Political Commentary

I don’t normally do this, but these were sent to me and I felt them appropriate to post in light of recent events. I trust you will enjoy them.

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Forming Cases for the 6.5x53mmR Dutch (or Romanian) Mannlicher cartridge, used in the M1895 Dutch rifle

I read up on the process and started. I found most of the pitfalls. Please read the entire article prior to beginning the process. I wrote this more or less as a log of my attempts. It worked well on the first try, more or less. I did find some easier or less damaging techniques and added them later.

All my sources and information indicates the Dutch cartridge is the same shape, size and pressure specifications as the 6.5×54 (rimless) Mannlicher-Schoenauer cartridge, save the rim. Since no one commonly makes dies for the Dutch cartridge (actually, RCBS does, but they run over $100 a set; more for ‘forming’ dies), I bought a set of 6.5x54MS dies (made by Lee and cost less).

Start with .303 British cases, preferably new and unfired. This actually simplifies the process, since no one I could find makes a dedicated 6.5x53mmR shell head holder. To simplify this essay, I’m going to refer to the round as “Dutch”, as that is the type of rifle I have.

.303 British case, unaltered.  .303 British case, unaltered.

.303 Brit cases are normally 54 to 56 millimeters (mm) long (depending if at maximum length or recently trimmed). Dutch cases are 53.5 mm when longest – according to my readings of the few schematics I found. Trimmed, Dutch cases are 52 mm. Therefore, the .303 cases need to be trimmed. The Dutch cases headspace on the rim, so the actual length is not crucial. However, too long a case will cause the shoulder to crush and rumple. Not desired. Too short a neck will not hold the bullet properly and securely. But even a full millimeter probably won’t stop the show. Also, one must turn the neck to allow the seated bullet to enter the neck portion of the chamber AND allow for some expansion so the case can release the bullet when fired. These actions will be discussed later.

I note a scratch on the shoulder of some of my resized cases. Debris in one of the sizing dies I used. It doesn’t seem more than a surface effect, but it does annoy me. I have located the problem. It doesn’t really mean much and the ‘defect’ is removed later (shooting the cases), but do inspect brass regularly during the forming procedure.

Step one.  Size .303 British case in .308 Winchester sizing die, without decapper or expander. Step One: Size .303 British case in .308 Winchester sizing die, without decapper or expander

1. I found the best way to start was by removing the decapper/neck expander from, then sizing the original case in a .308 Winchester (Lee brand) sizing die. With the decapping and expander pin removed and the top mounted pin ‘holder’ removed, I didn’t have any difficulty with the 56 mm case in a 51 mm cartridge die, the reader may (depending on brand and style of dies used), and is encouraged to watch for it.

This step accomplishes two things; one, the neck size is reduced somewhat, making it easier to reduce the neck size smaller. (Obviously, it’s going to be 6.5 mm when finished; doing this in steps is easier and less brass is lost in the process.) Second, this sizing moves the shoulder back to where it almost should be. Almost.

Step Two:  Size case in 7x57 Mauser sizing die. Step Two: Size case in 7×57 Mauser sizing die.

2. Next, I sized the neck down again in a 7x57mm sizing die. Again with the decapper/neck expander removed. One notes the 57mm case die leaves the necked down portion of the case a bit longer than the finished product. However, with the already sized upper portion the case enters the next ‘size down’ procedure easier.

Step Three and Four:  Case sized in 6.5x55mm die and trimmed.

Step Three, Four and Five: Case sized in 6.5x55mm die and trimmed.

3. Neck down the neck in a 6.5×55 Swede sizing die. After this, most of the neck is roughly the correct diameter.

4. At this point, I shortened the cases to 52 mm, the correct length. (Check this length; mine came out a little shorter than some original collector rounds I have.) I did mine on a Forster case trimmer, as that’s what I have. There are other options and the reader is encouraged to investigate the matter. (Frankly, using a hand cranked trimmer to remove several millimeters of case neck is a pain in the neck.) But trim it anyway. AFTER I did the hand trimming, I ordered the Forster power adapter which allows an electric screw driver to do the cranking.

I later bought a rather inexpensive electric screw driver at the local “Harbor Freight” outlet. It seems to do the turning without the wear and tear on my fingers. In retrospect, I wish I had had it before.

5. Now, the only sizing left is the shoulder, which is still a bit long. I found using the 6.5x54MS dies made the cartridge ‘look’ right, but didn’t sufficiently set the shoulder back to chamber freely. After I purchased the MS dies, I heard the 6.5×53 Mannlicher-Carcano dies are a better fit. I later bought the Carcano dies (from Lee) and the cases ultimately chamber without difficulty.

So I resorted to brute force. (Don’t do this yet). I beat the bolt closed with rubber mallet (still with an unprimed, empty case). This does not seem to affect the bolt and does partially form the shoulder of the case to fit into the chamber. After one forcing, the case will chamber and the bolt lock with some minor pressure. This actually seems to be good, as when the case is fired, the base of the case is firmly seated on the bolt face and no stretching can occur.

Note: For some reason, the 6.5×54 MS dies did NOT set the shoulder back appropriately. Others have used them with reported success. Hopefully, your attempt will be easier. The rough-formed cases will not enter the rifle chamber easily. I obtained a set of 6.5×52 Carcano dies; the shoulder length from the base and length of case are both less. Doing the final sizing the the Carcano die allowed cases to chamber. I did not have to beat the bolt closed any longer.

As draconian as it may sound, I don’t think beating the bolt closed as I outlined did any harm to the rifle. All in all, I find using the Carcano dies a superior method. I strongly recommend NOT beating a loaded case into place.

Please note: The Carcano dies set the case mouth to .268” and the .264” bullets will not stay in the neck. So after setting the shoulder back with the Carcano dies, size the neck (at least) in the Mannlicher-Schonauer dies to properly hold the bullets. 6.5 x 55mm Swede dies have the correct sized expander (.264” bullets), but are too long to fully size the neck to the shoulder.

In retrospect, I probably should have annealed the cases at this point. I didn’t and everything seems to have worked out, but annealing sooner will not harm anything. Information below.

5. Prior to neck turning, I decided to fire-form the brass. Inspecting the thus formed cases, I decided to attempt a ‘live’ load to fire-form. I have a small pile of 140 grain 6.5 bullets from previous work with a 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser. They are the correct bore diameter.

Large Rifle primers, a starting load of IMR 3031 and one of the aforementioned 140 grain bullets seated long seems to be about right. I did measure the loaded round and the outside diameter of the neck with bullet and it miked out just under the schematic dimension. It is rather disappointing in velocity at 2056 fps, but this was a starting load and merely for the purpose of forming the cases.

Outside diameter of neck is just below the one online dimensional drawing I found of the cartridge; therefore, the neck(s) should open enough in firing to release the bullet and not cause a pressure excursion.

Note: The cases you use may react somewhat differently and the dies you use may work a bit different. Do check the outside neck diameter with bullet in place to check if bullets will release. I did not include any dimensions as YOU need to find the information yourself and measure the outside diameter of the loaded round to assure yourself of the safety of the configuration.

Be sure and measure the neck and be sure there is enough space for the neck to open and completely release the bullet. If the bullet and case neck wedge together, pressures get truly unmanageable.

6.5x53Rmm finished and loaded round beside original FN loaded round.

6.5x53Rmm finished and loaded round beside original FN loaded round.

The observer notes the ‘formed’ case (on the right) is a bit shorter than the original on the left. I possibly shortened them a bit too much. However, as the case is rimmed and headspaces on the rim, I don’t think it’s a tragic error. Were I fighting a war, or shooting constantly with the rifle (I am doing neither) I would be concerned about the burning powder gases cutting into the exposed end of the chamber under the missing case neck. I do not think for my purposes this makes a grosse affaire. If I make another set of cases, I will correct this, of course.

I also just ordered pilots (.264”) to ream necks both inside and outside. I have a feeling I will need them at some point.

The fire-forming worked swell. I should mention I tried a lighter charge of fast burning powder and it almost worked.

With all this cold working of the cases, I then annealed the cases to soften and return the malleability to the case necks and shoulders. Good information on line if you haven’t done this before. Not really a difficult operation, but one needs a proper place to do it.

According to Cartridges of the World the military loading of the 6.5 Dutch round features a 156-159 grain (10 grams in metric) round nosed bullet at 2433 feet per second. Wiki agrees with this, but that may mean it was copied. CotW also has a couple suggested loads.

My goal is to duplicate the original loading of cartridges for ‘obsolete’ military rifles. In my thinking the sights are set up for the ‘issue’ load. Also, one can reasonably try out the rifle as it was intended and intelligently form an opinion of the system.

Should one desire ‘lighter’ loads for plinking or fun – including those acquaintances who have never fired a rifle of such age – the loads shown in CotW can be reduced somewhat, or lighter bullets used, or ultimately use light loads for the 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schonauer.

Cartridges of the World suggest either IMR 3031 or IMR 4350 to duplicate the original loading. See our next exciting episode – Bang! Please note, it is cold and snowy in the Central Plateau. I estimate the next proper shooting date to be at soonest mid April.

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Ice Storm in Hastings – and Grand Central Plateau; Follow up

Actually it’s a little before 1800, but it’s close and too many details cloud titles.

The sky is overcast and it is raining lightly, on and off. However, there is liquid water on the ground – in the gutters. My car is out in the driveway and is visible through the windows. It is NOT iced up, yet. It is still cold outside. The weather website says it’s 29 degrees (F), which is one degree warmer than it was earlier.

Still not what I think of as ‘freezing rain’. Yet. I am still hiding inside. Fiddling on the computer and trying to do odd bits.

Monday, 16th January A. D. 2017 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
0800 – street out front looks wet. Ice, no doubt. Car in driveway has layer of ice, probably less than 0.125″. Suspect sidewalks are icy and slippery. No new snow showing. Expecting snow today sometime. Freezing rain until 1400, then ‘wintery mix’; presume freezing rain and snow. Snow predicted beginning 1800, ending 2100. High of 32 degrees today. No reason to go anywhere.

Still Monday, etc. 1100. Liquid water in street gutters. Car in driveway still iced on windows. Some automobiles and trucks pass by without seeming ‘inconvenienced’. Officially still 31 degrees. Still no reason to go anywhere.

Yet Monday, etc. 1900. Official temperature is 32 degrees. Weather report (forecast) indicates scattered snow showers possible at 2000. Staying home.

Tuesday, 17th January A. D. 2017 at 0800. It did snow – looks like light flurries – during the night. Out the front window is a fairly light, but definite layer of snow. Sidewalks and streets don’t look too bad, but I expect they are still icy from yesterday and last night. Car in driveway has light snow and windows still look icy. Forecast shows no precipitation for today and temperatures above freezing from noon to 1800. Presumably, some of the gunk will melt and run off. Still staying home.

Tuesday still. 1830. Had to go out. A friend called and needed to be transported from the hospital to home and no one else was available. I had to drive just over fifty miles and all the major roads were clear and dry. Some water – liquid at the sides of the road. One or two places had ‘snow mush’ that didn’t present any difficulties but will no doubt freeze tonight. Temperatures were in the middle to upper 30s, well above freezing, lots of sun and some breeze to remove the moisture.

The ice storm, she is gone. Until next time. And good night, Mrs. Calabash, where ever you are.

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Ice Storm in Hastings – and Grand Central Plateau

Sunday, 15th January A. D. 2017. For a couple days the weather boffins have been predicting a major ice and snow storm for this area. The entrail readers think a 0.25 inch accumulation of ice can result. (That’s a lot of ice on the street!) Today broke sunny, cold and some ice on the ground. This morning, the weather boffins were anticipating the freezing rain part to begin locally – Hastings, Nebraska – at 1000 to perhaps 1200. Our church cancelled all services.

It is now noon or very close. There is thick cloud cover and rain. Not freezing yet, just rain. Temperatures are below freezing 28 degrees according to local website weather report. Which bodes ice on streets and sidewalks.

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First Time in Six Years at Least

Today, Sunday 15th January, In the Year of Our Lord 2017.

Church was cancelled due to the incoming ice storm. The Pastors and Elder Board decided conditions could – would probably – get too bad for some members to safely return home.

Time is now 0844, I just a few moments ago returned from the church building and the streets aren’t impassibly by any stretch, but I would not be driving recreationally this morning. Whatever storm shows up, whatever quantity of freezing rain falls, will NOT make things any better.

I am now officially ‘in hiding’ until about half-past Tuesday. Tuesday is predicted as a high of 39 degrees Fahrenheit and some rain. At that temperature, the rain will melt extant snow and ice somewhat. (When it freezes at night will not be accommodating.) Then Wednesday through Sunday it should be above freezing during the days, at least.

Just for the record, I didn’t order the freezing rain.

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The Last Savage

I should qualify the title. The pistol of which I write is the last production variation of the Savage Model 1907 pistol in .32 ACP. The Savage 1910 and 1917 were still in production until the middle 1920s or so and Savage continues to build rifles to this day. Savage made the Model 101, a single shot .22 pistol made to look like a single action revolver for about 10 years in the 1960s. They also made a Model 502 Striker pistol, which is a pistol length bolt action single shot in choice of .22 long rifle, .22 WRM or .17 rimfire something. It was a fairly recent arm, but is not on the Savage Arms site, so I presume it is no longer in production. (I don’t follow ‘new’ guns much.)

However, the Savage model 1907. variant 19, modification 2 was the last of the models 1907. According to the serial number, the one here was made in 1919. This seems to be the year more Savage 1907 pistols were made than any other. The 1907 ceased production in 1920. The 1915 and 1917 carried on longer.

Left side - rear - view of the pistol.  Very good condition.

Left side – rear – view of the pistol. Very good condition.

As Savage pistols (of that type and vintage) go, it is pretty much the same as all the other models 1907. It does of course have distinctives which distinguish it from other variations.

Probably the major telling differences between this variant and the earliest variants is the hammer is a spur type with the rear of the spur exposed, vice the burr version; and the small and more dense cocking serrations on the slide, vice the fewer and wider serrations of earlier versions.

This variant has no legend on the side of the frame proudly displaying the Savage name. (That marking seems to be a bit uncertain. Many of the variants did have the name either on the right or left side of the slide, just above the respective grip and many did not.)

Atop the slide is the usual legend of

SAVAGE ARMS CORP. UTICA N.Y. U. S. A. CAL. 32
PATENTED NOVEMBER 21, 1905 — 7.65 MM

This slide top legend also varies from variation to variation, but is consistent in message.

Grips are hard rubber – possibly gutta percha. They are black, tending to a very dark brown probably from ‘fading’; that may not be the correct chemical term, but it suits the common usage.The grips on this example are intact; they are not cracked or chipped and show no wear. Reportedly, the grips can be removed by gently prying each grip to bend the panel (fore and aft) which will release the grip panel from a groove arrangement in the frame. However, the material of the grips does not age well and tend to break when manipulated in such manner. If the grips are in good condition, don’t fool with them.

Finish on this variation is a matte bluing. It is not the bright bluing of the earlier models, nor is it the ‘paint’ finish attempted at one point. On this example, it is rather complete with a few spots of light rust over the pistol. There is some wear on the front muzzle and on exposed edges. The magazine is a double slot (for magazine catch) type and rather worn of bluing. I have a small suspicion the magazine may not be original; however, as the magazines were not serialized to the individual pistol, I cannot tell.

Note the clean and unworn appearance of the engraved markings.

Note the clean and unworn appearance of the engraved markings.

The case hardening on the trigger is visible and not too badly faded.

The sights are the later type.

The rear sight is machined into the top of the slide. The rear sight ‘notch’ is an almost “U” shaped groove. The sides of the groove are slightly slanted outboard; giving the appearance of a compromise between a thin “V” and a “U”. The bottom is rounded.

The front sight is a separate piece, fitted into a mortice milled into the front of the slide, then riveted from the bottom; much like the front sight on a traditional Government Model. It is tapered, wider at the base, and does have a flat top. However, when aimed, the top of the front sight exactly fills the top of the rear sight notch. Consequently, the ‘windage’ is just a bit vague.

To be fair, this pistol was designed as a close use arm. I’d be willing to bet the sights are nearly unused.

The bore is in amazingly fine condition. Many of these pistols have bores ranging from ‘somewhat worn’ to ‘nasty’. No doubt some combination of corrosive primers (primers leaving a salt deposit, attracting moisture; therefore rust) and lack of cleaning (to remove those salts) are to blame for this condition. This example was obviously cleaned. Or perhaps never fired, just carried a bit. The breech face is also rather clean and fresh.

Shooting this pistol was rather ordinary. I chronographed five shots from my secret stash of Privi Partizan brand .32 ACP ammunition – that lot which I use only for velocity comparison between various pistols. Average velocity was 721 feet per second. (Advertised velocity for the .32 ACP is 900 feet per second; no pistol I’ve tested does that.)

I shot five rounds (not the velocity lot) slow fire at 10 yards for accuracy. The group was just under 2.25“ wide by just under 5 “ high. The group was centered to the left (from the shooter’s view) of the aiming point. As the accompanying photo shows, the group was neatly contained in the head of the target. Then ten shots rapid fire into the main area of the target, also from 10 yards, one handed;. I think I missed once – can’t find the tenth hole – but the nine hits measure seven inches wide by eight and one half inches wide, with one flyer another four inches out to the right. All were within the “C” area of the target, albeit centered lower than one would desire.

Five shots @ten yards on head section of combat target.

Five shots @ten yards on head section of combat target.

Ten rounds fired 'rapid fire' at ten yards.  One missing shot.  Circular pattern indicates I was focusing on target more than front sight.

Ten rounds fired ‘rapid fire’ at ten yards. One missing shot. Circular pattern indicates I was focusing on target more than front sight.

Savage used the marketing phrase “Ten shots fast!” in connection with the Savage pistols. It was more or less true. The M1907 (and the following M1910 and M1917) in .32 ACP utilized a ten shot, staggered magazine. (This was some twenty-eight years BEFORE the FN P-35 (High Power) was released with its thirteen shot magazine. It was also eleven years AFTER the Mauser Broomhandle with a staggered magazine, but since the Broomhandle was loaded via stripper clip and the magazine was not removable, I’m not sure it counts.)

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but the Savage M1907 is just a bit small for my hand. I quickly say, my hands are not large by any stretch. Holding the pistol in firing position I find my trigger finger extends through the trigger guard and my trigger finger rests with my first joint (from the tip) rather than the ‘pad’ of my finger on the trigger. Normally the pad of the trigger finger is to be on the trigger. (Of course, with the hideously heavy trigger pull, attempting a ‘target’ trigger pull with the pad of the trigger finger is quite difficult.)

Speaking of trigger pull, this example breaks at twelve pounds or so. Fairly normal for these pistols; they were not made as target guns, but for self defense. One presumes the heavy trigger pull was to discourage premature discharges and may owe some to the somewhat complicated trigger mechanism.

Again, I am amazed at the utility of this design. Okay, the trigger device – that is, the linkage between pulling the trigger and releasing the sear – is probably more complex than needed. (Which never seems to bother advocates of the FN P-35.) The sights, by modern standards, are rather small and not prone to quick acquisition and the caliber is, again by modern standards, pretty anemic. Still, it is very easy to use. The ‘delay’ device is functional and quite positive.

And it is a very good looking bit of ordnance.

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Violent Trump Supporters?

I just saw a headline wherein Donald Trump ‘admitted’ his supporters were ‘violent’. This was on a tour (the “Thank You” tour) at a stop in Orlando, Florida. The President-Elect made an attempt to ‘calm’ them, not for the first time, by the way. The story was carried on CNN, NBS, and of course, the Huffington Post.

I have to wonder what is meant here by ‘violent’ or ‘mean and nasty’. I wonder just how many automobiles where destroyed by ‘Trump supporters’? How many people where attacked and beaten for being ‘other’? How many police officers were called out and then attacked by ‘Trump supporters’ in the course of riots? I do recall some ‘Trump supporters’ being less than sympathetic when all the idiot liberals cried, sucked their thumbs and wailed over the prospect of having to get a job.

Oddly enough, I don’t remember ANY liberal candidate, politician or alleged “reporter”decrying or demanding any of the liberal inspired rioters cease and desist in the aftermath of Secretary Clinton’s overwhelming defeat. All I heard from the left wing propaganda – excuse me, I mean ‘news’ – outlets was sympathy and understanding for the confusion, disappointment and ‘fear’ (of getting a real job?) for the rioters.

As long as I’m on the subject:

What about the ‘conflict of interest’ problem possible with President-Elect Trump’s business holdings and his responsibility as President? He ‘might’ have a problem.

But never mentioned by the Democrat Propaganda Machine – excuse me, I meant to say, the ‘news media’ – is any hint of Secretary Clinton’s up-to-the-moment conflicts of interest when acting in the official capacity of Secretary of State. Nor any comment about the very questionable activities of the ‘Clinton Foundation’.

President-Elect Trump’s choice for Secretary of State has been innuendoed regarding his dealings with and relationship to Russia and Russian leadership. Really? Having a working relationship with others is a bad thing? Being competent in dealing with others is a bad thing? I guess it depends on one’s viewpoint.

I recall during much of the Cold War how the liberal side went to great extremes to take the side of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), colloquially referred to as ‘Russia’. The Soviets were all decent people, their leaders honorable and all problems arising between the two powers (the U. S. and the U. S. S. R.) were always the total fault of the antiquated and reactionary United States.

Now, that Russia is no longer the champion of socialism/communism, the liberals seem to think dealing with them is not such a good idea. How odd.

I’m not going to start on First Lady Michelle Obama’s statement about “… no hope…” Once again, I suppose it depends on one’s viewpoint. (Being productive and earning an income or welfare.)

Actually, this whole problem is summed up very adequately in one word. “Crybaby”.

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