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Paper patching is a old but not out of date (only forgotten by most) method of protecting the bullet during its journey down the barrel, But not to the target( ideally it separates from the bullet a 19th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 days....so 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