Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chrony Results for the .45-75 Ammo

So, I got to the range and it was a mite interesting... First the results:

The TenX ammo with a nearly exactly 350 gr. bullet averaged 1165 fps.

Buffalo Arms (I have to break one of these down) averaged 1176 fps.

My "fireforming" load of 26 gr. IMR SR4759 under the 300 gr. Hornady HP averaged 1312 fps. I was a bit surprised by this. For some reason I thought it was going faster.

H-4198 under the Lee 457-325 (340 gr.) was 950 fps, 970 fps and 994 fps for 25, 26, and 28 gr. respectively.

Now for the interesting part. I put one more of the 28 gr. loads (I had loaded 9 of these) and pulled the trigger. I will note that I didn't feel a thing and thought I had a misfire. I stuck a Lee 457-325 bullet about .2" ahead of the chamber. Already knocked out with an appropriately sized hardwood dowel and 3 lb hammer I'm still trying to ascertain WHY the load squibed. Moisture? Crappy primer? One other note. 25 and 26 gr. of H-4198 (a recommended load in several sources is 24 gr.) all smoked as well as giving very low velocities.

Now, if the 24 gr. is so widely recommended, why? I can't see it. Gives no velocity, smokes the case, perhaps REQUIRES a filler. Makes no sense to me to use such a load.

The formula of using approximately 40% of a BP load as the starting point for a load using IMR-4198 gives us 30 gr. as a starting point. I'll be moving on up to that, I just want to hit original velocities, reliably, without squibs.

To that end it was recommended that I use magnum primers and I'm going to try that. We'll see. I'll carry the dowel and hammer to the range next time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

TenX Ammo for the .45-75 Winchester

I received my two boxes (for testing) yesterday. When I ordered it TenX was using Jamison brass. Now, apparently, they are using Bertram Brass and the price has gone up to over $75 a box of 20... Let that sink in. That's $3.75 a round (less shipping). Case forming and handloading, even casting one's own bullets, sure does look good now, doesn't it?

The box is Berry's Mfg #111 for the .45-70. It has a 1/2" foam spacer in the top to take up space and cushion the bullet noses as the cartridges are placed nose up in the box. The boxes were packed individually wrapped in bubble wrap and in foam peanuts. These boxes (unlike the Buffalo Arms ammo) suffered no damage in transit.

I had read somewhere that they were using the same European made brass as Charter/Chaparral was importing because Jamison's brass was unavailable. However, this is Bertram Brass. The BB is .564" ahead of the rim and the reformed/fireformed is .546" (interesting, huh?). Other case measurements that are most likely to interest shooters here are:
COL - 2.265"
Rim Dia - .626"
Rim Thickness - .060"
Neck OD - .4835"
Case Length - 1.878" (the case is crimped so it is likely longer after firing)

I got this ammo for testing purposes and today disected one round. If you must do this, don't use your kinetic bullet puller. The hole is just a hair too small to get the case out easily. Trust me on this. Use a collet type bullet puller.

The powder charge (I've not yet IDed the powder) is 19.9 gr. If you blow this pic up you'll see some bits of plastic. Those were not in the powder before the death of my kinetic bullet puller and I pulled them before weighing the charge.

As noted I don't know what powder this is. Recommended charges of IMR-4198 has long been 24 gr. I've used 26 gr. of IMR SR4759.

The bullet appears to be the Magma Engineering 45-70-350 FPD BB. The bullet weighed 350.1 gr. and is lubed with something other than SPG (it seems). I'm not a fan of bevel base designs but I understand how they are easier to produce and load.

Reportedly, this ammo produces very close to original factory velocities. I won't be able to check that until tomorrow at the earliest. I hope to be able to report on many different loads as I've got a bunch saved up!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Three Days and No Groundhog in the Trap

He might be snoozing away our 3 days of rainfall. I doubt he's wet as the earth is dust several feet down... Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Youngest Daughter's Birthday

Today is my youngest daughter's birthday. She's 28 this year and the mother of our grandson and grandaughter. She's a great "kid" and we love her dearly. Happy Birthday Margaret.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Groundhog Hit Squad

Well, it is just me. Mom has a groundhog (aka woodchuck, aka Marmota monax) which has moved in hard by her house foundation. The basement wall is in fact a wall for his burrow. I had no idea he was in residence until I saw him skedaddle across the front yard and followed on foot with my .45 New Vaquero in one hand.

Unfortunately, I couldn't end the problem then and there as he peered at me from the den entrance with his head hard against the foundation wall. I'd rather not put a hole in the wall and couldn't get an advantageous angle. So I backed off without further disturbance. Tomorrow I'll construct a fake tunnel from his den entrance with a Havahart and some black plastic garbage bags. Most whistlepigs will trundle right into such a set up and he'll be there Thursday morning for the "resolution".

Miscellaneous Thoughts, Mostly Reloading

The SPG lube and "manual" arrived today, only 2 days after ordering on-line. That's service.

Speaking of the SPG folks, my copy of the latest issue of Blackpowder Cartridge News also arrived today!

Called RCBS customer service. Wanted to order some O-rings for the Lube-a-matic. Once you get ahold of them the customer service is great. O-rings enroute to Hobie's house sans payment. They cost nothing. Why? Because my 26 year old Lube-a-matic is still under warranty!

I discovered the fault while lubing some Lee 457-325s for the .45-75. Now I'm wondering if the bullet can carry enough lube to work with BP. Guess we'll find out.

Speaking of BP loads for the .45-75, my ammo from Ten-X is enroute and due to arrive on the 29th. It will be interesting to see which brass, bullets and powder charge were used.

Speaking of the Lee 457-325 mold. It seems the problems I have with the left block releasing the bullet may be related to the fact that the sprue cutter has a small portion hanging "over" the bullet base even when open. Going to have to grind that part away. It might release properly then.

But in between dealing with this frustrating mold I've been casting some 100+ gr. jewels for the .30s (I'm going to use them to make my .30 Herrett a .32-20). Nearly every bullet comes out perfect.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

RCBS Lube-a-matic Fun with .45-75 Bullets & More

Well, today I cast some bullets for the .45-75 using the Lee 458-325 mold (another story) and went to lube and size those that were suitable. Well, well. First I can't get lube pressure. Next I find that the O-rings, both of them, are blown. Then I find that I've lost my manual. Fortunately RCBS has one on-line. Now I want to order the O-rings and RCBS's on-line ordering system is down tomorrow and Friday which evidently includes today on their calendar (of course...). So, I got a few bullets done. Wish I could have done more.

Then John Kort posted the following at the forum:
For reference purposes from Winchester's 1895 Catalog:

.45-70-350 Winchester - 1,307 f.p.s.
.45-75 Winchester(350)- 1,343 f.p.s.

The .45-75 was never factory loaded with smokeless powder, probably due to the short life of the 1876 Winchester.

The early smokeless powders used in the .45-70 were DuPont No.1 Bulk Smokeless (1895-1905 approx.) then Sharpshooter (1905,approx) thru 1950's).

DuPont No.1 Bulk Smokeless had a burning rate similar to 4198 but it was loaded to fill the case like b.p. Sharpshooter was similar in burning rate to 2400 BUT it was a disc powder with a hole in the center for more even burning with the airspace in the case.

Both powders were also used in cartridges as large as the .50-110 Winchester.

Based on the early factory development of smokeless cartridge options for low pressure b.p. cartridges, smokeless powders between those burning rates would be ideal. In the middle, is XMP5744, a modern day propellant especially designed for b.p. cartridges. 4759 would be another good one.

Here’s some relatively current data for the .45-70 with 340-350 gr. lead bullets with both XMP5744 and H4198, which I prefer over IMR since Hodgdon ‘s version features a smaller grain for easier metering. Perhaps now, though, since Hodgdon distributes both, they may be the same(?) like they did with H4227 and IMR4227.

340 gr. lead (Accurate Arms Data)
XMP 5744 / 27.0 / 1,314 f.p.s.
XMP 5744 / 30.0 / 1,494 f.p.s. / 14,600 p.s.i.

350 gr. lead (Hodgdon Data – Manual No. 26)
H4198 / 28.0 / 1,159 f.p.s.
H4198 / 32.0 / 1,387 f.p.s.

Since the .45-75 case holds a bit more powder than the .45-70, use of the above data should result in slightly reduced ballistics...maybe 50 – 100 f.p.s at the most.

Time will tell………

I've now gotten most of the old lube out of the tube (boy that stuff is stubborn!) and am about ready for some SPG. Going to order some this morning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shooting Far with Black Powder and Iron Sights

Another leverguns forum poster put me onto this. I just didn't want to lose it and want to share the video with friends. This shooting is with an old fashioned gun. The target is 1025 meters (or 1123 yards) from the shooter, and the aiming point (or bullseye) is 16" in diameter. The white buffalo target measures 6x10 feet. This is some shooting!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Our Family at Lake George

In the 1880s Americans began to be settled enough that the more affluent actually began to have second or vacation homes in what had been rather remote areas. Not all were referred to as such but might have been referred to as "hunting camps". My great-great-grandfather William Hathaway Van Cott Jr. (his father was Judge William H. Van Cott) was successful enough that he bought a small plot of rocky land on the shore of Lake George in New York and built a small "camp" there.

That original building, which had windows, was about the size of a good sized shed and was the building in which they lived while building the rest of the "facilities". In keeping with the times, the family named this building the "Windigo house". This was 1884 and access to the camp was by boat. The Windigo house was up the rather steep hill behind the building in the center.

Later, these buildings took over as the main living quarters with the Windigo house used as a bunk house for the children. I don't remember a name for the main cottage which housed a separate bedroom for the lord of the manor, kitchen, dining and "living room" with fireplace (the ONLY fireplace, this was not a winter cabin). The Dovecote (the building on the left of the photo) had two bedrooms, each with a separate door fronting the lake and was used for married couples. The camp was rebuilt about 1950.

This photo is from early in the 1960s, maybe 1961, and a new front porch is being constructed for the Dovecote. Likely it is family members doing the work and this was often the case as these folks found it interesting and fun to do.

The property passed from Eleanor Van Cott Brodie to four daughters (Janet, Agnes, Margaret and Eleanor) to whom the cabin passed at his death. Only Eleanor is still living (in Glens Falls near her daughter Agnes).

When the girls were children living in Staten Island, their mother, Eleanor, would pack trunks with canned food and clothing for the summer. After the school year had ended, they would take their trunks to Grand Central Station and board the train to the terminal at or nearest to Lake George Village. There they would board a steamer to Sabbath Day Point (the cottage is just south of the point). From Sabbath Day Point they would move their things in one of the two pulling (rowing) boats.

Here is my Grandmother Janet in Winona, one of the two Lake George pulling (rowing) boats built by Bartlett which they used, in 1962 or 1963 on Lake George. She's out in the bay in front of the cottage and you are looking south down the lake.

Water came directly from the lake with a hand pump in the kitchen and an intake about 50 feet out into the lake. Of course the pump had to be primed and sometimes it was just as easy to throw a bucket off the porch into the water and haul in 5 gallons that way! Great chore for a young boy, let me tell you!

These boats (Winona is shown above) were built about 1904 by George (?) Bartlett of Sabbath Day Point to replace earlier boats. Why those boats needed replacement I can't say. The other of the pair must have suffered some damage and I never saw that one but I have seen photos (for which I'm searching). My grandfather re-built this one, Winona, and the boat now resides in the Mystic Seaport Museum. Plans for the boat can be purchased from the museum.

These boats were rowed, sailed (with leeboards) and motored with an old Evinrude outboard. Winona has been all over Lake George, on Lake Champlain, and even on Barnegat Bay. I should know, that's me with Grandma Janet. I'm all of 5 years old.

Of course, every generation had their own stories about the place and these were sometimes great fun for us to hear as we sat around the fireplace roasting marshmallows or enjoying Grandpa's coffee-ice cream-and-root beer floats.

This place is my major connection to the Adirondacks. All my Adirondack experiences revolve about going to, leaving from or day trips around this cottage. As I gather more photographs I'll be continuing my stories of Pine Lodge, aka Brodie Cottage. This might be difficult as the family sold the cottage in 1994 and gave the accumulated photo history to the new owners! A wonderful thing but copies of those photos apparently weren't made.

This photo shows an aerial view of the cottage as it is now. The Windigo House is gone as is the outhouse (yes, we used an outhouse through 1978). The Dovecote and main cottage have been joined by a wooden walk way. We had to go down stairs from the main cabin and walk across to the Dovecote on a stone and dirt path, mostly in bare feet. It was wonderful in the dark when you had to make a late night run to the toilet which was up the hill behind the main cottage. I don't see the dock either but this is probably a fall-2006 photo and the dock is pulled up for winter and stored under the main cottage.

Sold in 1994 to Mr. and Mrs. Stuart M. Lazarus this inconsequential "camp" is no longer ours but well remembered.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

More on the .45-75 saga

I was out to Hite Hollow Range for a test firing of the .50-90 and .50 Alaskan brass reformed to .45-75 and discovered some things that I might have reasoned out had I taken the time for reason.

- anneal brass before forming otherwise some will split on firing
- .50-90 Sharps brass will feed two rounds from the "magazine", no more, as the rim is too big to enter the mag tube! (now why didn't I think to check that)
- even fireforming loads shoot high at 50 yards, 10" high! They were still high at 150 yards!
- Buffalo Arms ammo was only 5-6" high at 50 yards.

To illustrate in the photo at left you can see how the relatively hard Starline brass, further work hardened in forming, couldn't handle the light 15-18K CUP of the fireforming loads. It was recommended that I anneal after forming and I will likely try that as well. Either way, this is an additional step that I was hoping to avoid. The reformed Winchester .348 Winchester brass starting softer than the Starline, not a single case using .348 Winchester brass has split as these did.

These light bullet loads shoot awfully high with the issue sights, on the order of 10-12 inches high at only 50 yards. Rounds impact about 10" high even out at 150 yards. Calculations by one correspondent show that the bullets likely cross the line of sight at about 25 and 225 yards with the issue sights. Now that is usable for a soldier in late 19th century battles but to somebody who'll be hunting with this gun and is accustomed to late 20th and early 21st century sighting practices, a more usable system will be needed. In other words I expect that I'll either have to raise the front sight height or get a tang peep sight. However, I'll wait on that until I get a good usable load to which I can zero the rifle.

Also, I received another version of the cartridge specification/drawing.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Original Comes Home

by Rob Leahy

Holsters: I purchased a Roy's Original Hidden Thunder holster for my 4" 1955 Target and 29-2 in 1982. This was the first holster that I owned that allowed me to conceal an N frame in AZ easily and comfortably.

Several years later, I was temporarily without a 4" N frame and loaned my Roy Baker holster to a good friend, Elliott.

He mistakenly believed that it was a permanent loan and a few months later, he sold it to one of his brother in laws. I had in the meantime discovered another 29-24" and wanted my excellent concealment and field holster back. Elliot was somewhat taken aback, felt terrible, and soon discovered that his scoundrel of a BIL refused to let loose of his new found FAVORITE holster.

In the intervening years, Mr. Baker passed on to his great reward and being pre web days, there was no other pancake rigs available to me. Having no recourse, I designed and built my own. Knowing I didn't have the skill to fashion a thumbreak and not really liking them, I covered the hammer to project my side. Having read enough Cooper and Bianchi by then and having used several other types of holsters, I decided that a covered trigger guard was a superior idea. This was around 1991, I have built several other designs, but always end up “coming home” to this simple pancake. I have been blessed ,encouraged by several members of this board, actually the old Campfire, I started building holsters full time in 2004 and it has really taken off.


Recently, Elliott contacted me about new holsters for himself and his BIL. I quickly sent him my own personal 3” N frame rig and flatly refused to reward his BIL with one of my holsters.

Shame on me: Today I opened the mail and a padded envelope contained my old original Hidden Thunder holster!

I am wearing it now. It still allows me to conceal a large frame revolver comfortably and easily. Roy Baker really knew what he was doing.

* * * * *

I'd like to thank Rob for allowing me to republish this story here. I like it. It is illustrative of how the world seems to work. A little patience can sometimes be quite rewarding.