Saturday, April 09, 2005

Boom Boom

It's reloading day here in rainy Utah. 9mm and .45 ACP plinkers, five hundred rounds each.

I wasn't able to get Power Pistol for the 9mm this time, so I dug out a pound of BlueDot that I usually use for .357. Last night I loaded up fifty 115gr FMJ's on the Might Dillon 650XL with the minimum suggested BlueDot load at 7.7gr. I tested them this morning against the old PowerPistol plinker load and found them to be just a tiny bit stiffer. They'll do.

Reloading your own cartidges is the only way to go if you intend to regularly train with your weapons. Unless your last name is Gates, of course. I buy components year round and end up doing the actual reloading only five or ten days a year - except for my .30'06 range loads, which is kind of an ongoing process since I use a single - stage press (a classic Herter's Double Ram, bought at a garage sale, and the style centerpiece of the Holy Temple of Bang) and do several hundred rounds of decapping/sizing/priming, then bullet seating, then crimping, at a time.

I load IMR 4895 in 150gr SBT and 168gr Speer GoldMatch for the M1. The Remington 700 seems to like 165gr Speer GameKing or 165gr BarnesX bullets on top of IMR 4064. I've also used the 4895 with Speer 125gr TNT Varmint bullets. They make a mess out of a coyote at 300 yards, and that's a fact. I find that the 700 needs a truly thorough cleaning after using the TNT's - the grooves load up with the gilding metal pretty quick and accuracy begins to suffer after ten or fifteen of these fast-moving rounds.

I haven't become as anal about firing procedure as the "professional" grade varminters - I have seen them punch their bores after two or three rounds from their bench rests. I generally pick a good spot to shoot from and lay out on a mat with a few sandbags for a prone rest and use a howler or squeak call to bring the targets within range. Since my deer rifle is topped with the Game Friendly/PETA approved Bushnell 3X9 scope, I don't bother looking further than three or four hundred yards anyway.

The M1 load I use for range work (47.0gr IMR 4895/168gr BT Match) feels a little hot, but the mechanical range settings on the sights hold true from 200 to 600 yards on any but the most non-standard (high humidity/low tempature) days. I rebarreled the Garand a few years back and it still knocks the hell out of milk jugs at any range my 44 year old eyes can seem them. I believe that if I could afford to put some German coal-scuttle helmets on top of the jugs I wouldn't even have to aim. The Garand was truly the cornerstone of the Arsenal of Democracy; General Patton was right.

I don't know if I'll do much reloading for the Bushmaster. 5.56mm NATO is plentiful and dirt cheap. I still need to do some testing to figure out which bullet weight works best out of my shorty but I've been happy with PMC and Wolf ball so far.

Oh, and all the ammo for the carry weapons and house shotgun is factory. Never, NEVER use handloads for a weapon you may use in a life or death situation. Forget the accuracy or economy advantages a serious reloader enjoys - lawyers for the deceased or gravely injured love to stand in front of a jury and paint a picture of Bubba In The Basement loading up his doomsday bullets. Carry what your local cops use. They'll be happy to tell you if you just ask. I use Golden Sabre rounds in 9mm and HydraShocks in .45. The shotty eats Winchester #4 Buck and rifled slugs. They'll do just fine.

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