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Ammunition Reloading Journal


Rick Jamisons
TESTED: 6.5 WSM Wildcat!

Heavyweight
Hammer!
Revolver Cartridge .358 Norma
Crimping Tips
April 2017 No. 307

PET LOADS: .243 Winchester


Over 500 Loads!
Display until 5/15/17 Printed in USA
COLUMNS FEATURES
6 Ken Waters
(1917-2017)
32 The Heavyweight
.358 Norma
Reloaders Press - A Magnum Cartridge
Dave Scovill That Pulls No Punch
Terry Wieland

8 Uberti Single-
Action .45 Colt 38 Beginning Bullet
Bullets & Brass - Casting Part III
Brian Pearce Casting Good Bullets
Mike Venturino
On the cover . . .
14 3-Inch 20 Gauge
Part I
This Schultz & Larsen Model
65DL with a Zeiss scope is 44 Deer Bullets
Cartridge Board - chambered for the iconic for the .45-70
Gil Sengel .358 Norma Magnum. Photo Loading the Lyman
by Terry Wieland. Goulds 45-330
Express Bullet
18 Winchester 572
Propellant Profiles -
John Haviland
R.H. VanDenburg, Jr.
48 .243 Winchester
New Powders
22 Revolver
Cartridge
and Bullets
for the Most
Crimping Tips Popular 6mm
From the Hip - Brian Pearce
Brian Pearce

56 Duplicating
26 .44 Special
Mikes Shootin Shack -
Factory
Ammunition
Mike Venturino Sometimes the reward
is worth the work.
28 .257 Wildcat
Wildcat Cartridges -
John Barsness

Richard Mann
64 Necking a Short
Magnum to 6.5
74 Premium Bullets
In Range - Page 38 . . .
Loads for a
Noncommercial WSM
Terry Wieland Rick Jamison

Page 44 . . .

4 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


Ken Waters

Ammunition Reloading Journal


(1917-2017) ISSN 0017-7393
Volume 52 Number 2

RELOADERS PRESS by Dave Scovill Issue No. 307 April 2017


Publisher/President Don Polacek

W hen my wife, Roberta, came tory loads that keeps getting lon- Publishing Consultant Mark Harris
home and informed me of ger and longer. Editor in Chief Lee J. Hoots
Ken Waters passing recently, a That was true then, and its true Editor Emeritus Dave Scovill
lot of thoughts raced through now. Rest in peace, dear friend. Managing Editor Roberta Scovill
my mind, but it all boiled down Senior Art Director Gerald Hudson
Excerpts from the New Canaan Production Director Becky Pinkley
to one: It was an honor to work
Advertiser:
with such a remarkable man. The Contributing Editors
breadth of his lifes work as a Kenneth L. Waters, 99, John Barsness Gil Sengel
handloader covers an astonishing WW II Veteran, John Haviland Stan Trzoniec
variety of the usual rifles and car- Former Town Official Richard Mann R.H. VanDenburg, Jr.
tridges, but it was his appreciation Brian Pearce Mike Venturino
and respect for his readers that set Kenneth L. Waters of New Ca-
Charles E. Petty Terry Wieland
him apart, not only for his volume naan died January 8, 2017, at his
of Pet Loads but also letters and home following a brief illness. Advertising
correspondence to readers across Born July 22, 1917, in Pound Advertising Director - Tammy Rossi

the world. It is funny now, but I Ridge, New York, the son of tammy@wolfepub.com
Advertising Representative - Tom Bowman
Hobart and Eleanor Waters, he bowman.t@sbcglobal.net
moved that same year to New Advertising Representative - James Dietsch
Canaan and attended school jamesdietsch@cox.net
Advertising Information: 1-800-899-7810
here, graduating from New
Canaan High in 1935, Circulation
following which he at- Circulation Manager Kendra Newell
tended Shorts Business circ@riflemag.com
Subscription Information: 1-800-899-7810
School in Stamford. www.handloadermagazine.com
In 1939 he was ap-
Handloader (ISSN 0017-7393) is published bi-
pointed as a member monthly by Polacek Publishing Corporation, dba
of the New Canaan Wolfe Publishing Company (Don Polacek, Pres-
ident), 2180 Gulf-stream, Ste. A, Prescott, Arizona
Board of Assessors. 86301. Telephone: (928) 445-7810. Periodical Post-
age paid at Prescott, Arizona, and additional mail-
With the approach ing offices. Subscription prices: U.S. possessions
of World War II in 1940, single issue, $5.99; 6 issues, $22.97; 12 issues,
$39.00. Foreign and Canada single issue, $5.99;
Ken sought appointment 6 issues $29.00; 12 issues, $51.00. Please allow 8-10
as a sub-lieutenant in the weeks for first issue. Advertising rates furnished
on request. All rights reserved.
Royal Navy for service aboard Change of address: Please give six weeks notice.
the 50 old destroyers being trans- Send both the old and new address, plus mailing
label if possible, to Circulation Dept., Handloader
ferred from the U.S. Navy to the Magazine, 2180 Gulfstream, Ste. A, Prescott, Ari-
was serious a few years ago when British under Lend-Lease. While zona 86301. POSTMASTER: Send address changes
Ken called, mentioning that he awaiting official acceptance from
to Handloader, 2180 Gulfstream, Ste. A, Prescott,
Arizona 86301.
should retire, because he was run-
the British consulate, he was in- Canadian returns: PM #40612608. Pitney Bowes,
ning out of topics to cover in Pet
ducted in the U.S. Army on P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.
Loads. I remarked, You cant re-
tire; theres probably some guy in
March 21, 1941. Wolfe Publishing Co.

Australia who wants information Married to Lois Ventres of 2180 Gulfstream, Ste. A
Prescott, AZ 86301
about the .263 Express (a wildcat New Canaan on December 16, Tel: (928) 445-7810 Fax: (928) 778-5124
Ken designed in the mid-1950s that 1941, while on leave, he served Polacek Publishing Corporation

was popular in Australia for kan- successively in the 102nd and Publisher of Handloader is not responsible for
mishaps of any nature that might occur from use
garoo control, which was reincar- 91st Infantry regiments before of published loading data or from recommenda-
nated as the .260 Remington years being assigned to ships of the tions by any member of The Staff. No part of this
publication may be reproduced without written
later), and there isnt anyone else Army Mine Planter Service in permission from the publisher. Publisher assumes
on the planet to contact with your May 1942 because of his Coast all North American Rights upon acceptance and
payment for all manuscripts. Although all possible
knowledge of wildcats, let alone Guard Ships Operators License. care is exercised, the publisher cannot accept re-
the seemingly infinite list of fac- Following 18 months of ser- sponsibility for lost or mutilated manuscripts.

6 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


vice assisting in the planting of G. Tarpley, A.I.A. in Darien, after hunting. He presented a library
submarine mines across the en- which he became a construction of world warship photos (1870
trance of Chesapeake Bay, and examiner with the Federal Hous- 2000) as compiled by him to the
having earned a Third Mates ing Administration from 1950- U.S. Naval War College, New-
license, he was appointed a 57. Ken was a member of many port, Rhode Island.
Warrant Officer, Second Mate school building committees, was He was predeceased by his
of the USAMP Frank on No- certified as a building official by wife, Lois, after 64 years of
vember 3, 1943, then engaged the state, appointed chief build- marriage in 2006; also by his
in planting mines across the en- ing official for New Canaan, was parents, sister Dorothy Waters
trance of Delaware Bay, aboard New Canaans representative Smith and brother Harry H. Wa-
which he served with a Second to the regional planning board, ters, all of New Canaan. Ken is
Mates license until honorably served as chairman of the town survived by his daugher Suzanne
discharged on March 27, 1945. board of appeals and captain of E. Waters.
Volunteering in the Coast Guard the New Canaan Auxiliary Po- Memorial donations to ei-
Reserve in April 1945, he was lice, retiring in 1981. ther the New Canaan Historical
a deck officer aboard Merchant During a writing career of Society or the New Canaan
Marine ships until completion of 50 years, Ken wrote four books Volunteer Ambulance Corps
the war with Japan. and hundreds of magazine ar- are suggested. For online con-
From 1946-50, Ken underwent ticles. His sports were sailing, dolences, please visit www.hoyt
architectural training with Donald rifle shooting, shotgunning and funeralhome.com.

* * WARNING NOTICE * *
IMR-4895 for Reduced Loads
After my article Reduced Rifle contacted me with new informa- IMR-4895 for reduced loads, sug-
Loads appeared in Handloader tion. After considerable testing, gesting only H-4895 and Trail
No. 306 (February 2017), Hodgdon they recommend against using Boss. John Barsness
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 7
Uberti single-action
.45 colt
BULLETS & BRASS by Brian Pearce
Q : I recently acquired a Uberti
Model 1873 Single Action .45
Colt with a 434 -inch barrel and in
The Uberti Model 1873 SAA pattern revolver has been steadily improved over
the years. Hodgdon Longshot powder will perform best with heavier bullets.

unfired condition. I have yet to ac-


quire a set of plug gauges to deter-
mine throat dimensions. I would
like to know your opinion on these
firearms, and what pressure would
you load it to? I am not one to push
the envelope, as I am not a max-
imum velocity junkie, but rather
load for safety and accuracy.
I have on hand a few hundred
.45-caliber Xtreme Bullets in
250-grain RNFP Cowboy configu-
ration with an approximate BHN
(Brinell hardness number) of 15,
and the 255-grain SWC Keith-style if you could recommend a start- vorite reading. Keep up the great
with an approximate BHN of 18. ing load with these bullets using work!
What velocities would you recom- Hodgdon Longshot powder? G.R., via e-mail
mend for these bullets out of my I would like to say that I find ev- A: Uberti Single Action Army pat-
Uberti? erything you write to be very in- tern revolvers have undergone
I have several powders on hand formative and a pleasure to read, continual changes since first ap-
that are all called out of the Ly- and have learned so much. One pearing in quantity in the U.S.
man Cast Bullet Handbook, but of my wishes in life would be to during the early 1970s, with one
after reading your article in Hand- personally meet you, and all of example being the poorly made
loader No. 283 regarding .45 Colt the other writers for Handloader Iver Johnson Cattleman offered
loads for bear, I was wondering magazine, which is by far my fa- from 1973 to 1978. In the decades
since, these revolvers have been
steadily improved both mechan-
ically and cosmetically, with the
latest versions being good guns.
To fully answer your question,
I must elaborate on their history
and discuss a few of their features
that shooters should be aware of,
which may influence what loads
you choose to shoot. During the
1990s, many of these revolvers
chambered in .45 Colt had larger
than desirable throats, often mea-
suring .456 to .458 inch, which
is very similar to late model Colt
SAAs. Sometime around 2000, I
began noticing that Uberti throat
dimensions changed to between
.454 and .455 inch, while two re-
cently manufactured revolvers
were measured at .452 inch, which
is ideal for obtaining top accuracy
with both cast and jacketed bullets.
8 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
Also, until just the last couple of .brownells.com), which are avail- icant steel to the outside of the cyl-
years, none of the Uberti SAs were able at a minimal cost. Inciden- inder, as well as over the bolt notch
fitted with a recoil plate, but the tally, the lockwork is not all the (effectively doubling that thick-
two above-mentioned, late-manu- same, with some guns featuring a ness), which is the SAA pattern re-
factured guns are fitted with recoil coil handspring, which improves volvers weak link. If your Uberti is
plates, which in my opinion is a reliability. My latest revolver fea- of late manufacture, it will handle
significant improvement, as this tures a piano-wire trigger/bolt .45 Colt loads that generate similar
increases their durability and are spring rather than the traditional pressures as .45 ACP factory loads
easily replaced when worn. leaf spring, which again is nearly that are industry rated at 21,000
Uberti hammers fitted with an unbreakable. psi, or 23,000 psi for +P loads.
internal block sliding safety were Barrel quality has varied con- With those thoughts in mind,
a problem, as the cam was reduced siderably, with some only turning shoot your revolver first with a va-
in size and positioned differently, in mediocre accuracy while others riety of loads to determine how
compromising reliability and have been very good. well it performs before drawing
timing. Eventually the safety was I have tested a number of Uberti any conclusions.
removed, but the small cam re- cylinders and have found them to The .45 Colt handloads devel-
mained. Finally several importers have considerable variance in their oped in a Lipseys edition Ruger
(primarily U.S.F.A. and Cimarron Rockwell hardness. Most manu- New Model Blackhawk for hunting
F.A. Co.) demanded that the ham- factured since the late 1990s have black bear utilized 11.1 grains of
mer be redesigned and improved tested at 34 and are constructed of Hodgdon Longshot powder with
with the full-size Colt pattern cam, quality 4130 series chrome-moly the 285-grain, Keith-style cast
which is common with most im- steel. bullets from RCBS mould 45-270-
ported Ubertis today. The Uberti revolver features a SAA, which produced just under
The spring quality has his- more or less .020-inch larger diam- 1,050 fps. This is a plain-base
torically been poor in Uberti re- eter cylinder (1.670 inches) than bullet that when cast from Ly-
volvers; however, they have been the Colt SAA (1.650 inches); how- man No. 2 alloy, sized to .4518
improved over the past 20 years. ever, the distance from the axis of inch and lubed with Alox is not
I suggest replacing them with the cylinder and the center of the prone to barrel leading. Due to its
top-notch Wolffgunsprings (www bore is the same. This adds signif- heavier-than-normal weight, as
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 9
well as the pressure developed by a Marlin Model 1894CB with 20-
this load, Longshot powder ignites inch barrel, velocities were 1,292
properly. When used with lighter and 1,378 fps, respectively.) The
bullets, such as the 250-grain 11.0-grain charge produced mod-
RNFP and 255-grain SWC Magma est barrel leading in the sixgun,
designs (as cast by Xtreme Bul- while the 12.0-grain load leaded
lets), velocities will need to be excessively.
higher than these bullets were To help prevent barrel leading,
originally designed for in order to I limit the velocities of these two
achieve reliable powder ignition. bullets to around 950 fps maxi-
To elaborate slightly, both of these mum. A factory duplication load
bullets feature a bevel base, and with either of your Xtreme cast
when pushed to higher velocities, bullets is 7.1 grains of Accurate
barrel leading often becomes a No. 2 powder for 860 fps. For a
problem regardless of alloy. That bit more velocity, try 9.5 grains of
said, I would suggest a start load Ramshot True Blue or 9.0 grains
of 11.0 grains with either bullet, of Alliant Power Pistol for 950 fps.
which produced 1,009 fps from These comments hopefully help
my test gun with a 434 -inch bar- answer your questions, and thanks
rel, while 12.0 grains reached for taking the time to read our
1,086 fps. (For those interested in magazines. Perhaps someday our
firing these loads in a rifle, from paths will cross.

9mm Hi-PoWer
Q: I have a very early 1950s vin- ing load that has enough pressure
tage Browning Hi-Power in 9mm to reliably operate the slide and
that is in near mint condition. reach around 900 to 1,000 fps. Can
I have fired it very little as I am you suggest a powder and charge
aware of the barrel wear associ- weight?
ated with using jacketed bullets J.I., via e-mail
in quantity. Based on your sug-
A: Try 2.8 grains of Hodgdon Tite-
gestions, I would like to try cast
bullets, which should minimize group powder for around 930 fps
barrel wear and let me enjoy firing or 3.2 grains of Accurate No. 2
this classic pistol. I have on hand for 975 fps. Use a standard (non-
500 of Oregon Trails Laser-Cast magnum) primer, with these two
124-grain roundnose profile bul- loads being developed with a Win-
lets. I am only looking for a plink- chester Small Pistol primer.

Hodgdon Titegroup and


Accurate No. 2 powders
are top choices for light
target cast bullet loads in a
Browning Hi-Power 9mm.

10 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


.240 WeatHerby magnUm So far I have only been using load performance. Can you sug-
Q: Two hunting seasons back I the factory ammunition that I pur- gest a powder and charge weight?
purchased a Weatherby Mark V chased with the rifle, but my sup- C.R., Denver CO
chambered in .240 Weatherby Mag- ply is running low and I am ready A: Weatherby lists its .240 fac-
num. It shoots very well and so far to begin handloading for it. I have tory loads containing the Nosler
has accounted for three nice mule been using the 100-grain Nosler 100-grain Partition bullet with a
deer bucks and one Wyoming ante- Partition bullet and would like to muzzle velocity of 3,406 fps from
lope, each taken with a single shot. stick with it and duplicate factory a 26-inch barrel. I have not tested
this load, so cannot speak of its
actual velocity. In developing .240
Winchester 760 and Alliant Reloder 25 powders Weatherby handloads in a Weath-
are good choices when handloading the .240 erby Vanguard fitted with a 24-
Weatherby Magnum with 100-grain bullets. inch barrel, the Nosler 100-grain
Partition was pushed around 3,250
fps using either 58.0 grains of Al-
liant Reloder 25 or 49.2 grains of
Winchester 760 powder, with both
loads being capped with a Federal
210 Large Rifle primer. I can only
estimate how much additional ve-
locity will be gained from the 26-
inch barrel of your Mark V, but
these loads should perform sim-
ilarly to factory loads and are
within SAAMI pressure guidelines.
.30-30 WincHester
Q: I am a working cowboy in the
vast country they call Jordan Val-
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 11
Ramshot TAC powder
will duplicate .30-30
Winchester factory
loads with 150-grain
bullets. Brian always
suggests loading
cases that are uniform
in length, but if
cases are of varying
lengths, the Lee
Factory Crimp die is
a good solution
for obtaining
uniform results.

ley, Oregon. I have a well-worn 33.5 grains for around 2,325 fps
Marlin .30-30 rifle that is used for (20-inch barrel), but you should
many purposes, but mostly to kill begin with a starting load of 31.0
preying coyotes. grains.
I am having two difficulties The somewhat square shoul-
with my .30-30 handloads and am der that you describe is probably
hoping you can offer solutions. I happening when you crimp the
have been handloading for my .44 cases. This can occur if the bullets
Magnum for several years without are seated and crimped as a single
too many problems but am still not operation. The problem becomes
a master at this art. most prevalent when crimping
First, occasionally some of the cases that vary in length using
fired .30-30 cases are sticking a traditional roll crimp, with the
in the chamber. I am using xx.x longer cases being over-crimped,
grains of Ramshot TAC powder which can cause the shoulder to
with Sierra 150-grain bullets. I slightly bulge as you describe. To
have owned the old Marlin Model confirm this diagnosis, try full-
36 for many years, and it doesnt length sizing cases and see if they
stick cases with factory loads. In all chamber with ease. If they do,
other instances loaded cartridges then the problem is occurring
stick in the chamber when I try to during the seating/crimping oper-
chamber them and must be forced ations. If they dont, you probably
when squeezing the lever closed. need to make additional adjust-
I can load a batch of ammo and ments to your sizing die.
some will easily chamber, but oth- Assuming this diagnosis is
ers will not and must be forced to correct, there are a couple of solu-
chamber. Some of the rounds that tions. First, trim all cases to the
do not want to chamber seem to same length, which will allow you
have a slight bulge or are some- to crimp uniformly, but be careful
what square at the base of the to not over-crimp, or the shoulder
shoulder, but others that were bulging will still occur. Another
loaded in the exact same process option is seating bullets to the
and same dies chamber normally. correct overall length, but do not
Any suggestions you can offer apply the crimp. Then, as a sepa-
would be appreciated. rate step, use a Lee Factory Crimp
B.T., Jordan Valley OR die. It offers reasonably uniform
A: First, your charge of Ramshot results with cases of different
TAC powder is excessive and prob- lengths, and neither will it cause
ably explains why fired cases are the shoulder to buckle or bulge.
sticking in the chamber. I would Good luck hunting those big
suggest a maximum charge of eastern Oregon coyotes.
12 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
3-incH 20 gaUge
Part i
CARTRIDGE BOARD by Gil Sengel
A friend recently questioned
why no shotgun cartridges
have been covered in this column.
awkward. A simple Number 12 was
adopted. This is why early shells
are headstamped No. 12 for 12
Good question. Perhaps it is just gauge, No. 16 for 16 gauge and so
that shotguns are so darn basic. on. Winchester-Western continued
Everybody interested in shoot- the practice into the plastic shell
ing has one . . . or two or three or era. The British and others later
more. Shotguns are also old. Hu- changed this to 12 bore, while
mans have been stuffing rocks, another following developed for
nails, bits of iron, glass and lead 12 gauge.
down smoothbore barrels for The 20 bore, 20 gauge, or what-
hundreds of years. Early citizens ever you want to call it, has a bore
fired their smoothbores at small diameter of exactly 0.615 inch. Of
edible birds and mammals, plus the many guns I have measured
annoying or predatory vermin. Of over the years using a dial gauge
course, these folks also regularly on the entire length of barrel, di-
fired their guns at each other for ameters ran from 0.615 to 0.619
the same reasons except, usu- inch on quality arms. Inexpen-
ally, the eating part. sive single shots vary all over the
At any rate, our interest here is place, from 0.618 to 0.635 inch. Early roll-crimped, 20-gauge shells
not muzzleloading guns, except to We now come to the 3-inch 20 (left to right): standard 2.5 inch, 3-inch
say that the rule for describing the gauge with no use of the word handload and a 3-inch empty case sold
size of the hole in large smooth- magnum. That word appeared to handloaders.
bore barrels far predates the car- in the eighteenth century and re-
tridge era. It goes back before the ferred to wine bottles of greater During the muzzleloading era,
percussion cap to the time when than normal capacity. Its meaning it was possible to use any amount
cannons fired only round, lead is the same when applied to car- of powder and shot desired, since
balls. A 3-pounder cannon fired tridges, but such use is quite re- both were poured loosely down
a ball weighing exactly 3 pounds. cent. Three-inch cases scale this the bore. The British did a lot of ex-
Early muskets were designated length from base to mouth of a perimenting and determined that
similarly. fired cartridge. Standard 20s mea- what was often called a square
It quickly became obvious that sured 2.75 inches beginning about shot charge (height of the charge
calling a gun having a bore such 1930 and 2.5 inches before that. equaled bore diameter) gave the
that 12 lead balls made one pound Date of introduction of the 3-inch best results. In the 20 gauge this
a one-twelfth pounder was a bit 20 gauge? Well, that depends. was 34 ounce. Also, the most ef-
ficient black-powder charge was
D F G one that equaled the shot charge
in volume, not weight. By use of
a ballistic pendulum, velocity of
these loads registered about 1,050
fps in muzzleloaders.
E
With the coming of self-con-
tained cartridges, the foregoing
rules remained pretty much un-
C changed. In America there was a
B
A tendency to increase powder and
Cartridge Dimensions D - Rim Thickness ...............0.050 shot charges a bit, but only in 12
A - Fired Length...................3.000 E - Rim Diameter .................0.758 and 10 bores. As the transition to
B - Crimp Length .................2.840 F - Case Base Diameter ......0.689 smokeless powder began, strange
C - Case Base Length .........0.700 G - Mouth Diameter .............0.675 things happened.
NOTE: Dimensions may vary among manufacturers.
The new, dense smokeless pow-

14 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


considered a kids gun for am-
bushing rabbits, squirrels and any
edible bird on the sit, of what
possible use could a special, faster
loading be? Now things got even
stranger.
By at least 1908, the famous
firm of Parker Brothers, makers
of American side-by-side doubles,
was producing a heavier 20-gauge
shotgun chambered for 3-inch
shells. Some company advertis-
ing and some of what was con-
Early 20-gauge shells had the shot load printed on top of the overshot wad/card. sidered the sporting press at the
The shell at right is a handload. time was saying that the smoke-
less 20 gauge was the equal of
der took up far less space in the gauge cartridge. Then in 1901, the black-powder 12 gauge. Also,
shell than black powder (as op- Winchester listed 2 34 inch and added velocity produced by the
posed to bulk smokeless, which longer empty cases available 3-inch load was giving an amaz-
loaded volume-for-volume with for handloading. At the time the ing increase in killing powder
black). Extra space was, for some 20-gauge case was 2.5 inches long to its 78 -ounce shot charge. Uh-
reason, quickly taken up by more prior to crimping. huh?
shot. By 1900, for example, Win- By 1907 Winchester was offer- The vast majority of shotgun-
chester offered a 78 -ounce 20-gauge ing a special order 3-inch case ners totally ignored this silliness.
smokeless load at the same veloc- containing 78 ounce of shot but A tiny group, however, took it to
ity as its relatively new 34 -ounce with enough powder to give an in- heart. They were members of the
smokeless load, which in turn crease of about 65 fps over the 2.5- exclusive duck clubs prevalent
duplicated the companys stan- inch load of 78 ounce of shot. Given in many parts of the country until
dard (and only) black-powder 20- that the 20 gauge had always been about World War II. Not only were
yards. Also, if one was a good shot-
gun operator, many of the birds
would have more holes in them
than necessary. Then, too, this was
in the very late paper-shell era.
Those 75-percent-plus patterns
one read about were largely shot
with typewriters! Nevertheless,
the 78 -ounce charge of the 3-inch 20
(one ounce after about 1925) would
have been almost as effective.
Unfortunately, many who wrote
about the early 3-inch 20 favored
No. 7 shot, saying that ducks ei-
ther came down dead or were
cleanly missed. This tells us with-
out a doubt that the birds were de-
coyed and fairly close. As for the
This old Parker 3-inch 20 (that has seen better days) is shown with a broken-down missed ducks, many werent
load of the period and a hand-crank roll crimper. missed but flew off to die. The
small shot sometimes didnt pen-
the long-chambered 20s considered ple fact that 118 ounces of chilled etrate deeply enough due to thick
extremely effective but also very No. 6s from a properly directed feathers or could not break heavy
sporting. Use of such a shotgun al- full-choke 16 gauge, or 114 ounces wing bones to bring ducks down
lowed a hunter to join the ranks of of the same from a full-choke 12, at the shot. The long 20 should
the crack duck shots who killed will kill every duck that ever flut- have died, but it didnt. Next time
40 to 50 birds per day. In fact, these tered into a decoy spread with we will see what it has become to-
specialty shotguns, which weighed head up and feet down at 25 to 40 day, and its not pretty.
from a half to over a pound more
than ordinary 20 bores and sported
30- or 32-inch barrels, were often
called duck club guns.
While the long 20 could in no
way be considered popular, it gen-
erated a steady interest. Most sur-
prising was the 1911 introduction
by the J. Stevens Arms Co. of its
Model 200 pump gun. This was the
first 20-gauge repeating shotgun,
and it was chambered for 3-inch
shells! By 1918 Remington was
listing the long 20s under Spe-
cial Shells ammunition, but no
specific loads were given. In 1922,
A.H. Fox Gun Co. shipped its first
20-gauge, 3-inch Super Fox dou-
ble, a heavy-framed, thick-bar-
reled model originally chambered
for 3-inch, 12-gauge shells. Fox re-
cords show these 20s could weigh
up to 814 pounds!
From all that can be deter-
mined, it appears there was a large
Look what I have that you dont!
factor. As for the duck shooting end
of it, I grew up a couple of miles
from the Mississippi River and had
shot my share of ducks both over
water and in cornfields. It is a sim-
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 17
WincHester 572
PROPELLANT PROFILES by R.H. VanDenburg, Jr.
W inchester powders once
covered the shotshell re-
loading scene like a blanket. Win-
soon gone. Winchester 540 and 571
remained in the lineup for another
decade before they were also
chester used in its feather series
of low noise/low recoil 12-gauge
ammunition. A decade later, WAA-
chester 296 served the .410 bore dropped. Interestingly, for years Lite was also gone. In the interim,
well. Everything else was ad- Hodgdon had offered both under Winchester added AutoComp, a
dressed with four powders; 452 its own label as HS-6 and HS-7, handgun powder specifically de-
and 473 were target powders for respectively. When Hodgdon de- veloped for semiautomatic pistol
the 12 and 20 gauges, and 540 and veloped Longshot, HS-7 was dis- cartridges. A review of the Pow-
571 were field powders covering continued and HS-6 remains as the der Usage chart in the Hodgdon
everything from the 12 to the 28 sole survivor of the original four. 2016 Annual Manual clearly shows
gauge. Around 2006, the Hodgdon a void in the Winchester lineup
About 1990 Winchester intro- Powder Company entered into an with no suitable powder for the 28
duced a new line of shotshell pow- agreement with Olin Industries gauge. Hodgdon, through its Win-
ders: Winchester Super Target (Winchesters parent company) to chester agreement, decided to fix
(WST), Super Lite (WSL) and Su- develop and market Winchester that shortcoming and has intro-
per Field (WSF). Super Target was powders and quickly introduced duced Winchester 572, a Clean,
intended to replace 452, and Super Winchester Super Handicap and Slow Burning Powder for Target
Field, 473. Both 452 and 473 were WAALite. The former is a high- loads in the 28 gauge and 20 gauge.
dropped. Super Lite never quite energy, 12-gauge target powder, Of greater interest here is that
gained acceptance, and it, too, was and the latter is the powder Win- W-572 is suitable for a wide range
of handgun cartridges from the .25
ACP to the .45 Colt.
Winchester 572 in fact, all the
powders mentioned are, or were,
manufactured by St. Marks Pow-
ders in Florida. Formerly an Olin
facility, it was spun off into a sep-
arate subsidiary, Primex Technol-
ogies, in 1997, and subsequently
became a part of defense giant
General Dynamics.
Winchester 572 is a double-base,
flattened ball powder with a nitro- pected to throw the same weights
glycerin content of 36 percent. It is of Winchester 572. Of course, pow-
a blend of granules of two different ders can vary from lot to lot in den-
sizes: 95 percent are a diameter of sity, and any selected charge must
.0469 inch; 5 percent are a diameter be verified on a scale to ascertain
of .0117 inch. In the Hodgdon 2017 its accuracy.
Annual Manual burn rate chart, When it came to testing Win-
Winchester 572 occupies a place chester 572 in a variety of handgun
between Ramshot True Blue and cartridges, I noted Hodgdon had
Accurate No. 5 on the faster side developed data for 14 cartridges Testing is usually done at seven
and HS-6 and AutoComp on the and could have included that many yards, and several powders, no-
slower. Its bulk density is .800 g/ more. I began with the diminutive tably Winchester 231, have served
cc. Interestingly, especially to shot- .25 ACP. I have to admit I enjoy admirably. With 572, I used a bit
shell reloaders, this density is the loading this cartridge but, alas, more powder and got a bit more
same as that of Hodgdons Long- not searching around for the spent velocity with about the same level
shot. This means that any bushing cases after a range session. Fortu- of accuracy. Two-inch or smaller
chart that lists Longshot can be ex- nately, a large supply was on hand. groups at seven yards impress but
hardly reflect the point of the car- Select Loads
tridge. The whole range of .32-cal-
iber cartridges is well suited for Winchester 572
W-572, Im assured by Hodgdon, cartridge bullet charge velocity
(grains) (grains) (fps)
but I was unable to try any this
time. My next cartridge was the .25 ACP 35 2.0 925
9mm Luger. Functioning and accu- 50 1.7 752
9mm Luger 115 5.5 1,169
racy were excellent with both 115-
125 4.9 1,102
and 125-grain hollowpoints from .38 Special 140 5.5 1,112
Speer and Sierra, respectively. 148 3.0 751*
Revolver cartridge testing be- .40 S&W 165 6.0 1,095
gan with the .38 Special. A Speer 180 5.5 989
140-grain hollowpoint and a cast 200 4.5 860
148-grain wadcutter once again re- .44 Special 240 6.0 863*
minded me why I like them so. A .45 ACP 200 6.5 894*
4-inch Ruger Security Six served 230 6.8 871
as the platform. Perhaps Win- .45 Colt 250 7.5 852*
chester 572 showed its best hand * cast bullet
Notes: The .25 ACP, 9mm Luger, .38 Special and
in the .40 S&W. With 165-, 180- .40 S&W loads used Federal 100 Small Pistol
and 200-grain bullets all Sier- primers. The .44 Special, .45 ACP and .45 Colt
ras performance was first-rate. loads used Federal 150 Large Pistol primers.
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for
The 180-grain JHP at 989 fps was errors in published load data. Listed loads are only valid
especially impressive. A Smith & in the test firearms used. Reduce initial powder charge by
10 percent and work up while watching for pressure signs.
Wesson Sigma handled everything
flawlessly. gave up considerable velocity to
In a custom Old Model Ruger Hodgdons 8-inch test tube, but 6
Blackhawk .44 Special, I again re- grains produced 863 fps. This is a
sorted to cast bullets a 240-grain modest load that is very accurate
Keith design. The 4 58 -inch barrel and can be counted on to handle
most handgun needs. Published
data include the .44 Magnum as
well, but it seemed to me a poor
pairing, so I moved on.
Another exceptionally fine
match for W-572 is the .45 ACP. A
starting load of 6.5 grains under
a 200-grain cast wadcutter pro-
duced a nice target/practice load.
A Hornady 230-grain Action Pistol
(HAP) bullet handled all the rest
in a Colt Government Model.
The final test included another
revolver cartridge. Data is listed for
the .45 Colt and a 714 -inch barrel.
My 434 -inch Colt Single Action per-
formed very well with a cast Keith-
style, 250-grain bullet. Although
Hodgdon lists data for the .45 Colt
in two categories standard (14,000
psi) and Ruger/Freedom Arms/TC
(30,000 psi) there are no W-572
loads listed in the latter category.
You may, of course, shoot the
lighter loads in stronger guns.
Looking back over all this, and
including the shotshell reloading
potential, I have to conclude that
572 is the most useful Winchester
powder to have been introduced
since those original four.
20 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
revolver cartridge
crimPing tiPs
FROM THE HIP by Brian Pearce
O btaining the correct crimp
on revolver cartridges is a
crucial part of producing top-
notch handloads. Unfortunately,
this is often misunderstood. Some-
times a crimp is applied exces-
sively, other times too lightly, but
often the type of crimp provided
by a given die is less than perfect
for the crimp groove or cannelure
of a particular bullet.
The crimp serves multiple pur- Hornady swaged lead bullets do not
poses in revolver cartridges. The feature a crimp groove, so the case is
Nosler Sporting Handgun revolver crimped into the bullet. A light to
two most important include pre- bullets feature a comparatively shallow medium roll crimp (shown) is often
venting bullets from walking out crimp cannelure that often gives sufficient. Using a taper crimp die has
of the cartridge case or what is excellent results when taper crimped. also proven to give outstanding results.
more commonly known as jump-
ing crimp when subjected to important part in obtaining cor- space on their rims, so the crimp
recoil, and it aids in obtaining cor- rect bullet pull, but that subject style, depth, etc., is subjective. Al-
rect powder ignition, which is es- must be discussed another day. though some cartridge, bullet and
pecially crucial when firing large Unlike most autoloading pis- die combinations will allow bul-
capacity magnum revolver car- tol cartridges, such as .45 ACP, lets to be seated and crimped in a
tridges with slow-burning, hard- .40 S&W, etc., that have a spec- single step, it is generally best to
to-ignite powders. Bullets that ified crimp measurement to al- seat bullets and apply the crimp as
jump crimp may inconveniently low the case mouth to maintain a separate step, which gives more
tie up a gun but can also pose a correct headspace control while uniform results, less bullet defor-
potentially dangerous situation. properly holding the bullet in mation and better accuracy.
Proper bullet-to-case fit is also an place, revolver cartridges head- Revolver cartridge dies gen-
erally come standard with a roll
Reloading Equipment, crimp, as most bullets cast and
Components, and Shooting jacketed are designed to receive
Accessories for a roll crimp. To apply uniform roll
Discriminating Shooters crimps, it is best to use cases that
See our Facebook Page for Specials! are of one lot number and are of the
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Brass: Reloading Manuals and will vary, which adversely affects
Hornady, Lapua, Norma, Nosler, Remington, Starline, Firearms Related Books:
and Winchester. Barnes, Berger, Hornady, Lyman, Nosler, Sierra,
extreme spreads and accuracy.
Bullets: Speer, and Swift reloading manuals. Ballistics Soft- I prefer to seat the bullet so that
Barnes, Berger, Hornady, Lapua, Nosler, Sierra, ware. Books and DVDs related to firearms. the case mouth is near the top of
Speer, and Swift. Reloading Dies and Tools:
C&H 4D Tool Co., Forster, Harrell Powder Measures,
the bullets cannelure, with only
Chronographs and Shot Timers:
Competitive Dynamics, Competition Electronics, Hornady, K&M, Little Crow Gunworks, Lyman, RCBS, about 10 to 20 percent (around .005
Magnetospeed, and Shooting Chrony. Redding, Satern Funnels, Sinclair and L.E. Wilson. to .010 inch) of it being exposed,
Maintenance Products: Reloading Presses:
Dillon, Forster, Harrell, Hornady, K&M, Lyman, RCBS
then apply the roll crimp. Gener-
Ballistol, Barnes, Birchwood-Casey, Bore Tech.,
Break Free, Dewey, Flitz, Forster, Hoppes, Kroil, and Redding. ally speaking the case is crimped
Lyman, MTM, Pro Shot, Remington, Rig, Shooters Shooting Accessories: into the cannelure (for jacketed
Choice, Sharp Shoot-RTM, Slip 2000, Tipton, and 3M/Peltor, Caldwell, Dillon, Howard Leight, MTM and
Wheeler Engineering. Protektor Bags.
bullets) as deeply as it will al-
low, without damaging or deform-
Gunstop Reloading Supplies, Inc. For Our Current Catalog: ing the bullet. It should be noted
14704 Excelsior Blvd. Minnetonka, MN 55345 Call: 1-800-645-7644 or Fax: 952-767-3040
that not all dies are the same, and
1-800-645-7644 Download a copy at www.gunstop.com
Mon.- Fri. 9am to 6pm, Sat. 9am to 4pm Central Time E-mail: reloading@gunstop.com many provide a less-than-perfect
crimp with a given bullet.
22 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
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HOCH CUSTOM BULLET MOULDS

This .357 Magnum cartridge is loaded


with a Speer 158-grain Gold Dot HP Lyman offers a Pistol 4 Die Set that
Tool room quality, nose-pour, and is crimped using an RCBS roll-crimp includes both a roll-crimp and taper-
most standard or custom designs die with chamfer-style neck-down. crimp die for revolver cartridges.
made to order. Cylindrical
(straight) or tapered. Rifle & Most cast bullets usually fea- top of the crimp groove, then ap-
pistol designs available.
ture a fairly deep crimp groove. ply a roll crimp that presses the
COLORADO SHOOTERS SUPPLY With the case mouth flared just case mouth fully into the bottom
Shop 575-627-1933 Home 575-627-6156
910 N. Delaware Roswell, NM 88201 enough to prevent shaving bullets of the groove. Again, do not apply
davefarmer@hochmoulds.com as they are seated, seat them un- such a heavy crimp that the bullet
www.hochmoulds.com til the case mouth is even with the is damaged, or accuracy will de-
teriorate.
In addition to the traditional
www.
Rim Rock Bullets .net radius roll crimp, the chamfer
style roll crimp die has become
Top Shelf Cast Lead Bullets popular when handloading heavy
recoiling magnum revolver car-
tridges. This die, as produced by
RCBS, will provide the traditional
Cowboy Standard Gas-Check roll crimp, but when used in con-
.25 85 GR. RNFP/500 $28.00 .32 Keith125 GR. SWC /500 $46.00 .38 158 GR. SWC-HP/100 $21.50 junction with bullets featuring
.32 78 GR. RNFP/500 $25.00 .380 95 GR. RN /500 $30.00 .357 180 GR. LBT-WFN/100 $24.00 a wide, square-bottomed, deep
.38 120 GR. TC /500 $32.00 9mm 115 GR. RN /500 $31.50 .41 230 GR. SWC /100 $26.00
.38 125 GR. RNFP/500 $33.00 9mm 125 GR. RN /500 $33.00 .44 240 GR. SWC-HP /100 $32.00 crimp cannelure or crimp groove
.38 130 GR. RNFP/500 $34.00 .38 148 GR. DEWC/500 $34.50 .44 240 GR. SWC /100 $32.00 that is at least .060 inch wide, it
.38-40 180 GR. RNFP/500 $42.00 .38 158 GR. SWC /500 $36.00 .44 305 GR. LBT-WFN/100 $39.00
.44-40 180 GR. RNFP/500 $42.00 .40 180 GR. RNFP /500 $41.00 .45LC 260 GR. SWC-HP/100 $37.00 will produce a neck-down style
.45LC 160 GR. RNFP/500 $44.00 .45ACP 200 GR. SWC /500 $42.50 .45LC 325 GR. LBT-LWN/100 $41.00 crimp for maximum bullet hold.
.45LC 200 GR. RNFP/500 $44.50 .45ACP 230 GR. RN /500 $46.00 .458 430 GR. LBT-LWN/100 $49.00
.458 350 GR. RNFP/100 $26.00 .45LC 255 GR. SWC /500 $55.00 .500 440 GR. LBT-WFN/100 $61.00
This die was first developed spe-
cifically for the .454 Casull around
Prices subject to change without notice. 1983 by Dick Casull but has been
This is a good cross reference of the bullets we offer. We have about 144 sets of molds with new molds coming.
Sixteen employees working 10 hr. a day shifts 4 days a week with 9 casters, 6 auto lubers and 12 star lubers expanded to include other cali-
gas checking every day. bers.
We have bullets made with five different alloys that we order 40,000 - 60,000 lbs at a time a mixed per our
set alloys. Taper crimp dies are generally
Now in our new state-of-the-art 12,000 square foot facility! used in conjunction with auto-
Our Online Catalog Has Over 100 Different Bullets! loading pistol cartridges, but they
Everything is in stock are also popular for revolver car-
Specialty Sizing Available tridges and rank high in die sales.
Brinell Hardness from 4-22
RCBS and Lyman offer them indi-
Rim Rock Bullets vidually; Lyman also offers them
35675 Minesinger Trail Polson, MT 59860 as a part of its four-die revolver
(406) 883-1899 Mon-Thurs, 8:00-5:00 p.m. MST sets, along with a roll crimp die.
sales@rimrockbullets.net Some bullet designs yield best re-
sults when taper crimped. For ex-
24 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
ample, a classic cast bullet for the Gas Checked & Plain Base Match Grade Cast Bullets We supply all of CorBons
.45 Colt is Lyman 452190, which Everything from 7mm to .500 S&W, 20-22 BHN cast bullets!
has no crimp cannelure. After Real Keith Bullets - .357, .41, .44 & .45
seating bullets to the correct 440, 465 & 500 Gr. in .500 S&W, .460 S&W - 395 Gr.
overall cartridge length of around 349 NW 100 St. St. John, KS 67576
Tel: 620-549-6475
1.580 to not over 1.600 inches, a Website: www.proshootpro.com
taper crimp can be applied over
the bullets ogives. Many swaged
lead bullets from companies like
Hornady and Speer do not have a
Rifle Tang Peep Sight
Adjustable for Windage and Elevation
Rifledjag.com
crimp groove cannelure, so they Fits Most Lever-Action Rifles The best barrel grooves
must have the case crimped into Blued Steel Finish cleaning tool
the bullet. Since most swaged- Made in the U.S.A.
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lead bullets are intended for tar-
get and midrange velocities, they
are usually loaded in conjunction
with fast-burning, easy-to-ignite
powders, so a heavy crimp is not
required, as it will cause exces-
sive bullet deformation and loss
of accuracy. A light to medium ta-
per crimp is generally adequate
to hold the bullet, obtain reliable
powder ignition and produce accu-
rate handloads.
Many of the new plated bullets
feature a very shallow crimp can-
nelure (and in some instances,
no cannelure) that are best taper
crimped. It is also noteworthy to
mention that Nosler offers out-
standing cup-and-core revolver
bullets, such as the Sporting
Handgun .38-caliber 158 grain in
JSP and JHP configurations, the
.44-caliber, 240-grain JSP and
JHP and several others. Their
crimp cannelures are compara-
tively shallow. Here too, applying
a taper crimp prevents bullet de-
formation while still allowing it to
be held firmly enough to prevent it
jumping crimp in .357 and .44 Mag-
num loads. The correct amount of
taper crimp will vary, but usually
when loading these bullets in mag-
num cartridges, it is best to apply
as much as possible without dam-
age to the bullet.
Because dies vary as to the
crimp profile that they produce,
even from the same manufac-
turer, I keep several seat/crimp
dies on hand for each caliber, and
then match the best crimp profile
to a given bullet. It should also be
noted that cases vary in thickness,
so dies will need to be adjusted
when changing case manufacturer
to maintain uniformity.
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 25
.44 sPecial
MIKES SHOOTIN SHACK by Mike Venturino
A s with thousands of hand-
gunners and handloaders of
my generation, Skeeter Skelton
was a great and good influence
on me. He was responsible for my
interest in the .44 Special and the
several dozen revolvers so cham-
bered that I have owned over the
past 40 years. Unlike most .44 Spe-
cial fans, however, I thought my
way out of the .44 Special box.
Saying that doesnt mean Im
After owning dozens of .44 Special
anti-.44 Special, only that I pre- revolvers, Mikes two current examples
fer .44-40 single actions and .45 are Smith & Wesson Hand Ejectors.
Auto-Rim double actions. An S&W Left is a 1st Model Target (Triplelock)
Hand-Ejector 1st Model Target and right is a 2nd Model fixed sight.
(Triplelock) and an S&W fixed-
sight Hand-Ejector 2nd Model are group averages than a select few has used the same barrel interior
still in my vault. Both have 612 - Colt SAA .44-40s and most of the .45 dimensions for .44 Russian and
inch barrels. Also, there is a .44 Auto-Rim DAs of my experience. To then .44 Special as for the .44-40,
Special cylinder that has been fit- be fair, however, revolver precision i.e., .427-inch grooves. Yet Ive ac-
ted to two of my Colt SAA .44-40s. is more a function of matching bar- tually measured cylinder chamber
Ive owned samples of all pre-1966 rel/cylinder dimensions than traits mouths as large as .435 inch in 3rd
S&W .44 Specials, most post-1966 of individual cartridges. Generation Colt SAAs.
versions and every barrel length of Allow me to give an example: In times past I would have bet
Colt SAA .44 Specials from 3 to 712 My favorite Colt SAA .44-40s are cash that the .44 Special was never
inches of both 2nd and 3rd Genera- a brace of 1873/1973 Peacemaker factory loaded with black powder.
tion manufacture. Plus Taurus and Centennials. Their barrel groove I would have lost. Dave Scovill
Charter Arms five-shooters have diameters are .427 inch and their convinced me with hard evidence
been here for evaluation. chamber mouth diameters are in the form of a 1916 (as I remem-
In machine-rest testing, starting .428/.429 inch as measured with ber) Winchester ammunition cata-
in 1973, not one of those .44 Spe- plug gauges. A little known fact log. The black-powder charge was
cials has delivered better 25-yard is that since the early 1900s Colt 26 grains. Without having tried
it, I think those finely fitted S&W
Hand-Ejector .44 Special revolvers
When .44 Special handloads might would have bound up quickly with
be used in leverguns, Lymans black-powder fouling.
mould 429667 is a good choice, What I still think concerning
shown here loaded (left to right): .44 Special factory loads is that
.44 Russian, .44 Special and with their 246-grain roundnose
.44 Magnum.
bullets, factory velocities should
have been about 100 fps faster,
say around 850 to 870 fps. Such
would have been well within the
strength limitations of Colt and
S&W revolvers.
What I do not think .44 Special
shooters should do is copy any of
Elmer Keiths old loads from pre-
.44 Magnum days. Remember, his
(Continued on page 71)

26 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


.257 Wildcat
WILDCAT CARTRIDGES by Richard Mann
A new wildcat cartridge is ob-
tained by altering the case of
an existing standardized or wild-
cat cartridge. Its a fact most wild-
cat cartridges are more work than
theyre worth, but as long as the me-
tallic cartridge case exists, hand-
loaders will be wildcatting. Those
riflemen who consider the endeavor
pointless or nothing more than an CARTRIDGE A B C D E F G H
effort to answer questions that .250-3000 AI 0.473 0.467 0.445 0.286 1.91 2.52 0.238 40
have not been asked have no soul. 6.5 Creedmoor 0.473 0.4703 0.462 0.295 1.92 2.825 0.285 30
A wildcat cartridge may not
.257 Wildcat 0.473 0.4703 0.462 0.283 1.92 2.825 0.285 30
need to be justified, but it should
RIM BASE SHOULDER NECK CASE OAL NECK (length) ANGLE
have a purpose. Two years ago, I
had to spend way too many hours Now a commercial cartridge, perfectly suited to varmints and
in a pickup truck with Hornadys the .257 Roberts was one of the all but dangerous big game some-
Neal Emery on a ride back from most iconic and useful wildcat thing the 6.5 Creedmoor is not.
a Montana deer hunt. Somewhere hunting cartridges of all time. Though a short-action cartridge,
between Rapid City and Sioux Though originally designed by some argue the Roberts needs a
Falls, during discussions of poli- Ned Roberts for long-range var- long action to take advantage of
tics and women, we decided neck- mint shooting, the Bob, as its higher BC bullets while maximiz-
ing the 6.5 Creedmoor to .257 was often called, has morphed into a ing case capacity. Ive owned and
a great idea. There was purpose both-ways cartridge. With bullets loaded for more than a half-dozen
and justification. ranging from 70 to 120 grains, its Bobs. Those that shot fast didnt
shoot well; those that shot well
.257 Wildcat Select Loads were kind of slow. I just gave up
overall and sold them all.
loaded Of course, theres the similarly
bullet powder charge length velocity group
(grains) (grains) (inches) (fps) (inches) iconic .250 Savage. Handloading
70 Sierra BlitzKing CFE 223 46.5 2.539 3,519 0.74 can improve on anemic factory
75 Sierra Varminter CFE 223 46.0 2.442 3,506 0.88 load performance, and as accurate
85 Lehigh Chaos CFE 223 44.0 2.631 3,342 0.66 as .250-3000 rifles tend to be, they
85 Nosler Ballistic Tip CFE 223 44.5 2.621 3,291 1.10 cannot match the Bob ballistically.
90 Hornady GMX IMR-4451 48.0 2.780 3,255 1.00 The .250-3000 Ackley Improved
100 Swift Scirocco II CFE 223 42.5 2.687 3,144 1.62 (AI) is a faster and maybe a bet-
IMR-4166 40.7 2.687 3,031 0.89 ter option than both, but who has
100 Hornady InterLock CFE 223 42.5 2.639 3,078 0.82 time to fireform cases? If scream-
IMR-4166 40.5 2.639 3,007 1.19 ing .25s are your elixer of choice
100 Nosler Partition IMR-4451 46.0 2.668 3,069 0.99 .25s need high velocity to shoot
110 Nosler AccuBond CFE 223 41.0 2.658 2,926 0.67 flat, because even the best .25-cal-
IMR-4166 39.7 2.833 2,950 1.74 iber bullets have deplorable ballis-
115 Berger VLD Hunting IMR-4166 40.0 2.780 2,950 1.55 tic coefficients (BCs) the .25-06
IMR-4451 44.5 2.780 2,912 0.54 Remington and .257 Weatherby
117 Hornady SST IMR-4451 44.5 2.740 2,917 0.68 Magnum (both former wildcats)
120 Speer DeepCurl IMR-4451 43.7 2.705 2,820 1.83 are the answer. Both, however, re-
Notes: All loads used necked-down Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor brass and Remington 912 primers and were quire a long action.
shot from a Remington 700 with a 24-inch Proof Research carbon-fiber wrapped barrel. Velocities were re- By necking the 6.5 Creedmoor to
corded 10 feet from the muzzle with a PACT Professional Chronograph XP. Accuracy is the average of three,
three-shot groups fired at 100 yards from a sandbag rest. .257, all the things that are wrong
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data. Listed loads are only valid in the test firearms with the Roberts, the Savage
used. Reduce initial powder charge by 10 percent and work up while watching for pressure signs.
and the long .25s are eliminated,
28 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
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One of the most promising loads in the


.257 Wildcat was the 90-grain GMX.
With the combination of its high
velocity and moderately high BC for
a .257-caliber bullet this should make
a great big-game load.

essentially creating an easily made


and faster .250-3000 AI. It feeds
off modern brass designed for a
cartridge intended to operate at
62,000 psi in a short action. The
conversion is so simple even a hill-
billy like me can do it, if he has
some smart guy to help.
The first step is a chamber
reamer. I contacted fellow West
Virginian Mike Cyrus, a talented
wildcatter; his .500 Cyrus wild-
cat was featured in the last is-
sue. We discussed reamer design,
and Mike called on Dave Manson
(www.mansonreamers.com) to help
us. Daves instructions were sim-
ple: do nothing but reduce the neck
size from 0.264 to 0.257 inch. Dave
did this and wisely applied a 0.225-
inch long freebore of only .005
more than bullet diameter, with a
1.5-degree lead. This is the same
formula Melvin Forbes at New Ul-
tra Light Arms has been using for
more than 30 years to make his
rifles shoot so well.
Reloading dies were easy. Since
the only dimensional change was
neck diameter, standard 6.5 Creed-
moor bushing dies were used with
a smaller bushing. Hornady sup-
plied the dies but does not offer
the correct size bushing. After
some calculations, a bushing size
that would reduce outside neck
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 29
VICKERMAN High Plains
Reboring & Barrels, L.L.C.
Inline Window
Seating Die Offering Button and
For Extremely Cut-Rifled Barrels.
Accurate Seating Most calibers and twist rates
Some AR-15 barrels available
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P.O. Box 25 Dayton, WA 99328 nrjonsn@westriv.com
Phone: 701-448-9188
509-382-4159 243 14th Avenue NW
vickermandies.com Turtle Lake, ND 58575

Montana Bullet Works


Large Selection of Handgun and Rifle Calibers
for the Serious Handloader
Various Alloy and Hardness Options
Premium Hand-Cast Bullets
Montana Bullet Works
With the exception of the neck, the
P.O. Box 1109 Bonner, MT 59823 6.5 Creedmoor and the .257 Wildcat
www.MontanaBulletWorks.com (right) are identical cartridges. They
are almost indistinguishable.
Bruce@MontanaBulletWorks.com diameter to 0.278 inch and the in-
side to 0.254 inch was settled on.
We then did what hillbillies do;
we made our own. To make .257
Get Trim . . . Wildcat brass, simply size new or
fired 6.5 Creedmoor brass using
. . .with the a 0.278-inch neck bushing. Thats
all, thats it, youre done! Redding
Worlds Finest Trimmer offers neck bushings in .0010-inch
6593 113th Ave. NE, Suite C The WFT is designed for increments from 0.27 to 0.28 inch.
Spicer, MN 56288 trimming bottle-neck (Rumor has it theyll work in Hor-
Tel: (320) 796-0530 cartridges powered by nady dies.)
info@littlecrowgunworks.com your hand held drill. For a barreled action, I started
The Original WFT
with a new Remington 700 Magpul
Single caliber trimmer (3/8 shaft) and installed a Timney two-stage
available for .17 through .338
calibers. $69.95
trigger. Then a 24-inch Sendero-
The WFT2
profiled barrel was ordered from
Interchangeable caliber trimmer Montana-based Proof Research
(1/2 shaft) available for .17
through .45 calibers.
(www.proofresearch.com) with a
Housing Assembly - $69.95 one-in-9-inch twist rate. The car-
Chambers sold separately - $24.95
bon fiber Proof barrel was used
The Big Boy WFT
50 BMG model also available to keep weight down, and the
We currently manufacture more
twist rate would stabilize all cur-
than 150 different calibers rent .257-caliber bullets. With a
WFT provides accurate
Starting at calculator and lathe, Jerry Dove
and consistent results,
of Dove Custom Guns (www.dove
GUARANTEED!
After a dozen cases you
$69.95 guns.com) is sort of a metal magi-
should be an expert! cian. He installed, chambered and
Visit our website correctly headspaced the Proof
www.littlecrowgunworks.com barrel.
to order and view video demonstrations,
Since the new cartridge has
instructions and additional products. about 4 percent more case capac-
ity than the .250-3000 AI, max-
30 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
imum loads for that cartridge
tempered by and extrapolated
high BC .257-caliber bullets avail-
able, the Creedmoor name, and ROCKDock
from 6.5 Creedmoor data seemed the long distance performance it Reloading Bench Docking
like the logical place to start. evokes, doesnt seem appropriate. Mount System
Given theres already a good After all, like all quarter-bores, Checkmaker
Gas Check Forming
collection of .250-3000 AI data this cartridge is really a hunting Dies
with contemporary powders, I cartridge. Wanting to highlight
that and respect the fellow West Patmarlins
wanted to load this new cartridge
with newer powders. A Hornady Virginians who helped make it Patmarlins.com
100-grain Spire Point and Hodg- possible, I tossed a few names
dons CFE 223 propellant were the
starting point. Hodgdon lists 43.4
around; .257 Mountaineer and .250
Hillbilly were favorites, but both
RGB BULLET CO.
Quality Hard-Cast Bullets
grains as a maximum 100-grain sounded a bit hokey. So did most
BHN 5-22
bullet load in the 6.5 Creedmoor, other suggestions offered on so-
Large Selection
with a velocity of 3,200 fps. With cial media. So it is simply called of Pistol & Rifle
42.5 grains, I was pushing 3,100 the .257 Wildcat one of the eas- Bullets
fps. I switched to a Swift 100-grain iest wildcat cartridges to make Custom Sizing
Scirocco II and got 3,150 fps. There and load. on Request
were no signs of excessive pres- The $1,000 question is whether Next-Day Shipping on Most Orders
sure with either load, and brass Hornady will add a .257 to its 6mm PO Box 130 - Littlerock, CA 93543
Tel: 661-998-3164
could be loaded three times before and 6.5mm Creedmoor line. www.rgbbullets.com
it needed to be trimmed.
From there I worked down and
up in bullet weight with powder
charge increases and decreases.
I found it easy to approach or
achieve .250-3000 AI velocities
with no flattened primers or ejec-
tor marks, and empties slipped
out effortlessly. CFE 223 produced
good velocity and reasonably good
accuracy, but standard velocity de-
viations were higher than I liked.
IMR Enduron 4166 and 4551 pow-
ders filled cases fuller and turned
in more consistent velocities;
44.5 grains of IMR-4451 behind
a Berger 115-grain VLD Hunting
bullet produced the best accuracy
and most consistent velocities of SHOOTING CHRONY
any load tested. The
Keep in mind, I did not work For Precise Ammo
Velocity Measurement Greatest
up loads, I just tried them all
Choose from 10 Models
with Remington 912 primers. Its
For Rifles, Handguns, Archery, Bang for
still too early to tell what the best
powder for this cartridge might
Shotguns, Airguns & Paintballs Your Buck!
MSRP: $107.95 to $220.95
be, though I suspect IMR-4451, We Accept Trade-ins
which is similar in burn rate to
IMR-4350, will be close to ideal. SHOOTING CHRONY, INC.
Im also confident that with a bit 3840 E. Robinson Rd. PMB #298
Amherst, NY 14228
of load tweaking and a bit more e-mail: chrony@shootingchrony.com
powder experimentation, groups 1-800-385-3161
will shrink and velocities will not WWW.SHOOTINGCHRONY.COM
be far behind actual not pub-
lished factory .25-06 Remington
ammunition.
Though technically a .25 Creed-
moor, this cartridge is really much If it doesnt unfold ...
easier to make than an improved its not a Chrony!
.250-3000 AI. With no extremely
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 31
Terry Wieland

O
n June 26, 1959, Swedens
Ingemar Johansson demol-
ished Floyd Patterson in
the third round of their first
heavyweight title fight in New York.
Johanssons main weapon in fact,
his only one was a devastating right
hand that boxing writers called the
Hammer of Thor.
By coincidence, in that same year, Norma Projek-
tilfabrik of Sweden introduced its own heavyweight
champion, the .358 Norma Magnum. For the next year,
comparisons were inevitable between Johanssons
Hammer of Thor and the .358s powerful 250-grain
bullet. As it turned out, having a great punch was not
enough for either one. Theres more to success than
merely landing a good one on the chin.
In Johanssons case, disdain for serious training
left him vulnerable when the superbly conditioned
Patterson came back a year later, gave him a dazzling
boxing lesson and reclaimed the title. Meanwhile,
the .358 Norma fizzled, for lack of a better term, be-
cause rifles were not readily available, ammunition
was expensive and hard to get, and it found itself in
direct competition with one of the great American
cartridges of the twentieth century, Winchesters .338
Magnum. In cartridges, as in boxing, what goes on be-
hind the scenes often determines the outcome.
In its early years of attempting Its now almost 60 years since the .358 Norma Mag-
to crack the American market, num came on the scene 60 years in which one writer
Norma marked its brass Re to
after another has sung its praises and bemoaned its
show it was not Berdan-primed
and so could be reloaded. fate. It hangs on, having established itself in various
small niches (the moose-hunting Yukon Territory, for
example) and with a handful of devotees, but with-
out ever gaining the status of a standard like the .375
H&H or .338 Winchester Magnum its two main com-
petitors through the years.

THE
HEAVYWEIGHT
.358 Norma
32 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
A Magnum Cartridge That Pulls No Punch
In any mass-production rifle, either the .375 or .338, Alas, to the best of my knowledge, its not imported
or both, will be found as a standard chambering. Not to the U.S.
so the .358 Norma. Today, it is strictly a custom prop- This raises the obvious question: Why, with so
osition unless one of the original rifles chambered for many modern cartridges around of more or less
it can be found. These were, primarily, the Schultz equal power, chambered in readily available rifles, is
& Larsen (Denmark), the Husqvarna (Sweden) and a there this lingering interest in, and loyalty to, the .358
few Browning High Powers made by FN in Belgium. Norma? What keeps it alive?
This list gives some idea of the .358 Normas status There are several reasons. First, it will do every-
today: Those rifles rarely seem to come on the mar- thing the .338 will, and a bit more. At the same time, it
ket. The fortunate few who own them want to keep will do almost everything the .375 will but with vastly
them, and these are the core admirers who make it more versatility. For the handloader, as the accompa-
worth Normas while to continue offering brass and nying table demonstrates, the .358 Norma Magnum
loaded ammunition. provides an almost unbelievable range of possibili-
Its also worth noting that, in spite of its relative ties, from loads light enough for gallery shooting to
obscurity, the cartridge appears in many of the most heavy enough for anything but elephant.
recent loading manuals, including Normas own, a Unlike either the .338 or .375, the .35 (.358-inch)
worthwhile addition to anyones reloading library. In has been a standard American caliber since 1900.
the entry on the .358 Norma, it maintains that, had From the .35 Winchester (1903), .35 Remington (1906)
Norma convinced a major American riflemaker to and .351 Winchester Self-Loading (1907) to the later
offer the chambering in the early years, it could .358 Winchester (1955) and .350 Remington Magnum
have become one of the greats. It also notes that (1965), there has always been at least one .35-caliber
the reconstituted Schultz & Larsen company is offer- cartridge in use. Griffin & Howe developed the semi-
ing the chambering in its Model 97 takedown rifle. wildcat .350 G&H based on the .375 H&H case, as well
as pioneering the .35 Whelen.
The nearest of any to the .358 Norma was the .35
Newton, which it closely resembles. Throw a belt on
the .35 Newton and you couldnt tell the difference
three feet away. The Newton was supposedly loaded,
by Western Cartridge, to 2,975 fps with a 250-grain
bullet, but I, for one, would want to see the chrono-
graph reading. An earlier Western Cartridge load de-
livered 2,660 fps, which I suspect is closer to the truth.

Left, Normas original spec sheet for the .358 Norma Magnum
when it was released in 1959 indicated the cartridges ballis-
tics. Below is a sampling of .35-caliber cast bullets offered by
Lyman/Ideal in the first half of the twentieth century. Over
the years, Lyman listed 47 different .358-caliber moulds
ranging in bullet weight from 70 to 282 grains.

April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 33


THE
HEAVYWEIGHT 1 2 3 1 2 3

.358 Norma
Either way, the Newton is the un-
belted twin of the .358 Norma.
As a result of all this activ-
ity, .358-inch diameter jacketed
rifle bullets are available in a
wide range of weights and styles,
from 150-grain semipointed to
200- grain roundnose, all the way
up to 310 grains for the heaviest
game. Not only that, many differ-
ent bullet moulds were made for
casting .358 bullets in some of
the most fanciful shapes. Lyman
lists 47 different moulds that were
available at one time or another,
ranging in bullet weight from 70
to 282 grains. Most were intended
for .38-caliber handguns, but any
bullet made for either the .38 Spe- Three rivals: (1) .338 Winchester From left: (1) .35 Remington, (2) .358
cial or .357 Magnum can be loaded Magnum, (2) .358 Norma Magnum Winchester and (3) .358 Norma Magnum.
and (3) .375 H&H. Of the three, only The .358 Norma can be loaded down to
and shot in the .358 Norma Mag-
the .358 Norma has not become a duplicate the performance of either of
num with varying degrees of suc- standard chambering. the two smaller cartridges.
cess. The better ones create mild
gallery or small-game loads that inch diameter bullets are a gold Although Norma failed in its
are economical, quiet, virtually mine. None of this can be said for attempts to have the .358 cham-
without recoil and best of all a either the .338 Winchester Mag- bered in an American rifle, it tried
lot of fun to shoot. num or the .375 H&H. In both car- to interest gunsmiths and shooters
For anyone with an experimen- tridges, versatility is limited more by providing complete specifica-
tal or fanciful turn of mind, the by the narrow range of bullets tions, as well as chamber ream-
.358 Norma and the many .358- available than by any other factor. ers, dummy cartridges and all the
wherewithal to produce custom
The .358 Norma established rifles. This succeeded, but only
its reputation in high-end
hunting rifles like this Schultz
to a degree, and provided a good
& Larsen Model 65DL. object lesson for future cartridge
designers.
The first time I ever hunted with
a .358 Norma Magnum, it was a
custom rifle built on a Mauser
Mark X action. I took it to Texas in
1989 and decked a nilgai at about
90 yards. The bullet went in be-
hind the near shoulder, struck the
far shoulder from the inside, and
the blue bull hit the ground with
a thud. It never got up. The guide
professed to be dumbstruck: I
never saw a nilgai knocked down
like that, he said, And we use
some big rifles here!
The bullet was the then-new
Trophy Bonded 250-grain Bear
Claw. As an experiment, I shot
the nilgai five or six more times
with different bullets, then hauled
Handloader 307
nosed bullets intended for the .35
Remington, and these fit a wide
range of uses.
With such a variety of bullets,
you would think the skys the limit
in terms of different loads, but
there are other factors to consider.
The major problem with light
loads is getting enough pressure to
provide a good gas seal. Powders
such as IMRs Trail Boss, Accu-
rates 5744 and IMRs discontin-
ued SR-4759 all work with lighter
bullets, and sometimes accuracy
is very good, even if the gas seal
is not. Since lack of a gas seal in
a low-pressure load is more of a
nuisance than a danger, it can be
ignored if you dont mind the soot.
With cast bullets, A-5744 and
Trail Boss are usually the best
choices, although H-4895 is a
good powder for midvelocity hunt-
1 2 3 4 5 ing loads. Any listing you find for
A cross-section of loads for the .358 Norma Magnum include the (1) Sierra H-4895 can be modified by loading
125-grain JHP, (2) Sierra 170 FMJ, (3) Speer 180, (4) 200-grain cast bullet and a only 60 percent of the published
(5) Sierra 200 roundnose. minimum to create some very
comfortable loads. From there,
the carcass back to the cleaning loads, turns the .358 Norma Mag- you can work up until you find a
station intact and carried out a num into a pussycat for recoil load that gives you the accuracy
necropsy. Of the bullets used, sev- but is easily capable of handling and velocity you want. The H-4895
eral performed extremely well, game such as black bears and load given in the table is not from
including the Bear Claw and a white-tailed deer out to 250 yards any manual but was worked up
Nosler 250-grain Partition. The or so. It can be the ballistic equiv- with the assistance of Hodgdon
Norma factory load, with Normas alent of the .30-06 with a 180-grain ballistician Ron Reiber.
own 250-grain bullet, performed bullet or, pushed the other way, it Its safe to say that of all the
poorly, coming apart in the chest can easily match the velocity of .358 Norma Magnum rifles in ex-
cavity. It was recovered in bits the .300 Weatherby Magnum with istence, there are more custom
and pieces. This was not the fac- the same weight bullet. Sierras than factory ones, and this makes
tory bullet from the 1960s, with 225-grain spitzer boat-tail, de- it tricky to load for in another way.
its mild-steel jacket, but a later signed for the .35 Whelen, is a stel- Original Schultz & Larsens had
one. How it would have done on lar performer in the .358 Norma. substantial freebore to keep pres-
a live animal is impossible to say. As well, most bullet manufactur- sures down, and Normas specifi-
Todays Norma factory ammuni- ers produce soft, 200-grain round- cations for the cartridge called for
tion is loaded with the companys
excellent bonded-core 250-grain
Oryx.
Among my own favorites for the
PMA Micro Die Adjuster
.358 Norma are the Nosler Parti-
tions in both 225 and 250 grains,
We wont say its the
Swift A-Frames (225, 250, 280) and
various Woodleighs, including the best thing to happen
unique 310-grain Weldcore. Any of to reloading . . . but
these will handle just about any you might!
big game one might hunt with a
.358 Norma, where you want to em-
ploy its ample knockdown power. PMA Tool Innovative Reloading
For more specialized uses, 260.246.5860 Equipment for the
Speer makes a 180-grain flatpoint www.pmatool.com Accurate Rifleman
(semispitzer) that, with reduced
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 35
HEAVYWEIGHT .358 Norma
.358 Norma Magnum Select Loads
extreme
bullet powder charge velocity spread
(grains) (grains) (fps) (fps)

1. 125 Sierra JHP A-5744 30 1,717 123


1*. Trail Boss 19 1,839 31
2. 158 Speer JHP SR-4759 32 2,031 65
3. 170 Sierra FMJ SR-4759 30 1,800 143
A historical volume 4. 180 Speer FP H-4895 70 3,076 7
documenting the
ammunition reloading 75 3,294 8
equipment by the
Herters Corporation 5. 200 cast w/gas check Unique 18 1,679 2
of Waseca, Minnesota. 6. 200 Sierra roundnose H-4895 42 1,809 247
Contains photos of the
presses, shellholders, 48 2,063 35
dies and much more. 54 2,255 60
Softbound, 73 pages.
$19.95 7. 225 Sierra SBT H-4895 66 2,787 82
Contact Ed Sager:
HERTERSPECIALST@AOL.COM
8. 225 Nosler Partition IMR-4350 76 2,758 43
9. 250 Norma Oryx IMR-4350 77 2,765 26
10. 280 Swift A-Frame RL-19 70 2,455 13
Notes: A Schultz & Larsen Model 65DL .358 Norma Magnum with a 23-inch barrel and open sights was
used to test-fire all loads. Loads 1 through 6 used Federal 210M (large rifle) primers, while loads 1* and 7
through 10, used Federal 215M (large rifle magnum) primers.
Further details regarding the above loads are as follows:
1. Starting load developed using Accurate Arms formula for determining light loads with A-5744.
1*. Very accurate out to 100 yards.
2. The Speer 158- and Sierra 125-grain JHPs can be driven to higher velocities, but neither is intended for
higher than magnum handgun velocities.
3. Intended for handgun competition, but in the .358 Norma, it would make a good load for fur-bearing an-
imals. Alternatively, it is just fun to shoot.
4. The Speer 180 FP was intended for .35 Remington rifles with tubular magazines. In the .358 Norma, it can
be loaded to very high velocities and delivers remarkable consistency and excellent accuracy. The starting
load was taken from Speer Manual No. 7.
5. Strictly a starting load that delivered erratic accuracy.
6. A .35 Remington bullet. Between 48 and 54 grains of H-4895, one should be able to find an accurate .35
Remington duplication load.
7. This bullet was developed by Sierra specifically for the .35 Whelen. It is extremely accurate.
8. Excellent long-range load.
9. Duplicates Normas factory ammunition with no adverse pressure signs.
10. Moves the .358 Norma into the heavyweight division.
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data. Listed loads are only valid in the test firearms
used. Reduce initial powder charge by 10 percent and work up while watching for pressure signs.

it. That does not mean that any terward. Frankly, I would not want
gunsmith who had his own ideas to be without them. Being able to
about velocity and accuracy might take off the scope and work with
not include it or go completely the iron sights, using cast bullets or
other way. For this reason, any- light jacketed bullets, adds an en-
one acquiring a .358 Norma should tirely new dimension to the rifle.
start low with every load and work In an age of ultra-specializatio
up slowly and carefully. in every field, and especially rifles,
With such a wide range of both such versatility is almost an anach-
cast and jacketed bullets available, ronism.
and todays variety in powders, the To return to our boxing anal-
.358 Norma has an embarrassment ogy, the .358 Norma Magnum not
of riches when it comes to load only has the Hammer of Thor,
possibilities. Short of a wounded but it also offers an excellent jab,
elephant or Cape buffalo in thick a good hook, a wicked uppercut
cover, there is no game I can think and a variety of feints. It can work
of for which you could not concoct in close or at a distance or dazzle
a load in the .358. you with footwork. Too bad Inge-
The original Schultz & Larsens mar Johansson was not so well
were sold without iron sights, and equipped. He, too, could have been
they were installed on my rifle af- one of the greats.
36 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
Beginning
BULLET CASTING
Mike Venturino
Photos by Yvonne Venturino
Part III
T Casting
his third installment of Be-
ginning Bullet Casting will
discuss the methods I use in
producing lead alloy bullets.
Some of the things I do might be pro-
Good
nounced obsolete by others. For in-
stance, upon beginning casting back
Bullets
in 1966, my mentors at Williamson,
West Virginias small gun club said
to drop a thumbnail-sized piece of
bullet lube, or section of candle, into
the pot for fluxing. Although there
now are commercial mixes for flux-
ing, I still use the old bullet lube/can-
dle wax method. To prevent excess
smoke, I keep a match handy to light
the melted flux.

A reader once commented to Mike that his goal was to cast such
good-looking bullets. For most handloaders, it takes years of practice.

38 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


Another thing is the old adage Mike starts a pot of alloy brewing with
of flux often during a casting the mould to be used sitting on it for
preheating.
session. When producing match
grade bullets, I limit production
to about 100 to 115 bullets due to seconds to cool but the wrinkles
back fatigue. With a 20-pound pot, persist? Then the problem is in
this can be accomplished without the mould itself. Oil or some other
adding more alloy. I flux only at contaminate may be in the mould
the beginning of the session, be- cavity. Here the remedy is cleaning
cause Ive found by weighing bul- moulds with a degreasing agent.
lets in a string, breaking cadence Many are sold in gun cleaning sec-
to flux causes bullet weight incon- tions of sporting goods stores or
sistency. even in automotive parts stores.
Once a reader e-mailed, saying When I get a new bullet mould, I
his goal was to produce home- degrease its cavity, block faces
poured bullets that looked as and block tops. That is usually suf-
good as those in Yvonnes photos. ficient. Some preservative grease
As pleased as I was for the com- or oil will remain on non-import-
pliment, my response pointed out ant areas, such as screw holes or
two things: First was to remem- the slots for handles alongside
ber that I got to cherry-pick the each block. It will smoke as the
bullets in Yvonnes photos, and mould comes to temperature but
second was that I had decades of is nothing to worry about.
experience. Rendered down to its Living in a low humidity area
most simple meaning, point num- in Montana, never after that first
ber two indicates I have made
most of the mistakes contributing Even with many mould preparations
to poor quality bullets and hope- on the market today, smoke from or-
fully learned how to correct them. dinary wooden kitchen matches cures
Lets determine what defects many problems with mould cavities.
are found in cast bullets. Com-
mon ones are wrinkles, rounded cleaning do I oil a bullet mould
bands where there should be sharp again. Of course, aluminum and
edges, plugs pulled from the bul- brass blocks dont rust anyway,
lets bases upon cutting the sprue, but iron moulds will rust quickly
frosted bullets and, the most damn- in humid areas. I know, for I lived
ing of all, rounded bases. in southern West Virginia until
Wrinkled bullets can be caused graduating from college. In sum-
by many factors and can be the mer, moulds would begin rusting
easiest or hardest of all problems nearly as soon as the lead pot was
to solve. Generally speaking, most turned off. In fact, when I began
wrinkles in bullets are caused by leaving to work summers in the
the alloy and/or the mould not be- West, no matter how much moulds
ing hot enough. Determining which were oiled or greased there would
one is easy. Set the bullet mould be some rust on them come Sep-
on the edge of the melting furnace tember. The last time they were
while it heats the alloy. Then cast left behind, I put them in a coffee
10 or 15 bullets. If the wrinkles can filled with motor oil. They cer-
dont disappear, then the alloy is tainly didnt rust then but were a
not hot enough. In all but the small- mess to clean.
est calibers, the mould should be at The third reason bullets will
perfect casting temperature after
10 to 15 bullets are poured. If not,
When ladle pouring bullets, start with
the remedy is simple turn up the the ladle tightly against the mould
lead pots heat. but break the flow slowly, allowing a
What if the heat is corrected, the generous puddle of alloy to form atop
sprues are taking more than a few the mould.

April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 39


Mike learned 50 years ago to toss some
bullet lube or candle wax into the When sprues are cut prematurely, the
lead pot and ignite it to prevent excess alloy will still be molten and smear
smoke when fluxing, which he only across the top of the mould blocks and
does once during a casting session. beneath the sprue plate.

Beginning This usually happens when econ-


omy-minded individuals throw in

BULLET
any alloy that looks like it is lead-
based. Lead, tin and antimony mix
well and can combine to produce

CASTING astoundingly accurate bullets.


Throw in some mystery metal,

Part III
and the entire pot of alloy can
be rendered into a blend good for
nothing more than doorstops or
fall from a mould with wrinkles is paperweights. Know what alloy is
just about impossible to deal with: going into your lead pot, and this
The alloy has become contami- third wrinkle reason will never
nated. If the bullet moulds cavity be a problem.
is clean with alloy temperatures Rounded bands and rounded
properly high and bullets are still bases can be related problems
wrinkled, the culprit is the alloy. or totally separate. It is not un-

Ridges occur at the sprue scar if the The bullet base at left has the proper
caster uses too light a striking instrument type of sprue scar, but the one at right
or makes too light a blow when cutting appears to have been cut before the
the sprue. alloy was sufficiently hardened.

40 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


For casual shooting, the three .44-caliber revolver bullets at left are suitable despite
obvious defects. The .405 WCF rifle bullet (far right) would be returned to the lead
furnace, because its defects are too bad for accurate shooting.

common for both to occur in the good casting temperature but


first bullets poured in a session. It most bands remained rounded. A
is simply a symptom of the mould last resort was the kitchen match
being too cool. There can be an- treatment, and Im happy to re-
other cause, which will be covered port that bullet mould is produc-
shortly. However, if the mould is ing 560-grain, .45-caliber bullets
at proper casting temperature, say as good as ever.
after the 10 to 15 pours mentioned Another cause for both rounded
above, and the base is filling out bands and bases is that the alloy
but the bands are not, then there is is not entering the mould with
a problem. I will be the first to ad- enough force. For instance, if a la-
mit that I dont know exactly what dle full of alloy is poured slowly
causes this, other than there is into the mould, bullet bands and
some factor inside the mould cav- bases will not fill. The problem is
ity that prevents it filling properly. that slow pouring of alloy is allow-
I do know what to do about it. Get ing it to cool before the cavity is
some wooden kitchen matches, filled. Likewise, with a bottom-pour
hold two of them together when furnace, if the moulds sprue plate
lighting, and then center them un- is held too far from the spigot, or
der the mould cavity held upside the spigot is adjusted for a small
down. Let the matches smoke en- stream, bands and bases are not
ter the cavity, likewise covering likely to fill. My method with bot-
the top of the mould blocks, and tom-pour pots is to have the mould
then get some smoke under the sprue plate not more than an inch
sprue plate. Again this is a method below the spigot and use a forceful
taught to me by mentors 50 years stream of alloy. This ensures a good
ago. fill. When ladle filling a mould, the
In my experience, 99 times out ladles pour spout is pressed into
of 100 that cures the problem. Just the sprue hole with the mould held
days prior to this writing I acci- 90 degrees from upright. Then both
dentally set a favorite bullet mould are rotated quickly and the ladle is
atop my heated lead furnace while removed slowly so some alloy over-
dropping in some old bullet lube flows on the sprue plate.
for fluxing. The greasy soot pro- Mentioned earlier was the word
duced flowed into the mould cav- cadence. To produce good quality
ity between the blocks and on the bullets, the caster needs to de-
bottom of the sprue plate. I feared velop a cadence striving to fill
the mould might be ruined with so the mould, allowing it to cool and
much greasy crud on it, so it was cutting the sprue the same every
liberally sprayed with degreaser, time. My wife knows not to inter-
carefully wiped off with a cotton rupt me while casting, and I never
patch and the process repeated. take a phone call during a run
Then the mould was used. My of 100 to 115 casts. One fellow I
fears grew worse as it heated to know even uses a kitchen timer at
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 41
Beginning BULLET CASTING Part III

Despite no bullet inspection and no Groups like this from a .45 Colt SAA
extra care in handloading, Mike expects come easily without a tremendous
this sort of accuracy from his scoped amount of fuss and bother in the casting
M1903 Springfield .30-06. and loading processes.

his casting bench in order to keep pending on a given rifles bore con-
each bullet identical to the previ- dition and sighting equipment.
ous one. The key to getting away with
Now Id like to contradict my- casting quickly, and for quantity
self. The above paragraph refers instead of quality, is to make sure
to bullets used for competition, bullet bases are perfect. Whereas
whether meant for 1,000-yard minor wrinkles or flaws wont mat-
BPCR matches or 50-yard Bulls- ter except in precision competi-
eye pistol events. When casting tion, firing a bullet with a rounded
casual shooting or speed competi- base after one with a perfect base
tion bullets, I discard the cadence is likely to result in the two bullets
concept. Here we are talking landing far apart.
more about quantity than quality. A correlating factor here is the
For many years I strove to make dreaded divot in a bullets base
my handgun bullets just as per- as the sprue is cut. Again, this is
fect as my BPCR match bullets. more damaging for precision bul-
Machine rest handgun testing of lets than those meant for speed
many thousands of rounds over a competitions or for plinking. A
40-year period convinced me that plug pulled from the bullet base
small wrinkles and minor imper- is caused primarily in two ways.
fections in cast bullets make no It will happen if the alloy in the
difference whatsoever. In fact, for mould remains too hot when the
one test, some perfectly cast bul- sprue is cut. Not only will a plug
lets and some visually imperfect get pulled from the bullets base,
ones from the same mould were but alloy is also apt to get smeared
loaded exactly alike and fired across the block tops and even
from an S&W Model 29 with 612 - underneath the sprue plate. An-
inch barrel at 25 yards in 12-round other, more rare cause for plugs
groups. The flawed bullets actu- pulling from bullets bases can
ally cut the smaller group by a mi- arise from a heavily used mould,
nor amount. and the edges of the sprue hole can
This use of slightly flawed bul- become dull. Not many individual
lets carries over to rifles when moulds suffer that affliction.
speaking of shooting cast bullets In order to speed up production
in my collection of military bolt and keep from getting divots in
actions from 6.5mm to 8mm in cal- bullet bases and/or lead smeared
iber. Bullets are cast of straight Li- across mould tops, I keep a high-
notype in multiple-cavity moulds, speed manicurists fan to the
gas checked when sized properly left side of my lead pot. As soon
and then loaded. Most of my mil- as the mould is filled, it is set in
2020 W. Quail Avenue - Dept. HL itary rifles will put them in 114 - to front of the fan, which cools the
Phoenix, AZ 85027 2-MOA groups at 100 yards, de- sprue quickly. How many seconds

42 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


a mould needs to be in front of the
fan can only be determined by trial
and error. Mine cool sufficiently in
BRASSTECH RESIZER
True full-length resizing.
four to five seconds. This allows a
Removes bulge from
smooth cut of the sprue plate. pistol brass.
The simple act of cutting the Cannot distort
sprue plate is instrumental to base of rifle
good bullets. First off, the plate brass.
should be hit in the same plane Superior leverage
as it swings. Hitting it with an up- for easier use.
or down-angled strike will cause Uses standard
warping. Most writings on begin- resizing dies.
ning bullet casting recommend For more info go to
wood for striking the sprue plate. http://youtu.be/Syvt6PHBV1g
I have worn out several hammer
handles or pieces of broken axe AASA, Inc. Patent
Pending
Tel: (256) 527-0872
handles, but not any more. A ma- 832-702-5687 or 254-729-8527
www.pufflon.com Email: dennis@pufflon.com E-Mail: 2759mob@gmail.com
chinist friend gave me a dead 2759 Deford Mill Rd. Hampton Cove, AL 35763
blow hammer, which is simply
one made of rubber/synthetics
with its head filled with lead. In-
stead of hammering a cooled
sprue several times with wood,
the dead blow hammer whacks it
off with one swing. That leaves a
nearly imperceptible sprue scar.
Hitting the plate several times
with a lighter instrument leaves a
stair-step sort of wound.
Some new bullet casters be-
come alarmed when their bullets
have a frosty appearance. It is noth-
ing to worry about, meaning only
that the mould or alloy, or both,
are too hot. The frost will actu-
ally wipe off with ones fingers.
The simple remedy there is to
cool the mould. In my casting, that
high-speed fan helps prevent over-
heating. In times gone by, I had a
100-pound anvil sitting next to my
casting area. Placing a mould that
is too hot on it for only a minute or
two cooled them sufficiently, but
they just quickly heated up again.
I have seen recommended dipping
a mould into a bucket of water for
instantaneous cooling. That too
was done in my youth, but I came
to the conclusion that a small fan
was certainly safer.
With all the above said, to end
this segment, it should be stressed
that while going to all the effort to
cast good bullets and plenty of
them there is no sense in ruining
them during the handloading pro-
cess. Therefore, the next and last
chapter of Beginning Bullet Cast-
ing will consider that factor.
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 43
Deer Bullets for the
John Haviland coil from my Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun. Jacketed

C
bullets are expensive, and recoil is cruel at the speeds
ontrary to the prevailing pref- required for them to expand on deer.
A few years ago my dilemma was solved by a cast
erence for large cartridges bullet designed well over a century ago. Lyman sells
that fire bullets fast enough its mould number 457122 for the bullet commonly
to shoot at dots of deer on known as the Goulds 45-330 Express. A.C. Gould was
the editor of Shooting and Fishing magazine in the
the far horizon, in recent years Ive late 1800s and set about to determine the best combi-
leaned toward deer hunting cartridges nation of bullet weight, velocity, trajectory, accuracy,
that require a closer approach, which manageable recoil and bullet expansion on game for
the .45-70. In his book Modern American Rifles, pub-
helps retain my enthusiasm for deer lished in 1892, Gould states:
hunting. I wrote the Ideal Manufacturing Co., of New Haven,
The .45-70 is one such cartridge that has sustained Conn., to make me several moulds for bullets weigh-
the excitement of the hunt. In searching for the ideal ing 350, 330, and 300 grains, all with hollow points,
.45-caliber deer bullet, Ive tried 400-grain cast bullets and in due time received them. I found the tools were
and 300- to 350-grain jacketed bullets. At the appro- very carefully made, and the bullets, when cast, were
priate velocity, heavy cast bullets create excessive re- apparently perfect. All of these bullets were tested in

44 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


Facing page, inserting a pin to form a weighed 336 grains cast of wheel-
hollow point is the only additional step weights with 2 percent tin added,
in casting Goulds bullets compared
and the weight of 100 bullets var-
to plain-nose bullets. Cast of wheel-
weights, the bullets plain base re- ied only 1.4 grains. The bullets mea-
quires no gas check, which saves a few sured .4585 inch in diameter, and
pennies per bullet. Right, Lyman uses just the seams of the bullets were
mould number 457122 to designate the slightly swaged, with lubricant
Goulds bullet; the mould was originally added into the two bottom lubrica-
numbered 456122. tion grooves when the bullets were
pushed in and out of a .459-inch siz-
Winchester rifles, chambered for flyer and great killer of game. It has ing die. Finished bullets cost but a
the .45-70 government cartridge. I been used with equal success when few pennies apiece.
shot them in five different repeat- shot from the various .45 calibre, The bullets could have been cast
ing rifles and one single shot rifle, 45-60, 45-70, 45-75, 45-85, 45-90 and of a hard lead alloy, like Linotype,
the testing being done at 200 45-120. to better withstand higher pressure
yards with target sights, and at Only a few cycles of casting and velocity and produce better ac-
rest; when I had finished shoot- were required to bring the Lyman curacy than wheelweight bullets,
ing one rifle I would wait sev- 457122 mould up to the proper but the nose of the harder bullets
eral weeks, or perhaps a month temperature to create fully formed might not expand on contact with
or two, then repeat the experi- bullets. I slid out the hollowpoint game. If the Goulds hollow nose
ments with another rifle. I would pin, opened the mould and a bullet did expand, the harder alloy would
then invite some reliable shot to fell out of the mould. The Lyman crack and break off, and only the
shoot, comparing his results with Reloading Handbook 46th Edi- shank of the bullet would remain.
my own. Various kinds of powder tion (1982) and Lyman Cast Bul- Wheelweight bullets are ductile,
were tried, and charges from 55 to let Handbook (1999) lists a weight and as the hollow nose rolls back,
77 grains, and from slow burning of 322 grains for the bullet cast of it will remain attached to produce
to ducking powder. . . . The most Lyman No. 2 lead alloy. However, a wide diameter.
satisfactory results, considering the Lyman 50th Edition Reload- I fired wheelweight Goulds
accuracy, range, and penetration, ing Handbook (2016) lists its orig- bullets, with a striking velocity of
were secured with the 330-grain inal weight of 330 grains as cast of 1,300 fps, into ballistic wax. The
Ideal bullet, hollow pointed, and No. 2 alloy. From my mould, bullets bullets deep, hollow nose really

Loading the Lyman Goulds


.45-70 45-330 Express Bullet
Left, Goulds bullet loads included
75 grains of Hazards FG pow- Winchester Large Rifle primers and
der. The charge has been tried IMR-3031. Below, the bullets shot
on game and found very killing. well using Varget powder, but lighter
The charge may be reduced to 55 charges of Varget produced high
grains of powder with this bullet, extreme velocity spreads.
and very accurate and pleasant
target practice secured. One can
also shoot 75 grains of Hazards
ducking powder with this bul-
let, and have a cartridge equal in
power to the .45-90 factory car-
tridge, with nearly equal trajec-
tory and greater accuracy.
John Barlow, founder of Ideal
Manufacturing, is credited with
designing the Goulds bullet. In
his first Ideal Hand Book, Barlow
states, This bullet has given uni-
versal satisfaction as an accurate

April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 45


Deer Bullets Cast of wheelweights,
the bullets mush-
A slight bell to the mouth of .45-70
cases (left) prevents shaving the soft
heel of the Goulds bullet.

for the .45-70 roomed nearly flat


in ballistic wax.
Trimming cases to the
same length placed
an exact amount of
crimp on the bullets.

bullets at about 1,450 fps. That is a


nearly perfect velocity for a plain-
base bullet, like the Goulds, but
I planned to load smokeless pow-
der with the bullet. The Lyman
The hollowpoint Goulds bullet tore a
wide hole in ballistic wax. Penetration 50th Edition Reloading Hand-
was about 7 inches. The bullet pene- book lists velocities for the bullet racy was poor compared to plain
trated to about twice that depth in two with various smokeless powders loads of the same powders. The
whitetail deer. at up to 1,700 fps as appropriate Lyman handbooks fortunately list
for the 1873 Springfield, and 2,000 pressures with the various pow-
expanded, and recovered bullets fps being suitable for Marlin 1895 ders for the bullet. Choosing a
were nearly mashed flat with a di- and Winchester 1886 lever actions. powder that produces the desired
ameter of .622 inch. The bullets re- The Lyman handbook also notes velocity at a relatively low pres-
tained an average of 54 percent of a velocity of 1,338 fps as the most sure should help avert deforming
their original weight. Penetration accurate for the bullet used in the base of the bullet. For exam-
was relatively shallow at 7 inches, Springfield loads and 1,994 fps ple, the Lyman 50th Edition Re-
about half that of 407-grain flat- for lever actions. Previous Lyman loading Handbook lists the bul-
nose bullets with an impact speed handbooks list the bullets best lets velocity at 1,665 fps with 50.0
of 1,500 fps. The ballistic wax, accuracy at slightly over 1,100 fps
however, is much denser than the to nearly 1,500 fps for the Spring- .45-70 Loads
ribs and lungs of a deer. field and somewhat over 1,500 and for the Lyman
The next step was to find a level 1,600 fps for lever actions.
of pressure and velocity to pro- Preventing distortion of the Goulds 45-330
duce acceptable accuracy and an plain base of the Goulds bullet is Express 457122 Bullet
adequately flat trajectory to shoot an important step in attaining the powder charge velocity group
out to 150 yards. Im estimating best accuracy. Soft gas checks and (grains) (fps) (inches)
the 75 grains of Fg black powder case fillers were tried to protect A-5744 32.0 1,388 2.34
Gould loaded fired his 330-grain the base of the bullets, but accu- 34.0 1,479 2.44
H-4198 32.0 1,128 1.95
34.0 1,249 2.11
36.0 1,280 2.15
IMR-3031 48.0 1,465 1.90
50.0 1,586 2.97
RL-7 44.0 1,620 2.96
46.0 1,677 2.55
48.0 1,817 3.29
Trail Boss 16.5 1,217 2.64
Varget 50.0 1,365 2.04
52.0 1,471 1.69
54.0 1,504 1.94
Notes: Overall loaded length for all loads was
2.550 inches. Remington cases and Winchester
Large Rifle primers were used throughout. Veloc-
ities were recorded with an RCBS AmmoMaster
chronograph 10 feet in front of the 18.5-inch bar-
rel of a Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun. Groups are
the average of three, 100-yard shots. A Swarovski
Z6(i) 1-6x24 scope was used, set to 6x. Tempera-
ture at time of testing was 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors
in published load data. Listed loads are only valid in the test
A Marlin Guide Gun .45-70 is no long-range rifle when shooting cast bullets, but firearm used. Reduce initial powder charge by 10 percent and
work up while watching for pressure signs.
approaching close to game keeps the excitement in deer hunting.

46 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


other lead was two streaks on the
lands near the muzzle.
Leading near the muzzle, ac-
cording to the RCBS Cast Bullet
Manual, . . . appears to be con-
sistent with alloy melting from
frictional heat of high velocity.
Remedial action is to decrease
velocity or use a better grade lu-
bricant. So lead smears in the
bore had nothing to do with the
This group was fired at 100 yards with larger groups the Marlin rifle shot.
a Marlin Guide Gun .45-70 shooting At 100 yards, three Goulds bullets Higher pressures that deformed
three Goulds bullets loaded with 48.0 loaded atop 52.0 grains of Varget the rather soft wheelweight bullets
grains of IMR-3031. produced this group.
is what caused the wider groups.
grains of IMR-3031 and 16,900 cop- grains of powder. Accurate 5744, For a deer hunting load, it was
per units of pressure (CUP). Con- IMR-3031 and Reloder 7 produced a toss up between 48.0 grains of
versely, about the same velocity spreads of 19 to 50 fps with their IMR-3031 or 54.0 grains of Varget
was reached with 49.0 grains of varying powder weights. with the Goulds bullet. I chose
H-322 at roughly 21,200 CUP. I brushed the Marlins bore after IMR-3031 for its even velocities.
Going over the numbers re- shooting the loads with each pow- With a muzzle velocity of 1,465
corded from shooting the loads der. Patches pushed through the fps, the bullets trajectory was 2
listed in the accompanying table, bore to wipe out fouling contained inches above aim at 50 yards, one
extreme velocity spreads dropped none to a very few flecks of lead. I inch high at 100 yards and 6 inches
significantly as powder weights of looked into the Marlins bore with below aim at 150 yards. Recoil
Varget and H-4198 increased. For a Lyman borescope after shooting was a mild 15 foot-pounds in the
instance, 32.0 grains of H-4198 10 bullets, some at over 1,800 fps. 8-pound Marlin. Thats nearly one-
had an extreme spread of 152 fps, One spot at the start of the rifling third less than a .270 Winchester
but it shrank to 43 fps with 36.0 had a slight wash of lead. The only (Continued on page 70)

April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 47


Brian Pearce

W
hen Winchester intro-
duced the .243 Win-
chester in 1955, it quickly
became a best-selling
sporting cartridge. In the past 62
years, it has been chambered in a huge
variety of rifles and actions from doz-
ens of manufacturers and is con-
sistently one of the most reloaded
rifle cartridges. It is versatile, serving
as a top-notch, flat-shooting varmint
cartridge or as a big-game number ca-
pable of cleanly taking deer, antelope
and similar game, all while offering
modest recoil and excellent accuracy.

.243 WINCHESTER
The history of the .243 Winchester probably begins work by Winchester and the government as to bar-
with the 6mm Lee Navy cartridge (aka .236 Navy, Ball rel twist rates, velocities, bullet weights, profiles, etc.
Cartridge, 6mm, 6mm U.S.N.) as introduced by Win- This all set the stage for the .243 Winchester. (With
chester during 1894, and in 1895 in the Lee (straight small modifications, the 6mm Lee Navy was the par-
pull) rifle that utilized .244-inch bullets. In spite of ent case for the .220 Swift that Winchester introduced
being tested extensively and even adopted by the U.S. in 1935.)
Navy and Marines from 1895 through 1899 (with some It is unclear exactly when noted gun writer War-
sources indicating 1902), it was a cartridge that was ren Page began experimenting with 6mm/.243-inch
ahead of its time, which largely doomed it. For exam- wildcats, but it was probably during the early 1940s,
ple, barrel steels were not erosion resistant enough to which ultimately led to his necking down the .308
offer a long life, and period smokeless powders could Winchester case shortly after it was introduced in
not take advantage of the high-velocity potential the 1952. New powders significantly changed the future
small caliber offered, which resulted in excess barrel of this smallbore cartridge. Winchester quickly rec-
fouling that was reported to cause erratic pressures. ognized the value of Pages cartridge and the obvious
Nonetheless, there was considerable experimental caliber void in its line of sporting cartridges. During

New Powders and Bullets for the Most Popular 6mm


48 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
this era, Winchester Rifles and Am- Ballistic Tip and AccuBond; Hor- a pre-64 Winchester Model 70 Var-
munition was under the same own- nady GMX, InterBond and SST; mint so chambered. It was accu-
ership, so the .243 Winchester was Swift Scirocco II; Barnes Tipped rate, especially with handloads,
introduced in the Model 70 rifle. TSX-Bullet; and others. Most are but was heavier than I wanted for
Rifle and ammunition sales were offered in factory loads but are a general-purpose varmint and
strong. Soon other companies be- also available as a component to coyote hunting rifle. Around 1982
gan offering rifles, while Reming- handloaders. I had a Winchester Model 70 Feath-
ton (Peters) and Federal began After serving in Vietnam during erweight action custom built with
offering ammunition. the 1960s, one of my older broth- a 2612 -inch No. 2 contour Doug-
The .243 was initially offered ers returned home and gave my fa- las barrel; it proved capable of
with 80-grain bullets intended ther a new Remington Model 700 1
4 -MOA accuracy, which was un-
primarily for varmints, while the .243 Winchester with a state-of- common for that era using com-
100-grain softpoint was designed the-art 3-9x variable scope (rela- mon hunting bullets. It became
for deer. Velocities were adver- tively new at that time). It became a favorite general purpose pest
tised at 3,500 and 3,070 fps, respec- one of our most used rifles on the rifle, but as experimenters do, for
tively, but were a bit optimistic, as ranch for taking coyotes and pests no good reason, it was set aside
actual velocities from production but was also used for deer and an- to try other cartridges, loads and
rifles were notably below those fig- telope hunting. Although my dad rifles. Although the above .243
ures. By comparison, today Win- and older brothers used it, I was rifles have been used the most, I
chester-advertised velocities list the one most responsible for its have also owned and hunted with
the 80-grain bullet at 3,350 fps and substantial barrel wear. It was an a variety of others too numerous
the 100-grain at 2,960 fps from a excellent long-range cartridge for to mention.
24-inch test barrel. Most produc- coyotes. Having observed the .243s ter-
tion sporter rifles feature a 22-inch During the late 1970s, I acquired minal performance in the field on
barrel, and recognized velocities a variety of game, without ques-
are often 75 to 100 fps slower than tion it takes varmints with author-
advertised figures; varmint rifles ity even at long ranges, but some
fitted with 26-inch barrels usually hunters consider it marginal as a
reach and even exceed advertised deer cartridge. Some of the early
speeds. cup-and-core bullets didnt offer
Todays factory ammunition outstanding performance and is
has been improved in terms of ac- probably where this unjust reputa-
curacy and overall performance. tion originates. With modern hunt-
Perhaps what has improved most ing bullets, it is quite reliable on
is the specialized loads that are deer-sized game. My son recently
tailored to maximize performance took a deer at around 200 yards
for a large variety of hunting appli- using the Barnes 80-grain TTSX
cations. For example, in studying from his Ruger No. 1. The bullet
loads from Winchester, Hornady, entered the left shoulder and ex-
Remington, Federal, NoslerCus- ited just forward of the right flank,
tom, Norma and others, it is cur- with the deer literally collapsing at
rently offered with bullet weights the shot. I have taken several deer
that include 55, 58, 75, 85, 87, 90 with the Nosler 95- and 100-grain
and 95 grains, in addition to the Partitions and the Hornady Inter-
traditional 80- and 100-grain Lock BTSP. When shot broadside
weights. First-class, varmint-style through the heart or lungs, they
bullets offer unusually high veloci- usually jump and kick at their
ties with the fastest factory load belly and only run a short distance
being Hornadys 58-grain V-MAX before going down. This type of
at 3,925 fps and spectacular ter- performance is typical when the
minal results. Varmint loads also .243 Winchester is stoked with
offer notably better ballistic coef- great hunting bullets. If shooting
ficients and lower drag for better deer at extremely long ranges, a
downrange accuracy, retained ve- Facing page: This coyote was taken larger cartridge is in order, but at
locities and flat trajectories at typ- with a Ruger No. 1 .243 Winchester. any normal distance, the .243 is a
ical varmint hunting distances. Temperature was recorded at 24 very capable deer cartridge.
degrees below zero. The handload
Premium hunting bullets de- contained a Hornady 87-grain V-MAX
Winchester and practically all
signed for big game have also been bullet. Above, the .243 Winchester other rifle manufacturers use a
improved, with notable examples (right) is based on a necked-down one-in-10-inch barrel twist, which
including the Nosler Partition, .308 Winchester case (left). allows bullet stabilization for a
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 49
.243
next, which is enough to change
the pressures with a given load
and is a substantial case capacity
percentage change with the .243s
WINCHESTER modest powder charge weights. In
other words, if a load was devel-
oped in a Norma case that holds
56.3 grains of water but the hand-
wide variety of bullet weights that loader assembles his loads in an-
typically range from 55 to 100 other case that holds 53.3 grains
grains. Remington is the primary of water, pressures can jump sig-
exception, as its barrels feature nificantly.
one turn in 918 inches. As a result, For reference, 1960-era Win- The .243 Winchester gained instant
Remington rifles sometimes of- chester SUPER-X cases were mea- acceptance among shooters during
fer mediocre accuracy with light- sured with a water capacity of the 1950s and remains widely popular
weight varmint bullets, and I have 55.6, while more recently manufac- today.
heard a couple of reports of bul- tured Winchester cases measured
let breakup due to the combina- 54.2 grains. Early Peters cases erage pressure for the .243 is 60,000
tion of the fast-twist barrel and held 54.9 grains while recently psi. Much of the accompanying
lightly constructed varmint bul- manufactured Remington cases data has been pressure tested and
lets pushed to high velocities and held 54.2 grains. Several 1970s is within that guideline. Indications
resultant high rotational speeds. Hornady/Frontier cases held 54.4 are the loads that were not pres-
For long-range competitions, grains, while currently manufac- sure tested are also within those
fast-twist barrels will be neces- tured cases held 54.7 grains. Nos- guidelines. As a reminder, any
sary to achieve correct bullet sta- lerCustom cases held 55.0 grains, changes in components will change
bilization. For example, the Sierra while Federal Cartridge cases held the pressures, which is especially
90-grain FMJ-BT is suggested to 53.3 grains; these were chosen to true when substituting bullets that
be used with a one-in-9-inch twist, develop the accompanying data. are of the same weight, changing
while the 107-grain HPBT is best The smallest capacity cases held primers or changing cases.
when used with a one-in-7- or 8- 51.8 grains of water (manufac- The .243 Winchester thrives on
inch twist. Hornady likewise rec- tured in Canada by a now-defunct powders with a burn rate that ap-
ommends a 9-inch twist with its company). To keep pressures proximates 4350, so the selection
105-grain A-MAX (recently dis- from behaving erratically and to of top-notch extruded and spher-
continued) and 105-grain BTHP, achieve the best accuracy, loads ical (Ball) powders is extensive,
while the newly released 108-grain should be assembled in cases that with many offering excellent accu-
ELD-X requires an 8-inch twist. are from the same manufacturer racy. As can be seen in the accom-
Two of the most common mis- and preferably are of the same lot panying table, several produced
takes when assembling .243 Win- number. To obtain uniform results velocities that duplicated factory
chester handloads includes mixing in measuring capacity, all cases loads, while select powders were
cases and using load data that was were once-fired, full-length sized able to exceed factory load ve-
developed with a different brand using an RCBS die, trimmed to locities with practically all bullet
of case. The .243 typically utilizes 2.040 inches and primed (to hold weights. When using lightweight
powder charges that are between the water). Each case was then
29.0 and 45.0 grains (although a weighed, filled with water level
few charges approach 50.0 grains). with the case mouth and weighed
Case capacities have been found again, with their dry weight be-
to vary by over 4.0 grains of wa- ing deducted from that figure.
ter from one manufacturer to the Current industry maximum av-

Left, maximum
case length is 2.045
inches, while the
trim-to length is
2.035 inches. Right,
RCBS dies were
used to develop the
accompanying
handloads.

50 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


.243 Winchester (Continued)
.243 Winchester
Handloading Data Handloading Data
overall overall
loaded loaded
bullet powder charge length velocity bullet powder charge length velocity
(grains) (grains) (inches) (fps) (grains) (grains) (inches) (fps)

55 Nosler Ballistic Tip A-2700 45.0 2.610 3,408 58 Hornady V-MAX CFE 223 42.0 2.610 3,649
46.0 3,480 43.0 3,690
47.0 3,562 44.0 3,731
48.0 3,640 45.0 3,767
49.0 3,721 W-760 45.0 3,505
50.0 3,794 46.0 3,561
Big Game 45.0 3,485 47.0 3,648
46.0 3,548 48.0 3,730
47.0 3,611 49.0 3,798
48.0 3,710 H-4895 36.0 3,323
49.0 3,776 37.0 3,418
VV-N133 36.0 3,444 38.0 3,555
37.0 3,497 39.0 3,685
38.0 3,549 40.0 3,799
Varget 38.0 3,411 41.0 3,914
39.0 3,481 A-2520 35.0 3,220
40.0 3,559 36.0 3,280
41.0 3,650 37.0 3,346
42.0 3,736 38.0 3,415
43.0 3,824 39.0 3,484
44.0 3,890 40.0 3,549
45.0 3,985* 41.0 3,610
45.5 4,057 Varget 38.0 3,355
55 Sierra BlitzKing Benchmark 38.0 2.630 3,588 39.0 3,410
39.0 3,651 40.0 3,467
40.0 3,754 41.0 3,525
41.0 3,861 42.0 3,587
42.0 3,945 43.0 3,650
A-4064 40.0 3,260 44.0 3,708
41.0 3,349 44.5 3,760*
42.0 3,457 RL-15 38.0 3,180
43.0 3,561 39.0 3,254
44.0 3,677 40.0 3,335
45.0 3,789 41.0 3,417
46.0 3,884 42.0 3,501
H-4895 37.0 3,381 43.0 3,579
38.0 3,452 44.0 3,655
39.0 3,561 60 Sierra HP IMR-3031 36.0 2.610 3,325
40.0 3,644 37.0 3,417
41.0 3,760 38.0 3,519
42.0 3,861* 39.0 3,621
43.0 3,957 40.0 3,712
44.0 4,059 A-2700 45.5 3,455
45.0 4,146 46.5 3,534
58 Hornady V-MAX Big Game 44.0 2.610 3,472 47.5 3,621
45.0 3,515 48.5 3,709
46.0 3,565 49.5 3,785*
47.0 3,631 65 Hornady V-MAX IMR-4064 36.0 2.620 3,151
48.0 3,699 37.0 3,217
49.0 3,760 38.0 3,300
50.0 3,807 39.0 3,389
A-4064 42.0 3,487 40.0 3,464
43.0 3,534 41.0 3,559
44.0 3,648 42.0 3,678
45.0 3,740 43.0 3,785
46.0 3,835 44.0 3,884
46.5 3,922 IMR-4320 34.0 2,992
CFE 223 41.0 3,626 35.0 3,067
(Continued) (Continued on page 52)

April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 51


(Continued from
page 51) .243 Winchester (Continued)
.243 Winchester
Handloading Data Handloading Data
overall overall
loaded loaded
bullet powder charge length velocity bullet powder charge length velocity
(grains) (grains) (inches) (fps) (grains) (grains) (inches) (fps)

65 Hornady V-MAX IMR-4320 36.0 2.620 3,148 70 Sierra BlitzKing Big Game 44.0 2.675 3,360
37.0 3,227 45.0 3,434
38.0 3,312 46.0 3,507
39.0 3,397 70 Speer TNT-HP RL-15 36.0 2.630 2,987
40.0 3,476 37.0 3,041
41.0 3,557 38.0 3,127
42.0 3,632 39.0 3,210
VV-N140 36.0 3,045 40.0 3,275*
37.0 3,118 H-380 40.0 3,001
38.0 3,196 41.0 3,140
39.0 3,274 42.0 3,261
40.0 3,357 43.0 3,319
41.0 3,441 44.0 3,388
41.8 3,517 45.0 3,470
42.5 3,588 46.0 3,528
Hunter 45.0 3,279 A-2700 40.0 2,902
46.0 3,335 41.0 3,003
47.0 3,407 42.0 3,100
48.0 3,475 43.0 3,211
49.0 3,540 44.0 3,307
50.0 3,588 45.0 3,397
50.5 3,618* 46.0 3,507
CFE 223 32.0 2,962 70 Nosler Ballistic Tip IMR-4895 35.0 2.690 3,010
33.0 3,030 36.0 3,105
34.0 3,122 37.0 3,189
35.0 3,199 38.0 3,302
36.0 3,274 39.0 3,375
SUPERFORMANCE 47.0 3,413 40.0 3,455
48.0 3,460 Big Game 41.0 3,190
49.0 3,550 42.0 3,242
50.0 3,644 43.0 3,320
51.0 3,720 44.0 3,395
52.0 3,790 45.0 3,471
A-2700 44.0 3,453 46.0 3,530
45.0 3,517 Varget 36.0 3,088
46.0 3,601 37.0 3,178
47.0 3,685 38.0 3,240
48.0 3,752 39.0 3,333
70 Sierra BlitzKing Benchmark 35.5 2.675 3,200 40.0 3,425
36.5 3,312 41.0 3,498*
37.5 3,402 42.0 3,570
38.5 3,510 75 Hornady A-MAX IMR-4320 33.0 2.640 2,849
39.5 3,595 34.0 2,938
Varget 36.0 3,111 35.0 3,032
37.0 3,182 36.0 3,131
38.0 3,258 37.0 3,230
39.0 3,339 38.0 3,324
40.0 3,420 39.0 3,411*
41.0 3,493* A-2700 39.0 2,879
A-4064 37.0 2,956 40.0 2,947
38.0 3,052 41.0 3,020
39.0 3,163 42.0 3,093
40.0 3,259 43.0 3,171
Big Game 39.0 3,033 44.0 3,249
40.0 3,093 45.0 3,322
41.0 3,156 46.0 3,390
42.0 3,209 46.5 3,430
43.0 3,240 H-4350 43.0 3,069
(Continued) (Continued on page 53)

52 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


(Continued from
page 52) .243 Winchester (Continued)
.243 Winchester
Handloading Data Handloading Data
overall overall
loaded loaded
bullet powder charge length velocity bullet powder charge length velocity
(grains) (grains) (inches) (fps) (grains) (grains) (inches) (fps)

75 Hornady A-MAX H-4350 44.0 2.640 3,153 80 Barnes Tipped TSX W-760 37.0 2.640 2,711
45.0 3,247 38.0 2,781
46.0 3,341 39.0 2,854
47.0 3,425 40.0 2,952
SUPERFORMANCE 45.0 3,216 41.0 3,030
46.0 3,290 42.0 3,105
47.0 3,381 43.0 3,170
48.0 3,479 44.0 3,209
49.0 3,566 Hybrid 100V 38.0 2,832
50.0 3,648 39.0 2,896
75 Sierra HP W-760 42.0 2.625 3,090 40.0 2,965
43.0 3,185 41.0 3,039
44.0 3,291 42.0 3,113
45.0 3,395 43.0 3,177
46.0 3,488 VV-N160 37.0 2,676
VV-N135 34.0 3,092 38.0 2,736
35.0 3,163 39.0 2,801
36.0 3,239 40.0 2,871
37.0 3,320 41.0 2,942
38.0 3,401 42.0 3,006
39.0 3,472* 43.0 3,072
39.5 3,510 44.0 3,133*
75 Speer HP W-760 42.0 2.600 3,065 80 Nosler Ballistic Tip IMR-4350 39.0 2.690 2,766
43.0 3,149 40.0 2,832
44.0 3,250 41.0 2,926
45.0 3,369 42.0 2,997
46.0 3,461 43.0 3,065
IMR-4320 33.0 2,811 44.0 3,140
34.0 2,889 45.0 3,198
35.0 3,000 Varget 35.0 2,970
36.0 3,091 36.0 3,032
37.0 3,201 37.0 3,121
38.0 3,296 38.0 3,188
39.0 3,387* 39.0 3291
80 Hornady GMX A-2700 37.0 2.640 2,739 40.0 3,413*
38.0 2,805 A-2700 38.0 2,770
39.0 2,876 39.0 2,854
40.0 2,952 40.0 2,929
41.0 3,028 41.0 3,031
42.0 3,095 42.0 3,111
42.5 3,155 43.0 3,204
43.0 3,188 H-380 38.0 2,930
43.5 3,211* 39.0 2,987
SUPERFORMANCE 39.0 2,829 40.0 3,061
40.0 2,878 41.0 3,140
41.0 2,932 42.0 3,219
42.0 2,986 43.0 3,284
43.0 3,045 80 Sierra spitzer Big Game 38.0 2.650 2,870
44.0 3,104 boat-tail 39.0 2,977
45.0 3,158 40.0 3,044
46.0 3,207 41.0 3,100
RL-17 37.0 2,770 42.0 3,173
38.0 2,830 43.0 3,230*
39.0 2,911 IMR-4320 36.0 3,049
40.0 3,001 37.0 3,169
41.0 3,095 38.0 3,277
42.0 3,165 39.0 3,361
42.5 3,199 85 Hornady InterBond Power Pro 4000-MR 41.0 2.640 2,888
(Continued) (Continued on page 54)

April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 53


(Continued from
page 53) .243 Winchester (Continued)
.243 Winchester
Handloading Data Handloading Data
overall overall
loaded loaded
bullet powder charge length velocity bullet powder charge length velocity
(grains) (grains) (inches) (fps) (grains) (grains) (inches) (fps)

85 Hornady Power Pro 4000-MR 42.0 2.640 2,970 90 Swift Scirocco II W-760 37.0 2.680 2,738
InterBond 43.0 3,044 38.0 2,793
44.0 3,101 39.0 2,875
45.0 3,176 40.0 2,955
46.0 3,262 41.0 3,023
47.0 3,315 95 Hornady SST A-2700 36.0 2.650 2,525
RL-17 41.0 2,998 37.0 2,590
42.0 3,079 38.0 2,666
43.0 3,199 39.0 2,750
44.0 3,298* 40.0 2,849
85 Sierra spitzer IMR-4895 34.0 2.640 2,904 41.0 2,913
boat-tail 35.0 2,980 Hybrid 100V 38.0 2,698
36.0 3,087 39.0 2,748
37.0 3,181* 40.0 2,818
38.0 3,255 41.0 2,880
Hunter 41.0 2,966 42.0 2,965
42.0 3,017 43.0 3,018
43.0 3,081 RL-17 37.0 2,649
44.0 3,155 38.0 2,713
45.0 3,222 39.0 2,805
46.0 3,275 40.0 2,880
87 Hornady V-MAX A-2520 29.0 2.640 2,470 41.0 2,948
30.0 2,558 42.0 3,031*
31.0 2,638 42.5 3,065
32.0 2,701 95 Nosler Partition IMR-7828 SSC 41.0 2.680 2,595
33.0 2,802 42.0 2,651
34.0 2,899 43.0 2,718
35.0 3,000* 44.0 2,794
Power Pro 4000-MR 40.0 2,832 45.0 2,855
41.0 2,880 46.0 2,929
42.0 2,951 Power Pro 4000-MR 40.0 2,733
43.0 3,021 41.0 2,790
44.0 3,105 42.0 2,868
45.0 3,166 43.0 2,955
46.0 3,230 44.0 3,029
90 Sierra FMJ-BT IMR-4895 32.0 2.670 2,690 45.0 3,091*
33.0 2,770 100 Sierra spitzer IMR-4895 32.0 2.650 2,588
34.0 2,852 boat-tail 33.0 2,669
35.0 2,965 34.0 2,739
36.0 3,077 35.0 2,849
37.0 3,162 36.0 2,912*
A-4350 38.0 2,695 36.5 2,955
39.0 2,733 A-2700 36.0 2,613
40.0 2,788 37.0 2,663
41.0 2,850 38.0 2,749
42.0 2,903* 39.0 2,834
42.5 2,946 40.0 2,892
90 Swift Scirocco II Power Pro 4000-MR 41.0 2.680 2,940 40.5 2,933
42.0 3,000 100 Nosler Partition H-4831SC 39.0 2.670 2,645
43.0 3,061 40.0 2,688
44.0 3,145 41.0 2,751
45.0 3,202 42.0 2,819
H-4895 32.0 2,821 43.0 2,890
33.0 2,870 44.0 2,951
34.0 2,944 45.0 3,001*
35.0 3,011 RL-19 38.0 2,591
36.0 3,092 39.0 2,640
37.0 3,158* 40.0 2,700
(Continued) (Continued on page 55)

54 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


(Continued from
page 54) .243 Winchester (Continued)
.243 Winchester
Handloading Data Handloading Data
overall overall
loaded loaded
bullet powder charge length velocity bullet powder charge length velocity
(grains) (grains) (inches) (fps) (grains) (grains) (inches) (fps)

100 Nosler Partition RL-19 41.0 2.670 2,755 100 Speer boat-tail VV-N165 48.0 2.640 2,998*
42.0 2,835 softpoint 49.0 3,061
43.0 2,878 105 Hornady A-MAX A-2700 37.0 2.640 2,588
43.5 2,905 38.0 2,656
100 Hornady boat-tail H-414 38.0 2.650 2,677 39.0 2,770
Spire Point 39.0 2,739 40.0 2,851*
40.0 2,839 Hybrid 100V 36.0 2,609
41.0 2,912 37.0 2,651
H-4350 38.0 2,666 38.0 2,712
39.0 2,733 39.0 2,771
40.0 2,826 40.0 2,840
41.0 2,903 41.0 2,895
Hybrid 100V 38.0 2,688 41.5 2,933
39.0 2,741 107 Sierra HPBT Power Pro 4000-MR 38.0 2.850 2,670
40.0 2,812 MatchKing 39.0 2,716
41.0 2,890 40.0 2,770
42.0 2,951 41.0 2,830
43.0 3,009 42.0 2,899
43.4 3,043 43.0 2,956
RL-17 37.0 2,630 43.5 2,977
38.0 2,691 H-4831SC 40.0 2,678
39.0 2,789 41.0 2,715
40.0 2,860 42.0 2,771
41.0 2,945 43.0 2,820*
42.0 3,025* RL-22 39.0 2,499
100 Speer boat-tail Power Pro 4000-MR 40.0 2.640 2,726 40.0 2,560
softpoint 41.0 2,779 41.0 2,640
42.0 2,851 42.0 2,731
43.0 2,940 43.0 2,803
44.0 3,000 43.5 2,844
44.8 3,070 * indicates potentially most accurate with that particular bullet
VV-N165 43.0 2,691 Notes: A 22-inch barreled Ruger M77RS was used to test-fire all loads. Federal
44.0 2,738 cases and Winchester Large Rifle primers were used throughout. Bullet diame-
45.0 2,801 ter: 6mm/.243 inch; maximum overall loaded length: 2.710 inches; maximum
case length: 2.045 inches; trim-to length: 2.035 inches.
46.0 2,880 Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data. Listed
47.0 2,935 loads are only valid in the test firearm used. Reduce initial powder charge by 10 percent and work
(Continued) up while watching for pressure signs.

bullets (55 to 58 grains), Hodgdon IMR-4895, IMR-4320; Alliant Re- vice also includes bonded bullets
H-4895 and Ramshot Big Game loder 15 and 17; Ramshot Big and common cup-and-core de-
reached velocities around 4,000 Game, Hunter; and several others signs. The bottom line is that the
fps. Big-game hunters who use 80- each produced top accuracy with bearing surface, profile and con-
to 100-grain bullets will be pleased a given bullet and load combina- struction differences will usually
with the velocities produced by tion. In working with the .243 Win- affect pressures. Use the data ex-
Accurate 2700 and 2520; Hodgdon chester, it seemed almost difficult actly as outlined. Do not reduce
SUPERFORMANCE, H-4895, Hy- to develop a load that didnt per- the starting charge weights, es-
brid 100V, Varget, H-4831SC, H-414, form reasonably well. pecially when loading spherical
Winchester 760, IMR-4350, IMR- Do not substitute bullets of the (Ball) powders, and never begin
4320; Alliant Reloder 17, Power same weight with a given powder with maximum powder charges.
Pro 4000-MR; Ramshot Big Game charge, as pressure will usually In spite of several excellent
and Hunter. change, sometimes significantly. .243/6mm cartridges being de-
Hodgdon Varget often displayed This is especially important when veloped to compete with the .243
top accuracy with several bullet using monolithic bullets, such Winchester, it has remained by
weights, but the margin by which as the Hornady 80-grain GMX or far the best-selling cartridge in
it edged out other powders was Barnes Tipped TSX-Bullet, which its category, and it doesnt appear
very small. Accurate 2700 and should be used with data devel- that it is going to lose that title
2520; Hodgdon 4895, H-4831SC, oped especially for them. This ad- anytime soon.
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 55
Duplicating
John Barsness

H
alf a century ago, most
handloaders firmly knew

Factory
they could beat factory
ammunition in both ve-
locity and accuracy. Improved
accuracy was easily proven, but

Ammunition
velocity was a guess. Electronic
chronographs were so expensive
few existed outside major ballis-
tics laboratories. Shooters instead
depended on velocities listed in
ammunition catalogs and hand-
loading manuals, which were re- Sometimes the
garded somewhat like the National
Enquirer: Many people believed
reward is
everything printed inside, while
others suspected the facts might
worth the work.
be fiction.
Eventually the price of chronographs started This could be attributed to differences in in-
coming down. I purchased my first from a now-de- dividual rifles, but my .243 Winchester had a 22-
funct company in 1979. Considering inflation, it inch barrel, the same length as on the Winchester
cost about the same as an Oehler 35P or Labradar and Ruger 77 test rifles in Speers 9th and
today, something of a stretch for a college student 10th manuals. My handload also
but far less than the chronographs used by ammu- used exactly the same combi-
nition companies. nation of components:
Like many chronographs back then, reading Speer 105-grain Hot-
velocity involved turning a knob around a num- Cor spitzers, Win-
bered dial: If a light lit up next to a number, you chester cases, CCI
recorded that number. A complete turn of the dial 200 primers and
resulted in a multi-digit number, which was not IMR-4350 powder.
velocity. Instead you looked up the number in a In my Remington,
booklet, which converted it to velocity. The pro- 41.5 grains grouped
cess was slow but did result in non-fiction. best, and both manuals
The first ammunition chronographed was some indicated muzzle veloc-
.22 Long Rifle loads. The results came very close ity should be slightly under
to factory-listed velocities, so I chronographed 3,000 fps. Instead it averaged
some handloads. This could have taken all day, slightly under 2,800.
except I only owned three centerfire rifles: a pair My primary .270 load used
of Remington 700s (.243 and .270 Winchesters) the Hornady 150-grain Spire
and a sporterized 1903 Springfield with the mili- Point and 58.5 grains of H-4831.
tary .30-06 barrel. Hornadys recent manual listed 58.9
Only the .30-06s handload, a Nosler 200-grain
Partition combined with Hodgdons original mil-
surp H-4831, duplicated the velocities listed in my
old Speer Number 6 manual. (I also owned several Hornady Superformance .17 Hornet ammunition shot
newer manuals, but they only listed IMR-4831, not so well John couldnt really beat it with handloads in
H-4831.) Sadly, the .243 and .270 handloads ran his CZ 527, but he could match it by trying different
considerably slower than published data. powders and primers.

56 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


grains as maximum, for 3,000 fps from a custom FN had appeared, featuring digital readouts instantly
Mauser with a 24-inch barrel. I expected somewhat appearing after each shot. Average shooters could
slower velocity with .4 grain less powder from my now afford easy-to-use chronographs, so factories
rifles 22-inch barrel, but not 2,850. had to start making ammunition that came close
I then clocked a few leftover rounds of factory am- to advertised velocities and also made some pro-
munition. Winchester 100-grain .243s got about 2,800 ducing above-normal velocities.
fps instead of the advertised 2,960, and Remingtons In fact, since around 2000, Ive chrono-
130-grain .270 Winchester load averaged around 2,700! graphed some factory ammunition showing the
While a Remington 180-grain .30-06 load ran the tradi- signs handloaders have long used to guessti-
tional 2,700, a Winchester 150-grain load averaged 120 mate excessive pressure, including hard bolt
fps slower than the advertised 2,970. This shouldnt lift, extremely flat primers and ejector-hole
have been surprising, because the Speer Number 6 markings on case heads. All of these can be
manual listed the chronographed velocities of a bunch due to reasons other than high pressure, but
of factory ammunition. Velocities were all over the when they occur alongside really high muzzle
place, though usually slower than advertised, partly velocities, something might be up. One brand of
because, back then, most factory test barrels were high-velocity 180-grain .30-06 ammunition, adver-
26 inches long. tised at 2,880 fps, chronographed over 2,950 from
Looking back across nearly three decades, how- the 24-inch barrel of one of my .30-06s and blew
ever, I realize the differences didnt matter much. All a primer in a friends rifle of the same make. We
the ammunition, both handloaded and factory, had sent the remaining ammunition back to the fac-
taken big game without any problems. Back then few tory for testing. They reported pressures were
hunters ever shot big game much beyond 300 yards normal, but the load was quietly dropped
(something still true today), and most of my hand- a few years later.
loads matched actual factory ballistics. During the same period, accuracy of
That chronograph lasted a decade before the cir- factory ammunition also improved
cuitry failed. By then the company had gone out of considerably. Most improvement
business, but chronographs costing a quarter as much was probably due to better bul-

57
Duplicating than Alliant dot powders with col-
ored particles mixed in, powders
cant be positively identified by ap-

Factory
pearance, and most used in factory
rifle ammunition arent available to
handloaders anyway.

Ammunition
The powders we buy are nor-
mally blended from different manu-
facturing lots, to ensure reasonable
consistency in burn rate. Most am-
lets and rifles, but Ive also seen munition factories buy unblended
another factor at work: New brass powder that can vary considerably
is often straighter than cases re- from batch to batch, in cardboard
sized in a typical full-length die, barrels the size of 55-gallon drums.
where the expander ball can pull They can afford to use a pound to
the neck out of line with the case work up a new load, but dont take
body. New-brass forming is done
nearly as long as the typical hand- Remington factory ammunition shot
in a die resembling a typical full-
loader, since they normally have an well from a Tikka T3 Super Lite .260
length loading die without the ex-
pander. Unless the forming die is indoor range with pressure-testing Remington but didnt come anywhere
equipment and often an electronic near the factory advertised 2,750
worn by overuse, the necks of new fps. Alliant Reloder 23 and Nosler
cases come out very straight, so target. 140-grain AccuBonds beat the
bullets tend to be seated straighter On my first visit to a major am- accuracy and chronographed over
than in resized cases. munition factory years ago, one 2,700 fps from the 22-inch barrel.
When some handloaders chrono- of the ballisticians demonstrated
graph a zippy factory load, theyll working up a .270 Winchester arrive at a new powder charge for
disassemble a round, hoping to load, using powder from a barrel la- hundreds of thousands of rounds.
come up with a match for the pow- beled in a number unknown to hand- When handloaders want to work
der charge. This can help, but other loaders. It took less than an hour to up a really zippy load, the surest

58 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


method is comparing current hand-
loading data. These days all major
powder companies, along with sev-
eral bullet companies, post their
data free on the Internet, so its
pretty easy to surf the net to see
which powders result in the high-
est velocities. As a result, a hand-
loader without Internet access is
at almost as much of a disadvan-
tage as a handloader who doesnt
own a chronograph. Instead they
must depend on printed manuals
published every few years, which
dont list newer powders, or data
for every possible cartridge with
newer powders. This doesnt mean
printed manuals arent worth buy-
ing I own copies of almost ev-
ery one, going back decades but
theyre not the best source for new
data, which can be posted within
days on the Internet.
Over the past few years Ive
tried several new powders that
can add at least 100 fps to cer-
tain cartridges, at safe pressures.
However, note the listed loads of-
ten use older powders, because
some have worked great for the
purpose for many decades and I
dont really want a 270-grain .375
H&H load going much faster than
2,700 fps.
These days I spend quite a bit of
time range-testing data for newer
powders. The testing is often done
in a wide range of temperatures,
because some new powders de-
signed to produce higher veloci-
ties can vary considerably in cold
or hot weather. If either is a factor
in your shooting, then some pow-
ders arent going to work as well,
but the good news is more newer
powders are also designed to work
more consistently at varying tem-
peratures. (An article on this sub-
ject will appear in an upcoming
Handloader.)
Some factory ammunition uses
canister powder, making duplicat-
ing factory loads much easier. In
2006 I acquired a Weatherby Mark
V Ultra Lightweight .240 Weath-
erby Magnum, along with some
Weatherby ammunition for test-
ing and cases to handload. The
most accurate load grouped Nos-
ler 100-grain Partitions into much
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 59
Duplicating Duplicating Factory Ammunition
overall

Factory
loaded muzzle 100-yard
bullet powder charge length velocity group
(grains) (grains) (inches) (fps) (inches)
.17 Hornady Hornet, CZ Model 527, 22-inch barrel

Ammunition
20 Hornady V-MAX SUPERFORMANCE FL* [3,650] 1.629 3,597 .57
A-1680 12.0 1.629 3,614 .43
(Handload used Hornady cases and Remington 7 12 primers.)
.17 Fireball, Remington 700, 24-inch barrel
less than an inch at 100 yards, 20 Remington Accu-Tip Remington FL [4,000] 1.811 3,810 .48
though muzzle velocity was over 20 Hornady V-MAX TAC 20.5 1.811 3,980 .47
200 fps slower than the advertised (Handload used Remington cases and Federal 205M primers.)
3,406 fps.
.204 Ruger, Remington 700, 24-inch barrel
Unfortunately, none of my early
40 Remington Accu-Tip Remington FL [3,900] 2.249 3,760 .75
handloads shot as well. Norma 40 Hornady V-MAX H-4895 27.5 2.330 3,806 .76
loads Weatherby factory ammuni-
(Handload used Remington cases and CCI 450 primers.)
tion, so I broke down a couple of
.223 Remington, Remington 700, 26-inch barrel
rounds, finding 51.0 grains of an
50 Nosler Ballistic Tip Black Hills FL [3,300] 2.245 3,451 .69
extruded powder. Normas load
50 Nosler Ballistic Tip TAC 26.0 2.245 3,476 .67
data for the 100-grain Partition
(Handload used Winchester cases and CCI BR-4 primers.)
showed charges of MRP (Mag-
.243 Winchester, Browning Low Wall, 24-inch barrel
num Rifle Powder) ranging from
100 Power Point Winchester FL [2,960] N/A* 2,956 1.09
50.0 to 53.0 grains, and the pow-
100 Nosler Partition RL-22 43.0 2.840 2,999 .91
der in the .240 rounds looked a lot
(Handload used Lapua cases and CCI 200 primers.)
like my supply of MRP. The max-
.240 Weatherby Magnum, Weatherby Mark V ULW, 24-inch barrel
imum listed charge of 53.0 grains
beat the factory ammunition by 100 Nosler Partition Weatherby FL [3,406] 3.146 3,181 .74
100 Nosler Partition MRP 53.0 3.146 3,311 .81
about 100 fps and came very
90 Nosler E-Tip Magnum 57.5 3.159 3,376 .84
close in accuracy. Still, neither
(Handloads used Weatherby cases and Federal 210M primers.)
load came anywhere near 3,406
fps, and whats the point of pack- .25-06 Remington, Ruger No. 1, 24-inch barrel
ing a slow Weatherby Magnum? 100 Core-Lokt Remington FL [3,230] 3.170 3,178 1.29
100 Barnes TTSX H-4350 52.0 3.206 3,312 .98
So I ran a data search and found a
(Handload used Remington cases and CCI 200 primers.)
.240 load using Accurate Magpro
that pushed the Barnes 85-grain .257 Weatherby Magnum, New Ultra Light Arms M28, 24-inch barrel
TSX 3,550 fps. I didnt have either 120 Nosler Partition Weatherby FL [3,305] 3.322 3,320 1.02
Magpro or 85-grain TSXs on hand 120 Nosler Partition RL-25 71.0 3.322 3,311 1.01
but did have some Nosler 90-grain (Handload used Weatherby cases and Federal 215 primers.)
E-Tips and Ramshot Magnum, 6.5 Creedmoor, Ruger Hawkeye, 26-inch barrel
which in Western Powders data of- 120 Hornady A-MAX Hornady FL [2,910] 2,891 .76
ten shows velocities right alongside 120 Nosler Ballistic Tip Hunter 47.0 3,094 .78
Magpro. Consulting the Ramshot 140 Hornady A-MAX Hornady FL [2,710] 2,638 .63
staff resulted in an accurate load 140 Berger Hunting VLD Hunter 45.0 2,845 .94
close to the advertised velocity of (Handloads used Hornady cases and Federal 210M primers.)
the 100-grain factory ammunition, .260 Remington, Tikka T3, 22-inch barrel
but since the 90-grain E-Tip has a 140 Core-Lokt Remington FL [2,750] 2.762 2,548 .90
slightly higher ballistic coefficient 140 Nosler AccuBond RL-23 45.0 2.807 2,709 .72
than the 100-grain Partition, my (Handload used Lapua cases and CCI 200 primers.)
load shot flatter and drifted less in .264 Winchester Magnum, Model 70 Winchester, 26-inch barrel
the wind. 140 Power Point Winchester FL [3,030] 3.290 3,152 .97
Nosler also often uses canister 140 Speer Hot-Cor Magnum 68.0 3.337 3,193 .88
powders in its ammunition, be- (Handload used Norma cases and Federal 215M primers.)
cause Nosler knows which brands .26 Nosler, Nosler M48 Liberty, 26-inch barrel
work due to constant testing in 140 Nosler AccuBond Nosler FL [3,300] 3.303 3,298 .76
its indoor lab for reloading data. 140 Nosler AccuBond US 869 87.0 3.303 3,311 .75
Ive had excellent luck with Nos- (Handload used Nosler cases and CCI 250 primers.)
lers published data when dupli- .270 Winchester, Winchester Model 70 Classic, 22-inch barrel
cating factory ammunition, both 130 Hornady Spire Point Hornady FL [3,060] 3.350 3,066 .68
with standard rounds and the 130 Hornady Spire Point H-4831SC 62.0 3.350 3,052 .60
(Continued)
new Nosler cartridges. In fact, the
60 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
Duplicating Factory Ammunition (Continued)
overall
loaded muzzle 100-yard
bullet powder charge length velocity group
(grains) (grains) (inches) (fps) (inches)
.270 Winchester, Winchester Model 70 Classic, 22-inch barrel
150 Norma Oryx Norma FL [2,860] 3.138 2,760 .78
150 Nosler Partition MRP 56.5 3.391 2,859 .89
(Handloads used Winchester cases and Winchester LR primers.)
.270 WSM, Winchester Model 70 Classic, 24-inch barrel
130 Ballistic Silvertip Winchester FL [3,275] 2.904 3,348 1.45
130 Ballistic Tip H-4831SC 66.0 2.904 3,334 1.07
(Handload used Winchester cases and Federal 215 primers.)
.270 Weatherby Magnum, Weatherby Mark V, 26-inch barrel
130 Hornady Spire Point Weatherby FL [3,375] N/A 3,356 1.27
130 Nosler E-Tip Magnum 80.0 3.280 3,412 .72
(Handload used Weatherby cases and Federal 215 primers.)
7mm-08 Remington, Remington 700, 22-inch barrel
140 Trophy Bonded Federal High Energy FL N/A 2,725 1.08
139 Hornady Spire Point H-4350 50.0 2.815 2,790 .94
(Handload used Remington cases and CCI 200 primers.)
In this New Ultra Light Arms .257
7x57 Mauser, custom rifle, 24-inch barrel Weatherby Magnum, 71.0 grains of
139 Hornady BTSP Light Magnum FL [2,970] N/A 2,878 1.12 Alliant Reloder 25 matched factory
140 Nosler Partition H-4350 46.5 3.062 2,858 .94 muzzle velocity with the 120-grain
(Handload used Winchester cases and Winchester Large Rifle primers.) Nosler Partition.
7mm Weatherby Magnum, Weatherby Mark V ULW, 26-inch barrel
160 Nosler Partition Weatherby FL [3,200] 3.341 3,112 .82 140-grain handload for my .26 Nos-
160 Nosler Partition MRP 72.0 3.341 3,226 .87 ler uses almost exactly the same
(Handload used Weatherby cases and CCI 250 primers.) charge of Hodgdon US 869 that
.30-06, Ultra Light Arms M24, 24-inch barrel
Nosler used in its factory loads
when the cartridge first appeared.
150 Hornady Spire Point Light Magnum FL [3,100] 3.245 2,953 1.01
150 Swift Scirocco II Big Game 54.0 3.306 3,061 .72
The loads in the accompanying
180 Trophy Bonded Federal HE FL [2,880] 3.287 2,948 1.40
list include others Ive come up with
180 Speer Grand Slam H-4831 61.0 3.295 2,828 .78 over the decades to match or ex-
(Handloads used Federal cases and Federal 215 primers.)
ceed the performance of factory
180 Nosler Partition RL-19 59.0 3.330 2,896 1.31
ammunition. They include some
(Handload used Norma cases and Federal 210 primers.)
.300 Winchester Magnum, Heym SR-21, 24-inch barrel
165 Hornady GMX SUPERFORMANCE FL [3,260] 3,253 1.46
165 Nosler AccuBond Hunter 77.0 3.342 3,243 1.19
180 Core-Lokt Ultra HyperSonic FL [3,122] 3.306 3,070 1.10
180 Nosler Ballistic Tip H-1000 81.0 3.341 3,059 .74
(Handloads used Winchester cases and Winchester magnum primers.)
.300 Weatherby Magnum, Weatherby Vanguard, 24-inch barrel
200 Nosler Partition Weatherby FL [3,060] N/A 3,036 1.31
200 Nosler AccuBond Magnum 86.5 3.551 3,014 1.10
(Handload used Weatherby cases and Federal 215 primers.)
.338 Winchester Magnum, custom rifle, 22-inch barrel
250 Core-Lokt Remington FL [2,660] N/A 2,648 .81
250 Nosler Partition H-4831 71.5 3.312 2,667 .75
(Handload used Winchester cases and Federal 215 primers.)
.375 H&H, Mark X Mauser, 22-inch barrel
270 Core-Lokt Remington FL [2,690] N/A 2,685 1.25
270 Hornady Spire Point IMR-4895 68.0 3.610 2,673 1.06
(Handload used Remington cases and Federal 210 primers.)
* FL = factory load; N/A = not available
Notes: The number in brackets after FL is the advertised muzzle velocity, these days usually (but not always)
chronographed in a 24-inch barrel.
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data. Listed loads are only valid in the test firearms
used. Reduce initial powder charge by 10 percent and work up while watching for pressure signs.

April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 61


Hand-Held Duplicating Factory blend used in the .30-06 and a few
Depriming Tool
Deprime Clean Reload Ammunition other rounds.
I mention this because a reader
Fits cases with normal flash holes discontinued factory loads, espe- once complained about an arti-
from .20 caliber to .460 Weatherby cially older increased velocity cle where Id listed the excellent
Magnum and .45-100
ammunition like Federal High En- results from SUPERFORMANCE
No dies or shell holders needed
Machined from aluminum
ergy and Hornady Light Magnum, powder in the .30-06, but said
Black anodized finish mostly as a basis for comparison. SUPERFORMANCE powder didnt
Now Selling These days the same concept often come anywhere near factory ve-
Internationally! appears under different names, locities in his .17 Hornet. I knew
Harvey Deprimer such as Hornady Superformance he hadnt looked up the powder
115 Airport Road and Remington HyperVelocity. charge, because while Hodgdon
Lebanon, OR 97355 This ammunition used to be dif- lists considerable data for SUPER-
www.harveydeprimer.com ficult to match by handloading, but FORMANCE powder, there isnt
with the abundance of new pow- any for the .17 Hornet. Instead hed
ders these days its often pretty broken down a factory round and
easy. It should be noted, however, weighed its powder charge, then
that Hornady Superformance am- tried handloads with the same
munition is not always loaded amount of SUPERFORMANCE
with the same SUPERFORMANCE canister powder. Since the canis-
powder sold by Hodgdon. Instead ter blend is far slower-burning than
Superformance ammunition is any powder suitable for the .17 Hor-
loaded with different blends, ex- net, the velocity was very low, so he
actly which depending on the car- assumed I was a nitwit. Sometimes
tridge, and the SUPERFORMANCE I can be, but not in this instance.
powder sold by Hodgdon is the The listed handloads all use
either published data or unpub-
lished guidelines provided by
powder companies. Several have
the same overall length as factory
UNI-CHUCK SHIM FIT COMBO
Upgrade your current Kinetic Bullet Puller ammunition using the same bullet.
by using our New, Patent Pending, When I run across a factory load
Redding delivers more selection in its die sets UNI-CHUCK SHIM FIT COMBO. that shoots very well in one of my
for 2017 highlighted by the new additions to The UNI-CHUCK SHIM FIT COMBO
is designed to restore and replace the rifles, it seems logical to seat ex-
their Premium Die sets, 22 Nosler, 26 Nosler,
6.5 Creedmoor and 280 Ackley Improved. These worn interface and also improve the lost actly the same bullet to the same
feature Carbide Size Buttons and Micrometer efficiency of ALL Kinetic Bullet Puller depth. That usually works, despite
brand names on the market.
Seating Stems. Additional calibers have been By concentrating the kinetic energy, many handloaders firmly believing
added to the Master Hunter Series and National it increases the pulling power, therefore,
Match die sets. Sets are now offered for the new that rifle bullets should always be
reducing the users effort in pulling a bullet.
22 Nosler and 33 Nosler in most configurations Simply affix the SHIM FIT insert to the
seated right off the lands.
from Standard to Bushing Style Sets. puller tube opening (flat side up) and assemble Some handloaders might find
Also added are new Bullet Seating Microme- the UNI-CHUCK/cap together and you are ready imitating factory loads a strange
ters for handgun and straight wall standard to start pulling. Free Shipping!
seating dies. There are even special models for Limited Lifetime Warranty
concept, especially those who re-
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member when store-bought am-
Patent Pending
Redding information and helpful tech tips, visit www.quineticscorp.com MADE
IN THE
munition was considered second-
our website at www.redding-reloading.com 830-693-0237 U.S.A.
rate. I believe in whatever works,
especially techniques that save
994 W. Sumner St. time when searching for a fast and
Hartford,WI 53027 accurate load.
Tel: 262-397-8819 These days some really good
factory ammunition is relatively
inexpensive, which brings up an-
other question: Why spend hours in
Master Distributor of the loading room, when we could
LEE PRECISION be out shooting factory stuff? But
shooters almost never handload to
Reloading Equipment save money. Instead we spend hun-
dreds or even thousands of dollars
Whats the Titan Reloading on fancy equipment in the hope of
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store bought. Sometimes we even
www.titanreloading.com succeed.
62 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
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Prize Package Includes: Official Sponsors Include:


Commemorative 6.5 Creedmoor
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reloading press.
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including: gunpowder, brass, bullets,
dies and loading manuals.
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Official Rules:
You must be 21 years or older to enter the drawing. Only one entry per subscription per magazine for a total of three entries per person using the official entry form. Official entry forms are found bound into
Handloader, Rifle and Successful Hunter magazines. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY: Purchasing a subscription to one of the magazines does not increase your chances to win. To enter without purchase, print
in block letters, the words HANDLOADER 50 YEARS GIVEAWAY across the top of a 4x6 card along with your name, age, address and phone number and enclose in an envelope. You may submit up to three
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Prescott, AZ 86301. Wolfe Publishing Co. is not responsible for misdirected, damaged or undelivered mail. All entries must be received by May 30, 2017. The drawing will take place on June 15, 2017. Winners
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Rick Jamison While there may be no logical reason to work with

T
a wildcat, the desire to do so is usually preceded by
here are so many different attempts to justify it in ones mind. In my case, in
necking the .270 WSM down to 6.5mm was a hope for
rifle cartridges that there is lighter recoil, greater accuracy and possibly better
no tangible reason to add ex- ballistics at long range. I have been shooting the .270
pense and trouble by work- WSM a lot and have absolutely no complaint with it.
We all know, however, that the 6.5 and 7 metrics are
ing with a wildcat, but the intangibles reported to have some mystical ballistic advantage
attract us. The anticipation in plan- that allows them to fly flatter and deflect less in the
ning, the excitement in rounding up wind. This is known because some magazine articles
tell us so. It is true that .270s are not being outfitted
all the necessary dies and other equip- with an abundance of competition-class bullets. The
ment and the pleasurable expectation 6.5 and 7mms are used in long-range matches, as well
of how the round will perform can- as the .30s, but not the .277. I wondered if I could get
not be measured. The fact is, making better accuracy in a new 6.5 rifle and see if there was
some real ballistic advantage in the long, sleek 6.5
loads for any first-time cartridge is bullets so popular today in the 6.5-284 Norma, .260
satisfying and fun. Remington, 6.5 Grendel and 6.5 Creedmoor.

Necking a Short

64 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


The basic WSM cartridge in a short action has a are variations. Simply necking down a WSM case is
lot going for it. In my experience, the sharply angled, a straightforward process, but I wanted to illustrate
larger shoulder surface area of the WSM efficiently the neck and throat configuration of the version on
retards the forward movement of powder granules hand. To do this, a chamber cast of CERROSAFE
during firing. The deep bullet seating required in (Brownells) was made, and a Fowler optical compar-
the WSM setup delays bullet base exit from the case ator was used to measure the cast after the speci-
mouth. The short, fat powder column ensures more fied set up and cooling time. The optical comparator
of the powder is ignited initially. It all combines to allows precise measurement by magnifying an item
cause a better propellant burn before the base of the so that dimensions can be recorded with its digi-
bullet passes a rifles throat, blasting it with partially tal gauges. It was a little surprising to find that my
burned and unburned granules. reamer has a throat that does not correspond with a
Barrels do not wear out; throats wash out. Un- short action. I bought the reamer years ago and do not
burned powder is abrasive. Whats more, solid gran- remember its original specifications. For example, the
ules not yet converted to gas are dead weight. They chamber of my 6.5 measures about .345 inch from the
act just like added bullet weight but without pro- case mouth to the top of the lands. SAAMI specifica-
ducing any advantage. Powder does not detonate. It tions for the .270 WSM indicate about .158 inch, while
burns, albeit rapidly. A bullet sits in a case neck with for the 7mm and 300 WSMs, a .188-inch measurement
zero velocity and then accelerates rapidly. The two is drawn. SAAMI specs for a WSM cartridge call for an
processes, powder conversion from a solid to a gas overall length of 2.560 to 2.860 inches. What I have is
and bullet movement, are relative. It takes time for a chamber for single loading; bullets cannot be seated

t Magnum to 6.5
a bullet to gain velocity, and burning powder does Facing page, the
not reach peak pressure until a bullet travels some test rifle features
a Stiller action,
distance down a bore. For this reason, the attributes
NightForce NXS
of the WSM mentioned above are significant. Known 5.5-22x 56mm
from experience, with its long action, magazine and scope with MOAR
longer overall length, the leade of a .264 Winchester (minute of angle
Magnum, for example, washes out faster than I like. reticle) and a
If a person wants to practice by shooting 1,000 rounds Muzzlemaster
or more during a relatively short period, a rifles throat muzzle brake. The
stock is from H-S
needs to last.
Precision and the
The 6.5 WSM wildcat is not new or even obscure. trigger is a Timney.
It must be somewhat in demand as evidenced by the Right, bullets were
fact that Lee Precision, RCBS and Redding all list this seated for the short
cartridge among their limited production dies calling action and within
it the 6.5-300 WSM. A set of RCBS loading dies was SAAMI specified
purchased along with a neck ream die, and they are lengths for WSM
labeled 6.5-270 WSM, as requested. Getting a cham- cartridges.
bering reamer from Dave Kiff at Pacific Tool & Gauge
in White City, Oregon, was easy too.
Wildcats are not standardized. Frequently, there

Loads for a
Noncommercial WSM
65
A chamber cast of CERROSAFE was made to obtain chamber dimensions. While
there may be voids in the cast, it records the finest detail, including tool marks.
Accurate measurements can be taken using this method.

out to touch the lands while using receiver rather than on the trig- The chamber cast was gauged with an
the magazine. ger. The machining precision and optical comparator to gain the most
My interest for this cartridge is workmanship are second to none. precise measurements possible. The
in both target shooting at long dis- The action is drilled and tapped comparator shines a bright light on the
tance and hunting primarily mule for a one-piece rail-type scope chamber cast and projects a magnified
deer, my passion. (When ordering base that Stiller makes, which is and precise shadow profile. It has a
mechanism that translates table move-
the reamer, I was probably think- contoured beautifully with the re- ment and the chamber cast to inches
ing of a single-shot competition ceiver. by means of digital indicators.
rifle. I like to target shoot a lot and I bought 30mm rings from Night-
do not like recoil. I shoot more ac- Force and mounted the companys
curately with light-kicking rounds, 5.5-22x 56mm NXS scope with ded the action and recoil lug and
and it does not require a big hard- the MOAR reticle on the receiver. installed a Muzzlemaster muzzle
kicker to deliver ample velocity When used with a Gunwerks G7 brake of his patent. I always spec-
and energy, even to 1,000 yards, BR2 rangefinder, the combination ify a brake with no ports on the
as long as proper loads are used. works extremely well for address- bottom. If you have been blasted
A Predator action from Still- ing bullet drop at distance. The in the face, eyes and down your
ers Precision Firearms (www barrel is a Shilen match grade, shirt with dirt and debris while
.viperactions.com) was selected. one-in-8-inch twist, contoured to shooting prone, you know why.
It is designed to fit a stock for a replace a Remington varmint bar- One characteristic of wildcat
Remington Model 700, and the rel and was cut to 24 inches. The cartridges is that nearly all the
same triggers that fit the 700 fit stock is an H-S Precision with an load experimentation in years
the Predator. While the $975 price aluminum bedding block and a past was done without benefit of
tag might at first seem a bit rich, barrel channel to match the barrel pressure measuring equipment.
buying a Remington Model 700 ac- contour with plenty of clearance. Famous wildcatters like Rocky
tion, for example, then blueprint- A Timney trigger was installed as Gibbs, P.O. Ackley and the A&M
ing it, comes with an eye-opening well. Rifle Company reported figures
price too. The Stiller Predator fea- I have four other WSM rifles for loads that were not pressure
tures an M16-type extractor and a built with this same combination tested. The equipment during that
smaller loading port for a stiffer and love them all. Whats more, time was simply not available as it
action. The 316 -inch recoil lug is this blend of components makes is today. It is one thing to experi-
pinned to the receiver and an ex- for a simple rifle build. Richard ment with powder charges within
cellent, simple lever-type bolt re- Buss of Eugene, Oregon, fit and a range published in a recognized
lease is on the left side of the chambered the barrel, glass bed- load manual (nearly all of which

Necking a
Short
Magnum
to 6.5 This illustrates the specific chamber that Rick has in his rifle.

66 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


are pressure tested today), and it 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
is yet another to start from scratch
as the old-timers did using primer
appearance, case extraction and
case expansion as a guide. I have
pressure measuring equipment,
and it is an advantage in produc-
ing and recording data.
The systems used for load de-
velopment here are the Oehler
Model 43 PBL and the Oehler Sys-
tem 83, both used by most ballis-
tics labs in this country. While no
reference nor factory ammunition Streamlined hunting bullets used for the accompanying load data included the
is available for a wildcat cartridge, (1) Nosler 120-grain Ballistic Tip, (2) Barnes 127 LRX BT, (3) Nosler 129 AccuBond
I have found (with a lot of experi- LR, (4) Nosler 130 AccuBond, (5) Berger 130 VLD Hunting, (6) Swift 130 Scirocco
ence) that the Oehler system can II, (7) Berger 140 VLD Hunting, (8) Nosler 142 AccuBond LR and (9) Hornady
be depended on to produce reli- 143-grain ELD-X.
able data. The Model 43 PBL was
chosen for this testing. yards. For this reason, stream- Federal 215 primers were used for
The chamber cast mentioned lined bullets from 120 grains up all loads.
earlier indicates that the chamber were included. Propellant selection was dic-
neck diameter measures .299 inch Tests have shown that differ- tated by results as shooting pro-
at its smallest. Given a .264-inch ent primers can produce different gressed. For me, a propellant
bullet, this means case neck wall results, but what I have noticed is should fill the case and possibly be
thickness needs to be no more that nearly all the results are good. a little compressed as a maximum
than about .015 inch to allow .005 Knowing that slow-burning pro- load is reached. This situation gen-
inch (or .0025 inch per side) for bul- pellants would be used in charges erally produces the highest veloc-
let release. After lubing and neck- greater than 50 grains, magnum ity at a given pressure level. From
ing down .270 WSM cases from
Winchester, Norma and Nosler, a
Mitutoyo tubing mike indicated
wall thickness runs from .014 to
.018 inch, so case necks needed
to be thinned and uniformed. An
RCBS ream die cut neck walls .014
to .015 inch in thickness. This re-
sults in a loaded-round neck diam-
eter of .292 to .294 inch, providing
adequate room for bullet release in
the .299-inch chamber.
With the cases reamed and
chamfered, components were con- Pistol Bullets
sidered. There are so many ex- and
and
cellent bullets, propellants and
primers that making a choice can
Ammunition
be overwhelming. I like to simplify
whenever possible. First, bullet se- .302 .338 .375 .416

ZERO
lection was narrowed to those in a Whispers are developments of SSK Industries.
variety of weights and brands de- Custom barrels for Contenders, Encores,
signed specifically for hunting and bolt guns and semi-autos as well as com-
with the highest ballistic coeffi- plete guns and the cans to keep them
cients (BC). While longer, heavier quiet are available. SSK chambers over
400 calibers. Wild wildcat ideas welcomed.
bullets have higher BCs, there is
a velocity tradeoff; heavier bullets SSK Industries Zero Bullet Company, Inc.
start out slower. How they com- 590 Woodvue Lane P.O. Box 1188 Cullman, AL 35056
pare downrange varies. Some- Wintersville, OH 43953 Tel: 256-739-1606 Fax: 256-739-4683
times a lighter bullet at a higher Toll Free: 800-545-9376
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initial velocity carries adequate www.zerobullets.com
velocity and energy, even to 1,000
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April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 67


Necking a
Short
Magnum
to 6.5
a safety standpoint, more import- Above is the leade origin in the 6.5mm WSM stainless barrel after firing 228
ant is filling a case when using rounds. The leade is still fresh, almost like new with little heat cracking and almost
slow-burning rifle powders. I have no washing. The long bullet jump possibly contributes to this. At right is the leade
origin in a .264 Winchester Magnum stainless barrel after firing 362 rounds. This
had instances in pressure testing leade is washed out and the throat is severely heat cracked. The .264 Winchester
where the lighter starting loads has a steeper, 2-degree leade while the WSM has a shallower, 1.5-degree leade.
of slow-burning propellants pro-
duced erratic and sometimes ex- load development. It does no good ter capacity of fired cases, both in
tremely high pressure excursions. to have a recipe that shoots small 6.5 WSM and the .264 Winchester
This brings up another load crite- groups at 100 yards but is incon- Magnum. The 6.5 WSM holds
ria of mine: uniformity. If a load is sistent velocitywise. A load with about 80 grains of water when
not reasonably uniform with a low a large velocity variation cannot filled to the mouth, and the .264
standard deviation and extreme shoot well at long range. Usually Winchester Magnum holds about
spread on both velocity and pres- the most uniform loads are the 84 grains. From this, one would
sure, it is eliminated. ones that shoot well. If not, an think that powders developed
While most shooters develop accuracy problem is likely some- for the .264 Winchester Magnum
loads with accuracy as the pri- thing other than the load. Possi- would be suitable for the 6.5 WSM.
mary criteria, it makes sense to bly it lies with the firearm or the The .264 has been around since
first develop a load that produces bullet seating depth. In the case of 1959. Today, we have powders that
uniform velocity with a case full Richards muzzle brake, it is like are less sensitive to temperature
of powder. To me, this is an in- the Browning BOSS with a weight change and that even produce less
herently good load. Then among at the muzzle, making it possible fouling. Enduron propellants from
the good loads, one can experi- to tune a rifles barrel vibration to IMR, for example, are reported to
ment to produce the best accu- match a loads preference. reduce fouling. I wanted to include
racy possible and may even gain To assess a starting point for these newer powders.
this accuracy information during propellants, I measured the wa- I soon found that propellants

6.5 WSM Maximum Loads (Long-Throated Rifle)


overall 100-yard
loaded bullet muzzle groups
bullet powder charge case length jump velocity 3 shots 5 shots 10 shots
(grains) (grains) (inches) (inch) (fps) (inches)

120 Nosler Ballistic Tip RL-33 70.0 Winchester, once-fired 2.857 .111 3,189 .18 .61 .79
127 Barnes LRX BT H-50 BMG 66.0 Winchester, once-fired 2.855 .120 2,905 .82 .91 1.01
129 Nosler AccuBond LR H-1000 66.5 Winchester, new 2.859 .213 3,093 1.49 1.94 1.94
130 Nosler AccuBond IMR-7977 63.0 Nosler, new 2.855 .120 2,973 .75 1.19 1.57
130 Berger VLD Hunting Retumbo 68.0 Winchester, new 2.859 .195 3,104 .90 .90 1.28
130 Swift Scirocco II Retumbo 67.0 Winchester, new 2.857 .181 3,059 .87 1.55 2.90
140 Berger VLD Hunting IMR-7977 64.0 Winchester, new 2.853 .194 2,938 .36 .73 .86
142 Nosler AccuBond LR US 869 76.0 Winchester, once-fired 2.852 .195 3,044 .46 .59 1.26
143 Hornady ELD-X US 869 74.5 Winchester, once-fired 2.852 .226 3,003 .62 .73 1.12
143 Hornady ELD-X VV-N570 64.0 Winchester, once-fired 2.856 .222 2,968 .48 .49 .77
Notes: Loads were fired from a 24-inch Shilen match grade barrel with a one-in-8-inch twist. Federal 215 Magnum primers were used throughout.
All data taken from an Oehler Model 43 PBL. New .270 WSM cases were sized and neck-reamed with an RCBS ream die and reamer, then necks were trimmed. Bul-
let jump was determined with a Hornady Lock-N-Load OAL Gauge. Once-fired cases were partially neck-sized only. Redding Imperial Sizing Die Wax was used for
all case sizing.
This load data is for experienced handloaders only. Reduce charge weights accordingly and adjust the charge weight up or down as pressure signs indi-
cate. These loads and velocities should be considered maximum and were safe in the test rifle only. If your rifle has a shorter throat, these loads would
likely be over-maximum. No warranty is expressed or implied as to the suitability or safety of these loads in another firearm with any other component lots.
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data. Listed loads are only valid in the test firearms used. Reduce initial powder charge by 10 percent and work up while
watching for pressure signs.

68 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307


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Over 311,000 Loads!
This 10-shot group was fired from a benchrest at 100 yards using Berger 140-grain
VLD Hunting bullets over 64.0 grains of IMR-7977 in a Winchester case with a
Federal 215 primer.
DARDAS CAST BULLETS
faster than the burning rate of Re- was made to tweak loads for ac- Dardas Shooters Supply, Inc.
loder 22, IMR-7828 and even Mag- curacy. 123 E. Hampton Rd. Essexville, MI 48732
Tel: 989-450-5396 Fax: 866-325-6525
Pro were below the margin for All the loads listed were kept Email: info@dardascastbullets.com
my case-filling criteria. Data for within the SAAMI standard length www.dardascastbullets.com
powders requiring less than 63.0 for the .270 WSM, thus ensuring
grains at maximum pressure were they would function through any
eliminated. Maximum pressure standard short action. Because of
Traditional Fair Chase
refers to pressure levels normally my rifles long throat, the bullet
Alaskan Game Hunts!
deemed to be the top acceptable jump required to reach the lands Brown Bear
by ammunition, powder and bul- was listed. Contrary to what is Black Bear
let companies. The loads published often printed, a deterioration in Moose
Ed StEvEnSon
here should all be deemed maxi- accuracy was not seen with the ShEEp RivER hunting CampS
mum and may be over maximum bullet jump listed. I tried seat- 1819 S. Henry Aaron Dr. Wasilla, AK 99623
907-745-0479 hunting@mtaonline.net
for a different 6.5 WSM rifle. The ing bullets out close to the lands www.alaskan-brown-bear-hunts.com
long throat likely allows greater and loading them singly in this 6.5
powder charge weights. If you re- WSM with no improvement in ac-
ceive velocities similar to these curacy or performance.
published velocities from a 24- Beyond this point, there is more
inch barrel, even if your powder that goes into the selection of a
charge is less, go no higher in long-range hunting load. One needs NOE Bullet Moulds is a
charge weight. to determine the downrange veloc- premium manufacturer of bullet
moulds and casting tools.
Ideal powders for this 6.5 WSM ity and energy to see that enough
are on the order of Reloder 33, energy is delivered at the target. My
US 869 or Retumbo. Two of these rule of thumb is 1,000 foot-pounds
propellants, along with VV-N570, (ft-lbs) of kinetic energy for deer
produced single-digit standard and 1,500 for elk. In addition, a cho-
deviations for 10-shot strings. Re- sen bullet must expand adequately Check Us Out,
tumbo and IMR-7977 produced at the downrange velocity. You Wont Be Disappointed!
an SD of 11. US 869 was the only Loading the 6.5mm WSM was
powder that completely filled the an interesting and enjoyable ex-
case with slight compression. Be- periment. It produces velocity on
sides velocity uniformity, the ac- par with the .264 Winchester Mag-
curacy received was a big plus. num and meets my criteria for a
Three of the 10 strings with bullets good long-range cartridge. How-
from Hornady, Berger and Nosler ever, with the existence of the .270
clustered under one inch for 10 WSM as a standard commercial NOE Bullet Moulds LLC
shots as can be seen in the table. cartridge, I prefer it for a hunting Use Code HL315 for 10% Discount
Also listed is group size for three round. And, by the way, the metric 801-377-7289
bullet diameter is not magic. www.noebulletmoulds.com
shots and five shots. No attempt
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 69
Hayleys Deer Bullets doe standing below about 50 yards
away. The deer browsed along, fac-
Custom Ammunition
Specializing in the:
for the .45-70
(Continued from page 47)
ing away. I stepped over to a tree
and leaned against it to steady
myself and the rifle. When the
Weird Wacky & shooting 130-grain bullets from deer turned slightly and showed
Wonderful the same weight rifle. its shoulder, I shot it behind the
I had a doe license in my pocket shoulder. The deer jumped at the
P.O. Box 889 shot and made a mad dash for 30
211 North River during the first season I hunted
deer with the Marlin Guide Gun yards and fell over. Dressing the
Seymour, TX 76380 deer showed the bullet had hit at
loaded with the Goulds bullet. I
Tel: 940-888-3352 peeked over a slight rise and saw a the rear of the lungs, plowed for-
ward and exited the front of its far
shoulder. The bullet had expanded
well, with an entrance hole about
the size of a 25 piece, and the exit
hole was about the diameter of a
50 piece.
This past hunting season I sat
on a stump for about an hour
watching a timbered flat. A white-
tail doe finally trotted out of a
swamp, with a 10-point buck right
behind it. The range was about 250
yards. If I had been carrying my
.25-06 Remington, I could have
taken a steady rest and shot the
buck where it stood, but that shot
for the .45-70 was too far.
The buck chased the doe back
and forth for half an hour. The doe
had enough and bedded down. The
buck also bedded down. There was
my chance. Marking the bucks lo-
cation by a big stump, I crawled
into a shallow draw that led close
to the deer then hurried along in
a crouch and inched out of the
draw behind a tree. The buck saw
the movement and stood up at
about 80 yards. It was too late;
it collapsed at the shot. The bul-
let hit in the front of the near
shoulder, punched the front of
the lungs and plowed out behind
the far shoulder. The in-and-out
holes were neat with only some
slight bloodshot meat under the
far shoulder.
The Goulds 45-330 Express
bullet had been easy and inexpen-
sive to make and had expanded
perfectly. The .45-70s recoil had
been mild enough that I watched
through the scope as the buck
fell. The bullets trajectory was a
rainbow when compared to bul-
lets shot from modern cartridges,
and the shot required the close ap-
proach that keeps me enthusiastic
about deer hunting.
70 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
Mikes Shootin Shack inches high at 25 yards. For these
(Continued from page 26) revolvers, .44 Special handloads
idea was to get the .44 Special up carry any of the 200-grain bullets
to about 1,200 fps with 250-grain intended for .44-40 loading.
bullets. Nearly 30 years ago, upon One benefit the .44 Special has
buying an S&W Hand-Ejector 1st given since moving to our prop-
Model Target, I could not resist erty 30 years ago has been with my
trying his recommendation as to Colt SAA .44-40 Sheriffs Model Custom, odd, obsolete and specialty
a powerful handload. At first fir- with a 3-inch barrel. Using either cartridge cases
Wildcat cartridge development
ing, the cylinder fell open. I shot homemade shotshells or CCI fac-
Manufacturing OVER 450 calibers
it again and the cylinder fell open. tory shot loads, it has accounted Correct headstamped wildcat brass
Common sense overpowered stu- for more rattlesnakes than I care www.qual-cart.com
pidity at that point when I realized to remember. P.O. Box 445, Hollywood, MD 20636 (301) 373-3719

a very valuable 1915-era revolver


was being endangered by my
complacence. So here is my ad-
vice to all who might want more
velocity than say 900 fps with
240/250-grain, .44-caliber bullets:
Get a .44 Magnum revolver.
After considerable experimen-
tation, it may seem illogical that
my favorite .44 Special bullets are
not the semiwadcutters touted by
so many writers in the past. In-
stead, I prefer roundnoses, such
as Redding/SAECO 442 or Lyman
429383. These weigh in the vicinity
of 245 to 250 grains. Admittedly,
such a bullet is nigh on useless on

OEHLER 35P
live game of any size. A third cast
bullet design also works very well.
It is Lymans 429667, a 250-grain

IS BACK!
roundnose/flatpoint. It really shines
when .44 Specials are being used
in one or another of the leverguns
available.
Good .44 Special powders are Oehler is making a special,
most anything in burning rate be- limited run of the Model 35
tween Bullseye and Unique. Over Proof Chronograph.
the decades Ive determined that
4.5 grains of Bullseye, 4.7 grains of Call or go online for
Titegroup and 5.3 grains of W-231/ more information.
HP-38 will duplicate the factory
load velocity of approximately 750 Phone: 512-327-6900
fps with 240- to 250-grain lead bul- oehler-research.com
lets. To get that extra 100 fps of
velocity .44 Special factory loads
should have had in the first place,
6.0 grains of Unique suffices. As far
as Im concerned, jacketed bullets P.O. Box 9135
are wasted at .44 Special velocities.
One area where my own hand-
Austin, TX 78766
loads deviate from the above rec-
ipes is for rounds specifically
meant for my Colt SAA .44-40s
with .44 Special cylinders installed.

RESEARCH, INC.
Their sights are factory regulated
for 200-grain bullets, delivering
245- to 250-grain bullets several
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 71
In Range were afflicted with the not in-
(Continued from page 74) vented here attitude. An excep-
a number of disastrous develop- tion was Norma, which had been
NewfouNdlaNd, CaNada loading Weatherby ammunition
Moose, Woodland Caribou & Black Bear Hunts ments, such as Winchesters ill-
Book now for 2017 & 2018 Tel/Fax: (877) 751-1681
fated Black Talon in 1993. for years using Hornady bullets in
dean.wheeler@nf.sympatico.ca www.biggamecanada.com
P.O. Box 159, York Harbour, NL, Canada A0L 1L0 Most ammunition companies standard loads and Nosler Parti-
tions for the more expensive ones.
Normas own bullets were good,
but the company began loading
On
ly Introducing the
.95
Partitions in its own line as a pre-

$3
9 GRX Recoil Lug for mium offering. Federal went fur-
ther; instead of trying to develop a
the Ruger 10/22! premium game bullet, it started of-
fering Partitions, Swift A-Frames
and Woodleighs (a fine Australian
The GRX solves the chronic accuracy problem bonded bullet) in its loaded am-
with the 10/22 platform by focusing the recoil munition. Federal later acquired
area to a lug similar to a centerfire rifle. the rights to manufacture Trophy
Bondeds, and that became its in-
Eliminates fliers and improves accuracy 15% to 20% house premium bullet.
Over the past 10 years, there
Simply installed by replacing the barrel retainer, have been any number of devel-
fitting and bedding the lug into the stock (instructions included) opments in the field. Ammunition
companies have designed their
own bullets or formed partner-
Little Crow Gunworks, LLC ships with bullet makers. The spe-
6593 113th Ave. NE, Suite C Spicer, MN 56288 cialty makers have come out with
Tel: (320) 796-0530 www.littlecrowgunworks.com one so-called premium bullet af-
ter another, some employing bond-
ing as the hook; others are using
composite tips, ribs or abandon-
ing lead cores. Most of these are
more expensive than standard
bullets, but are they any better, re-
ally, when it comes to hunting big
game? That was the question my
interlocutor was asking over lunch
that day in Kansas, and there was
simply no easy answer.
Lets look at it from a different
point of view. What is a premium
bullet supposed to accomplish?
The main goal is to utilize the
benefits of higher velocity with-
out having the bullet disintegrate
on impact.
With cartridges like the .30-30 or
.35 Remington, there is little ben-
efit that a premium bullet could
add. Their bullets are relatively
heavy, and at midrange velocities
(low, actually, by todays stan-
dards) they hold together, pene-
trate and generally do the job.
But take a .270 Winchester. A
normal 130-grain bullet at 3,100
fps is excellent for white-tailed
deer but is not going to hold to-
gether if you hit the shoulder of a
moose. Bond the core so that it re-
72 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307
lets, looking for the best combi-
nation of accuracy and velocity.
Two of them were premium bul-
lets Nosler 130-grain Partition
and Swift 130-grain Scirocco II
but neither delivered the accuracy
I got with the old, proven, non-pre-
mium but still excellent Sierra
130-grain SBT GameKing. I went
with the Sierra and got two deer
with two shots. One, at 145 yards,
ran about 50 yards; the other, at
103 yards, dropped where it stood.
In the end, the use of premium
bullets is a lot like premium gas-
oline. In some cars it adds to per-
formance, while in others it either
adds nothing for the higher price
The Swift A-Frame, right, combines bonding with the partition principle, while the or actually detracts from perfor-
Scirocco II combines bonding with a tapered jacket to control expansion. mance. The same is true of bullets.
You have to match the bullet to the
tains 80 to 90 percent of its weight, hard to keep track. Some are genu- cartridge for the game being hunted
however, and it will both hold to- inely good, others not so good, and and the expected conditions.
gether when hitting bone and keep a few are outright frauds. The word Much of the time, none of us
its weight for deep penetration. bonded is tossed around so much need a premium bullet; at other
My new acquaintance with a it has become almost meaningless. times, theyre worth their weight
7mm Remington Magnum was When I was preparing a .270 in gold. There is, alas, no hard and
hunting Kansas white-tailed deer, Winchester for the Kansas hunt, fast rule that applies to every car-
using standard 140-grain bul- I worked with three different bul- tridge in every case.
lets. Using a tough premium bul-
let would probably work against AD INDEX
him since, with little resistance, it 4D Reamer Rentals, Ltd. .....................................71 Norma.................................................................27
could pass through without open- AASA ..................................................................43 Nosler ...................................................................5
ing up. It might well have killed Action Bullets, Inc. ..............................................69 Oehler Research, Inc. .........................................71
Anneal-Rite.........................................................36 Oregon Trail Bullet Company ..............................16
the deer eventually, but chances Berger Bullets ..................................................... 12 Otis Technology, Inc.......................................18-19
are it would be a long chase. This Berrys Mfg. ..........................................................2 Pacific Tool & Gauge, Inc. ...................................20
happened to me in Tanzania in Buchanan Precision Machine ..............................24 Patmarlins ..........................................................31
1990. I was using the then-new Buffalo Arms Company .......................................20 PMA Tool ............................................................35
Chatanooga Shooting Supplies / Natchez ...........37 Puff-Lon .............................................................43
Trophy Bonded 115-grain .257 Colorado Shooters Supply..................................24 Quality Cartridge ................................................71
bullet in a .257 Weatherby Mag- Cooper Firearms of Montana, Inc. ......................75 Quinetics Corporation .........................................62
num. I nailed an impala at about Cutting Edge Bullet .............................................43 Rainier Ballistics .................................................70
Dale Fricke Holsters............................................70 Redding Reloading Equipment ......................29, 62
100 yards, but the bullet passed Dardas Cast Bullets ............................................69 RGB Bullet Company ...........................................31
between the ribs on both sides. Dillon Precision Products, Inc. ............................10 Rifledjag.com......................................................25
It did not expand at all, and the Ed Sager .............................................................36 Rigel Products ....................................................36
Gemmells Machine Works..................................30 Rim Rock Bullets ................................................24
impala dived into the long grass. GI Brass Locker ..................................................31 Sharp Shoot R Precision, Inc...............................43
We caught up to it an hour later, Gradient Lens Corporation .......................... 7, 9, 11 Sheep River Hunting Camps ...............................69
but it was a nerve-wracking ex- Graf & Sons, Inc..................................................42 ShootersProShop.com ........................................ 74
Gunstop Reloading Supplies, Inc.........................22 Shooting Chrony, Inc...........................................31
perience. With Weatherby ammu- Harvey Deprimer.................................................62 Shotgun Sports ...................................................72
nition loaded with the standard Hayleys Custom Ammunition .............................70 Sierra Bullets ......................................................25
Hornady 100-grain bullet, that im- High Plains Reboring & Barrels, LLC ...................30 Sinclair International, Inc. ...................................47
Hodgdon Powder Company...................................3 SouWester Outfitting .........................................72
pala would probably have dropped Hornady Manfuacturing Co. ................................21 SSK Industries ....................................................67
where it stood. Huntington Die Specialties ..................................20 Starline ...............................................................59
Conversely, on that trip I also King Shooters Supply, Inc. ..................................61 Stockys, LLC......................................................71
Leadheads Bullets ..............................................25 The Hawken Shop...............................................25
killed two zebras, a topi, a tsessebe, Lee Precision, Inc. ..............................................58 Timney Triggers, LLC ..........................................42
two warthogs and a wildebeest Little Crow Gunworks, LLC ...........................30, 72 Titan Reloading...................................................62
with the same rifle, and all dropped MEC Mayville Engineering Co., Inc......................15 Tru-Square Metal Products.................................29
Midsouth Shooters Supply Co. ..............................8 UniqueTek, Inc. ...................................................36
with one shot. Some ran a few Mike Bellms Bellm TCs ......................................69 Vista Outdoor Sales, LLC ..............................13, 76
yards, but none went far. Montana Bullet Works.........................................30 Western Powders....................................23, 40, 41
Today, there are so many pre- MTM Molded Products Company ........................17 Wolfe Publishing Company ...........................63, 69
NOE Bullet Moulds, LLC ......................................69 Zero Bullet Company, Inc. ...................................67
mium bullets on the market, its
April-May 2017 www.handloadermagazine.com 73
PremiUm bUllets
IN RANGE by Terry Wieland
I n a deer camp in Kansas last
year, the question was asked:
Are premium bullets worth the
ing to design a bullet that would
fulfill three requirements aside
from the usual one of acceptable
money, or is it all a scam? The man accuracy: An expanding bullet
asking the question was carrying needed to open up reliably at low
a 7mm Remington Magnum, using velocities, hold together at high ve-
factory ammunition loaded with locities and penetrate to the vitals
standard Remington bullets. Hed without coming apart. The ideal
been around, had hunted quite a was a mushroom shape.
bit, shooting animals of various The Partition has a copper wall
sizes. In his experience, he said, between two lead cores, front and
the old Core-Lokt worked just fine. back. The soft lead front core will
Why should he pay more? expand even at low velocities, but
There is no easy, all-inclusive once the jacket peels back to the
This is typical expansion of the original
answer to that question. In fact, Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, recovered
partition, expansion stops, leaving
it raises a host of others: What from a game animal. about 60 percent of bullet weight
cartridge are you using? Bullet to continue on into the animal.
weight? Velocity? What distances In America, the first bullet that Typically, this truncated slug is
are you shooting at, and how big could be considered premium found under the skin on the far
are the beasts? Probably the most was the Nosler Partition, intro- side.
important question, however, and duced in 1948. The German RWS The next step was the Bitter-
the one that needs to be answered H-Mantel bullet, which is a very root bullet, developed and man-
first is, what exactly is a premium similar design, preceded the Par- ufactured by Bill Steigers. The
bullet? tition by 12 years, but since it was Bitterroot used a secret process
The word premium, which, ac- expensive, hard to find and made to bond the lead core and copper
cording to Oxford, dates back to mostly in odd sizes, it never be- jacket together, so that even as
1601, has several meanings, but came a real player in the U.S. The it expanded, the core and jacket
the one we are concerned with Partition did, and from the begin- never separated. These were great
is more than the usual value. In ning it was recognized as a better bullets, but they were expensive
other words, better than average hunting bullet. It was also more and, more critically, very hard to
but how much better? Anyone can expensive: A box of 50 cost about get because of small production
tack the word premium onto a as much as a box of 100 of any- runs.
product and not justify it in any thing else. It was this difficulty that led
way. There is no exact measure- For more than half a century, Jack Carter to develop the Tro-
ment. ammunition makers had been try- phy Bonded Bear Claw. Around
the same time, Lee Reed devel-
oped the Swift A-Frame that com-
bined the partition principle with a
bonded core. These developments
took place in the latter 1980s, and
by the mid-1990s, premium game
bullets were pretty well estab-
lished in the minds of knowledge-
able hunters. Not so, however, in
the minds that were guiding the
fortunes of big ammunition com-
panies. At first, they denied there
was any such thing as a premium
game bullet; later, they started
tacking the word premium onto
(Continued on page 72)

74 www.handloadermagazine.com Handloader 307