Showing posts with label reloading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reloading. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

That Old Handi Rifle

I've changed my hunting area this year, getting closer to home, and the simple fact is that I don't need a long-range rifle.  Indeed, my longest shot will be on the near side of 75 yards.  I surely don't need a flat-shooting .25-06, nor a hot loaded .243, nor even my old trustworthy 30-06.  So, I was perusing my battery this year for the deer rifle of choice, and my eyes fell upon my old .45-70 Handi-Rifle.

The .45-70 is an old cartridge, originally adopted by the US Government as a centerfire rifle cartridge in 1873 as the round for the 1873 Springfield rifle.  Originally known as the .45-70-405, it threw a 405 grain lead bullet to about 1400 fps.  The .45-70 is a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and handloaders have to be careful when they're loading the old cartridge.  It's one of only a few that are loaded to different power levels, depending on the action type.  A modern Sharps, or Ruger #1 can handle a whole lot more pressure than an original trapdoor Springfield, and handloaders should be careful when loading this cartridge.

Regular readers know my fondness for the Handi Rifle, a single shot rifle built by Harrington and Richardson, it's chambered in a variety of calibers and are very useful game-getters.  I've written about my Handi Rifles before, at my domain site, and if anyone's interested they can click over there and take a gander.

So, I took it out of the cabinet for a closer look.

Very basic rifle, not unlike similar rifles that were used on the frontier long ago.  Some say it's almost a direct descendant of the Frank Wesson rifle, a crack-barrel poor man's rifle.  Mine isn't even scoped, instead I mounted a Williams peep sight on the rear of the barrel.

At 7.5 pounds, it's not a light rifle, but at 37 inches, it's handy.  When you're throwing a bigh honking 405 grain bullet, you don't want a light rifle.  When you're pushing that big lead bullet at almost 1600 fps, it'll rattle your teeth.  The load below is interesting, but I can't recommend that anyone try it, simply because it isn't listed as a viable load these days.

You won't find that load in any of the reloading manuals today, indeed I found it several years ago, and even then, it's below minimum.  However, today IMR 4895 isn't popular in the old government cartridge and you won't find many loads for it.  This load is safe in my rifle, but cautious handloaders will check their manuals before trying a load in their rifles.  Again, the .45-70 is one of those cartridges that can be loaded mild or wild.  If you load a wild cartridge in a mild rifle, it might come apart on you.  Be careful in handloading for this old cartridge.  The usual caveats apply.

I think that the old Handi Rifle might be just the ticket for my new hunting area.  I'm certain that the rifle and the cartridge are capable, they've been taking game for over 100 years.  The question, is am I capable?  We'll see.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


With the current powder shortage, you buy what you can when you find it, and when family goes on vacation, I drop some cash and tell them to look around.  Second son recently went to Dallas, so I pitched him a little cash and gave him a list to look for.

He came back with some powder, and my portion is one pound of HS-6 and one pound of Win 231, both good pistol powders, and good for about a thousand rounds each.

I've never used either one, and I wonder how old that 231 might be, I don't believe that it's been packed in a can for several years.  Still, a pound of powder is a pound of powder and it still smells good, so I feel good about it.  That's two more pounds of pistol powder which is more than I had a week ago.

For pistol, I'm normally a Bullseye/Unnique/2400 kind of guy, but it's time to expand my horizons.

Milady and I are going on a mini-vaca this weekend, and in our down-time I'll be sure to hit the stores in the town we're visiting.  Who knows, maybe I'll find a honey hole.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Swaging Bullets

Swaging bullets is a very common way to make bullets, but it's not as widespread as a hobby for the home tinkerer.  Most of the common jacketed bullets are swaged and many of the target bullets sold by Hornady and Speer (for example) are swaged bullets, but handloaders generally either use cast bullets or store-bought jacketed bullets.

However, the Corbin Co has been making dies that can be used for swaging, and some guys have taken to the hobby with an innovative approach.  This afternoon I was surfing around this forum and found some neat pictures of bullets that were made from discarded 9mm brass.

Yeah, those are bullets, made from discarded 9mm brass.  After being filled with lead, the bullets are formed in one of several forming dies, then loaded as usual, in .40 SW brass.  Who realized that discarded 9mm brass is the correct size to go down a .40 SW bore?

A pictorial view of the process, above.  I know just enough about the process to be mystified by it, but I think that it's a spiffy way to use discarded brass.  I know that a hobbyist can make 5.56 bullets from discarded .22 rimfire ammo, ad some wags have said that .30 cal bullets can be made from discarded 5.56 brass.

I see on the bottom photo, a photographer's mark.  I don't know who jonblack is, but if anyone can tell me, I'd be happy to give him a link.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reduced Loads

Regular readers to my siite know about my fondness for IMR 4895, which I consider one of the most versatile rifle powders for medium rifle cartridges.  You can scroll down thru this link and see the various uses I've put it to over the years.  When I start piddling with a new cartridge, one of the very first things I do is to find a 4895 recipe.  Like Unique in pistol calibers, IMR 4895 is useful in lots of rifle cartridges,  I one time counted the calibers and came up with over 40 in which the powder is very useful.  For myself, I've found it useful in .223, .243, .30-30, .30-06, and .45-70.  IMR 4895 is also a great cast-bullet powder, with lots of calibers.

Eaton Rapids Joe puts it to the test in reduced loads for the .308 Winchester, and tells us that it's a daisy in that cartridge as well.  I don't know that I've ever used it in the .308, preferring other powders in that caliber, but I have to admit that a 150 grain bullet traveling at 2200 fps is going to leave a mark when it hits something.  The .30-30 Winchester ballistics almost mimic that level of performance, and has proven since 1895 that it is a whiz-bang deer caliber.

A youngster in the field can do a lot worse than a 150 grain bullet going 2200 fps.  Anything within 150 yards is their meat if they put the bullet where it matters.  In this day of ultra-flat, whiz-bang magnums, a whole lot of adults would be surprised at just how much venison they could gather using those same ballistics.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

More Winter

It's gotten winter again in these parts, and while we're not going to get hammered as hard as some folks, the school administrators got cautious and cancelled school today.  So, PawPaw is home.  Here's what Accuweather is telling me.

It is cool outside and the wind is whipping, which makes it feel cooler.  They're saying we have a chance of sleet tonite, but it looks like it might move north of us.

That's the Wundermap for the state, and I don't see anything that's likely to run over us.  But, I've been wrong before.

Just so today wouldn't be a total waste, I went to my bench to do some reloading.  It's been two years since I reloaded .30-06, so I took the time to prep some brass and refill my stocks.

The standard blogging reloading shot, with a box of ammo.  That happens to be loaded with Reloder 19 powder and Hornady's pretty little SST bullet.  I honestly don't care how pretty a bullet might be, but I like the way the Hornady's fly.  And they fly very well.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Reloder 15

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Alliant's Reloder 15 as a medium rifle powder.  It's my go-to powder for the .308 Winchester, and I find it useful for the .223 Remington as well.  It's a great medium rifle powder, and I normally buy it in 5 lb jugs.  I keep a 1 lb bottle on the bench and refill the smaller bottle from the larger.

I was reloading some .308 Winchester this morning, and using powder from the smaller bottle.  After finishing 100 rounds, I was tidying up the bench and noticed that the 1 lb jug was almost empty, so I reached up on the top shelf to get the larger jug.  It felt fairly light, too, so I poured what was left of it into the one-pound bottle.

It's not much of a problem, because my stocks of loaded ammo are good, and I've got just enough in that smaller jug to give me a little planning time, but it's becoming apparent it's time to buy powder.  A quick inventory shows me that I'm down to my last pound of IMR 4895, another medium rifle powder that I like a lot.

I hate paying the haz-mat fees, but I guess it's time to start looking for good deals online.

Friday, January 17, 2014

.44 Special / .44 Magnum

Those of you who read this little blog know that I'm a fan of the .44 Special.  I was over at this forum, discussing the .44 Special and Uncle Nick sent me to the SAAMI drawings of both the .44 Special and the .44 Magnum and pointed out something that I had never noticed.

According to the SAAMI drawings of both cartridges, the loaded maximum length of the .44 Magnum cartridge is 1.610 inches, while according to the drawing for the .44 Special, the maximum length of that cartridge is 1.615 inches.  The Special is longer than the Magnum by 0.005 inches.  That's interesting, because the Special case is shorter than the Magnum case by 0.125" (1.285-1.160).  That's interesting because the Special case is shorter, but the maximum allowable COAL is longer.

I had never looked at the drawings side by side and compared them.  This brings all sorts of questions to my mind, and I'm going to have to ponder on this for a while.  Is it possible that there's more powder space under a Special cartridge than there is a Magnum cartridge?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

It's Over

Not completely, but the hunting season is just about over.  The stuff that normally goes to the woods is out of the truck and the rifle is soon to get it's ritual cleaning.  Not that I understand why, because I didn't fire it  once this season.  The barrel is as clean now as it was the first week of November.  However, not all is lost, because when hunting season is over, the shooting season commences.  I was just looking at my bench and I've got a fairly large number of blem bullets to load for the .308 for plinking.  I'm about out of loaded 25-06, so that needs to be done.  I'm woefully low on handgun ammo.  I'm down to my last two hundred rounds of .38 Special, and .45 ACP.  I've only got about 80 rounds of .44 Special, and I'm plumb-out of .44 magnum.  I haven't shot the .30-06 at all since June, and it's time that it got the chance to go to the range.

I'll have to start checking with the USPSA club and see when they've got the next matches planned.  Hunting season mught be over, but shooting season is right around the corner.

I need to get busy.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Navigating the Alliant Website

I use a lot of Alliant powders, but I've been frustrated with their online data because it is presented so poorly.  It seems that they only want you to use the exact powders they're pushing today, when many of us know that other options exist.  For example, if you go online to their data center and try to find a Reloder 15 load for the .308 Winchester, you find that no data is easily available.  You get a page like this:
No RL-15 data, and we know that's bullshit, because RL-15 is a wonderful powder for the .308 Winchester.  In fact, the Army requires RL-15 in their M118 long range round.  But, there's a workaround.  Go back to the product page and get the page that highlights the powder, like this:
At the end of the red arrow is a link that says "View all Reloder 15 recipes".  Click on that link and you get the data for every cartridge that they have data on.  It's a work-around, and it works for all the powders Alliant makes.  I love using their powders, but I thoroughly detest the way they present data.  However, I've found a way to work around their online Reloaders Guide, and maybe this information will help other folks who are frustrated with the way Alliant presents data.

You're welcome.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

New Reloader

Just got a text from my second son.
Just shot my first ten 9mm reloads.  They shot fine.
Hooray!  Another hand loader is born.  It's a long and winding road, and a very pleasurable journey, but like any journey, it has its potholes, its switchbacks, and its dead-ends.  Not every road pans out, not every handload works well.  Keep good notes, learn from your experiences.

Oh, and if you have any questions, ask your old man.  I've probably made the same mistakes myself.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

9mm Dies

Since the Newtown shooting, reloading supplies have been scarce.  We're starting to see powder, bullets, and primers in small quantities, but we haven't seen 9mm dies in months.  Even .22LR ammo is beginning to show up on the shelves in limited quantities, but 9mm dies are as scarce as hen's teeth.

A good set of dies is a lifetime investment.  I've got dies that I've had for over 20 years with nary an indication that they're going to wear out.  I don't shoot 9mm, don't own a 9mm, but two of my sons do and they're brand-new reloaders, getting their gear together.  One in particular likes shooting USPSA which runs through ammo pretty quickly.

So, a couple of months ago, I told Midway USA that when they had some Lee carbide die sets in stock, to email me.  They emailed me today and I ordered two sets so that the boys can reload their own ammo.  They should be in later this week, and the boys can start the journey of learning to hand-roll their own ammunition.  They've been watching me for two decades but it's different when you're pulling the lever all by yourself.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tumbling Brass

Couple of months ago, I acquired a bag of range pickup brass.  I knew that overwhelming majority of it was .45 ACP.  Today I dropped that bag of brass into the tumbler to clean it before sorting it.  Bad idea.  It seems that when you're tumbling brass, a piece of .40SW will wedge itself into a piece of .45 ACP during the tumbling process to the point where it takes pliers to extract it.  9mm brass is bad enough, but .40 SW brass seems to like to try to hide in .45 ACP, like it's ashamed to be seen in company with the larger brass.

Aggravating is what it is.  That'll teach me to take a shortcut sorting brass. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Casting Bench

I spent the morning at the casting bench, turning scrap lead into useful bullets.  I cast for several hours and when I had finished, and everything had cooled, I sorted bullets.  From this morning's labor I have 370 good, useable cast bullets that I didn't own at daylight.

That's Lee's TL452-230-2R.  It's a standard 230 grain round-nose bullet for the .45 ACP,  very good plinking and target bullet.  With about 4.5 grains of Bullseye, it mimics the standard hardball load so beloved by .45 auto shooters.  This afternoon I'll tumble them in liquid alox and spread them on waxed paper to dry.  Then, later this week, start cranking the handle on the turret press.  I'll need ammo for the shoot on August 17th and those bullets play a prominent place in my plans for that Saturday.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sectioning Bullets

I was piddling on my bench today and decided to section a bullet.  A common .30 caliber 150 grain Hornady SST, #30302.  This bullet is marked as an Interlock bullet and I wanted to see if I could find the Interlock.  Just about the time I finished sectioning the bullet, my son came into the shop and we looked at the bullet with a jeweler's loup.  He tells me that he can see the interlock, but my tired old eyes can't make it out, even at 10 power.

So, I decided to take out the camera and see if I could get a picture.

My camera skills ain't great.  I can plainly see where the cannelure ring locks the jacket to the core, but I can't make out that Interlock ring.

Maybe when I get some quiet time next week, I'll polish that surface and see if I can't get a real good picture.  These are great, excellent bullets and they fly nicely, but I'm darned if I can make out that ring.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


If you're a cast bullet shooter, sooner or later you're going to want to cast your own bullets.  Like everyone else, I've purchased store-bought bullets, both cast and jacketed, but part of the allure of shooting cast bullets is taking common scrap and making your own bullets.  The first thing we need to do is find scrap lead, and cast bullet guys are always looking for scrap lead.  I'm not sure who said it, but one of the old gun writers was famously quoted as saying, "If it's plumbous, I'm liable to make bullets from it."

For many years, the most common lead scrap was lead wheelweights.  These things could be had at any tire shop for simply hauling them away.   Many is  the time that I've walked into a tire shop, bantered with the service manager for a few minutes, and walked out with a five-gallon bucket of wheelweights.  Those days are no more.  Lead has residual value, and the shops know that.  The national scrap price of lead wheelweights is 50 cents per pound.  This stuff isn't inexpensive.  Still, there is a lot of lead out there that people don't want to deal with and a savvy scrounger can still get lead for little or nothing.

Recenctly, I came into possession of a small box of wheelweights, and some discarded roof jacks.  Around here, roof jacks are pure, soft lead, and if you can find a roofer willing to save the lead, they are a great source of soft lead.

In all things that require high heat, it's best to do this outside.  In my case, I set a fish cooker on the ground outside my shed, with a lead pot, ladle, and some ingot molds.

There's my hasic set-up.  On the right, you see a lead pot, then next are two molds.  One, an old corn-stick pan, is used specifically for wheelweight metal.  the little Lee ingot mold is used for pure lead.  When you start casting bullets, it's convenient to keep your lead ingots segregated.  I like almost pure lead for pistol bullets that won't be traveling any faster than 1200 fps.  Wheelweight metal is reserved for harder bullets, those that will travel over 1200 fps, but under 1600 fps.  Those rifle bullets that will travel over 1600 fps get a linotype alloy and I have another ingot mold for them.  With my system, I can see immediately what type ingot I'm using, even months after smelting the raw lead into ingots.  That cardboard box you see on the far left of the photo is used for lead dross.  Dirt and crud gets on scrap lead and you want to skim that off before you make ingots.

One note.  Never introduce water into a lead pot.  Lead melts at 630F and water boils at 212F.  If so much as one drop of sweat gets into the molten lead, it will immediately flash to steam and  I've seen molten lead jump two feet out of a pot, splattering lead everywhere.  Seriously, don't let water get into your  lead pot.  That's bad juju.  One other caution.  Once an implement is  used for lead, it can never be used again for food products.  You simply don't want lead in your foodstuffs, so dedicate a pot and ladle to lead use.

So, after an hour of smelting this morning, I finished with over 10 lbs of good clean wheelweight metal and about 30 lbs of soft lead from roof jacks.

I'll let everything cool, put it all away, and I'll be ready when the urge strikes me to crank up the bullet pot.  Total cost to me?  About an hour of sweating and about two hours of scrounging.  Now, time to start scrounging again.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

.45 ACP Small Primer

I mentioned yesterday that I had stumbled upon some .45 ACP brass that took the small pistol primer.  As we all know, the Sainted John Moses Browning decreed that the .45 ACP be manufactured with large primers and till recently, that was the case.  All .45 ACP took the large pistol primer.

Sometime in the recent past, handloaders started noticing that some brass, notably Winchester NT and CCI Blaser Brass were using small pistol primers.  This thread over at the 1911 forum from 2010 talks about finding them, so small primers in .45 is at least three years old.  It seems recently that Federal Champion ammo is now using the small primer in the .45 load.  I understand that these primers are loaded in "lead-free" ammo ammo, specifically that the primers themselves are lead free.

The more universally understood reason is that it's part and parcel of a huge conspiracy to confuse and demoralize handloaders.  The companies don't understand how resourceful, creative, and motivated we are, and the work-around is simple.  Simply save your small primer brass till you have enough to load a batch, and load it for use where picking up brass is problematic.  I'm saving mine till I get several hundred.  We've learned that the fast powders used in .45 ACP fire up nicely with small pistol primers, so that's not a problem.  The ammo goes bang.

However, it is a huge pain to sort brass based on the size of the primer pocket.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Loading in the Rain

It started raining today, when I was about halfway through my yard work, so I took that time to flatten the learning curve on the Lee Turret Press I bought recently.  I mounted the powder measure and the primer feed, then took out some bullets and started cranking on the handle.  The only real glitch was when I'd try to prime one of those verdamned .45 ACP brass that they're making with small primer pockets.  Once I figured out the glitch, my speed increased post-haste. 

I loaded 100 rounds of .45 ACP in about 45 minutes, and only quit when I ran out of the 100 pack of primers I had put in the primer feed.  This thing is going to increase my loading speed considerably.  I see now that I need a couple of extra turrets, at least one for .38 Special, and one for .44 magnum.  Adjusting dies is a pain the wazoo, and those turrets just snap in and out.

I should have bought one of these things years ago.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Reloder 19

In the .Thursday shooting post below, an anonymous commenter tells us that RL19 is good for max loads in the .30-06.  Yes, friend, it is.

Back in 2010 I stumbled upon a load that I use in my Savage 111.  That load uses the Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet and RL19.  Alliant puts the max for 150 grain bullets at 62.0 grains, but I found that at at 61 grains of Reloder 19, I was pushing that bullet past 2900 fps with great accuracy.  Nowadays I use Hornady's SST bullets in that load and the performance on target and on game is just as noteworthy.  It's a great load.

Any time I can plunk three bullets into that magic inch at 100 yards with my indifferent benchrest technique I call it good.  That load has continued to satisfy since I found it in 2010 and has accounted for at least one whitetail deer.  This isn't a true max load according to Alliant, but I'm pushing a good 150 grain bullet to almost 3000 fps, the bolt unlocks cleanly, and the primers are still radiused.  For some reason, Alliant lists that max load at 2722 fps, but I find that over my chronograph, when fired through my Savage, that bullet is traveling 200 fps faster than the book numbers.

You're right, friend.  Reloder 19 is a great powder for the .30-06.  Of course, there are lots of great powders for this old cartridge, which at 107 years is still one of America's favorites.  It's one of my favorite cartridges and one I enjoy shooting.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday Shooting

Today, I spent most of the day on a tractor, pulling a shredder on family land.  After mowing for several hours, my eldest son and three grandsons met me and we did a little shooting.  We fine-tuned the eldest grandson's rifle, a Savage Edge in .25-06.  After the final sight-in, he started banging away at the gongs whe have on the 100 yard line.  We also shot my Remington 700 in .308, and a H&R Handi-rifle in .223.  The boys got a great kick out of slapping the gongs with those little .223 slugs.

Then, my son took out a rifle I gave him several years ago.  It's a pump action Remington, the Model 760, in .30-06.  He had a scope on it last year that he couldn't see through, and I gave him a new scope for his birthday, a Redfield Revolution 4-12X scope.  He hadn't sighted the rifle in with the new scope so we posted some dots on the 100 yard line and after several adjustment shots, he managed to find the groove.

That's two shots at a 1" target dot.  The load is one that I like, for several reasons.  Reloder 22 might be considered too slow for the .30-06, but I use that powder for several rifles and I trust it.  Also, I don't believe that you can put enough RL22 into a .30-06 case to get to max pressure for the cartridge.  It pushes that 150 grain Hornady SST to 2700 fps, which isn't a screaming load, but well within the capabilities of the .30-06 when you consider that the standard Garand load at about 2800 fps.  However, this load is very accurate in several rifles I've fired it in, and that Remington 760 likes it a lot.

I've got other loads using faster powders that push that same bullet over 2900 fps, but the simple fact is that the medium game around here won't be able to tell the difference.  This load is great in several rifles, it's easy on brass and it's easy on our shoulders. 

If you're wondering what the little tic-marks on the paper might be, that's all those grandkid bullets coming apart on the gongs.  Evidently, it would be foolish to stand near those gongs when a bullet disintegrates on them.  The shrapnel looks to be pretty intense.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Learning Curve

I finally got that turret press bolted to the bench and I'm trying to get it adjusted and calibrated.  I spent an hour today setting up the dies for .45 ACP, then I ran off twenty rounds of ammo.  The learning curve has me a bit perplexed, but I've solved all the problems so far.  For the past two decades, I've been making ammo by batch processing it.  Deprime all the brass, re-prime all the brass.  Flare all the brass, add powder, seat all the bullets, crimp all the bullets.

This turret press is linear, so the learning curve means that I've got to think about what I'm doing every step of the way.  I can see that it's going to make good ammo, and for cranking out pistol ammo, it should be the cat's meow.  I"m not fast enough yet that I have a good idea on how long it will take to make 100 rounds of ammunition, but I can see that it's going to be an improvement.

I need to find some lead and cast a bunch of bullets.