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Notes for Handloaders
Notes for Handloaders
George C. Monte Jr. | May 01, 2009 | Comments 0
LATE ONE NIGHT – we always work into the small hours – your editor called me, suggesting I dig through the files for some handloading hints or techniques, for solutions to problems that readers from all over the country have described to us. The odds and ends that follow are the careful gleanings of a couple evenings I spent going over the past two years’ correspondence and columns.
If you find yourself without something to ream out military-primer crimp, try this: pick up a low-cost 45” or 60” countersink at the hardware store; then grind its point back until it enters the primer pocket deeply enough to cut away the crimp. The end then acts as a stop to prevent cutting too deep. Used by hand it will do a good job, leaving a clean bevel at the pocket mouth to facilitate entry of a new primer.
It can also be used under power (as can a Lyman or other primer pocket reamer) in a variable-speed drill press or electric hand drill. Run at lowest speed and press cases over the cutter by hand. You might find this handier than other methods.
Rifle primers in handguns? It isn’t a good practice for several reasons: rifle primers require a heavier firing pin blow for proper ignition; the greater amount of priming compound may increase pressures (not necessarily dangerously); and handgun-case primer pockets aren’t always deep enough for rifle primers.
Big, heavy frame revolvers (S&W N, Colt New Service, Colt & Ruger SA, etc.) have heavy hammers, strong mainsprings, and long hammer travel. In my experience they will reliably ignite rifle primers. During wartime periods of component shortages I used thousands of rifle primers in such handguns without any ignition problems at all.
(Left) This long-tube Bonanza funnel will serve to get more powder in the case – greater falls of granules help compaction.
On the other hand, I’ve yet to encounter an autoloader, even the 45 Government Model, which would ignite rifle primers reliably. As for small- or medium-frame revolvers, the latter will sometimes do well with rifle caps, the former hardly ever.
Recognize these limitations and be guided accordingly, should you be tempted to use rifle primers in handgun loads simply because they are available or cheap.
Note well! Never take primers out of their compartmented containers until ready for use; never store loose primers in bulk, and never agitate or shock loose primers. To do any of these things can set up a dangerous condition, one which might produce an explosion.
In spite of Boxer primers being far more widely used today than ever before, someone will occasionally find it necessary to shoot – and eventually reload – Berdan-primed cases. With many of the older British and metric calibers now or soon-to-be discontinued, we have no choice but to hoard s...
Reloading the 50 BMG is Easier than You Think
Loading the .50 BMG: Fun and Penny-Wise
Contributor Dave Morelli | Jun 02, 2008 | Comments 0
Any civilian or professional operator values the importance of practicing with the tools of survival.
Unlike a musician, whose practice involves only time after the initial investment of an instrument, a tactician must invest in ammo. That can greatly affect how much practice you can afford.
I’ve reloaded ammo since I started shooting. My first rifle was a .308 Winchester, and my first loading outfit was a Lee Loader. Even with the primitive Lee system, I got better results from the rifle at a lower cost than with relatively cheap factory ammo. As I shot more and got into pistols, reloading became an important part of my shooting. It still is, because my hobbies and professional career have centered around shooting.
Loading the Big Gun
Anyone into long-range shooting, whether as a professional sniper or target shooter, will shoot the .50 BMG. In this arena, reloading seems to be necessary to create affordable loads. Further, you can tailor it to the type of shooting you’re doing. A lot of military surplus ammo is available at lower cost, but most rifle makers recommend not using this ammo. However, current factory ammo can be quite expensive, and it’s not always available everywhere. I’ve also found that like every other cartridge I’ve reloaded, I get better results by developing a load for a specific rifle.
There really isn’t much difference in loading the .50 than other stuff. It’s a blown-up version of the .30-06. Everything is bigger. Designed from .30-06 specifications, it even duplicates .30-06 velocities — only with a bullet that’s 10 times heavier.
Be prepared to have a larger supply of components, especially powder. Charges are quite large, even in reduced loads. The press you’ll need is larger and must be firmly attached to a loading bench to size the big case. Otherwise, the process is similar. Depending on the components you use, reloading will lower your costs and produce a load that will complement the .50’s long-range capabilities.
I started with RCBS, which has a .50 BMG package deal. It comes with a press, dies, a primer, a case trimmer, a huge powder-dump measurer and a bunch of the little do-dads that make the job easier. The press will handle the larger die size. It also comes with a reducer that can screw into the die threads and a 7/8 thread die can be used in the press. All you need for smaller calibers is an adapter that will facilitate various smaller shell-base holders. That makes the press a dual-function unit.
I started by bolting the press to a sturdy table. I then mounted the powder measure next to it but toward the back of the table. After the priming was complete, the powder could be dispensed into the case and put in the press for seating the bullet.
One Large Recipe
I loaded some Barnes’ Banded 750-grain solids, which come 20 to...
Reloading: the 223 Remington (5.56x45mm)
Reloading: The .223 Remington (5.56x45mm)
Frank C. Barnes | Jul 15, 2009 | Comments 0
The 223 Remington ?rst appeared in 1957 as anexperimental military cartridge for the Armalite AR-15 assault ri?e. In 1964, it was of?cially adopted by the U.S. Army as the 5.56mmBall cartridge M193. It is used in the selective-?re M16 ri?e whichis based on the original AR-15 design. The cartridge was the work of Robert Hutton, who was technical editor of Guns & Ammomagazine and had a ri?e range in Topanga Canyon, California.
One of the requirements for the cartridge was that the projectile have aretained velocity in excess of the speed of sound (about 1,080 fps atsea level) at 500 yards, something you could not achieve with the 222 Remington. Working with Gene Stoner of Armalite, Bob Hutton designed a case slightly longer than the 222 and had Sierra make a 55-grain boattail bullet. This combination met the design requirements. All this was documented in the 1971 issue of the Guns & Ammo Annual. Originally an alternative military cartridge, the 223 ( 5.56x45mm ) is now the of?cial U.S. and NATO military round.
We should note here that NATO forces, including theUnited States, have standardized a new 5.56x45mm round with aheavy bullet and the M193 is no longer standard. Shortly after the military adopted this cartridge, Remington brought out the sporting version, which has largely replaced both the 222 Remington and Remington Magnum in popularity. Practically every manufacturer of bolt-action ri?es has at least one model chambered for the 223. In addition, there are a large number of military-type semi-auto ri?es available in this caliber. At one time, the Remington Model 760 pump-action was available in 223.
The 223 Remington is nearly identical to the 222 Remington Magnum, the only difference being that the 223 has a slightly shorter case. The two are not interchangeable, although the 223 will chamber in a 222 Magnum ri?e. The result, though, is to create a gross headspace condition, and the 223 case can rupture if ?red in the 222 Magnum chamber.
The 223 has proven to be an effective military cartridge for?ghting in jungle or forested areas and for close-in ?re support, and has been improved lately by NATO with heavier (SS109 designedby FN of Belgium) bullets ?red through fast-twist (1 in 7-inch) barrels. As a sporting round, it is just as accurate as any of the other long-range, center?re 22s. Military brass cases are sometimes heavier than commercial cases, so maximum loads should bereduced by at least 10 percent and approached cautiously. That is because the reduced case capacity results in a higher loa...