Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wax Bullets, Again

Theother Ryan asks a question in comments to the previous post.
You have me curious about this hobby. It seems like reasonably affordable fun. Can a guy shoot .38/.357 in this game? Obviously from an SA revolver. Spending 4-5 bills on a gun to play with is not too bad but That way I would not add a new caliber which is unpalatable to me. 
Good question, Ryan, and no, you can't play the Cowboy Fast Draw Association game with out a single action revolver in .45 Long Colt.  But, we'll explore that question later and the reasons for it.  The simple fact of the matter is that I was playing with wax bullets for a long time before I ever heard of the CFDA.  Using wax bullets is a great way to train in your backyard, in virtually any city in the US.  Common gun-handling skills are accentuated, and with just a modicum of equipment you can be shooting wax bullets in any caliber before the end of the day.

There is a great American Rifleman article  on shooting wax bullets at this link.

I've shot wax  through .38/357, .44 Special/.45 ACP, and could probably, in just a few minutes, build some for the 9mm.   For revolver cartridges, you have to drill out the primer pocket.  I normally use a small bit to ream out the flash hole so that the primer doesn't flow back and tie up the gun.  Mark those brass and use them only for wax.  If you ever reload them with a standard charge, you may create unsafe pressures that will damage you or your gun.

For autos, it's simpler.  There is not enough recoil impulse in the wax bullet load to cycle the mechanism, so the gun becomes, for all intents and purposes, a single shot.  However, that's great as the act of drawing and hitting are often a single shot event.

I assume you own a cell phone, as many of us do in this day and age, so you don't even need to buy a timer.  There's anapp for that. I use the IPSC Shot Timer, which is free and does a good job recording times from the draw signal to the sound of the shot.

SO, let's say that you want to train in the backyard.  Load some wax in your 9mm brass, download the app, hang a bed sheet in the back yard.  Put a target in front of it.  Load one wax bullet cartridge in your Glock.  When the timer beeps, draw and fire one round.  Now, you have a time.  Cycle the pistol manually, get set for the second shot, lather, rinse, repeat.  If some of your buddies are around, show them how cool it is to shoot in the backyard.

Can you draw from cover and hit a target with one round, in less than a second?  It's a lot harder than it sounds, and wax bullets are one way to train in almost any locale.  I recommend wax bullet shooting, it's a great way to teach new shooters about our sport.  It's relatively safe, low recoil, low noise, and wonderful fun.


JoeMama said...

What is the rational for using a shotgun primer?

Surely there is a pistol or magnum pistol primer with sufficient brisance to get the job done. Or, since small rifle primers will fit a small pistol primer pocket, one of those could be used if you needed even more zip. http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?256081-Primers-and-brisance-discussion

Modifying the brass to accept a shotgun primer seems like a lot of work for no purpose.

Pawpaw said...

No doubt, Joe, that a standard (or magnum) pistol primer will get the job done. I've fired thousands of those loads through my revolvers. The problem comes when the primer sets back against the recoil shield and the bullet doesn't develop enough pressure to re-seat the primer. It ties up the revolver, locking it solid as a bank vault.

So, for wax bullet loads in revolvers you have to modify the brass. Many of us have done that (in .38 Special cases, for example) by enlarging the flash hole. But, that case is now modified and can't safely be used for standard ammo.

There are several reasons why we in CFDA use specially modified cases for the .45 Colt. The first, is that the shotgun primers give good velocity, in the range of 610-650 fps, depending on the gun. The shotgun primer has a little more "oomph" than a standard pistol primer. Second, the brass is modified so that the primer falls out under its own weight. I reload at the range using nothing but my thumb. No equipment required. Third, that modified brass is easy to spot. There's no danger that it will ever be used for standard ammo. Fourth, there is a small cottage industry that has sprung up around our game, supplying the brass. CFDA supplies it under exclusive contract from Starline, but other vendors have set up to make it from standard .45 Long Colt brass.

When I started this game in January, I didn't own a revolver of any type in .45 Long Colt. Now I own three of them. As a safety measure, I'm going to reserve that caliber for wax shooting, and I won't allow any standard .45LC ammo on my property. That way, there is no chance that a standard load will accidentally wind up in one of my guns. I have plenty of other revolvers for shooting standard ammo.

Theother Ryan said...

Pawpaw, Thanks for the info. Wish I could do that with a darn .357 or at least a .44 mag/ special (if I am going to add a caliber it should at least be a useful one!) but the rules are the rules.

I will have to think about this. Suppose I could use an SA .45 colt, especially a stainless one for a woods gun. There are some smoking hot loads out there for them. SA is not ideal but if I train with it some it should work fine. Honestly if a big bear (home is withing Griz territory) rushes me and I am armed with only a handgun that is a bad situation anyway. Could stash a box or 5 of ammo in a can then call it good for that system. The primary purpose would be fun anyway.

I need a shooting related hobby that doesn't break the bank. This might be the ticket. Thanks for the info.

Old NFO said...

Good info, thanks!