Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Carcano Project Part I

Walking down rows and rows of drunk rednecks and tables of guns(welcome to the Kenton Coon Dog Trials) we were on a mission. To stop my good friend from buying a 6.5 Carcano. That loathed Italian rifle for its supposed weakness and its "role" in the death of a president. And here we are trying to convince a friend to stay away from buying one. Ammo is not readily available nor is the brass and the thing could simply blow up on you. We rounded the corner of the next row and a shout came from behind us so we turned around. Running up to us was our friend with a 6.5 Carcano in hand and a smile on his face.....We had failed the mission and we were screwed. Looking over the gun it didn't seem all that bad it has a gain twist rifling and is a handy length and weight with simple sights. But I knew that I was going to have more to do with this rifle that I wanted to admit. After my friend purchased the rifle I did a little reading to get up to speed on the old fence post. Frank De Haas's book "Bolt Action Rifles, Revised Edition" came off of one of my shelves and the proper chapter was located. It's not an exciting read but is packed with great info. He states that the Carcano has always been downplayed as a weak action but the Italians never seemed to have a problem with the design. This little rifle was starting to not look so bad in my eyes.

Fast forward to a few months later my good friend and I have moved down to Columbus for school the three of us (my friend, his girlfriend and I) are all under the same roof. One night towards the end of the fall quarter my friend comes into my room with that little rifle on his shoulder and states that its time to shoot it. I start to tell him he has no ammo but then I stop myself and think for a bit......I seemed to remember being given a cigar box full off odd calibers not to long ago. I told him I would look and see what could be had. The next time I was home I went through the box and came up with 30 rounds of Norma 6.5 Carcano ammo that looked like it had really seen better days along with 6 clips (6 round clips). I brought the whole mess back with me and pulled bullets & dumped the powder and on my next trip to the ROTC range tested the rifle with just the old primed brass. The bullets and brass were tumbled and since I weighed all the powder charges of the factory ammo I could reuse the powder but at a reduced charge. Though some of the powder was wet and was simply thrown out. The charges were in the 39.5-40gr region so I knocked them down to 37gr to play things safe. I found the easiest way to pull the bullets was use the Rock chucker and with the proper shell holder run the ram up grab the bullet with a pair of pliers and pull the ram down. This worked very well and did very little damage to the bullets. The inertia puller was not working well due to the tight factory crimp/neck. I located a set of reloading dies for the rifle and with 9 1/2 Remington Large rifle primers set about reloading the pulled down components. Some of the bullets have surface corrosion from poor storage but that won't hurt a thing in the long run. The brass will be annealed after the first firing to ensure case life though more re loadable brass will have to be found eventually. A bullet mold was promptly ordered from a group buy and should provide a nice projectile to experiment with from this Italian workhorse.

A range report should follow. I'm still gonna strap this thing down to a tire and shoot it from a distance the first few times......just incase De Haas was wrong.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Red Rover Red Rover let Ruger come over

I took a bit of a step outside my comfort zone this past summer when I purchased a Ruger Blackhawk from a friend in 45 Colt for a whopping $250. I'm usually a S&W guy and love my .44mags but this was a project that looked fun. I'll say it up front this Ruger single action was in sad shape at the end of its 4 5/8th's barrel was a hack job of a front sight and the rear sight...well I'm not really sure if you would call it a rear sight at all. Also the frame was rounded at the front and back by one of the first owners. My friend had purchased the gun like that however hoping to have a short range cowboy gun to play with. When he sold it to me (less than 2 months after buying it himself, He mentioned it shot 18" high at 20yards) he included a new front sight from Brownell's and put the $250 I gave him towards a different manufacture 45 Colt an Uberti if I remember right. Not long after I got the gun a 45 Colt 3 die set was on its way after a want ad was posted on a few of the forums I frequent and 1k pieces of brass was inbound from starline in short order.

The first thing I did when I got home with the Blackhawk was knock the front sight off with a lead hammer and played around with some hip shooting with the few pieces of 45 colt brass I picked up over time at the range(didn't want to dive into the NEW brass just yet). Then the gun sat while I searched for a rear sight which I was not in a hurry for. The rear sight came to me a few weeks ago for $10 from a parts dealer at a gun show, it was a like new take off sight. Now I could put the gun back together. The rear sight was installed by the dealer at the show (to make sure it was the correct sight) and I had my Dad solder on the front sight using the rear sight to properly line it up. Not a whole lot involved in lining it up mostly done by eye. A holster was had for $3 but had to be cut down as it was for a 7" gun but works perfectly. Once I got the gun all ready I loaded up a sampler of 200gr SWC loads and some Ruger only 230gr RN loads to test out over the chronograph.

Using Unique and the 200Gr SWC I was able to get 980-1120fps out of the 45 Colt with little gain in speed after 10.5Gr of Unique under the 200Gr SWC using the new starline brass and CCI 300 primers. I had reasonably good accuracy with the group shown in the picture which was shot at 20 yards standing but with the original wood stocks that were on the gun from the factory. I've yet to try the Hogues that my Dad scrounged up for me but they feel so much more natural than the hog leg wood stocks.

I'm waiting on the 454423 mold from a group buy to be finished still. It's supposed to throw a .45 keith style weighing in at 244gr and is supposedly usable in a 45ACP as well. It should perform well in this nice little six shooter. I got a little impatient and purchased a single cavity Lee 252Gr FP mold this past weekend to try out next time I'm home and have the pot fired up.

The molds so far with maybe the exception to the 252Gr Fp (1911,magazine taper at front might be too much but we'll see) can all be used in my other .45's. I'm looking to develop a good bear load with this gun now and pack it with me on hikes as its a good gun to do that with and has enough power if loaded properly. Please refer to updated and tested load data before attempting to duplicate any of the loads listed. I'm not responsible for any damages on your part Yes it worked for me but your results may vary. The Boolit in the picture is that of a 230gr RN shot into dry phone books clocking 1000fps went in about 5" and ran out of steam.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Bench Built for Reloading, Not Work

I Have been reloading at home for many many years. Unfortunately when I moved away for school I also moved away from my fathers workbenches, walls of tools, drill press & lathe, many presses, dies, books and so on, so fourth and such like. I started to ache for my reloading tools not long after I moved down to Columbus. I have my own single stage 50BMG press and Rockchucker, as well as dies for all my pistol calibers and some rifle. Lots of brass and the other accessories that go with the above. It was during a conversation with my welder friend that the idea of a custom bench could be built and outperform anything that I would pull out of the dumpster while on a diving expedition as far as using a regular desk to reload on and in lieu of this computer desk upon which I type on now. I measured the only wall space I had left and came up with some figures and sent them to Anthony. He bent angle from 4" flat stock and in a short 3 hours had a frame done up. On a trip to Menards we decided we were just going to use deck wood but while passing a "pre cut discount" bin that had tongue and groove wood flooring we figured it would be cheaper and finish A LOT better than deck wood. It took some time to get it all laid out and drilled. Not long after I brought it down (this was while I was home for thanksgiving break) and tore it apart and gave the top two surfaces about 4 coats of polyurethane and the frame a good coat of Semi gloss flat black rust-o-leum. With Anthony's guarantee of 600# on the frame I was not afraid to load it up for the needed weight. As this is a bench that can be moved by 2 people & a nice 20" x 36" footprint it needs weight while FL sizing 45-70 and .44 magnum brass that have been run hot. For what it is it has a generous amount of storage and work space. And will service me for many years to come however I hope that when I get my own place a much more impressive set up will take its place.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Good Things come in 3's no wait, I hear 6?

For some time my 629-1 has been in need of a trip to the factory to be repaired for a broken hammer stud and a very worn trigger stud. I shot the snot out of this gun ever since I got it. Until last week I thought it would cost me a fortune to have it fixed (somewhere around $150-$200). Even though I was very upset that the gun was MIA and thought S&W should repair it I couldn't send it in until I had the money for the repairs. While on a chat room it was brought to my attention by another member that S&W had a recall on a number of 629-1 models because of bad metal. A interesting side note...It was found out that the member who helped me had a 629-1 that was a mere 300 #'s off of mine kinda cool huh. I was given the series and serial #'s that the recall dealt with and low and behold mine was in it. A quick email and phone call to them and they said they would honor the recall even though it is over 20 years old. Looks like my beloved 629 will be fixed and in shooting condition in short order. The 6" barreled smith is my favorite in my collection and I would only take a 5" classic barrel over it. Also with all this time to NOT shoot and with some of this reloading stuff I brought with me to my apartment I thought I should get cracking on reloading my staples. That is .45 ACP and .44 Mag And a few Paper patched 45-70 bullets to try when I go home for Thanksgiving break. My fav load for .45 ACP for both revolver and Auto (1911) is 5.5Gr of Unique under a 230gr RN cast. My favorite load for .44 Magnum is of course the 250gr Keith and 10.0Gr unique these clock at about 1000FPS. So now I have all the components I brought with me loaded up. Also I should have my custom reloading bench here in less than a week, My Genius welder friend told me it was done for the most part except for detailing I won't have to use my computer desk as my reloading bench anymore. short school week because of Thanksgiving I'll try to get at least a day out at the range and test these 45-70 loads out. I'll get my 629-1 shipped out and some more bullets cast up. I have 2 new molds to try when I get back. One is a very odd looking 45 mold and the other is a 200gr double wad cutter for .44

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Procuring Perfectly Paper Patched Projectiles : or : The Other 5 P's of life

Paper patching is a old but not out of date (only forgotten by most) method of protecting the bullet during its journey down the barrel, But not to the target( ideally it separates from the bullet a 19th century "sabot" if you will ). You see the paper patch keeps the gases from cutting/soldering the bullet to the barrel "leading" as it is often termed will cause the bullet to tumble or veer off its otherwise well intended course and cause the shooter much distress to clean when he or she gets home. Usually with cast bullets we use a lube to keep the barrel and bullet from becoming one. These are fine and dandy when they work but why stick with what works? Why not try to improve? 6 million dead buffalo can't be wrong along with numerous , Indians and stage coach robbers I'm sure. The paper patched bullet was the standard factory produced round for the 45-70 and other such "buffalo" rounds during the late 19th century.

Paper patching is something I have wanted to try ever since I got my W&H 45-70 2 years ago from a guy who purchased the rifle from a old SASS shooter who needed the money. The fellow who I purchased it from complained of its recoil...I didn't say anything to this I simply handed over my $285 for the rifle and walked away with a smile. 45-70 brass is fairly easy to come across but I only had 40-60 brass at home I obtained from an auction for a whopping $0.75 yeah..3/4 of a dollar for 100pcs of necked down 45-70 brass. 50 of the rounds were loaded with 40 cal bullets and full of black powder. The remaining pcs of brass merely were necked down and ready to load. My first order of business was to fire form the loaded rounds....does not seem to hard pop a 40cal round into what is supposed to be a 45-70 caliber rifle. 50 rounds later and a few split cases I had a good start on fire forming the already loaded cases. My barrel was very leaded but it cleaned out after about 10 minutes of attention. What to do with the other rounds? I had a bunch of .41 magnum bullets around that my dad had cast up back when he shot the 41 mag about as much as I shoot .44 mag these I ran the 50 remaining pieces through a 41 magnum ball expander die and loaded the 41mag bullets with a full case of cheap black powder. Needless to say these were odd looking rounds. Almost looked like a hour glass. the bullet was bigger than the case body at this point. I shot those 50 rounds and had 3 split cases. So now I have about 94 good 45-70 cases and a little odd-ball education on fire forming. Next step was to load them with 45 cal bullets (I used the classic 405gr RN)and a case full of powder. Ran through the 95 pcs of brass and split 5 more cases. So at this point in time I have a 10% case failure rate...not bad for $0.75 of brass, time and cheap black powder. My next order was to learn how to anneal the cases so I wouldn't split anymore. I read up on a few web pages about the process and practiced on some old 30/06 brass. Basically I used a old lazy Susan, a pan of water and a propane torch. I annealed the remaining 45-70 cases and loaded them back up with a 500 gr RN cast bullet with 4 lube groves and graphite lube this time. I just used the 500gr bullet cause I wanted to try them. I used about 50 grains of 777 and headed off to the range. I sighted in on a steel ram at 200 yards, and only missed about 10 times out of the 90 rounds offhand. It was a good accurate load, no leading and easy clean up as black powder usually is if you know how to use soap and water. I clean the cases in hot soapy water after each firing and tumble them in the media tumbler ready for the next loading. These cases are on their 8th or 9th firing now and show little wear. So I start my search for a Paper patch mold now (you thought I forgot didn't you?) I looked on the online forums and posted want ads when I could. But non were to be had at a good price. Then while I was walking around at a outside gun show this past fall my dad spotted 2 paper patch molds for 45 cal. and got them both for $60. They were 2 single cavity Rapine molds one 400gr bullet and one 501gr bullet. The 500gr bullet is what I cast up with to try on this adventure. I cast up about 125 or so at home and brought them back with me to my apartment to paper patch. But then it hit me...the bullets were .446-.447 in diam and the .0011 paper I have would not work....nor would the paper that came with the bullets as they only bumped the bullet up to .452 with 2 wraps and they were precut so that did me no good. So I started my search for the right paper to use. Phone book paper seemed ideal, Cheap (hell, free in most cases) lots of it and thin. Actually it turns out it might be the worst paper to use because it is recycled which means it has clay and acid in it I guess? I would like to take some paper samples to one of the chem labs and have them run tests on it. So far I've messed around with patching bullets with phone book paper, 20# copy paper and the patching paper that came with the mold. The phone book paper I will try a few of but I'm not sure if i want to stick with it. Vegetable paper, Onion skin, Bible book paper? (May the word of God always be with you and travel at 1800 FPS) and vellum are other possibilities but I need to find good low cost sources for these. Stay tuned for range results with the Phone book patched bullets.

These are great sources for info, I have no connection with either of them. Please feel free to ask Q's or comment with words of wisdom.

Case annealing info

Additional info on PP bullets

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm a 21 year old college student with a passion for the gun culture. I enjoy all aspects of shooting and firearms. Reloading, Casting my own bullets (boolits), Building firearms, altering them, novice design, competitive shooting, plinking, experimenting and all sorts of other things.

I don't collect and shoot firearms like most people do. The majority of the firearm owning population collects perhaps one specific type of a firearm and the variations of it. For example the Mauser bolt action rifle, they might try and collect every variation from all the producing nations. Or perhaps a S&W collector who tries to get the rare pre-dash models. I "collect" in very loose terms various actions and mechanisms of which have been employed to propel projectiles. Bolt actions, Retarted blow back, Rolling block, Roller delayed blowback, straight pull bolt actions, gas operated, Short recoil, Long recoil, straight blowback, recoil operated, Reciprocating blowback the list is truely endless. However one man's designs stand out above the rest. John M. Browning. If it is one designer I am a fan of it is him. But I will just as soon take my AK to the range as my 1919a4/a6 or my single shot 45-70 or any of my match rifles. As far as me shooting a bit differently than the average shooter I do some rather odd things with rifles and pistols. Revolvers at 200yards on a regular basis? .22 rimfire at 200 yards? Elephant rifles shot at rail road ties? WTF? Kevlar vest testing with pure lathe turned Teflon bullets?

I enjoy building firearms as well (yes its legal). I am a novice machinist and have some experience on a mill and lathe and have my own lathe at home. I enjoy designing and making custom projectiles from varying materials and testing them on various materials.

I hope to log my varying projects, advancements and fall backs, I would also like to point out that these projects are my ideas but can not always be carried out in full by me. Some projects require welding and for that I turn to my good friend who is a genius welder. Also I wanna thank my dad for his support and guiding hand in my youth and even today, as well as his friends who provided me with ideas and lessons on what to and what not to do in life. My dad has been a big part of what I am today...If it was not for him and his funding I would not have done 1/8 of what I have done thus far in my shooting career. Thanks Dad and Mom( for putting up with all my projects always laying around the house...even when I'm away at school)