Showing posts with label Reloading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reloading. Show all posts

Dec 9, 2013

Song of the South

There's a generation of reloaders who think the finest bullet -- serious target and hunting stuff --should cost a nickel or less.  They cringe at the Obama-era tab of two bits and up for one bullet, even when paid for in Bernanke's Federal Reserve Cartoons.

So this pleased me yesterday:

A fresh thousand of them (.224 and 55 grains)  grace the reloading shack. They set me back more than a nickel per, but way less than a piece of zinc with a hokey picture of George Washington carelessly stamped on it.

Veterans might recognize it, but it's been off the market for a long time, and youngsters might not identify it as a vintage Nosler, one of the first commercial solid base designs, meant to expand but hold together.

I included the picture to show the oddly wide machined cannulure. It was supposed to a lot of good -- reduce pressure slightly, grip the case mouth tightly, improve accuracy, reduce the national debt, and prevent the UN from admitting Red China.

Mr. Nosler called it his "Zipedo."  Love it. Zipedo doo dah, zipedo day...

May 19, 2013

Reloading .30-06 military brass

For reasons I hinted at last evening, I've developed an even stronger hunger for .30-06, and a rainy Sunday is devoted to loading some of the case stash, mostly military.


The primer pocket crimp we all curse is only part of the problem. Some of the pockets are just too tight to take a fresh one.

I de-crimp everything with a countersink chucked in a drill, and for some that quick  operation is all it takes. My Autoprime loves 1950s cases from Lake City, particularly LC 54.

It hates everything from Denver, especially  D 42, and I just toss those.

Winchester and Frankford head stamps are between those extremes, and after crushing too many primers I've decided to set them aside until I get around to creating either a  power reamer or a press-mountable swage.


At the command of the TMR Legal Review Section, I remind newbies that any time you remove brass from a case you weaken it, maybe significantly, maybe not. I reserve anything I've cut into for conservative loads.

Apr 21, 2013

Loophole report (Please stand by)

I'll post a picture of the single purchase, a Lee AutoPrime II, one of the few shootin' gizmos that fine old company ever decided to discontinue. Right now I'm off to the loading shack to set it up and get started converting all that shiny and sized brass into a ready terrorism palliative.

I will say it's a goofy looking thing, but knowing Lee as I do, it will undoubtedly work as advertised. Even if it happens not to, I'll be a whopping five bucks in the hole.

Why? Because I couldn't find the No. 4 shell holder for the regular AutoPrime, new or used. Maybe they fell victim to the buying panic, too, since they can be used to restuff 5.56x45 (aka the .223 McNamara Stalemate) for assaultish looking  weapons.

You see, the AP II  uses standard shell holders, the ones you already have for everything you reload. Good idea, Mr. Lee,and I wonder if you have an engineer working on redesigning the AutoPrime to do the same.


Otherwise a rather dull show. I did note some .22 LR staying on the tables when priced at $65  brick.

Mar 14, 2013

Retro-reloading note

Just locked up the loading shack pondering the latest mystery. What the heck kind of brass is that?

About 25 of them from the "miscellaneous to-do" box were plainly head stamped as .257 Roberts from Remington and Winchester. They refused to chamber after sizing. Another dozen Winchesters, stamped "W-W Super"  worked fine.  I didn't feel like pulling the data sheets and getting out the mike, but I suspect I might have a couple dozen "improved" cases.

Minimal rechambering was a popular project for few decades just after World War 2. The usual goal was to increase case capacity by reducing taper and sharpening the shoulder  of a standard caliber. The big attraction was the ease of making the improved cases. You just fired a factory round in the altered chamber and, presto, you had your "improved" brass. They called it "fire forming" or "blowing out."

P.O. Ackley was the Improvement Godfather, and he was candid in admitting that some of his (and other's) wildcats weren't worth the bother. How much trouble do you want to go to for for an extra couple hundred feet per second?

But it's fun to own a handful of "improved" cases for a caliber already steeped in nostalgia. Makes a guy feel all fuzzy and retro. I will not, repeat not, even think about acquiring an improved .257 to fit the odd cases. At most I'll give them some warm milk and a soft place to sleep.


All the .223 McNamara Stalemate is ready to prime. There were fewer than estimated, just over 300, enough to feed a mere ten magazines of the proper size. Maybe I can hustle some more at the local loophole.

Mar 13, 2013

Tales from the reloading shack

I finally said to Hell with it. The Catholics could probably pick a new Pope without my counsel, so I switched off the idiotic cable channels and hit the reloading room.

Turns out I was right about the Pope, of course. A Pope from the Pampas. First Jesuit ever, and I suspect that will be interesting. I had a great grad school buddy, a Jesuit priest who -- true to type -- liked to fool around with Aristotelian logic, a discipline overdue for renewed respect here in the image-mad 21st Century, and I -- as a backslid Methodist --  can find no reason whatsoever why my Catholic friends should not lead us out of the of darkness of reasoning via sound bites and photo ops.

But I digress. Worse, I intrude on arcane and complex theological matters, a field best left to such experts such as Tammy Faye, Jerry Wright,  and Jimmy Swaggert.


It  began as a .30-06 afternoon for no better reason that these noble dies were in the press. Production was just one box, 20 rounds, carrying a 125-grain SP,  Sierras (I think) at a book speed of just under 3,000. It's a little heavy for gophers, somewhat under powered for woolly mammoths, but usable for either. (Obligatorily: "If I do my part.")

Besides, it's fun to reload, hefty enough for a big-handed guy to handle without tweezers and pretty forgiving from any reasonable safety stand point.

But not that forgiving, and I took a spiritual break during the process to thank Whomever that I am such a frightened old woman when in the vicinity of high combustibles. The partial green box of bullets was plainly marked 125 grain SP. Something doesn't feel quite right. So weigh one. 150 grains. Weigh them all. 150 grains each. Recall that I buy a lot of components at auctions and loophole shows, and some sellers are just not trustworthy. Dig out the actual 125 grainers and proceed as planned, then on to the real chore that's been nagging at my conscience.

A few hundred unprocessed 5.56x45 mm cases (also known as the .223 McNamara Stalemate)  have been kicking around the shack since about 2006. It isn't that there's a shortage of ready rounds at hand. It's more like a spiritual obligation. Any empty cartridge case calls to Heaven. "I feel so empty. Help me, please. So lonely. Prime me. Fulfill me."

Compassionate to even the most inadequate, I yielded to the little devils. I yielded for quite a while, enough to get about half of them ready for primers. Then even my patience ran out. Perhaps tomorrow.

But seriously, folks, I have nothing other than my assaultish looking rifle in which to shoot these things, and I do understand that they can be supremely accurate in an actual gun. If I organize those facts into a rationale for buying yet another bolt-action rifle, I do so hope you will be understanding.

Oct 8, 2012

Reloading dope

Namely me.

My buddy P is getting more interested in shooting. His son bought a .30-06 bolt gun a while back, and P decided he'd like one himself. Prosperous enough, he still gags the idea of spending a buck every time the hammer falls. (Me too.)  So he decided to sit at the feet of a guy who started assembling cartridges back in the Nixon years. An expert.

Namely me.

Yeah. Right.

Now, I can generally get through a reloading session without too much fuss. The components are on hand and decently organized. The gear is robust and  trustworthy. My usual loads -- especially for the only really noble calibers, .30-06, .45ACP, and .45 Colt -- are well-tested, as are the procedures which begin with an attitude: At the bench, the only proper mindset is that of a paranoid old-maid aunt. The fact of the matter is that a high-pressure accident does hide under your bed, just waiting to snatch out your eyeballs. Fear is good.

I go into my didactic mode and lecture my friend about all of this, including that line I stole from P.O. Ackley, "You see a man with a rabbit's foot hanging over his loading bench, run like Hell."


We got started on two boxes of bright, once-fired Remington brass.

The competent old pro cleverly noticed that the primers weren't coming out. Dang, I thought I replaced the broken decap pin. Double-dang, I was sure there were still some spares is the drawer. Time out while I found the proper sized panel nail to sub for the real thing. We proceeded through the lubing and sizing steps for a few rounds, me doing and explaining before turning it over to P. HIs first couple of strokes went well. About the third there was a snap. You don't want to hear a snap in my press.  Rub noises are okay. Not snaps. Stop everything. Take a look. Curse.

My first -ever stuck case. I thought it was something you smugly read about,a mishap afflicting only lesser mortals.  Another timeout. P is getting dubious about this whole thing. It takes a few minutes to cut a dowel and hammer out the case. And that process drives the expanding ball into it. Hacksaw the brass apart and pry out the ball while discussing causes.

Fortunately,  P is an engineer and has no trouble understanding the possibility of a shell holder at the loose end of manufacturing tolerance and a rim at the tight end. But still...

I fool around a little longer, finding another holder  which, though  identically numbered by the RCBS folks, seems tighter than original. And just to be safe we swab out the die body, roll the cases across the pad again,  and swipe a smidgen more goop inside the mouths.

The rest of the operation goes better, and we end with 39 cases prepped and primed, ready for Lesson Two, scheduled for this evening, wherein your expert will explain and demonstrate the fine art of not blowing up a rifle. Load selection, powder measuring, checking with a flashlight, bullet seating. Etc. What could possibly go wrong?

Probably nothing because, on reflection, I concluded all the gods were bored last week, held a meeting, and, just for shits and grins, decided it would be amusing to humiliate that guy who keeps boasting about his really cool reloading shack and the nice rounds he produces.

Unless, of course, they're really feeling vindictive and decide that if one torture  session is good, two would be even more fun.

We'll see. And I think I do have a rabbit's foot around here somewhere.

EDIT to update: Taku-Wakan give good medicine tonight. Smooth like papoose behind.

Sep 18, 2012

Domestica -- ammo and other incendiaries

-- The wood faerie returneth. My cup of renewable, sustainable biomass fuel runneth -- rilly rilly runneth -- over. My city man has just delivered a small load of bucked elm locust and plans to bring another. The stuff is unsplittable, but I can cut it short and burn it like chunks of coal.  I am this morning grateful to the administration of my village, Smugleye-on-Lake.

-- September song: With the windows still open to a light breeze, a small fire furnishes a corner of warm comfort amidst all the fresh air.

--Maybe the good mood is a hangover from the long evening in Reloading Central. The Redding B3 powder measure -- a sturdy cast-iron '40s or '50s relic -- is back online and throws IMR 3031 in dependable charges.  Besides...

--The Pacific case trimmer, of similar vintage and brutishness, has been tidied up and is ready to work as soon as I find pilots in .223, 257, 6mm*, .357, and .45.   I've never used it, and there was bonus delight in finding that standard RCBS shell holders work fine. Besides...

--  Several hundred rounds of brass have been resorted into several containers which match one another in size, style, and color. Enough of this kind of neat-freak compulsion and I'll be ready for a  Better Homes and Gardens spread.  Disclaimer: it happens seldom.  To wit:

-- The living quarters are a disaster. When BH&G is finished in the loading shack, a visit from the Hoarders film crew is more than possible. Example:It is not gracious to use the Stihl chain saw manual as a trivet. Gotta find my apron.


*That's .244  in real money, by jingo.

Sep 1, 2012

Adventures at the ammo bench

The Remington 760 (couple-three posts down) inspired me to hit the loading room yesterday and wade into the fat supply of .30-06 cases. It took me more than two hours to finish a measly 61 rounds, and that was starting with cleaned and sized commercial brass.

Part of it was the Lee Auto-Prime. I love that system, but mine is showing its decades of wear and sometimes wants to malf in one way or another.

Primers set,  I learned that my old Pacific powder measure hates DuPont 3031. I simply could not make it throw charges consistent within two or three grains. No amount of cleaning or tweaking helped enough to make me comfortable. (I've remarked before that I'm a frightened old lady about guesswork at the reloading bench.)  

So I took the Lee dippers from the cabinet and found one that held 49.5 grains of 3031 -- close enough to the 50 I wanted under  the 125-gr HPs. (Speer book muzzle velocity of about 2950 fps).

It's nice to build a round of good .30-06 for less than a quarter, but one-half round per minute on prepared cases is not something to be proud of.  Time to pick up a new Auto-Prime and tear down the measure to see if something inside is the problem.


And there's a hole in my .308 bullet supply. Plenty of 110 and 125, and quite a lot of 220. I'm thus prepared for elf terrorists and elephant-scale terrorists. But I have nothing really correct for your normal, everyday, 38-regular terrorist. 

Jul 14, 2011

Reloading note

A nice batch of .30 Carbine cases followed me home recently, and I started processing them last evening.  I didn't feel like dealing with the STP-on-a -pad mess. I dampened a rag with WD40 and wiped the cases. They resized butter-smoothly in what I think is an overly tight die.

I'd heard about the magic oil as case lube for a long time but never tried it. I'm a convert. It's cleaner, faster, and probably cheaper.

Note to self: You don't have a Lee dedicated taper crimp die for this caliber. Order one today.

Jan 11, 2011

Reloading Note - Bullseye

Random Acts of Patriotism features a photo of a maimed revolver which appears to have been destroyed by a massive loading bench error, possibly a double charge of powder.

Reloading is as dangerous as negotiating the on-ramp of an urban freeway. So you say to yourself as you unlock the reloading shack, "Let's be careful in here."


Bullseye powder is almost as old as the 1911.  Over its 98 years, it became almost the de facto standard for, among other things, .38 Special target loads.   You capped  three grains (or a little less)  of it  with a 148-grain lead wad cutter for cheap and pleasant afternoons at the range.

The problem lies in its almost non-existent bulk. Responsible amounts all but disappear in the case, and six grains amputates a thumb as it destroys your Officers Model Target.

I still use it once in a while for a number of plinking loads. But I treat it like a pet cobra, My most religious practice requires a very bright  flashlight.  Charged cases are neatly aligned in the loading block and carefully inspected -- not glanced at but inspected -- one by one,  in a regular order. Anything that looks even slightly unusual is dumped and recharged.

It isn't fool proof. A double charge is not necessarily obvious, but it should be apparent if your attention isn't diluted by memories of your first girl friend or a  bacon sandwich or something.

Most other powders are bulkier. Overloads are more apparent. But in my shack, the flashlight routine is used on them, too. I am pleased with my opposable thumb and desire to keep it attached.

Please pardon the preaching.

Nov 21, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

I've mentioned the big lead stash and the barrel leading from the first batch of c. 230-grain round-nose bullets. Pan lubrication solved that problem, but a delightful auction has made it nearly moot.  I cannot explain why the gunny crowd let me  buy 1,500 commercial   .452 SWC 200-grainers at exactly one and one-half cents per round.

Geeking it out: A cent and a half for the bullet, three cents each  for the primer and case, just under two cents for the Unique.  I'll be shooting Mister Browning's (PBUH)  big pistol for about  twice the cost of the cheapest  .22 rimfires.

My oracle foresees more and louder bangs in the Camp J vicinity for the next year or so.

Sep 13, 2010

Reloading note -- .45ACP cast bullets

An experiment with as-cast and unlubricated .45 ACP bullets did not work well.  We fired just over  50 mild --c. 725 fps -- rounds  last week. Accuracy was acceptable, given that the shooting was pretty casual, and there were no malfunctions.  But the leading was very bad. A stiff brush and Hoppes 9 removed only part of it, and I'm facing the need to use the hydrogen peroxide and vinegar trick.

These were cast from mill-run wheel weights with no additves, and that may be the problem. I read that wheel weights use far less tin and antimony than they did a few years ago.

To avoid the mess of lubing, I'm going to try a new batch made from the harder alloy I mixed last month. If those lead, I'll try pan-lubing and pray that's a solution. I really hate the idea of gettiing into the dedicated luber/sizer mess.

For what it's worth, I've been counting on the Lee  taper crimp die to do the final sizing, assuming it squeezes the bullet into dimension as it full-length sizes the entire finished round.

EDIT: Oh dang. I meant "boolits," of course, not bullets.

Jul 7, 2010


That's how the serious casting cats spell it on the internet, and now your humble scribe has 168,000 grains of a lead-like boolit material cast into little Lyman ingots and shelved. Not allowing for waste, that's seven hundred and thirty -- 230 grainers for the 1911s with a few ounces left over for crappie jigs.

Before long I'll have a report on the casting, loading, and shooting qualities we can get from modern wheel weights fired as cast with either no lube or a light hand lube. I am not hot to get into the sizing and lubing game. If the as-cast stuff will hit the barn door and not lead the bores too badly, I won't.

The men of the family spent one of the Independence weekend afternoons at Cabela's in the Twin Cities, and I finally just tossed frugality to the winds and bought the Lyman kit with the little "Big Dipper" 10-pound pot. High quality it is not, but it should make all the boolits I care to shoot, swap, or give away.

(If you're out at my local DNR range some weekday afternoon and see a crazy dude raking lead from the berms, don't shoot. That's me.)

EDIT: Heading off an argument, perhaps: By "modern" wheel weights I mean the ones still based on lead. In the 80s when I was last casting, we considered wheel weights to be about 90-95 per cent lead with the balance more or less evenly split between tin and antimony. Serious, or just anal, casters added enough tin to bring it closer to Lyman's No. 2 formula of 90 - 5 - 5 (lead, tin,antimony). I have read that most WW makers have by now cut the tin content to nearly nothing.

Others made the good point that citing precise contents of any home-brew alloy was somewhat silly because we had no idea of what was actually in the lead, the tin, or the antimony we used. And who the heck had a Brinnel tester in his shop? We considered anything that cast smoothly and was hard enough to resist fingernail denting good enough to use.

Jun 5, 2010

...perchance to dream

Much accomplished today, although I doubt reader interest in hearing about the toilet tank overhaul and accompanying carpentry, painting, and varnishing  in the literary alcove.

The .45 ACP project went well, and 190 fresh rounds nest in the SHTF locker.  I did decide on Unique -- a half-grain under the Lyman book maximum. It should give the 230s just under 900 fps and more than enough ooomph to cycle the Colt action.

Feeling green, of course, because reloading is recycling.


Fresh .45 fodder

The rain is putting my home improvement drive  on hold, so it's back to the loading shack. There's enough componentry on hand to build close to 200  .45 ACP rounds. About half of them will be 230-grain fmjs, the rest 200 grain cast semi-wadcutters.

A  conservative  (n)  grains of Unique has been  standard here for the 1911s, but  I've recently acquired a post-lawyered Colt Series 70 with that "accuracy" barrel bushing/collet.  The collet and heavy recoil spring create a stiff action, so I want  to  concoct a more authoritative load.

(There are four or five suitable pistol powders on hand, but somehow  I always seem to just tinker with the amount of Unique, and I suppose that will happen this time, too.  What the heck would we do without that powder?)

May 31, 2010

You say they've super-sized the zombies?

Why, I have just the thing,  Watson. 


There was too much clutter in the loading shack -- such as hundreds of .30-06 cases and oddball .308 bullets -- old  220 -grain round nose fmj's that may well be .30-03 pulls. Cleaned up and loaded ahead of (n) grains of 4350 they will fly at  just under 2500 fps and strike terror into the hearts of the not-quite deceased who, the movies tell me,  threaten the world as you know and love it.

If the zombie scare turns out to be just another passing Madness-of-Crowds phenomena, they will still be useful. This load should work well enough to control  elephants migrating  to my latitude as the globe warms.

May 29, 2010

From the reloading shack

I've been fat on.38 Special brass and 158-grain RNs for quite a while and finally motivated myself to check that chore off the list yesterday afternoon.  The result is 150 rounds of the stuff.

I resolved one quandary on the conservative side. My only primers  were magnum, and In a large library here I simply couldn't find  data for .38 Special with mags.   Since I am something of an old woman about unknown  pressure factors,  I backed off a tenth of a grain from the  a Speer starting load of Unique. They'll be fired for practice and entertainment  only from a ported Taurus .357 snubby. Unless, of course,  someone makes me an offer I can't refuse for a nice used (Bill) Ruger single action in .357.

Apr 28, 2010

Reloading note

No matter how cheap they are, resist the impulse to acquire any GI .30-06 brass made in Denver in 1942 (Den 42) . I have fought government primer crimps and tight pockets for years, usually with enough success to create good loads with only moderate effort using a simple reamer with a radius grind.

No so this stuff. An hour of trying put me in a foul mood for most of the afternoon, and I finally dumped about 300 of them in a low spot I'm trying to fill over by the maple trees. It's almost as if they were re-specked with remarkably undersized pockets.

Also and more happily: It is very pleasant to run across four decks of large rifle primers you forgot you had.