Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Self Sufficiency, Part Two

It was unusually warm today for February, so I took advantage of that after getting home from work, and pan lubed and sized between 150 and 200 of the bullets I cast last weekend. These were cast from my Accurate 43-15C mold and will be shot in my Cimarron 1873 Sporting Rifle over black powder.

I use a hot plate that I got from Amazon for $14.95 or so to melt my roughly 50/50 mix of beeswax and mutton tallow. I recently picked up a .44 caliber Lee lube cutter off eBay, which made separating the bullets from the lube simpler than my previous solution. That was a .44-40 case with the mouth expanded a bit larger than normal and the flash hole drilled out so I can still a pin punch through it to poke out the bullets.

After separating them from the lube, I ran them through my Lee .429 sizer.

I still have about another 100 bullets to lube and size, which I'll try to get to tomorrow night.

The weather is supposed to be crappy this weekend, so I'm going to try to get some reloading in. I want to load at least one 50 round box of .44-40s using 2.2cc of Goex, to see how well this bullet works with it. I know it works well with Swiss black powder but I have a good supply of Goex on hand. The bullet was designed to carry enough lube to use with Goex in 24" barrels.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Consistent Cast Bullet Weights

Tonight I weighed a sample of ten bullets from the batch I cast yesterday and plugged them into Excel to figure out the average weight and the standard deviation in weights.

Accurate Molds 43-215C Bullets
Bullets cast from 20:1 lead:tin alloy
Sample Weight in Grains
1 219.6
2 219.4
3 219.0
4 219.0
5 219.2
6 220.2
7 219.6
8 219.1
9 219.4
10 219.1
219.4 Average weight
0.371782493 Standard deviation

According to Tom at Accurate Molds, this bullet should drop at about 215 grains when cast from wheel weight alloy. Since the 20:1 alloy I'm using lacks any antimony, they naturally weigh a little more.

Never let anyone tell you that homemade bullets won't be as good as factory-made.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Self Sufficiency

Today I cast up a couple hundred bullets for .44-40 in my Accurate Molds 43-215C. Probably about 10 pounds worth.

The next time the Dems get into power, you know damn well that there will be a panic. What are you doing to protect yourself against that?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Put Together a Box of Smokeless .38-40s Today

Yesterday my orders arrived from Starline Brass and Desperado Cowboy Bullets. This afternoon I loaded up a 50-round box of .38-40s.

It was a bit cool outside and I didn't feel like working in my shop, so I did my handloading today at my dining room table using a Lee Hand Press that I bought many years ago. Mine is an older version, pre-Breech Lock.

The Lee Hand Press uses standard reloading dies and has enough leverage to resize rifle brass. I didn't have to resize the new brass, but did have to run them through the expander die after I deburred the case mouths.

The components I used today were:

  • Virgin Starline cases
  • Soft-cast 180 grain RNFP bullet from Desperado Cowboy Bullets
  • Federal No.150 large pistol primer
  • 9.0 grains of Alliant Unique powder

Muzzle velocity should be around 1300 - 1400 FPS. So, about equivalent to a 10mm pistol.

Note that this load should be safe in a Winchester 1892 or Marlin 1894 in good condition, but you should always confirm loading data in a loading manual or two. You and you alone are responsible for the safety of your handloads.

To prime, I used a Lee Ram Prime attachment. This allows you to prime cases on a reloading press on the upstroke. It gives a good feel for seating the primers, but does require you to handle each and every one. If/when I do another indoor loading session I'll probably use my Lee Auto Prime tool.

I used a Lee Perfect powder measure, with my charge weight verified using a Frankford Arsenal digital scale. I've previously tested this scale again a Redding beam-type scale and it's very accurate.

It's been awhile since I used the Lee Hand Press. It works well but I kind of like using nutcracker-style tools like my Ideal Number 6 more. I may look into picking up a Lyman 310 tool with dies for .38-40 and .44-40. Unlike the 19th Century tong tools, the 310 allows you to neck size brass and use different bullets, not just the ones cast in the matching mold. Unfortunately, they don't use standard loading dies.

Hopefully I'll be able to take the Winchester 1892 out to the range again next week, since I now have two handloads to try through it, today's smokeless loads and the black powder loads I put together last week.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Loaded Up a Box of Black Powder .38-40s

Today I loaded up a box of black powder .38-40s using bullets I cast yesterday. I planned to use the Ideal Number 6 tool but I found that because it doesn't resize the brass, I had insufficient neck tension and crimp on the bullets. With a slightly compressed load, the powder sometimes pressed the bullets back out of the case.

I therefore ended up using the Lee seating die and the factory crimp die. Going forward, I'm only going to use the Ideal tool for priming at most. Between the flashing I got on most of the bullets and the inability to use it to seat and crimp bullets, it's a collector's item.

After I loaded 50 rounds I had to clean up the flashing on many of them with a file, which was a tedious PITA. Since life is too short to shoot crappy bullets, the remaining ones that I cast yesterday are going back into the pot.

I'll probably order a mold from Accurate Molds, probably the 40-185C. It's basically a .40 caliber version of the 43-215C that has worked so well for me in .44 WCF. This will give me bullets that will work well with smokeless but still carry enough lube to use Goex black powder in a 24" barrel, in case I get another rifle in .38-40.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Cast Some .38-40 Bullets

This afternoon I cast some bullets using the Ideal Number 6 reloading tool for my .38-40 1892 Winchester. I have a small Lyman electric lead pot and filled the mold with a dipper. The alloy is ~20:1 tin:lead, which gives me a soft bullet but the tin helps the molten lead fill out the mold.

They dropped from the mold at ~0.412" and sized down in the Ideal tool to ~0.401".

If you look closely you may see some flashing on some of the bullets. The mold blocks do not meet perfectly. This will be cleaned up during sizing and if necessary, with a fine cut file. If I can keep these on an 8" plate at 50 yards I'll be happy. I'll be ordering a modern mold for sure.

My plan is to shoot these over black powder, so I lubed some up with Crisco and ran them through the sizer on the Ideal tool.

This shows a bullet ready to be sized:

Even with the soft alloy your hands get a real workout. I did about 25 and will do another 25 later. I am going to order a Lee sizing die to use in my reloading press.

Using a tool like this for molding your bullets and loading the cartridges really makes you appreciate modern reloading tools. Even a Lee Hand Press is a major step up.

Borescoped the 1892 Winchester

Last night I ran my borescope through the barrel of my antique Winchester 1892 in .38-40. What I'd hoped were leading deposits are really pits from corrosion. <sigh>

Unfortunately, much of the bore looks like that. Despite this, it shoots well. But, those pits are going to collect a lot of fouling, which is why cleaning patches always come out with some black on them, even after I've soaked the bore in Kroil since I got it a few weeks ago.

So, it looks like this rifle will see primarily smokeless powder ammo. I'll try some black powder handloads but ensuring all the black powder fouling is gone is going to be a challenge.

I have some 180 grain .401" soft cast lead bullets on order from Desperado Cowboy Bullets. Their 200 grain .430" bullets work well over Unique in my .44-40 and I expect the smaller bullets to work well in .38 WCF over 8.6 to 9.0 grains.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The FISA Memo

This morning I downloaded and read the FISA memo prepared by Congressman Devin Nunes. I have some thoughts on the contents.

Before delving into the memo itself, we need to remember that before it was released, the FBI had the opportunity to review it. They stated that while some (as yet unknown) facts were not included, no allegations in the memo are inaccurate. This is key, because if we take the allegations in the memo as accurate, they are damning.

In the warrant application, senior FBI and DOJ officials -- including then-Director Comey and Deputy Director McCabe --  had to certify to the court that there was probable cause to suspect illegal conduct by the target of the surveillance (Page). The Steele dossier was an essential piece of evidence provided to the court in support of the warrant application.

However, it turns out that the Steele dossier consisted of fabricated allegations by a foreign national, and was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. When applying for the warrant, the FBI was under the duty to inform the court of all material facts, including those which would weigh in the surveillance target's favor.

Further, FISA warrants are only valid for 90 days. If the FBI wants to continue surveillance it needs to apply to the court for a renewal. Each time, the FBI must disclose to the court all material facts, including those which would favor the surveillance target.

The FBI made a total of four applications to the court: the initial application and three renewals.

At no time was the court informed of the role of the Clinton campaign or DNC in the dossier.

In other words, the FBI failed to exhibit candor towards the tribunal and via the electronic surveillance of the Trump campaign, acted as a part of the Clinton campaign. This weaponized the highest law enforcement agency in the land against the opponent of the previous administration and its desired successor.

That is appalling. It's worse than Watergate. It's the kind of conduct you'd expect to see in a banana republic.

Everyone involved in seeking the warrant and who submitted false and incomplete information to the FISA court should hang.

In opposing the release of the memo, the Democrats stated that release would endanger national security. That is clearly false. Their opposition to its release was clearly partisan politics. They have no claim to supporting the rights of Americans against rogue government agencies.

The entire document is only six pages. The memo itself is only about 3-1/3 pages. If you give a shit about the state of this country and the conduct by the people who would rule us, you owe it to yourself to read it and form your own opinion.