Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Adult Conversation on Guns and Other Subjects

Guns such as this will be a prime target of new regulations            
      Adult Conversation About Guns and Other Subjects

 With the tragic shooting in Newtown Ct we will have a lot of conversation about various aspects of this tragedy. Most of the conversations will do with guns and what to do about them. The reason is they are a high profile target especially for the uninformed.  Even before the bodies were cold there were shouts for gun control and gun bans. These people look for these heinous crimes always look for some incident to further their agenda. They like to wallow in the blood of the victims to further their agenda. The lamestream media are shills for the gun banning politicians and various anti-gun organizations. Their solution is to ban guns and this type of crime will go away. Their ignorance is astounding. One idiot even stated that the Bushmaster in 223 is the world’s most powerful gun. In fact the 223 is in about the bottom 15% in regards to power when compared to most rifle rounds. There are many other stupid statements by the lamestream media but they don’t want to be bothered with facts. They have the intellect of a pissant. They wouldn’t know how to report honestly if it hit them in the face.  The problem is that is nothing but nonsense and there are very few honest reporters out there. What is in the hand isn’t the problem but what is in the heart and mind. There is no evidence what so ever that shows gun laws make our society safer on the contrary areas with draconian gun laws have higher crime rates. Shooters who go into schools, shopping centers, work places and other similar places go there because they know that their victims are helpless. The shooters are cowards like most criminals and don’t want to be shot by a victim. Even the Center for Disease Control who is no friend of gun owners tried to find evidence of gun laws that work and couldn’t find any and had to admit the same. However in spite of that fact they still push more gun laws. Where is the logic.  I predict that we will be saddled with some useless gun laws sooner rather then later. I say this because Obama will sign any law that tramples on our rights. The Senate is controlled by Democrats, need I say more? While the house is controlled by Republicans that are some rinos that will cave in to the pressure to vote for more controls. After all elections come up in 2014 and they want to tell their voters that they did something about the gun problem.   Most politicians have two goals when they get elected. How much can they steal and how many times they can get re-elected? We have very few statesmen and leaders in the government but plenty of leaches. They suck at the public trowel and give little or nothing in return. Term limits would resolve that issue.  When you realize that you will understand why we will have some more gun laws. Never mind that they don’t work as the Clinton gun ban of 1994 which did nothing to make us safer.  It makes office holders feel good.  Yes the NRA and other pro-gun organizations will fight this nonsense but probably to no avail. Semi auto rifles and handguns have been around for over 100 years but school shootings just started in the 1980’s. In generations past both teachers and students brought guns to school but no one ever got shot Hmmmmmmm  !!!  By the way the worst school massacre was done in the 1920’s A handy man rigged up some explosions in the basement and blew up the school. I believe that 38 students and some teachers were killed in this act. Guns played no part in this massacre. If I wanted to get a body count I would bring in a quart or two of gas and throw it around the class. I imagine that I could wipe out the entire class room between the burning and the panic it would cause.     Could there be another reason for these shootings?  There are about 20,000 gun laws of various levels in this country. I ask how many laws do we need?  One form of insanity is trying the same thing over and expecting different results. A good example is the Clinton Gun ban. It was tried and didn’t work but it will be tried again. Millions of responsible shooters own semi-auto guns and are no danger what so ever to the public. They are used for recreational purposes such as hunting and target shooting not to mention self defense. Taking these guns away will do nothing to make us safer.

Glocks will be targeted also

 Want to hear a joke?  Obama is going to appoint Biden to be his point man on this issue. He will meet with various cabinet members who are all anti-gun. Guess what input he will get. Like everything else Biden has done it will be a travesty. I doubt that he will consult with any thinking adult.   Obama has made a statement that he believes that no one should be allowed to own any gun.  That is his ultimate goal. When he states that he respects the 2’nd amendment he is telling one of his many lies.   

45 are not liked by anti-gunners

 How about violent movies and videos?  There will be some lip service paid to them but nothing else. The problem is most of the people in this industry support the Democrats and give millions to the Democratic party so they are off limits in regards to regulations. Keep in mind that most of these producers and actors that make these violent movies are anti-gun. Is there any hypocrisy there?  I don’t know if video games cause violence but someone who plays these games all of the time could possibly be at risk to commit a violent crime. Moderation probably does no harm.

 It seems that most of these mass murders have some mental health problems. However society doesn’t do enough to address this. There is already a law against mentally disabled people owning guns. People who are crazy in many cases are very clever and can plan their crimes in detail. A mentally retarded person has a low IQ and can’t think things through and would be unable to do much planning. Some good examples of retarded people are Joe Biden and some members of congress, they can’t think of a logical solution to various problems facing our country. They are not crazy just stupid. There needs to be a better system to dealing with and helping crazy people. Locking them in prison with no treatment doesn’t solve the problem.

These handguns might be an endangered species

 OK what is the solution? Nothing is simple but we have to get rid of the gun free zones. That is where the bleeding is.  That is one of the worst ideas ever thought of. That is an invitation for mass murders who are cowards and look for soft targets. I think that we can learn a lot from Israel. They have no airplane hijackings and very few school shootings. Guess why! Everyone is armed and trained to protect themselves and school children. Teachers carry guns and anyone who is foolish enough to try and shoot up a school will be cut down in short order. To those who might be mentally challenged the meaning is that saves innocent lives.   Do we have the will to arm and train teachers and others to have guns and training on the job. Sadly I doubt it. As long as we have gutless politicians and others we will suffer these shootings and try more of the same ideas that don’t work. I wonder how many more shootings we will have before the general public wakes up?  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A sensless crime

Radio Show

As a note Kate Krugers Gun Talk Radio show is on every Sunday from 12 noon to 2 PM Arizona time. Sunday DEc 16'th there is going to be a special on handloading with my self and two giants in the industry. There will be an oppertunity  to call in and ask questions. A great show don't miss. to access the link is

Bob Shell

A Sensless Crime

Responsible Gun Use: the gap between crime and weapons
By Eve Pearce


December 1st, a provocative debate has emerged once again over the availability and use of guns in the United States. Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, fatally shot his girlfriend in their family home early Saturday morning before driving to the Chief’s practice field, when he committed suicide in the presence of his General Manager and Coach. While few lawmakers have yet to weigh in on the event, on Sunday night, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas ignited a national news frenzy when he read a portion of Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock’s article on gun use that stated that the 2nd Amendment was a threat to liberty.

Speaking out against what he labeled as an overly liberal policy, Costas enraged many people by implying that the tragic murder and suicide was only possible because Belcher has access to a gun. His comments have sparked international attention as well as further commentary by political activists such as Wayne LaPierre, the Chief Executive Officer for the National Rifle Association. LaPierre was heavily critical of Costas’ remarks and accused him of attempting to, “piggyback his social agenda on the back of a tragedy.” What’s more, his comments failed to make light of the many other issues that played into the event, leading many to determine that while a gun may have played a part in the death of two young people, it was the hand the pulled the trigger that should be blamed.

A Tragic Crime

Over the past several years, political activists and politicians alike have tended to use murders and accidents involving guns to publically declare their political opinion against the legality of such. Tragedies such as the Milwaukee shooting of August 5th had very similar political results as the one we saw just this week: within hours, gun control activists had made public statements atoning the crime to be a direct result of the availability of guns. These statements were made before the police had time to gather evidence, before the families of those involved could be properly interviewed, and long before the victims were even buried.

In many cases, it is clear why these comments are made – those that hold true to their opinions against the 2nd Amendment see fatal shootings as a unnecessary incident, convinced that if guns are illegal, violent crime will cease. However, what they fail to note are the statistics on violent crimes with alternative weapons, or even recent studies that have conclusively pointed to evidence that higher rates of gun ownership could actually reduce crime. Furthermore, the comments are typically made radically soon after the incident takes place, resulting in media injustice and calls of guilt before the police are able to adequately examine the full scope of the evidence. Unfortunately, such has been the case with the story of Belcher.

A Case of Substance Abuse?

What many have failed to note in the latest gun crime to make international headlines is that while to many Belcher appeared to be a happy, successful NFL player and loving boyfriend, there may have been other issues at play in his home life. For starters, recent research has begun to shift media attention towards the issue of head injuries within the infamously dangerous sport. Because concussions sustained during intensive physical interaction has been known to have a severe impact on mental health (a key issue at play in any sudden murder, and certainly in all cases of suicide), Belcher’s role as linebacker for the Chiefs is one that some are pointing to as a possible cause of the crime. Furthermore, while he was unknown to have an extensive history of concussions, professional football players are often known to hide head injuries from coaches in a ploy to keep themselves off the bench and on the field.

Second, there have been some suggestions that substance abuse, including prescriptions painkillers and alcohol, could have played a role in the senseless crime that was committed seemingly out of the blue. In fact, those that knew Belcher best claim that this was something far from expected, citing his tendency to give back to the community and his warm and loving attitude towards his friends and family. These suggestions can only lead to the suggestion that if Belcher’s mental capacity or reliance on controlled substances had been properly monitored, perhaps the crime may have been avoided. Perhaps the key to ending crimes such as these would be in offering better sources of (Belcher’s home state) for those at risk of turning to violence, rather than continuously debating the legality of a tool that our constitution permits.
A promising career cut short by personal issues.

Editor's note.

Rather then blame guns or the NFL let's try something new. Blame the shooter. He chose the lifestyle he was living and knew right from wrong. Also sports figures are put on a pedestal by their fans and bad behavior is often overlooked. Such mentality leads to these tragic incidents.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The New 45 Colt

                           Shooting the 45 Colt with black powder loads

      Colt 45

 The day before the SHOT show starts there is a media shoot which gives us an opportunity to handle and shoot new guns. I stop at Colt to see what they had on hand. Immediately I saw an attractive single action in 45 Colt, which is one of my favorites. Upon examining it and some shooting, I know that I had to have one to evaluate and write about. It is that nice. So I put my request in to receive one.  I have tested other Colt products including a Delta Elite in 10 mm and they always performed well, if a bit pricey.

 One thing that I want to mention is the sensgard hearing protection.  I have been using them for some years and they are my favorites. They are light and convenient plus cost is very reasonable. I would highly reccomend them. For info you can go to 

 Sometime later, it finally arrived. Upon opening, I was reminded on why I liked it so much. It is an attractive gun with a case hardened receiver while the rest of the metal parts are blue. The wood grips have the Colt medallion in gold color. The fit and finish are of high quality, which you would expect of a gun in this price range. It is a typical Colt single action with a couple of upgrades. The sights are adjustable and it has the safety to avoid one going off in case it is dropped. It holds 6 rounds of 45 Colt ammo with a 4 &  5/8 inch barrel on my sample.  Colt made the New Frontier from 1890 to 1981 so this is a reintroduction of that model. It is also known as the flat top model and is also available in 44 special and 44-40 though that might change.  According to my gauge the trigger broke at 3 Lbs. and was consistent. There was virtually no creep or mush in the trigger which is a major aid in accurate shooting. It is one of the better triggers I have encountered in a single action revolver.   There are four positions that the hammer can be placed in. The first notch locks the cylinder and may be some sort of safety second notch rotates the cylinder. Colt came out with the revolver as we know it in 1836 with the cap and ball model. It was improved until 1873 when the 45 came out in their single action which is still being produced today and is essentially the same. It is one of the most recognizable handguns ever produced.  My gun shows a patent date of 1873 in spite of it being new.

LOAD                                     BULLET                           VELOCITY                         COMMENT

12 X Herco                           200 grain Raanier       1128                                 accurate    

Ten X      black powder      250 grain lead                674                                   accurate

Ten X     smokeless            200 grain lead                648                                   mild

Winchester                         250 grain lead                796                                  consistent

36 X FFFG                            255 grain Hornady .454   715                                nice

42 X FFFG                           250 grain cast                  702                                  accurate

8 X Unique                         250 grain cast                   744                                accurate

Good accuract at 25 yards offhand Ranier bullets

 Shooting the Colt with these loads proved to be a pleasant experience as recoil was mild and accuracy is good. I shot other loads during the test and everything was accurate that showed good accuracy but they hit to different points on impact. That is in no way a fault as I tried a verity of loads including black powder. The Ten X loads shot well and if you are looking for some good cowboy loads I suggest you give them a try. For info on their line of ammo you can go to for info. Bullets used were .452 in diameter except the Hornady which is .454. That was the original diameter of the old Colts. I used Goex black powder, which gave good accuracy and consistency, but the velocities were lower than I expected.  With these light loads you can shoot all day comfortably.  Also I shot quite a few Ranier bullets as they are not lead or as expensive as conventional jacketed slugs. As always they shot very well and were accurate. I would suggest that you give them a try and you won’t be sorry. For more info on their fine products you can go to  

45 Colt with ammo. A handsome gun

  The grip is a bit small for my hand but there are plenty of aftermarket accessories to resolve that problem. With the mild loads I contemplate, shooting larger grips are not needed. If I want more powerful loads I have a Ruger and Freedom Arms to use.  At 15 yards offhand careful shooting will produce groups in the neighborhood of an inch. The action and trigger are very smooth indicating that some time was spent on the action. Everyone who shot it was favorably impressed. Since the action is essentially the same one that came out in 1873 there will no  hot loads used in this test. I have shot a 45 Colt that was made in the 1880’s and it felt very similar to this new one. The only difference was it had a longer barrel and fixed sights.  The Colt has a tendency to point naturally another plus. I would not feel that I was at a disadvantage in a home defense situation. With its point ability and large bullets it should settle an affair rather easily. Keep in mind that a self-defense shooting seldom requires more than a couple of shots. The Colt holds 6.  The original Colt was available in various calibers such as the 32-20 and 38-40 which were also available in the Winchester model 73. The 44-40 also had that option though the 45 didn’t. That is a head scratcher.    
Cylinder of 45 Colt

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see what was the size of the holes in front of the cylinder. If the holes are too small they will swage down the bullet before it enters the barrel which will have a negative effect on accuracy. I have seen that with some revolvers and their accuracy, or lack of, showed up. I found that all 6 ports measured .452 which is the correct diameter and one of the reasons for its good accuracy. I compared  the cylinder with a Ruger and a Freedom Arms model. The Colt was the smallest and lightest reinforcing my view that + P loads should be avoided in the Colt. For the life of me I can’t see beating the peacemaker with hot loads.

 I can’t think of any downside to this gun except the price.  Suggested retail starts at $1400 depending on where you buy it. That would be stiff for someone of limited means.   It is also available in 44-40 and 44 special plus different barrel lengths though that might change. I would suggest a model with both cylinders.  If I tested another one, it would be in 44-40, which is a sweet caliber making  more attractive by offering a 44 special cylinder That might not be available in the future, a shame. If you are willing to lay out the bucks, I think that you will be well pleased with this model and based on the listed criteria I would recommend it. It carries on the proud tradition of the single action Colts very well.  For more info on Colt products, you can go to for more info.



Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Shop Fire

Cleaning dies is a time consuming and dirty job
               The Fire

 Around 9:30 that fateful night I heard a commotion outside and upon seeing what was going on I saw that my shop/house was on fire and fully engulfed.  I live across the street from the shop location so I was close by.  I was stunned and attempted to go over but the firemen already on the scene stopped me. I knew that my son and grandson were there but was unaware that my step son and his daughter were over there visiting. Anyway my wife and I suffered the loss of our children and grandchildren.  Of course, that is something that you never get over. The Fire Marshall never determined what caused the fire though he determined that it started in the living room and not in the shop where the ammo was made. Of course all of the normal precautions were taken but sometimes that isn’t enough.
Handguns that were ruined in fire

 My gun collection and all of my reloading equipment were over there as well as many books and other paraphernalia that was gun related. I had many special made dies and tools as I load a lot of obsolete ammo and write about. My gun collection included many firearms that were from 100 to over 140 years old. There were quite a few modern types of firearms with scopes. None of the scopes survived as they are not meant to absorb the heat that was generated.  Since the house was totally destroyed I did not hold much hope for the contents. Of course, I had some powder, primers bullets, and other supplies for making ammo much of it for obscure calibers which turned out to be a total loss.
Model 29 44 mag survived mechanicaly but needs a major blue job

 The guns were taken off the property by the police to avoid looting regardless of their condition. They were boxed and inventoried as well as they could though many of the firearms were unknown to them because of their age. It proved to be a learning experience to them as they are not the type of weapons used in crimes.  Of course, I had a complete record of them, which I provided. Anyway, in about two weeks they released them to me, which made the evidence room clerk happy as they took up most of the space. After looking at all of those boxes, I knew that my work was just beginning. It’s a bad feeling to see the guns in such bad shape. Anyone who loves firearms knows what I am talking about.
Carcano action but stock destroyed

 After the initial shock wore off, I had some decisions to make in regards to this material. For a short period of time, I considered throwing up my hands and saying to hell with it and let everything go to the scrap yard. However due to a lot of encouragement from the shooting industry and friends I realized that quitting wasn’t an option that I could live with. The decision was made to restore the guns and other equipment as much as possible. I have been accused with some justification of having gunpowder in my veins. I cannot refute that claim. Besides golf and gardening activities are not interesting to me in the least. The decision was made not to let this put me down for keeps.

 Upon going through the rubble, we found a lot of dies and some other tooling that might be salvageable. All of the dies were covered with rust and other crud. Many of them were encased in plastic as the die boxes melted and surrounded the dies. I decided on doing what I could to fix them as many are expensive and difficult to replace. The dies that were not encased in plastic were the first project that I tackled. I wanted to get an idea of what was and wasn’t good. Since my grinder perished, I picked up a new one with several wire wheel brushes. I took each die and removed as much of the outside crud as possible, which took several minutes for each one. If I was able to remove the inside parts that was done at this time and cleaned up. I then put them in buckets of kerosene for several days to loosen up the crud on the inside. After soaking for a few days, I removed the innards and cleaned them up by using the wire brush. This included the decapping, belling and bullet seating assemblies. They cleaned up pretty well and were usable again. The insides of the dies were cleaned with a wire brush hooked to a drill. I wrapped the brush with the proper amount of steel wool, which worked well. The sizing dies were a little tougher. They required more work as the dimensions are more critical. I ran the steel wool in them until they came out shiny or I could see that they were pitted which rendered them useless for resizing. Using course, dry steel wool on a drill really worked well. I would make it a tight fit and spin until I could feel the die getting warm. After a couple of minutes, you could tell if the dies were good or not. I was able to save quite a few that way including some of the odd ones which if I had to replace would go into the three figures in dollars. I also have some bullet making dies and using the same methods were able to save many of them. Some of my one step bullet sizing dies were salvageable. Cleaning the threads and insides put them back in service. I am here to tell you that this is a very time consuming and dirty job. After the dies were restored and deemed fit for use, I had to find suitable boxes for them, which I did. I have tried some of the dies and am happy to report they work fine. The dollar savings is considerable using the restored dies as opposed to buying new ones.  The tungsten dies did fine probably because of the hard metal used. In addition, it is an insert that is relatively short and as long as it isn’t damaged your die should be fine.  One thing I learned was that I have a LOT of dies.
Die before cleaning

 The dies that had plastic in the threads required extra work. The wire brush wasn’t effective in removing it so heat was the only option. The larger pieces had to be cut up before we could do anything with them. The heat has to be carefully applied to avoid further damage to them. We found that by hammering the plastic around the dies removed it pretty well. The plastic was brittle which helped with that task. Also the plastic helped protect the dies from the elements and water, making them easier to clean.  Some of the plastic was taken off by putting the die in the vise and taking it off with a hammer and screwdriver. I only used heat when nothing else worked. One example was some dies didn’t have a stem in them and as a consequence plastic got into the threads and defied efforts to remove it. Many of the small parts were salvaged including decapping assemblies and seating stems. They just had to be cleaned up and re-installed. If the die was too badly damaged to continue service, the small parts were utilized elsewhere. You would be surprised how fast costs add up if you buy those little parts. Shell holders for the most part were salvageable.  The inside has to be cleaned so a case will fit and the bottom as well so it will go into the ram. I found that a dremel tool with a small brush is helpful. A small screwdriver and wire brushes also help with this chore. However, some have plastic from the boxes, which is very stubborn to remove without some heat applied. Most of the bullet seating assemblies and decapping rods cleaned up on the grinder. You have to make sure that the threads are well cleaned out as well as the neck expander.  The neck expander has to be well cleaned to avoid damage to the inside of the case necks.    

Cleaning shellholder 

 When doing the dry dies you should wear a mask to avoid a lungful of dust. In addition, safety glasses are necessary as there are many particles flying at high speed. If they hit your cheek, no big deal but one in the eye will certainly cause you much pain and possible permanent eye injury. Work gloves are not a bad idea either to protect a finger that might stray too close to a wire brush. You should have good ventilation to air out the shop. Kerosene isn’t real dangerous but it can catch fire if you are careless. Fire extinguishers should be close by just in case. Safety should always come first when doing this or any type of operation.    


Cases that were scorched 


 The guns are a different matter.     Some of them were burned so bad there was no doubt that they were totally destroyed. With the long guns I wanted to save as many as possible but there are a few problems with that. Virtually all of the stocks were destroyed as well as the scopes.  However, the metal on some wasn’t as bad as you would expect so there was some hope. If the receiver and barrel were exposed to excess heat then it was discarded, as there is warpage and other problems that would prevent them from being fired. Once the receiver and bolt are heated excessively they lose their temper and strength making them dangerous to fire. Even if you were able to make it fire it may come apart which would be disastrous to the shooter and bystanders. Some parts of the fire burned at about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to destroy virtually anything. I plan to shoot some of the bad guns but they will be tied to a tire with a string. We will video tape the events for further study.  If in doubt, have it checked out by someone who is familiar with these types of situations. Some of the guns were heated but not enough to destroy them however, most of the springs lost their temper, requiring replacement. That is a time consuming and tedious job not to mention the difficulty in obtaining some of them. Of course, the guns have to be taken apart and thoroughly cleaned to enhance the inspection. I have a few antique rifles that survived though the stocks were not so lucky. Trying to find replacements can be an exercise in frustration. Anyone have a stock for a 60 caliber Snider?  Some of my handguns were in a trunk so were spared the heat but not the foam and water that the fire department used. Some lost much of their bluing including an early model 29 in the box. Well now, I have a shooter.    

Ruger 45 Colt before blueing 

 Most of the brass and bullets were lost. There was some exceptions as some wasn’t exposed to the heat. I sorted through the brass to see what could be saved. If it wasn’t exposed to excessive heat it was cleaned up and used. If it is obvious that the brass was exposed to a lot of heat it was discarded. It can be dangerous to use that brass as it is weakened and could come apart in the gun. If I had any doubt it went to the scrap heap. If the bullets weren’t melted or heated out of shape they were cleaned up and used. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 bullets were lost including a lot of odd diameter slugs. As for brass probably around 10,000 were lost much of it odd stuff. The loaded ammo was a complete loss as you could imagine. The books, which included many, hard to get volumes went up in smoke.   There was a small amount of ammo that didn’t go off however it was exposed to the heat and is regarded as being unsafe to fire. The heat may have altered the powder characteristics, making it too strong to fire. The way I look at it is a gun and body parts are harder to replace then ammo.    

Ruger 45 Colt after home blueing 

 I have an assortment of presses and although they got burned It looks like I can salvage some with a lot of TLC.  Some are pricey such as the Star and a Silver Press from Corbin. Like the dies I have them soaking to remove the surface rust. After that they will be taken apart to clean up each part. If the major parts are not warped they can be saved though a lot of the small parts will need replacing.  The Silver press survived in good shape just needed to be cleaned up and remounted on the new table.  I had two Dillons but they did not survive partly due to location and the material they are made of. They are made from aluminum, which melts at lower temperatures then steel. The dies for the most part were ok as was the shell plates.  The Ammo master and Rockchucker presses should be ok. Unfortunately, the MEC shotgun presses were badly damaged. Any of the parts that survived were salvaged for further use in the future. 

Presses that were lost in fire 

 As I said I had some handguns in a trunk which essentially survived the fire but has some water and foam damage from the fire company. While not mechanically impaired they looked pretty bad. Taking them to a gun shop would be an expensive proposition so I decided to blue them myself. I have performed that operation in the past so I know what is required to do this process. For this project, Birchwood Casey products were chosen. The gun is a Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt that I have owned for some 32 years. I figured that I couldn’t hurt it though it was taken out and test fired just to make sure it is up to snuff. It was pretty grungy and had some prominent water spots and other areas where the bluing was removed.  The grunge was cleaned up first then off came the bluing. After polishing, it was thoroughly cleaned and degreased. The secret in getting good results bluing a gun is the preparation. If you leave grease on the gun your bluing will be uneven and may be off color. A smooth surface aids in getting good results.  After about three hours of labor, I had a finished product. While not a professional job it looks good and as time permits more of these guns will be done.    It is very important to remove all traces of the bluing compound and oil the gun. The reason is bluing is corrosive and you will get a lot of rust quickly by failing to follow this step.  


 The fire did some strange things such as total one gun and another nearby just got singed. A Swiss K-31 had the stock blackened but the metal is fine.  Many rounds of ammo went off but there was no casualties attributed to that as ammo outside a gun doesn’t have as much power so there were no bullets flying for miles around.   Very little of anything left the property, contrary to rumors. The one neighbor’s house suffered minor smoke damage, as there was a high wind that night blowing toward her house, which is a very short distance from mine.    I hope none of the readers ever experience this tragedy as it is beyond description in how horrible it is.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Casting VS Swaging Which One Is Best

The 9.4 Dutch requires swaged bullets to work

Casting Verses Swaging Which one is the Best

There are two ways to make bullets that the hobbyist may peruse. They are casting and swaging. Another way is some are machined from solid brass or copper but they have a narrow window of use and are seldom used in conventional hunting or shooting. The exception is the Barnes copper bullets which are catching on partly because of environmental laws. Unless you have a sophisticated lathe set up you won’t be making those soon. What then are the differences between casting and swaging? Casting is essentially melting lead or a lead mixture and pouring it in a mold. To achieve this you need a source of heat and a mold. The tools need for casting is a pot preferably an electric as it is easier to regulate but a cast iron type on a stove will work. Next are the molds you intend to use and a sizing die. Some lube and odds & ends and you have a basic set up. When you cast be sure to have good ventilation to avoid possible lead poisoning. You should also have safety goggles and gloves in case of a splatter. As for metal there are various types depending on what type of bullets you are casting. Pure lead is desirable for muzzle loading projectiles both for accuracy and ease of seating. For most knock about bullets at moderate velocities wheel weights are fine. If you happen to know someone who owns a tire shop so much the better. They are messy to work with as you have to melt off the clips and flux it but if the price is right who cares. You can harden it with a little tin which can be bought from various suppliers but it might not be cheap or necessary. When I was younger I use to dig bullets out of the dirt backstop and use them. I washed them with a hose to get as much of the dirt as possible before melting it down. If you do this be absolutely sure there is no water left or you will risk an explosion. I would spread out the bullets and let dry for a few days prior to melting. Any water dropped into a lead pot of melted lead will result in a shower of hot mix going all over the place including you. It could also start a fire so be sure there is no liquid near the pot. You can also buy alloyed metal from various suppliers but again it’s expensive and for general plinking it’s not necessary. When I cast bullets I use at least three different molds and rotate them to avoid overheating. Badly overheated molds will produce a frost on the bullets and the bases might look odd especially if you don’t let them cool enough before knocking off the sprue. When you drop the bullets out of the mold have a cloth to catch them to avoid dents as they are a bit soft until they cool completely. You can drop them directly into water from the mold and that will harden them to an extent if that’s important to you. Casting might be better for the beginner as you can start fairly cheaply. You should read up on it and take all the safety precautions I have outlined. Lyman among others produces an excellent book on casting that you would do well to read. You are working with metal that is at least 600 degrees so keep that in mind. Casting is very safe if you follow the proper procedures. You can buy a small pot, mold, sizing die and lube for a few dollars if you shop around. Let’s say you are making bullets for a 38 special. For most uses a cast bullet is fine and when done properly is very accurate. If you can get wheel weights or something similar then the cost will go down. With the price of components going through the roof casting is a viable option for any shooter. You also get the satisfaction of making your own bullets and seeing them perform. As you progress you will pick up more molds and sophisticated equipment though you don’t need some of the stuff right away. You might want to start small to see if you like it and if so you can go from there. Casting low velocity rifle bullets will save you a lot of money and can be used for general target practice. I have also shot some small game with them and they are effective without destroying a lot of meat. Since you use less powder they are easier on the ears and pocketbook as powder cost more then the best steak Lb for Lb. Also since they operate at lower pressures you can use older cases and it easier on the gun. Cast bullets of larger calibers are very effective on large and dangerous game. If anyone doubts that I have a picture of a 1200 Lb grizzly that was taken down with one shot from a 444 Marlin. The bullet was a 325 grain LBT type that I loaded for this hunter. His buddy also shot a grizzly with a 45-70 loaded with a 400 grain LBT bullet and like the other bear one shot did it. A good friend of mine shot a bison weighing about a ton with one shot from a 45-120 with a 520 grain bullet launched at 1600 fps. Keep in mind that cast bullets and black powder guns just about killed all the bison by the 1880’s. Someone might wonder why large caliber cast bullets are so effective in spite of their pedestrian velocities. Since they are traveling relatively slow they don’t upset or come apart as a high velocity bullet might. The more resistance a bullet meets the more likely it will change shape in an animal. The other thing is they are large calibers so they put a big hole into something in spite of little or no expansion and they generally penetrate very deep which enables them to contact and destroy more tissue and organs. They also break bones quite readily. The military guns made from the 1860’s to the 1880’s use large caliber lead bullets and they work quite well. If you are unfortunate enough to step in front of one even today you are in for a world of hurt. They typically run from 40 to 50 caliber, weigh from 3 to 500 grains and are launched from about 12 to 1500 FPS. Cowboy shooters by their rules have to use cast bullets at black powder velocities and I don’t think that they feel handicapped in any way. Since they shoot against a clock they are loaded light for controllability. A cast bullet can be loaded to lower velocities then a jacketed one. You can load a cast bullet down to 600 fps or even a little less but doing that with a jacketed bullet is dicey at best.

44 Russian bullets can be swaged down to .422 for a 10.4 Bodero pistol

 There are some military rifle matches that require cast bullets and military guns of the day. I have found that most military rifles such as the 30-40 Krag, 303 British and the 8 X 57 among others take to cast bullets like a duck to water. For the record I recently completed a test on the new Winchester model 70 in 7 mm-08 and it shot two types of cast bullets quite well. Years ago I use to shoot matches with a 38 special. I used a 10 cavity Hensley & Gibbs 125 grain SWC mold. With 4.5 X 231 I obtained accuracy that will equal any jacketed bullet on the market. For the type of shooting I was doing I gave a perfect combination between accuracy, velocity and controllability. I have a 10.4 Italian rifle that was converted to the 6.5 Carcano around WWl. Those conversions are not safe to shoot with full power loads but a 140 grain cast ahead of 5 grains of Red Dot is perfectly safe to shoot in this firearm. You can use a slightly oversize cast bullet to slug a bore but don’t even think of using a jacketed bullet for that task. If you try it you will quickly see the downside of that stunt. I know a guy that had a jacketed bullet stuck in his barrel due to a freak accident. He used a rod to pound it out but only got the core leaving the jacket in. Ah what to do? Nothing he tried would remove it. Finally I made a couple of blanks and they did the job. I don’t recommend that procedure but it worked without harming the barrel that time. A stuck cast bullet would have been much easier to remove. If you lube the bullet and barrel it will make it easier to push through. What are the advantages to using lead verses jacketed bullets? The most obvious advantage is price. With the cost of components going through the roof any dime you save is a good thing. For virtually all handgun practice cast bullets will more then suffice. At the velocities that they are launched leading shouldn’t be a problem. If it is there is either a rough bore or the bullet quality is suspect. Either its way too soft or improperly lubed. An undersize bullet will also perform poorly. I have shot tens of thousands of cast in many handguns and almost without exception obtain good to excellent accuracy and the bore doesn’t lead. Even in my 9 mm and 45 auto they perform well including feeding. If I am concerned about feeding in an auto I tumble the loaded ammo in a rotor type of tumbler with torn up newspaper. It polishes the bullets and they feed like greased lightning. They even work in my Broomhandle. In rifles they work as long as I don’t push the velocity too high. Depending on the individual rifle and bullet I have gone up to about 2200 with good accuracy but that isn’t true in all cases. I cast them a little harder then the handgun types as the velocity is somewhat higher. In calibers from the 30-30 to a 300 magnum accuracy at 50 to 100 yards can be excellent almost equaling jacketed bullets just slower. I usually keep them from 1100 to 1500 FPS for best results. I have shot them in everything from a 22 Hornet to a 45-120 with good results. The small calibers are a bit more finicky then the big stuff but a little patience can pay off. They are excellent small game and varmint loads as they don’t destroy much meat and are less noisy. Another advantage of casting bullets is you will always be able to make them as long as you have lead.

Cast bullets can be effective as hunting big game

 Jacketed bullets are sometimes hard to get as there is a heavy demand on them at this time. I sometimes have to wait a couple of months or more to get some of the bullets I need. In many of the old guns that I shoot a cast bullet is the only practical projectile as the steels are softer then newer barrels so jacketed bullet would quickly wear them out. One thing about cast bullets is whatever the mold shape is that will be your bullet. There’s no way you can change the shape though you can order a custom mold. You can also experiment with hardness and various lubes plus some sizing. Especially with the larger calibers I like the bullet to be .001-.002 larger then the bore as that tends to increase accuracy. I shoot many of the older military rifles and I am always gaining respect for them after observing the power and accuracy they can produce. After extolling the virtues of cast bullets, and there are many, in the interest of full disclosure I don’t cast all of my bullets anymore. Time is one of the reasons that I buy many from commercial casters especially the common bullets I use. They have a good quality product and the prices are reasonable and I buy several thousand at a time. Some of them are delivered to the shop which is a big plus for me. I still cast my muzzle loading slugs as I can’t find them in a good quality plus most of my rifle bullets and odd ball slugs. Casting is a messy and time consuming chore and it doesn’t fascinate me like it used to. It is however a worthwhile project to peruse and you can learn a lot about bullets and yourself perusing it. In fact there might be a business opportunity for you if you don’t mind the investment, work and the heavy lifting.

Core mold can be adjusted for weight

     Swaging a bullet is forming it under pressure as opposed to heat used in casting. You can take a lump of lead and form it into a bullet by putting it in a die and pressure forming it. That is a very basic way of swaging but it’s still done. You can buy swaged bullets from a couple of the bullet makers such as Speer and Hornady. They work at lower velocities but push them too hard and you will be spending some time getting the lead out of your bore. Hornady makes one of my favorites. It is a 45 caliber 250 grain sized to 454 which works very well in a black powder Colt. They make various 32 and 38 caliber bullets the work ok in a verity of applications. I like the Hornady 32 caliber wad cutter in the 7.62 Nagant revolver. At the velocities I use it is accurate for that gun. I take the Speer 148 grain HB WC and swage it up to a 44 or 45 with a zinc washer attached to the rear which is supposed to help cut down on the leading. In all honesty it has limited effectiveness unless you keep the velocities down. They are however accurate in those parameters. You can use a heavier piece of lead but it will require more effort to form. Also do not use hard lead as it will be very difficult to swage the washer on as the lead has to extrude through the hole in the center to hold it on to the bullet.

Bullets for 41 A & E were made from bumped up 40 calibers
  There are various types of swaging involving everything from a simple one step die to investing over a thousand dollars for a one caliber set up. If you want to try and make your own bullets by all means give it a try. I would start with basic equipment so if you decide it isn’t for you then you won’t be out a lot of cash. If you want to make your own jacketed bullets CH tool & die is a good place to start. They have dies for a basic 30 caliber plinker and handgun dies from 38 to 45 is their website for further info. The prices are reasonable and you can use a standard heavy duty press. They sometimes have jackets but Corbin is usually a better source. Surprisingly Sierra bullets carry a few jackets also. All you need then is a way to make or get cores. The cores need to be consistent in weight in order to have a quality product. They can be a couple of grain over as the excess will bleed out during the swaging process. The CH dies are a two die set and can make either a hollow point or a flat/round nose depending on how you set the die. Keep in mind that the jackets are usually 3 to 4 thousands undersize so when you set the first die it has to be set down enough to seat the core and expand the jacket. After you make one mike it and adjust accordingly. Do not over do it as it might be difficult to extract from the die. To finish just set the die as to the shape you want and you are done. With a little practice you can make a quality bullet that will shoot well.

Bullet molds aluminum L. and iron

 You can make some that are not available such as a shot filled bullet where you compress the shot and form the jacket. It makes one hell of a varmint load as they are lighter then standard and can be driven to some heady velocities. That is just one area you can experiment. You can make bullets similar to the ones made by the commercial manufactures but to me that’s a waste of time. The idea at in my view is to come up with something novel that will work at what it was designed to do. One example that I make is a 170 grain 44 caliber hollow point. For the core I use a 148 grain wad cutter that is pure lead and a half jacket. I form the ogive so no lead touches the bore. That way I can use it in my 44 Bulldog at 7 or 800 feet per second and get expansion or in my 444 Marlin at 2700 FPS. It works well either way and is easy to make. If you make revolver bullets then you need a cannelure for best results especially with heavy loads. Either the CH or Corbin cannelure tool works fine and has a reasonable price tag. Is it worth it? It does take time to make your own bullets so you have to factor that in also. That is something you will have to decide but you will learn a lot about bullets by making your own so that is a thought.

300 grain 44 bullet & components used to make it

If you decide to make you own serious rifle bullet so be prepared to plunk down some big bucks. Rifle bullets frequently require more pressure to form so a special press and dies are required. I would guess that you would need about 1-K to get a basic set up that would give you about everything needed to start. I strongly suggest that you read up on it before trying it out. Improper procedures and settings will cause a lot of headaches and broken parts. Corbin supplies a lot of info on how to design and make your own bullets and you would do well to obtain some prior to any attempts to make bullets. If you buy more sophisticated equipment then the tariff is going to go up considerably. A basic two die set will run you over two hundred but if you buy a 5 die set that can put a boat tail on a bullet then it going to be much higher. A heavy duty press will cost several hundred dollars but for the larger rifle bullets it’s a necessity. Another factor is you really need to be detail orientated and have a lot of time to make this work for you. Can you make good bullets this way? Absolutely! I have made quite a few 30 caliber hunting bullets and they work well and are accurate. Can you make a better bullet then the commercial makers? In all honesty probably not as there are a lot of good bullets out there so making a better one would be difficult. However you might come up with an original design or find a niche in the market in case you want to make back some of your investment. If you really want to go all the way you can buy jacket making machinery. That way you can make your jackets as thick, thin or as long as you want them. Here again money is an issue as well as a place to set up the equipment. If you want equipment that will make many bullets an hour Corbin also has that but you will need a second mortgage on your house. They have dies to make jackets out of fired 22 rimfire shells plus all the gizmos and gadgets that you will need and some that you won’t. They have all the fluids and software and you should visit their website to get all the info before making a commitment. Another type of swaging is reducing a bullets diameter to something that you can use. Normally it is used to make a bullet that isn’t readily available. A one die set is normal plus a heavy duty press. You can do this with either lead or jacketed bullets. Dies can be obtained from CH, Corbin or Lee. If you know a machinist he can also make custom sizes. Since I shoot a lot of odd ball guns I use this method a lot. For instance I have a 9.4 Dutch revolver. The bullet diameter is .380 which isn’t available anywhere as far as I know. I could have ordered a custom mold at big bucks plus a long weight which I wasn’t willing to do. I eventually figured out that I could reduce 40 caliber bullets down to 380 with just a reducing die. It sounds like a lot by reducing .02 but they shoot and work well. Accuracy for this gun at 7 yards is about 2 to 3” which isn’t bad for such a little gun with a crummy trigger and sights. Without this method of making bullets I couldn’t shoot it which would be sacrilege in my view. I have done that with the 8 mm Lebel revolver by reducing a 9 mm bullet down to 330. Sounds like a lot of reducing but they produce very good accuracy.

41 & 44 half jacket bullets. Lighter then normal and they expand

 I wanted to make some some 38-40 ammo for a test.  Specifically requested something other then sissy cowboy ammo. I took a 41 mag 180 grain and swaged it down to 401 for him and loaded them up to about 900 FPS which was about all I wanted to go in the old Colt he was using. They worked out well  I make a lot of my 351 WSL bullets this way. I can make them from 115 to 200 grains and expect good results. I even swage 416 – 400 grain bullets to shoot in my 405. It is a heavy duty job but they work well and put the 405 into a serious big game rifle with that heavy slug. Honesty compels me to state that shooting them at 2000 FPS in my TC Encore isn’t much fun. Off weight bullets for the 348 such as a 180 or 250 grain can be made from 35 caliber rifle bullets. I suppose you could make some from 38 bullets for plinking or small game. Anytime you swage jacketed bullets down be sure to use a good lube or you will have a problem. I use the Hornady wax lube which works well for me but there are others. I have made bullets for the 8 X 56R, 9.3 X 72 and the 333 OKH by this method among many others. In many instances it is the difference in shooting and not shooting a gun. Not shooting an old gun is an option that I am not the least bit interested in. In some cases you can over do it especially with the smaller calibers from 30 on down. You can make 7.35 Carcano out of 30 caliber bullets but it is difficult depending on the bullet you use. Some of then require so much effort that the base is deformed and/or some of the lead might be extruded out the point. Either problem can destroy accuracy and make the bullet look funny. If you do that operation you will have to experiment with various bullets to see which one works for you. Good lube is a must! Smaller calibers then the 30 aren’t worth the effort and seldom turn out ok. Like any other ammo or bullet making operation some refinement of your technique may be required. However due to less effort 30 caliber cast bullets work fine in the Carcano via swaging to .300.

Good heavy duty cast hunting bullets

  There are other types of swaging one of which is putting a zinc or copper base on a bullet to cut down on the leading. There was a company, Sportflite, that used to offer dies and washers for that task but I don’t think that they are still around. I have some of their dies and washers and they work fairly well but not so good at high velocities. The bullet has to be soft so the lead will extrude through the hole and hold the washer in place. Corbin offers a similar set up but they use copper washers. To be honest I don’t think that either is worth the trouble. However at lower velocities they are accurate. Occasionally you might need to bump up a bullet in diameter. The one that I am doing now is I take a 40 caliber 180 grain and bump it to a 41. It is very easy by putting in the CH 41 finishing die and setting it properly. It makes a nice 41 HP which can be used in the 41 A & E or the 41 magnum. If I put in the flat base stem in makes a nice target bullet in the 41 magnum. I also bump up a 38 wadcutter to 44 to make a nifty 148 grain bullet for the 44 British Bulldog. There are a few instances where you can use an empty case as a bullet jacket. One example is a 40 S & W or 10 mm case can be used to make a jacket for a 44 magnum bullet. If you do this be sure to thoroughly anneal the case so you can work it. Don’t mix them up with your shooting brass to do so would be courting disaster. There are a few others and the jacket would be pretty tough and I doubt that you will get a lot of expansion under most circumstances. I have made some 44’s which weigh 305 grains. Although they look funny they work fine for what they are meant to do. If you want a heavier bullet you can use a 10 mm case but it will require more muscle to make it. I make a neat 35 caliber bullet weighing 235 grains using a 30 carbine case as a jacket. There are other bullets that can be made from spent cases just use one that is as close as possible to the finished diameter of the finished bullet. A possibility is a 45 auto case used to make a 475 diameter bullet for the 475 Wildey or Linebaugh. I would avoid rimmed cases unless you want to remove the rim first which is another step.

These bullets are designed to be shot either forward or backwords

Saturday, October 13, 2012

30 Harrett

Shooting the 30 Harrett The 30 Harrett There are many wildcats made for the TC handguns as being a single shot it lends itself for many offerings. Length and power are not limited in most cases. It just depends on how much recoil and muzzle blast you are willing to put up with. Some of them are ridiculous in regards to size compared to barrel length. I know of one fellow that has one in the 416 Rigby which to me is total insanity. I am not big on wildcats however one of the better ones in regards to balance and power is the 30 Harrett. It gives a good balance between power and controllability. It has enough power for most hunting situations it should be involved in without punishing recoil. I am not particularly recoil sensitive but like most folks I have limits. The Harrett is accurate and powerful enough for some deer hunting and would be a good varmint round. You can load bullets as light as 60 grains which would work well on varmints and pests. A good 130 to 150 grain bullet should work on deer. Barnes makes a nice 130 which should do the trick. There is a 357 Harrett that is also based on the 30-30 case but is longer and more powerful. The 30 Harrett came out in 1972 designed by Steve Harrett the stock maker and the late gun writer Bob Milek made for the Contender pistol. It can fire a 150 grain bullet at about 2100 feet per second while a 125 can go over 2200 with a long barrel. It can be used for deer but is less powerful then the 30-30 rifle so skill is needed for successful hunting. Shot placement is vitally important to insure the success of your hunt. Some people over look that and concentrate on either excess power or firepower to bring down a game animal. The first shot is always the most important and if you blow that you might not get a second chance. I don’t consider it a long range hunting gun as it doesn’t have a lot of velocity to begin with. Those loads listed are about all you can realistically expect from it with a 10” barrel. I don’t recommend exceeding any listed max loads but that’s true with any gun. The TC is a strong gun but it does have it’s limits.
30 Harrett is made from a 30-30 Poor shot placement doesn’t bring down game animals even with powerful rounds. That’s why mild recoiling rounds are sometimes better then something that beats you up. I have seen more then a few hunters that were afraid of their weapon due to recoil but had too much pride to admit it. Shooting and hunting should be about fun not how much punishment you want or are willing to take. Ammo is not available commercially except for small specialized reloading businesses but brass can easily be made from 30-30 brass. Just shorten to 1.6 inches and full length size. With some brass it is advisable to check neck thickness though that’s not generally a problem. Most chambers are tight so full length sizing is necessary. Dies are fairly easy to get, my set is from RCBS and they work fine. By the way it has a case capacity similar to the 7.62 X 39 round though they have different shapes. In a same length barrel ballistics would be very similar. Any 308 diameter bullet can be used from 60 to 150 grains. Cast bullets will also work ok Anything heavier wouldn’t have enough velocity to produce useful results. Cast bullets, which are often overlooked, also will work fine as would reduced loads. Accuracy can be splendid and cast bullets are generally cheaper to buy or you can cast your own. You can reduce the velocity of lead bullets for general plinking. Some of the newer bullets such as the Barnes X type of bullets in the 130 grain range should work very well in the Harrett. Shooting the 30 Harrett isn’t too bad as far as recoil is concerned though with the 150’s you know that you are shooting something. It does have some muzzle blast but no worse then many other high intensity calibers. Ear protection is mandatory unless you want some ringing afterwards. My pistol has a 10 inch barrel which is fairly handy and I wouldn’t want a shorter barrel in this caliber. Actually I wish it was 12” but it is what it is. The 10” barrel does reduce velocity somewhat as opposed to a 15”. My guess with the 150 grain is you would lose around 150 feet per second. While the TC with proper grips will handle many calibers I don’t ever intend to fire something along the lines of the 416 Rigby thank you. Here are a few loads for the Harrett LOAD BULLET VELOCITY COMMENT 21 X 2400 110 grain round nose 2119 consistent 21.5 X 296 123 grain spitzer 2077 very good 28 X IMR 4198 123 grain spitzer 2119 good load 25.5 X RL 7 150 grain round nose 1851 consistent 25 X IMR 4198 150 grain round nose 1847 good load My chamber is very tight so I had to shave a couple of thousands off the shell holder in order for all the ammo to chamber and fire. Once that was done I had no problems with the ammo. With the proper ammo it makes a nice compact hunting package.