Virus Panic is Over, Evidenced by Spending

I went crazy and bought three new guns and traded for a fourth.

Many of the restrictions of the COVID panic are gone as the number of ‘cases’ keep dropping. That means the entities known as “Gun Shows” are operational again. So I have been to three shows – similar to ‘flea markets’ – two gun shows and one ‘militaria’ show. Gun shows are primarily firearms (new and collector) and immediately related items like ammunition, accessories (holsters, replacement grips, telescopic sights and such) and some military related items like books, pictures of soldiers and military activities since the Civil War and Matt Brady and surplus items. (The old style green woolen ‘Army blanket’ was warm, most storable and cheap; they’re all gone. Modern blankets are pretty good, but not as good in my opinion.) “Militaria” shows concentrate on military paraphernalia like training books, uniforms (of as many eras as can be found) rank insignia, decorations, and some military small arms of various eras. They are somewhat connected.

I attended the Grand Island spring gun show on the first weekend of February. I was looking for my typical World War One military rifles, sporting rifles of the era, .32 ACP handguns and one or two modern rifles that may or may not be there. (They weren’t.) I was looking.

I did find a vendor to sharpen my sort of boy scout knife. It isn’t a real Boy Scout knife, but it is of much the same design. Has blade for cutting or whittling; can, bottle openers and leather awl. Made of stainless steel and handy to have in one’s everyday wear pocket. One vendor had fifteen loose rounds of British governmental made and issued ammunition for the British .303 rifles. I bought them for my display; they were older and had cupronickel jackets – which are outdated.

Looked at all the tables of interest, said hello and chatted a bit with a number of old friends, both vendors and other lookers. Literally on the way out, I saw a rifle laying on a table and thought, “There’s a nice looking M1917 rifle.” Then I looked at the tag. It was not an M1917, it was a P14 British rifle. I didn’t have a P14 yet. I haven’t ever to my knowledge seen a real P14 in the wood and steel. (If you do not know the history of the P14 and the M1917 U. S. Rifle, look it up. Great story. They are brothers.) So I took it home. It’s been cold and gloomy, I haven’t shot it yet.

Weekend of the 12th and 13th March was the Militaria show. They had a lot of stuff, but what caught my eye was a 1893 Mauser known as the “Spanish Mauser” carbine. It was in good, original shape. No the nation of Spain was not involved in WW1. They were neutral. But the rifles of the era count in my collection; it is of WW1 era manufacture and type. I have it at home now. I haven’t shot it yet.

Last weekend (19th and 20th March) was the Hastings Gun Show promoted by the club of which I am a member. I had a good weekend. I found a used but well preserved ‘Zastava’ rifle in .22 long rifle. It is a bolt and has one – count ’em – one five round detachable magazine (I do not plan on taking the Rock of the Marne with it). I have just this morning (Tuesday after) shot it – local range has indoor .22 range – with the equipped iron sights. My old eyes demand I get a scope for it. That will probably be easier on both of us.

Also at the Hastings Show, I found and obtained a(nother) Colt 1903 Pocket Pistol in .32 ACP. Very clean, excellent barrel. I shot it this morning the same time and place I shot the Zastava rifle. The sights are horrible, a razor blade front sight to be lined up with a tiny half-moon notch in the rear sight fixture. At seven yards, six shots printed about 5/8 inch wide and about 1 5/8 high. With those sights it was easier to maintain windage than elevation.

So, as to the panic being over. There were people out and about. The gun shows were pretty well attended partially due to being cooped up for so long and not much else to do. Not to mention all that money they have been forced to save because there wasn’t anywhere to spend much. Mostly, I think they wanted to return to anything resembling normalcy.

I started writing this in late March or early April. Many of my expectations have come to fruition. And of course, it is much easier to prophesy after the fact. (I attempt to be honest.) Goods are returning to store shelves. Slower than one would want, to be sure, but returning.

Prices are up. Commonly blamed on ‘hoarding’ and with some justification, much of it comes from the severe lack of transportation to get goods to market. The firearms industry, clothiers and auto parts stores are all having problems getting deliveries to their retail outlets from suppliers.

Not to mention the nation installed a democrat as President. Massive government spending – especially handouts, no matter to whom or why – creates inflation.

But all is not bleak. As Steven King said in one of his stories, “The effective half-life of evil is always relatively short” (from The Stand). And as God says, “I am that I am!” Meaning, He has all the cards.

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Smith & Wesson Model 10-5 (1962)

While looking for a nameless 7.65 Browning pistol, suggested to me by a friend…
The pistol was post WW2, making it a bit too new for my collection. But I did see and purchase a revolver chambered in the widespread and common caliber of .38 Special. It is as the title describes.

This particular revolver has a two inch barrel. This configuration was intended for plain clothes police under the reasoning it would be easier to hide. In my experience, they are no easier to hide than a four inch. But the short version is far more cool. All the private eyes in the 1950s and ’60s television shows carried this revolver.

The revolver is in pretty good shape. When found it was a bit rusty – but only on the surface, and was terribly filthy. I know how to clean.

The rust was all superficial. There were spots of rust on the barrel and top strap. A combination of oil (I use penetrating oil/lubricant) and very fine steel wool will remove the rust spots without damaging the bluing underneath. Then the arm was detail stripped and the major parts were run through a sonic cleaner. Following that, I used WD-40 (the WD stands for ‘water displacement’) and wiped everything with a clean rag (shop rag).

Upon examination, there is no holster wear. So it was not carried in a holster for any length of time. The rust spots noted are most likely the result of being kept in a drawer of the chest of drawers so common in homes. Some dampness found a way in. The stocks have some bumps. they are used. (Upon reflection, the stocks are more beat up than the metal parts.) They are the original stocks by the way. (S&W numbered stocks on the inside bottom of the right piece.)

The photos show the rust spots. This is after cleaning and removing the rust. (Next time I’ll photograph prior to the process.) (Yes, I should make the photos of such things more uniform. I’ll work on it.) It’s really not bad at all.

As much as I like the S&W revolver, I do have two criticisms. One is the horrible short extractor throw on the two inch versions (only gets about half of a .38 Special cartridge out). The second gripe I have is the stocks are designed for persons with malformed hands. The middle finger does not belong behind the index finger.

The short extractor rod is what fits on a two-inch barreled K frame. (A common alteration was to shorten a four inch ‘pencil barrel’ to three inches, remounting the front sight, allowing for a full throw.) Also when this feature (the two inch barrel) was added, users were expected to actually hit the target or adversary seriously within the first six rounds. Not firing ten or twelve wild shots into the air. But I digress…

In the old days, when these were in production, I would replace the stocks with a suitable aftermarket product. Pachmayr grips were very popular, and I must admit they are comfortable and very utile. However, I preferred Herrett Shooting Star grips. (I was a snob then as well. Herrett grips are comfortable and very utile AND rather handsome. However, this is not the old days and these grips have the diamond around the stock screw, so I am not going to replace them. I’ve ordered a Tyler T-grip. An excellent way to make a revolver much handier and not increase bulk; only increases weight about an ounce.

Speaking of weight, the revolver weighs one pound, twelve ounces, unloaded. It will fit in most trouser front pockets and not sag. It is just heavy enough to allow most any sensible (not over loaded) ammunition and control doing so.

Trigger pull is good to excellent. Using a Wheeler electronic trigger scale, the single action breaks at 3 pounds, 11 ounces: double action requires 10 pounds, 11 ounces. The single action is crisp and free of creep. The double action is smooth and uniform all the way and the hammer releases instantly without ‘jump’ of the arm. One of the nicest double action pulls I’ve found without a revolver ‘smith working on it.

I am waiting the T-grip to arrive to shoot this.

As yet, I’ve not decided to put this revolver in my selection of carry handguns. But all my modern handguns are on the possible list; hence the T-grip coming. And I have appropriate ammunition.


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How Cold Is It?

Last night, this AM around sun up, the on-board computer in my car declared the outside temperature to be -17 degree Fahrenheit. That is -22 degrees Celsius for all of you who are familiar with that system.

I’m sure others have had colder times and such, but that’s the lowest I recall in the ten or so years I’ve lived in Nebraska. It is to the best of my knowledge, the coldest I have experienced. (Sort of a personal best, or worst.)

I am looking forward to spring.

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Mystery Solved!

I have long – since the late 1960s at least – why ‘modern’ rock music must be played so loud. It is not as if any of them have lyrics worth hearing. Finally, I understood. The volume must be great to penetrate the haze surrounding the brain, caused by various recreational pharmaceutical products. Mystery solved!

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Controlled Feed or Push Feed?

Controlled feed actions are those in which the cartridge coming from the magazine and being inserted in the chamber is somewhat locked into the bolt – held by the extractor – from the time it is free of the magazine, during firing and until free of the arm. Where upon the bolt ‘grabs’ the next cartridge in the same manner.

As with most things there are two major camps of rifle enthusiasts. Probably not as staunch as large versus small calibers, but still a distinction. Bolt action rifles are – a single distinction, not a combination of factors – into ‘controlled’ and ‘push’ feed systems.

Push feed actions are those which the cartridge in the magazine is merely pushed from the magazine and into the chamber. If not before, the extractor ‘snaps’ over the rim of the cartridge upon chambering. The extractor then extracts the fired – or unfired, as the circumstance dictates – cartridge from the chamber.

The controlled round function has existed since the late 1800s, 1880 or so (I’m not really sure of the date, and I do not find that information important). The push feed type rifles have existing long prior, as any rifle which can be loaded by dropping a round into the mechanism must then have the extractor ‘snap’ over the extractor rim, groove or whatever. So any single shot or rifle with a magazine cut off is push feed unless a rather complex mechanism is involved. I don’t know of any, but I’m not God nor Batman. By the same token, controlled feed rifles are those that are feed only from a magazine.

The controlled feed system was developed for primarily military use. This was in the day of infantrymen being equipped with bolt action rifles and transitioning from selected single shot fire to magazine fire as the officer in charge decided. Controlled feed was considered important for at least two reasons:

A controlled feed rifle can ignore gravity to some extent. Operating the bolt will chamber a round (presuming cartridge or cartridges are in the magazine) in awkward positions. Like shooting from prone in an irregularity in the terrain. Or hanging upside down from a tree.

Reason number two is far more defensible. If one ‘short strokes’ the bolt – that is, does not retract the bolt far enough to eject the fired cartridge – with a push feed, the next round in the magazine will be pushed by the bolt forward creating a ‘double feed’ malfunction and ‘jam’. That cannot happen with a controlled feed mechanism. Since many armies used young men, the tendency to panic was extremely possible when under fire. So the controlled round design was less likely to have that jamming problem.

One notes that nearly all semi and fully automatic weapons currently are push feed. The human factor of not properly operating the bolt doesn’t exist.

So, which is better? Pretty much all bolt action rifles in the current era are for sporting purposes. Battle is now replaced by the possibility of a rather enraged, clawed, toothed, hoofed, just plain huge or some combination thereof. A controlled feed action might be preferred for those times.

But for any occasion, if one retracts the bolt back fully: the fired cartridge will extract and the next round will chamber (presuming the chamber is relative free of obstacles). Then, move the bolt forward, smartly, completely and expeditiously. One might train and condition one’s mind and hand to perform in that manner.

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I Seem to Changing

My reloading has changed priority. I load few handgun rounds anymore. I used to reload for a number of handgun rounds. Among other things, there are simply a number of calibers I just do not shoot anymore.

As a list, I used to load and no longer load: .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, 9x19mm (Luger or Parabellum), Super .38 (a shock to recognize), .40 S&W. None of those calibers do anything that I need done anymore.

Additionally, the calibers I do shoot (and had loaded) were the ‘standard’ loading only of .45 ACP (hardball), .38 Special (standard 158 grain RNL), .32 ACP standard and 9x19mm (hardball, of which I have more than I can use). I can purchase those in sufficient quantity to meet my needs for practice or informal casual shooting.

I happen to have four hundred rounds or so of Federal 230 grain Hydra-Shok ammunition for serious defensive use. I also have 9x19mm hardball. Those are from long ago and a serendipity. I wish I could claim genius and good planning, but they just fell from the sky.

Handgun rounds I will continue to load – probably in fits – are .38 and .44 Special, .45Auto Rim – in loadings not commercially available, .45 Colt, .44 WCF just because they are expensive and hard to find.

.22 long rifle doesn’t allow my preference. Such is life.

Two calibers, .32 WCF and .22 Hornet I may or may not load. Both rifles, I like them but they seem to be difficult. Not sure if I’ll continue to fight the battle.

I will continue to load ‘hunting’ caliber rifles. Rifle calibers which will manifest accuracy and or configurations I desire. Included are 6.5x55mm (Swede or whatever they call it these days), 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schonauer, .256 Manlicher (known also as 6.5×53.5Rmm Dutch Mannlicher), .257 Roberts (+p), 7.62x39mm (heavy bullet), 7x57mm Mauser, .308 Winchester, .30 Scott’s Improved and .303 British, which I enjoy shooting.  The .35 Whelen, .375 Ruger, .45-70 Govt (for a sporterized 1903 action). .450/400 NE 3 inch(in a Ruger No 1), .458 Winchester (for a sporterized 1903 action) and 9.3x74Rmm are all more powerful hunting rifles which are NOT fun to shoot.  Or perhaps I should word it, they are fun to shoot; but not fun to shoot very much at one sitting.  

My World War One collection has some odd calibers I will not load much. 8x51mm Lebel comes to mind. PPU makes it ready for use. 8x56Rmm is an oddball which I load only not to fire antique ammunition. 6.5x52mm Carcano is not so useful other than an oddity. 8x57mm Mauser is another caliber rare in original loading. And so on…

I have little idea why I started this track other than to share that activities change and so does what one does regarding such.  At some point, one must admit to one’s self they just can’t carry a 50 pound back pack like in the ‘old days’.  I confess, I don’t ‘bounce’ as well as I did at eighteen.


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I Really Appreciate CZ – USA

I am just a bit torn (mentally) in beginning this essay. On the one side, I wish to share with you all how great a company CZ USA is; their high standards of customer care and just how delighted I am. On the other hand, I do want to open the floodgates of ‘self-interest’, causing an avalanche of semi-truthful claims to their Warranty and Service section to get the benefits thereof.

I have a CZ 527 Carbine. I must confess they seem to add and remove ‘variations’ often. (Which is not a criticism, just a difficultly I have in keeping track.) The one I have was sold with a ‘rustic’ (their term, not mine) stock made of real wood, and in what to my eye looked green tinged; not of old fashioned spirit. But it was quite attractive and most functional. It broke.

The stock suffered a crack (I didn’t fiddle or examine to determine how serious) at the ‘point’ of the rear of the receiver where it fits into the inletting (cut out) in the stock. One notes this is common injury and it usually superficial. (Usually.)

Having read about CZ’s customer service and warranty work, I sent an inquiry to CZ-USA about it. They sent me a FedEx shipping label to send it back. This was late October of this year. (I wasn’t keeping track of all dates.) They sent a notice of receipt, and not terribly long after an email telling me the problem had been diagnosed; then fixed by fitting out a new stock (including the barrel bedded).

The ‘bad news’. All the ‘rustic’ stocks are gone. (That carbine model configuration has been discontinued.) The only stock available – and what they used – is Turkish Walnut. Holy Kiss a rabbit! Turkish Walnut! I prefer a Walnut stock to the ‘rustic’. Go figure.

Now, the good news. I have my rifle back. It is gorgeous. The magazine fits. I have not shot it yet – although December has days running in the 60’s and little wind. CZ-USA has given me no notice of a bill. None. I did pay the one way shipping by FEDEX. I expected to pay something for the work. Nothing. I rather expected them to glue the crack carefully, gently push it all back together and perhaps a discreet screw, pin or dowel. They gave me a new walnut stock and fitted it!

I have a CZ rifle in 6.5x55mm, the carbine in 7.62x39mm and a .257 Roberts from BRNO (the spiritual and possible physical father of CZ). They are all fitted wood to metal well, operate smoothly and just look good. Did I mention I really like CZ?

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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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