Reloading is an excellent way to keep ammunition costs down. Unfortunately, in addition to cost, both time and weather can also interfere with trigger time, especially in the upper regions with extreme winters and large amounts of snow and ice.
After getting into reloading, I remembered how my father taught my brother and me how to shoot using reloaded wax bullets in our basement back in Pennsylvania and thought it would be a great way to get some shooting done during the long Wyoming winters. However, I never learned his wax-bullet recipe and had no idea how or where he came up with the process.
Numerous Internet searches revealed discussions about shooting wax bullets through revolvers using a primer-loaded case, but everything I found involved just paraffin, which tends to make bore cleaning quite a chore.
One day, while talking with my neighbor about reloading, he told me that his father-in-law had reloaded his own ammunition, and that since his death his equipment had been stored in their barn. He asked if I would like it, and in one of those boxes laid the 42nd edition of Lyman Reloader’s Handbook (copyright 1960). Flipping through that book revealed an article by Charles M. Heard, titled “Wax Bullets” where he described a wax bullet formula along with the proper way to prepare the case for loading.
The wax formula is softer and more flexible than straight paraffin and even includes grease for barrel lubrication. I now use the method he described for both preparing the shell case and the wax mixture.
Wax Bullet Recipe
Prepare a flat pan for the wax mixture; the bottom needs to be completely flat for a consistent thickness (an inexpensive round cake pan works well). Mark a 1/2-inch line with a marker from the bottom for .38s, and a 5/8-inch line for .44s and .45s.
Heat the paraffin and beeswax in a double boiler or teakettle over a medium burner. Be careful as the wax is flammable if overheated or exposed to an open flame and make sure the kettle has a large enough lid for stirring. Once the paraffin and beeswax has melted, add the grease. The grease will stay clumped until the wax and grease are hot. Stir frequently until the grease has dissolved into the wax mixture. Remove from heat and pour into the pan on a level, even surface. Do not move the pan until the wax is fully cooled or ridges will form on the top creating an uneven surface. When cool, flex the sides and bottom of the pan until the wax is loose and can be removed from the pan. The wax sheet will be soft and flexible when compared to pure paraffin or beeswax.
Preparing the cartridge case
Loading the Cartridge
Whether for practicing fast draw, point and shoot or instructing the first-time shooter, wax bullets are a safe, cheap alternative to full-powered ammunition.
The table below contains data for wax bullets shot from a .38 Special case using CCI Small Pistol Primer (CCI500) through a 4-inch revolver. All shots hit within a 1.5-inch radius on the target.
Warning: All technical data in this Web site, especially for handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article and over which the National Rifle Association (NRA) has no control. The data have not otherwise been tested or verified by the NRA. The NRA, its agents, officers and employees accept no responsibility for the results obtained by persons using such data and disclaim all liability for any consequential injuries or damages.