Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Little Loading and Shooting

Not a whole lot to write about when things go smoothly.  The rest of the 10 gauge ammo is loaded.  I used IMR PB and ITX #4 in a regular 10 gauge wad with a thick Mylar insert to keep the shot off the bore.   If you look close, you can see the clear Mylar inside the white shot cup on some of them.

I used an over shot card and roll crimped them.  Here's the last batch.

I'm not as thrilled as I once was with the roll crimping.   A roll crimping tool is a lot cheaper than buying a crimp starter and a set of MEC dies but  the crimps don't iron out very well when you fire them and they are a pain in the butt to reload.  I may invest in a set of dies and a crimp starter for next season and save the roll crimping for salvaging shells that have cracks in their fold crimps.

The 16 gauge loading gave a little trouble at first but came out nicely.  I don't have a set of 16 gauge dies either but I used my MEC and its 12 gauge dies to start the crimps and to do the final crimping.  (the hulls were new so I didn't have to worry about resizing).  I just crimped a little and checked the shell and then crimped some more.  The automatic primer feeder has an arm that swings down as you are crimping the shell.  I found that I could use that arm as an indicator of where to stop for a perfect crimp.  Didn't even have to change the adjustment on the 12 gauge dies to load my 16 gauge shells.

The crimps looked great but after I had loaded about ten shells, I noticed that the crimps on the first ones were bulging.  Shot column too tall.  I was using two thick cork spacer wads and one thin one so I started messing with how many of what spacer wads.  Eventually, I dispensed with the thin cork wad, dropped the shot charge by two grains (one pellet, I was weighing the shot charges on a digital scale) and used a poster board over shot card on top of the shot.  The crimps worked perfectly.

Brother in law has the ammo and it will be tested in the field soon.  Can't put up a picture of the 16 gauge shells because that one is on my phone and The Lovely Bride is backing that up right now.  They are blue with high brass and they look like shotgun shells.  That's the best I can do at the moment.  Maybe for Blue Monday.

I've been reloading for something like 25 years but hadn't done any shot shell reloading until maybe two years ago.  One thing that I learned on this project is that the shot size that you use can make an enormous difference in the volume it takes up.  All the books tell you that it does make a difference but I had no idea that difference could be as big  as it turned out to be.  

For the 16 gauge shells, I was using all the exact components that BPI lists in the recipe that I was loading.  I mean the same hull, primer, wad, powder and shot charge.  All that exactly by the book and the shot cup was nowhere near full.  I could actually fold the crimp all the way into the shell without it ever touching the shot.

A call to BPI confirmed that it was a difference in shot size that was the trouble.  They had used a larger shot size (I forget which but its bigger than #4).  My #4's took up less space because there's less space between the pellets.  It was probably about a 30% to 40% difference in volume just due to the different shot size.  Had I been using a shot bar and a chart that told me how much steel shot a given bushing dropped and just assumed that it would be close enough, I could have easily had 30% to 40% too much shot in the cases.    That's why the books all say to verify the shot charge your bushing is actually dropping  before you start loading.  I always do when I use a shot bar but now I'm glad that I do.

On the shooting side of the equation, I did manage to get a few things sighted in over the holiday.  Found out that one scope that I thought was bad is bad and one that I thought was good wasn't.  It would make a great kaleidoscope but not a rifle scope.  My 250 Savage is too old to stabilize 100 grain bullets.  They were originally built with 1:14" twist barrels and mine has one.  Gonna have to use some of my 85 grain Barnes POX  (Plain Old X) Bullets and see how well it will shoot those.   I did learn an important lesson during the shooting too.   The 300 Savage may be a nice, polite old cartridge in a rifle but you had better make damned sure you have your ear plugs in when someone touches off a 14" Contender in 300 Savage.  That was Monday and my right ear still doesn't feel right.

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