Friday, December 28, 2007

CE Gunshow at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville, VA Tomorrow

There will be a gunshow tomorrow and I hope to be there at 1100. Look for the guy with the SpanAm haversack.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Lyman 457192A in hand

My newly made mold, Lyman 457192A, arrived today. I'm excited. Now the grease grooves aren't quite as big as I expected but we'll just have to see how she does. No, I haven't cast any yet, it only arrived about 25 minutes ago!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

.25 Stevens Rimfire

I remember reading Elmer Keith and his comments about the .25 Stevens (which I think he liked for small game). Recently I bought Rimfire Rifleman and in the back is a drawing of the .25 Stevens rimfire. That only served to excite me a bit and I started to do a little research.

It seems that most authorities agree that the .25 Stevens was introduced in 1900 despite some references which would seem to indicate 1890 or so. In any "case" this was a joint development of J. Stevens and Peters Cartridge. Stevens chambered the the "Crackshot" No. 15 and "Favorite" rifles for the cartridge. Remington and Winchester also chambered rifles for the cartridge.

The original load was a 67 gr. lead bullet over 10-11 gr. of blackpowder. Later loads were offered with both semi-smokeless and smokeless powders the later being used exclusively when the round was discontinued in 1942 (likely due to to the war). The inside lubricated bullet was offered in both solid and hollow point ersions. In response to the calls by many gun writers for a high velocity load, Remington reputedly did development work on an improved version, the .267 Remington Rimfire, with a rumored MV of 1400 fps with the 67 gr. bullet. Unfortunately, nothing came of it and with the introduction of the .22 WRFM, there was little need.

The cartridge had a very good reputation, even Elmer Keith liked it, on small game without ruining meat. The negatives were the relatively high cost and high trajectory.

Of course, the high cost being a consideration, there was also a .25 Stevens Short which initially used 4.5-5 gr. of BP. It could be fired in any rifle chambered for the longer .25 Stevens.

Interestingly, there were even empty primed cases offered. I'd like to read of actual experience(s) of those who used these and why. I know I've often read of shooters who wanted to try loading their own .22 WRFM or 5mm Remingtons. They almost always seem to believe that they could develope more accurate and effective loads if only they had the chance. Perhaps that was the reasoning here and the ammo company saw a chance to make a sale.

This would be about an ideal small game cartridge, especially today. However, I'm not so unrealistic as to think that the tooling and marketing costs would be prohibitive. Certainly, no new rifles (other than custom conversions of exhisting guns) would be made. Even Contender couldn't be used because the bigger diameter of the rim moves the rim away from the firing pin. I do think that ammo could be sold for the existing guns then again, that may be the last vestige of my rifle loonie self hoping for the best that will never come. After all, if Elmer Keith couldn't make it happen...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

.308 Winchester Die Sets - Hard to get?

Well, that's what I've been told, that, ".308 Winchester die sets are hard to get," and "we can order some in." But they either aren't or they haven't because I just went on MidwayUSA and ordered the die set. Easy as pie and in stock. Must not be a high profit item...

Visit to "New" Local Gunshop

Dominion Outdoors of Stuarts Draft, VA finally moved to their new building near the interstate. They had their "grand opening" last weekend. I finally got to go over today.

First, it is a beautiful building. Everything is laid out neatly and displayed wonderfully. However, (and you knew this was coming) they must have had an illiterate rack the ammo as they have mixed up calibers and cartridges, mixed up handgun and surplus. They have no Accurate Arms powders, few die sets or little other reloading equipment. Oh they have lots of guns. But the prices, well, lets just say they have some moderately high prices. Archery? Yes, indeed they have archery equipment. I suggest that traditional archers save their gas though. Did I mention prices?

Well, the prices are just fine. After all they have prominently displayed advertising for a lending institution so that you can borrow money to pay for whatever you take out of there.

But it won't be me taking anything out the door. I noticed they have a lot of what they had before. By that I mean before the 4th of July. Not anything I want or need. Heck, they didn't even have a set of .308 Winchester dies... Now what's up with that?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thoughts on Reloading the 1876 .45-75 - Smokeless Powder Suitability

There is some controversy about using smokeless powders for loading the .45-75 Winchester cartridge, at least when used in the 1876 rifle. No less authorities than Mike Venturino and Dan Phariss have written and/or spoken out against the practice. Yet, loading "data" has been presented in Cartridges of the World and Ten-X and Buffalo Arms are producing ammunition loaded with smokeless powder(s). Owning a .45-75 in a reproduction Winchester 1876 Saddle Ring Carbine (SRC) this is a subject that naturally interests me.

Let us start by saying that the intent is not to exceed black powder cartridge velocities. As I will no doubt repeat later, somebody will want to "improve" velocities but that is not my intent.

One of the major arguments held by many shooters is along the lines of "why anyone would want to shoot anything but BP as in originals?" This argument has two basis. One is the historical accuracy, i.e. the reason for shooting these old guns and their reproductions, is compromised by using smokeless powders. Another is that there appears to be some sort of cachet attached to the use of black powder as if it is more manly (for want of a better word) to use the "real" thing. I frankly think that these "arguments" are inconsequential. Not all shooters of these guns are wedded to living history. Not everyone has reliving their forefathers' lives as a priority. Not all shooters' egos are threatened by using smokeless powder in lieu of "holy" black powder. There are shooters, perhaps a majority, who feel that at least some use of smokeless in their guns is a practical consideration.

While one correspondent felt that anyone could order black powder in quantities as small as 5 lbs and that therefor there was no "excuse" for using smokeless I have to believe he was wrong. There are shooters or possible shooters of these guns who live where possession of black powder is prohibitive for one reason or another. In as much as these cartridges must be reloaded, smokeless is the only other option.

I know that Mr. Venturino has mentioned in his writing that he felt that black powder was safer in the original guns. I sort of feel the same way but we have to realize that the Winchester factory produced smokeless loads for many of these cartridges and were using earlier powders with which they had less experience. None of those cartridges are known to have destroyed guns. Still, those old guns are now no less than 118 years old and the steels used are perhaps not in good condition for containing even black powder. Indeed, many of them have been used hard over that period of time. That does not apply to the reproductions as they are both newly made and constructed of well developed steels with which we have much experience. Yet another concern is that there is no hard data for these cartridges in these rifles. Certainly that is a concern. There will inevitably be some yahoo who will try to get just a bit more velocity out of his gun and use a powder or charge which is unsuitable. Likely, too, is that eventually some reloader will make a mistake and drastically overload a cartridge. Of course, these things happen now with smokeless in "modern" arms.

A corollary to this is the argument that one voids the warranty on your gun if you shoot these reloads. Interestingly, this is true of nearly every firearm for which we reload and that is not considered a impediment to reloading those cartridges in those guns.

Some of the concern about smokeless powders seems to be a concern that the pressure curve of smokeless powders will more highly stress the gun than the pressure curve of black powder. The idea is that the smokeless powder pressure will spike more quickly thus imparting an especially severe shock to the firearm. This contrasts with the seeming lack of concern for the pressure curve of the black powder substitutes such as Pyrodex or Triple Seven (often referred to as 777). One correspondent, John Kort, had this to say:

Regarding smokeless in toggle link actions, let’s take a look at the Winchester 1873 first. The truth is, that Winchester introduced smokeless ammunition for use in the 1873 Winchester rifle beginning way back in 1895. I have yet to hear of a ’73 rifle that failed using factory smokeless ammunition.

The powder that Winchester initially used for their 1873 cartridges was DuPont No. 2 Bulk smokeless which is similar in burning rate to today’s 4227. Shortly after 1900, they switched to “Sharpshooter” which was initially produced by Laflin & Rand, then DuPont and finally Hercules. Smokeless cartridges for the ’73 used this powder up until the 1950’s. It’s burning rate is similar to today’s 2400.

Note: Alliant has published smokeless data for the .44-40 with no disclaimer that it shouldn’t be used in a ’73 Winchester rifle.

I have a ’73 Winchester that was made in 1882. I shoot both smokeless and b.p. ammunition in it. To date, it’s hammer has dropped on about 2,500 hand loaded smokeless and 1,000 b.p. cartridges. Smokeless cartridges were loaded with slower burning 4227 which were pressure tested at a ballistics lab and produced pressures within the SAMMI MAP (max average pressure) specifications for the .44-40. It’s still working great.

Now on to the ’76.

Winchester began their development of smokeless ammunition for b.p. cartridges in the late 1893-1894 time period. They started introducing these types of smokeless cartridges in late 1894 and development continued over the next few years until all the smokeless b.p rounds were complete….all, that is, except for the ’76 cartridges.

Why? Well, unfortunately, by that time, the ’76 had pretty much run it’s course, so there was no effort made to develop smokeless cartridges for it. The one exception was the .50-95, which was offered in a smokeless version for a short period of time before 1900.

Until such time as there is empirical data for smokeless powder taken in a ballistic lab for the ’76 cartridges, users, unfortunately are on their own.

Some folks have interpolated data from the .45-70, of which there is data generated in ballistic laboratories for lower pressure smokeless loads. Stepping back to the late 1800’s…initially, DuPont No. 1 bulk smokeless was used in factory smokeless cartridges. Under a 400 gr. bullet, the charge weight was 28 grs. and was indicated to produce velocities and pressures similar to 70 grs. of black. DuPont No. 1 was similar in burning rate to 4198. Thus, the 40% rule was born (28/70). In other words, as a rule of thumb, with 4198, use a charge that is 40% of the charge weight of b.p.

Let’s see how that works out.
The Lyman ballistic laboratory recorded the following .45-70 loads for velocity and pressure. The similarity is remarkable!
From the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook:
Bullet weight: 420 grs.
70.0 grs./ FFG / 1,268 f.p.s. / 16,400 C.U.P.
28.5 grs./ 4198 / 1,267 f.p.s. / 13,900 C.U.P.
Interesting that less pressure was produced with the smokeless load.

Even Mr. Venturino in the October 2006 Guns Magazine article "Cimarron's centennial model: at last! The Winchester 1876 .45-60 is reborn. Cowboy action shooters get a 10-shot bio-bore repeater" said,

...if you use some commonsense, there is no reason they can't be fired with proper smokeless powder handloads. Because of their toggle-link breech-locking system these new Model 1876s still are not strong rifles, but shooting smokeless powders in them with loads duplicating black powder velocities and pressures will be no problem.

So how do you go about coming up with a smokeless powder load for a cartridge like the .45-60, for which no recognized reloading manual offers data? First, I looked up the ballistics of original black powder .45-60 factory loads. A reprint of an 1899 Winchester catalog said from a Model 1885 Winchester Single Shot rifle with 30" barrel the .45-60 s 300-grain bullet should be doing 1,271 fps. They also said such a load would penetrate 11 1/2 pine boards of 1" thickness at 15.

My pick of smokeless powder for reloading almost all antique and/or obsolete big-bore rifle cartridges with lead alloy bullets is Accurate's 5744. Therefore, I began working with it and the RCBS bullet. When a charge weight of 24 grains was reached, the 28" barrel of the new Model 1876 gave a velocity of 1,267 fps. I figured that was right on the money and started shooting on paper with that charge and both RCBS and Oregon Trail bullets.
but he also says about the old iron-framed guns

Since originals are so old, and most of their receivers likely forged of iron instead of steel, I recommend they only be fired with black powder ammunition.
Clearly, Mr. Venturino has taken a reasoned and balanced approach to the question. Can we not do the same?

Another comment was made by a restorer of these and other old guns. Known as Colt1849 on the forum, he had this to say:

Had the opportunity to look at a Winchester 1876 that had a serious over charge of smokeless shot through it, causing a complete separation of the case and head. Barrel right at the chamber area was blown out at the bottom, about 3 inches of the bottom half of the barrel was in pieces. This caused a secondary detonation of the cartridge in the mag tube. Mag tube had a “banana peel” split the first few inches, then split along the top seam for about 6 inches. Forend was completely shattered, what remained was toothpicks. Frame had split & expanded in the barrel threaded area to almost the lifter area. What did surprise me as that the links held with no measurable distortion or damage.

Understand that the shooter walked away from this mishap. Someone turned a $4000 gun into scrap very quickly.

Let's return to this concept of pressure "spikes", i.e. a rapid peaking pressure curve. There is a belief that this spike increases breach thrust and thus strains the weak toggle link system. However, I can't see that the pressure maximum, aka spike, if lower (as John mentions above) can create greater shock to the system. That simply makes no sense particularly when we compare one cartridge to itself on the same system. The idea that the more rapidly rising pressure increases the case head velocity in creating breach thrust doesn't bear out on other systems. E.g. in the Contender system, breach thrust is widely held to be important and frames can be stretched. Yet, when chambered for cartridges such as the .50-70 use of smokeless powder is considered no different than the use of black powder. It is the peak pressure that matters, not the pressure curve.

Case body taper does have an effect on breach thrust, we can see this in various cartridges such as the .22 Jet or .25-35 Winchester. Yet, we are comparing one case, one pressure maximum, in one system. If we look at a max pressure of 18K CUP, how does the pressure curve affect the breach thrust?

So what powders are appropriate? John Kort recommends using nothing faster than 2400 and I have to say that I agree. Indeed, you'll not see data using such powders in cartridges of similar capacity. I also prefer loading density approaching 100% as closely as possible (as I do for all cartridges) but at least exceeding 50%. I am not a fan of fillers of any type. So what powders does that give us? Well, clearly we can follow Mr. Venturino's lead of using AA5744 and the tried and true substitute of IMR or Hodgdon 4198 (H4198 is actually slightly slower than the IMR product). Also long used is the very bulky IMR SR 4759. However, I will leave the details for the loading table.

As to the discussion and consideration of smokeless powders in the .45-75 Winchester 1876 reproductions, I'm sure it will continue, by naysayers and supporters alike.

- A (Very) Short Course in Internal Ballistics

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sadness All-Around

I don't know quite what to title this. What I want to talk about is the recent spree killing by a young, angry, disaffected, and possibly mentally ill man in Colorado who killed 4 at two locations before he was engaged and killed by church volunteer, a concealed handgun permit holder, who prayed to God as she moved forward to engage him.

Much as been made of many things and many folks have an agenda in reporting. Ranging from self-serving sensationalism to attempts to minimize her act by referring to her as a former police officer and/or armed security personnel, to trumpeting her as a normal CHP holder or to mention that he was home-schooled by very religious parents.

It isn't my intent to dissect the semantics of the reporting. Rather, I'd like to give my look at it.

The facts are that Matthew Murray, age 24, shot 4 killing 2 at Youth With a Mission, a training center for missionaries in the Denver suburb of Arvada and New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where Murray was shot by a church member acting as security for the church.

The truth about the killer is likely difficult to know. There are likely many contributing factors to have brought this young to the point where he chose to hurt others. Jeanne Assam, a church member who volunteers as a security guard, shot Murray defending what has been reported as many hundreds.

Any person who moves to the sound of gunfire, to defend others, who takes on a rifleman with a handgun, that person exemplifies courage. Anyone who kills innocents for their own selfish ends, that exemplifies evil.

My condolences to the families of all those killed, even Matthew Murray, while the dead are deposed as God sees fit, the living must deal with their own grief.

Friday, December 07, 2007

An Interesting Morning

I had an interesting morning this morning. I say that in a purely sarcastic way as I'd rather it have been the usual mundane workday morning.

At about 0630 I awoke but wasn't quite sure why. It seemed as though I could hear, through the bed, somebody slamming doors or beating on something. Of course my wife was already up and I could see the light from the bathroom. I just assumed (you can see "it" coming, can't you?) that she was in a hurry and POed and just slamming the cabinet doors searching for something. The dog was unconcerned just as she usually is until my wife goes downstairs.

I rolled over on my stomach to try to catch a couple more winks. Then the wife came into the room and turned on the light, picked up something and left. I could hear her go down the stairs and the usual moan from the dutch door to the breakfast room. The dog didn't have time to get up and do her usual shake and whine to be uncrated to go see "Mom" before my wife was back up the stairs "whispering" that somebody was at the back door. Nobody should have been at the back door and the source of the pounding was immediately clear to me. I picked up my handgun and moved downstairs as fast as I could. I had to push back my wife. She didn't do as she should and stay upstairs with the shotgun.

When I got to the backdoor I could see a man standing there and hear him talking to himself. He was talking as though he was talking to somebody in the house but of course he wasn't talking to me. He hadn't seen me yet. As I approached the door my wife grabbed the phone and went into the den. The man started to beat on the door again. I turned on the back porch light which startled him. Then I told him to leave. He said something that I couldn't understand and I again told him to leave. My wife was calling 911 for the first time as I did this. It seemed that he was trying to tell me that we had business and I told him that he was at the wrong house, that we didn't have any business, that I didn't know him and that he should leave now. He seemed to apologize and walked away but instead of going down the walk to the driveway he walked around the other side of the house through yard and garden. I went to look out the window on that side of the house and could hear him talking. I couldn't see anyone and moved to the front of the house.

I then saw that he was standing at the foot of the front steps talking and gesturing. I couldn't quite make out what he was saying but it seemed that he was explaining something. He then left but instead of walking down the walk to the sidewalk cut across the yard and crawled through a short section of rail fence I have at the corner of the property. He then went up the walk towards _______ _________ School. I went to a side window to see if he would continue up the street which it seemed that he did.

I then called 911 to tell them that he had left my property and in which direction he was headed. I gave them a brief description as well. Then two police cars arrived and turned around in the park across the street from the house and went back up the street in the man's direction of travel. Then my wife and I got dressed and my wife got her things together and I walked her out to her vehicle and saw her off. I then went back to the house and took the dog out to do her business. We went back in and I started my breakfast.

The dog then had to go back out. I put her on the leash and we went out the door. She stopped right in the middle of it to alert on somebody in the driveway side of the house. We both immediately went back into the house. I let the dog off the leash and she immediately went to the front door and started barking. The man was back at the front door. I then called 911 again (the third call) and reported that he was back. I gave a more complete description (but got his approximate age wrong I think he looked much younger when I could see his face in full light). I went to the door and turned on the porch lights to mark the house. He tried the door and talking to me and I again told him to leave. He was getting more agitated. This was about 0735 or so and he'd been at this quite a while. he left the porch and went to the back door, pounded on it again and I again told him to leave. He tried to argue with me again but I couldn't really understand what he was saying. I saw him walk over to my next door neighbor's house and I called them to let them know he was there. My neighbor said he'd heard something but hadn't answered the door. I had to hang up because this person was again pounding on my front door.

I went to the front door just as Officer ______________ was approaching him. Officer ___________ ordered him off the porch and started talking to him. I stood in full view in the door (we have a glass door) but didn't interfere or interrupt. Finally I saw that the man wasn't answering the questions put to him and Officer _____ saw me standing there. Because I thought that the man wasn't answering and the officer might be uncomfortable with me where I was I went outside. Officer ________ asked me if I was the homeowner and then asked if I had ordered him off. I said "yes, at least three times." Officer ___________ then told the man that we was under arrest and the man resisted so Officer _________ took him to the ground in the attempt to control him. He then cuffed him and took him to his cruiser telling me to wait for him which I did. I then gave the officer my name. As I was doing that my other next door neighbor came to the house to see what was going on and report that the same fellow had been at his back door and attempted to gain entry.

Observations (not necessarily news to me but it might be to you):

1. As always, you dance with the one what brung you and I had only my usual carry gun (for coyotes and such at Mom's), the Ruger New Vaquero in .45 Colt.
2. The police can never respond as quickly as you'd like them to. Until they arrive you are on your own.
3. The wife was panicky and did not do as she should have done, i.e. putting me between her and the threat and moving back to the safe room before calling 911 and taking other steps. Practice would help this. Still some people can't get over this feeling that simply overwhelms them. Prepare for that as well.
4. At no time did I display or announce that I had a gun. I feel that this could have escalated the situation and/or been threatening to the officer and/or forced me into using it at my disadvantage. By keeping the gun in hand but hidden I retained some measure of control over the situation.
5. I did not come into physical contact with the individual. This was good as when challenged he did become agitated and physical. If I was un-armed he could have been too much for me with my arthritic shoulder.
6. I mis-estimated his age. I thought he was about 40-something but in full light it was clear that he was 30 or younger. I was correct about most other details.

1 - I'm the youngest and only armed person among my neighbors. It is perhaps best for them that he fixated on my house. I think I'm the one who would have most likely survived if this had gone to crap.
2 - I stopped on the way to work for some lunch stuff and my change was $6.66. Does it mean anything? I sure hope not!

The individual has a reputation for public drunkedness and "odd" behavior in his home town but hasn't been prosecuted for more than 2 DUIs.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Skinning Deer

This comes up from time to time so I thought I'd post a video on the subject. One can reverse the deal and tie the deer to the stationary object and pull on the skin with the vehicle...

Peabody Rifles are Coming Back

Some exciting news for single shot rifle fans. Providence Tool Company is coming back (hopefully) withe the Peabody rifle. They will also be reproducing a copy of the Lyman #21 (aka climin' Lyman) receiver sight. Contact information isn't provided on the site but it is:

Providence Tool Company
PO Box 291
Plymouth, WI 53073

Phone/Fax: 920-893-9675

Thanks to the Forum for the info!

CAS City Winchester 1876 Group is Open for Business

The Winchester 1876 Group at CAS City is open! 1876 shooters come on over and visit!