Ramblings on explosives, guns, politics, and sex by a redneck Idaho farm boy who became a software engineer living near Seattle.
Category Archives: Reloading
Ammunition reloading takes time but it can yield ammunition you cannot easily buy and may save you money if you consider your time to be of low value. Posts here at least mention some aspect of reloading.
My old phone worked with the app. That phone died and my new phone, a Galaxy S21 5G, would not make the Bluetooth connection. I purchased a few relatively cheap ($30->$90.00) phones for testing. The Nokia 2.1 – Android 9.0 Pie (Go Edition) actually worked most of the time. I have no plans to put a SIM card in it and use it as a real phone. It’s just an remote control accessory for the chronograph.
Last Thursday I received an email from Labradar:announcing (highlighting added):
The new Labradar App for iPhones/iPads and Androids is now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store*. New features include.
Improved Bluetooth connectivity
Create notes for each shot and series
Add weather conditions
Create custom names for each series
Ke can be displayed in Joules and Ft.lb
Export files via email in CSV format
Create a custom name for your LabRadar
Quick entry of bullet weight for Power Factor calculations
Great. I’ll bet I wasted my money on the phone as a remote control, right?
Wrong. My Galaxy S21 still won’t connect. To be fair, they did say, “improved”, not “fully functional”. The Nokia 2.1 now works all the time instead of just most of the time. It is an improvement.
There are some some issues with it too. It’s not required, but there is an app for use on your Android or iPhone. The app improved the usability considerably even though it wasn’t the best design and it would disconnect when the phone turned off the screen.
Then my phone had to be replaced. I bought a Samsung Galaxy S21 5G. Name brand, should be good, right? The Labradar will not connect with it. The phone recognizes the chronograph Bluetooth is up and running but cannot make the connection. It turns out many other people are having the same problem with other Android phones and tablets as well as iPhones.
The Android app hasn’t been updated since it was released on June 14, 2018. I have two very cheap older Android phone scheduled to arrive in a day or two and I’m hoping one of them will work.
Another issue is that you have to have the unit pointed at your target such that the bullet stays near to the center of the radar beam. You are supposed to use the notch on the top as a sight:
This is far from the best sight and is marginal at best.
While looking for a solution to the Bluetooth phone application issue I ran across a solution to the sighting issue. Actually, three solutions:
The View 2 would not connect. The View 3 would sometimes connect five times in a row. Then it would fail 20 times in a row. I returned both of them and ordered a phone using Android 9 with 1 GB RAM. I have my suspicions that it is a timing problem. It seemed that if I were to reboot the phone then immediately try to connect to the chronograph the odds of connecting were better than 50%. But I didn’t try that enough to have a good sample size. I’m hoping that with not much RAM (and reviews complaining about how slow the phone is) that it may reliably connect to the Chronograph. The phone should arrive late next week. I’ll let you know….
My powder puff loads failed to reliably cycle the action. The cool weather probably contributed to this. In the hot (for the Seattle area) summer the loads cycled the same gun just fine. I think I need to add another 0.1 of a grain to the load to make sure they work in the cooler weather.
I tested my new loads today. They worked great. I tested them in two different guns and also tested the old load. Both guns cycled the action without a problem with the new loads. The old loads had a few problems in the cool weather.
The 0.1 grain increase in charge also decreased the standard deviation:
The group size was significantly smaller as well. This may have been because of the decreased standard deviation. A 140 PF is still very pleasant in a .40 S&W gun.
The bullets were polymer coated lead bullets. The powder was Hodgdon Clays.
I did a web search for small pistol primers and found most brands of primers at unbelievable prices. They have Federal small pistol for $35.00/1000 and CCI small pistol primers for $50.00/1000.
I was suspicious but went through the order process. The cart did not result in taking my credit card information even though I opted for credit card payment instead of PayPal. It ended with a message saying I would be contacted for my payment information. An hour or so later I received an email giving me the payment options of PayPal,
Cash app, or Apple Pay. No credit card option.
I did some research. The domain was created on February 24th, 2021. Hmmm…
Their “About” page an other pages say “WELCOME TO HOUSE OF FIRE ARM”. That wording is a little odd… The email address they sent the payment request from is “House of Firearms firstname.lastname@example.org”.
I just purchased some bullets (not loaded ammo) from Black Bullets International. They had a flash sale of 15% off if you used the coupon code BBIFLASH15 with purchases of 50 pound boxes. I’m not sure when the sale expires. Act fast if you are interested.
I recently sorted through all my all reject brass from years of reloading. I discovered I had a fair number of 357 Sig cases. I cleaned, dried, and bagged them. My guess is there are between 100 and 125 pieces.
I have no interest in reloading them so they are free to a good home. Send me an email or text message if you can meet in the Seattle area or near Moscow or Orofino (or Sandpoint or Coeur d’Alene the 14th –> 16th of this month) in Idaho. Or if you want to pay the postage I would ship them to you.
Barb and I were in Lynden Washington this weekend doing some hiking in the area. On Saturday afternoon we visited Just Desserts, Lynden Dutch Bakery and gorged on sweet stuff. Just a couple doors away was Dave’s Sports Shop. I wanted to do a little browsing and with Barb reporting a sugar buzz we went in.
Much to my surprise they had primers for sale. Customers were limited to two hundred primers per household so making a hundred mile drive for them isn’t going be be all that worthwhile::
And the prices were higher than I wanted to pay. The last time I bought primers, 7/21/2017, I paid $3.00/100. These were $12.95/100:
I did a little bit of measurement and calculating. At an average of 3.46 grains per CCI Small Rifle Primer those 100 primers weigh 0.7208 Troy Ounces. So at $12.95/100 plus the 8.7% sales tax the the primers are priced at $19.53/Troy-Ounce.
The current price of silver is $27.91/Troy-Ounce, so they are priced at 70% of their weight in silver.
I recently purchased a Lyman Cyclone Case Dryer from Midway USA. I’m very pleased with it. I have been using a dehumidifier and homemade draining and drying rack for years. But it was frequently a bottleneck in my process. It was noisy and made the room hot. Lyman dryer will hold up to 1000 .223 cases and far more pistol cases and have them dry in less than three hours. Typically it’s about one to two hours but with a bunch of .50 BMG brass I sort of stumbled across* it took closer to three hours.
It also takes up far less space in my armory.
* I might buy a .50 BMG someday and then I’ll have the brass to reload for it, right?
Has anyone done business with The Brass Exchange recently? That is where I used to get used brass for reloading .40 S&W and 30.06.
On September 28th, 2020 I ordered 1000 pieces of .40 S&W brass and received a confirmation of order email. My credit card was charged the same day.
As this was in the middle of the massive buying frenzy I didn’t expect it to arrive for a few weeks. But the weeks went by and I didn’t receive the order nor did I receive a tracking number.
I tried to contact them to find out the status of my order. The email bounced:
Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.
Subject: Missing order. Sent: 12/21/2020 7:22 PM
The following recipient(s) cannot be reached:
‘email@example.com.’ on 12/21/2020 7:22 PM Server error: ‘550 <firstname.lastname@example.org.> invalid address ‘email@example.com.”
Phone calls were not answered.
I contacted my bank about the failure to receive the product I had paid for. They investigated for a month then told me:
Dispute Number: 19289113
Date Posted: 9/28/2020
Merchant Name: THE BRASS EXCHANGE
Amount of Transaction: 107.10
Status: Credit is Permanent
We are pleased to let you know that the temporary credit we posted to your account for 107.10 on 12/24/2020 is now permanent.
Your dispute is now closed.
The Brass Exchange web site is still up and they claim they have product in stock. But I’m not willing to risk an order, and suggest others don’t either, unless there is reason to believe they are shipping the products ordered.
This was a very slow year. I basically stopped shooting in late December because of a work project that was really, really cool. I worked pretty much night and day, including weekends, (except for a week of vacation for our anniversary) until sometime in March. It resulted in a patent application (still pending). Then with the COVID concerns I only went to like two or three matches and not many more trips to the indoor range for practice. Hence, my ammo needs were very modest last year. Then there was the whole primer shortage thing…
I already had a fair amount .40 S&W so I spent a lot of time reloading and brass prepping for rifle ammo.
As you can see in the table below I reloaded 657 rounds of .223 last year and another 88 rounds this month. A good portion of that was using up random types of bullets that had been purchased for load testing and found lacking. They are still good for teaching new shooters at 25 yards or Boomershoot High Intensity type events. It does include a new load for a 55 grain match grade bullet that turned out well.
The 98 rounds of 30-06 were for a Garand someone was receiving as a Christmas present. I wasn’t the gift giver or receiver but since ammo in general and Garand compatible ammo in particular were next to impossible to find I purchased a few clips to add to the ammo I reloaded. I used some 168 grain Sierra Match Kings, Federal Match primers, and Varget powder (Garand load data here) which was all at least 20 years old.
The Garand went to someone who had never owned a gun! But she had expressed a strong liking for the gun saying how much she liked the way it looked and she had apparently shot one before. So… her significant other consulted with me as to what a Garand was (!) and we conspired to find and purchase one for a Christmas gift.
[Update: I’ve been informed that while in high school she drilled with a Garand in Junior ROTC.]
So now she has nearly 100 rounds of ammo for her “new” gun and if the loads work well, and she returns the brass, I could make another 150 rounds or so from components on hand.
Hitting exactly 4,000 rounds of .40 S&W in 2020 was entirely a coincidence. These were all 200 grain Black Bullet International loads. I continued this month with mostly the same load but used up some random 180 grain bullets I found laying around. I have about another 20 primers and a couple of pounds of CFE Pistol powder left. I’ll probably not load much .40 S&W for a while. Of course I’ll need primers but also I have more .40 S&W stacked up than I imagine I will use this year.
This brings my total for the year to only 4,755 rounds. This is the first time since 2014 that I didn’t reload more than 10,000 rounds.
This brings my lifetime total of rounds reloaded to 149,484. I really expected to break 150K last year but it was a special year. But this year, almost for certain, I’ll break 150K.
Long ago and far away (20+ years and 300+ miles) I was just starting to reload rifle rounds. I probably wasn’t using the proper lubrication and I got a 30-06 case stuck in this die:
I concluded it was impossible to get the case out and I went to the local gun shop to see if they had a replacement die I could purchase. The owner of the store, a wise and knowledgeable man, suggested I order a case extraction tool rather than purchase a new die. I did so, but it took far longer for the tool to arrive than I had patience for and I got another die anyway. A neck resizing only die.
When the tool did arrive I was looked at the situation and realized I needed to drill out the primer pocket (drill provided with the tool), tap the resultant hole (tap provided), use a cup like piece of metal with a hole in the “bottom” through which a bolt was screwed into the base of the shell casing, then tighten the bolt to pull the case out of the die. That should work! Except for one problem. The depriming pin and expander ball were inside the case and blocking the drilling and tapping operations. I was unable to remove them from the case up through the top. In fact you can see the broken top of the spindle (is that the correct word for this?) in the picture above from my attempts to unscrew it from the die. I didn’t really need the full length resizing die at the time and left the stuck case in the die.
20+ years later I started to reload 30-06 again and I needed to do full length resizing with some used brass I had purchased a year or so ago. I got out the full length resizing die and discovered the stuck case. Crap. As I shuffled through my die supplies I stumbled across the case removal tool and reevaluated the situation. I really needed to figure out how to get the depriming pin and expander ball out of the case. After way too long I realized something.
In the picture you will see four different knurled sections to the die. The top two are associated with the spindle. I removed these, squirted some case lube into the top of the die, turned the second one upside down so that it didn’t thread itself back into the die main body and tightened it up. It was a hard pull but the expander ball came back up through the case which had been stuck for 20+ years.
I drilled and tapped base of the case and successfully extracted the case with the case extraction tool I had purchased so many years ago. See the case on the left below compared to the normal case in the center:
I expressed my joy and cleverness to Barb, reassembled the die, adjusted it, lubed up a bunch of cases and started resizing them. On about the fourth case I stupidly picked up an lubed case sitting on the bench and got it stuck.
This time it only took about 10 minutes, instead of 20+ years, to get the case out. See the case on the right above.
What I found most interesting was that the stuck cases had necks which were stretched a full 0.150 inches. Previously stuck cases on the left and right compared to a normal case in the center:
There are multiple factors contributing to the shortage of primers. I had previously heard or assumed most of them in the following post. But the Remington component to “The Great Primer Shortage of 2020.” was new to me.
Demand, however, is just one part of the story. Disruptions in the supply chain have also made a big impact on the availability of primers. When it comes to ammunition supplies, bullets are easy to manufacture, brass can be re-used, and powder is generally stockpiled by companies (though perhaps not the kind you’re looking for). This leaves primers, which are relatively difficult to make, as the component that causes the bulk of ammo shortages.
In the U.S., only four companies (Winchester, Remington, Federal, and CCI) manufacture primers for civilian use, law enforcement, and the military. Even under perfect circumstances, there’s only so much they can produce at once, and needless to say, circumstances have not been perfect during the pandemic. People getting sick, missing work to take care of their kids, and self-quarantining – from factory workers to delivery drivers, and all throughout the supply chain – caused a lull in manufacturing this spring.
The Remington bankruptcy has had a large impact on the shortage of ammo and primers. With Remington in a state of financial insolvency for the past two years, suppliers were demanding payment upon delivery for products. Remington simply did not have the financial capabilities to have an abundance of raw materials on hand and had to shutter some of their production capacity. Barnes bullets and primers were hit particularly hard in the reloading market. With the recent purchase of Remington by Vista, there is a good chance that Vista will be diverting CCI and Federal primers that would typically go to reloaders to Remington ammunition production. Remington primer production capacity has never been great. The hope would be that Vista will place more emphasis on getting the Remington primer production capacity increased substantially and quickly.
The group below was at 100 yards with some old FMJ ammo found in a magazine using a red dot 1X scope on the cheapest AR upper I could buy:
This is with everything the same except the ammo:
This is the same ammo with a precision rifle using a 14.5 X scope. This is 10 rounds with the last two, and possibly three rounds flying to the right after the wind came up:
It is a handloaded 55 grain match grade bullet. In two rifles with 24” barrels it achieved 3,140 and 3,156 fps at the muzzle with standard deviations of 14.4 and 14.2 fps. With the cheap, short (18”?) barrel it came out of the muzzle at 2,943 fps with a standard deviation of 37.0 fps.
This is a load that works well in three very different rifles. I’m extremely pleased.
I have 1,000 CCI and 2,993 Winchester large pistol primers that, at the current consumption rate, I’ll consume sometime after Donald Trump Jr. finishes his second term.
As primers are essentially impossible to get right now I thought I would sell them to someone that could use them. I’m selling them at the inflated price of $40/1,000 or I’ll trade them for an equal quantity of small pistol primers.
I don’t want to ship them. If you can meet me in the Bellevue area that works. Or I’ll probably be driving to Orofino Idaho sometime in the next couple of weeks. If you can meet me somewhere along the path of Bellevue, Vantage, Colfax, Troy, Kendrick, Cavendish, Lewiston, and Orofino* that would work too.
* No. That not the exact path. But either coming or going I will visit all those towns.
Sent: Wednesday, September 2, 2020 9:44 AM
To: Joe Huffman
Subject: IMR 5010, Bofors, Others
A friend of mine is one of the late Bill Steigers’s sons – developer of Bitterroot Bullets in Lewiston, ID. We were going through some of Bill’s leftover reloading supplies recently and came across several (full and partial) 20# canisters of old surplus reloading powder, including IMR 4831, H4831, Red Dot, Bullseye, DCM 4895 and some “flavor” of Bofors. There was also a large (original) box (originally weighed 150#) of IMR 5010. I’d estimate that there are 30-40# remaining in it.
Some of the canisters are unopened. I inspected the ones that were open and all smelled OK, and appeared dry and in otherwise good condition.
Bill’s son isn’t a ‘gun guy’ so I’m helping him out. I’d never be able to use even a small fraction of any of that powder, so I’m reaching out to anyone who might be plugged into a network of reloaders to see if anyone has any interest in any of this stuff.
Bonners Ferry, ID
If anyone has an interest send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll forward it on to Dan.
As I posted yesterday the indexer return spring (item 22) on my Dillon XL650 reloading press broke. Here is a picture of the two pieces:
From looking at the larger piece with the naked eye I originally thought it might have been worn then broke. After I found the second piece and looked at them closely and together I decided it probably was a defective spring.
If someone has a different opinion I’m willing to listen.
Today I started reloading some 200 grain bullets in .40 S&W. I only completed round 104 when the indexer return spring broke on my Dillon XL650 press. It sort of looked like I should consider it a consumable and I ordered five of them. At $1.99 (plus $8.49 shipping) I decided to order five so I could quickly replace it when the next one dies.
After ordering I thought about it some more and realized I had never lubricated the spring. If I had it might have lasted longer (I had only reloaded 21,584 rounds when it died).
No matter. I’ll have spares and maybe they will last longer too.
This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:
This year was a bit slow on the reloading front. I spent a lot of time working on precision ammo for .300 Winchester Magnum and .223 rifles. Individually weighing the charges to less than 0.1 grains is extremely slow compared to the .40 S&W rounds I pump out on the Dillon XL650. And then there is the case preparation that consumes several seconds per round on top of that.
The last couple of months my supply of .40 S&W practice and USPSA match ammo became critically low and I ignored the rifle ammo. This last month I reloaded 5,786 rounds of .40 S&W. This is more rounds in a single month since the first month I began reloading. That was 10,944 rounds of 9mm in November 1997.
5,432 of those .40 S&W loads were 180 grain polymer coated bullets from Black Bullet International. This finished off my supply of those bullets and I loaded one box of the 200 grain bullets (552 bullets in a box instead of the stated 550). Mixed in there were test loadings of CCI 500 primers instead of the usual Winchester WSPs. I really like the Winchester primers but I thought would be a good idea to have loads for the CCI primers if we get into a situation where reloading components are difficult to get.
This brings my rounds for the year up to 12,114 and my lifetime count up to 143,638.
My yearly and lifetime reloading numbers are below,