Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's aliiive!

Dr. Strangegun got his reloading bench all set up, and tonight I happen to know he left work with a handfull of once-fired .38 Special brass, a big box of 148gr HBWC bullets and a pound of Unique. Let's see what happens.

For entertainment's sake, here's me with my first handloading experiences:

Tinkering with the Tong Tool...
So, as I shamefully admitted in a recent thread, I don't actually... you know, reload yet. I do, however, have a metric buttload of borrowed reloading stuff here in my apartment, and I've saved a ton of brass over the years. Last night I re-found my big ol' brass box. This sort of inspired me. About four minutes ago, I got even more inspired when I saw an object in a red box labelled "Lyman Ideal 310 Tool, complete with dies" for .44 magnum. I pulled out the pliers-shaped gizmo, and noticed one die with a long pokey-looking thing that looked as though it might knock a spent primer out of a case. Feeling a rising sense of discovery, I dashed off to my brass box and brought back a freezer bag full of spent .44 Mag shells. Threading the likely-looking die into the pliers and then sticking a shell in...

[Tom Hanks voice from Castaway]I have made fire![Tom Hanks voice from Castaway]

...or at least I'm well on my inquisitive way to doing so.

More TongToolery...

Having gotten bored with depriming cases, I decided tonight to screw what seemed to be the next logical die into the holder; the "muzzle resizer" die.


Ugh! Grunt! I think the case is stuck!


A little half-moon of brass came flying off the rim...

Give the die a fraction of a turn and...


...out pops the (mangled) cartridge case.

This must not be right. There must be a way to keep this from happening... I ran inside and soaked a paper towel in Wesson oil and rubbed it on the outside of a case.

*Scrunk... spop!*

Cool! That was easy!

Still, maybe I'm not doing this right. After we finish setting up for the gun show tomorrow, maybe I'll ask ol' Charlie for some pointers.
(This was followed by Mike Irwin's priceless retort: "Wesson Oil? My God you are such a girl!")

Hey! Cool! Found a case lube pad in that big box in the corner!

Let's try a couple more...

Whoops! Crushed one...

Wonder how this "priming chamber" works.

Nope... doesn't go in that way... wait... eureka! Way cool!

Let's prime these cases now!

...after an interlude containing a minor setback around the fire at My First Deer Camp,

When we left off, he-man JShirley, unaware of his own strength, had just busted the decapper pin on my little 310 Tool by a campfire in GA.

Back home in TN, I pondered long and hard... What to do?

I went digging around on the shelf among the die boxes, curious as to what might be there. Hmmm... A complete Lee press with dies and dipper for .357... That's pretty cool... Wait, this isn't shaped like the other die boxes; I wonder what a "Lee Loader" for .38 is?

Cool! Just a couple of pins, a die-looking thingy, and all I need to find is a hammer! I grab some powder, a handful of spent cases, some primers, a box of 148gr HBWC's, and the Lee Loader and head for the concrete steps out front.

The first bullet winds up seated too deeply. Following safe cartridge disposal procedures, I chuck it into the bushes. The next one turns out fine. (The .5 dipper of Green Dot and Winchester small pistol primers, in case anyone's wondering) Seating the primer on the third one results in a *BANG!* (at 0200 hrs... ), a seating rod launched six inches into the air, and black tats on two fingers and a thumb. The fourth cartridge turns out fine. It being freezing, and 0230 to boot, I went back in. Two days later, I launched them from my 627, and both went off fine and shot where I pointed....


I just got a Lee Turret Press in at work, pre-loaded with .38 Spl dies, and have both a full set of dippers and an Auto-Disk powder measure on order (we'll see which one works out better.)

Just think how much money I'll save if I spend all this money!

Ah, reloading. Never have I had more fun spending dollars to save dimes!


Cowboy Blob said...

Lessee...126 gallons in an imperial buttload -- how much is that in metric? When I moved to AZ, I bought a whole Dillon set-up to replace my rarely used RockChucker. My first batch of .45s absolutely refused to cycle through my Para, though my friend's P14 ate it right up. He should name it "Mikey." My blue press has about nine years of dust on it now.

Standard Mischief said...

Officially, I'll agree with your dollars to dimes statement. I've also got the random assortment of reloading bits and those buckets full of empty brass that I've been sitting on (well, technically I'm actually sleeping over them). I've done little reloading myself.

That harsh reality is that if you value your time at all, you squander it reloading. There's very few common rounds you end up producing that end up being cheaper made than bought with your labor factored in.

But then there's something about the flexibility and freedom you get from producing your own boomstick fodder that does not directly translate into dollars and sense.

If we define ourselves and distinguish our nation as different because we have a rifle-person behind every blade of grass, then we need to have a reloading press on every bench. Because there's a threat to liberty when a simple executive order can illegally threaten the feedstock of our liberty's teeth through a perversion of the commerce clause.

If they ban or tax to the stratosphere our ammunition, well, we're just going to have to fall back on the freedom of the (reloading) press.

Kevin said...

It's not a matter of spending dollars to save dimes. It's a matter of building ammo that works in your gun for less than similar commercial ammo.

My .45 load is a 200 grain Gold Dot over 7 grains of Unique (a mild +P load - use at your own risk). It hits where I aim it, and costs a metric buttload less than Speer's commercial loading with that bullet.

My .45 Colt load uses a cast 270 grain SAA bullet (more like 285 grains as cast) at about 900fps. You can't buy that load. Anywhere.

My .223 load is the 75 grain Hornady HPBT over 23.5 grains of Varget. It costs about the same as M855, but it shoots sub-MOA.

If you aren't into reloading, if you're easily distracted, if you're not mechanically inclined, whatever - DON'T RELOAD. A screwup can cost you. A gun, a limb, a home. (Set off a tube of 100 primers next to a full powder measure. Then try to put out the flames before they get to your powder stores.)

But there's a reason there's an entire industry that supports reloading, and it's not just because we like to spend dollars to save dimes.

BobG said...

Never had problems with my reloads. I use an old Rockchucker and mainly hard lead bullets. And anyone reloading should ALWAYS use carbide dies; having to use lube is a mess and a waste of time.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

"There's very few common rounds you end up producing that end up being cheaper made than bought with your labor factored in."

....for now.

Anonymous said...

By casting my own bullets and buying powder & primers in bulk, I can load full-power .44 Mag for the price of .22 rimfire. Reloading is also a hobby for me, and I enjoy it as much as I do expending the end result.


phlegmfatale said...

Few joys in life parallel those afforded by gadgetry.

Standard Mischief said...

Dr. StrangeGun, I'd mention this in your blog, but for the comments thingy:

not big enough for long guns, but still perhaps some ideas...


By casting my own bullets and buying powder & primers in bulk, I can load full-power .44 Mag for the price of .22 rimfire.

Hmmm, how do you manage that? last time I checked primers cost more than two cents each. I can get .22 rimfire by the brick at mall-wart for less than that.
Just remember, when lead gets really scarce, you need to wait until you can see the little squirrel's head, and make sure the tree he's on is an ample backstop, so you can pry out the slug with your patchknife and melt it down again.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, buying powder and primers in bulk. I can get primers now for 1.1 cents each, buying them by the sleeve of 5000.
Besides, the ammo I produce is better than loss-leader Wal-Mart crap. You can't buy GOOD .22 rimfire for $1 a box.


Anonymous said...

I have been single staging it for 20 long years. I hate reloading. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but darn it, that's the way it is.

Even with a powder dump, pistols are the worst.

I bought a bargain basement Lee and that damned thing is still chucking out shells. I am probably going to die before it does.

I should buy a progressive but I am a cave dwelling luddite that fears and loathes the idea of making reloading more complicated than it already is.

Great blog, BTW.



Standard Mischief said...

Like I said, buying powder and primers in bulk. I can get primers now for 1.1 cents each, buying them by the sleeve of 5000.
Besides, the ammo I produce is better than loss-leader Wal-Mart crap. You can't buy GOOD .22 rimfire for $1 a box.

Excuse me for pressing the issue, but hey, I'm on topic for once.

Where do you get your primers for that cheap? How many do you need to by to get them at 1.1 cents? Are you figuring in shipping and hazmat fees with that?

It was a long time ago, but back then I figured that even if I hand carried the primers from the factory to avoid the fees, used surplus pull down powder, used the fastest powder possible, re-used brass that I scrounged up at the range and stole the wheel-weights off my neighbor's cars, I still could not beat the price for the Federal bulk pack (550 rounds for $9.99) fodder that I got at mall-wart. Since that Federal stuff shot so well, well I've bought enough to paper a small room with the cartons. I should still have enough to teach my grand-nieces how to shoot.

Anonymous said...

There's a gunshop near me that buys odd lots, estates, etc. and they often come up with cheap primers and other components. $50+tax for 5000 primers is not everyday, but it does happen. Just a few weeks ago I bought 2000 .224 FMJBT bullets there for $15+tax.
Even Midway has 5000 primers under $100, regular price. Wait for an overstock clearance (it does happen) and buy enough to make the shipping & hatmat inconsequential, and you're doing OK.
I use mostly surplus powder from, have a friend who works at a tire store (free wheelweights) and make my own bullet lube (C.E. Harris style).
Besides, as stated before, I said ".22 rimfire", not "the cheapest possible loss-leader .22 LR".
If I compared something to "full-power centerfire rifle ammo" I wouldn't necessarily be talking about Turkish milsurp 8x57, would I?


DirtCrashr said...

Sounds like my first attempts, I've fallen off the purity-wagon and ordered a bunch of pre-prepped and weight-sorted Nosler brass, I just got so tired of all those Lake City mil-crimps and the primer-pocket prep and the rest. Still, I can make my own M1-Garand loads cheaper than buying Match .30-06 ammo which may not be exactly right for the old girrl, or too hot to work well at only 200-yards.

Diamondback said...

I've been into the reloading thing for awhile now. Honestly I do save quite a bit on certain loadings rather than buying a box of ammo. .44Mag and .45LC are both fine examples of which I can produce better loads at less than half the price. But that is not the primary reason to reload.

Mike Irwin said...

Yer were a girl back when you discovered "Wesson's Fine Case Lube," and yer still a girl, Tamara!

Draven said...

As several people pointed out, the ammo you're making when you handload isn't usually the bulk loaded Remchester wal-mart specials. You're usually at least making the $10/20 boxes even if you're loading .223. And you're definitely not making 2 MOA milsurp ammo either...