Tuesday, June 10, 2014

There's No Grand Design

It's too much information to establish a pattern. If I start blogging about reloading, I could blog daily on the topic for the rest of my life and never run out of information to share. And as Donald Rumsfeld once said, "There are things we don't know we don't know."

A Borepatch related example. I'm fairly serious about reloading, so Borepatch makes a road trip up to see me. He's never reloaded. Brings his Enfield in .303 British, dies, powder, and bullets. Seemed straightforward enough.

We read the manual. We size the once-fired brass, check it every way I know, pick a moderate starting load from the Lyman manual, and made us some ammo. It's what you don't know, and more importantly, what you don't know you don't know that gets you. Because the information we needed was readily available on teh googles, we just didn't know what to search for.

Back in the day, the British were concerned about dirty rifles and the problems that might cause with chambering, so concerned that they made the chambers on the Enfields very large. If you're only going to fire brass once and leave it on the battlefield, who cares? But if you fire brass in an Enfield, then full length resize it to the specs in the manual, and fire it again, it has been stretched twice. And sometimes twice is enough.

I'd never had a head separation. Never. Thousands of reloads, mostly in .223 and 30.06, and while I would check my brass and look for signs of case failures, this just had not been an issue. Well, it's an issue with .303 British. We had a head separation. Left the body of the case in the chamber and ended our shooting for the day. It came out easy enough when we got home, and it caused no problems with the rifle, but it bothered me.

So, a quick search for .303 British head separation and lookie there. But we had to have the problem to know to make the search. Next time we will neck size, ensure it chambers in his rifle, and never full length size the .303 brass again.

There's lots of things I don't know. They exist as blind spots for Murphy to hide in.


Goober said...

SInce I only ever fire my reloads out of my rifle, I generally only neck size them, anyway. Maybe doa full length after the third firing.

The thing is, the brass expands to the chamber. As long as you use it in the same rifle, it will fit like a glove. If you full-length resize any case too many times, you'll start getting failures. Metal fatigues.

Why, you might ask, don't i fire my reloads in any other rifle?

Because each round I load is custom tailored spcifically for the rifle it is going to be used in.

FOr instance...

my 300 win mag loves 71 grains of IMR 4350 and a magnum primer for my 190 grain boattail loads.

It is a Ruger M77 MkII.

My friend owns a Winchester M70 in 300 win mag, and if he fires my reloads, it craters the primers, and sometimes even unseats the primer.

My rifle eats them up, all day long. His gets EATEN up.

I honestly don't know why this is the case. Probably something to do with throat tolerances or something.

But when you load your rounds the way I do - at the limit - you pretty much need to custom tailor them to a specific rifle, which means full-length resizing isn't strictly necessary.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

With three Enfields in the stable I would have to keep three sets of brass if I want to shoot all of them. I currently use only two; the Jungle Carbine and the Wire Wrapped rifle. Does anyone have rifle grenades and the cartridges to launch them out of an Enfield?

Goober said...

ASM, I posted on an older post down the page a little bit, about giving advice to folks who think tha tthey need an established range to fire their rifles.

I never once fired a rifle at an established range until I was well into adulthood, and I wore the barrel out of my first rifle, a /30-06 winchester M70, and cannot recall ever once taking that rifle to an established range.

In a non-magnum rifle, that's 8 to 10 thousand rounds I fired out of that gun. None of them at a range.

Also, One thing that I talk about with rifle shooting is ergonomics.

There are a multitude of shooting positions available, and you need to know which ones you can do what with. Know your limits in each position,and practice them all. One of the benefits of not shooting at ranges is that the natural environment makes you improvise as you go along. Tall grass makes prone shooting impossible. Kneeling is good, as is sitting with your elbows resting on your knees, but neither are as good as prone. Using a tree as a rest works awesome, but if you've never tried it, it will be uncomfortable to you until you do.

Also, if you can get prone, where does your off hand go? If you've got a good rest, like a thick backpack to rest the rifle forearm on, then your offhand should make a fist under the buttstock of the rifle, giving you two soild points of contact with the ground,a ndmaking your shot accurate as hell. THis is my most deadly shooting position.

Also, break the trigger like a tube of glass. Apply pressure, increasing the pressure slowly until the rifle surprises you by going off. If you consciously "pull" the trigger, you will not shoot as accurately.

So forth, and so on...

ASM826 said...


All the sorts of stuff I have to say, and more. It's hard to just pick something and write it out.

Richard Blaine said...

Goober - true. In my case I have .308 brass which might have been fired from either of two semi auto's or perhaps the bolt action. - Even two bolt actions of the same caliber might create some problems. I try to keep the bolt action separate but it's a pain - maybe if i bought a bunch of Lapua brass for just the bolt action....

ASM & Borepatch.
There are 4 ways to go that I know of.

1 - check each case in the rifle to be sure it'll feed, then neck resize. (what you're doing I'd guess)

2 - get a no-go gage made to match the rifles chamber.

3 - get RCSB to make you a full length die for that particular chamber. Yep, they do that.

4 - Get the chamber reworked to spec. (yeah, I wouldn't do that either)

You'll want a neck sizer anyway, unless you're always shooting semi/full auto.

Glenn said...

Neck sizing 0.303 is a pretty common idea idea, actually, (see Steve Redgwell's 303 British.com and various discussion forums) though full length resizing combined with careful case inspection is quite common too - especially if you take a separated case extractor to the range. I have 4 rifles in 0.303", a Martini Metford, a No1 Mk1, a P14 and a No4 Mk2. The fired cartridges from the Martini and the No1 are visually similar in shape, but very different in shape from those from the P14 and the No4 - which are themselves similar to one another. If you see what I mean. I keep all four sets of cases separate and neck size only. If you do this, rumour says you can reload a case almost indefinitely.