Month: August 2008

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]