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SURVIVAL RELOADING

See also:  Home Defense

IF YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE ONLY ONE WEAPON  -  THE BEST HOME DEFENSE .410 SHOTGUN?
.410 BORE SHOT SHELL AMMO  -  HANDGUNS FOR SELF DEFENSE 
THE LOWLY .22 LR RIMFIRE FOR HOME DEFENSE? 
New Page - Using Lyman 310 Tong Tools for Reloading

We are living in perhaps the most difficult time in our nation's history to obtain reloading tools and components.  And it is deliberate, as apparently the Department of Homeland Security (an oxymoron) is purchasing everything they can get their hands on by prior contract to keep it out of the hands of the public.  Obama lost the battle to get our guns so now he is apparently trying to make them useless without ammunition to shoot.

Tools to reload common cartridges are extremely hard to find.  It is still possible to find some oddball shell holders and dies, and using the dimension tables below it can be seen that they can be used to reload certain other cartridges.  It is not recommended nor ideal to use reloading tools not specifically made for an individual cartridge, but it is far better than the improvised methods of reloading which have been used before in hard times.  See the article below on Improvised Reloading to see what people have had to go through without even a modicum of decent reloading equipment.

Cartridge Dimensions

Below I have listed the relevant dimensions of various center fire cartridges. I can guarantee they are wrong and that I take no responsibility for their use.

Why are the dimensions listed below wrong? Because they are "ideal" measurements. Tooling wears as it is used. Every cartridge must have minimum and maximum dimensions. Chamber dimensions must also have minimum and maximum dimensions. It is obvious that the MAXIMUM cartridge must be smaller than the MINIMUM chamber or the odds are that someone, somewhere at some time would purchase cartridges that would not fit into the chamber of his weapon!

Neck sizing fired brass to fit a particular chamber is a perfectly useful way of reloading ammunition PROVIDING that brass was previously fired in the same rifle for which it is being reloaded. That does not include semi-auto firearms as their brass must be full length resized. Brass picked up in the field may have been fired in a chamber that was closer to the high end of the maximum dimension permitted and thus would not fit into a minimum-cut chamber without first being full length resized.

NECK SIZING PORTABLE EQUIPMENT

The Lyman 310 tool above left requires 5/8 x 30 tpi dies. Bottle neck cartridges are neck sized only.  Straight sided cases, usually pistol or revolver cases, can be full length sized.  Note the die above, right is for priming.  This die is only used with the Lyman 310 Tong Tool hand press.  See the page on Lyman 310 Tong Tools, starting with the factory instructions.

FULL LENGTH SIZING PORTABLE TOOLS

HDS Compac Press

Lee Hand Press

2 die set

3 die set

The two hand presses above use common 7/8 x 14 tpi dies sets and can full length resize cartridge cases.  Bottleneck cartridges usually are a 2 die set, pistol and revolver cartridges use a 3 die set, the extra die being used for belling the case mouth for easier bullet seating.

The making of cartridge brass involved expensive draw dies. Whenever possible, draw dies were used to make many different cartridges, the length and caliber being irrelevant as those were formed and trimmed AFTER the basic case was drawn. The rim and extractor groove were also cut and formed after the basic case was drawn.

The draw die for .410 brass was used to make the .44 Russian cartridge in the first drawn cases. Later, that same draw die was used to make .303 British, .30-40 Krag, then the .44 Special and much later the .44 Magnum. The base or web of each of those cartridges is essentially the same, with only the rim being of various widths.  The overall length of the drawn case is irrelevant to a shell holder.

The shell holder illustrated at right is the common RCBS type and fits the HDS and Lee hand presses shown above as well as virtually all modern bench presses.  You can see how the cartridge case is inserted into the opening in the shell holder.  When fully inserted to the back the beveled cut engages the extractor groove in the cartridge case and holds the case firmly.  The shell holder shown has a wide relief cut for a rimmed case.

Neck sizing, full length sizing and case forming

There is nothing wrong with neck sizing only.  The cases must have been fired in the chamber into which they will be fired when reloaded, but that is not a handicap so long as pressures are kept at close to factory specifications (SAAMI standards) or lower so the action does not compress and thus lengthen the case.  As the shoulder is not touched when neck sizing, the headspacing is not changed at all.  In fact, neck sizing of rimmed or belted cases generally results in prolonged case life because then the shoulder IS properly headspaced in the chamber because rim or belt IS the headspace "gauge" in rimmed and belted cases, not the shoulder as in rimless cases.

Full length sizing must be done with care so the shoulder is not set back.  If the shoulder is set back the case will stretch just above the web.  Case #1 at right shows a typical split just above the web from excessive case stretching.  This particular case was a .250 Savage that was necked to make a 22-250 case.  I was at the range one day when a fellow was shooting these reloads and many of them were exhibiting almost total case head failure and the shooter was throwing them away.  Case #2 was an example I found of a split case that lent itself to sectioning.  It was a belted case that began life as a 300 Win Mag and had been necked down and the shoulder set back to make it into a 7mm Remington mag.  You can see the split through the case on the right side and the web is very thin and ready to split on the left side just above the web.   Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Neck Splits

All brass cartridge cases should be examined after firing to find any flaws such as neck splits.  Normally, case life can be enhanced by annealing the neck and shoulder, but eventually the cases will develop neck splits from work-hardening of the brass during sizing and firing.  Case #1 shows a typical neck split.  This case began life as a .30-06.  I formed it down to 7mm, inside neck reamed, annealed, and then fireformed it to be a 7 x 57 Ackley Improved.  There was an imperfection in the brass and the neck split after only ten reloadings.  Case #2 is a twice fired .30-06 and shows an imperfection in the neck that would be a full-fledged neck split on the next firing.  Case #3 has the beginning of a neck split at the case mouth.  This case began life as a .458 Winchester Mag.  I formed it down to 7mm Weatherby, inside neck reamed, fireformed, and annealed it.  After 5 rounds it developed the start of a neck split.  It was simply necked down too far for good case life.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Now we can look at the dimension tables to find how they are useful.

A shell holder cut to fit the smallest rim diameter, the .44 Special and Magnum, will not accept a .303 or .30-40 Krag case because the cut for the rim diameter is too small. Conversely, a shell holder cut for the largest rim, the .30-40, will accept any of the cartridges from that family of cases with smaller rims. That means a #5 adaptor ring for a .310 Tong Tool will accept any of those cases, and an RCBS # shell holder will work for all of them.

"Standard" 30-06 cases also have various widths of rims, even if they are rimless cases. Looking at the dimensions listed below, it is clear that the widest rim is the 0.474" rim on the 7.65 Belgian Mauser. The smallest rim is that of the .280 Remington at 0.470. Therefore, a shell holder for a 7.65 Belgian Mauser (or 6.5 x 55 Swede) will accept any ‘06 based cartridge case whereas a tight shell holder for a .280 Remington would not.

The same holds true for normal belted magnum cartridges. The 7 x 61 S&H has a rim diameter of 0.534". The other standard-sized belted magnum cases range down to 0.530" diameter. If packing equipment for survival reloading, the shell holder for a 7.61 S&H would be the one to choose as it will accept the other belted magnums.

Now look at base diameters of 0.379". The .38 Special was one of the first using this draw die, followed by the .222 and .223.

For neck sizing versatility, to see what size die will neck size other cartridges, the length to neck, shoulder diameter and neck diameter are all important. The body of the case to be sized must have a shoulder diameter larger than the case to be sized and the body of the case must be the same as or longer than the parent die. A .308 Win has a neck size die can size the necks of 300 Savage, .30-40 and .30-06 when sized properly to hold bullets of 0.308" diameter, for example. A .222 Rem die can be backed out and size the necks of .222 Rem Magnum and .223's/5.56's.

It is best to have complete, original die sets for every cartridge for which you intend to reload, but for survival reloading there are a few shortcuts that can be made. If you can keep a neighbor’s weapon working that lessens his desire for YOUR rifle or handgun.

 

Name/designation of cartridge

A. Rim diameter

B. Base or Web Diameter

C. Length to neck

D. Shoulder diameter

E. Outside neck diameter

F. Overall length

G. Bullet Diameter

Name

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

222 Rem

.378

.376

1.387

.358

.253

1.70

.224

223 Rem

.378

.376

1.557

.358

.253

1.760

.224

222 Rem Magnum

.378

.375

1.586

.358

.253

1.850

.224

244/6mm Rem

.472

.471

1.882

.431

.276

2.233

.243

250-3000 Savage

.473

.468

1.637

.418

.285

1.912

.257

257 Roberts

.473

.471

1.912

.429

.290

2.233

.257

25/06

.473

.470

2.117

.441

.290

2.494

.257

6.5 x 55 Swede

.476

.475

1.833

.435

.297

2.165

.264

264 Win Mag

.532

.513

2.246

.491

2.99

2.500

.264

270 Winchester

.473

.470

2.157

.441

.308

2.540

.277

7 x 57 Mauser

.473

.471

1.895

.431

.321

2.235

.284

280 Rem

.470

.468

2.217

.432

.311

2.534

.284

284 Winchester

.470

.495

1.877

.465

.312

2.165

.284

7 X 61 S&H

.534

.513

2.094

.473

.313

2.394

.284

7mm Rem Mag

.525

.507

2.220

.490

.313

2.495

.284

7mm Weatherby

.530

.511

2.212

.490

.307

2.545

.284

30 M1 Carbine

.360

.356

-

-

.336

1.290

.308

30-30 Winchester

.506

.421

1.550

.402

.333

1.976

.308

300 Savage

.473

.471

1.679

.449

.330

1.871

.308

308 Winchester

.473

.470

1.711

.454

.343

.2015

.308

30-40 Krag

.545

.457

1.830

.423

.338

2.250

.308

30-06

.473

.470

2.111

.441

.339

2.495

.308

300 H&H

.532

.513

2.550

.457

.338

2.850

.308

300 Winchester Mag

.532

.513

2.356

.491

.339

2.620

.308

300 Weatherby Mag

.530

.511

2.495

.490

.332

2.820

.308

7.62 x 39mm Russian

.445

.443

1.524

.396

.339

2.193

.311

7.62 x 54R Russian

.567

.487

1.744

.457

.336

2.115

.312

7.65 Belgian Mauser

.474

.470

1.860

.425

.340

2.090

.312

303 British

.533

.455

1.832

.403

.340

2.158

.312

32 Win Special

.506

.422

1.600

.403

.345

1.977

.321

8 x 57 S Mauser

.473

.469

1.933

.434

.351

2.240

.323

338 Win Mag

.532

.513

2.169

.491

.370

2.500

.338

348 Winchester

.610

.563

1.734

.485

.378

2.185

.348

35 Remington

.460

.457

1.584

.428

.387

1.920

.358

375 H&H Magnum

.532

.513

2.550

.463

.404

2.850

.375

444 Marlin

.514

.469

-

-

.453

2.162

.430

45-70 Govt

.606

.505

-

-

.480

2.035

.458

38 S&W

.440

.3865

-

-

.386

.775

.358

.38 Special

.440

.379

-

-

.379

1.155

.358

.357 Magnum

.440

.379

-

-

.379

1.290

.358

.44 Special

.514

.456

-

-

.456

1.160

.430

.44 Magnum

.514

.456

-

-

.456

1.285

.430

.45 ACP

.480

.476

-

-

.473

.898

.451

45 Colt

.508

.477

-

-

.477

1.280

.454

 

========

IMPROVISED RELOADING - DOING IT THE HARD WAY

The book "American Guerilla In The Philippines," by Ira Wolfert (Simon & Shuster, 1945), is the story of one American naval officer who escaped the Bataan Death March, became a resistance leader while managing to survive behind enemy lines for 4 years. The resistance had virtually nothing. They found a few old Springfield rifles, but only 3,000 rounds of empty brass. To defend themselves against the vicious invaders they had no choice but to make their own ammunition as best they could.

For bullets, brass curtain rods were cut to length, filed down, driven through an old Springfield barrel to swage them to size, then filled with molten lead scrounged from old auto battery plates. This resulted in bullets that were not of uniform size or weight and did not have a point or ogive, and thus would not feed through the magazine.

 

For primers, they made a punch to knock out the fired primer. The anvil was picked out and saved. Then a drill rod was used to pound flat the firing pin indentation. Sulfur was then mixed with coconut shell carbon and some antimony powder, tamped into the primer, and the anvil replaced (NOT for the faint of heart!). The primer pocket crimp on the G. I. brass was cut out with a pocket knife, then the case was placed over the primer and a dowel placed in the case and rapped with a mallet until the primer was seated.

For powder, they took powder from unexploded Japanese sea mines, then added pulverized wood as a filler in a vain attempt to retard the burning rate. The powder was then poured through a funnel into the primed cases until "it looked like enough."

The bullets were crimped into the case mouths with a pair of pliers. Each round had to be tried in a rifle, and if it didn't fit then it was crimped again with pliers in various places until it fit. This process was so laborious that sixty soldiers worked full time on it and "never got better than an average of 160 bullets a day," and at best only 80% of the cartridges fired.

It worked to a degree, but that was pathetic reloading.  It does vividly illustrate why reloading equipment is vital to survival in some adverse situations!

If those guerrilla's had the portable equipment listed in my booklet "Survival Reloading," three soldiers could have produced thousands of rounds of virtually perfect ammunition per day. They could have used 32 S & W dies to neck size and reload .303 British, 7.7 Jap and  30 caliber cartridges when using .311 - .312 cast bullets, and 32 ACP dies when reloading all .308 caliber cartridges when using jacketed bullets. And if the lower 3/8" or so of the seating dies was cut off, the bullets could even be crimped in place.  With a set of 38 S&W dies, they could have reloaded for every "38" caliber pistol cartridge available in those days.  With proper bullet molds, they could have had respectable velocity combined with smooth feeding and excellent accuracy. 

 

For powder they could have burned 1.0 cc of the mine powder, timed it, and then burned 1.0 cc of Red Dot, Herco and 4895 (about the same as any military rifle cartridge powder), then used the "minimum" reloading data for a powder close to the burning rate of the powder they could find not ideal or even recommended, but far better than merely guessing and blowing up rifles.

This page is a work in progress and will be completed as time permits.

At left is the cover of a 200 page book I wrote in 1980 on firearms and reloading. That was 36 years ago!  I'm getting old....  Well, you already guess that if I have the original Speer #1 (above left) and Speer #2 (wildcat - above right) reloading manuals.
 
Photos of Reloading Components from Past Years
 
Some of these are components I used as a commercial reloader over 50 years ago, some are new.  Click on the photos to enlarge them. Newer reloaders may never have seen some these products before.
 

Hensley & Gibbs mould

An SAS case tumbler from 1965

 

 
 

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