1biggun directed me to the "pistol barrel" page at Green Mountain, where they had a 15" .500 bore barrel for $79.95. Twist is 1:18, close enough to the recommended 1:19 for the Beowulf. I gave them the credit card information and it'll be on the way tomorrow for $87 with shipping.
Impactguns still seems to have the best price on Beowulf brass, but their order page is either hosed, or doesn't work with Konqueror. I'll have to call them and order the brass.
I was going to order a .223 AK magazine, but when I went to the closet and dug out an M-16 mag, I found out it appeared to accept and feed 5.45x39 just fine. I'm now unsure what the difference between a 5.45 and .223 AK mag would be, unless the x39 case is a bit more tapered. The Eyball-O-Meter couldn't see any difference with the single .223 cartridge I have on hand.
I also found out that the standard ex-military mag I have accepts 7.62x39 just fine, too. The M-16 mag tries to center the cartridge (more or less) as opposed to the left/right feed from the AK mag.
There's only a couple of dollars' difference between a 5.45 and .223 mag, so I'll probably just go for a .223... the Beowulf case is darned near straight, only .010" taper, so an ideal mag would be almost straight. Since Alexander Arms says a standard AR-15 mag will work, I'm guessing it's close enough.
Hmm. So far the only .500/.501 bullet moulds I've found are ".50 S&W" ranging from 375gr (ok) to 440gr (heavier than I want). All of them are "semi-wadcutter" with a mild ogive and a flat nose. I was hoping for a round nose bullet.
I was concerned about the flat nose, then I realized if a Saiga can feed a shotgun shell, I can probably figure out how to twiddle the bullet guide to handle a flat nose bullet.
440gr Lee bullet below; others I've found look similar:
Lee Precision, Inc. Reloading Tools and Equipment: Available Bullet Molds
Looks like Lee moulds are still $26ish. Wow, the other brands have become expensive... I've been out of this for way too long.
Steel .223 magazines seem to be few and expensive; I just spent 90 minutes searching. Lots of "out of stock" pages. Apex has steel 5.45 Tantal mags for $23; I ordered one of those.
15" barrel $87, Beowulf brass $67, magazine $30, all after shipping.
The Chinese milled receiver came out of the hot tank nice and clean. I'll have to do some careful grinding to get the welded-on top cover off. I have a Yugo flat on hand too; I had the idea I might do both a milled and bent receiver while I'm on a roll, but Yugo trunnions seem to have become elusive and expensive also. I still intend to make up some trunnions from scratch, but I'm trying to avoid the "one project waiting on another" thing.
I was poking around the black powder section on the Lee web site and found something very interesting - "Improved Minie, Traditional Design." .500 diameter, 360 grains, still a flat point, but a much more rounded nose than their S&W bullet. Three large grease grooves. I'm not sure where the case mouth would wind up in relation to the grooves, but for $26.98 I'm sorely tempted to find out.
Lee Precision, Inc. Reloading Tools and Equipment: Black Powder Molds
Second bullet down, part number 90472.
The "Modern Minie, Target Design" grease grooves might work better, but I don't like the wadcutter nose.
[note: I started off looking to build something in .45-70, to shoot inexpensive cast lead bullets at modest velocity. I'm just using Beowulf brass now instead of .45-70.]
I'm going to do my own reamer out of O1 drill rod. I think the Beowulf might be about as easy as it gets to do a reamer. The barrel has a .491 bore, the case is .525 at the neck, .535 at the rim. Wholesale Tool has 36" lengths of 19/32" drill rod for $10.
If I bore or ream the rifling out of the chamber before I start, the reamer only has to cut .025/.035"; actually, half of that, on each side, a maximum of .0175 + chamber clearance. For that, even very shallow flutes will do. Three or four shallow mill cuts. The lack of deep cuts should also help keep it from warping when heat treated.
I was sketching earlier and realized I don't know how much clearance there needs to be between the case and the chamber. I also don't know how I'm supposed to handle the transition from the case mouth to the rifling - taper? Square? Will the reamer try to snag on the rifling? Any suggestions are welcome.
Since such a tiny amount of metal has to come out, the plan is to clamp the barrel muzzle-down in the big bench vise, put the tap wrench on the square end, and do it by hand. I don't see why it should be greatly different from my NPT pipe reamers.
The difference in the 545 and 223 mags is a slight taper diff and if you look the "bump" into the shoulder of the round to aid feeding, it is slightly to the rear on the 545 mag Modified 545 mags will reliably hold about 25 223 rounds
Have you looked at the leverlution bullets, they have/had some 50
I think I'll try the Minie ball mould from Lee. If the grease groove comes out in an unfortunate place, I might have them make up a custom cherry. At $100, that's not much more than anyone else's mould blocks. Or I might be able to reach into the Lee mould with the die grinder and remove the ridge that makes the offending groove.
What about just milling them out?