The George A. Hensley and “Hensley & Gibbs”

Mould Numbering System


Updated: 04/20/2014

© 2014 - Thomas C. Dugas



This was an email exchange with Wayne Gibbs in November 2006 on trying to

figure out what the “X” prefix on a mold meant.  I had not seen the “X” prefix

until an eBay auction showed a X45 mold for sale.  So I emailed Wayne and

asked him what the “X” meant.  This is his response:



Okay, Tom, here's "the rest of the story" (I hope) on our numbering system.
First I should mention that over the years we may have made other attempts
to come up with an intelligent system to designate different bullet designs
and their variations, so there could be some odd-ball designations out there
that I am not familiar with or just don't recall.

George Hensley didn't like the idea of a string of numbers showing the
designated number with the sizing diameter included in it, as it was often
not the actual sizing diameter requested for that particular mold. In other
words "#402429" didn't seem right to him if the mold was made to size .430",
so he just gave a number to a new design usually in the sequence it was made
up and left it at that. As you know this series jumped around for who knows
what reasons, probably a good one at the time, hopefully, but the reason now
lost to time.

I wrestled with a better system for years, and finally settled on another
less than perfect system-- The design gets an arbitrary number, all it's
own, of course. Then I would add the customer's preference of sizing
diameter that the mold was made for. The problem with that system is that if
the alloy is changed from the original preference it can be sized to a
different diameter, so if the mold was purchased by another person, it would
still be of little use to know the original preferred sizing diameter,
unless the original alloy were known. I couldn't see us stamping something
like "#50BB.358-1-12 ALLOY" on a mold, so gave up on the sizing diameter
being included.

I finally decided on the last system we used-- the designated design number
and a serial number, which could in turn be traced to the original specs for
that individual mold.


(Note from me: What Wayne is saying that is on later molds, the serial number

is the same number as the invoice number, and all the notes for that mold design

were recorded on the invoice. One copy went with the mold to the customer,

and Wayne kept the other in his factory ledger).


Here is an example of a later invoice.  You can see the invoice number (upper right corner

of below yellow invoice) matches the mould serial number pictured below the invoice:



Then to the X and S stuff-- We would have a design, say #55 for instance. It
would be for (including) .38 Special. Then someone would come up with the
idea of a design for the .380 Auto. Turns out the #55 would work just fine
if it were simply cut shorter on the base. (Cut shallower in the mold
block). Rather than give the design a whole new number, since it was really
the same bullet but just made to size smaller and be shorter than standard,
they (George and my dad in those days decided these things--(I was just a
"little tad")-- called it "S55" or S55BB if bevel base. Since this was in
common use, when someone wanted a heavier (longer) base band on #503, for
instance, I called it "#503S" for "special length". I only designated this
way if there were enough interest in this particular length to make it
"officially" a certain length. In other words if a customer wanted a "#503S"
it would be cut to this "standard" extended length.

Okay for that, but what if an individual customer thought it would be a
good idea to have a #503 bullet that would cast a slightly lighter bullet
than this extended length S503? --That's where the X came in. X could mean
"experimental" and designate a mold cut not to any specific pre-designated
length, but to this customer's individual preference, yet clue in another
person that it was not cut standard. You see why most Lyman just shipped
ready-to-purchase molds to stores and you bought it or you didn't? Much
easier to make One-Shoe-Fits-All!


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