform well. There are some poor fitting problems and a couple of poorly machined problems that any additional shooting will not fix. In fact, this gun, accuracy wise is steadly going down hill with each additional 100 rounds.

I want to be sure I can say enough of a break in has been performed and that to the best of my ability, I have identified any potential problems before getting on the phone and asking for help. If I can provide Ray or Ivan with all the facts, I am sure they will make the proper diecision and the problem will be resolved.

8th June 2008, 12:42
My "Tactical" model shoots cast 230 gr RN and 200 gr LSWCs just fine. I'm too poor to use jacketed bullets except for self defense loads. :)

8th June 2008, 16:49
I'll be shooting 200gr SWC in .45 once I get some dies - I don't anticipate any issues. Don't have much .38 Super experience, tho.

8th June 2008, 17:03
Before my .38 Super became a 9mm, I ran both round nose moly coat and lead through it with no issues.

9th June 2008, 13:40
I don't own the 38 super but my RIA compact shoots 200 and 230 grain RN lead like there going out of style.

9th June 2008, 16:05
Yep, they're pigs that'll eat anything.

Lead Head
9th June 2008, 20:54

I have a Dan Wesson and a RIA 1911 in 45 ACP. Both will take most any cast load I could want to put through them without a hitch, absolutly no leading in either of them either. I can put several hundred 230gr. RN, 200gr, SWC or 185gr. Semi wad cutters through both without a speck of lead in the bores. Perhapes 45 ACP's are very different from a 38 Super.

My RIA 38 Super will have plenty of lead in the bore after only (10) rounds. Smeared from the throat all the way to the muzzle. Doesn't matter what bullet or if the velocities start at 950fps and only go up to 1100fps..

I cast my 9mm and 38 Super bullets from the same alloy I use for all my other hand gun bullets. The 38spl, 357 Mag., 44 Mag, 30 carbine, 45 colt and 45 ACP and the others don't lead.

I still think the parkerizing in the bore is the cause. I talked to Ivan today, and he said all their barrels for parkerized hand guns are parked inside and out. I probably have to shoot the park out of it, no pun intended.

I am also unable to explain why this 38 Super is so inaccurate with cast, even if I clean the bore every (10) rounds. It makes no difference. I tried .355, .356 and .357" diamerter bullets, no difference. Maybe once the parkerizing is out of the bore, it will do better, maybe. Maybe this 38 Super will never be a cast bullet gun without a better barrel.

If I consider adding the cost of new high quality barrel of the type known to shoot cast bullets well and the cost of having it fitted to this gun, I find it easier to consider trading this RIA 38 Super in on a 1911 brand 38 Super known to shoot well right out of the box like my CZ Dan Wesson, for very little more.

First I have to be fair and give Ivan a chance to check this pistol out. I will be enclosing a list of a number of items I have identified as not being as it should be and possible indicators of a pistol that is misfitted enough to require his attention. I did mention the cast bullet issue to Ivan. I am not sure that issue will be something he will concern himself with.

I do believe Ivan will do everything in his power to make the gun right.

That is it for now, until I get the gun back. I will post more then.

9th June 2008, 23:12
You might slug your barrel, even if you don't, you might try seeing if a .358 sized bullet will chamber in your pistol. It is fairly common for barrels to be over sized, it wouldn't cost anything to try.

Lead Head
10th June 2008, 23:21
I did slug the barrel before I tried shooting any cast bullets. The bullet I used to slug the barrel was the same 128 grain round nose that I have been trying to shoot in this pistol. I was able to fire the bullet through the bore using 1.2 grains of Unique, and the bullet barely exited the barrel into a box of tight rags. The bullet only broke the first two layers of rag and sat there looking at me.

Anyway, I have a perfect bullet to measure with one exception. That exception is the rougher surface of the grooves and lands due to the parkerizing in the bore. Otherwise this bullet I slugged with measures close to .355".

Also, the actual shooting of the three bullet diameters, .355, .356 and .357 indicated the larger the bullet the faster the bore leaded.

I am 99% sure the leading problem is due to the parkerizing in the bore.

11th June 2008, 20:59
Lead Head,
I'm about 1,000 lead rounds ahead of you on setting up my RIA for Super and 9MM Luger. It has been a slow go with feeding, leading and accuracy problems. Most of my fitting has been due to the cheap 9MM barrel I bought from SARCO.

I am just now beginning to hit a 4" steel target at 17 yards 4 out of 5 shoots. When I began I could not consistently hit a 24" target and many bullets key holed because of severe leading.

Reliability is has been 100% for 200 rounds now. Leading also disappeared about 200 rds ago.

I am shooting 122g lead truncated cone bullets and nose deforming is causing some of the accuracy problems.

From my experience, leave your RIA Super a Super. I converted mine to Super or 9mm and really like it, but it took me twice is the time and trouble.

Good luck.

Lead Head
12th June 2008, 13:29

I do intend to leave my 38 Super a 38 Super.

It is interesting that your leading problem has gone away. How many rounds did you fire prior to the leading going away that were jacketed ammo verses lead ammo? Do you have any idea how hard your cast bullets are or what alloy you are using? How often did you clean well while the leading was going on. What loads are you using? Your 38 Super is sounding a lot like mine. If I fire(15) rounds the accuracy is really bad right from the start. At (15 to (25) rounds the key holeing starts.

I did looked very closely at the bore of my 38 Super and noticed a fair amount of reaming marks in the bore, both on the lands and in the bottom of the grooves. I thought I had found the cause of my leading problem figured out. Then I checked out me RIA 45ACP barrel that never leads and found the same reamer marks only much more so than in the 38 Super. That shot my thinking process all to heck.

I noticed the feeding problems in my RIA 38 Super are not so bad with round nose bullets or truncated style bullets but these bullets still take a big hit on the frame portion of the ramp. Any other style of bullet, jacketed or not that has a sharper corner on the nose, jacketed hollow points and lead semi wad cutters do not feed.

I believe this feeding problem is magazine related. The cartridges are moving forward as the slide pushes them, but they stay in a horizontal position or are parallel to the bottom of the slide. This means the bullet noses have to hit low on the frame ramp without any upward angle to promote the round sliding up the ramp and into the chamber. If I am not correct in my thought on this, please let me what the problem is.

Magazines of many different manufacturers can create a feeding problem or fix them, sometimes. It is a very tricky part of getting semi auto's to work well. The experts can tune most magazines to feed various ammunition well. I am not a expert in that field and reley on factory equipment to perform well and I do not intend to start buying a bunch of magazines some that can cost $25 to $35 or more each, hoping to get something that works.

I understand there is likely no one magazine that will feed all ammo well. I understand I may have to have several magazines a few of each for the different types of ammo I may use. Hopefully the number required will be minimal.

I had a feeding problem with one of my loads in my RIA 1911 45ACP and fixed that by opening up the lips of the mag. so the cartridge is released a little sooner. It worked after I went through having created a stove pipe jam problem by opening the lips up too wide and had to close them in a little.

If anyone knows of a site where a person can find information as to what the distance between the magazine lips and how soon the mag. should be releaseing the cartridge should be, Please post a link for us.

My RIA 38 Super is on the way back to Armscore for evaluation of a number of minor items that add up to maybe not so good. I don't really expect them to deal with the leading issue since that deals with reloading which is discouraged. I do hope they will work on the feeding problem and if corrected, let me know what they did.

12th June 2008, 15:17
Lead Head,
Here is a link to the early period of my Super story.
I'll address your other inquires in a later post.


12th June 2008, 17:15
Lead Head,
My leading started subsiding as my barrel got brighter. It had to be cleaned, a lot. Improvements began when I stopped shooting when the barrel started leading and then cleaned it. The first improvement noticed was the disappearance of key holing. Presently I shoot 50-100 rounds (fast or slow) and clean the barrel spotless in 5 minutes.

You ask about my shooting time table. 200 rounds of copper coated bullets, those 147grainers seamed to really knock off the high spots in my barrel. LOL
I then started loading my own 122g SAECO Lead Truncated Cone bevel base bullets sized to .356. Powder was 4.6g of Unique with an over all length of 1.16. They exit my leadless Super barrel at 990 feet per second.
And 500 rounds later I was shooting 50 rounds between cleaning the bore.

My lead bullets are poured from 100% wheel weights and my Lee harness tester says they are a Brinnell hardness of 14

When your gun starts feeding right, any magazine will do. I am currently using MegGer 9mm because my Super bullets are so short. However, Im still playing with the length trying to clean up the noses and remove all impact marks as they feed into the chamber.
My magazine lips are .360 wide in the front and .345 in the rear.

I suspect your feeding problem is ramp related. Ray will take care of you. He did me.

Lead Head
13th June 2008, 09:31

Thanks much for the information.

I do believe Ray or Ivan will put my pistol right. As for the leading issue, I know I will be on my own from conversations I have had with both of them.

Once they have the pistol operating correctly, I can deal with the leading issue. I am sure I will have some feeding problems to work out also when I start seriously working with several different types of cast bullets.

Grand Pappy
13th June 2008, 17:37
I have had trouble with park barrels before. Here is a quick fix.
Take some aluminum foil and pack it in the barrel. Push it through a few
times with a stiff rod. The foil will strip the park out in about 5 passes.
It works for me.
Happy Shooting

13th June 2008, 21:32
No experience with the .38 super(I want one) and didn't know about the Parkerizing causing leading but I've had other calibers both pistol and revolvers in .45ACP, .45 Colt, .38 and .357 mag that leaded, sometimes badly, at first with lead bullets. Usually a bit of shooting,(sometimes more) with jacketed bullets helps to smooth them out and all of mine have gotten better with age and shooting. I don't really worry too much about a small amount of leading. Some strands of copper Chore boy(no soap) scouring pads wrapped around an old bore brush and run through the bore a number of times after soaking for a while with Breakfree or other solvent usually does the trick for me but each gun is different and others may have problems I haven't encountered in my guns.

14th June 2008, 07:57
Yes, tooling marks in the bore seam to make for a longer lead bullet break-in. I have been cleaning the lead with Trumj's copper scouring pad method. My pad is woven and I just unravel a strand and wrap 18" of it around a brass bore brush and run it through the bore dry.

I tried Grand Pappy's aluminum foil last night and the bore was nice and shiny afterwards. Pappy, where were you a month ago. Maybe Lead Head is reading this!

Grand Pappy
14th June 2008, 08:57
Yes, tooling marks in the bore seam to make for a longer lead bullet break-in. I have been cleaning the lead with Trumj's copper scouring pad method. My pad is woven and I just unravel a strand and wrap 18" of it around a brass bore brush and run it through the bore dry.

I tried Grand Pappy's aluminum foil last night and the bore was nice and shiny afterwards. Pappy, where were you a month ago. Maybe Lead Head is reading this!

Can't remember where I was yesterday. Much less a month ago.

Lead Head
15th June 2008, 22:57
I have to wait until I get my RIA 38 Super back from Ray or Ivan. I have no idea how much of the original pistol will be returned to me.

If I still have the original barrel, I will be trying the aluminum foil trick to see if that helps speed up the reduction or elimination of bore leading.