12 April 2024

357 Magnum and 38 Special Handloads - Including Subsonic

 I've been tinkering with what little powder and primers I have but I have been able to pick up different cast bullets. The only two powders I have are HS-6 and Trail Boss. While neither seem to be especially suited to 38 Special and 357 Magnum, they can be used. The only small primers I have are Remington 5 1/2 "magnum" small pistol primers. They work just fine for what I'm doing with my revolvers and lever action 357 rifle. That said, if I find a good opportunity to buy up some Alliant Unique or similar powder, I will. I'm not sure I'll buy up more primer anytime soon since I just took supply of a new box. On a side note, if you attempt to replicate any of these, you are responsible for your own actions. I am not responsible for your actions since reloading can be risky if you don't know (or even if you do know) what you are doing.

Also, this post will be a rolling update as I find stuff. 

200 Grain

My first 357 Mag / 38 Special hand loads were using Trail Boss with a 200 gr hard cast flat nosed bullet with a gas check from Cast Performance. They're a bit expensive but for fun, heavy weight loads for suppressed shooting, I figured they'd work great. Turns out that maybe Trail Boss was not the best choice since they were very inaccurate and also seemed to be tumbling out of my Marlin 1894 CST but I did find that 5.5 grains of HS-6 using a 38 Special case makes for a GREAT plinking round. See the below video of that rifle getting hits on a 6 inch gong at 50 yards. That charge of HS-6 from my 16 barrel Marlin 1894 is chronographing at 1035 FPS. I believe that is impressive though Buffalo Bore can push a 180 gr bullet at 1800 FPS from the same gun so maybe not. That said, for a thumping good time, that load is fairly quiet and fun to shoot. 

As you can see, the HS-6 load is a pretty capable load for shorter ranges with some hold over at distance. I haven't tried it for dispatching varmint critters such as armadillos yet but give me time. Sadly, I used up the last of my 200 gr cast rounds on that visit. I do have a Lee 2-cavity mold that I can try to make my own but that's for a later date. 

Update Feb 2024: I had ordered 200 more in 2023 but have shot most of them with just over half a box left. The availability of the 200 grain Cast Performance bullets is sporadic so I will start looking at casting with the Lee 200 grain mold. 

Lee Precision C358-200 2 Cavity Mold

This is the first mold I ever bought. I figured at the time that I could use .357 Magnum like .300 Blackout by using a very heavy bullet with a small charge. Well, I proved that with the Cast Performance 200 grain bullets so now it's time to start making my own. 

The mold is not the same as the CP bullet. The Lee mold has a large lube grove with two very thick driving bands. It does have a gas check but I don't think I'll be using that feature. I may just have someone mill that out so it's a plain base. 

The idea is the same. Maybe do a hard cast, 15+ BHN, and load with 5.5 gr of HS-6.

160 Grain

I had ordered a box of 160 grain hollow points that have a very wide cavity from GT Bullets here in Georgia. I tried loading up with varying amounts of HS-6 starting at 6.2 grains and running up to 9.7 grains per the Lyman Cast Bullet book. I forgot to take my chronograph out on the first visit and from my Taurus 66, none seemed to be particularly accurate. I did have to seat them deep and may have damaged the driving bands. I will need to test again. I'm thinking a few test loads for subsonic loading might be a good choice that I need to tinker with since these are MUCH cheaper than those 200 grain pills. 

Update: After tinkering with the 160 grain bullets over various amounts of HS-6, the 9 grain range really gets them moving but are very smoky. I had clocked the 9.7 gr loads from a Taurus 66 with 4 inch barrel pushing into the 1300 fps range. I believe that would put these bullets into territory that will cause good expansion of the hollow point design but I haven't tested that yet. 

I did find that a lighter load of 6 grains will push these bullets from a 16 inch rifle barrel to around 1200 fps and might could be a good choice for hunting. I don't have ballistic gel blocks but I might try the redneck science way of shooting old milk jugs full of water. It's not ideal but it does something. 

Update 2: I tested subsonic versions of the 160 gr cast hollow points from my Marlin 16 inch rifle since the 200 gr cast are expensive. Both the 4.0 grain and 4.5 grain loads of HS-6 were quiet enough. I have not yet run them over a chronograph to see how fast they move. I'll update that later.

Update 3: I ran out of bullets. They were fun. I will need to order more.

Triple Seven Update

Update APR 2024: I found eight of the 160 grain bullets in a box. I have two sitting in dummy loads for testing and opted to make five rounds of Triple Seven in .38 Special. I wanted to test these from the 16 inch Marlin to see how much velocity I get from around 23 grains by volume with the 160 grain. This is the FFFg version of the powder.

The velocities only worked out to 1245 FPS with and ES of 148. I would like to retest these as I was using a volumetric measure. I think next time, I would like to see what one 23 grains by volume actually weighs and load up some using a powder scale to confirm uniformity. I suspect I didn't do a good job of measuring my charges. That said, I have heard one should use FFg instead of FFFg for rifles.  At this time, I don't have enough of the 160 grain bullets left so I'll make a point to start ordering or casting my own.

Lyman 358439 HP

Here in Spring of 2023, I think it's time for me to start casting my own bullets. I have a single cavity bullet mold for a 155 grain hollow point from Lyman I bought as part of a self-sufficiency project I was working on. It's the 358439 HP mold. Essentially, it's a lighter-weight "Keith" style bullet with big lube grooves and big drive bands. It looks like it will do well in 38 Special cases given the size of the first drive band being thick. What I want from this pursuit is to have a deer load for my Marlin 1894 or a single shot pistol like a T/C Contender that I can make on the homestead without having to buy commercial products. On a side note, the 358439 may end up being 160 grain so we'll see how that plays out.

Looking over the Lyman Cast Bullet book, we're looking at around 9 to 10 grains of HS-6 for magnum loads but I started doing research for rifle specific data. That's led me to Hodgdon's H110. I knew that Alliant's 2400 powder has been used successfully for 357 for decades and that many people have also used Unique. I'd also seen where people have loaded other cartridges with those powders like .300 Blackout making me think that having a bottle or two of either would be a good universal powder. Continuing down that research hole, I found that people have also used H110 for powerful 357 loads but are also successful in using it for .300 Blackout. You can also make cast bullets for .300 Blackout and might be useful for something like my bolt-action Remington 700 in 300 Blackout. I don't expect it would be optimal but it might be worth having around. 

Given that I can order H110 from the same LGS I got the HS-6 from, I think I should put in an order some time this year and start the casting crusade. 

Taking a closer look. I believe the mold I have is the same or nearly the same as the GT Bullets 160 grain. If that's the case that would give me a mold to make those bullets. I suspect that the GT Bullets' option is capable at taking a whitetail deer. That is something that I have been wanting to consider. 

125 Grain

Berry's Bullets makes a flat nose jacketed bullet that are somewhat inexpensive at around 22 cents per round after shipping, which is steep. That said, Hodgdon has load data for a cast 125 bullet for Trail Boss starting at 3.5 grains moving up to 5.3 grains and staying subsonic. That information is likely for a revolver but somewhere in there could be a good subsonic rifle load to use up some of the Trail Boss I have. What I've read is that the high levels of powder should use the 357 Mag cases. I found around 4.5 grains in 38 Special cases puts the powder into compression or near compression. I stopped loading at 4.7 grains for the 38 Special cases but then did a 5.6 gr load for 357 Mag cases. 

After getting out to shoot, it looks like the 3.5 grains in 38 Special cases is just fine and don't seem to tumble. At around 4.3 grains, they got a little louder than what I want and the 4.7 grains seemed to be supersonic from the 16 inch barrel. I realized that I don't need the maximum charge possible. All I need is an inexpensive load I can whip up for when I want to take someone new to the range with while being quiet. I still need to run them over a chronograph and shoot groups but I think the 3.5 to 4.0 grain load with Trail Boss is a real winner for shortrange subsonic plinking. 

When I took those 3.5 and 4.0 grain Trail Boss loads out, I was able to run both over my chronograph. The 3.5 gr load was pushing around 641 FPS with an extreme spread of 66 FPS and the 4.0 grain load around 801 FPS with an ES of 38 FPS. I didn't find much difference in the auditory experience between the two so I think I'll stick with the 3.5 grain version with the 125 grain Berry's Bullet for when I take someone to the range. Trail Boss is fairly inexpensive at around $30 for a 9 oz bottle and the bullets at $0.22 per bullet. If you use your own brass and you get the powder local like from Bass Pro but have primers shipped in like I did, these will cost around $0.35 per round. That's pretty good for these days but I think I can do this cheaper. Maybe around $0.25 per round. 

I do have a possible recipe for HS-6 and the Berry's Bullets 125 gr JFN that could make for fun revolver loads but I'm looking for cheap, subsonic plinking loads for now. 

105 Cast Subsonic Plinking Loads

Update November 2023: I found a company called Slippery Bullets that makes a 105 gr cast and powder coated truncated flat point for cowboy action shooting. I still have some Trail Boss powder so I figured I'd load up a few. The bullets were 9¢ per round with shipping. Not too bad. They aren't meant for anything serious, just cheap plinking with the suppressed lever action and my revolvers. 

The suggested loads I've found are starting at 3 grains of TB with a 38 Special case for Cowboy Action and similar. I started loading at 3 grains and ended at 4.0 grains of Trail Boss by Hodgdon. The velocities I got are below using my Caldwell chronograph. It was 70 degrees out. Georgia is weird. It should be cold in November. I made 11 rounds of each except for the 4.0 grains load. For whatever reason, I had a total of 54 primers left in the 100 count box of Remington 5 1/2 Small Pistol Magnum.

3.0 Grains - 844 FPS Average

3.3 Grains - 905 FPS Average

3.5 Grains - 949 FPS Average 

3.7 Grains - 997 FPS Average

4.0 Grains - 1057 FPS Average

After running the loads over the chronograph, I attempted groups at 25 yards to see if any were better. The 3.3 grain loads grouped the best but the 4.0 grain loads started to look good. I didn't have enough after chronographing as I used 8 rounds of the 10. 

Running them through the suppressed Marlin 1894 is fun. They hit steel nicely and make a satisfying noise. The point of impact isn't majorly different at short range so these fit nicely into the Ambassador roll the ArgentVaquero project was built for. A 9 oz bottle of Trail Boss will produce around 1,100 rounds of those 3.3 grain loads. That said, the 4.0 grain loads looked like they may have grouped pretty nicely had I not ran out. I may make a few more of the 4.0 grain loads to check accuracy. At 4 grains, a bottle only makes around 980 loads. Reducing that to 3.9 grains should get to around 1,000 rounds. I need to see how these loads do in my revolvers. Currently, this load works out to 19 cents per reload with the CCI primers I now have plus the TB and these cast bullets. I think this is the cheapest subsonic range load I have for any of my centerfire guns. 

A 2 lbs bottle at 3.3 grains produces around 4,200 rounds. I have enough for a while but given that a 2 lbs. bottle is $90 I think I'll keep my eye out for a resupply. That would bring the cost per round down to 18 cents. That said, if it continues that I can't get Trail Boss like it has for a while now, HS-6 can be substituted according to Hodgdon's website. A charge of 6.2 to 6.6 grains can push to under 950 fps. That's from a 7.7 inch barrel and will require some experimentation to get keep the load slow.

Update NOV 2023: Trail Boss is not being made at this time per the manufacturer's website. I will need to find a substitute for the TB based 105 gr loads.

Update FEB 2024: I've started loading and will test soon, an HS-6 based load for subsonic use in .38 Special Cases. It starts at 6.2 grains and ends at 6.6 grain so no much testing to do with the 105 grain cast bullets. I did also find a load of Titegroup with I think is going to be a winner if they are quiet. If they are, Titegroup can be had locally for under $30.00 for a 1 pound bottle. If the minimum charge of 4.8 grains works, that's 1458 rounds per 1 lbs bottle. That works out to $0.02 per shot. Given that Trail Boss is dead for now, that would likely be the cheapest I can put together something for the Marlin to spit out at $0.18 per round. In retrospect, I suspect that these will be supersonic as the 200 grain load is 5.5 grains and it's very close to supersonic. Thankfully, I only made 15 rounds total. I also have some loads for the 4.5 grain range.

Update MAR 2024: I got to test some of the HS-6 loads with the 105 grain bullets but my chronograph didn't work due to overcast skies. I didn't get velocity data but I was able to confirm subsonic levels by ear. The loads work but the amount of unburnt powder is incredible. I fired 10 rounds and the barrel looked like I had been shooting black powder. I have heard that HS-6 is better for hotter loads and heavier bullets. These are neither. I only fired 5x of 4.5 grain loads and 5x of the 6.2 grain loads. The 4.5 grain loads sounded great but there was powder coming out of the case on extraction. The 6.2 grain loads were mixed in terms of breaking the sound barrier. 2 of the 5 rounds didn't break the sound barrier on the 39 degree day.

I'm thinking I will whip up some 6.0 and 5.8 grain versions to try but I think the 105 grain bullet with undercharged HS-6 isn't what I want due to how dirty it is. The current best subsonic, cheap plinking round I can put together is the Trail Boss load of 3.3 grains with the Slippery Bullets 105 grain cast bullet. I checked to see how much TB I have left and it should be more than enough to use up the last of my 105 grain bullets. 

I'm currently thinking the best approach for long term is using HS-6 and to collecting as much wheel weight lead as I can get and start casting either the 200 grain Lee or the 160 grain Lyman. We shall see. 

Update MAR: The 105 grain with HS-6 aren't great. I ran another batch with 6.0 grains of HS-6 and they averaged 1136 FPS. All of them broke the sound barrier. The amount of unburnt powder in the barrel is wild. It's just not what I want. I'm going to abandon the HS-6 with light bullets idea for now and start focusing on casting the 200 grain loads. I found I should have enough left over Trail Boss that I can use all the 105 grain cast bullets to make light plinking .38 Special loads.

Current Winners

The 2023 Cheap Plinking Load is the 105 cast bullets from Slippery Bullets. A 500 count box for $35 but are $9.50 to ship. This puts us at 9 cents per round. The 4000 count box is the same in shipping for some reason which puts us at a nice 7 cents per round. If I can find a good source of 2 pounds of Trail Boss and primers for the price I got recently around $7 for 100, we're looking at somewhere around 17 cents per round. That's the cheapest load I can currently make up that does what I want for a subsonic round for suppressor use. 

.22 LR is still cheaper plus, sadly, Trail Boss doesn't seem to be made anymore so we'll keep looking.

The Cast Performance 200 grain gas checked bullet with 5.5 grains of HS-6 is my pet plinking load. They have lots of thump and are subsonic. The only downside is I can't get a reliable supply of the bullets and are regularly out of stock. They are also somewhat expensive at $32 a box of 100 when they are in stock. Sadly, I only have a half a box left. The plus side is that I have the Lee 200 grain 2 cavity mold. I don't know that these bullets are the same as that mold is but it would be great if they were. 

It seems that my 2 winners here are hindered by availability problems so I will endeavor to find loads that work. 

Other Bullet Options 

I also remembered that there's a company called Oregon Trail with their Laser-Cast bullets. I use their 200 gr lead for my 45 Colt rounds. They have a cast 125 gr that's $38 for a box of 500 but it's $20 for shipping so make sure you get a bunch. It is WAY cheaper than the Berry's. I'll be looking at buying a box of those real soon since I'm just about out of the Berry's. I think I can get this down to closer to $0.22 per round if I play my cards right.

Bayou Bullets seems to also have cheap options for cast, powder coated bullets. They have a 95 grain round nose that's $78 for a 1000. 3 grains of Trail Boss could make them potentially subsonic. That's also a tiny amount of powder making that load a very cheap option.  

Powder and Primer Considerations

Getting powder is tricky business these days. To ship both, there is an automatic $25 HAZMAT fee on top of the normal shipping and handling. It's best to find a local shop that can get powders and primers delivered to them and you go pick it up. The cost of both plus the extra fees is what is driving up the cost of reloading. 

In an update, I was able to pick up from HS-6 from an LGS without HAZMAT fee which is great! 

I'll keep updating this post as I tinker around with loads but so far, I'm becoming more and more happy with the original load of 5.5 grains of HS-6 under the 200 grain gas checked cast bullet for generic range use. I caved and ordered 200 more bullets for the 200 gr loads and I want to load up a few more to confirm accuracy and point of impact shift compared to my Remington HTP 158 gr 357 Mag factory loads.

Update NOV 2023: H110 has been sourced from a location I didn't know had powders. I expect to use the H110 for full power 357 Mag loads with a likely focus on Hornady XTP bullets. I also found out that the reason we can't get Trail Boss is because it's made in Australia and apparently Thales stopped producing pending some research project. The ADI website hasn't had an update since DEC 2021 saying the same thing about Trail Boss. Looks like I will need to start working out that HS-6 load for the 105 grain sub sonic


The below links have provided huge amounts of information but are not the only things I've used. I read old articles written by folks such as Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton themselves to piece information together. 


Paco Kelly on the .357 Magnum 


I found a powder comparison chart from ADI World Class' website.

05 April 2024

Rossi Tuffy Survival Rifle - The Poly Tuffy in 45 Colt and 410. The Rifle version of the Brawler

From the Rossi website

.45 Colt from a rifle has interested me for a while, especially as a cartridge for situations where you can't get good ammunition but can piece together something that works for taking of medium and smaller game.

Sometime ago, Rossi announced the Brawler pistol. It's an inexpensive single shot, break action with a rifled barrel that can shoot .45 Colt but the chamber is long enough to handle .410 bore shells. The Brawler is interesting as it can handle both these things but can be found for a very attainable price. If you know where to look, the Brawler can be had for under $250. Since I've seen it, I've wondered if the device is accurate with .45 Colt. I'm not particularly interested in the .410 chamber but it's useful. 

I started looking into loading .45 Colt with black powder and BP substitutes like Triple Seven or Pyrodex a while back to see how useful they would be for hunting whitetail. I found a few videos and anecdotal forum posts. For Triple Seven, the YouTube video posted on Everything Black Powder tested compressed charge loads from a Marlin 1894 rifle with a 24 inch barrel and a 250 something grain bullet. He got around 1400 fps. That's pretty good. Someone else tested full charge black powder loads from another 24 inch barrel rifle and got 1200 fps from that rifle. Triple Seven is known for being pretty potent. Both should have been 40 grain loads based on claims from each tester.

I had started considering picking up a Rossi R92 in .45 Colt to load these sorts of cartridges, along with smokeless powder loads but the cost, while not much, does present a barrier. I had started looking for a more budget-minded rifle but hadn't found anything until I found the Tuffy Survival Rifle. While $600 street price for the R92 isn't a bad option, the TSR can be had for under $300. This is a much easier price to stomach for a person on a tight budget.

Here's what I'm thinking. For under $400, can we build out a rifle and can take whitetail and small game? For whitetail, how accurate is the .45 Colt part of the gun? For the small game hunting, how are the patterns from the 3 inch and 2.5 inch .410 shells? Well, I can't tell you with out buying the rifle and doing the experiments needed but here's what I'm thinking.

First, I'll look over the .45 Colt part. The black powder loads at 1200 fps, assuming the 16 inch barrel can get there, would be a stretch to achieve a 100 yard zero based on what I ran from a calculator. I got that peak arc would be right at 3 inches up. If we assume a cast bullet, we should be able to get some expansion with a 250 grain hollow point but I suspect we'd be asking a bit much from the alloy at shorter ranges. I reran the numbers for the Triple Seven charge at 1400 fps and the 225 gr cast HP from GT Bullets and the trajectory looked better. The velocities at 100 yards seemed much more deer friendly. 

Where you'd be better off to get the R92 would be the hotter, smokeless powder loads similar to what the Ruger Blackhawk handles. For legal reasons, Rossi won't suggest using them but that's up to you. I don't think the TSR would be able to handle the hotter .45 Colt loads. I suspect the standard level loads would enough for what I have in mind.

The next part of the question is accuracy. I can't answer that but even if the accuracy is mediocre, say 6 inch groups at 100 yards, that could still take a deer in shorter ranges. Have fun zeroing that though. There's a few things that worry me from the accuracy point. The .410 capable chamber might negatively impact accuracy. Second is the choke. My understanding is that there are two chokes included. The first is for the .45 Colt and the other is the .410. I suspect the .45 Colt "choke" is just a tube that's opened enough for the bullet to pass through without anything touching the bullet. 

If the answers to all my concerns are that this rifle is useful and that you could take a whitetail deer with .45 Colt even out to 100 yards and the patterns on the .410 are tight enough for rabbit and squirrel hunting then I'd say the Rossi Tuffy Survival Rifle is a huge win for folks wanting a truck gun or packable rifle. The stock as 4 cartridge holders on each side. That could let a person have 4 rounds of suitable .45 Colt and 4 rounds of good .410 shells. 

An image of a hunter with this rifle and being able to bag a squirrel while heading back in from a deer hunt appeals to me. That said, I started looking over the WMA lands here in Georgia. After looking it over, some of the public hunting locations won't let you hunt small game while on a deer hunt. It could mean a quota hunt but thankfully, not all of the lands are like that. 

I haven't figured out if this idea is worth pursuing over any other projects in the .45 Colt family but I hope you find some of the above interesting or useful. 

04 April 2024

The Marlin 1894 SBL - Stainless Pistol Calibers Are Back

LET'S GO! Marlin announced today that they are now releasing the 1894 now has an SBL variant. It comes with a 16 inch barrel which is enough to really get that bullet moving. Right now, they are only offering the rifle in .44 Magnum but I would expect that .357 Magnum is coming out later this year. Well, their website confirms that with the .357 magnum version coming out in Spring.

To be honest, I had expected that Marlin would round out the versions with the different models. What surprises me is the 16 inch barrel choice for the SBL. Not that you need an 18 inch or 20 inch barrel to make the pistol calibers work but I figured that the SBL trim was the full Monty while the Trapper trim was the short model. They may still do Trapper models with the 1894 but we shall see.

I'm torn on getting one in .45 Colt if they ever release that caliber but I'm still toying with the idea of the Rossi R92 in .45 Colt. It wouldn't be anytime soon if I get either. 

That said, this rifle is just about right for a short hunting rifle. If these don't sell like crazy, I would be seriously surprised. A great whitetail caliber with a short barrel, threaded and in stainless steel. It's such a  good working gun. I hope these sell like hotcakes. 

27 March 2024

We're Pregnant - Things I'd Like to Finish Before I Can't (For A While)

 The wife is pregnant! God has seen fit to give us a baby girl and we shall provide. For the last several years, I've been on a spree to finish up the several projects I had started. In some cases, I won't be able to complete them outright but I can get the base parts installed and work on small stuff as I go. Some of the projects were bigger like replacing major parts such as re-barreling the WWSD Hunter or buying something new like the Model 17. Some were smaller like getting threads cut onto a barrel like on my Ruger American Rimfire, putting a scope on the Marlin 60 or finally putting a red dot on my Glock 17 build. There are still things that I want to work on but God has given us a baby after the long journey of IVF we've had to go through and we are grateful. We will be having many more kids as there are 5 more blastocysts in cryogenic storage waiting for their turn. My family will be my main focus. I'm more than okay with that since that's what I've wanted for as long a I can remember. I'll still shoot as often as I can and some projects like reloading will be worked on. Let's see what I have I'd like to finish.

The Pork Sword Remington 700 Restock

Many years ago, I had built a Black Collar Arms Pork Sword chassis based on the Remington 700. The action came during or just before the Remington fire sale before the bankruptcy. I used a .300 Blackout 10 inch barrel from KAK and a Vortex Venom red dot along with a SB Tactical 1913 pistol brace. This was back when the ATF said braces were okay on pistols. With the Dead Air Wolfman, that pistol was so much fun to shoot and accurate. 

I really liked this version of the Pork Sword. The FS1913 brace indexed off the cheek nicely.

I picked up a case for it that when folded up and with the Wolfman, the whole kit fit nicely. Sadly, the ATF doesn't play nice so it had to change to something. In this case, I changed the barrel and added an actual stock. On a side note, the FS1913 is very flimsy and would never make for a good stock. I don't know what the ATF was so worried about. I will attest to that but it was such a fun gun to shoot it that configuration.

Plenty of room for a Dead Air Wolfman.

After locating another Remington bankruptcy part, a 16 inch barrel from a Model 7, I had Moss Pawn install it. I also ordered a JMAC Customs 9 inch riser stock. I pulled an inexpensive Simmons 3-9 scope out of my inventory and used a Keymo Flash Hider to mount the Wolfman onto. The rifle, now an actual rifle, was zeroed for 50 yards using Hornady's 190 grain Sub-X factory loads. It shot okay enough and is somewhat quiet with the Dead Air Wolfman in the short configuration.

The post re-barrel configuration of the Pork Sword Remington 700 along with the early version of the WWSD Hunter 350 Legend build.

I've taken a deer with this configuration but I'm not totally happy with the look of the build along with the lightweight profile barrel in conjunction with the minimalist chassis and stock. It does look cool and has a sort of M4 Survival Rifle aesthetic to it. Though the lines of the parts really need a thicker profile barrel. A custom barrel would be the best choice but I'm not sure I want a custom barrel on a factory Remington action. It would need blue printed. 

I'm not totally abandoning the Pork Sword project but I am setting it on the back burner with the intent of either blue-printing the action or buying one from some place like Pacific Tool and Gauge or Palmetto State Armory if they release a receiver. I would then have a custom 13.9 inch barrel in .300 Blackout made. The goal will be to permanently attach a DA Flash Hider to the new barrel making it 16 inches. That barreled, precision action will get Cerakoted and put into the chassis along with a better optic. That should perfectly execute my original idea of a folding bolt action .300 Blackout. I've found that this makes for an amazing truck gun as I carried it during the 2022 deer season in my 4Runner.

The classic wood stock, bolt action hunting rifle is something that I'd been thinking about for a while and I don't have. I looked at building up a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight. Savage is releasing a Stevens brand, entry level rifle for under $500 with a wood stock. Those rifles come in short action calibers like .243 and .308. The .300 Blackout cartridge makes so much sense to me these days as a general purpose cartridge for use on the homestead. I figure I should stick with it. Hence why I am re-stocking the Pork Sword. 

I'd ordered a used Remington 700 BDL wood stock off of eBay for cheap. The goal is to replace the current chassis, which I like, with a wood stock that matches the Remington Model 7 lightweight barrel. The stock I ordered is incomplete so I'll have to source various parts such as the bottom metal and internal magazine components. Those parts are easy enough to locate. Also, bedding the stock can be done at home with inexpensive kits so this project is easy enough to get done at home. 

To complete the classic look. I'll see about Cerakoting the action and parts Midnight Blue so they match once I have everything built out. The finishes are currently different with the receiver being blued and the barrel a matte. This should satisfy my desire for a classic bolt action rifle with a wood stock for use as a hunting rifle. I can still use it with a silencer on the Little Farm or use it off-property on public land without the silencer. 

I guess it won't be the Pork Sword any more. 

1916 Spanish Mauser 45 ACP Carbine

I do not have a rifle chambered for .45 caliber. No Hi Point carbine, no AR45. Since I sold off my Winchester 94 Trapper in 45 Colt, I would like to have a rifle in .45 caliber to be able to reload for and plink with. A Henry Big Boy X in .45 Colt fits perfectly with the exception of the cost. A Rossi R92 would probably be better. In this case, I don't want a semi-auto for decibels reasons, so that rules out the cheap Hi Point. This is meant to be a suppressed plinker.

Back around 2016, I impulse bought a surplus Spanish Mauser 1916 in 7x57 for under $200. It's in rough shape and has been sitting around doing nothing since then. Getting usable surplus, cheap ammo is a thing of the past and what ammo I have for it is so old, it didn't work when I tested it. Making my own isn't worth my time due to how much work the rifle needs to be shootable anyway. It has a few problems like a loose front sight that would need to be addressed. Sporterizing it is just cruel and leaving it as an unused wall hanger doesn't sit well with me. I don't do safe queens unless it's something I really like. That reason alone is one of the biggest reasons why I sold off the Winchester Trapper. Guns should be used. 

Enter Rhineland Arms and their unique Mauser .45 ACP conversion kits. I ordered a kit in March 2023 that includes a 16 inch threaded barrel and magazine adapter for 1911 magazines. I should be able to share the magazines between my Springfield TRP and this rifle when done. The parts haven't been shipped and have been in a state of backorder for quite sometime. The monthly news letters sent out say the parts would be shipped before Christmas and now say only a enough parts shipped to handle a few backorders. We're nearly a year into that order not being fulfilled.

This project will best be done in phases. Once I have a mechanically sound rifle, I will be able to add parts and finishes later on. 

The intent is to have the rifle setup to look like an old military rifle with as many original parts as possible. I'd like to have a Lyman 57 receiver sight installed as a rear peep. I am open to replacing the current leaf sight with a mount for a red dot but I'm not sure I will go that route.

Once the sighting planes are completed, I want to clean up the stock and Cerakote the barreled action and small metal parts from the stock using Midnight Blue. 

The project is intended to give me a manually operated plinking rifle in .45 caliber that I can suppress with my Dead Air Primal. I don't expect to do any serious work with this gun other than enjoy it. It's still cheaper to shoot .22 LR all day long compared to .45 ACP but I don't care. It'll be a fun thing to have around. The barrel is supposed to be threaded .578x28 and I'll be able to use a JMAC 360 Keymo muzzle device to host the silencer. It'll be a hoot to shoot. I just need those Rhineland parts.

LA322 - The Perfect Plinker

I was able to pick up an LA322 for under $350 and it's the threaded barrel take-down model. The process to built it into what I want will take some parts that needed sourced from Chiappa along with additional stuff. Unfortunately, the thread pitch was incorrect. It was advertised as 1/2x28 but ended up being 1/2x20. Chiappa's RMA facility is expected to replace the barrel with the correct pitch but they did note it would take a while since they are waiting for parts from Italy. 

I'm still working through exactly how the build will take place. Some of the problems I'm running into are that the parts the base model LA322 use are different than what you'll find on the threaded model. Specifically, the front sight assembly is different and needs modified. I was able to acquire from Chiappa 2 of the needed parts and just need the rear sight from Skinner and leather goods. Also the Griffin Armament adapter. Stay tuned to see how the project turns out.

Final Thoughts

I have so many ideas that I want to follow but the money situation will change. I had hoped the .45 Colt cartridge project would have been easier to do with the Pietta 1873 SA but that revolver has turned out to have some sort of issue that will need to be addressed. The point of impact is so low. That said, many of the bullets I have use the same diameter as my .45 ACP loads. I think I could continue to try handloading with my 1911 in .45 ACP. I'm thinking specifically my new MP Molds 185 grain HP mold. I had been toying with the idea of saving up for a Smith and Wesson N frame or Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt as the basis for a custom target revolver. I still think it would be a great idea but it'll have to wait.

I will continue to tinker with .357 Magnum and .38 Special for the Taurus 66 and the Marlin 1894. I like the recipes I have for subsonic loads but I still want to keep trying for cheap cast loads since Trail Boss isn't available yet.
I regards to the Marlin 336, the more I think about it, the likelihood of the 336 build is pretty much a guarantee. It's wholly dependent on Ruger dropping the correct SKU and that could be years from now. I want it to be a Marlin or that build simply doesn't happen. I don't need it out right since the 1894 CST is doing the heavying lifting these days and all the bases realistically are covered. The 336 build keeps nagging at me as something I want to do. I'll chalk that up as a Someday gun.

Anyway, we shall see what I end up doing before the baby arrives. God is good.

17 March 2024

Weird Gun Idea - Triple Seven in .357 Magnum and .38 Special

 Since I've been on a kick lately on stuffing Triple Seven into whatever case, I figure that maybe I should try .357 Magnum and .38 Special. I would very much like to try it with my favorite 160 grain bullets to see how those work from a .38 Special case. I will need to figure out what bullet to use with the .357 Magnum case since the crimp grove makes things tricky. If I do though, the result is more velocity.

So far, it looks like a safe load of Triple Seven is around 25 grains by volume using a .38 Special case and around 30 gr in a .357 Magnum case. Both of these appear to be in compression but I will need to confirm with the correct bullets. Instead of the 105 grain cast bullets I have, I'm thinking about finding some generic 158 grain LSWC. 

The original load of 38 Special black powder was a 21.5 grains by volume of FFFg and a 158 grain bullet. So I've already got a hotter load. A 6 inch barrel revolver should get us somewhere around 950 fps. Finding reliable data for rifle data has been a little tricky. Someone had posted they tested a black powder load from a rifle that was around 1230 fps. I ran that number through a calculator and found that the velocity would be at 1000 fps at around 108 yards. With the correct lead alloy, I think we can make the short range work. I suspect that a soft lead alloy with a BHN around 5 to 6 would be around what we're looking for if we still want to be able to have expanding hollow points from my Lyman mold at distances under 100 yards. This will be a very short range setup.

A 357 Magnum case holds more powder, so I figure I can add a few fps to that rifle data. What could really help is a new mold that has a crimp groove setup for 357 Magnum instead of 38 Special but I can work on that later. I have a few of the 160 grain bullets from GT Bullets that I found in a box, I figure I can load up a few 38 Special cases and try to get velocity data from the Marlin 1894 CST.

Update: I loaded a few 160 grain cast HP bullets over 23 grains by volume into .38 Special cases for testing. I could only make 5 since I only have enough bullets to make that work but from my rifle with 23 grains by volume, I got 1245 FPS from my 1894 with a 16 inch barrel over my chronograph. I don't think I did a good job making them and would like to try again.