257 Roberts

George Carlson

 

To the would-be cast Robertsí shooter, Iíll say ďGood luck finding a source of .257Ē bullets."

 

A good way to start out an informative essay on the subject ainít it? But thatís the way it is. My cast data starts out in 1992 for the Roberts cartridge, but Iíve been casting .25 caliber bullets since 1966, so Iíve had a head start on you guys in acquiring moulds. I had two old Winchester lever guns a 25-20 and a 25-35 in need of cheap fodder, so I started looking for 25 cal moulds, and old handbooks.† Casting lead bullets that range from 72 grain to 117 grain, Iíve pretty much tried all weights and nose styles that have been offered. For loading, I started out using a couple older Lyman manuals and this can be frustrating.† It was for me. The older 1930ís to the 1960ís manuals list a lot of powders and bullets that arenít even available anymore.† So, the powder/bullet combinations listed were quite limiting. The RCBS cast bullet book published in 1986 even lists a 100 grain bullet thatís only special order nowadays.† However, RCBS listed new and different powders that Lyman didnít. Using these handbooks you can interpolate from similar size cartridges and bullets for a place to start. With forums seemingly all over the place, youíd think all one need do it post a question about cast .257 Roberts.† But it seems like more people are looking for answers than are posting replies.† Reading anything available and adding new notations to my load book of trial loads, Iíve slowly built up a fair log to refer back when doing load development. Iíve never intended on using lead with this cartridge for hunting, so load development always got put on the back burner.†

 

 

There are two 257 Roberts rifles in my battery.† Both were well used when I got them, and both are capable of one MOA with jacketed bullets. The older Remington Model 722 ADL was mfg. 1954 with an older V-7 weaver scope. The Ruger Number 1B is a standard 26Ē barreled gun that I mounted a T-16 Weaver. When first comparing capabilities of both guns side by side, I had expected the Ruger to outshoot the Remington; as it turned out, theyíre quite equal considering the optics used. Bullet seating depth is another matter however. With the extra long throat of the Ruger, and the short Remington 722 action, ammunition needs to be marked for the rifle itís loaded for.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, appropriate moulds for the .257 Roberts are hard to find in current production moulds. RCBS makes the 25-120-SP as a production mould but this one runs about 128 grains checked, lubed and ready to load. Thatís a little heavy for my uses.† RCBS also makes a smaller .25 caliber mould, the 25-100-FN which weighs around 110 grains ready to load.† This is a special order mould but a call to the RCBS Customer Service people will get you one as they normally stock them even though they are listed as custom.

 

Any of the custom mould makers can supply a good bullet for the Roberts.† NEI makes several designs that are really nice bullets and you can get them made to your specifications.

 

Beyond these sources, youíll have to search the junk boxes at gun shows and haunt E-Bay to accumulate most of the moulds I have listed. One thing going in favor of the .25 moulds, not as many people are looking for .25s as they are .30s, .35s and .375s so the market is more friendly in this case.

 

Pictured below are the moulds I have accumulated over the years in my quest.

 

 

 

 

 

From left: 257463, 257388 HP, 257388 FN, 257388, 257312, 257464, 25-100 Herters, 257418, 55A Cramer, 257306, 257325.

 

My load list may be difficult for you to come up with the same exact mould, but if you're fair at interpolating, you can get an idea of what you need to start. Iíll start with the lightest weight bullets and list the powder charges that produced at least 3Ē five shot groups at 100 yards. There isnít much data for a few moulds because I havenít had them long enough to work up loads, or the 3Ē minimum criteria havenít been met. Bullet weights are without lube or gas check. Many groups have been less than one inch, but remember thatís with my rifles. Numbers in parenthesis are as cast diameters using mostly wheel weights.

 

Caution Ė These are the loads and bullets Iíve tested over the years in my rifles. Iíve detected no problems with pressures. Drop off a grain or so and work up until you find the load and velocity that you want.

 

Bullet

Weight

(grains)

As cast

diameter

Powder

Weight

(grains)

257463 Lyman

72

.261

BLc2

18.0

257463 Lyman

72

.261

IMR 4198

18.0

257388 HP Lyman

78

.259

BLc2

23.0

257388 HP Lyman

78

.259

H-4895

21.0

257388 HP Lyman

78

.259

Unique

10.0

257388 HP Lyman

78

.259

IMR 4198

16.0

257388 FN Lyman

82

.2595

BLc2

21.0

257388 FN Lyman

82

.2595

IMR 4895

21.0

257388 Lyman

84

.262

Varget

23.0

257388 Lyman

84

.262

BLc2

21.0

257312 Lyman

88

.258

700-X

9.0

257312 Lyman

88

.258

Unique

10.0

257312 Lyman

88

.258

2400

15.0

257312 Lyman

88

.258

BLc2

21.0

257464 Lyman

90

.260

H4895

28.0

257464 Lyman

90

.260

IMR 3031

26.0

25100 Herters

98

.262

BLc2

20.0

257418 Lyman

100

.2585

BLc2

22.0

257418 Lyman

100

.2585

H4895

21.0

257418 Lyman

100

.2585

Varget

22.0

55A Cramer

100

.259

BLc2

20.0

55A Cramer

100

.259

SR4759

16.0

257306 Lyman

116

.258

SR4759

15.0

257306 Lyman

116

.258

2400

15.0

257306 Lyman

116

.258

BLc2

20.0

257306 Lyman

116

.258

Varget

23.0

257306 Lyman

116

.258

H4895

24.0

257325 Lyman

118

.261

SR4759

15.0

257325 Lyman

118

.261

IMR 4198

19.0

257325 Lyman

118

.261

BLc2

22.0

257325 Lyman

118

.261

H4895

24.0

257325 Lyman

118

.261

IMR 3031

24.0

 

If it looks like Iím stuck on BLc2, youíre right. Itís always been a consistent performer in most my cast bullet shooting. Itís easy to measure, never needs a filler, nice round groups. Varget on the other hand seems to group better with a wad or filler. The last bullet/powder combination I worked with was 257464 and H4895. Working up to 28 grains. Where velocity was 2100 FPS the groups started to open, but There was still no sign of leading in the bore, and best of all I was able to get 2Ē groups.

†I have a both Ideal and Lyman mould numbers 257325, and they both cast two different weights and diameters. Iíve tried side-by-side comparisons on different occasions, and youíd be hard pressed to pick out the best one.† Learning to interpolate load data with most calibers that you intend to shoot cast with is a must. Making up a burn rate chart with old and new powders, has made it easier for me. As long as youíre loading in low to midrange velocities, trying loads from similar cartridges and bullet weights usually isnít too much of a problem.

A number of years ago I was working on an old idea of shooting sized but un-lubed cast bullets. The idea was, that the lube was causing fliers, and just to see if it can be done. The first trials I did years ago were with 6.5 Swede bullets shooting at two different targets with both lubed and un-lubed bullets. In my 257 Roberts trial, I loaded up 50 rounds of 257325 sized and lubed and 20 grain BLc2, plus 50 rounds of the same load, but with un-lubed bullets. First Iíd alternate shooting at two different targets, one lubed then one un-lubed. Then up to one lubed then two un-lubed. Once the barrel was fouled, I didnít even want to run a brush through it. I continued to increase shooting the un-lubed bullets up to 25 at a time. Going at a fairly fast pace, the barrel was so hot, I couldnít keep my hand on it. The muzzle was dry of course, and the bore was a light gray color. Groups of the un-lubed bullets where 2 1/4Ē, just a shade smaller than the lubed ones 2 ĹĒ. With the residue from power and primer ash plus whatever lube is left in the bore from the previous shots, the barrel is coated enough so it doesnít lead. I didnít have a chronograph at the time, but I do now. After running that same load over the screens, a 1600 FPS came up

I havenít shot cast with the Remington as much lately.† My Nephew started deer hunting 3 years ago with the 722 and I didnít want to go through the hassle of changing the sight settings, until he gets his own deer rifle. After thinking about it, why should he when Uncle George provides free gun and ammo!

 

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