Once upon a time there was a .22 Rimfire Ammo War. Two cartridges vied for supremacy, and this one lost. Read more!
SOURCE: NRA Publications, American Rifleman, by Mark A. Keefe
It seemed like a good idea at the time. When the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. rolled out its graceful, 10-shot semi-automatic Model 1903 rifle, it wasn’t entirely clear that the .22 Long Rifle would become the most dominant rimfire cartridge of all time. Back in 1903, smokeless powder was still a relatively new thing in commercial firearms, and Winchester was concerned that blackpowder .22 Long Rifle cartridges would be used in the Thomas Crossley Johnson-designed Model 1903.
To keep blackpowder .22s from gumming up the works in the blowback-operated, tubular-magazine-fed Model 1903, Winchester decided to chamber the gun for a new rimfire cartridge, the .22 Winchester Automatic. It featured a proprietary case and an inside-lubricated 45-gr. bullet. When Winchester commissioned this piece of art to promote the then-brand-new Model 1903 and its brand-spanking-new cartridge, the company thought it had a winner on its hands.
But Winchester lost the battle — and the war — against the .22 Long Rifle. The company waved the white flag in 1933, and its Model 1903 became the Model 63 — chambered in .22 Long Rifle. No factory guns for the .22 Winchester Automatic cartridge have been produced since the 1930s. And Winchester now makes billions of .22 Long Rifle cartridges every year, but no .22 Winchester Automatic. That said, Aguila Ammunition has done special runs of .22 Winchester Automatic for the more than 125,000 Model 1903s made.
There are essential differences in loading for these action-types. It might not matter if you know all about the one, but it is critically important to know about the other. Find out which is which… Keep reading!
By Glen Zediker
Over the time I’ve been producing Reloaders Corner here at Midsouth, my focus has been exclusively on reloading for rifles, and, within that, primarily for semi-automatics. The reasons for that are based on two things, one is an assumption and the other is plain old fact. First, semi-autos are popular and represent the interest of a great number of new reloaders out there, and that’s my assumption. It doesn’t take long to come to the conclusion that high-capacity magazines and long days at the range combine to get expensive in a hurry! But the biggest reason I focus most of my material toward the needs of the semi-automatic rifle is because there are decidedly important differences in some decisions the handloader makes when tooling up for one. That’s the fact. Not knowing or respecting these differences can be disastrous.
I set out to be a sticker for clarity, but sometimes I overlook making more pointed references to these differences, when there are options associated with any one topic. I judge that based on the feedback I get from you all respecting tooling and component options. I want to start the New Year with this article, which I think contains some basic and important information to always (always) keep in mind. Hopefully it will also reduce questions, and I sure hope confusions. It also seemed to be, judging on feedback, the topic that created the most questions and comments.
Essential: When a round fires, the case expands, in all directions, as much as it can to fit the chamber. Since brass is elastic (can expand and contract) and plastic (can expand and retain that expansion) that last attribute, plasticity, results in a spent case that’s closer to rifle chamber dimensions than it was to its factory-new figures. Since many factory barrels have relatively generous chambers compared to most custom-done barrels, that’s either good or bad, depending on whether it’s a semi- or bolt-gun, and also depending (a lot) on what anyone buys into.
So, for reuse in a semi, that now overly-dimensioned case has to be brought back closer to nearer-to-new condition than it does for a bolt-gun. Has to be. Otherwise it might not chamber smoothly or fully.
It’s important to understand that any semi-auto (at least any I’ve yet had experience with) has the cartridge case in a different condition right at the start of the extraction cycle. In a semi, the case is still holding pressure when the bolt starts to unlock. Bolt-gun, it’s all long gone by the time the knob gets lifted. That’s why a freshly spent case from a semi will raise a blister and one from a bolt-gun is cool to the touch. This pressure creates what amounts to greater case expansion in a semi-auto. Depending on the particular rifle and other factors that will get addressed in other articles, this varies from a little to a lot. The spent case measurements from one fired in a semi may not accurately reflect chamber dimensions, as they will with a bolt-gun.
The reason there’s still some pressure within the case when the bolt starts to unlock is because that’s how a gas-operation system functions. If all the pressure was gone the action wouldn’t even open.
Which brings us to the second essential difference in bolt- and semi-: Most semi-automatics, especially what is probably the most common (AR15 family) is very sensitive to gas port pressure. Gas port pressure is an actual measurement, but that’s not important to know, not really. What matters is understanding the effect of too much port pressure, and that is too much gas getting into the operating system, and getting in too quickly. That creates what most call an “over-function.” The action tries to operate, and the extraction cycle starts too early. There’s a lot of gas still binding the inflated case against the chamber walls. Many ills: excessive case expansion, excessive bolt carrier velocity, extraction failures (extractor either slips off or yanks the case rim, which can come off in a chunk).
From a reloading perspective, regulating gas port pressure is all in propellant selection. The burning rate range that’s suitable for semi-autos varies with the cartridge, but for both .308 Win. and .223 Rem. I cut it off at the Hodgdon Varget, Alliant RE-15 range: those are fine, but don’t go slower! Bolt guns don’t care about any of that.
THE SHORT COURSE: Think “smaller” and “faster” when tooling up for sizing and choosing propellants for use (really, re-use) in a semi-auto. Smaller case sizing, faster-burning propellants.
This will all be hit on in upcoming articles in far greater detail but…
SEMI-AUTO: full-length case sizing, case shoulder set back at least 0.002 (from what a gage indicates as the fired case dimension), case neck “tension” at least 0.003 (difference between sized case neck outside dimension and loaded case neck outside dimension). Propellant selection: not too slow! Contrary to what logic might suggest, slower-burning propellants produce higher gas port pressures because they “peak” farther down the barrel.
BOLT-GUN: neck-only case sizing is (usually) okay (that means no case body sizing). Case shoulder set back: can be fine-tuned based on what’s necessary to easily close the bolt (ranges from none to “just a tad”). Propellant: doesn’t matter! As long, of course, as it’s suitable for use in that cartridge.
Check out some tools HERE at Midsouth
The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HEREat Midsouth. Also check HEREfor more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.
If you enjoyed Tamara’s last article, you’ll love this one! Get ready for a chuckle! (But one with an important message.) Read on…
It’s just after Thanksgiving as I type this, and as the turkey dinner’s tryptophan haze wears off, one of the things I’m thankful for is all the friends I’ve made working in and around the gun industry. The reason I’m thankful for them is they don’t ask all kinds of weird questions about the hows and whys of me carrying a gun.
When I get away from my circle of gunnie friends, though, oh how do I get those questions, and they really put my ability to bite down on snarky answers to the test. Reading an earlier column put me right into story-time mode, because let me tell you, I have fielded some of those same kinds of questions myself. Let me share some with y’all…
Weird Question #1: “Wow, do you carry your gun to the grocery store?
Snarky response I want to use: “Only on days I’m planning to be robbed in the produce aisle.”
Actually, you can substitute “mall” or “doctor’s office” or “church” or pretty much any other commonly visited location for “grocery store.” It never fails to amaze me that people think that I would only carry a gun to places where I “expect trouble.” If I expect trouble someplace, I generally solve that problem by not going there at all.
Part of carrying a gun, at least for me, is carrying it every day, and everywhere I legally can. It’s not like I drive my car with the seat belt off on Central Avenue because they don’t have many wrecks there, but plan to put it on when I turn on to 54th Street, because jeez have you seen those wreck statistics?
Weird Question #2: “So, you carry a gun because you think you’re a vigilante? Like Batman?”
Snarky response I want to use: “Yup. You want to see my vigilante badge? I got it in a box of Frosted Flakes.”
First off, let’s address the Batman angle: If Martha Wayne had a CCW permit and a gun, there wouldn’t be a Batman and Heath Ledger never would have won a posthumous Oscar.
Secondly, no, I don’t think carrying a gun makes me any kind of freelance junior cop. I carry a gun for the immediate protection of me and mine. I don’t carry it to go looking for trouble, but rather just in case trouble finds me despite my best attempts to avoid it.
Weird Question #3: “But…what do you do with it when you have to go to the bathroom?”
Snarky response I want to use: “Oh, I just hand it to someone trustworthy-looking standing by the sinks and ask them if they’ll hold on to it until I’m done.”
A friend recently quipped in an online discussion group that CCW training courses should be a seven-hour block of instruction on legalities and safety and a one-hour block on what to do with your gun in the bathroom. (Note: That thing on the back of the stall door is NOT a triggerguard hook!)
While some styles of carry, such as belly-bands or purse carry, avoid this problem, if you carry a gun in a belt holster, the question of what to do with it in the bathroom will arise. And the answer should be “Nothing.” If you are wearing a quality holster, the gun is not going to fall out even if the holster should inadvertently flop upside down, and the possibilities of the latter even happening are reduced by wearing a belt that is intended to support the weight of a holstered pistol in the first place.
Weird Question #4: “Is it…loaded?”
Snarky response I want to give: A long hard stare, followed with, “Well bless your heart.”
While I’ve no doubt an unloaded gun has been used to successfully bluff a bad guy before, that’s a thin thread on which to bet one’s life. Of course my CCW pistol is loaded, else it wouldn’t be very useful!
Further, the mere act of pointing a handgun at someone in my state, absent the reasonable fear of an immediate threat to life and limb, is a crime, so it’s not something done lightly. If the gun is coming out, it’s coming out under circumstances that justify its use, and that’s no time to have to say “Oh, hang on, let me load this thing.”
I could go on and on in this vein, but I see the bottom of the page getting closer. How about you? What weird questions do you get? Share them in the comments!
Choosing the right case trimmer has to do with the quest for precision, the need for speed, and the budget bottom line… Here’s how to make the fewest compromises.
Last time we talked about the needs and reasons for trimming bottleneck rifle cartridges. It’s a necessary step in the case preparation process, at least at some point or three before the brass hits the trash can bottom.
Case trimmers are available from most all industry tooling manufacturers. Most replicate a miniature lathe: the case is held in place at its back end, usually by a collet-type appliance, and suspended from its front end via a pilot, surrounded by a cutting head, that fits inside the case neck. They have a crank-handle.
This essential architectural arrangement carries potential contributors to imprecision. The case body is not supported, only the case head is held firmly in place. The pilot goes in the case neck and, so it can go into the case neck, has some gap. Inconsistencies in case neck wall thickness and the inevitable case body warpage, plus plain old flex, can result in what some, me included, might call wobble.
If the case isn’t being rotated along a flat axis, then the cutter isn’t going to engage the case mouth squarely.
I think a better arrangement is taking the case head out of the equation and focusing on supporting the case body. To this end, I’m not bashful about saying something good about something I use, especially not when post-recommendation feedback continues to thank me profusely. Put it this way: if you asked me face-to-face which bench-top case trimmer to get, I’d say “LE Wilson.” Just like that. Check it out at Midsouth Shooters Supply HERE.
I like this design because it uses a sleeve that holds the case and sits atop rails on the trimmer base. The case can’t move, and it doesn’t move. The cutter, which is the only thing that moves, engages the case mouth. All the alignment is in the parts of the trimmer itself; the case is taken completely out of the equation.
POWER Yeah boy. If you’re up for it, a truly specialty power case trimmer is the bomb.com. I really don’t think that adding power to a “lathe-type” trimmer is all that impressive or worthwhile. It helps ease the effort but it’s not necessarily speeding up the process.
There are two power trimmers that are more than impressive. One is a Gracey Match-Prep and the other is the Giraud. Both are expensive ($300+) but after processing a sack full of Lake City Match brass in a scant few minutes, the cost might get forgotten. Might. It really depends on the volume you do. I can tell you that, much to the contrary using a conventional tool, case trimming is the single fastest step in my case prep routine using a Gracey. I have not used a Giraud but have it on very good advice that it’s as good as all.
Both work pretty much like giant overly-powerful electric pencil sharpeners. Push the case in and the spinning cutting head zips it flat in a heartbeat. Case length is determined by cartridge case headspace, which is to say that the case stops within the trimmer holder on the case shoulder. Clearly: trim only full-length sized cases to get consistent lengths. If the case shoulders haven’t been set back or at least all set the same, lengths will vary.
Next time we’ll look at tools used to treat the trimmed case necks and finish this task in fine style.
The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen Zediker’s newest book Top-Grade Ammo. Available right’chere at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, as well as others.
The memorial service in remembrance of the tragic deaths of five Dallas police officers was remarkable, but for all the wrong reasons. The service took a turn from memorializing to politicizing when President Obama decided to take advantage of this national platform and turn his memorial speech into yet another push for his political agenda. He implied the deaths of the police officers occurred because “we flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than to get his hands on a computer, or even a book.”
The remark immediately earned Three Pinocchios from the Washington Post fact checker, which called it an “exaggerated claim based in no real statistics, which does nothing but distract the public.” And distraction is exactly the effect Obama’s statement had on the public, which simply took away from the real reason everyone gathered: to commemorate the lives of true heroes whose lives were taken too soon.
Larry Keane, Senior Vice President, Assistant Secretary & General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation said, “It is a shame that our nation’s leader would rather take advantage of his television air time to push his political agenda than pay respect to the fallen officers and share grieving with their families and the law enforcement community. But Obama is not a novice when it comes to employing this tactic of exploiting a tragedy for political purposes. And, I suppose it was to be expected since he told America after the Umpqua Community College tragedy last year that he intended to politicize these events.”
Keane said, “It’s a shame that these victims could not be simply commemorated and their families, along with the Dallas community, could not mourn their losses without the President stooping to inject his self-serving political bias. Will he repeat this tactic at the funerals of the slain Baton Rouge police officers and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy? It will be equally off-point if he does, when even East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said “This is not so much about gun control as it is about what’s in men’s heart.”
Want to learn about “Surviving an Active Shooter” situation? Who doesn’t?
Texas & U.S. Law Shield recently launched a new special event in Florida and several other states to advise gun owners and others how to get past the end of such an incident — and live to tell about it.
The groups have scheduled “Surviving an Active Shooter” special events in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. At these events, law-enforcement professionals explain how to “run-hide-fight” effectively, then a lawyer details how to handle the legal aftermath, including how to react to arriving police who are trying to sort out who did what to whom.
Randy Macchi, general counsel of Texas & U.S. Law Shield and coordinator for the “active shooter” events, said the companies saw the need for more training of this type when the initial Texas events filled up within an hour of being announced.
Macchi said, “We were inundated with calls from people who were disappointed they were unable to register for these events because our limited schedule of ‘Surviving an Active Shooter’ events was full.”
He added that because of the importance of the topic, the events are not just for Law Shield members. “Our best hope is that you never, ever have to put into action any of the ideas presented at these ‘Surviving an Active Shooter’ events,” he said. “Regrettably, this is the world we live in, so we choose to be prepared.”
To register for these events, click GunLawSeminar.com. You’ll then be able to choose events from a pull-down state-specific menu.
Macchi said, “Not all of the events listed in the seminar schedule will have ‘Active Shooter’ programming. Check the ‘Event Type’ for a description. The ‘Surviving an Active Shooter’ events are clearly noted, but they may not be at the top of the screen.”
If anyone has questions about the events, he said they could call customer service at (877) 474-7184 (option 3) or e-mail email@example.com prior to the event.
Macchi said, “Please consider inviting friends, family, and work colleagues. Sadly, it is not alarmist to say these unspeakable tragedies can happen anywhere — the fact is, they have happened at night clubs, work gatherings out of the office, schools, movie theaters, political rallies, and many other venues where large groups of unarmed people gather.”
This is a specially-adapted excerpt from the forthcoming book, “Top Grade Ammo,” by author Glen Zediker, owner of Zediker Publishing. Click here to order from Midsouth.
by Glen Zediker
A cartridge is a system, a sum of its parts. There’s not really any one part that matters most, but the bullet matters much. The material below will offer an outline to identify influential aspects of bullet engineering and execution.
There are bullets engineered to perform variously on target, including the proximity of impacts on target. I say it that way because a “match” bullet’s job is to perforate a piece of paper. A bullet designed for varmint hunting, on the other hand, is designed to produce explosive impact, and one for larger-game hunting strives to strike a balance between expansion and penetration. All bullets have to meet their target to be effective, and different premiums often also result in a few trade-offs. Specialty hunting projectiles, for instance, don’t usually out-and-out group as well as those engineered for target shooting.
However, no matter how a bullet is constructed inside, essential elements of any bullet design are universal. I’m talking about the outside of a bullet.
Here are the parts: base (that’s the bottom); boat-tail, or not (flat-base); shank, portion of full-caliber diameter; ogive, the sloping “nosecone”; tip, either open or closed (open it’s called the “meplat”). The shape of the ogive and the first point of “major diameter” are very influential elements. The first point of major diameter can vary a from barrel brand to barrel brand because it’s the point on the bullet that coincides with land diameter in the barrel. It’s the first point that will actually contact the barrel as the bullet moves forward. This right here can be a very important thing to determine. When there’s a cartridge sitting in the rifle chamber, the distance to the lands that the bullet has to “jump” to engage is, well, called “jump.” It’s the gap between dead air and first contact. I pick back up on this next article.
The first point of major diameter and the shank combine to determine the “bearing area.” This is how much of the bullet is riding the barrel surfaces.
The two essential forms a bullet can take are “secant” and “tangent.” This refers to the profile of the ogive. A tangent is a more rounded, gradual flow toward the tip, while a secant is a more radical step-in, more like a spike.
Ogives are measured in “calibers.” That’s pretty simple: an 8-caliber ogive describes an arc that’s 8 times caliber diameter; a 12-caliber is based on a circle that’s 12 times the caliber. The 8 will be a smaller circle than the 12, so, an 8-caliber ogive is more “blunt” or rounded. (So I don’t get comments from engineers, there’s more to it than this, as it applies on blueprints to different profiles; it’s the ratio of its radius to the diameter of the cylinder. But my description is accurate as an overview.)
Now, here’s how and why all that matters to bullet selection: Generally, bullets with longer bearing areas are more tolerant of jump and tend to shoot better than those with shorter bearing areas. Shorter bearing areas, though, can allow for higher velocities (less drag in the bore). Bullets with lower-caliber ogives are likewise more tolerant of jump and shoot better. However, higher-caliber ogives fly better, that is, farther. This is an important component in “low-drag” bullet designs. Same thing comparing tangent and secant profiles: the first is easier, the second beats the air better.
When you see terms like “magazine bullet” or “length-tolerant bullet,” that is referring to those with tangent profiles and lower-caliber ogives. They are designed to endure jump so, therefore, can be seated to “magazine length” without much, if any, accuracy loss. If you want to experiment with the longer, “low-drag” or “high-BC” style bullets, you will find they don’t want to group as expected until they get very close to or right on the lands when the round is chambered.
Shooters may have seen media coverage regarding the “cellphone gun,” which is a cellphone look-a-like that transforms into a firearm. The maker, IdealConceal.com, says, “The ground breaking Ideal Conceal is a carefully engineered double barreled .380 caliber people can safely carry in their purse or clipped to their side. Ingeniously designed to resemble a smartphone, yet with one click of the safety it opens and is ready to fire.”
As it begins to enter production, many are asking, “Is it a legal handgun?”
To get these questions answered, we picked up the phone and shot some questions to Michele Byington, an attorney at the law firm of Walker & Byington in Houston.
“The main concern for this firearm is essentially whether or not it is a NFA regulated item,” Byington said. She elaborated that under the NFA (National Firearms Act), there are certain weapons that are felonies to possess without properly registering it with the ATF, and receiving a tax stamp.
A tax stamp is, according to Byington, “a special piece of paper the ATF gives you to prove you suffered through their registration process.”
One such item that must be registered is an “AOW,” or “Any Other Weapon.”
“But don’t freak out,” Byington says, “‘Any other weapon’ is not what it sounds like.” She went on to explain that the phrase AOW was sort of a catch-all category; the definition states that an AOW is “any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive.”
This term includes quite a few things, but the most important for this discussion includes the classification of cane guns, umbrella guns, and pen guns as AOWs. In other words, the term AOW includes items that seem like they come straight from a James Bond movie.
Byington said that, at first glance, this gun disguised as a cellphone could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with items such as umbrella guns, pen guns, and the like. “The only problem is that, when asked for clarification, the ATF stated that they waiting until the gun was actually manufactured before determining its classification.”
This means that if you bought the gun, and later the ATF ruled it was an AOW, you would be violating federal (and most likely, state) law until you registered the gun. “This isn’t a quick process either; the ATF’s turnaround time right now is between six and nine months, which is a long time to hope no one finds out you’re committing a federal felony,” Byington said.
Byington pointed out that it was equally possible the ATF could declare the cellphone gun not to be an AOW; but at the moment, no one can say with any certainty how this specific weapon will be viewed under the law, so it may be worth putting the purchase of a cellphone gun on hold until the gun’s status has been decided by ATF.
How do you think ATF will rule: Is the cellphone gun a regular old handgun, or the much-heavier-regulated AOW? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section below.