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WHY SHOOT CAST BULLETS?
There are lots of reasons so I'll break into two parts, handgun and rifle.
The main reason I started using cast bullets was the cost. As I got better at casting and shooting I found out that I could cast a better bullet than I could buy and 90% of the time they were more accurate than jacketed. Why is that you ask? Pretty simple really, my game was NRA Bullseye, now called Precision Pistol. It is a discipline of accuracy measured in points. Most shooters prefer the softest shooting loads that meet their accuracy standards and in general terms the softer loads are the most accurate.(notice I said in general terms)
Cast bullets must fill the grooves in the barrel to shoot well and since they are softer than copper jacketed bullets it takes less powder to find an accurate load.
Another benefit of softer loads is wear and tear on the gun not to mention the one holding it.
Throat erosion is almost nil as well as slide and frame wear.
Recoil is another area the average shooter doesn't give a lot of thought to. Ever wonder why your .22 rimfire is more accurate than your super duper extra long action magnum? Well it may not be, it may be because you don't flinch or jerk the trigger. Just another reason to shoot cast. Talking about magnum's, you are not giving up anything in my opinion by shooting cast except speed. I am not saying cast can do anything jacketed can do but lets first decide what you want that bullet to do. If I thought I needed a bullet to go through two car doors then cast bullets would be out of the question. If I wanted to hit a steel swinger at 200 Yards with a handgun then cast is my first choice. We have pushed our Match Alloy past 1000 fps with plain base pistol bullets with no leading and good accuracy. You are only giving up 2 to 3 hundred fps, but if you use a gas checked bullet your good to go until you run out of accuracy. Oh and by the way, getting a 1000 fps from cast takes less powder than from jacketed so another cost saving right there.
Which calibers are best for cast bullets is a question I am asked over and over. The 38 special and 45 ACP are the easiest, hands down. Pressures and chambers have more to do with it than caliber. Pressures are a lesser problem than chambers are, you can reduce pressures by moving to lower amounts and or slower powders. I am rarely pushing the pressure limits of the cartridge or the alloy when I find the most accurate load for a given gun. Chambers on the other hand, can make you old before your time. On semi-auto's like the 9mm and 40 S&W, I've seen a lot of chambers end with a 90 degree wall and very little if any chamfer into the throat. This is a cast bullet nightmare. Cast bullets need a gentle transition into the rifling. Sometimes these abrupt transitions can be dealt with, with a change in nose profile. Round nose and truncated cone noses seem to lead less than others in these guns. Another solution is Lone Wolf replacement barrels if they make one for your gun. I have several customers that a Lone Wolf barrel solved any and all leading issues and improved accuracy to boot. The other chamber you might have to deal with is on your revolver. If you can only afford one modification, then I recommend having the cylinders reamed to the largest one. As far as other good cast caliber's go: 32 S&W Long, 32 H&R Mag, 357 Mag, 41 Mag, all the 44's and 45 Colt. The ones not on the list can be loaded with cast, just not as easy a task, but certainly doable.
One reason I started shooting cast rifle bullets was to lower the pressures of my old mil-surps. Once I found out how much softer shooting they were then I wanted to shoot more often. Then after some tinkering I figured out some of my guns were more accurate with cast than with jacketed. A typical load of fast rifle powder will run around 15 to 20 grains give or take with any cast bullet from 150 to 200 grains. CHEAP compared to jacketed with 40 to 50 grains of powder, plus the added recoil, need i say more. So lets talk about iron sights on mil-surps and lever guns. Take a 113 grain 30 cal on top of 5 to 8 grains of fast pistol powder and you have a low noise and almost no recoil for plinking or training youth or any recoil shy new shooter. The next level up would be medium to slow pistol powders under 150 to 200 grain cast bullets for about 1300 to 1500 FPS also almost no recoil and accurate out to 200 yards depending on your sight set up. The more you shoot cast rifle the more you want to.
Some people ask about using cast for hunting. No problem, but I won't lie to you about today's jacketed bullet technology, it is leap years ahead of what was available just 25 or so years ago. Yes there are lots of reasons to use jacketed over cast in lots of hunting situations, and I'm not trying to talk you out of, or into one or the other. What I will do is try to give you options where you can use cast and maybe where you shouldn't. If I were hunting medium whitetails out at 150,175 or 200 yards then I would be using jacketed if shooting a 30 cal or smaller. The main reason is I want my bullet shooting as flat as possible and that requires speed, and most reloaders can't get cast up that fast without loss of accuracy or leading or both. Now if we are at 125 yards or less with 30 cals, then that's the wheelhouse of cast. Knock it back to 100 yards and a pure lead round ball out of a muzzleloader is fine, you just have to know your load and gun.
A 30 cal 150 or 170 grain flat nose at 1800 FPS, and zeroed at 100 yards will most likely give you a pass through even at 125. If you try for a least one shoulder there shouldn't be any tracking of more than a few yards. Are cast bullets going to give you DRT(dead right there), sometimes yes. Are jacketed bullets going to give you DRT, sometimes. I will admit with today's technology and the average hunters skill level of ONE well placed shot it would be more humane to have that average hunter use a controlled expansion jacketed bullet over a cast bullet. Now if you shoot more than the average hunter does and you can place a shot where you want it then cast is just as good and sometimes better than a jacketed round.
Let's expand the shoot more often thing. I shoot 5 or 6 thousand rounds per year testing and in competition. If I'm shooting full power rounds day after day even I develop a flinch or trigger jerk because of hard recoil. It's human nature to pull away when you know your going to get punched or your already sore. With cast loads the pressure is greatly reduced and the recoil is a gentle push instead of a quick reverse of the stock into your shoulder. Why wouldn't you opt for the softer shooting load if the accuracy is the same or better and the terminal ballistics is comparable.
Shooting cast in rifles is best started at the 30 caliber and up. Smaller calibers are fine, they just seem to be more picky than the larger ones. Another thing about cast in rifles is the OAL, most cast rifle loads require the bullet touching the lands for best accuracy. A wise investment of the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook is in order here. As far as calibers go the 30-30 Win. with it's long neck and small volume is a made to order cast shooter as is the 35 Remington. The 30-06 is another good one but requires a little more powder because of the case volume. The 308 Win. is also good, but it's only drawback is the short neck. 44's and 45's are all easy to load for in general, but remember this (not my quote but true none the less) "every gun is a law unto it's self".