Reloading report

As I reported on the first of this month I enhanced my program which parses and reports on my reloading logs. Not too long after making those changes I made still more changes. In now outputs a section with the yearly and monthly totals for every caliber combined. Here is that section of the report including the 3300 rounds of .40 S&W (minor power factor Blue Bullets for steel matches) I reloaded this month:

Year Total 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: 11574 570 258 718 1657 1812 1710 542 20 0 1240 900 2147
1999: 4912 20 964 181 877 718 657 60 0 0 179 653 603
2000: 3690 845 120 142 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: 600 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100 500
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: 3300 3300 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Grand Totals 88745 9256 5838 6806 5430 5720 6287 6163 3406 4508 17945 6588 10798

Powder storage warnings

Via email from Roger W. we have this from Hodgdon:

Powder Storage in Reloader Hoppers

Powder left in the reloader’s powder measure hoppers for extended periods, overnight or several days, should be avoided. Powder needs to be stored in original containers ONLY, when not in use. Numerous modern smokeless powders are double base in construction, containing both Nitrocellulose and Nitroglycerine.

Roger sent them an email questioned them on this (“Why not leave powder in powder measure hoppers for extended periods?”) and got the following reply:

There are a couple reasons.

Despite warning some people have multiple powders on their bench, they leave the powder in the hopper for long period of times and they forget or think they know which powder is in the hopper, they pour it back into the wrong canister and there will be a problem. this may seem like common sense but we see this happen every week from a phone call or an email.

Some powders that are made today have a very high Nitroglycerin content to them, when left in  powder measures for a period of time the Nitro will seem to eat the plastic. We have seen this with standard hand thrown powder measures and electronic ones that will get ruined.

Powder has a built in moisture content to it. the proper storage of powder is in the canister with the lid shut tight, this will help keep the moisture in the powder. Most likely there would not be a problem with moisture left in a hopper unless the lid is accidently not put back on.

Mike Van Dyke
Customer Service Representative
Hodgdon Powder Company
6430 Vista Drive
Shawnee, Ks. 66218
913-362-9455 Ext. 109

I have plastic powder measures that are yellowed and I attributed it to an interaction with the powder. But I have never seen any that appear to have been eaten. Still, I probably should be more careful about leaving the powder in the measure for extended periods of time.

Reloading report

I enhanced my program which parses my reloading log files. It now reports on a month by month and yearly basis instead of just by caliber.

Here is the result:

 

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
Total: 2424
30.06 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
Total: 543
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: 460 50 120 142 0 57 0 0 0 0 20 60 11
2001: 382 25 0 0 185 15 20 0 73 0 0 0 64
2013: 600 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100 500
Total: 1692
40S&W 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: 11264 570 258 718 1577 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
Total: 59145
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
Grand Total:
85445

I was surprised how many rounds I reloaded in the first month of reloading (9mm, October 1996). That was the most in any single month. I remembered I reloaded quite a few, but I thought it was just enough for the class I was taking. My memory was wrong. I got my STI Eagle, chambered in 40 S&W, in December of 1997. My 9mm reloading stopped until 2015 when I finally got around to using up the bullets I had left.

This year was the most I reloaded in any single year with 397 of .223, 76 of 30.06, and 17,792 of 40 S&W for a total of 18,265 rounds.

This last month I only reloaded 40 S&W. They were mostly 180 grain Montana Gold JHPs for practice at indoor ranges. 200 of the 1998 total were 180 grain Blue Bullets.

The 200 rounds with Blue Bullets were actually 100 bullets I reloaded, and pulled, twice. The first time I misremembered the powder charge and had a third more powder than I planned (4.0 versus 3.0 grains). I pulled the bullets, set the powder charge to the proper amount and reloaded them again. When I weighed the powder charge of the last round I discovered it was only about a third less than what it should be (1.9 versus 3.0 grains). I pulled them again and spent probably 30 minute trying to find out why the powder measure would sometimes put out the proper charge and the the very next charge would be way low. It turns out there was a bullet in the powder measure. Apparently when I pulled the bullets from the first set I accidently dumped a bullet into the powder measure along with the powder. I believe it was blocking the powder dispenser some of the time and giving me erratic charges.

I reloaded those twice pulled bullets this afternoon and everything checked out. I’ve got a good start on the new year.

Rounds in the last month

Lifetime reloaded ammunition totals:

223.log: 2,424 rounds.
3006.log: 543 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1,351 rounds.
40SW.log: 55,647 rounds.
45.log: 0 rounds.
9MM.log: 21,695 rounds.
Total: 81,660 rounds.

I reached my goal of 80,000 lifetime reloads in this calendar year.

In October I reloaded 257 rounds of .223, and 1700 rounds of .40 S&W for a total of 1957 rounds. I didn’t get around to the 30.06 ammo like I had planned as that project had a lower priority than generating more .40 S&W for USPSA matches. When I got caught up on USPSA match ammo I decided to continue cranking out .40 S&W for practice at indoor ranges. It doesn’t reduce the tonnage of powder on my shelf as quickly but it does rapidly reduce the tonnage of bullets in the corner. I turned nearly 44 pounds of .40 caliber bullets into completed ammunition this month.

Smokeless powder basics

Widener’s has a web page and video Guide to Smokeless Powder (via email from Anne Taylor at Widener’s where I buy some of my reloading supplies). The basics are explained at a superficial but useful level:

Smokeless powder may be the most important component for any shooter who is reloading ammo and it’s probably the most complicated as well. With different characteristics and a ton of variables, gunpowder needs to be fully understood before you attempt to reload ammunition.

This guide will take you through the basics of reloading powder, show how all smokeless powder is not the same and demonstrate how the different characteristics of powder can make your reloads more effective depending upon your intended purpose.

I liked the video in particular (but check out the web page as well) because I have had people insist smokeless powder in open air will go up in a flash from a spark. My experience attempting to use it for recreational purposes in such a fashion was quite disappointing. This video is consistent with my experience. It’s tough to even ignite smokeless powder and, in open air, it burns slowly.

Me? Obsessive?

300 rounds of .40 S&W after I ran them through the case gauge:

WP_20161015_16_17_06_Pro

I’m probably not quite as obsessive as you might think from the layout of the rounds on my desk.

I use a case gauge that holds 20 rounds:

WP_20161015_16_22_52_Pro

This speeds up the gauge testing and allows me to count the rounds easily by organizing them into groups of 20 before I put them loose into an ammo can.

Rounds in the last month

Lifetime totals:

223.log: 2167 rounds.
3006.log: 543 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 53947 rounds.
45.log: 0 rounds.
9MM.log: 21695 rounds.
Total: 79703 rounds.

In September I reloaded 140 rounds of .223, 76 rounds of 30.06, and 1000 rounds of .40 S&W for a total of 1216 rounds. I caught up with my immediate ammo needs for .40 S&W. I decided to spend some time trying to develop loads I liked to use up my powder, primers, and bullets for rifles. Some of those primers and powders are over 15 years old.

I did the final chronograph testing at the Boomershoot site on Saturday. I’ll probably start cranking out 30.06 ammo this week and consume all the brass I have sometime this weekend. I’ll follow up with .223 the following weekend. I’ll probably have to switch back to .40 S&W for my practice needs before I consume all the .223 primers I have in stock.

Rounds in the last month

Lifetime totals:

223.log: 2027 rounds.
3006.log: 467 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 52947 rounds.
45.log: 0 rounds.
9MM.log: 21695 rounds.
Total: 78487 rounds.

I reloaded 1500 rounds of .40 S&W in August. All were Montana Gold JHPs for practice at indoor ranges. With my .40 S&W gun at the factory for repairs (I got it back yesterday!) and out of action for a month I should soon be fairly well stocked on .40 S&W. I’m probably going to reload some .223 this month. I have a lot of powder, cases, and bullets for them that I would like to get off my shelves. I may have to buy a few more small rifle primers.

If I reload just a few more rounds this month than last I will break 80,000 rounds for my lifetime total.

Rounds in the last month

I was out of town a lot this month so the reloading and match participation suffered. Over the July 4th weekend Barb and I were in Colorado visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park. The 22nd –> 24th we were in La Push for a family reunion. And the 30th and 31st I was in Idaho working on Boomershoot stuff.

Still, by the end of the year I expect to have a lifetime total of over 80,000 rounds.

Lifetime totals:

223.log: 2027 rounds.
3006.log: 467 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 51447 rounds.
45.log: 0 rounds.
9MM.log: 21695 rounds.
Total: 76987 rounds.

I reloaded 1000 rounds of .40 S&W this month. 666 of those were Blue Bullets for steel matches. The other 334 rounds were Montana Gold JHPs for practice at indoor ranges.

Dillon Precision

I’ve had Dillon Precision presses for ~20 years. No idea how many rounds I’ve loaded, but I remember buying primers by the case several times. Not quite this level, but enough to give the anti-gunnies conniptions. The Square Deal B is my go-to press for pistol cartridges. I’ve not used it in a while, though, between work, kids, writing, and everything else.

Anyway, when I went to assemble some 38 Special ammo today it wasn’t feeding primers reliably. Long story short, I call Dillon Precision’s tech support (they have a toll free number), get charged nothing, get my answer, and they are sending some replacement little plastic gizzies (technical term, that) which go on the end of the primer feed tube, mailed out tomorrow at no charge. He also told me how to clean the primer feed tube by pushing an alcohol-dipped Q-tip through it with the primer follower. That got quite a spectacular bit of corrosion / crud out of it, and it definitely feeds better, now. Not quite perfectly, but a great improvement.

Dillon presses are not the cheapest on the market, but I have never been disappointed by the presses or the technical support. As a former tech-support guy myself, I have high standards, and they meet them every time. If you plan on doing reloading, you can do much worse than Dillon.

Rounds in the last month

Lifetime totals:

223.log: 2027 rounds.
3006.log: 467 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 50447 rounds.
45.log: 0 rounds.
9MM.log: 21695 rounds.
Total: 75987 rounds.

I reloaded 1999 rounds of .40 S&W this month. I mangled another primer which is the reason it isn’t an even 2000 rounds. 800 of those were Blue Bullets for steel matches. The other 1199 rounds were Montana Gold JHPs for practice at indoor ranges.

Preparing for another Clinton presidency

WP_20160604_10_07_49_Pro__highres

  • 5805 Blue Bullets
  • 7400 Black Bullets
  • 8800 Montana Gold Bullets

I also have almost all the powder and primers to go with those. I have several thousand shell casing which may or may not be enough depending on the percentage I recover from practice and matches.

This probably will be enough to get me through another election year scare and shortage of ammo and components if it looks like Hillary will win the election.

It’s time to start cranking on the Dillion 550B.

Rounds in the last month

I did a fair amount of shooting and reloading this last month. I have a big backlog of match reports to do. Not sure if I will get around to all of them but the reloading report is quick and easy.

Lifetime totals:

223.log: 2027 rounds.
3006.log: 467 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 48448 rounds.
45.log: 0 rounds.
9MM.log: 21695 rounds.
Total: 73988 rounds.

I only reloaded .40 S&W. Last month my total .40 reloads were 46549 rounds. So I reloaded 1899 rounds. There was one primer that got mangled otherwise it would have been an even 1900 rounds. 1099 of those rounds were with The Blue Bullets for steel matches. The other 800 rounds were with 180 grain Montana Gold JHPs for practice at indoor ranges. Montana Bullet has a, “Mix And Match Promo” on cases of bullets going on right now if you are interested.

Rounds in the last month

Boomershoot made April a busy month and I didn’t do as much reloading or shooting as I usually do. Still I did do some reloading.

Here are my lifetime numbers:

223.log: 2027 rounds.
3006.log: 467 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 46549 rounds.
9MM.log: 21695 rounds.
Total: 72089 rounds.

Last month the total was 71252 rounds for a difference of 837 rounds. The only caliber I reloaded was .40 S&W.

Polymer tipped bullets

I have often wondered about the polymer tipped bullets from various manufactures. I have read of people seeing wisps of lead on paper targets that apparently came from lead tipped bullets that melted in flight. If the heat at the tip of a bullet can melt lead then the type of plastic used for bullet tips needs some serious consideration. But, I figured the bullet manufacturers knew a lot more about this than I did and had it all under control.

It turns out this was not the case:

the Hornady engineers observed a convex hump form when charting the new bullet’s drag. The hump was relatively small and usually occurred within the first 100 to 200 yards of flight, and following the hump the drag curve returned to its expected concave climb and drop. The irregularity may have been small and short-lived, but the shift from concave to convex, and back again, seen on the Cd vs. Mach Number graphs could only have one explanation: The bullet itself was changing shape in flight.

It did not take long for the Hornady team to realize it was not the whole bullet changing shape, only the non-metal component—the polymer tip.

The solution, of course, was to find a new polymer:

New polymers were tried and tested, and one was found that met the company’s criteria. With the new material, the Heat Shield Tip was born. Molded as precisely and consistently as previous polymer tips, the Heat Shield Tip boasts glass transition and melting points hundreds of degrees greater than the previous generation’s—475° F and more than 700° F, respectively.

This resulted in higher ballistic coefficients (BCs) which translates into less windage and drop.

My favorite bullet for .30 caliber long range shooting has been the Berger 210 grain VLD bullet. It has a G1 BC of .621. The Hornady 30 Cal .308 208 gr ELD™ Match bullet has a BC of 0.670. From 700 yards away with a .300 Win Mag with Boomershoot conditions this increases the velocity by 60 fps and decreases the drop by 2.6 inches. This isn’t enough of a difference to throw away my existing bullets but I think this is what I’m probably going to replace them with.

Rounds in the last month

I loaded 1462 rounds in March. All of them were .40 S&W.

Here are the numbers:

223.log: 2027 rounds.
3006.log: 467 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1351 rounds.
40SW.log: 45712 rounds.
9MM.log: 21695 rounds.
Total: 71252 rounds.

The total for the year is 5196. For all of 2015 I reloaded 9531. I’m on track to reload about four times as many in 2016 as I did in 2015. I expect, at a minimum, I will exceed 80,000 rounds for my lifetime total.

Blue is my favorite color

Both Barb and I like the color blue. But that isn’t the reason I bought a bunch of The Blue Bullets:IMG_5338

I originally bought 250 of them last August because I saw someone else shooting them at a match and I checked out the price and found them to be a good value. I reloaded some and found they were essentially identical in terms of velocity for a given powder charge as other polymer bullets I have been using.

I have reloaded and shot thousands of polymer coated lead bullets. They were always accurate and probably most importantly, with no copper jacket, there is almost nothing coming back at the shooter, range officers, and spectators when shooting them at steel targets in good repair.

Previous to the Blue Bullets my most recent purchase of polymer coated bullets were about 10000 “Master Blaster” bullets I purchased in 2006 or 2007 just as they were going out of business. I have been shooting those in outdoor matches (the indoor ranges won’t let me shoot them) since then. I loaded up the last of those recently and was going to use The Blue Bullets to replace them.

But I got to thinking about it and decided I could use them a little differently. So I purchased a case of bullets from Black Bullets International to replace the Master Blaster bullets for USPSA matches. They are essentially the same price as The Blue Bullets but they are, as you might imagine, black in color like the Master Blaster bullets. All of my Master Blaster bullets are loaded to make major power factor for USPSA matches and I’ll continue to do that with bullets from Black Bullets International.

So what about The Blue Bullets?

I shoot a lot of steel matches. For Steel Challenge matches they don’t specific a minimum power factor (I thought it was 125, but I couldn’t find it online in their rules) for centerfire pistols. For The International Steel Association the rules say a minimum power factor of 120 is required. When I’m shooting USPSA matches I’m shooting ammo with a PF of 175 or more. I could switch to 9mm for steel matches as a lot of other people have done, but I decided to keep using .40 S&W and just make lighter loads. Remember the low recoil loads I was making for new shooters? I’m going to use those research results to give me a low recoil load for shooting steel. And to make it easy to identify which ammo I have in the magazines and ammo boxes I’m going to use The Blue Bullets exclusively for the low recoil loads.

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel expansion test

I recently hand loaded some 180 grain “Gold Dot® Short Barrel®” rounds in .40 S&W. Yesterday I did the promised “chronograph and water jug testing”. Here are the results:

Powder: 3.9 grains of Bullseye
Primer: WSP
OAL: 1.132

10 shots over the chronograph from 10 feet away.

Minimum velocity: 814 fps
Maximum velocity: 864 fps
Mean velocity: 838.1 fps
Standard deviation: 15.5 fps
Power Factor: 150.86

The water filled milk jug test was to determine if the bullets would expand at this relatively low velocity. The 0.401 bullet expanded to just under 0.6 and retained nearly 99% of it’s mass:

IMG_5327Cropped

WP_20160306_15_14_58_ProCroppedIMG_5324Cropped

IMG_5322Cropped

This is very good.

Brother Doug was a little worried that with the lower velocity perhaps a non-expanding bullet would be better for self defense because of the better penetration. Would it penetrate deep enough to “do the job”? I didn’t have any ordinance gelatin but my guess is that it penetrates just fine. They fully traversed three one gallon milk jugs filled with water. This is just under 18 inches of water.

I didn’t expect it would penetrate that far and for my first shot I only used two jugs for depth and put one on each side of the rear jug in case the bullet didn’t go straight after hitting the first jug:

IMG_5297

It fully penetrated the two jugs and I was unable to find the bullet in the berm.

The second time I changed the configuration to just three jugs lined up in a row:

IMG_5302Cropped

Again the bullet penetrated all the jugs but I found the bullet just sitting on the ground behind the jugs.