Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Least Interesting Man in the World


Lately, I've started feeling like I'm the above guy. I guess that's what I get for doing nothing more on the weekends than watching football and drinking beer. (Though I am proud that I managed to look up how to do the (img) tag to get the above comic to materialize.)

Regardless, my fear of doing nothing with my weekend motivated me to finish up some reloading I'd been meaning to do.

My reloading bench. Yeah, I got one, even though I live in an apartment. (Being single isn't always a bad thing.)

The thing on the left with the crank is my case-cutter. I put a paper towel under it to catch brass cuttings. (The brass is from a few weeks ago, when I resized and cut-to-length some 30-'06 cases.)

I took this pic when I had just started charging some .38 Special cases. You can see them arrayed in the green "reloading block". I also have some .357 Magnum cases prepped and ready to be charged, but I didn't get to them today.

My press is an RCBS "rock chucker". It's a "D-type" press, meaning it's closed on the front. (The frame looks like a "D".) This is opposed to a "C-type" press, which would be open on the near side to facilitate loading.

It's not particularly difficult to slide in the ammo from the side, so I'm not sure why anyone would get a "C-type" press. D-types like mine are much stronger; mine can handle everything up through .50 BMG. (That's the ammo that goes into one of those 50caliber machine guns that the military uses. You see them on the top of humvees and such.) So, it has no problem reloading my comparatively-dinky 38 Special cases.

This is a close-up of my Lee Auto Disk Powder Measure. It's screwed into the top of my charging-die. The charging-die has a small, moving cylinder inside it. On the upstroke, that cylinder engages and gently bells-out the case mouth, allowing a bullet to be seated on the next operation. On this operation though, the cylinder also accomplishes a second task: moving that black disk from the left over to the right. When that happenes, one of the measuring chambers on that disk will align over the drop-tube on the right, dropping a measured amount of powder.

On the downstroke, the disk moves to the left again, allowing powder from the hopper to refill the chosen chamber. This time, I used the .57cc chamber. This is one step up from the .53cc chamber I usually use. I did this because my .38 Special ammo has always been a little weak.

This is my Lee Safety Powder Scale. The amount of pressure generated by gunpowder is determined by its weight, not by its volume. That's why it's important to check the weight of any powder charge. I usually check just five out of every fifty rounds; as this is a new load I checked fifteen rounds. The heaviest measured 4.7 grains, the lightest, 4.4. This is only a slight increase from my last loading of this round, which had powder weights ranging from 4.5 - 4.0. Also, this loading seems more consistant; I'm thinking a larger cavity just fills better.

(Fun facts: a "grain" is a measurement of weight. It is 1/7,000th of a pound. So, a tenth of a grain is 1/70,000 of a pound. Very tiny weights, indeed.)

As usual, I'm using Hercules Unique gunpowder for this load. I'm just using slightly more of it (approx. .3 grains). According to the load data, 4.9 grains is a good load, so even now I should be a little light. (The max is 5.3 grains.)

Before putting on the bullets, it's a good practice to always check for double-loads....

Next, is putting on the bullets. Here you see my press with the bullet-seating die screwed in. (The dies come in sets, according to caliber.)

The bullet is just sitting on top. Notice the case's slightly belled mouth. This is from the previous operation, and is necessary to allow the bullet to be pressed in.

As I pushed up, the die not only pushed in the bullet, but folded over the case into the bullet's "cannelure" (groove). This is known as "crimping". It's necessary, to keep the bullet from simply falling out again. Here, the round is down, and complete.

I like to check each and every crimp. This gives me one final opportunity to spot a split case.

I used 158 grain cast-lead bullets. Here, you can see how far into the case they go. The blue stuff is lubricant.

These cost about one-fifth as much as jacketed bullets. I always use them for low-velocity rounds, such as .38 Special.

So, that's about it, for now.

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