|February - March 2002
Volume 37, Number
Cover photos include the Smith & Wesson Models 625 Mountain Gun and 27. Below (left to right) sixguns include the Ruger Vaquero, New Model Blackhawk and Colt Single Action Army. Colt pistol photo by Dave Scovill.
in H&K Barrel
Q: I purchased an
H&K USP compact .45 ACP to carry. My problem and question result from trying cast
H&G semiwadcutter bullets with 6.8 grains of new Unique. The bullets are sized to .452
inch and lubed with Lyman Alox. The alloy is a mixture of lead/tin/antimony that measures
7 on the SAECO hardness tester. This load does not lead the barrel in my Colts at all.
However, in the H&K with its different rifling design, it leads like mad, even after 5
or 10 rounds. Could this leading be the result of the rifling design, or do you have other
ideas? - B.B., Georgia
Leading has many causes. Some barrels just lead. I remember well the wonderful, old Bar
Sto barrels we used in our competition pistols tended to lead, sometimes severely for the
first several thousand rounds. These broach-rifled barrels were extremely accurate and for
lack of a better description, a little toothy. Until much shooting, especially with
jacketed bullets, had polished them, they leaded.
I doubt, however, this is the cause
related to your H&K. These barrels are usually glass-smooth. It seems your thoughts,
that the rifling (polygonal) is the cause, are probably correct. The barrels are certainly
designed around jacketed bullets. The barrels surface may have extra, high-friction
contact with the bullet, when compared to conventional rifling. This combined with lube
break down might cause the lead.
Another potential cause, that is the
most normal cause for severe leading, is gas cutting. The bullets may not be creating a
perfect bore seal. When gas jets by the bullet, or part of the bullet, it melts lead and
leaves it in the barrel. As possible cures you might try: slightly larger bullets, softer
bullets, harder bullets and another lube.
Now here is a really good one! I
suppose for most of us, case trimming is a necessary evil; and the often flimsy, imprecise
or ridiculously complex trimmers add to the agony. Like so many good things, case trimming
is not rocket science, nor does a case trimmer need to be a rocket.
Sometimes, simpler is better.
The Cam Lock trimmer is just that,
astoundingly simple and really stout. If we begin with the “normal” parts, the
body is a heavy alloy casting. It is, as it should be, a version of a miniature lathe with
lots of metal and very stiff. The cutter measures 5/8 inch and therefore should be capable
of handling cartridges through .50 caliber. This cutter-end or head stock is turned by a
thick, solid handle with a big, smooth knob. You can put plenty of power into this.
Further, you could unscrew the crank handle and substitute a power drill or screwdriver.
Fine-trim length adjustments and
trim-to length stops are part of the cutter end. Again, these are simple and positive. No
wrenches are required, just simple hand-tightening of the two heavy, knurled steel collars
lock the length adjustment.
The tailstock, or end that holds the
cases, is where the trimmer gets really interesting and revolutionary. First, the part
that holds the cases begins as a massive .810 inch diameter solid steel shaft. It fits
into the base and is locked by a simple cross slide and a big knurled knob. This gives you
very quick, coarse length adjustment. The end of the shaft is turned and threaded, ending
in a flat-faced rod that is the size of the hole in a shellholder. A threaded shellholder
screws on to the end of the shaft.
In action, the shellholder holds the
case and the threads draw the case head and shellholder back against the flat-faced end on
the solid shaft. This creates a solid crush fit between the end of the shaft, shellholder
and rim Ð all measured from and related to the head of the case. Each and every case is
indexed solidly against its head. The trim length is always the same, fixed between the
immovable shaft and the cutter. The end result is cases that are the same length, every
One of the really good things about
this system is that you do not need exotic or odd case-holding devises to go with your
trimmer. A standard shellholder does the job. Therefore, if you have a shellholder for the
cartridge, your case trimmer is ready to trim it. The only other addition is a trimmer
pilot that fits the caliber. The trimmer is supplied with seven pilots for: .22, .24, .27,
.28, .30, .35 and .45.
While it is a bit of overkill, you
can see in the photo, I chucked the shellholder shaft components in a collet and attacked
cases on my Bridgeport milling machine. I launched the big, 2,000-pound machine with its
2-horsepower motor at the cases. It was running at 2,500 rpm and taking .006-inch cuts per
rpm. The smoke and brass really flew, and most important, the extraordinary case holding
system seemed to like it. Every case came out the same. There was no slippage, chatter or
vibration. If you need a case trimmer, take a hard look at this one.
* * *
is a little off the subject, but it is too good to miss. The FoodSaver is that relatively
familiar critter that magically seals your dead deer, fish, quail or whatever in strong
plastic. The machine is a proper vacuum system. Therefore, each bag has all the air
removed before sealing. It is air that causes trouble in the shape of freezer burn, etc.
Unlike ordinary plastic bags, these bags can be boiled or microwaved without melting. Yes,
I do use the FoodSaver for its intended purpose by packaging my rare, yearly catch of
sturgeon and lots of smoked salmon. But, it is the non-food uses that seem to grow daily.
As time goes by, I find more and
more uses for this handy vacuum
device. One of the first things I sealed up was a fragile, rare box of original collectors
cartridges. The transparent plastic does not hide the box or information on it, but all
air is out, preventing internal decay, and the tough plastic eliminates wear and tear to
the fragile box itself. Other things, like an impossibly rare, original Jacobs bullet and
exploding head are now neatly sealed. This accomplishes two things: first, damage and
decay are stopped; second, the small, losable pieces are now held in something big so they
cannot run and hide.
I have also sealed up a revolver or
two. The guns were cleaned and lightly oiled before they were sealed. Putting a gun in an
ordinary plastic bag is a certain recipe for rust, because of trapped moisture and oxygen.
But with the vacuum concept, there is virtually no air in the bag (nor water or oxygen),
therefore the components of oxidation/rust are not present. If I were going to run a
river, or pack a pistol in other really horrible conditions, where there was little
immediate need for the arm, it would travel in the vacuum bag. The bags actually come in
long rolls and while I have not tried it, I am certain you could seal up a long gun also.
Beyond firearms, the vacuum bags
hold my limited, but carefully selected emergency and survival gear in my pack. The
sealing does two things. First it makes the materials as small and compact as possible.
Bandages or cotton shrink almost to zero. Further, the contents are kept perfectly dry and
clean. In addition to serious stuff, they will perfectly preserve candy bars, tobacco,
film, spare lighters and almost anything else you would like to keep neat and tidy. Also,
a spare sweater, socks and other clothes are absolutely sealed from the elements.
I guess the main point is, if you have
wondered about buying a vacuum FoodSaver, as I did for years, it is perfectly fair to
think well beyond food. They are really handy. Available from Cabelas or other
retailers, or direct: www.suresource.com/Tilia;