Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shooters ridge #40629 10/22 30 round magazine review

I purchased two Shooters ridge #40629 30 round 10/22 metal header magazine from a local gunshop that was having a pretty good sale on them. They usually list for $20+ each but the shop has them for $13 this month and I was still using 10 round factory mags. First thing I noticed was its packaged and marketed by Champion targets, but the product is a shooters ridge product. Not sure how that all works but its a moot point. The magazines are a double stack design and clear body with a full metal head, the follower is plastic.

Decided to give them a good workout last night while I was teaching new shooters at the range, My 10/22 is set up as a Appleseed type trainer with irons. We ran about 400 rounds through both mags with a few hiccups. The one big flaw I saw was with 7 or 8 rounds to go the mag would fail to feed, Not sure if it was just transitioning from the double stack to the single that was causing a bind or if the spring was binding. All that was required was a manual cycle of the bolt and that was enough to bump up the next round. I had not numbered these mags yet but I do think it was just one of them that this was happening on. Other than that hiccup happening 3 times or so they ran really good, the mags were easy to pop in and pop out, I liked having an extension to grab onto coming from only using the 10 round factory blocks. I probably wouldn't spend $20+ on these unless it was something like a little teflon spray in the body to help keep things moving would fix the occasional FTF. I would give these 3 stars out of 5

Monday, December 5, 2011

The AR-7 adventure :or: Look it floats!

I had a AR-7 survival rifle a few years ago, it was one of the Henry variants and it worked. I liked it because it was one of my first semi auto rifles and it was unique in several ways. It broke down and completely stored in the stock, which was said to float (either assembled or dissembled, I never tried). I shot the rifle a few times and liked having it around but at some point I got bored with it and sold it off for something else. Fast forward a few years and I'm into S&P (Survival & preparedness) stuff pretty heavy, the AR-7 was pretty far down on my list of guns to get as I have a pretty good list of priorities made up in the order that I should get things based on money I save up. But when I found a AR-7 action complete with a magazine for $60 at a gun show I couldn't pass it up, The guns always seem to go for way more than they should, I know this past weekend I saw more than one priced above $220 at the gunshow this past weekend.

The guns have always had a jam feature that a lot of non mechanically inclined people just can't seem to get around. Their rifles jam at least once a magazine and they do a poor job finding the cause and effect. Of the 3 examples of this rifle I have now fired 2 of which have been Charter arms and 1 Henry I have had 2 types of jams. One I can easily fix (magazine) and the other may be more of a problem with the aftermarket barrel I obtained for the rifle. The jam with the barrel was caused when the cases bulge so much at the rear that they will not extract. Replacing the extractor spring and recoil springs may help in this but then again it may not. The magazine jam occurs when the magazine is fully loaded, the magazine allows the rim to catch behind the feed lips, not allowing the round to strip from the magazine. Bending the feed lips back further helps this problem however if it occurs all the time in your gun there is no reason why you can't just load 5 or 6 rounds. You should be hunting small game......not zombies.....just my thoughts on the whole jam issues. Not all guns will decide to work all the time, I know there are lemons made by everybody and my replacement barrel has a extraction groove cut deeper than should be allowing part of the case to expand where it should not. The gun works fine 98% of the time but the fired cases look pretty pregnant at the base.

My replacement barrel I obtained from HERE . The barrel is a little heavier than the factory nearly 3/4 of a pound as compared with a factory aluminum barrel with liner on a postal scale. The barrel ejection slot was as I said before milled a little deep but when the rifle functioned fine I could not complain. I was also able to secure a original style stock for my rifle from a friend who had a stock in his parts bin. So I have $110 or so in the rifle total at this point. I forgot to mention the actions black paint had long been wearing away so I took a stiff steel brush as advised by my friend and cleaned off as much as I could prior to repainting the gun. Since the replacement stock I had gotten for nothing already had a sort of tiger stripe pattern painted on it and I had some dark OD green and dark tan dura coat left over I thought I would use it up to paint the action and the barrel. Camera woman is currently away so I'll try to have some pics posted later.

The Ar-7 is one option for a utilitarian take down survival rifle, they can come with problems and a word of warning, don't let the marketing hype the producing companies give the gun give you too much of a hard on for one. They shoot well out to 75', and if you are good you can take game out to 50 yards. but in the end it is a .22LR that is a crude but efficient rifle, there is nothing elegant about this gun. If you are left handed you may not like the rifle as the stock is offset at the grip to allow the barrel to store in the butt. If you see one for cheap and want one to have in your BOB/camping bag, to keep in the boat or bush plane its a fair choice. Esp since the more traditional M6 Springfield scout rifle fetches far more money for what is basically stamped sheet metal and 2 barrels. The Marlin papoose take down rifle is another one I've seen people keep in their bags, boats and planes and it looks a little more user friendly for sure. Weighs a little less than the AR-7, but it does not float which really wasn't a concern for me at all in the first place.

The older rifles have room in the stocks for 1 magazine, the newer rifles allow the storage of 2 magazines in the stock. I want to say my Henry held one in the action and one in the stock but I can't recall. I plan to modify my stock to hold spare parts and a extra magazine. Being in Ohio and not on water I don't plan to test the buoyancy of the rifle any time soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reloading for the 7.62x38R-update

I found a collet that barely works for holding the case in the lathe..can't remember what size I ended up using but I had to draw it up pretty tight and run the case more than 3/4 of the way in for it to hold. Even then the case would still migrate, a wrap around shim would have worked to make the case hold fast. I was turning the thickness of the rim down a bit from the top side of the rim. I have not yet turned out the old head stamps using the lathe but that will be done sooner than later. The needle file was working but the finish it left was poor which is why I just chucked the cases up in the lathe and thinned the rims a bit. Where function was test and retry with the needle files the amount I took off with the lathe does not leave any question that these cases will work in all the chambers of the revolver with no question marks left. May try to make a set of K frame sized grips for this gun since I've enjoyed shooting it so much but the grip it comes with is too small.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reloading for the 7.62x38R Nagant Revolver

I happened upon something at a flea market I had been searching out for 4 years now since reading a article in a magazine about a odd little Russian revolver that made for a great woodsman pistol. Its compact, novel design and caliber appealed (read near impossible to acquire and reload for, higher skill level to reload for and not for the faint of heart to attempt) to me in such a way I could not help but want one. The 1895 Nagant revolver usually runs for $110 or so from various online sources and around $125 from military surplus firearm dealers at gunshows. Shipping at the cost of the FFL transfer quickly brings a online or auction acquired gun into the $150+ range and the $125 cost for the show pieces never were satisfactory at the same time I had the $125 in my pocket.

So I exercised some patience and waited, not in too much of a rush as I had numerous other projects to tackle in the mean time. And then whilst looking at the numerous firearms at the flea market I came across a table with one of these revolvers laying there and its owner willing to part with it. The revolver was pristine, looked as if it had never even seen a single round of ammo and was best of all for sale. Having the ability to look it over the seller didn't say much until I asked the price. $200 he replied I sighed, set down the piece, said thanks and walked away. "hey now wait, come back, we can talk" were the words that quickly chased me as I strode away. I turned around to hear what the seller had to say, He asked me what I thought the gun was worth. That seemingly harmless statement is a trap to the majority of the people who take the bait, you have entered the realm of dickering and haggling and you can either awkwardly walk away claiming you are not that interested in which case you probably weren't too much in the first place, failure to make that a point and they might just goad you into naming a price and paying it or grab the challenge by the horns and give it your all & cut them down to YOUR PRICE. I looked the little Russian over more carefully this time, checking its bore, muzzle and other workings. The gun did not have a holster or cleaning rod, not a big deal but definitely a con. I quickly told him it was worth $100 thinking that was fair for both of us and he would never sell it otherwise, long story short I got him down to $100 after a few back and forth offers and "AW NAW I can't take THAT". So here I am with a $100 revolver to reload for and a few options of how to go about it.

This picture was added 8/28/2012 showing the gun about a year after I got it,
As you can see I found some original ammo, but too costly to justify shooting it, looks good on camera though!

Preparing for this gun actually started many years ago, around the time I read the magazine article on the gun and saw various ammo options. I acquired 32-20 brass which I read worked well in the revolver, having various kinds of brass on hand I easily traded for 60 or so pieces of once fired 32-20 brass that would be used along with a 93gr RN mold a friend had me purchase so I could supply him with a few cast bullets now and then. Bullets were sized and lubed to .311 to fit the bore of the revolver, and I set off to load a handful of rounds to test. The week after I had purchased the revolver I went to the range with dad (mostly to help him find a lost ball from his Coehorn mortar he was using to put on a demonstration for the local historical society) and headed over to one of the unoccupied pistol bays and loaded up to try it out. The 32-20 brass fire-formed beautifully, mostly just expanding around the neck. I had loaded the first batch using 32-20 dies however I quickly discovered that .30 carbine dies (as pointed out by somebody online!) would work to readily load this round and they were right. Take a .30 carbine set of dies and swap out the .308" expander ball for a .310", seat the bullet and taper crimp. After the first range trip I did realize some of the rims on the cases were a little too thick to allow the gun to funtion properly. So a set of needle files has come in handy to file the top or forward facing portion of the rim away so as to allow it to function in the gun. As you can imagine after converting 32-20 brass into its Russian Empire/commie cousin it would be a good idea to store it in a well labeled box so positive ID can be made, headstamps can and do lie and making brass out of one caliber for another can pose some problems if somebody came across it and didn't know any better. If you have lathe skills it would not be a bad idea to put the case in a collet in your headstock and turn a circle into the center line of the headstamp to negate the markings. It is important you do not try to make the brass fit the gun by shortening up the base of the brass as this will cause the primer to become exposed, causing a dangerous situation.

My first loads were 3.2gr of red dot behind the 93gr RN bullet, more than enough for plinking. They clocked 790FPS over the chrono and printed very well on paper. My next step is to see if I can make more brass from some .218 bee brass or use it to trade for more .32-20 brass, I have some .25-20 brass and loaded ammo I can fire form as well but I'm not hurting for brass that much. I would like to work up a load that is a little faster than what I have now, try to get something that is close to 950 FPS out of the 4.5" barrel I also have a small assortment of jacketed bullets and surprisingly some XTP as well I would like to load up and do some tests with in phone books.

It is a interesting project if I was a trapper or something and wanted something more than a .22LR revolver I would not hesitate to pack this little revolver at all. Reloads hardly use any lead or powder so its not too hard on the wallet.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Loading buckshot for $0.16 a round

I'm not sure how the idea got into my head, I'm not sure at what point in time I thought to myself I needed to start loading my own buckshot. It wasn't like I was shooting up 50 rounds of it every month at a match though I set out to load quality buckshot and I think I've come up with a decent answer to a problem that never really existed...except for not wanting to pay $1.00 a round for the stuff.

A buddy and I decided to go halves on a "00" (.33") buckshot mold, which stacks perfectly in a 12ga hull so long as petals on a trap wad don't get in the way. I choose to stay with regular trap hulls since the strength between a trap hull and a buckshot hull of the same manufacture and same internal structure (external brass height has nothing to do with hull strength) was the same.

The first load I started with was out of pure curiosity, 18gr of red dot, Win AA hull, Federal 209 primer and a WAA12 trap wad with the petals cut off and 9 balls of "00" stacked in layers of 3 capped with a fold crimp. The load patterned surprisingly well at 30 yards but out of the muzzle it only clocked 1000 FPS 6' in front of the muzzle, a little on the slow side for what I was trying to do (which I wasn't really sure what that was at the time) I messed with the red dot powder and different wads on and off for about a year and decided that I probably wasn't going to get anywhere with wads that were designed for shot and such a fast burning powder.

Around the time I decided to switch up powders I also made a move to obtain new hulls, up until this point I had been using old hulls I scrounged for out at the club. I purchased 1000 Winchester AA-HS 12ga hulls for about $0.04 each shipped and was back in business. Next was powder selection, I was using red dot and wasn't happy with any of the results I was getting speed wise I simply couldn't break out of that 1000fps without something else going to pot, I looked through the Lyman shotshell loading manual as well as the Ballistic Products Buckshot loading manual and gave careful consideration to Blue dot and Green Dot powder. Looking at the charge tables for both I came to the conclusion Green dot would be best for the money. After the hull and the powder I carefully considered the wad, after each test lot of buckshot I would look around for wads to see how they were performing. The WAA12 wads and the claybuster replacements had burns all up the sides of them and were so badly deformed I thought the performance of the wad inside the barrel was not doing me any favors. I read, reread and carefully considered all the factors going into the needs of a buckshot load. And came to the conclusion I needed a tighter fitting wad and something much stiffer to hold up to the rigors of pushing a 486gr payload that only had 3 points of contact to the wad, down the barrel and sealing up the barrel, keeping from loosing velocity.

I settled on A Ballistic product "Flex-seal" gas seal to replace the trap wad and added a 1/4" fiber wad on top to achieve the appropriate payload height for proper crimp. Working my way up from 19gr of Green dot I soon discovered the 1/4" fiber wad was causing the gas seal to tip into the new style Winchester base wad and causing at times a 50FPS variation in velocity so I quickly got rid of that, and reluctantly so because I believe the fiber wad acted as a cushion and helped patterns out. So after some very, VERY early morning range sessions and waiting for turkeys to clear the backstop I continued testing my way up the charge table and watching for any major changes in performance. I had taken my LEE Load-All II and a powder scale to the range for the on range loading and was glad I did because I ended up going back and trying some lower charged loads to confirm the thought that the tipped wad was giving me bad velocities.

The load I settled on gave me 1150 FPS which is about 86% of the velocity of factory loads and 75% of the kinetic energy. It is a low recoil load that feels about 1/2 that of factory in several guns I have tested it in so far. Final cost for each round came out to $0.16 each which is cheaper than shot loads as I making the buckshot for cost of my time, and FAR cheaper than factory buckshot. Translated I can load 6 rounds of my "00" buckshot for what a single round of factory buckshot would cost me. Which means more practice with my shotguns

My final recipe was as follows
AA hull
Cheddite 209 primer
21.5gr Green dot
12ga BP flex seal
9 pellets "00" buck

Source for buckshot mold

As usual it works for me your results may vary, do not attempt if you do not understand how to work up loads or are not willing to be safe when doing so etc etc.


Standard trap hull and a 12ga Flex seal that works as an effective gas seal for buckshot loads.

Seated like a normal wad so it sits on top of internal base wad, the charge of green dot is just about level with the top of the base wad. 
Here we see where the gas seal comes in handy, no petals to cut off the trap wads!

Here we see the top stack of "00" buckshot peeking out, 9 pellets total this payload is a good combination of components that all work together to achieve the desired goal.  A utilitarian buckshot load.

Before you know it you'll have 500 rounds of buckshot loaded up!