September 23, 2014 at 7:14 pm #25353
Here’s some information on subsonic handloads, from a variety of sources.
Read carefully, read it again. There’s a lot of information to digest.
I’ll dig up some more information, don’t have my memory sticks with me.
“The Load” is 13 Grains of Red Dot”
(If you missed this when it appeared in Handloader’s Digest, 10th Ed. here it is again…
By C.E. Harris, Revised 2-16-94
My success in economizing by using up leftover shotshell powder has changed my approach to handloading. I had a caddy of Red Dot, and no longer reloaded shotshells, so asked myself, “what can I do with it?” My shooting is now mostly high-power rifle. I needed several hundred rounds a week to practice offhand, reloading, and working the bolt in sitting and prone rapid, but didn’t want to burn out my barrel or my wallet. Powder used to be cheap, but today is $20/lb. (or more), so cost is a factor in component choice.
I used to ignore pistol or shotgun powders in reduced rifle loads for the usual reasons: the risk of accidental double-charges, fears of erratic ignition, and concerns with maintaining accuracy, and reduced utility with a low-power load.
Still, the caddy of Red Dot kept “looking at me” from the corner. Would it work? Looking at data in the RCBS Cast Bullet Manual No. 1 and the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook suggested it would, so I tried it, much to my delight! Red Dot is bulky, compared to the usual rifle powders used in .30-’06-size cases. It occupies more powder space in typical charges than common “reduced load” rifle powders, such as #2400, IMR4227, IMR4198 or RL-7. The lower bulk density of Red Dot adequately addresses my safety concerns because it makes an accidental double charge far less likely.
After considerable experimentation, my friends and I found “The Load” IS 13 grains of Hercules Red Dot, in any FULL SIZED rifle case of .30 cal. or larger.”The Load” has distinct advantages over more expensive alternatives, within certain limitations, which are:
1. The case must be LARGER than the .300 Savage or .35 Remington.
2. The rifle must be of MODERN (post 189 design, suitable for smokeless powder, with a bore size of .30 cal. or larger.
3. The bullet weight must be within the NORMAL range for the given cartridge.
4. Inert fillers such as Dacron, kapok or are NOT RECOMMENDED! (Nor are they necessary).
Within these restrictions I have now engraved in stone, “The Load” works!
The bullet may be either jacketed or cast. Gaschecked cast bullets required in the .30 cals., otherwise you will get leading, but plainbased ones work fine in the 8mm Mauser or larger.
“The Load” has shown complete success in the .30-40 Krag, .303 British, 7.65 Argentine, .308 Win., 7.62x54R Russian, .30-’06, 8×57 and .45-70 (strong-actioned rifles such as the 1886 Winchester or 1895 Marlin — 12 grs. is maximum for 400 gr. bullets in the Trapdoor Springfield — Ed.) Though I have not tried it, I have no doubt that “The Load” would work well in other cartridges fitting these parameters, such as the .35 Whelen, .358 Winchester, .375 H&H or .444 Marlin, based on RCBS and Lyman published data.
“The Load” fills 50% or more of a .308 Win or .30-’06 case. The risk of an accidental double charge is greatly reduced, because the blunder is immediately obvious if you visually check, powder fill on EVERY CASE, as you should whenever handloading! A bulky powder measures more uniformly, because normal variation in the measured volume represents a smaller percentage of the charge
Red Dot’s granulation is somewhat less coarse than other flake powders of similar burning rate, such as 700-X, which aids metering. Its porous, uncoated flakes are easily ignited with standard primers. So-called “magnum” primers do no harm in cases larger than the .30-’06, but are neither necessary nor recommended in smaller ones. I DO NOT recommend pistol primers in reduced rifle loads, because weak primers may cause erratic ignition, and their thinner cups can perforate more easily, causing gas leakage and risk of personal injury!
The velocities obtained with 13 grs. of Red Dot appear mild, but “The Load” is no pipsqueak! In a case like the .308 or .30-’06, you get (from a 24″ sporter
barrel) about 1450 f.p.s. with a 200- gr. cast bullet, 1500 with a 170-gr., or 1600 with a 150-gr. cast load. “The Load” is fully comparable to “yesterday’s deer rifle”, the .32-40, and provides good expansion of cheap, soft alloys (10-13 BHN) at woods ranges.
Jacketed bullet velocities with “The Load” are about 120-150 f.p.s. less than a lubricated lead bullet of the same weight.
From : Ed Harris 1:109/120.3006 12 Mar 94
Subj : Red Dot Rifle Loads, Pt. II
“The Load” is 13 Grains of Red Dot”
— continued from previous message —
Longer-barreled military rifles pick up a few feet per second, but “The Load” starts to slow down in barrels over 28″, such as the M91 Moisin-Nagant and long Krags or 98a Mausers.
My preferred alloy in the .30 cals. is a mixture of 3-5 lbs. of .22 backstop scrap to 1 lb. of salvaged linotype. Wheelweights also work well, as do soft “Scheutzen” alloys such as 1:25 tin/lead. in bores of 8 mm or larger. “The Load” drives soft- cast .30-cal. to 8 mm bullets fast enough to get expansion,but without fragmenting. These out-penetrate factory .30-30 softpoints, and kill medium game up to 150 lbs. well at short ranges up to 100 yards, when placed accurately. In medium and large bores like the .375 H&H or .45-70, “The Load” gives typical black powder ballistics for the bore. A 255-265 gr. cast bullet in the .375 H&H approximates the .38-55 at 1330 f.p.s. Soft 300- 405-gr. cast bullets are pushed at 1300-1350 f.p.s. from a 22″ barrel .45-70, sporter are very effective on deer at woods ranges. Cast bullets over .35 cal. do not have to expand appreciably to work well on game if blunt and heavy for their caliber.
The Load” works well with jacketed bullets, giving somewhat lower velocities than with cast lead, due to less effective obturation and greater friction in the bore. The 85-gr. or 100-gr. Hornady or 90-gr. Sierra JHP for the .32 H&R Mag. revolver, or the Remington 100-gr. .32-20 softpoint bullet become mild, but destructive varmint loads at 1600 f.p.s. from a .308 or ’06.
If you substitute a stiffly jacketed 110-gr. .30 Carbine softpoint bullet, designed for higher velocities than imparted by “The Load”, you have a
non-destructive “coup de gras”, small game or wild turkey load which shoots close to your deer rifle’s normal zero, but at 25 yards! A more accurate and effective small game or varmint load uses a flat-nosed 150-gr. pr 170-gr. 30-30 bullet instead. These don’t expand at the 1400-1450 f.p.s. obtained with “The Load”, but their larger frontal area improves killing power compared to roundnoses or spitzers.
I have use pulled GI .30 caliber Ball, and Match bullets with “The Load” for cheap 200-yd. NMC boltgun practice. Accuracy is equal to arsenal loads, but I use my 600-yard sight dope at 200 yards. I expect 5-6″ ten-shot, iron-sight groups at 200 yards using M2 or M80 pulled bullets and about 3-4″ for the M72 or M118 Match bullets. I use these mostly in bolt-action rifles, but they can be single-loaded for offhand or slow-fire practice in the Garand as well.
These .30 cal. pulls shoot fine in the .303 British or 7.62×54 Russian, despite their being a bit small, because the fast-burning Red Dot upsets them into the deeper grooves. The 173-gr. Match .30 cal. boattail bullets may not shoot as well at these low velocities as lighter flat bases in the 12″ twist .308 Win. barrels, but they do quite well in ten- inch twist barrels such as in the ’06, 7.62 Russian, .303 British and 7.65 Argentine.
The longer bore time of these 1400 f.p.s. (typical 170-180-gr. jacketed load velocity) practice loads makes errors in follow- through apparent, a great practice and training aid. The light recoil and lower report of these loads helps transition Junior tyro shooters from the .22 rimfire to the service rifle without being intimidated by the noise and recoil.
Zeroing is no problem in the M1 or M14, because “The Load” shoots into the ten-ring of the reduced SR target at 200 yards from your M1 or M14 rifle at using your normal 600 yard sight dope! The somewhat greater wind deflection blows you into the “8” ring at 200 yards with the same conditions you would expect to do so at 600 yards with M118 Match ammunition. This provides your Junior shooters some useful wind-doping practice.
The economy of a lighter charge is obvious. A full power .30-’06 load using 50 grs. of an IMR powder like 4064 costs 10 cents a pop, just for powder, at 140 rounds per pound (if you are lucky enough to find new powder for $14/lb.). Substituting 13 grs. of Red Dot gets 538 rounds per pound at a cost of 2.6
cents which is a savings of over $7 per hundred rounds in powder alone! Greater savings are possible if you get the best price and buy powder by the caddy.
Velocity and point of impact of “The Load” is not noticeably affected by varying powder position in the case. I shoot them either slow fire, or clip-fed and flipped through rapid-fire in the boltgun with equal accuracy. Red Dot is very clean burning and is economical both on the basis of its lower charge weight, and its lower basic cost per pound compared to other “rifle” powders.
Best of all, using a shotshell powder I already have reduces the kinds of powder I keep and eliminates the need for a special “reduced load” powder. This approach is ideal for rifle shooters who are also shotgunners, since almost everybody who reloads for 12-ga. probably has a keg of Red Dot already!
I now realize it is foolish to use heavier charges of more expensive powder for routine practice, varmint or small game loads in my center-fire rifles. I seldom shoot at over 200 yards, and don’t enjoy wearing out expensive target barrels unnecessarily. Since I already have good sight dope and need to work more on technique and save my remaining barrel accuracy life for matches.
I am glad I found the way to get alot more shooting for the dollar. Economical powder choice IS possible, and my reloading has become less complicated and more enjoyable simple since I realized I could do most of my rifle shooting with 13 grains of Red Dot!
In Home Mix We Trust, Regards, Ed
And one more article
Cast Bullet Basics For Military Surplus Rifles
By C.E. Harris Rev. 9-6-93
Cast bullet loads usually give a more useful zero at practical
field ranges with military battle sights than do full power
loads. Nothing is more frustrating than a military rifle that
shoots a foot high at a hundred yards with surplus ammo when the
sight is as low as it will go!
Do NOT use inert fillers (Dacron or kapok) to take up the excess
empty space in the case. This was once common practice, but it
raises chamber pressure and under certain conditions contributes
to chamber ringing. If a particular load will not work well
without a filler, the powder is not suitable for those conditions
Four load classifications from Mattern (1932) cover all uses for
the cast bullet military rifle. I worked up equivalent charges
to obtain the desired velocity ranges with modern powders, which
provide a sound basis for loading cast bullets in any post-1898
military rifle from 7 mm to 8 mm:
1. 125-gr., plainbased “small game/gallery”
900-1000 f.p.s., 5 grains of Bullseye or equivalent.
2. 150-gr. plainbased “100-yd. target/small game”,
1050-1250 f.p.s., 7 grs. of Bullseye or equivalent.
3. 150-180-gr. gaschecked “200-yard target”
1500-1600 f.p.s., 16 grs. of #2400 or equivalent.
4. 180-200-gr. gaschecked “deer/600-yard target”
1750-1850 f.p.s., 26 grs. of RL-7 or equivalent.
None of these loads are maximum when used in full-sized rifle
cases such as the .30-40 Krag, .303 British, 7.65 Argentine, 7.7
Jap, 7.62x54R or .30-’06. They can be used as basic load data in
most modern military rifles of 7 mm or larger, with a standard-
weight cast bullet for the caliber, such as 140-170 grains in the
7×57, 150-180 grains in the .30 calibers, and 150-190 grains in
the 8 mm. For bores smaller than 7 mm, consult published data.
The “Small Game or Gallery” Load
The 110-115-gr. bullets intended for the .30 carbine and .32-20
hester, such as the Lyman #311008, #311359 or #311316 are
not as accurate as heavier ones like the #311291. There isn’t a
readily-available .30 cal. cast small game bullet of the proper
125-130-gr. weight. LBT makes a 130-gr. flat-nosed, GC bullet
for the .32 H&R Magnum which is ideal for this purpose. I
recommend it highly, particularly if you own a .32 revolver!
The “100-Yard Target and Small Game” Load
I use Mattern’s plainbased “100-yard target load” to use up my
minor visual defect culls for offhand and rapid-fire 100-yard
practice. I substitute my usual gaschecked bullets, but without
the gascheck. I started doing this in 1963 with the Lyman
#311291. Today I use the Lee .312-155-2R, or the similar tumble-
lubed design TL.312-160-2R. Most of my rifle shooting is done
with these two basic designs.
Bullets I intend for plainbased loads are blunted using a
flatnosed top punch in my lubricator, providing a 1/8″ flat which
makes them more effective on small game and clearly distinguishes
them from my heavier gaschecked loads. This makes more sense to
me than casting different bullets. Bullet preparation is easy.
I visually inspect each run of bullets and throw those with gross
defects into the scrap box for remelting. Bullets with minor
visual defects are tumble-lubed in Lee Liquid Alox without
sizing, and are used for plain-based plinkers. Bullets which are
visually perfect are sorted into groups of 0.5 grain used for
200 yard matches. Gaschecks pressed onto their bases by hand
prior running into the lubricator-sizer.
For “gaschecked bullets loaded without the gascheck,” for cases
like the .303 British, 7.62 NATO, 7.62x54R Russian and .30-’06 I
use 6-7 grains of almost any fast burning pistol powder,
including, but not limited to Bullseye, W-W231, SR-7625, Green
Dot, Red Dot, or 700-X. I have also had fine results with 8 to 9
grains of medium burning rate pistol or shotgun powders, such as
Unique, PB, Herco, or SR-4756 in any case of .303 British siz
In the 7.62×39 case use no more than 4 grains of the fast-burning
powders mentioned, or 5 grains of the shotgun powders. These
make accurate 50-yd. small game loads which let you operate the
action manually and save your precious cases. These
plinkers are more accurate than you can hold.
Repeated reloading of rimless cases with very mild loads results
in the primer blast shoving the shoulder back, unless flash holes
are enlarged with a No.39 drill to 0.099″ diameter. Cases which
are so modified must NEVER be used with full-power loads! ALWAYS
identify cases which are so modified by filing a deep groove
across the rim with a file and label them clearly to prevent
their inadvertent use. For this reason I prefer to do my
plainbased practice shooting in rimmed cases like the .30-30,
.30-40 rag, .303 British and 7.62x54R which maintain positive
headspace on the rim and are not subject to this limitation.
The Harris “Subsonic Target” Compromise
Mattern liked a velocity of around 1250 f.p.s. for his “100-yard
target” load, because this was common with the lead-bullet .32-40
target rifles of his era. I have found grouping is best with
nongascheck bullets in military rifles at lower velocities
approaching match-grade .22 Long Rifle ammunition. I use my
“Subsonic Target” load at around 1050-1100 f.p.s. to replace both
Mattern’s “small game” and “100-yard target” loads, though I have
lumped it with the latter since it really serves the same
purpose. Its report is only a modest pop, rather than a crack.
If elongated bullet holes and enlarged groups indicate marginal
bullet stability, increase the charge a half grain and try again.
If necessary increasing the charge no more than a full grain from
the minimum recommended, if needed to get consistent accuracy.
If this doesn’t work, try a bullet which is more blunt and short
for its weight, because it will be more easily stabilized. If
this doesn’t do the trick, you must change to a gaschecked bullet
and a h
The Workhorse Load – Mattern’s “200-Yard Target”
My favorite load is the most accurate, Mattern’s so-called “200-
yard target load”. I expect 10-shot groups at 200 yards, firing
prone rapid with sling to average 4-5″. I shoot high-
Sharpshooter/low-Expert scores across the course with an issue
03A3 or M1917, shooting in a cloth coat, using my cast bullet
loads. The power of this load approximates the .32-40,
inadequate for deer by today’s standards.
Mattern’s “200-yard target load” is easy to assemble. Because it
is a mild load, soft scrap alloys usually give better accuracy
than harder ones such as linotype. Local military collector-
shooters have standardized on 16 grains of #2400 as the
“universal” prescription. It gives around 1500 f.p.s. with a
150-180-gr. cast bullet in almost any military caliber. We use
16 grains of #2400 as our reference standard, just as highpower
competitors use 168 Sierra MatchKings and 4895.
The only common military rifle cartridge in which 16 grains of
#2400 provides a maximum load which must not be exceeded is in
the tiny 7.62×39 case. Most SKS rifles will function reliably
with charges of #2400 as light as 14 grains with the Lee .312-
155-2R at around 1500 f.p.s. I designed this bullet especially
for the 7.62×39, but it works very well as a light bullet in any
.30 or .303 cal. rifle.
Sixteen Grains of #2400 Is The Universal Load
The same 16 grain charge of #2400 is universal for all calibers
as a starting load. It is mild and accurate in any larger
military case from a .30-40 Krag or .303 British up through a
.30-’06 or 7.9×57, with standard-weight bullets of suitable
diameter for the caliber. This is my recommendation for anybody
trying cast bullet loads for the first time in a military rifle
without prior load development. I say this because #2400 is
not position sensitive, requires no fiber fillers to ensure
uniform ignition, and actually groups better when you just
stripper-clip load the rifle and b
ang them off, rather than
tipping the muzzle up to position the charge.
Similar ballistics can be obtained with other powders in any case
from 7.62×39 to .30-’06 size. If you don’t have Hercules #2400
you can freely substitute 17 grains of IMR or H4227, 18 grs. of
4198, 21 grs. of Reloder 7, 24 grs. of IMR3031, or 25.5 grs. of
4895 for comparable results. However, these other powders may
give some vertical stringing in cases larger than the 7.62×39
unless the charge is positioned against the primer by tipping the
muzzle up before firing. Hercules #2400 does not require this
precaution. Don’t ask me why. Hercules #2400 usually gives
tight clusters only within a narrow range of charge weights
within a grain or so, and the “universal” 16 grain load is almost
always best. Believe me, we have spent alot of time trying to
improve on this, and you can take our word for it.
The beauty of the “200-yard target load” at about 1500 f.p.s. is
that it can be assembled with bullets cast from the cheapest
inexpensive scrap alloy, and fired all day without having to
clean the bore. It ALWAYS works. Leading is never a problem.
Once a uniform bore condition is established, the rifle behaves
like a .22 match rifle, perhaps needing a warming shot or two if
it has cooled, but otherwise being remarkably consistent. The
only thing I do after a day’s shoot is to swab the bore with a
couple of wet patches of GI bore cleaner or Hoppe’s, and let it
soak until the next match. I then follow with three dry patches
prior to firing. It only takes about three foulers to get the
03A3 to settle into tight little clusters again.
“Deer and Long Range Target” Load
Mattern’s “deer and 600 yard target load” can be assembled in
cases of .30-40 Krag capacity or larger up to the .30-’06 using
18-21 grs. of #2400 or 4227, 22-25 grs. of 4198, 25-28 grs. of
RL-7 or 27-30 grs. of 4895, which give from 1700-1800 f.p.s.,
depending on the case size. These charges must not be used in
cases smaller than the .3
03 British without cross-checking
against published data! The minimum charge should always be used
initially, and the charge adjusted within the specified range
only as necessary to get best grouping. Popular folklore
suggests a rifle barrel must be near perfect for good results
with cast bullets, but this is mostly bunk, though you may have
to be persistent.
I have a rusty-bored Finnish M28/30 which I have shot
extensively, in making direct comparisons with the same batches
of loads on the same day with a mint M28 and there was no
difference. The secret in getting a worn bore to shoot
acceptably is remove all prior fouling and corrosion. Then you
must continue to clean the bore “thoroughly and often” until it
maintains a consistent bore condition over the long term. You
must also keep cast bullet loads under 1800 f.p.s. for hunting,
and under 1600 for target work.
A cleaned and restored bore will usually give good accuracy with
cast bullet loads if the bullet fits the chamber THROAT properly,
is well lubricated and the velocities are kept below 1800 f.p.s.
The distinction between throat diameter and groove diameter in
determining proper bullet size is important. If you are unable
to determine throat diameter from a chamber cast, a rule of thumb
is to size bullets .002″ over groove diameter, such as .310″ for
a .30-’06, .312″ for a 7.62x54R and .314″ for a .303 British.
“Oversized .30s” like the .303 British, 7.7 Jap, 7.65 Argentine,
7.62×39 Russian and frequently give poor accuracy with .30 cal.
cast bullets designed for U.S. barrels having .300 bore and .308
groove dimensions, because the part of the bullet ahead of the
driving bands receives no guidance from the lands in barrels of
larger bore diameter. The quick rule of thumb to checking proper
fit of the forepart is to insert the bullet nose first into the
muzzle. If it enters to clear up to the front driving band
without being noticeably engraved, accuracy will seldom be
The forepart is not
too large if loaded rounds can be chambered
with only slight resistance, the bullet does not telescope back
into the case, or to stick in the throat when extracted without
firing. A properly fitting cast bullet should engrave the
forepart positively with the lands, and be no more than .001″
under chamber throat diameter on the driving bands. Cast bullets
with a tapered forepart at least .002″ over bore diameter give
the best results.
Many pre-WWII Russian rifles of US make, and later Finnish
reworks, particularly those with Swiss barrels by the firm SIG,
have very snug chamber necks and cannot be used with bullets over
.311″ diameter unless case necks are reamed or outside turned to
.011″ wall thickness to provide safe clearance. Bullets with a
large forepart like the Lee .312-155-2R or Lyman #314299 work
best in the 7.62x54R, because the forcing cones are large and
gradual. Standard .30 cal. gaschecks are correct. Finnish
7.62x54R, Russian 7.62×39 and 7.65 Argentine barrels are smaller
than Russian 7.62x54R, Chinese 7.62×39, Jap 7.7 or .303 British
barrels, and usually have standard .300″ bore diameter, (Finnish
barrels occasionally are as small as .298″) and groove diameters
In getting the best grouping with iron sighted military rifles,
eyesight is the limiting factor. Anybody over age 40 who shoots
iron sights should to equip himself with a “Farr-Sight” from Gil
Hebbard or Brownell’s. This adjustable aperture for your
eyeglass frame was intended for indoor pistol shooters, but it
helps my iron sight rifle shooting, and adds about 5 points to my
So now you have enough fundamentals to get started. If you want
to have fun give that old military rifle try. You’ll never know
the fun you’ve been missing until you try it!
In Home Mix We Trust, Regards,
Low & Slow: reduced loads
1. .308 Winchester
a. 26 inch barrel with a 220 grain NEI .308 cast bullet over 3 grains of Clays is almost silent
b. 24 inch barrel with a 150 grain RCBS bullet, 3 and ½ grains was needed and it was like a loud cap gun.
c. 150gr cast bullet* load 13 grs. of Red Dot in .308 or .30-06 at about 1600 fps
d. 170gr, cast bullet* 13 grs. of Red Dot in .308 or .30-06, about 1500 fps
e. 200gr. cast bullet* 13 grs. of Red Dot in .308 or .30-06, about 1450 fps
f. play with powder levels of Bullseye or Clays for silent loads…but you are not going to get there with 180 grain cast slugs and under.
g. 170 thru 190 grain cast slugs
i. 5 grains of WW231 or HP38 will go around 1000 fps
ii. 8 grains of Unique goes 1250 fps.
iii. 20 grains of 2400 or 18 grains of SR 4759 goes 1800 fps.
iv. * Note: Lubricated Jacketed bullet velocities are about 120-150fps less than a lubricated lead bullet of the same weight.
2. 3006 Springfield
a. 150gr cast bullet* load 13 grs. of Red Dot in .308 or .30-06 at about 1600 fps
b. 170gr, cast bullet* 13 grs. of Red Dot in .308 or .30-06, about 1500 fps
c. 200gr. cast bullet* 13 grs. of Red Dot in .308 or .30-06, about 1450 fps
d. 210 grains cast bullet
i. with 10 grains of Red Dot or Green Dot 12 grains will go 1200 fps (without recoil & very quiet @ about 700 ft-lbs of muzzle energy) good to 100 to 125 yards for training or small game hunting.
ii. 13 grains of Unique will go 1500
iii. 28 grains of 4759 will give 2000 fps with over 1800 ft-lbs of muzzle energy
iv. * Note: Lubricated jacketed bullet velocities are about 120-150fps less than a lubricated lead bullet of the same weight
3. The Buckshot Option
a. 30-caliber rifles loaded with a single 0-Buckshot, .32-inch diameter, 48 gr., round lead ball.
b. 3.0 grains of Bullseye powder with Dacron of Kapok fiber and then the lead ball.
c. called “the ideal cellar and small-game load,” and is suitable for most of the major .30-caliber rifles (including the .30-’06 Springfield, .308 Winchester, .30-30 Winchester, .300 Savage, and .30-40 Krag).
4. Rules for subsonic loads:
a. As you lower the bullet weight in any caliber with cast bullets for quiet loads, you actually need more powder.
i. Bullet weight determines the efficiency of the powder burn.
ii. Barrel length determines the loudness of the report.
b. Drill Flashole* to 3.5mm (9/64″) to allow all the primer flash to enter the case and ignite the powder completely.
c. Use Magnum Primers for maximum primer flash and better powder ignition.
d. Lube all bullets. Moly is good but animal fat is better.
e. Lubricate the bore regularly while shooting.
f. Never crimp bullets into cases. Never seat bullets “into the lands.”
g. Try not to use powder charges of less than 40% load density.
h. If load density is less than 40%, use tamping or fillers to keep the powder at the bottom of the case.
i. a portion of tissue paper (big enough to crumple against the case walls for a grip) over the powder to hold it back against the primer.
i. Make sure the bullet exits the bore after each shot.
j. Use only the fastest burning pistol powders – N310, N312, Bullseye, Clays, Titewad, HP38, Red Dot.
k. Any sort of slow ignition or hang fire is a warning of imminent Secondary Explosive Effect (SEE).
l. *Note: safety issue! These cases must marked and never used with full power loads!
5. To prevent jacketed bullets from sticking
a. In a dirty bore, all conventional jacketed bullets used for subsonic loads must be lubricated.
a. The traditional method: dip the bullets in melted, refined animal fats (lard) which hardens as it cools, leaving a thin, slick surface on the bullet. (messy and slow).
b. The modern method: moly coated bullets apply to bullets your self or buy direct from the factory.
c. Caution: jacketed bullets in subsonic loads risk becoming lodged in the bore with less than 6 grs. of N310, N312, Bullseye, Clays, Titewad, HP38, Red Dot pistol or shotgun powders when loading jacketed bullets.
6. To prevent lead cast bullets from leading:
a. Cast bullets will lead above 1300 fps unless gas-checked.
b. A hard cast bullet, that doesn’t have a gas check, can be used by
i. Cut a small disk of bullet base size from thin polypropylene and glue it against the base
ii. This stops fouling almost as well as gas checks in sub-loads.September 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm #25355September 23, 2014 at 7:51 pm #25358
A lot of reading to do this weekend. Thanks for all the information.September 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm #25389
With all due respect and credit to Paco Kelly:
Part two of this article deals with some real favorite rifle calibers and loads…part one
was extensive on handgun and older rifle cartridges……
Before we really get started let me answer a recurring question I get about silent rifle loads. In this time of calls to police about shots fired even when it really is a car backfiring….we must have the ability to eliminate vermin that comes onto suburban property without legal problems…now if you want to call animal control in your city…wonderful. But not me in mine…let me give you an example. A good friend called animal control because a skunk got into the tennis courts of her apartment complex and couldn’t get out…..animal control told her to keep the gate open it would eventually wonder out the way it came in….and hung up.
An hour later and a little boy getting squirted, she called again. They told her they only had one control officer on duty and it might be 5 or 6 hours before they could respond! And it was now an emergency…finally in desperation she called the fire department…a county volunteer department. They told her they would be glad to take care of it…and they did very quickly. And telling my friend animal control would rarely respond to any animal call, they couldn’t fine someone for…so they could get paid for the expenses of the call and response!
Yet this fire department will even get rid of poisonous snakes…The county tried at one point to absorb this fire department into county government…the protest was so loud they backed off…we knew that would spoil the department, like the animal control department is spoiled……by the way it took six weeks for the youngster who got squirted by the skunk, to get his full eyesight back. And he now has a terrible fear of any animals….So the old saw is true…you are responsible for you and your family’s safety, not the government…..
It is your responsibility how you use this information….I know how and when I would use it… SILENT LOADS………………without a mechanical device handguns can not really be silenced. But long barreled rifles can be and it is legal….all silent loads must be loaded below the sound barrier..or the bullet will give off a sonic crack, defeating the original purpose. Without mechanical help even rifle loads need very special loading, though it is fairly simple……
In a 32-40 Stevens 44 ½ Rifle with a 28 inch barrel…with less than 2 grains of Bullseye powder, under a 220 grain very soft cast round nose .322 caliber bullet….I got almost 600 fps and one ragged hole for ten shots at 25 yards….and it was totally silent. The only sound was the hammer dropping! That might sound like a bit of a wimp load but it is equal to a 38 special SuperPolice from a six inch revolver. I have a 70 lb. steel bullet trap…I had it up on a three legged stool, the stool wasn’t all that sturdy but there was still a 70 lb. trap on it…My first shot into the trap with this load, hit the top of the trap and toppled it, stool and all. MY-my! Heavy bullets have momentum….
The small amount of powder gets the heavy bullet going down the barrel…but the expansion ratio of the square inches of bore space eat up the pressure before the bullet leaves the barrel, and there is no pop..or as we call it ‘report’. The shorter the barrel then of course you get an increasing report….I tried this same load in a 32 Special Winchester with a 16 inch barrel..(leveraction carbine) and the report was about the sound of a kids loud cap pistol.
One coyote of a number that visited my area one year got one of these 220/32-40 load in the seat of his pants. He swung around and dropped at the hind legs biting at his rear…he then quickly started away with his back legs not working real good…all the other boys with him left the area too. But they weren’t startled because there had been no noise. I never saw that ’yote again, but I sure did work over his friends for a few weeks till they got smart. Nice thing about these loads…is they kill slowly enough that the evidence will leave before dying in someone’s front yard.
So that’s the simple answer…a very soft and lubed cast bullet, heavy as possible for the caliber to give better momentum and also to eat up the pressure…in as long a barrel as possible with the lightest load of very fast powder that will get the bullet out of the barrel…..
WARNING>>>never use jacketed bullets, they will stick in the barrel with low loads of fast powder….cast or swaged soft only…It’s the only way to hunt turtles and get more than one at a shooting.
A friend has a long barreled High Wall single shot Winchester with a 26 inch barrel chambered for 45-90. He had to work at it but got a 475 grain bullet leaving the barrel at a little less velocity then it’s weight…but it will roll a coyote at over 20 some yards. Seen him do it from his garage one day….sure was funny. The ‘yote went down, got back up slowly, shook itself all over, was totally confused as to why, how, and by who, it suddenly was punched in the ribs…then weaved away never to return.
Round balls swaged or cast soft work well but they make some noise because they are light for the caliber. But at short range they can be accurate and deadly….I have a 22 Hornet that I load a 24 caliber shot load ball over ½ grain of Bullseye…don’t mind shooting up into trees because I know a round ball will fall off long before even a 22 short RF will. I once put a whole box of them into one ragged hole at 25 yards…just to be able to say I did it…#4 shot is 24 caliber and 20 grains…in magnum shot form it is coated with a good dry lube and has 6% antimony so it won’t foul very much…but if I’m going to shoot a number of them…I smear a little lube over them…or roll them in a lube that dries….you can push a 22 caliber pellet into a Hornet case that has been drilled out to take a shotgun primer…it is deadly to vermin to 50 feet or so…and little noise. And easy to reload…just push the shotgun primer out with a nail and finger push a new one in and push a new pellet in the case mouth and you are ready to go again. No need to resize ever.
He was huge…well over 600 lbs…and he terrorized the area of the northwest he lived in for over 20 years. He was the epitome of Grizzly. Killing farm animals and even attacking and killing hunters that went after him. From the 1870s until well into the late 1890s….this brute roamed at will. He was shot several dozen times with all kinds of black powder rifles…but as was found later all bullets stopped in his heavy fat and muscle.
And then a young man with a new controversial high velocity cartridge and a new rifle to shoot it in, loaded with the new smokeless powder of the day killed the old bear with two shots….the rifle was the Winchester model 1894 and the cartridge was the 30-30. When the 30-30 was introduced it was considered an ultra high velocity round. With 165 to 170 grain bullets at 2000 fps it was 400 to 500 fps faster than the calibers of the times loaded with black powder.
The old timers took one look at that skinny little hole in the barrel and the tiny bullet in comparison to the big 40 to 50 calibers of the 1800s, and couldn’t believe the 30-30 was anything but a fad…..and for small game at best.
But what the 30-30 really was….was the transition caliber and cartridge, into the twentieth century…and a new world of rifle power. The 30-30 though a transition round, didn’t go away because better or more powerful rounds came about. Even with early 20th century outdoor magazines replete with articles pronouncing the 30-30 obsolete by the teens of this century…because of the bolt action rifle and high pressure rounds emerging from the First World War….the pronouncements of doom….died away along with most of those magazines, not the cartridge or the leveraction rifle.
With all of the available cartridges we have today…the lowly 30-30 is still extremely popular. When Winchester brought out the .307 on a modified 94 action in 1984…which was a rimmed .308, the pundits said this was it…the 30-30 has finally seen it’s end. But it was the 307 that failed, the 30- 30 is still being chambered. People trust the round, it’s a caliber of the people. I am sure there are more 30-30 chambered leveractions out there then any other caliber…in all the leveractions combined.
And cast bullets have always been synonymous with the 30-30. Though it was one of the first caliber/chamberings that used jacket bullets. In fact Winchester pulled the chambering in 1894 before it got to the market in any numbers, because the jacketed bullets were too tough on the soft steel of the first 1894 leveractions…so the first round to hit the open market wasn’t the 30-30 as advertised but the 32-40…with a 1 in 16 inch twist so black powder could be used. It was 1895 when the 30-30 was available and with what Winchester called ‘Nickel Steel’ barrels. ‘Nickel Steel’ without the Big Red W realizing it, was the first stainless steel used in guns in American history.
The twist in the 30-30s is usually 1 in 10 or 1 in 12…it’s all according to when the rifle was manufactured. Of course Marlin and several others jumped on the 30-30 band wagon, it was a top seller all thru the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s…..and still in the top ranks thru the 70s into a whole new century to come next year. Gads not many calibers can claim that popularity.
As I said in part one, a heavy for the caliber cast bullet can be driven to approximately the same velocities as some jacketed bullets….certainly the 30-30 fits this.
Two powders not usually associated with rifle cartridges that work exceptional well with cast and swaged bullets is A2400 and Red Dot. As I said for the 38-55 with a 260 grain bullet…22/2400 gives 1800 fps. With great accuracy, and good killing power with over 2000 lbs. of muzzle punch. There are better powders..but I have found that 2400 will give middle to high velocities with heavy cast bullets in almost every caliber. I keep a list of these loads and calibers so when I want to test a new cast or swaged bullet…I don’t have to play with various powders…I always have at least one good load with 2400. And the 3030 is no exception.
RCBS makes two gang molds for the 30 calibers. Especially good for the 30-30. 30-180- FN is a fine flatnose cast bullet that kills deer very well. Over 20 grains 2400 it will brake 2000 fps…and 1600 lbs. of muzzle energy…the other RCBS is also a 180 grain cast bullet…it is numbered 30-180-SP it is much more aerodynamic and it’s drop figures over long range are exceptional. But it is a target bullet…be great for Cowboy Action Shooting. 30 grains of 3031…which by the way was an original loading in the 1930s…under the 180 grain cast gives around 2100 to 2200 fps from a twenty inch barrel. And Red Dot gives a wonderful handgun level load with 9 grains under the 180 and 1300 fps. ReLoader #7 can push the 180s at 2300 fps…in some chambers it can get even higher than that…I start with 30 grains and work up…I’ve gone as high as 33 grains.
I like IMR4198 under the lighter 150 grain cast bullets. With 24 grains under the RCBS 30- 150-FN is a good starting load giving 2100 fps…but you can go to close to 2400 fps…..
The fun bullets in cast with the 30-30 is the 100 to 125 grainers….Lyman’s 311008 is the flatnose that was originally numbered 3118. A 115 grain 10/Red Dot will give 1700 fps and 12 grains of Unique will go 1900 fps…but if the powder slows down some…like 20 grains of 2400 will go 2200 fps. But if you cast them hard…like the RCBS 30-115-SP with a gas check and a lube like Apache-Blu you can push the bullet to 2800 fps, with 32 grains of ReL#7 or a flat nosed bullet gas checked like Lyman’s 100 grainer over 34 grains of ReL#7 for near 3000 fps….and that flat nose will blow the feathers or fur off varmints. If you have an accurate 30-30, you can get accurate cast loads with it. And they can be real fun as well as practical.
The 307 Winchester was supposed to replace the 30-30. They upgraded the model 94 to the Big Bore with the 375 BB…so they put the 307 and the 356 on that new action which is rated at 50,000 psi. The two cartridges were simply designed they are the 308 and 358 Winchester rounds, but with a rim and the shoulders changed so you couldn’t chamber the non rimmed rounds in the leveraction. I used to fire military loaded 308 rounds in the 356 chamber…they would fireform perfectly to the 356 configuration…I lengthened the extractor on my BB, and it extracted the rimless case perfectly. I didn’t need 356 cases….and the heavy military brass was excellent.
In the 307 I always used the rimmed brass by Winchester. For 30 caliber lovers this round and rifle is more than Winchester advertised…it is truly a 308 on a leveraction rifle format. Many gun writers panned the new rounds back in the 80s, because they didn’t get the velocities they thought the rimless rounds did, in bolt action rifles… But lets face it, the leverguns have twenty inch barrels. You cut a 308 or 358 Winchester chambered bolt action rifle back to 20 inches and you would get about the same ballistics. And those ballistics are certainly not bad. My 356 with the larger expansion ratio than the 307, lost less velocity then the 308 in the 20 inch barrel, and was and is one of the finest 35 caliber rifle rounds I ever owned. And I have owned and worked with nearly all of them on the target range and in the game fields of several continents.
Using the 180 grain bullets in the 307 over 35 grains of IMR 4064 gives the bullet 2400 fps…which is close to what commercial jacketed ammo gets in the 308 bolt guns. The 356 with Lyman’s 220 grain flatnose cast bullet over the same load will also give near 2400 fps…I want to know what animal in the U.S. could survive either of these loads thru the ribs….with a three inch high at 100 yards these two loads are down less then 14 inches at 300 yards…short range???? All I can say is the writers that panned both these rounds and the new leveraction by Winchester must not have liked leveraction rifles in the first place…they should never have reviewed them without disclosing that fact first. Short and handy rifles, with powerful and good long range abilities, and at excellent prices, in comparison to bolt guns…who could ask for more.
How about accuracy….the Winchester 94 Big Bores have always had a great reputation for outstanding accuracy. I shoot a 220 grain 358 jacket soft nose bullet over a full case of WW760 powder for 2400 fps and 1 inch three shot groups at 100 yards. What more could we as shooters want in a levergun? Because of the length of the Lyman 3589 290 grain bullet…it has to be loaded deep in the 356 case…but it is still a fine bullet for the caliber. Over 25 grains of 2400 this bullet gives us the magic 2000 fps from the 20 inch barrel and 3/4ths of a ton of muzzle energy….long range accuracy out to 350 yards that is astounding, with more power out there than the 30-30 at 100 yards.
The centerfire twentytwos can be special with cast bullets. But the loads have to be balanced…since you don’t have the jacketed varmint bullet blowup capabilities built in…reloading is critical. With soft for the caliber bullets loaded to 1000 to 1100 fps you have excellent 22 rimfire level loads……but with heavier bullets, and there is a plethora of good cast designs out there. I like the 55 grain to over 60 grainers…..and with today’s prices for excellent RF 22 ammo…you can reload your centerfires cheaper. Have you ever wished to have a full sized rifle, with the strong lock up of the large bolt actions, chambered in 22 RF? Well if you have a centerfire 22 caliber varmint rifle…your wish is answered.
As a kid I used a spent 22 RF case soldered to a nail as a powder scoop. The little RF case held about 4.5 grains of Bullseye. I used that load in a small hand ejector S&W 32-20 handgun. But it is also an excellent load in the 222/223 class of centerfire cartridge cases under a soft cast bullet. I have a BRNO .223 (that belongs to a dear friend unfortunately) that gets just under 1300 fps with this load and a 62 grain cast bullet. It is quiet, no recoil…I can watch the small game animal’s reaction when hit. The Winchester 225 centerfire likes this load also…this is a rimmed 22- 3030 like case….that gives outstanding accuracy from a model 70 Winchester with this load.
Lyman makes a 49 grain mold…225450R…it’s a pointed bullet with 3.6 grains of 4756 in a 22 Hornet case…with this bullet, I get around 3/4 of an inch at 100 yards from my Ruger Hornet bolt action rifle. With 2.7 grains of Bullseye I get 1300+ fps and ONE RAGGED HOLE at 100 yards! Lyman’s 225462 runs anywhere from 58 grains to 62 grains depending on the mix….any of the above loads is fine for small game and target use.
But cast it very hard and use a lithium base lube like ApacheBlu and load it is over 12.5 grains of 2400 in the hornet case, and you get over 3000 fps….it’s a flat nose, flat flying coyote killer.
In the 225/22-250 class cartridge sized case..22/WW760 will give around 2400 fps with excellent accuracy and long stings of fire without swabbing the barrel out…normally I run a dry patch thru about every 20 shots……to regain gilt edge accuracy. 38.6 grains of A3100 goes around 2800 to 2900 in the 22-250 size cases…..and of course 12 grains of 2400 will brake 2000 fps…better than any 22 magnumRF round.
RCBS makes a 24 caliber 100 grain flat nosed design bullet mold for the 24 calibers…like the 243 and 6mmRem…17 grains 2400 in either case will push this bullet at close to 2000 fps….if your rifle needs a slower powder for accuracy then go to ReL#7/ 22 grains will give 2100 fps and minute of squirrel head accuracy out to and past 100 yards. So will 20 grains of IMR4227 and 24 grains of 4895…..43 grains of ReL#22 will give 2800 fps….remember with the higher velocities the cast bullets must be hard and heat treated.
I heat treat bullets by dropping them from a hot mold into a bucket of water….if they sizzle then they are getting hard. I go opposite to the conventional wisdom with high velocity cast bullets..I run the pot up to top heat put a heavy tinfoil cover over it to keep the heat in (stir and flux often) make sure the mold is hot…then just drop the bullets right into water…no ovens and special heat treating methods…just a bucket and the pot and mold….
My lead is always magnum chilled shot and 95% tin wipe. For very high velocity bullets I use 16 pounds of mag/shot…(it has 6% antimony, that’s critical) and one pound of 95% tin…..for the lower velocity loads 19 to 20 lbs. of mag/shot and one lb. of tin…..for plinking just wheel weights…all of these are heat treated using my methods….a soft bullet heat treated will still expand at modest velocities of the 22 RF. Hard bullets at high velocity will come apart at impact very nicely….
The 6MMs and the 6.5 mms and the 257s all can use the same loading levels in their cartridge cases which are usually around the 308 or 7mm case size. Reloader #7 for medium loads, 2400 for quick accurate moderate loads…Rel#22 for high velocity loads….also some of the fine ball powders like 760 and some the A powders like 3100….slower burners upset the bullet base less on high velocity ignition and give higher velocities at better accuracy. The old IMR stand bys 4198 and 4895 are still good for around 2500 fps with heavy bullets…..but tempering and the lube used are the key to accuracy. RCBS makes a 257-120-SP bullet that was made for A2400 loads in 308 to 57 mm cases….yet 45 grains of 4064 and 2800 fps puts it in the long range flat shooting category.
I have had coyotes want to go on strike because of the unfairness of that long range load to them…
There are two loads I like in the 6.5s and Remington’s new 260 is certainly in this listing…using Lyman’s 266455 (129 grain bullet) over 18 to 19 grains of 2400 gives the magic 2000 fps….I have three deer to my credit with that load in a 6.5 mm*57mm. And Lyman’s 226469 (140 grain bullet) same A2400 load of course….but with 40 grains of A3100 with either bullet we are pushing 2400 fps and the pressure is down around 34,000 psi….even the 6.5 1891s and 94 Mausers and the Italian rifles can take this load…yet it is a killer of large game…..
I use about the same loads in my 270 Ruger #1 under the RCBS 270-130- Flatnose that I use in the 6.5s…For long range the RCBS 270-150-SP can’t be beat…..my rifle likes WW760 powder and 55 grains gives it that ‘long reach out there velocity and pick off the target load.’ Lyman’s older but real good 117 grain bullet is 280468…all these are gas checked by the way….and the same load gives 1 and ½ groups at 100 yards.
Again A (Herc)2400 in the 7 mm Mauser is tops…20 grains under the 287308/168 grain bullet for 2000 fps….I don’t know why Lyman used the numbers 308 in a 287 caliber bullet…but still it’s a dandy….46 grains of 4350 pushes this bullet at around 2500 fps….that’s the same as a jacketed commercial load….without a lot of pressure…..it’s safe in my 1908 7mm Mauser. I just like this cartridge….it tries to be accurate with everything I shove thru it….when it’s not accurate for some reason, it’s like it wants to apologize….and then try harder with the next load. It’s just has balanced powder room for the bore and bullet weight….and in a modern rifle you can load way beyond the new Rem260. And get a good deal more performance….Lyman’s 287346 is a 139 grain..(136 in my hard lead) bullet, designed to compare to the original bullet loaded commercially in Europe for this round…and it has all the good points of a hundred years of development built into it.
If any case size is balanced better than the others for cast and jacketed bullets it is the 57 mm. The 06 case is too large and the 308 case is too small…like the three bears…the 57mm is JUST RIGHT. 12 grains of Red Dot by the way under any cast bullet in this case is an excellent magnum handgun level load at 1500/1600 fps. The 7mm has another case that has been a sleeper…it’s only 31mm long…and with any good cast bullet from 100 grains to 140 grains it’s very accurate out of a leveraction rifle….it’s the 7 Waters….or 7mm/30-30. It is so much more flat shooting then the 30-30, it is extremely accurate….out of my custom scout rifle made from a 24 inch Winchester 94 it is quick, without recoil and deadly….it’s my brush rifle supreme…..and the same load of A2400…17 grains pushes the 140/145 grain cast bullet at around the 1900/2000 fps mark. RCBS makes a 145 grain long nose bullet called the 7mm-145-Sil…gads is that bullet accurate out of everything 7 mm…if the rifle itself is accurate. My Waters eats it up for target practice….even killed an antelope buck at a paced 280 yards once…went thru both shoulders and kept on going….but he didn’t. The load was 34 grains of ReL#15 for 2500 fps…flat shooting for a little cartridge like the 7 Waters….but that’s all that’s little about it…..it’s size case.
In part three, the last section of this…we go from the 30 calibers thru the 50s……..any questions let me know…..paco
This information was previously posted freely on the net.September 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm #25673
Whirly thanks for posting this. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking into for the past couple weeks so I can have more target time with the Mosin.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.