May 31, 2014 at 2:33 pm #15278
Just some thoughts…
Seen probably the most useless thing I have ever seen yesterday. An automatic case annealer. For those of you who don’t know, brass and copper work-harden. Which means your fired cases, even though they may be thick enough and trimmed to length, might be work-hardened to the point where the case mouth splits. Sometimes they come completely off and stick in the chamber, which is bad. Especially if someone is shooting back at you. The solution to this is to anneal the case mouth. Which is just fancy-schmancy talk for “make it soft again”. This requires heating the case mouth with a torch and then letting it cool down.
Which brings me to this dumb machine. I suppose that if I had hundreds of thousands of cases to reload, it might be a time-saver. But for all intents and purposes, it’s pretty superfluous… a machine roughly the shape of a cube with two propane torches going at once, and a small wheel rotating the cases through the flames… neat design, but the exact same thing can be accomplished by the following:
– Get a cake pan. Fill it mostly full of water, to the point where if you stand a spent case in the water, about 1/2″ sticks up above the water.
– Take a torch and play it over the case mouths while they stand in the water. When they’re hot enough, knock them over into the water to cool them off.
– The end.
This machine cost over $500… to do what can be accomplished with an old cake pan, tap water and a propane torch. Derp. You can get 25 pounds of black powder for less than $500 and that will keep you shooting a very, very long time… plus the wünder-machine is digital and runs on electricity. Whatcha gonna do when the power is out? Yep, that’s what I thought.. fish out that old cake pan and go to it…
Speaking of Black Powder…
Saw another gizmo. Steam gun for black powder (and smokeless) pistols and rifles. One of those smack-your-forehead moments when you say “Hows come I didn’t think of that?”… basically a high-tech tea kettle hooked up to a closed wand that has several small holes in the end.. water boils, steam is produced, which travels through the wand and is then shot out of the end of the wand at right angles. Stick this in the bore of your rifle and the steam will blast the bore clean… I figure I can make one out of an old copper tea kettle and some thin copper piping… good stuff.
Second thing – and I know this subject has been brought up before, but – is “Why not invest in black powder arms for SHTF?” BP cartridge guns have had long and honorable service. Having one or two around would pay dividends… and all’s you need to clean them is hot water and some type of soap. Serviceable BP can be made even using the most crude methods with a wooden mortar and pestle… even if you don’t know the ratio you want, using a 1:1:1 ratio will yield BP that goes “bang”… it just won’t be as efficient as other types of BP… and many of today’s cartridges got their start as BP cartridges and then successfully made the transition to smokeless.
And all you really needed to make serviceable ammo in The Before Time was just a Lyman 310 tool and the right dies. Everything you needed would fit in a pouch smaller than a shoebox…
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1May 31, 2014 at 2:45 pm #15281
For that steam cleaner, a pressure cooker would save you a lot of fiddling around with a spout. If you don’t have one now, they have a nice nipple on the lid, probably 1/4″ OD.
I’m figuring on using the guns I have now for BP. 38sp, 357, 9mm, 40 S&W and bolt guns. Thet will uave a reduced velocity but I can make accommodation.May 31, 2014 at 3:02 pm #15283
Your 9mm and 40 cal pistols probably won’t cycle with BP. Those are high pressure rounds, and BP is low pressure. Your revolvers will work just fine, but yeah, velocities will suffer some. Out of a rifle, your velocities will boost back up but you’ll need either semi-jacketed bullets or hard cast with a gas check to keep the gas-cutting and leading to a minimum. Or else run a wad behind the bullet.
All-brass shotgun shells are still made, and last almost forever so long as they’re cared for. You seal them with something called “waterglass”. Do a search to find out how to make it. Waxed cardboard wads can be fashioned from milk cartons or cartons of Half and Half. One thing I need to invest in is a shot pan…. and a buckshot mold.
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1May 31, 2014 at 3:14 pm #15285
Malgus, do you know offhand if you can use BP in plastic shotgun hulls or does it burn too hot for them? I’ve got a couple hundred that I cycle through for fun stuff like target loads or low recoil slugs that I cast. I still need the buckshot mold.
And what do you think about black powder pistols like the 1860 Army as a “way down the road” firearm as opposed to an old .38 or a Colt .45?May 31, 2014 at 5:13 pm #15299
BP in plastic hulls? Hmm.. I would have to weigh that…
In truth, I do not know if BP would have a deleterious effect on the plastic. I have never attempted it and I think it would make an interesting experiment. I do not see why a body couldn’t use BP if they wanted, as BP probably doesn’t burn any hotter than smokeless, but since I do not know for sure I cannot say with any authority. I would have to ask the smokeless manufacturers and the BP manufacturers at what temperatures their powders burn and then compare. However, all things being equal, I do not see why the plastic would be harmed by carbon and salt.
BP does not burn in a conflagration, as does smokeless, which is kind of counter-intuitive when you think of the low pressures BP generates… burning BP creates salt and carbon, which brass does not care about. In the old days of mercuric primers, the mercury in the primer would degrade the brass over time, leeching out if you left them sit awhile. (There’s another thread on re-watting your own spent primers using non-mercuric compounds elsewhere here. I listed my source book that teaches how to do it – what you need and the correct safety protocols – but I won’t go into it simply because primers are explosive and I don’t want the blowback if something goes wrong. If someone wants to source the book and try their hand on their own, then go for it. If you can’t find the thread, shoot me a MSG and I will provide you with the info).
As to the 1860 Army, if I had to give a say one way or the other, I would say “no”. Here’s why:
BP cartridge guns, so long as you use non-mercuric primers and take care of your empties, are superior to the old muzzle stuffers. Reload times, for one. The spent primers from a cap-and-ball gun are largely destroyed upon firing, which means you cannot rewatt them. The .45 Colt round, even in BP configuration – 255g bullet over 40g of 3f powder – is a horse killer. It was the round from 1873 all the way until the .357 Magnum was developed in the 1930’s. And, in the strongest actions, the .45 Colt can be pushed beyond .44 Magnum velocities. It is the basis for the .45 Casull (which could be rightly called the .45 “Long” Colt, as it is literally a .45 Colt case that is a bit longer. The .45 Colt is mistakenly called the “long” Colt to differentiate between it and the .45 Schofield, which can be fired in a .45 Colt revolver the same way a .38 Special can be fired in a .357 Magnum revolver). However, this does not mean go out and buy a Colt SAA and hotrod some cartridges… all you will do is blow yourself up.
See, cases are really not that hard to make. All you really need, if you’re hard-pressed, is a lathe, some brass stock, a micrometer and a spec sheet. You can spin your own brass, if you want to. Granted, it won’t be as strong as a drawn case, but it will work… and that’s what we’re after. Cases can also be fabbed from other cases.
If you’ve never tried to reload a cap and ball revolver, it is an experience. I have a Colt’s 3rd Model Dragoon and it takes seemingly forever to reload a cylinder… and often, the spent caps will fall off in the middle of a shooting string and jam the cylinder… not good. Which explains why cavalrymen during the Civil War would ride into battle carrying as many revolvers as they could hang on themselves and their horse… up to 8 revolvers. Shoot one dry, grab another…
If you just flat-out love the 1860 Army, I think Cimarron offers the 1860 with a Thuer conversion that lets it run on BP cartridges… but if it were me, I would choose either a Colt SAA or one of the reproduction Schofields (weaker action, but way faster on the reload time… think 3:10 to Yuma).
ANyways, I gots ta go. Have to pick up a Husky weed trimmer before the repair guy closes at 2… bbl.
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1May 31, 2014 at 6:14 pm #15302
Instead of a cap and ball I would get a old 44 special 44 mag or a 45 colt if my plan was to use BP when smokeless is unavailable.May 31, 2014 at 6:36 pm #15305
The .44-40 ain’t no slouch either… the old charcoal burner has probably accounted for more deer than the 30-30 could dream of. And out of the stronger rifle actions, you can shove a 200g bullet around 1,800 fps… that will put a whompin on your ass!
Plus, the .44-40 runs in both the SAA and the ’73 Winchester… a handy thing. Of course, you can get Italian repro’s that chamber the .45 Colt these days, so meh…
Of course, if you wanted to Go Big, grab a 1886 or ’71 Winchester in 45-70 or 50-110… or a ’76 in 45-75 or 50-95. Single shot flavors, you’ve got your Sharps and your Remington Rolling Blocks… I would go with the Remington if you held a gun to my head and made me choose. Doesn’t have the romance of the Sharps, but lock times are faster, etc. The No. 1 action is a beastie. Rebarrel it in something like .45-120 and you can thump things really, really far away… or 50-90 if you like (there’s no real difference between the 50-90, 50-110 or the 50-140 except bullet weight and powder charge… they all use the same case). Those big Sharps 50-90 cartridges make the 45-70 look downright puny… Shooting a deer with one would be the definition of overkill… but at least you wouldn’t have to dress it out after you shot it.
Edit: Your advice is sound re: the big revolver cartridges. But modern designs, well… except for the .44 Mag, they really don’t offer those old cartridges as an option, ‘cept every once in awhile they’ll make a special run or something… I got a S&W Mountain Gun in .45 Colt. Not the strongest design – not nearly the strength of the Colt Anaconda or a Model 29 Smith – but good enough. Hell, Elmer Keith developed the 44 Mag using an old S&W 5 Screw in .44 Spl, and those held together just fine…
And let’s be frank – the newer designs just don’t have the looks and romance of the old charcoal burners…
One of the most handsome rifles of all time. 1876 Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine… this one’s a repro, but so what? The genuine article costs about 8 grand when you can find them… and they ain’t nearly as strong, given their 19th century metallurgy. But it is one handsome rifle…
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.May 31, 2014 at 8:56 pm #15312
Thanks Malgus and 1974, great info. And I didn’t even know I needed to anneal my cases after so many reloadings, so thanks for that as well. I’m currently only set up for 5.56 and 12ga, and I want my components to last as long as possible. Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy a blowtorch!May 31, 2014 at 9:27 pm #15325
Malgus, I have both an 1886 (.45-90) and a 1876 (.40-60) sitting not 15′ from me.
Honestly, the 86’s are bloody heavy for daily use, the Marlin 1895 is lighter and easier to deal with and has modern metalurgy.
The 73/76 are cute, I’ll give you that, but practical? I’ve had nearly a dozen originals and repro’s and got rid of them all, just too much chance of a higher pressure round getting into the gun. I just had a .32 WCF ’73 come through the shop, it was beat up so bad, it wasn’t worth fixing. And yes, high velocity rounds were at least partly to blame for the damage.
The advice for the old big bore revolvers is sound, if for no other reason than they’re more omnivorous than anything else out there. Black powder, smokeless, doesn’t matter. Ultra light round ball load, or heavy hunting load, again doesn’t matter. Unlike the modern auto, which requires a certain bullet weight and velocity to function.
Personally I can’t see planning for using black powder post-SHTF, especially when powder and ammo are available today, just put more back, it’s not like it goes bad when stored properly. I have some ’40’s vintage H4831 that’s better than today’s version, performance wise.
The .44-40, a personal favorite fungun caliber, basically a .44 Mag pistol equivalent out of an easier to shoot platform. What’s not to like. I still have a couple thousand cases in the back.
The funny part about the old cartridges like the WCF’s that people so despise, those thin case mouths are also a beneficial point. The thin mouths unlike the modern cases (.44Mag) will actually seal the chamber so you don’t get the smoked cases and dirty chambers that you get with the straight wall cases and thicker brass.
The .45 Long Colt out of a carbine/rifle is not all that. That thin and tiny rim combined with a miniscule extractor groove ( a late addition) make for a only moderately reliable gun. All too often the cases don’t properly extract, especially when the gun is dirty and being run hard. I used to work for a shop that specialized in cowboy action tunes of pistols and carbines and saw more than a few.
As to the Long Colt designation, that’s not so far off reality.
The .45 Schofield (1875) has a case length of 1.100″.
In my collection I have a number of .45 Colt marked cartridges, all factory loaded. One in particular has a 250gr bullet and a case length of 1.100″ but a rim diameter of .509″, unlike the Schofield’s .522″.
It’s a M1877 .45 cartridge for use in both guns. But factory loaded, and marked “.45 Colt”, these were known as the “.45 Short Colt’s” and the full length cases were commonly known as the “Long’s”.
The picture attached is of the commercial .45 1877 “Short”, two factory .45 Long’s (one with extractor groove, one without), a modern nickle Starline .45 Colt and a .454 Casull round. Note the variation in length and extractor grooves and rims.
Ya, the caliper opened up a little when I was moving it around.
Dave Scovill and Mike Venturino both have done interesting articles in Handloader magazine on exactly this subject, just a couple of years back. I’ll see if I can find them.May 31, 2014 at 11:53 pm #15335
Well I’m not buying to many guns right now just sticking with what I have. I wouldn’t mind a Lightning or a lever gun in 357. Another caliber cartridge just is not in the works. I know the semi pistols might not function with BP as is, but with weaker recoil springs I think they will run as long as they go back to battery.
If I could stash a few hundred pounds of powder I would. However all the spare cash is going into 5.56 now and there just isn’t any leftovers. What I would advise everyone to do is stock up on primers. Then no matter what you stuff them with they will go bang.June 1, 2014 at 12:09 am #15338
Malgus – are there any tips for buying and using new generation Sharps? Also, have you shot a 45 acp carbine by High Point? Bought one and getting ready to go shooting. I have long guns and pistols but wanted an in between.
RobinJune 1, 2014 at 12:21 am #15339
I’m thinking you got yourself one of those issue rounds for the M1909 Colt – the round was never offered for commercial sale, only made to run in the ’09 revolver. Just spitballing, but that would my guess as to why it does not have an extractor groove.
The 73/76 is “cute”? Well, it ain’t the word I would use… and I got no problem with them. I’ve had that old 73 for about 20 years now, and I’m guessing it’s time to send it to Turnbull. I got the chops to do the metal and wood myself, but he’s got the damn roll stamps… and it’s not like 1873 Winchesters from the 19th century – the genuine article – are falling out of the sky. There is a finite amount of them, and I would rather see it as it was on Day 1.
The ’76 getting a “high pressure” round in it? Erm… just whom is loading the .45-75 or .50-95 with smokeless these days? So long as you stick to BP, there should be no issue. The 1886/71 is an outstanding rifle. I think the power you gain is worth the weight penalty. Look at it this way – I could buy an M4 and hang a bunch of useless tacti-crap on it until I have a 12 pound rifle that shoots a glorified .22 caliber bullet… or I can have a 9 pound rifle that throws bullets the size of ashtrays. There is no substitute for horsepower or cubic inches. I like big heavy rifles that throw big heavy bullets… but, that’s just me. Yeah, the Marlin is nice but… it ain’t a Winchester. I got nothing against Marlin… got an 1897 – the genuine article – in .22lr/long/short and a very early 39A. Both are accurate as hell, and I really like them. But… I told ya I got a soft spot in my heart for those Winchesters… nothing I can do bro… it is what it is.
If I want to hot rod something, I’ll buy a Remington roller No.1 action and build myself a buffalo gun.
So, if the M1877 is the “Short Colt” and the .45 Colt is actually the “Long Colt”, then what does that make the Schofield? Or the Casull for that matter? A .45 Super Long Colt? (actually, that sounds cool… I like it ). OH! I got it! Call the Casull the “.45 Colt Express”! An homage to the old express rounds of the late great 19th century… it sounds way, way classier than “Casull”. That’s just… bleah.
Interested in those articles… I used to get the gun comic books (Guns & Ammo, etc) back in the 80’s (remember that presidential grade engraved Henry someone found in a closet back in the 1980’s?) but haven’t read them for a long time… too busy, I guess.
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1June 1, 2014 at 12:44 am #15340
The Italians – Pedersoli and Armi Sport – make a fine product. Some you can’t get elsewhere, like the Sharps Carbine the Texas Rangers used (in .50-70 and the non-historical .45-70). But I have found some things out about the Italians (Whirl, back me up on this)… the Italians just LOVE screws with verrrry thin slots for the screwdriver. It’s freaking annoying as hell when you have to wrench on an Italian gun and you get that verrrrry thin screwdriver slot… then you have to go and get a screwdriver and custom grind the tip to fit that damn slot so you can take the stinkin’ screw out… I know, I know… I’m just a crabby old fart, but it’s a pet peeve… and if it bugs me, then I know it bugs others… thin slots means the odds of you buggering up a screw head approach 1 – a virtual certainty.
If it were me (and it is) I would go with Shiloh Sharps. They make an outstanding rifle. Really top shelf. But be forewarned… you WILL pay for it. About the most useful Sharps I can think of would be the business rifle in plain vanilla. No fancy-schmancy wood or ebony tips or any of that superfluous stuff… just an honest rifle made of steel and black walnut. Good stuff. But, like I said, a Remington Rolling Block has a faster lock time, is a lighter rifle and, even though it doesn’t get the press of the Sharps, I feel it is a superior rifle. But, that’s just me.
Erm… a Colt Lightning? The revolver? Ehh… I was told once by my first smithy instructor that, and I quote “The Colt Lightning revolver has the dubious honor of being the worst revolver design in the history of mankind. If you find one that is working, it’s probably a complete accident.”
I have no reason to doubt him.
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1June 1, 2014 at 1:12 am #15341
Lol, no I’m talking about the slide action rifles. Taurus was making them a while back.June 14, 2014 at 10:53 am #16535
So I’m up early again this morning (against my wishes) and thought I would do a little more reloading. I thought I had another 1000 small rifle primers but when I dropped a few out into the flipper I see they are large primers. It’s an old box and of Remington’s and wasn’t labeled for the size.
So digging around in my storage cabinet I look at some old powder containers I bought years ago. Looking at the price sticker it says $12.95 so powder has more than doubled in price.
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