I Survived the dreaded COVID 19 virus!

In early December of this year (A. D. 2020) I feel prey to what seemed to be a serious head/chest cold. I was congested, my lungs were suppressed, but I did very well at home without a hospital or ventilator.

Like most such infirmities, it was annoying and limiting rather than painful or coma-inducing. I did sleep quite a bit. I seldom ventured out into the world.

It lasted roughly three weeks, with the third week giving some hope of recovery. It is now Thanksgiving Day (26 November) and I think I am rather over the problem.

I have been visited with the curious desire to clean and simplify my house. More on this via another blog chronicling my desired changes in life and living. Simpler, basically.

However, COVID sufferers, take encouragement. It is survivable. In fact, the death rate for COVID alone is less than half a percent. Most COVID-related deaths seem to be in conjunction with pre-existing medical problems like lung, heart or other health problems that would tend to cause death anyway.

For the record, I am close to Seventy-one and in ‘ordinary’ health with some old man problems (high blood pressure, pre-diabetes sugar level and just intentionally lost weight). No longer fit for the Marine Corps.

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Curiosity of early Berdan cases

Just an historical note regarding early smokeless Berdan primed cases. 

Just for the record, this is the second time writing this essay. WordPress has equipped the construction system of posts with an automatic destruction system that without warning deletes most of a post without warning or possibility of correction. I rather expect some emotionally damaged code flunky is laughing hysterically over this.

Berdan primers were invented (designed, developed) by Colonel (brevet Brigadier General) Hiram Berdan in the 1860s. They are distinguished from Boxer primers invented by Edward Mounier Boxer of England also in the 1860s. (I have not been able to determine which was first.)

The Boxer primer system incorporates the anvil of the primer into the primer. There is a single ‘flash’ hole allowing the flame of the primer to enter the powder chamber of the cartridge.

The Berdan primer system incorporates the anvil of the primer into the case. There are two or more (I’ve only seen two so far) flash holes to allow the primer flame into the powder chamber.

I refer the reader to any one of a number of reference works explaining this distinction and formation. There are explanations on line with diagrams, pictures and such and I suspect one finds this information on YouTube.

Oddly, I have never heard any serious discussion of why a governmental organization should choose one type over another. There seems to be no difference in reliability of cartridge ignition. The problem of complication for manufacture of cases is offset by the simplification of primer manufacture – and vice versa.

Thoughts of anyone? Has anyone read some historical matter (book or publication, civilian or government) on the subject? Does anyone have a logical argument on the subject? Comments welcomed.

Head stamp and vacant primer opening
Head stamp of 8mm Lebel cartridge in question

The casing is of an 8x50mmR Lebel cartridge. It was the first smokeless powder military cartridge (in fact, the first smokeless cartridge) and used exclusively by the French. (Many articles abound about it.) The head stamp on this example is quite simple. The undecipherable mark at the 6 o’clock is the numeral three (3) in the same font as the 86 at 12 o’clock. (My apologies for the photo). This presumes one reads the head stamp from the perspective of the identifiable “3” as the bottom. If one reads all the notations while rotating the case, the “86” becomes “98”. Which strikes me as a bit late for this manufacture.

In a pile of artifacts given to me (something along the lines of “You know about guns. I found this stuff in the attic; so here!”) this (pictured) fired case among the items. There were several other Lebel cases, all dirty, and I included them in a group of cases I was cleaning. The cleaning worked and for some reason this case disassembled.

Case and primer as found
Parts of case after cleaning

I did have to carefully examine the remains of the cleaning operation and remove the smaller bits from the corncob media. The three parts are the case itself (the big obvious part) on the right, the primer cup (without the compound) in the center, and the floor plate of the primer pocket – including the anvil – on the left.

Case insert, Interior side of anvil cap.
Case insert, Anvil side facing primer

Clearly shown are the two ‘flash holes’. These are individually smaller in diameter than the one in Boxer primers, but two of them probably make up for the size. One finds no significant difference in function.

Primer cup

The primer cup is the third piece found. As it is fired, the priming compound (indeed the only explosive in a cartridge) and the moisture cover (some form of paper or other membrane) are gone. The compound was consumed in firing and the moisture cover was either consumed (likely) or blown off in the firing action.

I presume the case was cast or extruded with the large orifice; then the ‘floor plate’ or ‘cap’ for the primer was force fit into place. Only then was the final necking of the cartridge performed. I could be wrong, the ‘floor plate’ would easily fit through the neck of the finished case.

I have no positive information on the formation of this case. Any thoughts? Any knowledge? I would appreciate it.

That’s all. Another twist or turn in the evolution of cartridge ammunition. One more bit of fairly useless information.

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Choice of Three (gun) Powders

On a number of websites and from some personal conversations I’ve had I hear a recurring theme (well, many, but I’ll chew on this particular theme for a bit), the desire to have an absolute minimum of gun powders in the inventory.  Being somewhat of a minimalist myself, I am quite in accord with that sentiment.  However, the more I thought, the less the answer seemed to fit on a bumpersticker or tee shirt.  There are several considerations.  So I’ve put these in the following order as I see consecutive.  As usual, some may consider the matter different than I.  That is probably good for all of us.

First allow me to dispel a rather common and deeply cherished myth.  Fast powders are not intended for short barrels and slow powders intended for long barrels.  NO!  They are not!

Now I feel better.

Burn rate.  To my mind this is the simplest consideration and therefore, I’ll start with that.  I like simple.  Probably most everyone has heard “For the X cartridge, powder Y is the best!”  This was probably truer at one time than now.  When smokeless gun powder was first developed, there was only one type and burning rate:  “Poudre B(lanche)” – ‘White Powder” in French.  Within a few years, several types (and differing burn rates) were developed, but most were relatively ‘fast’ by current standards.  The latest information I possess shows 198 different powders (and burn rates) available in the world.  To be more correct, many of these are not immediately available for retail sale in the U. S. (where I live; no doubt one in Great Britain or Europe or Australia or Tanganyika will find a somewhat different ‘picture’).  Even so, the local gun shop has a display of half a barn door’s full.  I haven’t counted them, but there are five or six shelves probably ten to fifteen (one pound) plastic bottles each displayed.  That’s no less than fifty and probably not more than 90 or so powders and rates of burning.  (I finally counted; 92 displayed at the time I counted.)

This is going to seem out of place, but it isn’t.  What is the difference between handgun, shotgun and rifle powder?  (We’ll leave out cannons and mortars.)  One thing only:  Burning rate.  To the observant, one notes quite a few shotgun and handgun powders interchange.  Some pistol powders can be used for small rifle cartridges.

The upshot of this is if one loads only for one category of arm – handguns, shotguns or rifles – one may exclude a number of the ‘other’ powders.

I don’t load for shotgun at all.  I load very few pistol calibers.  Mostly I load for rifles.  So I can exclude the fastest fifty or so types of powders without further discussion.  I have Alliant Power Pistol and either Alliant 2400 or Hodgdon 110 for handguns.  The fact is, I do not load for .44 Magnum much anymore, so just the Power Pistol is my minimum.

Rifles, however…

Back to the main discussion.  The basic question of ‘what kind of powder do I need for ____?’  The answer does not fit on a bumper sticker.  The prime difference in the required burn rate is the speed with which the arm gets rid of pressure.  (For those that disagree with this, or would word it differently, please read on.)  One of the basic measures of any firearm is what is known as ‘expansion ratio’.  This is the ratio of the volume of the internal burning chamber of a loaded round, compared to the total volume of that same interior of the cartridge case AND the total volume of the bore to the muzzle.  A word of warning:  When buying a firearm, do not ask the seller about the expansion ratio.  A goodly number will just look at you as if you just grew a second head.  A non-reloader will have no idea.  Many reloaders just follow directions in the manual – as is proper.  One may get more curious as time goes on, but one stays grounded in experience.

Consider a cartridge like the .220 Swift or .22-250 Remington.  Both have a rather large case body and a rather small bore.  One should see how the pressure of the burning powder takes longer to exit than a .45-70 Govt or .458 Winchester case.  That is because the larger bore rifles have a larger ‘exit’.  For that reason, firearms with a larger expansion ratio require a faster burning powder.  The faster burning rate keeps the pressure high enough to keep pushing the bullet.  The lower expansion ration arms require a slower burn rate to not overpressure the system and cause a failure.

Then we have another factor.  Bullet weight.  The heavier the bullet, the longer the time the pressure is held in the arm and not allowed to escape.  Therefore, a heavier bullet – all other things remaining the same – the slower the powder must be.  This seems somewhat contradictory to the first principle, but actually works in harmony.  For instance, a ‘light’ .22 bullet in a .22-250 Remington can use a ‘faster’ slow burning powder than a ‘heavy’ bullet in the same cartridge using a ‘slower’ slow burning powder.  A ‘heavy’ bullet in a .458 Winchester will use a ‘slower’ fast burning powder than a lighter bullet.  So even for a ‘one rifle’ person, the minimum number of powders may be more than one.  As example, the .30-06 Springfield – a venerable but somewhat ‘passé’ caliber – can handle bullets of 110 grain up to bullets of 220 grains.  However, one will not get maximum velocity or efficiency using only one powder.  Picking a single powder in the middle (for that cartridge) burning range, the light bullets will tend to limited by the ability of the powder capacity to provide enough pressure and pressure levels limits will not propel the heavier bullets as fast as one might want.  With one cartridge and a single bullet weight – which can be easily done for hunting purposes – one can use one type of powder literally forever.

However, buying a box of ammo for the purpose would probably serve as well.  And be cheaper and less bothersome in the long run.

Add to the confusion some bullets are constructed differently.  To some degree they resist the deformation of the rifling differently than the typical lead core with jacket type bullet.  I always see specific instructions and warnings on their packaging or in load books.  Not likely to sneak up on one.

Then another ugly wrinkle rears its ugly head.  Reloaders have long understood the reality of how one powder shoots better (more accurately or faster) when combined with a certain bullet of a particular brand (of the same weight).  To my knowledge, this problem has never been suitably turned into a mathematical equation so the answer can be predicted.  Experimentation is the word some use, trial and error is used by others.  To further compound this difficulty, many find what works well in one firearm doesn’t always perform superbly in another arm of the same chambering.  Usually it serves ‘okay’ but a special degree of accuracy requires some ‘tweaks’.  In extreme cases, the reloaded ammunition will not fit the chamber properly.

Before I quit, some notes on the various listings of relative burn rates of powders.

Lists do vary from time to time about which powder is ‘quicker’ than another.  Don’t hyperventilate, check a couple listings and most of all, READ THE LOADING MANUAL!  This is a phenomenon of, under certain conditions, two specific powders may react differently.  Not ordinary nor commonplace, but it happens.

Lists are made and ranked in order of burning rate.  HOWEVER, no listing shows the relative burning rates in a percentage form.  Nor are the rankings equally spaced.  Numbers 99 and 100 are not guaranteed to be the same ‘gap’ as between 100 and 101.  Do not attempt to use a relative burn list as a loading manual.

New powders are being introduced constantly.  As mentioned, ‘Poudre B’ was the only smokeless powder in the game in 1886 or so.  That was not the case for long.  In the 1953 printing of Complete Guide to Handloading by Phillip B. Sharpe, the author discusses fifty-eight ‘known’ gunpowders available to the public at the time.  Some were noted as ‘discontinued’ as of a certain date.  As a young man in high school, I remember older reloaders talking about powders; for a long time I thought the (then DuPont) IMR (improved military rifle) line of gunpowders were the only ones made.  Now there are far more and from many places in the world.  No doubt, more change will come.

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My Choice for Favorite or Most Useful – Universal Cartridge. And Rifle.

With the Coronavirus panic, being more or less confined to home and most all my money spending haunts closed or severely restricted, I have watched more ‘YouTube’ in the last two months than all my life prior.  Much of it is animals of all shapes and sizes being ‘cute’, animals of all shapes and sizes being annoying.  Women, especially younger woman being ‘cute’ (in one way or another); women, especially younger woman being annoying.  Stunts that work and stunts that don’t work with automobile, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, skates and gymnastics.  Crafts, like woodworking and such.  Science, from making great growing messes from chemical reactions to blowing stuff up to the nature of nature, including the larger view of the Universe.  I have come to the conclusion any video of anecdotes of life beginning with an overweight person and a rope will not end well.

And firearms.  From well meaning guys with videos of shooting a mostly identified rifle several times without much expertise or explanation to people with good, solid experience and learning of the matter.  All kinds of subjects, from marksmanship to forming cases, to reloading ammunition to choices of cartridges.  I do not agree with everything said (surprise!) but do really respect the experiences and differing viewpoints.  

All that said, I am more comfortable with the written word.  I do not feel showing myself to be of great interest, nor am I a mellifluous speaker.  (Neither are all the folks on You Tube and they should be more self-aware.)  Therefore, I choose this medium to express myself.  (Maybe I should include some videos of dancing girls?)  

Favorite cartridge?  That is a rather subjective choice.  My thought is that all such choices begin with purpose.  One’s choice for hunting large, dangerous game must needs be different  than a choice for a casual afternoon of shooting informal targets or ‘varmints’ like rabbits or tree squirrels.  One CAN shoot squirrels with a .458 Winchester Magnum, but that isn’t nearly as pleasant for the purpose as a .22 long rifle with a good trigger.  I do have a .30 caliber M1 carbine (with aftermarket stock prior to my acquisition) and a ‘red dot’ type sight (since my acquisition).  I think that rifle is pretty good for house defense; a bit underpowered and under sighted for deer and such game, and drastically unsuited for anything dangerous.   One might kill a mountain lion or wolverine with such a rifle, but one (me at least) would not select such a rifle were I planning to hunt such a creature.  

My hunting plans – few and probably imaginary – are limited to deer and similar sized critters.  I live in the Great Central Plateau of North America, and will likely not encounter any bear, or carnivorous animals or any critters large enough to step on me by mistake, even.  Those opposed to circuses have forced an end to elephants being included and the nearest zoo is more or less 150 miles away.  The chance of an escaped elephant going rogue in my neighborhood is nil.  The likelihood of something in the mountain lion, wolf or even coyote category is also quite low.  Probably of slightly greater possibility than an elephant, but not much.  Nor are great distances involved.  Most of the people who have experience in rifle hunting (as opposed to shotgun or bird hunting) seem to indicate most game – deer – are taken at ranges of less than 200 yards, and probably closer to 50 than 200.  So I have little use for a 600 yard or greater range arm.  My financial income and budget do not suggest I will be traveling to hunt larger game, North American Bison, large bears, or African Big Five subjects.  I might get to Texas and hunt hogs.  Maybe.  

With all that in mind, I want a rifle of moderate power and range.  I have long admired the .30-06 cartridge, but have no need of such power.  And I’m older than I used to be, and recoil is not a major problem, but I prefer less of it.  No doubt this will continue and perhaps intensify as I age.  I prefer less weight to carry about.  I am probably not going to walk through miles and hours of heavy growth forest, but I’ve carried enough burdens in my life.  I opt not to do so.  

At the same time the rifle I carry should be possessed of suitable powder to properly and humanely kill game.  Along with this, the low recoil factor will assist me in delivering a shot where it need be.  Moreover, the cartridge I select should be readily obtainable so I have a suitable supply for my needs.  One cannot help but encounter .308 Winchester ammunition suitable for hunting (presuming one is seeking hunting ammunition.)  .270 Winchester ammunition is fairly widespread.  7 or 8 x57mm ammunition – suitable for hunting – is to be found but likely not everywhere.  I cannot find an outlet on line for 6.5mm Gibbs.  One has to form their own cases from .30-06 or .270 cases.  It is possible for a dedicated shooter/reloader but one cannot just buy the ammunition.  And the 6.5mm Gibbs round doesn’t give me more of something than I can get.    I admit, there may be a boutique outlet selling 6.5mm Gibbs that I haven’t found.  Probably most of you have never heard of it.

Therefore, the rifle and cartridge I seek is possessed of sufficient power to probably kill game animals in the deer category, reasonably light, reasonably low recoiling and has ammunition available without a lot of bother.  

My not so humble opinion puts this into the range between .243 Winchester and .30 Winchester Centerfire (know colloquially as .30-30).  Which is to say, of bore diameter between six and seven millimeters or .24 to .30 caliber.  My opinion excludes all the ‘magnum’ calibers of this group on the grounds they don’t do anything the others do already.  Calibers such as .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield are in the caliber range, but are overpowered for my criteria.

examples of deer appropriate cartridges

243 Win, 257 Roberts, 6.5x53mmR Dutch, 6.5×54 MS, 6.5×55 Swede, 7x57mm Mauser, 7.62x39mm (154 bullet), 30-30 Win and 30-06

The .243 Winchester is rather popular.  I think it is on the small end.  It was intended as a ‘dual purpose’ cartridge; those two purposes being small game and varmints (ground hogs, squirrels, foxes in the hen house, coyotes raiding the sheep and such) and medium game in the deer category.  There are claims and a few examples of elk being taken by shooters with .243 Win rifles.  It is not automatically dismissed as ‘too little’ – I would choose the .243 Win over the .30 M1 carbine. or any .22 caliber rifle.  And before the .22-250 supporters get worked up, yes, the .22-250 with heavier bullets and a proper shooter could do deer, but that’s nearly a stunt or a circus act.  Not to my taste as a normal activity or for ‘typical’ hunters.

Next on my list of candidates is the .257 Roberts.  The usual story I read is the round was developed by (Major) Ned (H.) Roberts using the 7x57mm Mauser case as the starting point.  There is some question in my mind, as all the Mauser (standard) cartridges are ‘something x (by) 57mm’ with the same head dimensions, the U. S. .30-06 is a blatant copy of the basic Mauser case, with the same head size but four millimeters longer  (total of 61mm).  However, the .257 Roberts was first used as a wildcat and custom built on the 1891 Mauser action – the Model 1893 Spanish rifle – and due to the action demoted to the lower pressure realm.  (So I think the 7mm story is reasonably founded.)  Which is why most modern rifles – sadly quite few – have been marked “.257 Roberts (+p)”.  I prefer the .257 Roberts to the .243 Win as the largest bullet weighs 120 grains (.260 sectional density) versus the 105 grain (.254 sectional density) top weight in the .243 Win.  The slightly wider bullet appeals to me as well.   Not much difference, really.  

I tend to be impressed with the 6.5mm cartridges.  The ones from the WWI era are the 6.5x55mm Swede (or SKAN), the 6.5x52mm Carcano, the 6.5x50mm Japanese, the 6.5x53mm Rimmed Mannlicher (aka Dutch and Romanian)(not much commercially produced and cases have to be formed from other cases) and the 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer (‘Shoenauer’ is not quite right in spelling, as the German language (Austrian) spelling requires an ‘umlaut’ or two and one of those  “u” shaped thingies and my computer skills are not up to it.  Nor do I speak German or Austrian – presuming dialectical differences.)  Recently, the U. S. firearms industry have developed such as the .264 Winchester Magnum (excluded as more powerful than needed) the .260 Remington (which seems potentially the U. S. successor to the 6.5x55mm Swede), 6.5mm Creedmore and 6.5mm Grendel.  The 6.5mm continuum of bullets range from 87 to 160 grains from varmints to large game.  The caliber is quite flexible.  I tend toward the larger bullets as their greater sectional density gives positive and deeper penetration.  

The .30 WCF is normally carried in a lever gun.  Savage did make the model 340 bolt gun but is no longer (in my knowledge) in production.  Steven (owned by Savage at the time) made one in the late 1940s.  Some single shots.  The cartridge has a rim (flange, if one is from the UK) which do not work as well in bolt guns.  Perhaps a bolt rifle in .30 Remington?  (.30 Rem is essentially a .30-30 rimless cartridge.  However, the cartridge is not reasonably suited to use in an AR platform or exceed 3,000 fps, so I doubt the buying public will flock to it.  

On a similar note, I see some promise with the 7.62x39mm cartridge with a heavier bullet.  Tula makes such a round commercially using the 154 grain bullet which seems quite similar to the 7.62x54mm Mosin-Nagant bullet.  (Both bullets are a .310 groove diameter.  I use bullets from a .303 British tradition that is shown on the box as .312 diameter; so far the rifle hasn’t complained.)  From my CZ bolt rifle (not shocking, I trust) the commercial round develops 2150 fps, my handloads run about 2250 fps; in the low .30-30 range.  I have not worked on a 170 grain bullet yet.  

7x57mm Mauser is the last candidate on my mental list of possibilities.  It has history of success.  For nearly as long as the 6.5mm calibers, the 7x57mm has been killing every game animal on Earth (in hands of precision shooters) with the initial loading a an FMJ 173 grain (actually 11.2 grams) at a muzzle velocity of  just under 2300 fps (700 meters per second).  

Now I’m going to spring something I haven’t mentioned yet on you all.  I do not follow tends, fads or what is referred to as  ‘fashion’.  I prefer not so popular stuff.  I wear ties on ordinary occasions.  I prefer fedora hats.  I really want another three piece, pin-stripe suit.  I have been described as pretentious, but I’m really just cool.  (So there!)

I want a rifle with class.  A true gentleman’s hunting rifle.  I am awaiting delivery of a 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle built on a Greek (Mannlicher design) action.  It suits all of my criteria.  I expect it sometime this summer.  But I’ve been waiting a while now.  The second choice is 7x57mm Mauser.  I have plans on a classic rifle in that caliber, but subject to the whims of income and budget.  I have to do some upgrades on the house and replace some of my wardrobe.  

All things come to those who wait and plan.  Insert evil laugh here.

I must add to this essay.  At a recent Gun Show I bought a BRNO (antecedent of CZ firearms) commercial bolt action rifle.  It is caliber .257 Roberts.

During roughly the same time period, I found and purchased (on line) an 1895 Mannlicher rifle adopted by and known as the ‘Dutch Manlicher’ in caliber 6.5×53.5Rmm.  Yes, it’s a rimmed cartridge.  The rifle has been rather skillfully sporterized – stock completely restyled and rather visible iron sights employed.  

Both these last two rifles are stocked in the light weight ‘stalking rifle’ style and are light enough to carry (by a gentleman of mature years) when seeking out a suitable deer.

And I’m working on a Lee-Enfield, .303 British rifle as a lightened sporter as well.  

Favorite Cartridge?  I have several, why choose?  Hopefully my thinking will possibly assist you.

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Nebuchadnezzar or Nebuchadrezzar

Nebuchadnezzar II, also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II lived from about 630 to 561 B.C. (the Bible doesn’t say and archeological records seem to be inexact). This essay is not about him in detail, just one event in his life and the conclusions therefrom.

In the Biblical ‘book’ of the prophet Daniel – who was also a Babylonian slave of Jewish origin and ethnicity – is the main account of Nebuchadrezzar in the Tanakh, the Jewish writings comprising the “Old Testament” section of the Christian Bible. Among other things, Chapter 4 (of Daniel) beginning in verse 28 to the end of chapter four, King Nebuchadrezzar is living like a ox in the fields – seemingly he lost his mind. That isn’t the incredible part. Lots of folks (not a majority, but too many for comfort) get way off track and think they’re a chocolate cream pie, Gladly, the cross-eyed bear, a leopard, Napoleon or the reincarnation of Cleopatra.

What is remarkable is Nebby’s return to power. When his time of seeming insanity was done “… seven periods of time…” (usually taken as seven years) he returned to sanity and a normal life. Verse 36 of the same chapter quotes him (Nebby) saying his kingdom was restored to him.

Consider that; a King of a monarchy went – as far as anyone his contemporaries knew – crazy and he lived with cattle and ate grass and such for seven years. In that time probably a regent served, but NO ONE took his place and had him quietly done in when he returned. No one had him quietly done in when he lived with the cattle. It would be very possible.

Which brought me to thinking. Any odds on how former Vice President will survive after the upcoming election?

If he wins, I am certain he will not serve as President very long. He will either be in ‘the home’ being adjudicated incompetent, or he will pass on by ‘natural causes’ before long and the VP will succeed him. If he loses, he will be of no further use to the party and will be retired like a Roman galley slave.

Any thoughts? Please be rational and avoid abuse.

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A Rant About Bullets

No one makes the bullets I want.  Privi Partizan makes one close enough to use, but it isn’t right.  And EVERYONE used to make it!

I find the 7x57mm Mauser to be an excellent cartridge for hunting.  Historically, the 7x57mm has taken all manner of game animals around the world.  Even used to kill elephants.  Most of the large, dangerous game was taken with the military loading originally made for the rifle.  A 173 grain (11.2 gram) FMJ bullet @ 2300 fps (700 mps).  Not legal to use fmj bullets to hunt in the U. S. I want a heavy bullet (175 grains seems right) at around 2300 fps.  However, most of the bullets made currently are spitzer types with boat tails, instead of the flat bottomed, round nose configuration for which the 1892 (Spanish) Mauser was designed.

As a result, the longer bullet gets forced into the case (so the loaded round fits in the magazine) and reduces the powder space.  As a result of the deep seating and the long leade of the rifle, the bullet is quite removed from the rifling.  [Extremely rude noise made]

Privi Partizan Uzice (PPU) makes a seven millimeter bullet of 175 grains that is flat based.  It is also a somewhat spitzer shaped bullet but allows the ogive to get closer to the leade.  It is a soft point.

American companies used to make a round nosed, flat based seven millimeter bullet of 175 grains, but no more.  Why?  Probably as they can’t make much money due to the demand being low.  Why is the demand low?  It isn’t ‘fashionable’.  People have the idea a bullet must be somewhere around the speed of light – at least more than 3000 fps – to kill anything.  Except for the non-hunters who shoot targets at 1000 yard or a couple miles.  Where do those ideas derive?  Write ups for new rifles and cartridges going faster and accurate enough to do those things.  The idea that high velocity is ‘in’.  And therefore, all ‘old’ cartridges (7x57mm Mauser comes to mind) are obsolete.

The 6.5 Grendel and Creedmoor spring to my mind.  The .260 Remington as well, but not so strongly.  They are all 6.5mm or .264″ bore diameter.

The Remington and Creedmoor are both based roughly on the .308 Winchester.  The Creedmoor is just a bit shorter and this apparently allows it to work in a semi-automatic rifle a bit better.  The Remington round was intended for a standard hunting role, but seems to do well on the long range target circuit, as long as a bolt gun is competitive.

The Grendel is based on the 7.62x39m Soviet case.  It works well in prepared AR -15 type rifles and (obviously) the SKS and AK platforms.  The case is smaller, but will still reach out to 1000 yards or better for target work.

None of them have any mention of bullet weights higher than

In the Lyman #50 loading manual, the .260 Rem has data for a 160 grain bullet, the Creedmoor has data up to 140 grain bullets and the Grendel tops out at 129 grain bullets.  The 6.5x55mm Swedish (1894) uses 160 grain bullets and regularly harvests moose in European nations.  But use of such a heavy bullet is passé in the ‘now’ crowd.  It doesn’t go fast enough; it is old.  It just kills large animals.

The 7x57mm has much the same story.  It has the needed power to take most game in the Western Hemisphere; possibly excluding some of the large, dangerous and determined critters in some places.  Most of that attributed to the heavy for caliber (that is high sectional density) bullets used by the cartridge.  However, it doesn’t seem to be as popular as the 7mm Remington Magnum, Weatherby, Winchester Short Magnum, Remington Short Action Ultra Magnum and no doubt others of the “Umpah Woopee” class belted magnums.  Similar to the .260 Remington in the 6.5mm group, the 7mm-08 and the .280 Remington would be fine to do the same job as the 7x57mm.  Except they aren’t cool enough.

So.  What to do?  I’ve looked into swaging my own bullets.  It’s possible, but costly to set up.  I will struggle through with the PPU bullets for the moment.  They almost do it.




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I survived the Sonic Death Beam!

I’m sure urologists the world over are horrified at my title.  Some night be partially amused by my odd sense of humor, but likely keeping such amusement to themselves.

I recently underwent a ‘procedure’ – not sure if it is called an operation – for kidney stones.  The point of the exercise to to break them up within one’s body so they will pass without comment or incident and not cause the rather excruciating pain to the possessor.  (Me, in this case.)  This has to be more convenient and less painful than actual surgery as in opening one up, taking one apart to some degree and then putting one back together.  And in my mind, much better than my kidneys failing and letting the waste material in my blood stream and body build up and kill me rather unpleasantly.  The procedure is properly called ‘lithotripsy’.  By the way, ‘litho-‘ seems to be borrowed from the Greek language and means ‘rock’.  I suspect “tripsy” is some form of ‘doo-dad that will break rocks”. 

I have a tendency for kidney stones.  Possibly will have the rest of my life.  But then, I am in my early 70’s.  Whatever plagues me or even pesters me will likely be around the rest of my life.

My point in writing about this at all is only that it happens and the treatment – at least for me – is rather successful and on the easy side (as opposed to having one’s appendix removed, which I have also done).  The procedure is done under sedation – there is a technical difference between ‘sedation’ and ‘anesthesia’ but in either case, I was ‘out’ and happily unaware of what was going on.  When I came to, the sedation was more bother to deal with than the physical aftermath of the procedure.  Although I must say, for a couple days following I was aware of something punching my kidneys.  (Actually it felt like going a couple of rounds with Jojo the Silver Backed Ape in a boxing match.)  However, for me the use of generic acetaminophen eases the discomfort enough to function and sleep.  As known, your mileage may vary.  Still better than being taken apart and reassembled.

As mentioned, I am now officially seventy years of age and after less than a week, I feel disgustingly normal and am looking for a decent day to get back on the rifle range to test some loads.  Not like a month to two month vigil.  

Just for information, kidney stones are caused – it is thought – by drinking insufficient water, low exercise, eating too much meat and genetics.  Look it up on the web for more discussion, but drinking water (other than AM coffee and after dinner drinks) more and some physical exercise (not enrolling in a course to make one look like Swartzenegger but regular walking or such).  Genetics?  Choose your parents and family better.  More detailed information on the web, better yet, talk to your doctor.  


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W. D. M. Bell – A legend of shooters

It’s been a while since he died. About fifty-six years as I write this, 30th June, 1954. Not widely known today, probably not widely known in the United States at any time, he left his mark on the world. As both a marksman and a hunter, he was one of the best. If not the best, they were probably aware of each other. His one claim on fame was he holds the record for killing elephant when it was done for ivory gathering. During his career, he is recorded (by game officials) he killed three hundred elephant with his favorite rifle, a Rigby prepared .264 Mannlicher or 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer. Then, the fully jacketed rounds for his 6.5mm were no longer available, so he switched to the heavier rifle. It was another Rigby prepared rifle based on the 1895 Mauser action; called in Great Britain the .275 Rigby. The rest of the world call this round the 7x57mm Mauser or just 7mm Mauser.  Along the way, he used a British .303 rifle (SMLE in his memoirs) alongside the others.

W. D. M. ‘Karamojo’ Bell

His name was W. M. D. Bell; usually called “Karamoja” (or “Karamojo”) by friends as he spent a goodly amount of time in the Karamojo region of Uganda (long prior to Idi Amin) in his early hunting days. Other than being the largest harvester of ivory in the history of the world (at least as far as humanity records) he was a participant in the Klondike Gold Rush, fought in the Boer War, raced sailboats, fought in the Great War (First World War), was an Ace in the RAF during the Great War, got and stayed married and had an estate in Scotland. Full details are available on the internet, so I’m not going to do full biography; look him up. The internet has a map of Uganda showing the region mentioned.

The really interesting aspect of his elephant hunting was his choice of rifles. The rifles he used to kill elephants were what most of us would consider deer to elk suitable.

The rifle in caliber 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schonauer used a cartridge with a 156 grain (10 grams in metric) FMJ bullet at a modest 2460 fps (750 mps) which is not impressive in today’s firearms world.  It was the standard military loading at the time.  It did kill elephants for an Ivory hunter.  The 7x57mm Mauser fired a 173 grain (10.2 gram) FMJ bullet at 2297 fps (700 mps).  Again not impressive today, it had like the MS good penetration and killed elephants.  The third rifly (mentioned by Mr. Bell in his memoirs) was a modified SMLE using the British .303 cartridge.  Bell mentions the .303 used a 215 grain bullet (FMJ, as usual) which was used in the Mark VI (6) combination with a non-black powder (cordite) propellent.  It seems to have great penetration as well.


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End of an Era

Yes, it is a well used phrase, but rather applicable to this occasion.  Good Golly, Miss Molly!  Little Richard is dead.  I fear there is no soft way to say this.  


I remember Little Richard from my earliest years of listening to Rock and Roll on the AM radio.  Fox News has a rather honest and respectful article on this, https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/little-richard-dead-tutti-frutti .


Happily, Richard Penniman (his birth and ‘real’ name) became a Christian – presumably honestly – and struggled with being a Christian and living in the world.  As do many of us.  I surmise the Lord has a taste for Rock and Roll from time to time.  (I’m not going to decide or tell God to what He can listen!)


One question remains:  Who else can do “Boo-Bopa-Loo-La – a Crash-Bam-Boom!”?


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Hunting Large Game – Again!

Regular readers (presuming there are some) will recall (probably better than I do) about the works of Elmer Keith and Terry Wieland who used different wording, but agree on the importance of bullets with strong jackets, resistance to deformation and high sectional density in hunting dangerous game.  

Elmer Keith

Terry Wieland

Now I have a third, experienced hunter of dangerous game (along with the first two) to weigh in on the matter.  One Walter D. M. Bell; ‘Karamojo’ Bell who killed more elephants than any other hunter in history.  He killed elephants with a 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schonauer or a .275 Rigby (7x57mm Mauser) or a .303 British.

W. D. M. ‘Karamojo’ Bell

Now someone is scratching their head thinking “Those cartridges Bell used are all small bores; not elephant cartridges!”  They are, but they are all high sectional density small bores.

In an article Mr. Bell wrote for the American Rifleman (probably the last article of his life) he spoke of “…three or four diameter bullets…” Which is to say the length (and therefore greater weight) of the bullet be three or four times the diameter of the bullet. So a 6.5mm three diameter bullet should be (.264 x 3 =) .792 inches or 20.12 mm long at least.

7mm x 3 should be 21 mm or .850 inches. .303 would be .311 x 3 = .933 inches (23.7mm) long. I can only extrapolate the weights suggested.  The 175 grain 7mm bullet I just measured is 1.569 inches long. Which is partially due to the rather long spitzer shape. Since the bullets he had at the time were generally (in the three rifles he used) round nosed, one presumes weight is a bit more linearly proportional to length.  I have a bullet pulled from 7x57mm ammunition of the early days (a 173 grain FMJ from FN, it is) which is 1.215 inches long. That bullet has a sectional density of .306.  Here is a 160 grain round nose (soft point) flat based which is 1.238 inches long (just over four and one half diameters) with a sectional density of .328.  A 215 grain RNFB bullet of .311″ diameter (.303 British) is 1.228 inches long with .318 SD.  As it happens, those are the same (quite close) to the bullets Mr. Bell used.  They all will all (in FMJ form) penetrate to the brain on an elephant (Mr. Bell said they did when he used them) and logically to the vitals of any smaller critter. To spell it out, the 6.5 MS used FMJ bullets of 10.1 grams or 156 grains, the 7mm used the 173 grain bullet and the loading of the .303 used by Mr. Bell was 215 grains (he says).

6.5mm 160 grain, 7mm 173 grain, .303 215 grain

With the ‘long for caliber’ (sounds ever so similar to Mr. Keith) bullets Mr. Bell suggests, we are back to high sectional density. Pardon me whilst I whip the dead horse just a bit more. A flat base (not boat tail) and a nearly one diameter round nose is about the heaviest bullet for weight possible. The boat tail and long spitzer point are great for long range shooting (and they look cooler). So what?


Sounds like I’m going on to something else, but I’m not. In a book called Gunshot Wounds by Vincent Di Maio (medical examiner) bullets in bodies normally are found pointing backward.  That is, the base of the bullet is the leading end in the wound.  Dr. Di Maio and others witnessing the same phenomenon consider the center of gravity in a long nose bullet or even handgun is to the rear of the midline of the bullet.  Thus the ‘heavier’ portion of the bullet leads.  A round nosed rifle bullet has a center of gravity much closer to the mid point so the bullet tends to penetrate straight (straighter?) to the vitals desired.

Okay; doing so will decrease the range a bit.  How much large, dangerous game is hunting at 500 yards?  (We’re not talking about driving to the next county or state or half-way around the world, but shooting at extended ranges.)  For bears, this might mean something.  But no manufacturing company will make anything (including bullets) if they cannot sell enough to make a profit.  That is bad business.

That’s this installment of collected wisdom and stuff.  Working on more stuff, but not ready yet.

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