Sunday, January 6, 2013

.22 CCM Part 2

I didn't get to try out the little rifle on New Year's Day as I had hoped.  We just had stuff to do and its an hour to the super-secret range.  Besides that, I hadn't loaded any ammo.  Started working on that after the movie yesterday.

Its a straight walled case so it uses a separate expander die instead of an expander ball in the sizing die.    I sized and primed 25 cases from a bag of previously fired brass.  Then I champhered the case mouths and adjusted the expanding die to just start the slightest hint of a bell at the mouth of each case.

That's when the fight started.

I was weighing the propellant so I know there was no variation in my charges but some cases had powder  full to the mouth and others had the powder 1/16" or so from the case mouth.  We're talking about 7.5 grain charges here.  That's an incredible variation in case capacity and that was just the start of the day's festivities.

Seating bullets in cases that had some room tended to go fine but the ones that required compressing the loads invariably had no tension on the bullet when it came out of the seating die.  I mean you could pluck the bullet out of the case with your fingers.  A couple of them actually stayed in the seating die.  I seemed that compressing the powder expanded the cases enough to make them release the bullets.

I resized all of them and cut the powder charges back to leave room in the cases and I skipped expanding them.  It was very tedious work getting the bullets to sit on the case mouths for the trip up into the seater die but I got them loaded and retired to ruminate on the process.

At breakfast this morning, The Lovely Bride and I were talking about the new emoticons she put on my phone and I showed her that it even had a wild boar emoticon.  That led directly to talk about her brother, his kid and squirrel hunting.  Did somebody say "Squirrel Hunting?"

I sent him a text message about the three of us going squirrel hunting and he confirmed that it was a grand idea and I realized that I had this expensive squirrel gun that wasn't even sighted in and my ammo from last night most assuredly sucked.

Back to the reloading room this afternoon.

I decided to use new brass and opened up a bag marked .17 CCM.  The .17 CCM is exactly what it sounds like.  Its a 22 CCM necked down to .17.  The cases said .17 CCM on the headstamp but had no shoulder and I was able to slide a 22 caliber bullet into them so I guess this was some "basic" kind of brass to use for either. 

The very first case I took out of the bag had a bent mouth.  No problem.  I'll iron it out in the sizing die.  Only it didn't iron out.  The sizing die I was using didn't iron the case mouth out.  Holy crap!

One good thing about getting a gun from the buddy that I got this one from is that he's a little bit obsessive.  He bought a set of RCBS dies when he got it and then found out that CH4D made dies for it that cost less so he got a set of those too.  Then he saw another RCBS sizer die on Ebay so he bought that too.  All of that came with the rifle so I had another set of dies to play with.

I switched to the CH set and the case came out of the sizer pressed and starched.  The mouth was perfectly round.  I sized 25 of them in the CH die and then primed and champhered.    Before belling any of them, I decided to measure the expanders in each die set.  Both came in at .2235." So I'm loading a .224" bullet into a case that I've just expanded to .2235."   Ok.  There's some springback but both expanders are marked ".223" so they appear to me to be somewhat generic.  I imagine that the paper-thin case walls of a .22 CCM or a .22 Hornet don't spring back as much as thicker walled cases like .223 or 22.250 so maybe I'm not getting as much bullet pull as needed.  I turned the RCBS expander against some wet or dry sandpaper until I had it reading .2225" and used that to expand the cases.

With the new brass, all of the powder levels were the same.  All of the bullets seated and all stayed put when I pulled on them.  With some luck, I will be able to sight it in and see how well it does on squirrels within the week.

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