Although modern smokeless powders are basically free from deterioration under proper storage conditions, safe practices require a recognition of the signs of deterioration and its possible effects.
Powder deterioration can be checked by opening the cap on the container and smelling the contents. Powder undergoing deterioration has an irritating acidic odor. (Don't confuse this with common solvent odors such as alcohol, either and acetone.)
Check to make certain that powder is not exposed to extreme heat as this may cause deterioration. Such exposure produces an acidity which accelerates further reaction and has been known, because of the heat generated by the reaction, to cause spontaneous combustion.
Never salvage powder from old cartridges and do not attempt to blend salvaged powder with new powder. Don't accumulate old powder stocks.
The best way to dispose of deteriorated smokeless powder is to burn it out in the open at an isolated location in small shallow piles (not over 1" deep). The quantity burned in any one pile should never exceed one pound. Use an ignition train of slow burning combustible material so that the person may retreat to a safe distance before powder is ignited.
PRESSESS & DIES:
Setting the resizing die properly is probably the most important part of the handloading process. If you size the brass too much you can actually induce excessive headspace as you are making undersized cartridges. Conversely, if you have a rifle with a headspace problems, you can overcome them by handloading eliminating the need to take the rifle to the shop and having the bbl set back and rechambered.
Here is how I set the resizing die. First I light a candle (somewhere away from the loading bench) and hold the shoulder of the case down in the flame and rotate the case depositing the soot on that area. I then keep setting the die down until the case shows that the die has just contacted the shoulder and that's where I lock it down. Never overwork your brass as it shortens its useful life.
The one major thing that will shorten the life of pistol brass is excessive belling of the case mouth. Set the plug to open the mouth of the case just to the point of accepting the bullet and no more. Using cast bullets you do need a slightly larger bell to eliminate shaving of lead.
To establish a standard for measuring and maintaining headspace, a dimension is specified between the bolt face and reference point, called the 'datum line'. For rimless, semi-rimmed and rebated cartridges, the datum line is established at a point on the shoulder right at the base of the bottle-neck.Rimmed cartridges are measured from the bolt face to the forward edge of the recess provided for the rim. The datum line for 'belted magnums' is the forward edge of the recess provided for the belt. Headspace discrepancies can be caused by setting the case shoulder back during resizing. Check for a improperly chambered or misadjusted die by unscrewing the die a full turn and running a fire-formed case into the die chamber. You should be able to detect a mark where the case neck stopped inside the die neck cavity. Screw the die back down until the die shoulder is in a firm contact against the case shoulder. Reload a couple of 'dummy' rounds and chamber them in your rifle. You should be able to feel a slight pressure caused by contact of the shoulder.
Excessive headspace is usually indicated by :
1. popped primers
2. a light yellow line around the case immediately ahead of the web, which indicates case stretching.
Case preparation begins with a visual inspection of the cartridge case, starting with the flash hole. Check and see if flash holes appear to be in the center of the primer pocket. Check, too, for any small creases in the case shoulder and neck that might have been caused during the manufacturing operation. Cases with off-center flash holes, and creases in necks or shoulders should be discarded. Save these bad cases as you can use them for setting up dies, etc. A quick check of case wall uniformity can be done by using a ball type micrometer on the case neck. Such a check will indicate if there is a need for neck turning( which I will get into in another post). I usually weigh each case for my own precision shooting events at the range but for normal shooting, a spot check of one every five or six will work. Case weight normally does not vary that much within each manufactured lot, and I feel that a variation here of 1.5% of case weight is a maximum acceptable limit.
One of the most often asked questions I get is, What make of brass is the best to use". My answer is, "Whatever works the best for you". The quality of factory brass will vary from lot to lot and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Federal, Remington, and Winchester are all good brass, but if I had to choose my favorite it would be Federal. Cartridge cases are manufactured by a series of drawing and punching operations. Primer pockets and flash holes are formed by swaging, punching or both. This is done from the outside of the case leaving internal problems for the handloader. A major problem occurs as the flash hole is punched, exit burrs are formed on the inside of the case. Such burrs will cause an uneven dispersion of the primer flash that in turn creates ignition problems.
Another problem area is caused when forming the primer pocket. A quick inspection of a new case will show that the pockets have a radis where the wall meets at the bottom of the pocket. Also the bottom is somewhat dished. The primer is constructed so the anvil protrudes from the bottom of the primer cup. This design is necessary so the anvil rests on the bottom of the primer pocket. When the firing pin strikes the primer, the explosive pellet inside the primer cup is crushed between the anvil and cup causing the material to detonate. Variations in the depth and configuration of the pocket and primer seating will alter the effect of the firing pin blow. If the blow of the firing pin is varied, it will in turn vary the primer ignition and result in erratic pressures and velocities. This erratic condition can create vertical shot dispersion( shots will string up & down the target). Firing pin protrusion will range from .045" to .060".
A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA.....BASIC DRAW TECHNIQUE
This drill is broken into three steps for right handers...
1) Right hand gets a firm grip on the gun, trigger finger extended, as left hand palm is simultaneously placed against belly;
2) gun is drawn and moved toward body centerline as muzzle is rotated toward target, meeting left hand a few inches in front of chest to complete two-hand grip;
3) gun in two-hand grip is extended toward target until right arm locks at eye level, and left elbow is slightly bent in a "modified Weaver grip".
I say "GRIP" and not "stance", because in a combat situation there will be NO opportunity to adopt an ideal stance, so you shouldn't practice and come to depend on one. The goal is to be able to shoot well no matter how you are standing.
A technique from Israel that is excellent for semi-autos.
It begins the same, but as the piece is thrust forward with the "strong hand," the weak hand, held close to the body grasps the slide, cocking the piece in the same motion as the strong hand extends....saves precious fractions of a second to bring yourself "into battery."
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