Rounds in the last four months

I kept forgetting to make a post about my reloading activities. Partially because there hasn’t been much. But it was greater than zero and I intended to make my usual posts. Oh well.

March

80 rounds of match grade .223. This was four sets of 20 using various weights of CFE 223 powder. Even the hottest loads, showing some minor high pressure signs, were almost 20 fps slower than previous loads with Varget which showed no pressure signs. Varget is one of Hodgdon’s Extreme Rifle Powders which is extremely consistent from lot to lot and extremely temperature stable (actual test with 308 Winchester):

VargetExtreme

CFE 223 is not part of their Extreme product line.

April

125 rounds of match grade .223 using the previously tested Varget loading.

May

216 rounds of match grade .223 using the previously tested Varget loading.

2509 rounds of .40 S&W.

175 rounds of these were a load which tested hotter than expected. They resulted in a Power Factor of 182.7. My previous tests indicated this load should result in about a 175 PF. I was quite perplexed at this until I looked at my data closely. This velocity measurement was done when the temperature was 80F. My previous velocity measurements had been at a lower temperature. I verified this by cooling some of the ammo to 35F. The velocity was over 25 fps slower which was equivalent to a powder charge of 0.1 grains less. I put these rounds aside for a match in Idaho on a cold day.

The remainder of the .40 S&W rounds were of the load I wanted to use for USPSA matches when the temperature is 60 F or warmer.

June

61 rounds of match grade .223 using the previously tested Varget loading.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 7,439 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 2,126 rounds.
300 Savage: 50 rounds.
40 S&W: 100,872 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 134,891 rounds

Over 100K rounds of .40 S&W! That’s kind of cool.

Chronograph stage at Area One

Prior to the Area One match in Bend Oregon I expressed some concerns about making Major Power Factor. It turns out I did just fine:

image

I saw the chrono team weigh the bullet before getting any velocity measurements, 180.2 grains, and knew I was going to be okay. My sample of 20 had a minimum of 178.3, a maximum of 180.7 and a mean of 179.2. I was concerned they might pull a 177 or something. Then, if the velocity was really low for some reason I could be pushing the threshold and perhaps break into Minor Power Factor (< 165). But the velocities were good. Had they pulled a 177 grain bullet and measured the same velocities the power factor would have still been 170.6 and comfortably in Major.

The odds were low of getting a low velocity since my measurements indicated a mean velocity of 978.4 with a standard deviation of 10.6. But still, you never know how the tolerances might stack up against you on any given day. As it is I suspect the chronograph they used would not agree with my chronograph, which is another variable that is difficult to plan for.

Quality control

For USPSA matches I’ve been using 40 caliber 180 grain, polymer coated, Truncated Cone, bullets from Black Bullets International. They are very accurate, clean to reload, clean to shoot, and don’t have a jacket that comes back at you when you shoot at steel. I have reloaded almost 11,000 rounds using these bullets.

My only complaint about them is the quality control appears to be a bit marginal. One time I found a 125 grain 9mm bullet in with the 180 grain 40 caliber bullets and a few bullets which weighed as little as 177.5 grains.

The most concerning to me, which isn’t that big of a deal if you take it into account in your reloading, is the weight variation. They are advertised as 180 grain bullets. I have had batches that averaged 181.26 grains. And, most recently 179.2 grains.

Looking a bit closer at the data (a sample of 20 bullets) I found:

Mean Standard Deviation Min Max ES
179.2 0.574 178.3 180.7 2.4

If I had assumed the bullet weight was the advertised 180 grains, adjusted my load for 925 fps to get a 166.5 Power Factor and expected to meet the 165 minimum PF required to “make Major” at a USPSA match I would have ended up shooting Minor with a PF of 164.9 if chrono man had pulled a 178.3 grain (or less) bullet. This would have made me rather annoyed. One has to take into account the variation in bullet weights too, not just the average or the minimum from a sample. The statistics are a bit complicated and beyond the scope of this blog post but after taking into account the weight variation, velocity variation, and temperature sensitivity of the powder I had to load for a PF of about 175 at 70F to have less than a 10% chance of shooting Minor at a match where the chrono tested was done when the temperature was near freezing.

Okay, fine, that’s not really a big deal. I can tell the difference between a 175 PF load and a 165 PF load but it doesn’t make that much of a difference in performance.

Today I found another thing to annoy me about their quality control:

20190526_123011Cropped

20190526_124605Cropped

It looks as if the bullet mold was not completely closed when the lead was poured. Why wasn’t that caught by some quality control process? When Barb and I toured the Montana Gold Bullet manufacturing facility QC was clearly a big deal. The bullet above clearly would have been rejected. But I have other indicators that Montana Gold may be an exception in the QC department.

 

Limits to muzzle velocity standard deviation

When attempting to get the best long range accuracy there are a number of contributing factors. Some of the are

  • The firearm components including barrel, scope, bedding of the stock, etc.
  • The consistency of the bullet in weight, jacket thickness consistency, and shape
  • The consistency of the primers
  • The consistency of the shell casing
  • The consistency of the powder
  • The consistency of the powder charge

When reloading these last five are the ones you have most under your control. You buy match grade bullets and primers and obtain good brass. You might even weight each piece of brass and turn the necks to be uniform.

The muzzle velocity variation is a major contributor at the longer ranges. Suppose you are shooting a 69 grain Sierra Match King bullet with a BC of 0.301 at a MV of 3000 fps.

Here are the odds of getting a 0.5 MOA result at various ranges assuming everything else is perfect (zero wind, perfect bullets, etc.) with the muzzle velocity variation the only contribution to the inaccuracy (via Modern Ballistics):

MV Stdev \  Range 200 300 400 500
10 fps 100% 100% 100% 99.6%
15 fps 100% 100% 98.7% 80.8%
20 fps 100% 99.8% 84.4% 50.4%

As a reference point on expected standard deviation of MVs, for 55 grain American Eagle FMJ ammo I get from 20 to 25 fps. If I let the default powder measure on the Dillion 550 do the powder charges I sometimes get up to 30 fps. With match ammo from Federal and Blackhills using 10 or more shot samples I typically see 12 to 18 fps with one 10 shot sample giving me 8.3 fps.

As you can see muzzle velocity variation makes a big difference and it’s tough to get it in the range of 10 fps.

The next question is, “How much tight of tolerance on powder mass is required to get the standard deviation into the range of 10 fps?” Or put another way, “What is the MV change per unit mass of powder?”

By measuring the average velocity for powder charges on either side of your chosen load you can get an approximate answer. It’s important to not make the difference be too large from the load in question because the relationship between powder mass and velocity is not linear. And if you make the delta too small you lose your “signal” in the “noise”.

I did this measurement for two different powders for .223 loads. I was a bit surprised to find that for both powders the muzzle velocity sensitivity to powder mass was very close to the same and larger than I expected. For Varget it was 11.10 fps/0.1 grain and for CFE 223 it was 10.14 fps/0.1 grain.

What this means is that having powder masses +/- 0.1 grain can blow your entire muzzle velocity standard deviation budget!

My electronic powder scale only has a resolution of +/- 0.1 grain. Furthermore, I have found that with extruded cylinder powders like Varget three kernels of the powder weigh about 0.1 grain. Hence, if you want to get muzzle velocity standard deviations with a relatively small powder charge into the range of 10 fps you must measure it down to, literally, one or two kernels of powder.

So, how do you do that?

What I did was set my electronic charge dispenser to output 0.1 grains less than my desired charge. I then add the one, two, or three additional kernels of powder and stop when the scale first indicates the correct charge. Using this technique I loaded 15 rounds and measured them with a doppler radar chronograph. I got a standard deviation of 12.5 fps. from a loading that has approximately 11.1 fps delta for each 0.1 grain of powder.

So… what I want to know, is how do factories output 100’s of thousands (millions?) of rounds of match ammo with standard deviations in the range of 10 fps?

Rounds in the last month

During February I was sort of blocked on some rifle reloading I wanted to do. I needed to test out some new loads before I went “into production” with them. I normally like to do my rifle load tests in Idaho where I have several hundred yards available. I went to Idaho a couple weeks ago but there was so much snow that I ended up not having the energy and time to snowshoe the distances required to set up the targets and do the shooting I wanted to do. I finally joined a local range in the Seattle area which has 200 yards available. I went there yesterday and did some of the testing I wanted to do.

I reloaded 80 sample rounds with various charges and bullets for .300 Win Mag and another 99 rounds finishing off some old bullets.

In .223 I reloaded 60 sample rounds in various charges for one powder and bullet. I was able to test these and concluded I should test a different powder before settling for the best this combination could give me.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 6,957 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 2,126 rounds.
300 Savage: 50 rounds.
40 S&W: 98,363 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 131,900 rounds

Rounds in the last month

This last month I spent a lot of time prepping .300 Win Mag brass. I purchased the Belted Magnum Collet Resizing Die suggested by Bob B. That was an interesting experience. The die arrived a day later than I had expected it, which meant I was out of state for over a week when it arrived and I was unable to do any testing until I got back. And worst of all the website doesn’t say anything about it only working in single stage presses.

The die inserts from the bottom of the toolhead and the bottom of the die hits the index sprocket before it fully engages the cartridge case. The index sprocket was always a mystery to me. It seemed to be fastened in some way to the shellplate bolt. It would rotate independently from the bolt but would not come off. I figured that during assembly they had shrunk or resized the sprocket such that it would not come off.

I started filing away on the index sprocket on my Dillon 550 so it would allow the ram to raise high enough to fully engage the collet resizing die. When I realized that it probably was going to result in that tooth of the sprocket either being completely removed or so frail it would break I went online to order a new bolt and sprocket to use for reloading. I would use the modified one for resizing with the new die.

Much to my surprise the bolt and sprocket were sold as independent parts. I ordered a new sprocket to replace the one I had filed on. I went back to my existing sprocket and bolt and decided they were supposed to be separable. A vice and a few blows from a plastic hammer and they came apart. Well, that would make it easier to file or use the Dremel tool on the old sprocket. I was explaining what I was working on to Barb and all of a sudden I realized I no longer needed to modify the sprocket! I could just put the bolt into the shellplate without the sprocket and the new die should work fine.

I soon started resizing my oversized cases. It’s a little slow but it works fairly well. There are still a few pieces of brass that won’t go into the cartridge gauge but I have successfully resized hundreds of cases now. I’m almost done with the resizing. I then have to trim, clean the primer pockets, and clean a few hundred cases before I can crank out loaded ammunition.

I did load a total of 167 rounds of .300 Win Mag this month. I got down to less than a half pound my IMR 7828 powder and started on some old H4350 after I ran out of the bullets I use with the IMR 7828. How old is the H4350? I don’t know for certain but the sticker on the cap is a clue:

image

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 6,897 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,977 rounds.
300 Savage: 50 rounds.
40 S&W: 98,363 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 131,691 rounds

300 Win mag resizing die update

As I reported the other day:

I have lots of one fired brass but I knew that brass wouldn’t chamber in any some other rifles even though I was using a full length resizing die. I got my hands on a .300 Win Mag rifle that had problems chambering it. Then with a few rounds of empty, once-fired, brass, my micrometer, and the specs for the brass I sorted out the problem. I found the case just forward of the belt was one to two thousands of an inch larger in diameter than spec. I think the die is the problem so I ordered a new resizing die from a different manufacture and which I expect will fix the problem.

The new die arrived yesterday. It does fix the problem, but just barely. The specification for the case dimension in question is 0.513 inches. The once fired cases were 0.514” –> 0.515”. After going through the new die they are about 0.5135. The brass chambers, but it is tight. I ordering still another die.

Update: I looked up the SAAMI specs on the cartridge and chamber rather than what the reloading manuals tell me.

The portion in question of the case is specified as 0.5126”. The chamber is specified as 0.5136”. I suspect the rifle in question is at exactly the minimum specification while the dies, combined with the “spring-back” of the brass being used results in something oversized. I ordered an RCBS undersized die which should solve the problem.

Update 2: Thanks to an email from Bob B. I ordered what looks like a better solution. The Belted Magnum Collet Resizing Die. I canceled the order for the RCBS undersized die.

Rounds in the last month & yearly report

This month I finished off all 2,982 .40 caliber bullets I had on hand. That was 2,510 Montana Gold JHPs and 472 Acme Bullet Company’s polymer coated lead bullets (sometimes called “lipstick” bullets because of their bright red color).

I loaded 212 rounds of .300 Win Mag. I was close to finishing off one of my powders for this caliber when I ran out of new brass. I have lots of one fired brass but I knew that brass wouldn’t chamber in any some other rifles even though I was using a full length resizing die. I got my hands on a .300 Win Mag rifle that had problems chambering it. Then with a few rounds of empty, once-fired, brass, my micrometer, and the specs for the brass I sorted out the problem. I found the case just forward of the belt was one to two thousands of an inch larger in diameter than spec. I think the die is the problem so I ordered a new resizing die from a different manufacture and which I expect will fix the problem. After it arrives I will reload a bunch more .300 Win Mag to get rid of powder that is nearly 20 years old.

I loaded 87 rounds of General Dynamics SS109 bullets to finish off one of my .223 powders.

Combined that is 3281 rounds reloaded in the last month.

2018 was another good year in terms of reloading. I reloaded 22,544 rounds. That is short of the 23,356 of last year but not by much. As usual most of that, 18,105 rounds, was in .40 S&W. That bring the total .40 S&W rounds reloaded to just under 100,000 and the total rounds reloaded up to 131,524.

My life history of hand reloading ammunition by caliber, month, and year: 

223 Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1998 160 0 0 0 0 0 0 140 20 0 0 0 0
1999 1777 0 0 181 578 25 0 0 0 0 140 653 200
2000 43 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 43 0 0 0
2001 47 0 0 0 47 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2016 397 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 140 257 0 0
2017 296 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 296
2018 4177 418 180 1195 300 0 0 0 0 0 0 1997 87
Total 6897 418 180 1376 925 25 0 140 20 183 397 2650 583
                           
3006 Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1997 180 0 0 40 20 79 41 0 0 0 0 0 0
1998 150 0 0 0 80 0 0 0 0 0 40 0 30
1999 90 20 70 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2003 47 0 0 0 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 29 0
2016 76 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 76 0 0 0
2017 213 0 0 0 0 0 0 65 148 0 0 0 0
Total 756 20 70 40 118 79 41 65 148 76 40 29 30
                           
300Savage Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2018 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 50 0
Total 50 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 50 0
                           
300WIN Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1999 250 0 0 0 0 0 151 60 0 0 39 0 0
2000 467 50 127 142 0 57 0 0 0 0 20 60 11
2001 382 25 0 0 185 15 20 0 73 0 0 0 64
2013 499 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100 399
2018 212 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 212
Total 1810 75 127 142 185 72 171 60 73 0 59 160 686
                           
40SW Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1997 31 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 31
1998 11537 570 258 718 1850 1812 1710 402 0 0 1200 900 2117
1999 2795 0 894 0 299 693 506 0 0 0 0 0 403
2000 3187 795 0 0 0 0 1095 400 396 0 501 0 0
2001 2295 0 300 497 300 0 0 1198 0 0 0 0 0
2002 898 0 0 0 0 0 0 198 0 200 300 0 200
2003 602 0 300 302 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2004 1345 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 300 600 445 0
2005 1059 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 659 400 0 0
2006 1000 0 0 0 0 400 0 0 0 0 200 400 0
2007 1136 0 0 0 0 0 0 118 518 300 200 0 0
2008 2398 0 300 0 0 0 0 900 399 0 200 0 599
2009 1702 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 102 300 900 400
2010 1400 0 0 0 0 100 200 700 0 200 0 200 0
2011 2300 300 0 400 100 0 500 500 200 0 0 0 300
2012 399 0 200 0 199 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2014 530 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 530
2015 7012 1699 1630 1137 0 0 0 547 200 400 100 200 1099
2016 17792 2197 700 1462 837 1899 1999 1000 1500 1000 1700 1500 1998
2017 20840 3300 975 525 200 1899 3700 2048 2644 2063 1015 1699 772
2018 18105 0 0 0 750 1699 797 1193 2396 3300 4069 919 2982
Total 98363 8861 5557 5041 4535 8502 10507 9204 8253 8524 10785 7163 11431
                           
45ACP Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2017 2007 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 500 1507
Total 2007 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 500 1507
                           
9MM Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1996 11274 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10944 141 189
1997 7374 300 0 0 1190 640 65 0 100 1088 804 1060 2127
2015 2993 0 1066 1927 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 21641 300 1066 1927 1190 640 65 0 100 1088 11748 1201 2316
                           
Yearly and
Monthly Totals
                         
Year Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1996 11274 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10944 141 189
1997 7585 300 0 40 1210 719 106 0 100 1088 804 1060 2158
1998 11847 570 258 718 1930 1812 1710 542 20 0 1240 900 2147
1999 4912 20 964 181 877 718 657 60 0 0 179 653 603
2000 3697 845 127 142 0 57 1095 400 396 43 521 60 11
2001 2724 25 300 497 532 15 20 1198 73 0 0 0 64
2002 898 0 0 0 0 0 0 198 0 200 300 0 200
2003 649 0 300 302 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 29 0
2004 1345 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 300 600 445 0
2005 1059 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 659 400 0 0
2006 1000 0 0 0 0 400 0 0 0 0 200 400 0
2007 1136 0 0 0 0 0 0 118 518 300 200 0 0
2008 2398 0 300 0 0 0 0 900 399 0 200 0 599
2009 1702 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 102 300 900 400
2010 1400 0 0 0 0 100 200 700 0 200 0 200 0
2011 2300 300 0 400 100 0 500 500 200 0 0 0 300
2012 399 0 200 0 199 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2013 499 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100 399
2014 530 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 530
2015 10005 1699 2696 3064 0 0 0 547 200 400 100 200 1099
2016 18265 2197 700 1462 837 1899 1999 1000 1500 1216 1957 1500 1998
2017 23356 3300 975 525 200 1899 3700 2113 2792 2063 1015 2199 2575
2018 22544 418 180 1195 1050 1699 797 1193 2396 3300 4069 2966 3281
Grand Totals 131524 9674 7000 8526 6953 9318 10784 9469 8594 9871 23029 11753 16553

Shiny brass

I love shiny brass in .300 Win Mag:

image

There is something about ability of the cartridge to be able to reach out and whack a target at 1000 yards away on your first shot that I find very satisfying. The first time I shot at 1000 yards I put the first three shots into the 10” diameter X-ring. That is a good as accuracy as you can expect to see at a public range when some random person is shooting a handgun at 10 yards. And at 1000 yards it is delivering twice the momentum to the target as a 9mm handgun would at 10 yards.

I assembled 212 rounds of .300 Win Mag this weekend. Each charge was individually weighed. Ignoring the time to prep the brass, the average time for assembly of a single round was about 75 seconds. When reloading for .40 S&W it is about 4.5 seconds.

It was worth it.

Whoops!

In 1999 I started loading for 300 Win Mag. In fact, I had the gun built with the specific intention of shooting a particular bullet which I planned to handload. The bullet was the Berger 210 grain VLD Target. At that time the BC was listed as 0.640. Then in 2007 I was looking at their website and discovered they had changed the BC to 0.631. It still didn’t fully explain the results I was getting but it was closer. Today I discovered they have changed the BC again. It is now listed as 0.621. That fully explains the results I was seeing. Whoops on their part.

I haven’t reloaded any of these bullets since 2000. It was time consuming. I would clean the primer pockets, trim the length, and individually weight each powder charge. I found that I got better accuracy at short ranges (less than 300 yards) and decent results at longer ranges with Black Hills Match (190 grain Sierra Match Kings with a BC of 0.533). And, most importantly, it saved me a lot of time.

I still have the powder and primers for the Berger bullets and figured it was time to load it up. I now have a much better tool for prepping the brass which speeds up the prep by about a factor of four.

Last night I was preparing some 300 Win Mag brass for reloading. I noticed that some of the brass I had used for the Berger loads had primers which were mushroomed:

image

Not good.

I checked my notes:

1999 Hodgdon manual/website says:
200 gr. Nosler Partition bullet, max 79.0C gr. -> 2883 fps
This is with a 24″ barrel.

Older Hodgdon data (1997, 1998) says:
200 gr. bullet, max 80.0 gr -> 2984 fps.
220->225 gr. bullet, max 77.0 gr -> 2881 fps.
This is with a 26″ barrel.

Starting loads are 90% of max.  My guess is that max should be about
80 gr. with the 210 grain bullet.  The Nosler Partition is a straight
shank bullet without a boat tail.  This gives it more bearing surface
and friction (especially without the moly) than the Berger will have.

Initial loadings:
6/2/99 16 rounds Berger 210 grain moly coated VLD:
One round each of 72.0, 72.5, 73.0, 73.5, 74.0, 74.5, 75.0, 75.5, 76.0,
76.5, 77.0, 77.5, 78.0, 78.5, 79.0, 79.5

I settled on a load of 78.7 grains of H1000 after firing charges up to 79.5 grains. I measured the base of the case for expansion as my indicator of high pressure and didn’t find expansion greater than with the light loads. It seemed good but the gunsmith who built the rifle told me an interior ballistics program he used said my load was unwise. I continued to use that charge with the few rounds (423) that I actually loaded.

Last night I checked the Hodgdon rifle reloading website and found they list a 208 grain bullet with a maximum load of 78.0 grains of H1000. And for one 200 grain bullet the maximum load is 77.0 grains! The max load for 220 grain Sierra Match Kings is 78.0 grains.

Whoops!

That explains my mushroomed primers and validates my gunsmith’s concern. I need to redevelop my load and disassemble the existing ammo with the previous loadings.

Rounds in the last month

This month I reloaded 919 rounds of 40 S&W, 1997 rounds of .223, and 50 rounds of 300 Savage.

The .40 S&W was all 180 grain Montana Gold JHP for practice at indoor ranges.

The .223 was 62 grain AP bullets to given the anti-gun crowd a bit of heartburn.

“Why 300 Savage? Isn’t that out of character?”, you might ask. Yes, that is out of character. It’s a somewhat long and sad story.

My nephew Brad Huffman was given an old 300 Savage, rotary magazine, lever action rifle by his maternal grandfather before his grandfather died. Brad harvested a few deer over the years with it. It is a good rifle, considering it’s getting close to 100 years old. Brother Doug bought reloading dies and some new brass to replenish the ammo since it is getting a little hard to find the ammunition for it locally. Brad wasn’t much interested in reloading and he had a box or so of ammo left which would have lasted several years at the rate he was harvesting deer. No big hurry for either of them to load the ammo. Then Brad died. Neither of his sisters are hunters and Doug decided the rifle should stay on the maternal side of the family. His wife has a couple of nephews who are hunters and he decided to give it to them. But before he did that he wanted to load up the brass because the nephews aren’t currently into reloading. Even though Brad died over five years ago Doug still hadn’t gotten around to loading the ammunition so he could give the rifle away properly equipped. I figure it would only take me a couple hours to do it and it would be fun as well. So when I was visiting for Thanksgiving I picked up everything Doug had and brought them home with me. I picked some bullets and an plastic ammo box in Moscow and a missing powder funnel at a gun shop in Cle Elum on the way home.

It took me over a day to reload those fifty rounds. Doug also had seven rounds of used brass that I tried to run through the dies as well as 50 rounds of new brass. I think the chamber of the rifle is oversized in the neck area because four of the seven rounds of used brass got stuck in the die no matter how carefully I lubricated them and tried to get them through the sizing die. Instead of just reloading the new brass I got sort of obsessed with trying to solve the problem. After removing the first stuck case I didn’t get the die adjusted correctly and destroyed a piece of new brass. The end result was 49 rounds of ammunition using the new brass and one round using the old brass.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 6,810 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
300 Savage: 50 rounds.
40 S&W: 95,381 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 128,236 rounds

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 4,069 rounds of .40 S&W last month. 406 rounds were 180 grain Hornady Action Pistol (HAP) bullets. 505 rounds were from Eggleston Munitions. These were 180 grain polymer coated bullets loaded really light for steel matches. 504 were blue and one was purple (it somehow found it’s way into the container of blue bullets). 1,567 rounds were loaded with red bullets from Acme Bullets. These were also loaded for steel matches. 1,591 of those rounds were 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges.

This is the most rounds I have reloaded since the first month I started reloading back in October 1996 when I reloaded 10,944 rounds. The Dillon XL650 made the difference. Ignoring the time running the cases through the case gauge after assembling it more doubles my rate of production I was getting with the Dillon 550B. If I don’t have many malfunctions with a messed up piece of used brass or something I can reload 800 rounds in an hour.

This month will not be so productive. I reloaded a few .40 S&W rounds but am switching back to the 550B to reload .223. Back in 2016 I purchased a bunch of components in preparation for a Hillary Clinton presidency and with the passage of I-1639 I now feel a need to do something to support the AR.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 94,462 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 125,270 rounds

Hornady 180 grain HAP review

I mentioned the other day that I tried out some 180 grain Hornady Action Pistol (HAP) bullets. In one test of a 20 shot group they gave me better accuracy that any pistol bullet I can recall. I usually shoot a six shot group and “on a good day” get about a 1.5 inch group with the same load with 180 grain Montana JHPs. Using the group calculation feature of Modern Ballistics I converting the 20 shot group into the equivalent six shot group and got 1.26 inches. Hence HAP does appear to be have significantly better accuracy. I’ll shoot some more groups just for fun sometime, but the accuracy criterion for switching bullets, all other things being equal is “nearly as good” as the Montana Gold JHP. It more than meets this criterion.

I also measured the weight variation of the bullets. This is rather important because it can affect whether your ammo will “make major” power factor at USPSA matches. If the chrono man pulls a light bullet or two to compute your power factor you could end up shooting minor power factor.

Here are the results:

Mean 180.1
Std Deviation 0.224
Min 179.5
Max 180.4
ES 0.9
Bullet 1 180.2
Bullet 2 179.5
Bullet 3 179.8
Bullet 4 180.0
Bullet 5 180.0
Bullet 6 180.0
Bullet 7 180.4
Bullet 8 180.2
Bullet 9 180.0
Bullet 10 180.3
Bullet 11 180.2
Bullet 12 179.8
Bullet 13 180.1
Bullet 14 180.3
Bullet 15 180.2
Bullet 16 180.0
Bullet 17 180.2
Bullet 18 180.3
Bullet 19 180.4
Bullet 20 180.0

The extreme spread on the weight distribution would make a different of about +/- 0.44. This isn’t a big deal.

180 grain Montana Gold JHP have a tighter weight distribution but this is much better than what I measured with 180 grain .401 bullets from Black Bullet International.

The weight distribution is acceptable to me.

I loaded all 500 bullets and found something a little irritating:

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Five (only four shown here) of the bullets had the hollow point clogged with what looked like cleaning media, perhaps ground corn cobs. It was easy to remove the foreign material from the bullets but I have never seen this in the 120K+ rounds I have reloaded. It’s not a big deal but I was surprised they would have a process which would allow this to be possible.

Overall their bullets meet my criteria even though they are a little more expensive than the Montana Gold I am currently using. I am switching bullets because they told New York they would not knowingly sell products to them.

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 3,300 rounds of .40 S&W last month. 3,206 of those rounds were 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges. 94 rounds were 180 grain Hornady Action Pistol (HAP) bullets. The HAPs were those I ordered last May in response to the President of Hornady Manufacturing Company saying they would not knowingly allow their ammunition to be sold to the Government of the State of NY or any NY agencies.

Yesterday I tested the HAP rounds and found they were nearly identical in the mean standard deviation of the velocity for the same powder charge as what I get with the Montana Gold JHP. The accuracy appears to be better. Here is a 20 round group at 30 feet (1.75” of which some of the error was surely mine):

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The price isn’t quite as good as the Montana Gold bullets but I think I will switch over to the HAP bullets when I finish up the Montana Gold bullets because of Hornaday refusing to do business with New York.

This is by far the most number of rounds I have reloaded in a single month all year. And taking into consideration that I used a lot of my “reloading time” to install and get a new reloading press set up I’m very pleased. I also spent a fair amount of time individually checking the length of about 2,300 cartridges which had the potential to have a double charge which blew up my STI DVC Limited. No double charges found so far but I have about another 2000 rounds to go.

I purchased the Dillon XL650 mostly because of the powder check stage. This gives a buzzer warning if there is no powder or a double charge in a case. This should prevent another blown up gun. A bonus is that the new press with the automatic case feeder gives me almost double the production rate of the Dillon 550B press. This is why I was able to get so many rounds out this month.

Also, if you are a reloader, get the LED lights for your press. They give you a much better view of what you are doing:

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The picture above is of both presses with only the press lights on. With room lights on as well the reloading area is exceptionally well lit which makes it easier to see if something is a little off.

This brings the rounds year to date to 12,228. With the new press it should be pretty easily to meet my goal of getting to 16K by the end of the year. I may even exceed my previous best year of 23,356.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 90,393 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 121,201  rounds

Quote of the day—Reggie Reg Davis

The bullets, they do the killing, they kill. It’s up to us to figure out a way to wrap laws around the purchasing of ammunition.

Reggie Reg Davis
Wayne County Commissioner (Detroit)
September 16, 2018
Wayne County leader wants to make it harder to buy bullets
[No.

Just as “wrapping laws” around the purchase of alcohol and other recreational drugs didn’t improve society the restriction of a specific enumerated right not only won’t improve society it will be an infringement upon the natural right to defend ourselves.

People can make ammunition from scrap metal a few relatively simple tools. Just as with recreational drugs, it won’t be of the highest quality but it will be good enough to get the job done. And it this case the job will be restoring our rights.

Reggie Reg Davis, Molṑn labé.—Joe]

Cost/benefit of reloading

The Gun Feed linked to my post about the double charge with the link text of “Reloading Kaboom: All costs savings is lost when your gun blows up…

At first thought you might agree. But it depends on how many rounds you reloaded before you lose a gun and the cost of replacement or repair of the gun. Assuming my gun is a total loss, I doubt this is true but lets go for worst case, I will have to have saved about $3200 to break even.

My worst case reloading cost (buying once fired brass) of .40 S&W is practice ammo. This is $0.24 per round. The ammo I use for matches is $0.19 per rounds. If I reuse my own fired brass then the cost drops to $0.19 and $0.14 per rounds. Let’s go with worst case reloading costs…

Getting the cheapest brand I recognize from Midway USA in one case (1000 rounds) lots results in $0.329 per round after shipping.

Hence by reloading I’m saving, at least, $0.089 per round. In order to pay for a new gun I would have to reload $3200/$0.089 rounds. This works out to about 36,000 rounds.

I have actually reloaded and fired about 84,000 rounds in .40 S&W. So by reloading, even if I have to buy a new gun, I still have saved nearly $4,500.

Plus, having learned the lesson of how a can get a double charge with this load I can either change loads to completely avoid this or modify my quality control procedures to reduce the chances.

This was using the worst case cost for reloaded ammo. It also doesn’t take into account that my reloads are lower recoil than factory loads and result in less wear on the gun. My actual savings is quite a bit greater than the calculations above indicate. Hence, in this case, the headline writer for The Gun Feed is wrong.

Double charged

Yesterday I invited people to guess what this was:

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chiefjabboby, using some rather flowerily language, got it right. Drew Rinella was more straight forward with a more complete, and correct, answer.

Below, on the left, is a normal primer which has been fired. The primer above is in the middle below. Most of what is left of the case is on the right. The rest of the case is stuck in the chamber of my STI DVC Limited (chambered in .40 S&W).IMG_0795AllCropped

I strongly suspect I got a double charge in one of my reloads. I didn’t think it was possible. It’s true, as I told myself when I started using this load, that a double charge would not allow the bullet to be fully seated. But I didn’t actually try it.The bullet compresses the double charge and the powder pushes the bullet part way out. But it’s only about 0.040 over the usual overall length (OAL). So, it’s quite possible I overlooked this during my final inspection.

The magazine was blown out of the gun and forcibly disassembled. This was essentially all I could find of the pieces. Note the spring is all crooked. What doesn’t show up is that the feed lips are quite a bit wider than a normal magazine.

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There was some damage to the gun. I had to hammer it to get the slide open and the ripped apart shell casing out. I suspect the slide is beyond repair. The ejector pins were sheared off but it’s possible they were broken before the incident. The extractor was loose in the slide and the metal below the head of the extractor was pushed down and slightly torn:

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I was not hurt but there were strange smoke patterns on my hands where gases came out of all the gaps between the slide, frame, and grip:

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My face got peppered with tiny bits of something and stun for a few minutes but it did not break the skin. I had a slightly shadow on my face around my safety glasses giving me a bit of a raccoon appearance.

I disassembled the gun to examine everything carefully. Here is what a mostly disassembled STI DVI Limited looks like:

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I plan to reassemble it and ship it off to STI to see if they can repair it. And before I use any more of  that ammo I’m going measure the OAL on every cartridge (I think I can use a case gauge). I have a backup gun which I used at a USPSA match today. And I expect I will be using is for a quite a while. STI is notoriously slow in turn around time and I may have to buy a brand new gun. And the last time I checked the wait times were quite long for new guns.

I put about 45,000 rounds through it. This is more than the approximately 40,000 rounds I got out of my STI Eagle 5.1 before it had a serious failure and became my backup gun.

It’s probably time for me to buy another gun regardless of whether the DVC Limited can be repaired or not. Heavy sigh…

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 2396 rounds of .40 S&W last month. It was all 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges. I just brought home another 7,500 of these type of bullets as I was getting really low.

This is the most number of rounds I have reloaded in a single month all year but it’s about 400 fewer than I reloaded in August of last year.

This brings the rounds for the year to date to 8,928. I hope to break 10,000 rounds for the year this month and maybe get to 16K by the end of the year..

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 87,093 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 117,901  rounds

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 1193 rounds of .40 S&W last month. It was all 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges.

This is just two rounds short of the maximum number of rounds reload in a single month all year. Still, it only brings the rounds year to date to 6,532. By this time last year I had reloaded 12,712 rounds. I probably will make it something over 10,000 rounds for the year but it will be a lot less than the 23,356 I did last year and the 18,265 I reloaded the year before that.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 84,697 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 115,505 rounds

Rounds in the last month

I reloaded 797 rounds of .40 S&W this month. It was all 180 grain Montana Gold JHP to be used for practice at indoor ranges. This was not nearly as much as I had hoped for. Things have been very busy on a variety of fronts and I just didn’t have the time to reload as much as I wanted. I did most of my practice with a .22 pistol instead of the .40.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 4,813 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
40 S&W: 83,504 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 114,312 rounds