First Bullets, First Guns

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KeithOR posted this 19 May 2019

Hi! Thank you all for creating such a great community and hobby. I am only getting started but I have already gained a lot from what many of you have written.

Somehow, last Fall, I got interested in guns. I found and read the Cast Bullet Handbook and found it fascinating. I very much liked the idea of making cheap ammunition, so decided to make some 358-sized pistol bullets. I made about a thousand bullets--Lyman 358477, 358156 and 358429, which all came out close to 359, and very much enjoyed that. Then I had to learn how to make the cartridges. I got reloading equipment and primers, used brass, and a big jug of Bullseye and started making cartridges. I must have read the reloading manuals from Speer, Lyman, and Lee almost cover-to-cover now and have tried out many thing on paper and spreadsheets that I haven't had a chance to do in practice yet.

In order to have something to shoot the bullets with before I made too many mistakes, I found a used Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver for a low price on-line. This particular gun was used by the French police since some time in the late 1960s. It arrived in good working order. I disassembled the gun completely--which was a project and learning experience in itself--and noticed that it has been continuously maintained, with a number of parts replaced. I cleaned it well and polished a few of the bearing surfaces, but was basically satisfied that the gun was good. The upgrade I will make eventually is to install an oversize cylinder stop to correct a very small side-to-side wobble there. I slugged the barrel and one of the cylinder chambers, and based on what I had learned at the time it seemed that 359 would be the right size for the bullets, so I had been lucky. At this point I acquired a used Star Lube-Sizer to speed up the process of making cartridges.

I loaded up a bunch of different charges at different load levels, going as high as 3.1 grains of Bullseye for the 358429. I assumed that the 3.0 grain load was going to work across the board and made most of the cartridges at that load level. I left the gas checks off the 358156 bullets at first, tried forming gas checks for, and eventually put my work toward other bullet shapes. I tried the shake method of powder coating and got it to work well enough to try out, sizing the bullets after double-coating for the first experimental loads.

Eventually I shot the gun, and it was great fun, which is also lucky, since I have rarely shot a gun since I was kid. A major complication in finding a place to shoot was that none of the nearby ranges would both allow reloads and allow me to recover my lead bullets. The shooting club that might have worked out requires NRA membership, and I even though I admire the NRA of the past I don't want to join today's NRA. Fortunately there is a wilderness area not too far away where shooting is allowed, and an old rock quarry there where people gather to shoot. Most of my bullets worked, even though I made some that would not fire because the primers were set too deep, and I had to fix that in my reloading process. I started out shooting with a chronograph so I'd know my loads were doing what they were supposed to do and no more. With limited hobby time, I've only shot the first 1000 rounds so-far, really just learning to shoot, and have been figuring out what to do make the gun do next.

Meanwhile I put together some AR-15 rifles--a 16 inch barrel with pistol length gas system chambered in 300 Blackout, and a 16 inch barrel chambered in 223 Wylde. I also assembled a pistol lower from parts and will build an 8.5" upper in 300 Blackout in a week or two when the parts arrive. I've been totally enamored of the 357 magnum during my research, and I realized that the 300 Blackout is very much like a 357 but a little bit more energetic with better ballistics and sectional density. I've been casting the Lee TL309-230-5R for 300 Blackout and formed some cases for it, but have not shot 300 Blackout yet. I did make and shoot six hundred rounds or so of 223 ammunition using commercial 55gr TMJ bullets and a moderate charge of 20gr Shooter's World Tactical Rifle / Lovex D73-01. I had to get a little more sophisticated about processing and sizing my used brass to make my 223 rounds chamber reliably, but the gun and ammunition work reliably now.

The thing I've gotten into recently is using software tools to work out experimental loads, and I've been learning new things from that.

The projects I'm interested in next are:

* Construct a durable bullet trap to save all my low-velocity lead without breaking the bullets. Catching 3000fps bullets is too difficult for me right now, but for pistol speeds, progressively heavier hanging plates of spring-tempered steel with the lightest starting around the bullet weight seems to work on paper..

* Quiet loads in 38 special (4" barrel revolver), 170 grain bullets, target velocity 620 fps, target muzzle pressure 497 psi, 165dBA at the muzzle. I have a plan, using tiny compressed loads of Bullseye powder, bullet seated at the bottom of the case, with cardboard wads to protect the bullet base directly on top. I have an SPL/dBA meter and the chronograph, which I should be able to use to calibrate the simulation fit versus case volume. I can work up loads by seating the bullet progressively deeper and decreasing the charge weight for each step on the ladder. That is necessary to avoid stuck bullets and safely approach the combination of charge and load that will meet the target without exceeding .38 SPL +P pressures. If it works with Bullseye then I will start again with Clays, which is the quietest load I can simulate, at around 158dBA or so at the muzzle. The whole process has to be done for a particular jug of powder because the safe ranges are so narrow, and the load may turn out to be too temperature sensitive to make safe and general purpose bullets with, or the loaded ammunition may age in a way that causes it to become dangerous over time. There are reasonably safe ways to find out the answers, though, and I'm going to try. I do think that consistent velocities will not happen unless the bullet seating pressure can be controlled during loading, possibly with a spring behind the stem of the seating die. On the plus side, cases might not need to be sized at all: just deprime, install the new primer in a dirty case, drop in the powder, wad and bullet and seat and crimp in one operation. I think this idea is not new and that someone reported something similar to this in a forum that I read early on, though I did not understand it at the time.

* Make the 300 Blackout guns work, first with subsonic and heavy lead bullets, and then with lighter lead bullets. I have a design process for selecting loads that will cycle at a particular velocity, but I need to calibrate it for my particular gun by experimentally determining the gas port pressure for one load below which the bolt won't lock back on an empty magazine. This can be done with the chronograph and software. After that it should be possible to find the minimum load for any powder and bullet that will cycle the gun. Subsonic ammunition with the 8.5" barrel without a suppressor appears to be possible, and testing is only needed to find the fastest (and quietest) powder that will do it for that gun. The 16" barrel with pistol length gas system may cycle with subsonic ammunition, but the highest available gas port pressure with any powder is about half of the MILSPEC pressure for 16" carbine-length gas system. So there is a little physics exercise needed to figure out what may be possible.

* Make the 223 work with lead bullets, preferably without gas checks.

* Possibly if the work with the 38 and quiet loads goes well, then the success could be improved with a different gun. In simulation I can create 600 fps loads for a 24" barrel, 327 Federal case, and 130 grain bullet that are below 100 psi muzzle pressure, which is 151dBA at the muzzle. That would also be a fun gun to use with a suppressor because it starts to get into the range of normal sounds. The entire powder burn would happen in the case, so the barrel would last forever.

Thank you all again for creating and participating in this group. I pretty well knew I would like this hobby, but I'm finding it deeper and more interesting than I expected. I hope we'll have some fun in the near future and hopefully create some new things together.

Keith

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Squid Boy posted this 20 May 2019

Keith, welcome to the forum and you certainly jumped in to the game with both feet. I might suggest a little test for your Model 10 before you do anything else to it. Make sure it's unloaded of course and cock the hammer, then pull the trigger like you normally would. After the hammer drops don't release the trigger at all but hold that position and try to move the cylinder. It shouldn't move and if it doesn't that's a good thing because the cylinder lock and hand are OK. You can try it double action as well, just make sure you hold the trigger back. If it does move then the hand and/or cylinder lock should be replaced. It is possible that the ratchet on the ejector could be worn but that would be unlikely in a gun that was well maintained. I use gauge pins to check cylinder to barrel alignment but don't often find one out unless it was really beat on. Anyway, good luck for the future, you have plenty of projects to keep you busy. Squid Boy

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JimmyDee posted this 20 May 2019

Welcome aboard.  It sounds as though you have some interesting projects in-hand.  Good on you!

... I made some that would not fire because the primers were set too deep, and I had to fix that in my reloading process.

Could you expand on this, please?  Viz, how were you seating the primers?  How did you determine that they were seated too deeply?  What did those primers look like after they didn't ignite?

 

 

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KeithOR posted this 20 May 2019

Hi Squid Boy, thanks for the tip! Sadly on one of the six cylinders there is a tiny bit of cylinder motion after the hammer falls and with the trigger still held down. It is an extremely slight motion but it is there. I guess I need to figure out which of the three parts needs be replaced and fitted. The hand and cylinder lock may be possible for me to do myself with some additional learning. I think If I tried to fit a new ejector I would destroy the first one or two of them before I got it right, and I don't know if new parts are even available--they don't seem to be from dealers, but they may be from Smith & Wesson.

I had better obtain gauge pins to check the cylinder-to-bore alignment before and after repairs, and so I can figure out how to fit a new cylinder stop if or when that is needed. It does look OK visually, looking down the bore into the chambers with the cylinder turned as far as it will go counterclockwise from the shooter's perspective.

Now how do I figure out what is wrong? If I could check the cylinder-to-bore alignment then it should be possible to know that the cylinder lock is ok from just that? If I would assume the cylinder lock is ok then I could try to fit a new hand. Is there a simple diagnostic procedure that I can use to further asses the situation? I would very much like to do the work myself if it is possible, even if it requires more time and money than taking it to a gunsmith.

I really appreciate that you thought to mention this check. I'll try to cautiously investigate this as much further as I can figure out how to do it.

Keith

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KeithOR posted this 20 May 2019

Thanks Jimmy! I might very well have misinterpreted the problem with the non-functioning rounds, and I do have all the ammunition that didn't go off waiting to be checked more carefully. Here is what happened with the primers:

I had quite a few undetonated rounds from my S&W Model 10 at first, and I haven't checked this as carefully as I should, but here is what I observed so-far. When I am shooting and a round doesn't go off, I seem to most always be able to feel that it is seated below the base of the bullet, just running my thumbnail over it. When I check my unfired ammunition I only notice this condition on a small minority of the rounds. The primers are indented by the firing pin, but more lightly than the rounds that work. Sometimes dropping the hammer on the same round a second time will cause it to fire and other times not. Maybe that works half the time. If I take the cartridge out of the revolver and then put it back in and try it again, most of them seem to fire, and I have imagined that is because I'm hitting a slightly different place and pushing the already-indented primer brass down against the anvil. If I select a tray of ammunition that doesn't have primers seated deeply enough to notice, then they seem to all work. The ones I loaded later work more consistently than the ones I loaded earlier, so it is best to try to diagnose the problem before I run through the last of that

I'm using mixed brass and seating primers on a Dillon XL650. If a cartridge rim is thicker than average then the primer will seat deeper. I'll have a careful look at the machine

I've been working through a backlog of loaded ammunition and I've been lazy about driving this problem to ground. I'll report back with some additional details, like the actual measured depth of the primer below the case head for failed and unfired rounds. I'll take some of the nonfiring rounds apart and look for clues. At the beginning I did not clean excess bullet lube before loading. I could have more than one problem. I will also bin my remaining bullets by primer seating depth and collect some statistics to make sure the primers really have anything to do with the problem. I have my subjective idea of what is wrong,but I know I can be easily fooled.

I think you are right that I really should be careful enough to come to a really clear understanding of what is happening with all the dud rounds. What else should I try? Thank you so much for your thoughts.

Keith

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 20 May 2019

Keith,

As a certified S&W armorer I can help you with the issues on your model 10. If the cylinder stop comes up or engages on each chamber, then there is no issue with the hand or cylinder stop. This should be checked by holding the revolver up at eyesight and slowly cock the hammer. Watch to see if the cylinder stop engages the cylinder each time before the hammer locks. Do this on all 6 chambers. Once the cylinder stop is engaged you can check for some side play by pulling the trigger and holding back, while trying to rotate the cylinder from side to side. A minimal amount of play, say 0.001- 0.002" is acceptable. Anymore then you may want to replace the cylinder stop. However it is less of an issue then the timing of the cylinder. Back and forth cylinder movement is another issue altogether and requires a simple repair. Again the slight play of the cylinder side to side is a minor issue compared to the timing or endshake.

  

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
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pondercat posted this 20 May 2019

Welcome to the forum KeithOr,

Prepare yourself for a learning experience of a lifetime, for a lifetime.  It seems like every time I work with my guns or reloading I learn something new - or at least re-learn it.  I believe you will also.  You have a terrific start in this hobby and you just hooked up with a bunch of the best mentors in the shooting world!

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 20 May 2019

hi Keithor ... welcome to the group ... great to see your enthusiasm for our hobby/sport/obsession ...  

as mentioned above, many of us have been " practicing " for many years and haven't run out of things to learn yet .... in fact, you might notice that even for the past several years of the forum here ....  that there is a lot of effort being put into understanding the most basic functions of cast bullets ... 

?  need gas checks ?  hard lead alloy better ? what does lube do ? how many shots to test accuracy ?    

so, i suggest that even though you might be a relative newcomer to shooting .... you actually know as much about it as the rest of us ::  not enough. ( g ) .  

*************

one thing i am 51 % sure of is that primers should be seated just below the surface ... the anvil should be pushed firmly against the bottom of the primer pocket .. a slight crush !!    i am not much of a handgun guy but suspect not enough firing pin strike depth, or a soft hammer/main spring, or a cushioning effect when you fire, such as unsized/bulged case bases.  ... ? bullets too snug in chamber throats ? 

part of the fun of this hobby is finding solutions to problems .  even more fun is giving wild guesses about problems discovered by other people ... ( g ) .

please keep us up with what is happening with your projects.

****************

oh, i have been watching the 300 blackout threads ... but am really exited about the new " 358 

blackout " cartridges being played with lately .....  kinda a rimless 357 max ...  big holes !! 

ken

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JimmyDee posted this 20 May 2019

When I am shooting and a round doesn't go off, I seem to most always be able to feel that it is seated below the base of the bullet, just running my thumbnail over it. When I check my unfired ammunition I only notice this condition on a small minority of the rounds. The primers are indented by the firing pin, but more lightly than the rounds that work. Sometimes dropping the hammer on the same round a second time will cause it to fire and other times not.

We call these "high primers" and it occurs when the primer is not seated deeply enough -- i.e., protrudes from the base of the case.  Your use of the word "deep" is the opposite of the way we use it.

High primers result in misfires when the hammer strike seats the primer and doesn't crush the priming compound between the cup and anvil.  In revolvers, high primers will often prevent the cylinder from rotating into battery.

I'm using mixed brass and seating primers on a Dillon XL650. If a cartridge rim is thicker than average then the primer will seat deeper. I'll have a careful look at the machine

I would be surprised if case rim thickness is causing high primers.  I think that you would have trouble getting the case under the shell plate if it was excessively thick.

On your XL650, the primer is seated as you push the operating handle beyond its resting position on the up stroke.  (If you release the handle, the spring on the rod connected to the powder throw mechanism returns it to the resting position.)  You should be able to feel a subtle but abrupt resistance to your push as the primer bottoms out in the primer pocket.

I don't mean to bore you with things you already know, but I suspect this is where your issue lies.  Check your set-up and develop a feel for seating primers.

 

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KeithOR posted this 20 May 2019

Thanks Jimmy and Ken,

Yes, you had my meaning right the first time. By "seated too deep" or "below the head of the case" or "low" I meant below flush and not protruding. I think you may be right that the problem is not primers seated too deeply though. When the primers are seated low enough that I can easily feel the ridge on the case head with my fingernail, those are the bullets that seemed less likely to work. Or that was what I thought.

I had to know, so I just measured ~200-250 bullets from different load lots with a digital caliper--using the tail end of the slide to measure the depth. The deepest I found was 0.004" which I would think is OK. The vast majority were 0.001-0.003 below flush, which I would think is excellent. I think I get them seated at the bottom of the primer pocket for the most part because as Ken said I can feel the feedback from the handle on the machine. That is unless the handle stops before I reach the end of the primer pocket, but I haven't figured out if that is possible yet. The fingernail test does not give me good feedback for below-flush primers they way I thought it did, because there is some variation in how square the rim of the primer pocket is from case to case. So the fingernail will catch on some cases even when the primer is perfectly flush.

It is not that I didn't have any high primers. I did have a very few high and crooked primers from two of the trays of 50 cartridges that I shot, and I don't know what went wrong there. When I was measuring the seating depth just now I included some cases I'd primed for a plan of loading some while shooting in the future, and one of those had a primer seated sideways and squashed flat. But I can't produce evidence now of either high or low primer seating with my unfired ammunition.

I'll have to try to figure this out and report back. One disturbing thing I found when I looked in my supplies just now is that my fail-to-shoot bullets are missing and I'm afraid that I may have shot almost all of them by recycling them in the gun a second time. I know there were at least a few that just wouldn't go off, so hopefully the dud bullets are still together and only misplaced. It felt good at the time to shoot the duds, but now I wish I had them all to inspect. What I thought I saw at the time was that the primers were substantially below the bullet base and that they were less indented than the rounds that detonated. Hopefully I'll be able to re-observe the problem and figure this out because at this point it could just have been a problem of perception.

One possible explanation is that I deformed the cases of the dud rounds myself before loading. I got a primer pocket swaging tool--the Horniday one that works on the press--for the 223 cases and randomly swaged some 38 special primer pockets with it at the start. At first I think I was using too much pressure on the first cases with that tool, and the primers on those cases may seat a little bit deeper. I will try to reproduce that later.

All my current brass is used, and some of my 223/5.56 brass was amazingly deformed. I had a problem with some cases where the head was not symmetrical behind the case body and protruded enough to prevent chambering. After I got a cartridge gauge to understand my sizing problems I found the problem and fixed those cases by rotating them in an electric drill and sanding the case rims uniform. That experience may have biased me toward trying to explain my 32 Special duds by case variation.

The thing about the 38 Special cases is that some them are irregular but because of the forgiving nature of the case shape they still always chamber. For the purpose of learning I sorted them by head stamp before loading the first time, so when I have duds on a particular tray those were loaded at the same time and also have the same head stamp. That is a good and a bad thing for identifying the source of the problem. It would have helped if I'd inspected the duds more carefully. The thing I was thinking about the case rim thickness was that a rim that is a bit thicker might press the primer seating plunger a bit deeper. The primer seating mechanism comes up to a fixed maximum height during the priming stroke, but the height of the bottom of the case in the shell holder varies by the rim thickness because while the primer is being seated the shell holder bears against the top side of the rim. Maybe the handle is always stopped when the primer reaches the bottom of the pocket and not before, so in that case rim thickness might not matter.

I think I'll test the primer-seating function of the press during my next hobby break by making some "extra-deep" primer pockets with the swager, find out if they are really deeper, and find out if they really seat any deeper. I'll also find the mechanical stop on the press With the handle cranked all the way down and the primer seater all the way up I'll see if I can fit a feeler gauge between the stop on the frame and its mating surface on the ram. That should prove that the problem I am imagining is not possible.

Keith

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KeithOR posted this 20 May 2019

Hi David,

Thank you so much for your great description of the function tests for the Model 10 revolver.

For the first test, everything is good. The cylinder lock does lock consistently on all six cylinders before the hammer locks.

On the test for cylinder rotation with the hammer pulled back things are not as good. The amount of rotation varies by cylinder. I found the cylinder that has the most rotation with the trigger held down and laid the gun on a metal table using the top strap and barrel to stabilize it. Then I used a dial gauge bearing against the cylinder cutout while I rotated the cylinder quickly back and forth through its range of free motion. I measured about 0.008" of play, and with the angle of the cylinder to the stem of the gauge it probably would have been 0.010" at the tangent.

There is minimal gap between the front of the cylinder and the forcing cone. I have checked it before, but checked it again just now and it is between 0.005 and 0.006 measured with feeler gauges. That is, the 0.006 gauge won't start behind the cone from either side, with the cylinder pulled away from it. The 0.005 gauge will fit most of he way in between.

I guess it is time soon for me to learn how to fit a cylinder stop. Should I use the oversized one that Power Custom makes, or something different? I need to make a plan for how to do this properly. It seems like the challenge will be to get the bore aligned as well as possible on all cylinders after the job is done. I need to figure out basic things like how to use gauge pins to check alignment, how to figure out what pins to get in the first place, and what the loop of tasks that need to be done between each measurement as I shape the new stop. Also whether to touch the window that the stop fits through or whether to leave it alone. Any advice you might have will be welcome!

Keith

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 20 May 2019

consider that primers seated not deep enough ... that is, not all the way bottomed .... will " cushion " the firing pin blow ..... some of the pin energy is taken up by the firing pin finishing seating the primer.

so that could explain why the second try sets off the primer.  the first try is actually finishing the primer seating for you.

***************

in full disclosure, i still after 65 years of seating primers have a dud occasionally ... but then i have many excuses ...  i carry that list in my wallet ... mostly has to do with setting a new record for cartridges loaded per minute ... ( g ) ...

*****************

i might mention that many serious shooters use simple hand squeezer primer tools so they can feel the primers bottoming.

************

oh, i prefer a benchrest quality primer pocket uniforming cutter to the swaging types ... will take off mil crimp while it is at it.  not sure it is actually better than swaging, but less force for sure.  if your swager has a built in stop, it won't swage deeper.

just some thoughts, ken

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KeithOR posted this 20 May 2019

Thank you Ken and PonderCat! I am really surprised by how interesting all of the cast bullet and gun stuff is to me too.

The 350 Legend or 357 AR-Max look really interesting to me too. The 300 Blackout is more complex to load for than I thought it would be, and that is for the good. I guess that with the 350 legend some very heavy bullets would be possible because you can seat deeper into the straight-walled case. I need to find out some basic parameters of the AR platform and I'll write them up on this forum as I do.

Well, thanks again to everybody and I hope I will be in contact with all of you more.

Keith

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JimmyDee posted this 20 May 2019

One possible explanation is that I deformed the cases of the dud rounds myself before loading. I got a primer pocket swaging tool--the Horniday one that works on the press--for the 223 cases and randomly swaged some 38 special primer pockets with it at the start. At first I think I was using too much pressure on the first cases with that tool, and the primers on those cases may seat a little bit deeper. I will try to reproduce that later.

Swaging tools shouldn't remove any material; they are used to remove crimps which are used on military-grade cartridges by opening and putting a radius on the mouth of the primer pocket.  Other tools (called something like "primer pocket uniformers") do have a cutting tool that will remove carbon fouling and shape the bottom of the primer pocket but should not make the pocket any deeper.

You can't seat primers too deeply without applying significant pressure and deforming the primer cup.

With the handle cranked all the way down and the primer seater all the way up I'll see if I can fit a feeler gauge between the stop on the frame and its mating surface on the ram.

This confuses me: On the XL650, the primer is seated when the handle is all the way up and pushed slightly forward.

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KeithOR posted this 20 May 2019

Swaging tools shouldn't remove any material; they are used to remove crimps which are used on military-grade cartridges by opening and putting a radius on the mouth of the primer pocket.  Other tools (called something like "primer pocket uniformers") do have a cutting tool that will remove carbon fouling and shape the bottom of the primer pocket but should not make the pocket any deeper.

You can't seat primers too deeply without applying significant pressure and deforming the primer cup.

I took a short break and checked this on the press. Mind you that I intentionally swaged the primer cup hard for this test, but also that I was pushing the nose of the Horniday swager too far down into the pimer cup at first, so this is an exaggerated version of what I may have seen on some of my cases.

Primer cup depth before swaging measured 0.115, and after swaging measured 0.137. Difference was 0.022. I used a 9mm case I picked up at the quarry where I shoot. This is an extreme example done to check whether such a thing is even possible. After swaging a spent primer will drop into the pocket with no force with the top of the primer at a depth of 0.009 below the case head. I guess I could push it deeper and "seat" it. But of course the case is ruined for any practical purpose.

I did something similar but less extreme to some of my cases. I didn't measure the primer pockets after running the swager. There is nothing wrong with this swaging die, but I had to learn how to use it properly. At first I had the idea that I would adjust the swaging die so that I would pull the handle all the way over center to its hard stop--this is on a fixed press. But each brand of 223 case, and 38 special for that matter, have a different distance between the bottom inside of the case and the bottom outside. The way to do it right was by feel and sight, and it took some practice to get right. I had a few--but just a few--223 cases that I am almost sure that I wrecked that way. Those were the ones that didn't fire and had light primer strikes.

I figured out that I was over-swaging the pockets and stopped doing it but I didn't know that I'd actually wrecked the early cases. The trouble if I am right is that I need to go through my shot cases and fish out the ones that I deformed the primer pockets on. I know I made this mistake on some 223 cases now, and I suspect I did the same for a few some of my 38 special cases.

It doesn't mean that I didn't have some cartridges that failed to fire because they weren't seated deep enough, because I very probably did. I do see your point about how a slightly loose primer seated at any depth could absorb the hammer energy in friction--seating the primer better in the process. It would leave a light indentation just like I observed. I really do hope I a few of the dud cartridges will turn up so I can look at them more carefully, and the next time one doesn't fire I'll treat it as a special thing to be studied carefully.

This confuses me: On the XL650, the primer is seated when the handle is all the way up and pushed slightly forward.

You are right of course! Handle goes up, shell plate goes down. I just visualized the motion backwards as I was writing the description.

Cheers, and thank you.

Keith

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tony1960 posted this 21 May 2019

Ah primers, the bane of revolver shooters.

 

So for my sake, are we talking single or double action when there are misfires (light strikes) on the primers. It makes a difference.

Primers like men, are not created equal, some are harder then others. I would be surprised to find that your revolver is not setting primers off single action, unless someone has played dramatically with it. Is the mainstring screw touching the mainspring, good place to start is give it a full turn in.

So for arguments sake we will consider the issue is happening double action only, there are three main causes, mainspring tension, primers too high and too hard primers. The first and last are easily recified, screw the mainspring screw in or try a different brand of primers. Personally I won't buy anything other than Federal because my revolvers have been modified to shoot a soft primer. If I use a CCI or Remington I will get maybe one out of the six may work. Everything works in an Auto (god bless them).

So, do not be afraid to seat your primers. I seat them hard so you can see the dimple of the anvil on the cup, overkill maybe but in a comp where there is noi reshoots.......

Another thing to look out for is seating the primers in square, the concpt of the shell plate does not allow for full 360 degree rim contact, so the case will tip, only has to be a bees whisker to put the primer in lopsided. On my RL550 when I have seated the primer I back the arm off and turn the case 360 and seat again, yes it is slower but I have full strikes each time also. After a while you will get used to it and I can get 100 rounds loaded in under 17 minutes, how fast do you need to go?

There are cases with extremely thick rims, Lapua for one but they actually only cut down the headspace so in reality bring the primer closer to the firing pin. I had some Super brand (an Aus manufacturer) which had extremely deep primer pockets, not the best for double action revolvers, fine for single action shooters. The major brands I have found to be pretty good and have had no issues with any.

 

My model 10 also is from the '60's but was Aus police issue.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Tony

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JimmyDee posted this 21 May 2019

(I was wrong -- I guess you can go gorilla and deepen primer pockets with a swaging tool.)

Let me offer this: if it ain't easy, it ain't right.  Presses and tools are designed to provide all the mechanical advantage you need to hand load without great force.  Sizing cases requires the greatest effort but, even then, if it's hard, you're probably missing a cleaning or lubrication step.  Sizing necks on military bottle neck rifle cases might be the worst but significant force is only necessary when the inside neck is dirty or is not lubricated.

Small primer pockets - both pistol and rifle - run from .123" to .117" deep.  Primers are to be fully seated in the pocket, 0" to .008" below the face of the case.

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KeithOR posted this 21 May 2019

That is excellent Tony. The mainspring screw actually was an issue the first time I shot the gun. I'd had it completely apart and learned how to put it back together and I'd read glowing reports of reduced action hammer springs for revolvers via some helpful marketing-funded personal testimonials. So on my very first shooting session I had the hammer spring screw backed off enough to reduce the trigger pull by "half". No actual trigger pull meter or fish scale was available to calibrate this. That was the first sensitive test of the quality of my ammunition and they mostly shot but a number did not. About five hundred rounds in, after the gun got really filthy and before it eventually stopped shooting, I had a lot of duds light primer strikes. The cleanliness of the gun may have been unrelated to the light strikes because I was shooting trays of 50 bullets loaded at the same time and with the same head stamp.

After that I cranked the main spring retaining screw down to what I think is its regular tight position--about as tight as felt reasonable and safe, and on the second shooting session I still had some duds, though there were far fewer. I could crank the mainspring screw down harder or replace it with a fresh new mainspring, but it seems more desirable at this point to make the bullets shoot as things are.

Isn't the Model 10 a wonderful thing though? The place where I shoot is mostly attended by kooks--individuals like myself who have bought their guns from a local sporting good store or pawn shop or internet and are just figuring out how to use them. No one else is reloading, I don't know any reloaders face-to-face, and I've never shot factory ammunition in my guns. So I've had function problems that I haven't seen in others but have also had the gratifying experience after just a few sessions of shooting to be able to hit targets at around 50 yards that no one else with pistols seems to, and inexplicably some of the rifle shooters can't. Not all my ammunition has been accurate. The variability is interesting given that there is not a lot of variation in the loads I'm using. They are 2.7-3.1 grains of Bullseye, mostly behind the 358429, with the great majority at 3.0 grains. The primers are all CCI 500 for now. I shot some with cardboard wads and did not see a huge improvement in consistency, though I guess I might have if I'd actually recorded everything in a spreadsheet as I originally intended. Most are lubed with beeswax/parafin/tallow. I have ultrafine aluminum oxide, molybdenum disulfide, and hexagonal boron nitride to try as additives once I get systematic enough to evaluate them. I shot some with powder coating, including some with bad powder coating. I shot some malformed bullets and a lot of carefully cast and selected ones. My bullets with cardboard wads didn't seem to work better than those without, but then I have not collected and evaluated the data in a systematic way yet. Most of the time I'm limited by my shooting ability, and am just getting to the point that I'm really clear that a particular bullet did or did not hit where I aimed.

My revolver is not perfect, with some tiny amount of erosion past the forcing cone and a visible ripple halfway down the barrel. It seems it is already a little bit broken in the sense that it is due for a new cylinder stop, which I'm very much looking forward to. I will try to shoot out the barrel and to fix everything myself along the way if I can manage it. I do hope it breaks often so I can learn everything about it, with the more difficult things breaking later than the easy ones. One day in the future I'd like to fit a new barrel.

I also have a Walther P1 here, a shot-out aluminum frame gun from before they added the steel reinforcement pin across the slide to reduce frame wear. It is not currently safe to shoot in my estimation. Repeatedly decocking the slide lightly indented the primers in the ammunition that was in it when I took it from the collection of my dad's personal effects. My brother has shot that gun and says it is frighteningly inaccurate, like maybe the slide will come fly loose. I took it because it seems like a good way to get familiar with automatic pistols. Eventually I may try to get it working. I enjoy metalworking and I think if I put steel inserts through the frame at the right places and filed them to shape that I might be able to tighten up the action. Maybe clamp the gun in a fixture and pull the trigger with a string for testing.

Thank you for your encouragement and camaraderie!

Keith

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Mike H posted this 21 May 2019

Keith,

Please stop what you are doing and take a deep breath,you obviously have no idea what you are doing,before you harm yourself and perhaps others.It isn’t possible to aquire a lifetime of knowledge in a week,slow down and take small steps,Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Mike.

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KeithOR posted this 21 May 2019

Don't worry, Mike. Nobody is going to get hurt, and if it's true that "I don't know what I'm doing", what is the harm in that? You're thinking of the risk of destroying a shot out old gun while tinkering with it? Blowing up a gun is not even slightly dangerous if none of the pieces can hit anyone when it happens.

The risk of something not working is one thing. The risk of harming yourself is something completely different. It's very important to try things that don't work, and also important to understand what the possible outcomes are.

Pointing out specific risks to someone can be a service to them if they are taking risks they are not aware of. But when you tell someone they don't know what they are doing you are unlikely to accomplish anything good.

I read six books on reloading and slowly acquired the equipment and learned to use it for five months before I shot the first bullet I made, with many iterations of problem solving, puzzling over things, and going back to reference materials to understand some of the puzzles better. I'm under no illusions that my short experience makes me an expert or for that matter a competent practitioner. But I'll be very surprised indeed if I hurt myself.

I've known a number of people who have been shot with guns and several who were killed--an accident in the living room, a suicide, and two murders. When I was a kid the next door neighbors got in a drunken fight and the wife shot her husband in the stomach with the family's .45. Half the people I've known who owned guns did at least one deeply stupid thing with them that put them in great legal, moral, or physical danger. I have to tell you that despite all my excitement about this hobby I take a very great deal of care not to put myself or other people in actual danger. I considered all of the risks of owning a gun for many years before I decided to get one myself.

Last year I did some downhill skiing and some back country skiing. Skiing scares the hell out of me. When you are in the back country among trees, after a big snow, you can fall 12 feet down a tree hole and if your friends don't see where you went you may very well die there. The day before we were at one resort, two people died on the regular ski runs. My companion was a back country emergency responder with extensive experience, and on car trips I got her to tell me about accidents and risks for at least eight or ten hours before we ever went out. I read the classic avalanche and back country book, took every precaution, and you know there is still some risk when you do something like that for the first time. I've done a lot of things that have some level of inherent danger and known a lot of people who've been hurt or killed in pursuit of their fun. I've never been one of those people or even close to it. I've discontinued several hobbies because I judged them too dangerous for my own risk tolerance, but I don't blame other people for taking risks they are comfortable with.

Is it possible you are conflating enthusiasm for a new hobby and interest in trying out new things with a lack of care? Because if we are talking about experience I will fully agree with you that I have just started. But if you think I'm not evaluating risks carefully or that I'm engaging in anything reckless then you're the one making bad assumptions.

Keith

 

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Brodie posted this 21 May 2019

Keith,

It sounds to me like you take great care in what you do, assessing each task or adventure and researching it prior to attempting to actually do it.  I think that you are probably a very safe and conscientious person and I would not mind shooting with you.  I have met and (unfortunately) been involved with too many people who jump in feet (or head) first and endangered themselves or others.  Good luck I think that you will go far with your new hobby.

B.E.Brickey

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