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Hammer spray?

Posted by on September 2, 2008

What do you guys think of spraying hammer finish paint on a rifle barrel instead of the traditional blueing job?

Bloody horrible, Brett, but I’m a traditionalist. If you want to paint itfor convenience there are various paint on/bake on finishes available in theUS as I’m sure you know. Try Brownells. There was a dark grey almostblack finish that baked on at 200C used in SA. Name of it escapes me rightnow but I’ll check. Finish is a non-reflective semi matt sheen, quitenice.Cost of a blueing set up plus salts for one gun is quite high but notnecessarily prohibitive. A rifle barrel on it’s own can be blued in a slimtank, not more than 75 wide x 100 deep. A piece of thin wall channel withends welded would do fine, and cheaper than getting one made up from sheetsteel. If you can make one from sheet so much the better. A single gasheat source should be enough but a double electric hot plate will do nicelyfor not much more than R100. Of course you need two tanks thus two heatsources, so it does cost something. Last time I bought blueing salt it costR200 per can, and that’s more than you need for one barrel.Of course it’s more viable for more than one gun and more viable forhandguns, not so much because of smaller tanks as because a single burner isenough while barreled actions need long tanks and usually more than oneburner. Blueing is a service not widely available at a cost typically R600last time I asked. I used to reckon that an individual could put togethera very simple set up for that money and that it would definitely be worthdoing his own for two guns. The learning experience alone is worth it.I use my primitive blueing set up for blueing jigs and tools that I make.I learned so much polishing and blueing a few guns that wasn’t in any of thebooks that I started writing my own book, but abandoned it when I realisedthere’s no market. If you feel like giving it a go I’ll send you what Ihave. It’s easy, it’s the little hitches and glitches that cause theheadaches. You just need to know what those are.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Cleaning Cases

Posted by on August 29, 2008

We all like our brass to be nice and shiny, don’t we ?   I’ve never had a tumbler and don’t feel like buying one now I’m on the downside of my shootiing life.  It’s not a problem with rifle cases because they are easy to polish by hand and it doesn’t need doing more often than every tenth use or even more.  9mm cases are more of a problem as more of ‘em are used and being small cleaning by hand is not an option.   I’ve had respectable results with a proprietory cleaner, RG I think.  The cases are nothing like as bright as tumbling but are at least clean and not too dark in colour.The NRA investigated a few years ago.  The arsenals wash brass in warm 4% sulfuric acid but that has some minor problems for small scale amateur use.  Various things like salt and vinegar solution and tartaric acid work reasonably but the cases tarnish afterwards.  Frankford Arsenal said that citric acid works quite well without significant tarnishing.  The NRA confirmed it and said that the cases don’t look like new cases or tumbled cases but are clean and bright.So I got some citric acid from my local pharmacy.  It comes in little white granules about one or two mm diameter and disolves easily in warm water.  Dirt cheap, about R15 per kg.  Solution is 5% or more in hard water.  15 minutes is enough pickling time.   It cleans the cases thoroughly but does not leave them bright as the NRA said.  It leaves them similar to the proprietory case cleaner, perhaps slightly duller.   I’d describe them as very clean but very dull, no brightness at all.   I’m happy with rthat for handgun brass.I don’t mind cleaning rifle cases the hard way.  I recently cleaned a batch of military brass that was dark brown almost black in colour.  I use a short length of wood dowel sanded to a close fit in the case neck, chucked in an electric drill gripped in my bench vise.  The wood dowel is slit down the middle with a hacksaw.  That allows it to be shiimed in the slit and thus maintain a tight fit for fifty cases before a new dowel is needed.  It takes only a few seconds of application of steel wool that you get at the supermarket to get a polished finish.  If the steel wool is applied lightly the finish is very like new brass but somewhat more yellow.  If applied more aggressively it polishes smoother more like a tumbled finish.  I found I could do about 60 per hour.  I don’t mind spending two hours polishing 100 cases, when I won’t need to do it again until I’ve fired 1000 rounds or more.In between polishing rifle cases don’t need much cleaning.  With light cast loads the necks get black from gas blow back but that cleans off in seconds with paint thinner.  Every five uses I’ll wash them in hot soapy water and pickle in the citric acid.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Rimfire bullet jackets

Posted by on August 27, 2008

We are all familiar with using fired rimfire cases as 224 bullet jackets.  They can also be used for 6mm/243 jackets.  My buddy Richard B showed me some loaded 243 ammo with such bullets and a separate bullet.  The final point forming operation is don in a professionally made die but the drawing and core seating operations are done in dies he made.  He intends to make a point forming die when he can find the time as it is painstaking work.  The bullets are beautiful, FMJ with the base exposed rather than the tip.  They are semi spitzer style.  The headstamp has disappeared completely and the striker imprint is barely visible.  They are only 75 grain which is about the heaviest that can be made with rimfire jackets.   I had the idea, based on nothing, that a 75 grain 243 bullet would be very short, but these are 18mm long and nicely proportioned.Rimfire jackets are thin and expand explosively on game so can’t be used for hunting.  While I’m not too clear on the point, I seem to recall that they can disintegrate in flight above 3000FPS because of high centrifugal force.  They are really a 2600FPS proposition and a range only proposition, but are ideal and very cheap for that purpose.  The 243 case is really too big, the 6 x 45 would be ideal.   Its a pity that they are so slow to make and the tooling so expensive.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Alox/Beeswax Bullet Lubricant

Posted by on August 14, 2008

I’ve mentioned before that I have about 10kg of Alox 2138F but nobody wants it.  I think Peter M is right that shooters are prepared to pay R50 per stick ( R1250 per kg ) rather than make the derisory effort of melting and mixing and pouring hot into their lubrisizers at a fraction of the cost.  The other day I mentioned it to a guy who casts his own and he was unaware that it could be melted and also clearly uninterested in considering it.So I made some rudimentary tools and made up some into hollow sticks.  Worked quite well, not that it’s difficult, but I found that for mass production some heat needs to be applied to the tooling, otherwise the stuff sticks too hard to the inside of the steel tube and won’t come out without breaking up.  Nonetheless it was successful enough that I might improve the tooling and make more of it so I can make a lot of the sticks per session.Officially the sticks are supposed to be 1″ x 4″ ( 25.40 x 102mm ) but I could get steel tube only in 28mm bore so my sticks are 28mm diameter.  I found that they fit easily into both RCBS and Lyman lubricators.  I used 10mm rod for the hole.  As my sticks are thicker they are also heavier, so to make 40 grammes they should be shorter than 100mm, but I figure they will look undersize so I left them just over 100mm.  They weigh 48 grammes so are 20% bigger than Lee or Hodgdon.I have wrapped them in greaseproof paper and a self stick label.  You need to sell thousands of ‘em to make it worthwhile to make those nice little boxes like RCBS or the plastic tubes like Lee.   Haven’t checked postage yet but I expect that it will not be economic for less than five or ten sticks.  If anyone wants them I’ll offer them at R20 per stick plus postage.  It is exactly the same product as Lee ie 50% Alox 2138F and 50% Commercial beeswax.Haven’t decided whether to offer it to the trade.  My gut feel is that there will be no interest even from the dealers who already stock Lee, RCBS and Hodgdon.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Cast Rifle Bullets

Posted by on August 3, 2008

I fired a good few cast rifle bullets in the past, but not recently.   They were all gas checked.   I have intended for years to test plain base because of the high cost of gas checks but just never got to it.  I fired 25 on Saturday in a 308 Win Sako in front of 10 grains of MP200.  The sole and only purpose at this point was to test for leading.  Don’t know what the velocity is as don’t have access to a chrono right now.  As the trial progresses I’ll find some kind soul who’ll chrono them but only when I’ve workedout what works best.  That includes seating depth, rifling contact and all sorts of other factors.  Might even have to modify a mould.  The nearest guide to MV is Lyman’s for Unique, which tells me I’m in the 1300-1400FPS area.  As that’s the velocity that gets one hole 200 yard groups in Schuetzen shooting I reckon that’s where I need to be.So what’s it about ?  I haven’t hunted for years, probably never will again, not because of objection to it but because it’s a low priority and I don’t get thre high priority things done.  I don’t shoot any kind of formal rifle comp either.  I just want to enjoy my rifle occasionally on my local rangle ( convenient and familiar ) which is max 50 metres.  Not much point in sending jacketed spitzers down a 50m range at 2500FPS not to mention the cost.  But rimfire is boring.  I like handloading, especially cast rifle loads which are an extra challenge.  What’s needed is an economical load with low recoil and muzzle report.  But it’s no fun if it’s not accurate.  That will be the second stage of development.For the time being this first plain base trial went quite well.  It is a Lee 180 grain bullet that actually weighs 172 grains with 8% antimony and no gas check.  I fired 25 rounds.  No leading was visually apparent.   I started cleaning with a patch rather than a brush because I wanted to see what would come out on the patch.  Practically nothing.  All I could see was a dozen or so tiny particles of lead much smaller than grains of suger.  Of course leading mostly takes the form of streaks in the grooves that tend not to come off on a patch.  So then I scrubbed out the bore with a bronze brush.  Couldn’t find any sign of lead.  The difficulty with visual inspection is that the leade is a long way to see because of the action and chamber, so the fact that I got minimal lead on the patch and can’t see any visually doesn’t mean there isn’t any.  eally needs a bore scope to check.  But on the evidence the leading was pretty much zero.Of course 25 rounds isn’t much so a longer test will be needed.  Will also push the velocity a bit further to establish the practical limit.  A bit more antimony will help, maybe 10%, and a special rifle lube might help as well.  All will be tested in time.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Bullet Lube

Posted by on July 30, 2008

I’ve mentioned the cost of bullet lube before. Recently I needed an alox hollow stick for photography ( don’t ask, I’ll tell you later ). City Guns has some at R50 per stick !! I’ve measured the consumption of alox/beeswax at about 1500 x 9mm bullets per stick. That’s 3 cents per bullet. I would’ve thought that those who cast their own mostly do so for economy. We can’t do much about the high cost of scrap lead and new antimony which make the alloy cost about 18 cents for a 9mm bullet, but another 3 cents for lube is outrageous.I would’ve thought the same product for a fraction of the price would have been welcome. Surprisingly, no. I still have 10kg of Alox 2138F. When I offered it for R250 per kg on two occasions I got just one response on each occasion. Beeswax costs R120 per kg in Cape Town. A 50/50 mix would therefore be R185. As 1kg lubes 40 000 x 9mm bullets that’d be half a cent per bullet.I can only conclude that few shooters need to save money. At least not if there is the minor inconvenience of melting the lube and pouring into the lubrisizer hot. Or maybe R1250 per kg is OK if it comes in a branded package but R185 isn’t because it doesn’t. Anyhow, I’m thinking of making my 10kg of 2138F into 500 sticks and seeing if I can sell it in the trade. But the only attraction to the trade will be a much lower price than the Lee and Hodgdon products, so it will not be cheaper to shooters.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Scope Selection&Fitting

Posted by on April 27, 2008

I have soap boxed before about poor choice of scopes, in particular making sure they can be fitted to the rifle. Thirty years ago most scopes had 32mm objectives and there was no problem fitting them to pretty much any rifle. Soon after that 40mm objectives appeared and soon became dominant. Now 44mm is common and we see even 55mm occasionally. But the nominal diameter of the objective is not the whole story. My old Nikko Stirling 3-9×40 is 48mm dia at the objective but a newer Nikko 3-9×42 is 58mm despite the objective being only 2mm bigger.So what, you might ask ? There are two common effects. First, the scope can’t be fitted because the objective fouls the barrel or the back sight. That would be taken care of by higher rings, and I choose rings high enough for the job where I am fitting a scope from scratch. But many of the scopes I fit are upgrades from cheaper scopes so the rings are already on the rifle. As it is traditional to use the lowest possible rings they are often too low for the new scope.The second problem can’t be solved by higher rings. Most scopes are variable. All else being equal variable scopes have shorter tubes than fixed scopes because part of the tube is occupied by the adjustment ring. The result is that many scopes barely fit between the rings. It is worse with the big objectives because the objective bell is longer and the tube shorter. It is a common problem.Yesterday I fitted a Swarovski Habicht 3-10x42A scope to a rifle on an FN 98 action. The old scope was a Tasco 4×40 in Millet bases and rings. These are the same as Redfield, Burris and Leupold rotary locking bases and rings. The objective clears the barrel by just enough to pass a business card, but the ocular lens is so big that the bolt can’t be inserted into the action. They are low rings so the problem will be solved by higher rings at the owner’s expense. Tube length is only 138mm and the scope fits between the rings with no fore and aft movement to set proper eye relief. Extension rings will be needed to fix that.You might say that those are easy problems to fix. Indeed, but why are owners so ignorant that they can’t figure it out when they buy the scope ? More to the point, why don’t the camera shops that sell the scopes tell the customer ? Because they don’t know, that’s why. They sell expesive scopes about which they know nothing and which they don’t know how to fit to the rifle even if they could legally have the rifle in their possession. I’m not desperate for the peanuts I earn from fitting scopes and I wouldn’t fit scopes I haven’t sold on principle. I do it because my boss says so.That doesn’t mean I object to camera shops selling scopes. As a free marketeer I accept the right of anyone to sell what he or she likes, and the right of customers to buy from whomever they like. My point is that it makes no sense to buy expensive scopes from people who know nothing about them, then expect those with the expertise to fit them, and in many cases complain about the modest fitting charge after having given the real profit to the camera shop. It takes me at least two hours to fit a scope properly, sometimes as much as four hours if I hit glitches. We charge R300. I’m thinking we should charge R500. After all, we are doing the real work.As a side issue I’ve said before that rings are never properly aligned unless they are worked on to make them so. In fact I’ve never found a pair that was straight before I made them so. This pair wasn’t straight either. But more interesting was that they were lined with a layer of some sort of plastic adhesive tape. Can’t imagine why unless the guy who fitted the first scope figured he needed to do that for some obscure reason. Whatever the reason, there’s no substitute for precise ring alignment and concentricity, which is itself a good reason to buy scopes from those who know what they are doing.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Range Safety

Posted by on April 27, 2008

We all think of range safety in terms of safe gun handling, and indeed that is where the main risk lies. But there are other risks. I don’t know whether a range has ever been attacked by crooks to get some free guns, but in the present scenario the risk can’t be dismissed. All it needs is half a dozen gremlins with serious weapons to attack when shooters are at the targets and guns all empty, especially if they are prepared to shoot the RO and SO out of hand which is also not unlikely.Anyhow, it was discussed at a recent meeting of Somerset West Pistol Club, as part of regular discussion of safety in general. It was agreed that, while we shouldn’t get paranoid about it, the risk exists and we should take reasonable measures to minimise it. When I am on SO duty, I periodically take a look around the outside of the range to see what and who is there, also so that anyone who might be casing the range will see that we are not unaware of it and might not easily be taken by surprise. That is of course a small thing, and is my personal first effort at improving my own performance in that regard. Access control is another thing that is being looked at. We are also considering that shooters should carry their guns to the targets not leave them on the bench for easy taking, but that has not yet been decided. I am considering keeping my loaded SMLE slung over my shoulder while on SO duty, as a more effective weapon against armed attackers.Our range is enclosed on all four sides. At the back is a high brick wall right up to the roof over the firing line. It is about 4m high. It is parallel to the firing line and about 6m behind. It is about 4m behind my back as I patrol the length of the line watching for problems the RO might not see. It has a couple of openings for ventilation just below roof level. I’d like to close those but I have not considered them a serious enough problem to push it. Imagine my surprise when I arrived for duty yesterday to find a big hole in that wall with a double steel gate through which anyone can backshoot the SO at a range no more than 6m at any point. The reason is to provide direct access from the range to the braai area, and it was apparently agreed upon by all the committee except my buddy Richard Bowman. Lemme tell you it feels real exposed concentrating on the activities on the firing line with my back exposed to that hole, and I have kicked up a big fuss about it. The worst of it is the rank stupidity of people I thought knew better, and whom I will not be able to take seriously in future.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Bolts for Safes

Posted by on April 27, 2008

Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Too often in my case I guess. I recently mentioned that rawlbolts are not always the best choice and that coach bolts are often better. Somebody, might have been Peter Moss, asked what coach bolts are. Can’t remember whether I explained, so here goes. Put at it’s simplest a coach bolt looks like a big Fischer plug. But it is more than that. Most plastic plugs are just that, plastic, which perishes over time. For long life you need nylon plugs which don’t perish. The bolt is really a big wood screw but has a hex head. An 8mm screw fits a 10mm plug. They come in various lengths. For safes you want them as long as the brick thickness will allow. I use 10mm screws with 12mm plugs for safes. About 120mm long is OK. Remember that the whole 120mm does not penetrate the wall because of the thickness of the safe, washer and often a spacer between safe and wall. I’ll come to that later.The best place to get coach bolts is Ramset who must have a depot or agent in all cities and towns. Ramset is well known in the construction industry and is a supplier of all sorts of fixing screws like chemical anchors and the like. If memory serves they told me that a 10mm coach bolt has a pull out strength of 4 tonnes in concrete.Some will tell you that installing a safe is an easy half hour job. Depends what sort of job you want and I’ve never installed one in less that two hours. The longest took five hours. The ideal position is a flat wall thick enough to accept long bolts but I seldom had that advantage. Mostly a cupboard is the only available place and most people want them concealed anyway. In Cape Town most cupboards have a masonite back which is usually some way of the wall, so the masonite back is pulled out of line when the bolts are tightened. On a plastered wall you can’t see where the brick joints are so it is hit and miss whether you drill into a suitable place in the brick. There are various kinds of brick. Some are hollow extruded. If you don’t drill those in the right place the bolt won’t get adequate grip. In one case I had to drill new holes in the safe because it could be fitted in only one place and the holes I drilled in the brick didn’t allow enough grip. Fortunately there were a few bricks left over from the construction, from which I could gauge where to drill the new holes. Which is why matching holes had to be drilled in the safe. I’ve had other bricks that were so soft that they crumbled when the bolts were tightened. That was solved by chemical anchors.It’s a good idea to enlarge the holes that are usually in the safe. Also to drill more of them. They are sedom more than 8mm, maybe 10mm if you are lucky. It is notoriously difficult to drill a hole in an exact position in brickwork. It takes only a millimetre or so error to make installation impossible. The answer is to enlarge the holes quite a lot to allow some latitude in positioning the safe. I make them at least 15mm. Then you use a big washer. Two or three of those big disc washers called fender washers works quite well, alternatively those 50mm square x 5mm thick washers used for roof construction. Both cover the hole and distribute the load over a wider area.Most safes come with two holes. That might do for those tiny one handgun safes but not for rifle safes, which should have at least four or six for the bigger safes. I provide one at each corner, about 50mm inboard from the corner to allow access for spanners from the inside, and two halway down.Rigidity, or the opposite (flexibility) is a function of material thickness, shape and size. A small safe will be less flexible than a big one. Rifle safes will flex quite a lot. Most walls are not perfectly flat. The result is that tightening the bolts will often pull the safe out of straight enough to prevent the door closing properly. That’s why spacers are often needed between safe and wall. My own safe has been installed in five different flats or houses. In addition I’ve installed quite a few for other people. Every one has needed spacers. They can be thin enough that steel washers will do, but sometimes two pieces of 3mm masonite has been necessary. Believe me, it takes a hell of a lot of cut and try to get it right.Anyhow, that’s the bare bones. There’s a lot more to it, so I don’t where the notion comes from that it’s simple. But maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Case Conversions

Posted by on January 15, 2008

One of my buddies is one of those “get things done” types. He made successful 50 BP Express cartridges from brass tube soldered to lathe turned heads, and 375H&H bullet jackets from 5.56 fired cases. That included making all the dies.His latest foray into case conversion is 45 Auto Rim. For those who don’t know the 45 Auto Rim is the 45 ACP with a rim for use in revolvers. In WW1 the Americans couldn’t produce enough 1911 pistols so both Colt and S&W made revolvers for the 45 ACP. To confuse matters both are known as Model 1917. Half moon clips were used, but later brass was made with a rim. It is a very thick rim because headspace needed for the 45 ACP case rim plus the half moon clip.45 Auto Rim is not easy to come by so my buddy decided it was time to make some cases for his S&W Model 1917. This is how he did it. He turned a plug to be held in the three jaw chuck, so dimensioned to be a close fit to the inside of the case, ie the case is pushed on tight enough to be secure for light machining. The rim is turned off, in fact the head of the case is turned to 10mm diameter for a length of 2.29mm that being rim thickness. That’s all there is to the preparation of the 45 ACP case.To make the rims a piece of brass rod is chucked in the lathe and faced off. The OD is turned to rim diameter. A 10mm hole is drilled down the middle, and the rims which are no more than washers of a particular size are parted off. Thickness is not so critical that it can’t be controlled with a vernier caliper.The rims are then soldered to the cases. I am somewhat confused about that. I know that fabricating cases is done by soldering head to tube but I would have thought that solder temperature especially silver solder is so far above the annealing temperature of brass that it would leave the head too soft for safety. But it seems to work as the cartridges he showed me were on their fifth loading.As he didn’t have a shellholder he made a simple Lee Loader type die, so we don’t yet know whether the soldered rims will resist pulling off in the loading press. He is also quick to concede that it is not a precise job at this point, although the cartridges shoot well enough and looked pretty good to me. He says that for bigger volumes it would be worth making better and more precise tooling, which is easy to make.But there you go, a real live example of what can be done.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]