Reloading Pleasure And Pain

“Powder Info SRN 0065Distributor HodgdonProduct Name H322Data Source Federal Bureau of InvestigationSource SRN 660 Product use ReloadDate obtained 6/10/05Lot Number 10404054288Manufacturer ADI / Australia”
 
Reloading ammunition is one of the things I do well and enjoy. It saves money per shot and I generally get better accuracy than commercial ammunition. There are exceptions on accuracy but I have rifles for which I’ve never bought commercial ammunition and they are tack-drivers. Costs have escalated. I used to save about ⅔ the cost of commercial ammunition. Thanks to “gun control” at local, federal and global levels, it’s now hard to save ⅓. Retailers in particular are squeezed because it just doesn’t pay to ship across borders low-priced components. At it’s worst, ordinary hunting bullets reached 50₵ CDN and reloading powders reached $50 CDN for a pound. Back in the day, I could get good hunting bullets for ~20₵ and powder sometimes for <$10 for a pound. Then there’s brass… Thank goodness there are still shooters who don’t reload and discard their empties… I can pay for my gasoline just visiting the range…;-)

So, reloading takes a bit of skill/knowledge, tools, data and components. Data is freely available on the web, found in various reloading manuals and you can easily buy tools anywhere. It’s the actual components of ammunition that are hard to find/buy: primers, brass cartridges, powder, bullets… all are restricted and heavily taxed. The taxes aren’t just to raise revenue. There are burdensome regulations to control “small arms” and for ordinary safety. Basically, you take a fired case and resize it to fit your rifle’s chamber. This involves inspection, cleaning, lubricating, swaging, cleaning again and trimming. By reloading you get brass customized to fit your chamber well, a major advantage over commercial ammunition that promotes accuracy. Then you insert a new primer and a measured amount of some suitable powder and seat a bullet to a precise length.

One of the issues with reloading is measuring out the powder. Powder that is made in spherical or flattened spherical shapes metres best simply because the grains roll out of the way of a closing measurement cylinder. Powder in flakes or extruded grains tends to jam in the gate. Unfortunately, the ball powders are made with added lacquer to a slurry of propellant to help form the balls in water. This lacquer leaves a dirty bore. Also, the balls vary in size so the burning rate of the powder is adjusted by mixing two or more batches. This makes it possible to carefully measure out two charges but get two different burning rates, hence, less accuracy… I prefer the stick powders even though they stick in the gate of the measure. There is hope though. Some stick powders are being made with short sticks. These can roll out of the way of the closing gate like ball powders.

I’m thinking of trying one of these short cut extruded powders this year, H322, in particular. It’s not the best for hunting loads but it gives good velocity and accuracy with lighter bullets and some use it for reduced velocity target loads with heavier bullets. It’s affordable if bought in larger packages. Being a faster-burning powder, less is used in each charge making it more economical for plinking/varminting/target-shooting.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.

This entry was posted in firearms, politics, technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Reloading Pleasure And Pain

  1. dougman wrote, “none of which are used as propellants in cartridge fire rifles”.

    It’s right there under “Commercial Explosives”: Smokeless Powder. That’s basically nitrocellulose processed so as not to detonate in conditions found in rifles. It definitely will detonate if in huge quantity so that the pile confines the burning power or enough heat/pressure is applied. Then pressure escalates. That’s why there are rules limiting size and nature of powder storage facilities.

  2. dougman says:

    “dougman this is totally not knowing stuff. Brisbane fireworks company makes the stuff. Their history of making plastic explosive propellent for firearms goes back to world war II. Yes filling a shell with same volume of plastic explosive propellant as gun powder equals disaster.”

    Fifi, you are an absolute dumbass. You are confused and totally ignorant between “deflagration” and “detonation”.

    Pogsey, don’t go feeding Fifi’s imagination. He plays far too many video games to comprehend reality. Here is a decent document on “explosives” https://info.publicintelligence.net/DHS-Explosives.pdf, none of which are used as propellants in cartridge fire rifles.

  3. oiaohm wrote, “it has happened in the USA and Australia causing harm. USA harm events is why lee loaders ship these days with the directions to use ear plugs and eye protection when they first shipped they were meant to be that safe you could use them without any protection(yes that was found to be wrong).”

    Cite one case. Cite the damages awarded a customer of Lee Precision. I’ve read of primers going off with poor technique but never a round on seating the bullet. One guy wrote about discharge on crimping a case. I can’t imagine how that happened. I’m sure it can be done if you really want that to happen (heating things up first or flattening the case) but that’s perverse. Ordinary operation is perfectly safe.

    BTW, ordinary ball, stick or flake propellants are usually made of plastic explosive, nitrocellulose colloided, formed and coated. It’s remarkably waterproof but needs to dry for normal use. One of my science demonstrations involved flaming paper airplanes. Directing a nitrocellulose flaming airplane towards students got rave reviews as it disappeared on the way. Of course I used them dry. Look up “nitrocellulose“. It was one of the first plastics.

    “In 1862 the first man-made plastic, nitrocellulose, (branded Parkesine) was created by Alexander Parkes from cellulose treated with nitric acid and a solvent.”

  4. oiaohm says:

    Fifi in fantasy mode again. There is no such thing as a plastic explosive propellant. The velocity of such, would turn any rifle, or cannon into a artillery shell, sending shrapnel everywhere.
    dougman this is totally not knowing stuff. Brisbane fireworks company makes the stuff. Their history of making plastic explosive propellent for firearms goes back to world war II. Yes filling a shell with same volume of plastic explosive propellant as gun powder equals disaster.

    Robert Pogson the difference is we have a extra from of propellant that is not in the USA or Canada market. The plastic explosive propellent is water proof so if you have not sealed shell and water leaks into shell and you use the right amount of propellent bullet fires as if nothing massively wrong with the round. In fact you have to allow for steam expand increase force of plastic explosive propellent when loading. Robert Pogson the plastic explosive propellent we have here is like a putty totally different to gun powder or gun cotton to handle.

    The tool is utterly reliable and very safe to use on the dining room table (with protective padding of course), the workshop, out in the garage or even at the shooting range.
    USA court cases combined with Australia OHS records suggest otherwise. Lighter impact will upset the plastic explosive propellent than gun powder or gun cotton so more rounder load failure here. Using a lever press will not risk this outcome due to more control.

    USA is a very sue-happy country
    True but USA does not have plastic explosive propellent for firearms so take rounds into wet areas and have weapons fail to fire due to water damage to the gun powder/gun cotton. It just seams like foolishness all round from the Australian point of view. We have strong regulations on the tools and we have access to a better form of propellent for water usage areas.

    The lee classic hammer based loader is designed for gun powder/gun cotton. Now areas like Australia those are banned for very good reasons due to broader range of propellent to start off with. You are wearing eye protection because when using a lee loader eye protection is required if something goes wrong. If something does go wrong as well as risking eyes you are risking internals of nose and other nice soft areas. Ok the nose hit normally does not kill but a massive nose bleed makes a hell of a mess.

    Please remember the ear plugs and face mask was added to lee classic hammer usage direction after a few people have sued and won in the USA due to fragment in eye or shock-wave breaking ear drums when its gone wrong. Australia had a few cases of massive nose bleed caused by fragment. USA has records of eye damage and ear damage when Lee classic hammer design went wrong. As yet USA has been lucky not to have the nose yet and this might be lack of plastic explosive propellent but if it just luck the lee classic hammer based loader is going to-do it one day in the USA because it has done it in Australia. So Australia regulations are based around different failure that happened here.

    In the absolute worst case, where a charged case went off with a bullet seated in the tool, the weight of the seating punch plus bullet could confine things a bit but the “barrel” is short, just an inch or so. So, you might get “bullet” energy of a few hundred foot-pounds and some flash burns and embarrassment but I doubt that’s ever happened over the many millions of operations with the tool.

    Robert this is being a idiot saying it never happened because it has happened in the USA and Australia causing harm. USA harm events is why lee loaders ship these days with the directions to use ear plugs and eye protection when they first shipped they were meant to be that safe you could use them without any protection(yes that was found to be wrong). Australia has the documented cases of them doing up nose damage and putting scratch on face so our regulations say face shield. So the documented absolute worst case says wear a helmet with a denim/leather jacket with gloves. If you are a motor bike rider all this gear that is suitable you have sitting around so no extra spend on safety gear. Even the basic face shield required due to what you said a few hundred foot-pounds less force than a fragment coming off a angle grinder. I am not talking about a super heavy/expensive face shield or one that a workshop would not commonly have.

    It just seams stupid to risk your nose, mouth and other soft areas of face for less than 5 dollars of safety gear you most likely own just are not using when loading ammo.

  5. oiaohm wrote, “the idea of loading without a face shield by some means is just being stupid”.

    Typically, shooters fire many millions of rounds of ammunition annually without face shields. In the many thousands of rounds I’ve fired, only one cartridge burst and it was factory-built ammunition. My face was in no danger and I always wear glasses and ear-plugs.

    There’s stupid and there’s ignorant. Folks who think not wearing a face-shield is stupid are ignorant. USA is a very sue-happy country. The fact that Lee built Classic Lee Loaders for over 50 years and still do is abundant proof that oiaohm is touting extremist opinion as fact.

    “For over 50 years, more shooters have chosen the famous Lee Loader for their first reloading tool than any other. They realize it is all they need for good, accurate ammunition. In fact, at one time ammunition loaded with a Lee Loader held a world record listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for more than seven years. Millions upon millions of rounds have been reloaded with the famous Lee Loader, and we expect it will continue to be a popular reloader for many years to come. It’s the perfect tool for those who wish to simply try reloading, because it will pay for itself in just an hour or so.”

    I’ve used the Lee Loader in 222 Remington, 6mm Remington, 6.5X55, 308 Winchester, .30-’06, and 8X57 Mauser since the 1970s and I’ve only broken one decapping pin. The tool is utterly reliable and very safe to use on the dining room table (with protective padding of course), the workshop, out in the garage or even at the shooting range. It’s just a well-designed tool which has a place in the shooter’s arsenal. The biggest danger at the range is some idiot smoking nearby or sparks from the discharge of a firearm, not the Lee Loader.

  6. oiaohm wrote, “bang and possible shrapnel as hammer loading risks with items like classic lee items with old age”.

    My Lee Loaders go back to the 1970s and I would not hesitate to use them. Again, the hammer blow is very soft. I use the end of handle of a carpenter’s hammer and I have used a rubber hammer. Others use plastic-covered hammers. Up North, I used a stick of lumber, 2X2 ISTR. In a Lee Loader, the round is not well confined.

    In the priming process, only the primer is involved and it requires an indentation to fire. Just dropping a single primer from a great height will not detonate it. The blow, distributed over the area of the primer and only enough to move it down until the brass case head is compressed does not apply enough pressure to the primer. You might be able to get something to happen by tipping the primer but who would do that? I’ve accidentally tipped a primer several times and while the primer was mangled, it did not discharge. In seating the bullet, the hammer blow is just enough to seat the bullet and is stopped by the steel shell of the tool. The primer gets no impact at all, just a little shake.

    In the sizing operation, there is no primer involved except the dead one. There is danger in depriming a live primer but I’ve done it several times with no problem. One has to take care and it’s a perfectly safe tool to use. In the absolute worst case, where a charged case went off with a bullet seated in the tool, the weight of the seating punch plus bullet could confine things a bit but the “barrel” is short, just an inch or so. So, you might get “bullet” energy of a few hundred foot-pounds and some flash burns and embarrassment but I doubt that’s ever happened over the many millions of operations with the tool.

  7. dougman wrote, “There is no such thing as a plastic explosive propellant.”

    Uh, remember those big boosters on the Space Shuttle? They were filled with a plastic explosive. High explosives can burn rapidly when not highly confined. Same with small arms propellants: nitrocellulose colloided by solvents and extruded/rolled/balled into grains. The individual grains don’t detonate but burn rapidly on the surfaces. The surface to volume ratio, coatings, diluents, etc. all affect the burn-rate. Yes, if you confine them well and use a stiff detonator bad things will happen but in rockets and small arms useful behaviour is evident although often misused.

  8. dougman says:

    “plastic explosive propellent”

    LMAO…

    Fifi in fantasy mode again. There is no such thing as a plastic explosive propellant. The velocity of such, would turn any rifle, or cannon into a artillery shell, sending shrapnel everywhere.

  9. oiaohm says:

    I prefer failures with bangs and so should the law everywhere not just places like Australia.
    Should be more correct flash bangs. Powder falls out of round because round as come apart and the at worse you get a bang and flash from a press failure due to old age. Compare to bang and possible shrapnel as hammer loading risks with items like classic lee items with old age. So the classic option has been banned in many places for good reason. Yet many countries they are still on open sale. Most ammo loading issues are stupidity of different countries regulations over it/lack of.

  10. oiaohm says:

    Australian regulations on this stuff is different. Its due to world war II when all our ammo was loaded by women so hurting the face in any way is off limits. For those 22 round size in the video being loaded Australian regulations mandates the eye protection, ear protection and like a grinder face shield when hand loading. The shield requirements increase as the round size goes up large rounds like 44mm AA require complete head protection.

    To Australians the idea of loading without a face shield by some means is just being stupid. Yet you see USA videos doing it all the time. Apparently from what Robert said Canada is no different. Dougman factory loading with everything contained in shielding can have different regulation. Australia regulation says face/head shielding does not say that shielding has to be on your person. So if all the work stations had been design with shielding then wearing face/head shield could be skipped. Please go and watch that USA video you quote again Dougman note that the person says they cannot show a particular steps because those are enclosed in shielding for safety. Hand loading on a bench connected press or hand held press or with old lee loader hammer system those steps you should have quite complete protective gear on including face protection. Not having protective gear on for those steps is how people get hurt loading ammo. Best practice for hand loading to make sure you don’t forget to put the protective gear on is to put it on when you start or have designed you station that there is no way to use the loading press without being protected by shielding.

    Basically this is dougman quoting something without watching it properly to notice that they are 1 machine loading 2 areas are shielded so are not shown. So called me a idiot when he complete moron on the topic.

    My first reloading tool, the classic Lee Loader, works that way. It’s perfectly safe because the primer is not impacted and neither is the powder if the case is not overfilled.
    Sorry Robert this is not true the classic Lee Loader is not perfectly safe when worn in Australia at least due to access to plastic explosive propellent.

    Using plastic explosive propellent causing under filled not that tolerant to impacts because old worn classic Lee Loader can have the habit in those cases of the bullet going all the way in shell hitting the plastic causing a fire. Using classic Lee Loader like that the bullet does hit the powder just not with enough force to trigger anything in most cases so appears perfectly functional until you use plastic propellent and everything goes wrong. Yes one of the recommendations was with classic Lee Loader to put a bullet into a unloaded shell if the bullet goes all the way in the classic Lee Loader has a problem and should be replaced/repaired today having a license to reload in Australia mandates you dispose of the classic Lee Loaders. Really it just safer to invest in a proper press proper depth control that cannot stuff up the way classic lee loaders can particularly when you are in Australia with broader range of propellent and using the classic lee loader is illegal. In fact lee has made a lever press these days instead of the hammer model due to the issues the hammer model has.

    Yes dougman people using those old hammer models are just being cheep or stupid or don’t have access to decent gear. http://leeprecision.com/breech-lock-hand-press-kit.html Lever action presses that a compact are made by a lot of parties including lee and don’t cost that much. Lever action presses as min entry level you should be using these days anything hammer assemble of bullets should be got rid of as obsolete idea and taking unrequired risk and several countries including Australia are illegal to use.

    Plastic explosive propellent instead of gun power/gun cotton an Australian oddity from world war II. At times in world war II Australia was short of gun powder so used correct sized plastic explosive charge instead of gun powder. Plastic explosive propellent does have the advantage of being totally water resistant and act as a water seal on the primer so there are particular cases where Australian hunters want these rounds. Yes the plastic explosive propellent can be at times cheaper than gun power or gun cotton. There is a downsides of plastic explosive propellent if you attempt to disassemble round the plastic explosive propellent remains nicely stuck inside the shell. As far as I know Canada and the USA you don’t have the option of plastic explosive propellent for bullets.

    Now filling shell completely with plastic explosive propellent instead of gun powder/gun cotton makes a breach breaker round that you give to your enemy so that when they fire them they explode their gun and normally cost them half their face.

    There are things that should just be banned from sale. Hammer bullet loading methods is one of those things as they are not as safe as it should since we have presses that do the job way safer. Worn lever presses do some stupid things like pressed in bullet falling out of shell because the neck was not crimped up properly but this is better than Hammer bullet loading that have the bullet go in and hit the powder with the same defect and possible fire. So this is choosing how do you want my bullet production system to fail as it wears out. I prefer failures with bangs and so should the law everywhere not just places like Australia.

  11. dougman wrote, “They just use a hammer to seat the round.”

    My first reloading tool, the classic Lee Loader, works that way. It’s perfectly safe because the primer is not impacted and neither is the powder if the case is not overfilled.

  12. dougman says:

    “If reloading were terribly dangerous, no one would do it.”

    I have personally witnessed, children reload all kinds of cartridges in Darra Adam Khel, Pakistan. They just use a hammer to seat the round.

    Pakistan Zindabad!

  13. It’s interesting that in that video, CCI uses hot water to wash their brass as part of annealing. I use it to clean my brass… You can see why brass is so expensive with all the steps in the process. dougman is correct. Protection of eyes and ears is enough in normal processes. One would really have to go off the rails to need more. Note that they do use an extra layer or two in their machinery which is the most likely place for something bad to happen. For the handloader, that primary layer of protection is never to confine the active ingredients. Inserting a primer into an empty case does not confine it and the primer is against a solid surface from the ram/priming tool. One just has to be careful not to be in line with the mouth of the case when priming with a hand-tool. In a press, the die and the ram protect the reloader. Unless you crawl underneath the press any fragments should not reach the operator. Seating the bullet is the final step and the shell-holder does not contact the primer. see the processes. If reloading were terribly dangerous, no one would do it.

  14. dougman wrote, “All it takes is one error Pogsey, ONE, and BAM!…you have shrapnel in your face.”

    I’ve probably loaded 10K rounds in my lifetime and never had a primer or cartridge go off that way. It’s pretty easy to avoid such mistakes. Actually, you would have to work very hard to harm yourself unless you ignited canisters of powder close by. I had some stale powder I wanted to burn recently. We took it out to the driveway and couldn’t get it to ignite with a match. It just smouldered. That stuff made a hell of a bang in a rifle. It’s not designed to burn at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature.

  15. oiaohm wrote, “A correct set-up for reloading ammo there is zero risk of shrapnel in face. Why because you are meant to be wearing a rated face/head shield while you are doing it.”

    Uh, wearing armour during the reloading process is kind of silly. Propellant is not an explosive. It burns very rapidly so if anything went wrong, you are much more likely to get a burn than shrapnel. Primers are explosive but they can be handled singly or in small batches. If you don’t abuse them they can’t hurt you. I have done some silly things with primers and I’ve never had one go off. Typically, the thing that goes wrong with primers is that you find you have a primed case that needs to be deprimed. That is not an approved process but it’s far faster than oiling the primer, letting it sit, depriming and then cleaning up the mess. By using a firm pressure a primer won’t go off. They are designed to require some minimal impact. In any case, the press will take the blast and if you are wearing eye/ear protection you are very safe. It’s still possible to have an exploding primer cut a major vein or such so oiaohm’s procedure does have some merit. To get powder to do serious harm besides fire, one would have to set it off in a confined space like a reloading die and it’s hard to see what the source of the ignition would be. Folks even compress powder some charges several percent with no harm. There is no pressure on the primer during the seating of the bullet. In a firearm it’s a different story. An overload of a fast powder can be very dangerous. Overloads of slow powders are rarely dangerous because a normal load is filling the case and there’s only so much you can get in. With pistols and really fast powders one can get a double or triple charge in which is very likely to cause damage to firearm/shooter. With rifles it takes a very serious mistake or suicidal impulse to cause a problem. Recipes are made to avoid problems. e.g. in 308, one of my favourite powders is IMR4064. A full case under any medium weight bullet delivers a safe pressure. It’s also likely to be very accurate. Rifles are tested to serious over-pressures and reloading errors of charges typically amount to a few percent at most. One can still fail to trim a case or insert too large a bullet but you have to be strange to do that. I’ve seen folks who only reload cases three times or so because they are afraid they will wear out. I have cases in 222 and 308 that I’ve been reloading since 1976 with only a few split necks, no damage to anyone.

  16. dougman says:

    Shutup Fifi, you don’t even own a single gun.

    “dougman never reloaded ammo either.”

    LOl, actually I did for about three years. I had a Dillion 550B reloading press, a RCBS press for reloading fifty caliber and some off-hand Lyman tools.

  17. oiaohm says:

    dougman never reloaded ammo either. A correct set-up for reloading ammo there is zero risk of shrapnel in face. Why because you are meant to be wearing a rated face/head shield while you are doing it. If a person loading ammo ends up with shrapnel in face they were not wearing correct safety equipment if it done in the loading stage.

    The best face/head shield I know of for ammo loading is explosive rated motorcycle helmets used on snow field for placing charges to clear possible avalanche problems as this protected all sections of face and have connect able neck guards. Those are safe up and including to 40mm AA rounds in a loading failure as long as the shrapnel hits the helmet or guards. So to have a face hurt loading ammo you have been cheap on your safety equipment or did not use safety equipment.

    In the firing stage used the wrong grade of explosive. I have seen a 303 barrel that was ballooned out because someone was using a high yield but cheaper explosive than what a 303 bullet takes instead of half filling the bullet filled the bullet resulting in the bullet having twice the charge it was meant to and shock horror that did not produce shrapnel either. You need to on average put in 3 times the amount of rated charge to in fact generate shrapnel at firing stage so this is normally you being cheep and using the wrong grade of explosive.

    So its next to impossible to end up with shrapnel in face loading ammo when doing everything right from protective gear point of view. Now having a wrist or elbow hurt is way more likely as those are normally where join in protective gear is.

    Remember you should have put on your protective gear before you handle the explosive or shells or anything else. People hurt loading ammo are simply not doing it right. A bullet without a barrel has quite low penetration force even a 40mm one.

    Yes in the USA there are a lot of people hurt every year loading explosives but when you investigate those people were normally not wearing any safety gear so basically Darwin award winners waiting to happen.

  18. dougman says:

    All it takes is one error Pogsey, ONE, and BAM!…you have shrapnel in your face.

  19. dougman blows on and on about freedom yet wrote, “Dubious expense at best. You barely shoot enough to warrant owning any firearms to begin with, the RCMP should just confiscate what you own.”

    Who are you to dictate how I live? I personally do shoot a few rounds every year and I want to shoot more, hence the Solo EV. OTOH, my whole family from TLW to all the kids do shoot. I load ammunition for them. I’m retired. I have the time, expertise and tools. I’ve been shooting ~60 years and reloading 40 years. It’s part of who I am. My database shows I’ve loaded about 500 rounds per year, mostly 222 and 308 in the last four years. I expect to triple that easily if I get an EV that will take me to the range and back cheaply any time I want. Now, I work around TLW’s schedule and fret about the price of fuel… When I was teaching up North at one place I could walk to good places to shoot and fired 50 rounds per week.

  20. dougman says:

    Dubious expense at best. You barely shoot enough to warrant owning any firearms to begin with, the RCMP should just confiscate what you own.

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