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Thread: Aguila SSS Ammo "Reloading" (It's probably too long for you CentralBeltStalker)

  1. #1

    Aguila SSS Ammo "Reloading" (It's probably too long for you CentralBeltStalker)

    While I am not really "reloading" these bullets or cartridges, I am modifying them considerably, and it kinda feels like reloading so I'm putting this thread in this site.

    A few years back, I fell in love with the 60-grain SSS (Sniper Subsonic) .22 rimfire cartridge made by Aguila and primed by Eley. However, the LONG, heavy, bullet would not stabilize in ANY of my several .22 rifles. I moped around for a while until Volquartsen put their 1:9-twist 10/22 on sale for "only" $150 and bought one. Sadly it's in stainless steel, not blue chrome molybdenum, but nonetheless it makes that SSS shoot VERY straight.

    One of the "things" that bothered me about the SSS not stabilizing in ANY of my rifles with the standard 1:16 twist rate was that other folks whose veracity regarding firearms-related matters has been well-established to me, were reporting that the SSS didn't key-hole from their rifles. Something was amiss somewhere. Anyway it was those reliable reports that kept me after the bullet I wanted to shoot. (The SSS hits like the proverbial "ton of bricks".)

    I've been thinking about that "instability" issue lately, and I think I might have come up with the explanation: I shoot most often at about sea level, and in temperatures rarely above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Each of those conditions "thickens" the air. Denser air changes the stability equation (but not in my calculator unfortunately). Nonetheless, the denser the air the harder it is to gyroscopically stabilize a bullet.

    So here's the upshot. I have joined the RimFireCentral forum. There's a fellow there (goes by 'D Rock') selling a device that reshapes .22 RF bullet noses, AND uniforms their diameter. As soon as I saw the device, I bought one to use on the SSS bullets. The device comes with four "pointers":

    1) A Hollow Point,
    2) A Hydroshok (center post HP),
    3) A flat nose/wad cutter, and
    4) A round nose uniformer.

    I made a fifth type - the flat nose hollow point, and I intend to modify the Hydroshok pointer so that it has a more acute angle to the hollowing part of the point. I don't particularly care for the results it produces now, but I KNOW the Hydroshok point is a real thumper. It acts like a hollow point on impact, but because of the center post, it penetrates farther than a normal HP.

    Here some pictures of the results I obtained.

    My thought was that in uniforming the diameter, AND reshaping the nose, the bullet would HAVE to get shorter, thereby changing the stability specs (improving them). I put the device to work immediately, and it does in fact shorten the bullets. According to my twist rate calculator, the difference in length and diameter make a big difference in the theoretical stability factor. I paperwhipped each of the four modified bullets (the four you see in the images, not the round nose) as well as the unmodified one - which is a round nose.

    The results of that exercise suggest that my guess was probably correct about the stability of the unmodified bullet varying with where one is when one shoots it. I'll post some screen shots of the tables, and if it ever stops raining I'll see what they actually do instead of what they do "theoretically". (We set a record for consecutive days of measurable rain this summer - 30. It stopped for 3 days, then started up again, and we're working on another 10 in a row. :angry

    Tables to follow.

    Last edited by gitano; 03-12-2010 at 17:35.

  2. #2
    The skies finally cleared and I was able to get to the range. The results were interesting - at least to me.

    Here are the 'ground rules':

    Shot only at 25 yds with one exception that will be noted.
    Shot only two rifles:
    1) 10-22 with Volquartsen 1:9-twist barrel and 3-9x40 'scope fixed at 9x, unmodified 1972 factory trigger.
    2) BSA Martini Model 12/15 with aperture rear and globe front sights. (Absolutely 'gorgeous' trigger.)
    The point of aim will be included in all targets.
    No chronograph data.
    Winds light and variable.
    Temperature 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

    To start with, I shot one five-shot group with unmodified SSSs to set the "standard" out of the Ruger.

    Here's what that group looked like:

    It's 0.75" x 0.3". Strangely spread, but no called fliers.

    Later in the session I shot this 10-shot group:

    Again no called fliers, and not counting the three 'odd' ones, much the same horizontally-arced spread. This horizontal spreading was observed with some of the modified bullets and not others.

    Here is the target for the HPs. There are two 5-shot groups. The lower right group is the first, and the smaller one was shot after adjusting the 'scope.

    This is one of three targets you will see without the size of the 10-Ring noted. The 10-Ring is 2.0 cm or 0.787 inches wide.

    Next, I shot the HydroShok-pointed bullets. First the one "smaller" group. I then shot the "Wadcutters" and came back and shot the second "group" - more like a pattern than a group.

    I haven't got a clue what was going on here, but this 'ain't gonna work'. Each round was loaded single-shot. There's no way this point feeds semi-auto.

    Next is the "Wadcutter" or flat nose.

    Not terrible, but nothing to write home about either.

    Next was the Wadcutter HP.

    Essentially the same as the un-HP'd version.

    Next, I shot shot the BSA. Not knowing where it was going to hit with these bullets, I shot on the set-up graph first. Here's the 5-shot group.

    The group is the one at the bottom of the image. As I said, the POA is in the image. As you can see, there was a substantial drop. However, besides the first one out of the barrel, the rest made a VERY small group. I could not repeat on the roe deer target because I was out of HP'd SSSs. I tried to make more, but it didn't work well. I brought the bullet sizer along to the range with the thought that if I wanted to resize more bullets, I could. I brought a "C" clamp to use as a press. It did not work well enough for me to use the resulting bullets for this evaluation. A Lee hand-press would work, but I did not bring that along.

    After adjusting the sights on the BSA, I shot the Wadcutters. (I didn't have any more Hydroshoks, and based on the results with the Ruger, it would have been a waste of time anyway.) First I shot a group on the grid:

    Then a group on the roe deer target.

    In the group on the grid, you can see the horizontal spread after the first two shots hit the bull's eye. A similar spread on the roe deer. Since this is a different rifle, the odds are that this is "operator error". Could be... but there are many groups shot that don't exhibit this horizontal spread, so it's not a certainty that I was "pulling" the trigger.

    Also, you have to look closely, but every one of the roe deer holes and one of the grid ones are key-holed. Surprising to me, as the "wadcutters" are the shortest bullets, but it was the BSA with a 1:16 twist, and who knows what environmental factor changes between shooting these two groups.

    Next I wanted to shoot some non-subsonic bullets and see how "things" compared in both the Ruger and the BSA.

    The ammo used was Federal. On the side of the box was:
    ".22 Long Rifle"
    "High Vleocity"
    " 36 grain"
    "Hollow Point"
    "550 Rounds"
    "Bulk Packed"
    The stated velocity was 1280 f/s.

    First, the Ruger.

    The first three shots were great, but the other two were not called fliers. If you want to call it "spread", it was vertical.

    Here's the BSA's group with the same bullets:

    This time, if you want to call this group "spread", the spread is horizontal, and this is with the rifle with the best trigger, so I'm not inclined to attribute the "spread" to 'operator error'.

    Finally, to put "bookends" on the group-shooting, I shot a last 5-shot group from the Ruger using un-modified bullets. Here's that group:

    No "spread" in that group. I was pretty pleased with that, and decided to move the target frame out to 50 yards and see what I could do. Here's what I did:

    I like that! And yes, both the 25 yd and 50 yd are 5-shot groups.

    So here are my conclusions - yours may differ.

    1) The Hydroshok point is "out". Maybe a modified angle to the HP will help, or a deeper seat of the pointer. Still, feeding singly is a pain in the butt. I don't think this pointer will get used much.

    2) The HPs seem to do the best of the modified bullets precision-wise.

    3) The "wadcutters" are OK, but no "great shakes" precision-wise. Their value may lie solely with how hard they hit. That will have to be determined on game. The same applies to the WCHP.

    4) The unmodified bullets shoot very well from the 1:9-twist barrel. It's difficult to justify the $95 price tag for the resizer for these bullets. A small justification may surface if the HPs or wadcutters "whack" small game without simply poking on through.


  3. #3
    Hi Paul,
    My initial foray into re-forming 22lr was a desire to use cb short / long as a squirrel round. I found that the solid was a little too penetrating (through and through) and to be honest had a little to be desired regarding accuracy.
    I had seen on rimfirecentral Paco Kelly and DARock's offerings, so this was the beginning of my squirrel project!
    I enquired of Mr Kelly, price, availability, post to UK? no answer.
    While looking at DARock's offering (to be honest not liking them much) I stumbled across a mention of Neil Waltz aha! a quick google and I emailed Neil!
    Well we stumbled upon two problems! Number one Neil acquired his ffl, that mean anything over $100 needed state department license...bugger!
    Number two was if I had family or friends in the US they could post said dies to me, as I said two problems, I have neither friends nor family in the US, double bugger!
    Now we are talking of a set of dies costing $175 plus shipping... lot of wedge if they go missing in customs or in fact a lot of wedge plus import duty plus VAT plus robbing *******s at the post office 8 'collection' charge, gears begin turning 'up north'.
    As I thought about this problem I decided to have a bash at making my own, ahem, die set!
    First attempt was made of gunmetal (which machines beautifully) I made a delrin anvil to plug into the ram of my reloading press.
    I then turned a piece of gunmetal to suit the base and drilled reamed ( I had made a 22lr .225" chamber reamer to my own spec years ago, it was begging to be used again!!) and undercut the die to accept the 22lr plus a punch.
    The fun of 'designing' and turning suitable punches to finish the set, probably the most demanding part of the project!
    The die set was a success, it was accurate enough to form the HP in the centre without any measurable axial misalignment, chuffed, you betcha! Squirrels not so chuffed.
    The groups shrank to an an average of 5/16" at 30 yards perfect for what I needed - a guaranteed head shot every time. The cbs long or short, were unable to group this well. Without the modification they would, without fail, bung one out of the group (of around 1/2") between 3/4 to 1 inch away in an arbitrary direction.
    After modifying a few hundred rounds I began to think about Neil waltz's die a more elegant solution. I had quite a few handling operations with my die load the die with the shell, fit the punch, set the die in the press, operate the press, remove the die, push the punch home completely to eject formed cartridge remove punch then start all over.....
    Now altough this was no great hardship Neil's dies were calling, I mean how can you resist a 22lr shellholder for your RCBS rockchucker, you know, the one they do not sell?
    It became a burning desire, so, fill your boots! First make the die this time abit of screwcutting internal and external, now the die held the punch internally with a lockable adjustment screw on top.
    Next was the shell holder, now this was a sod!! only for one thing - modifying a woodruff cutter to be 1mm (0.040") thick and hope that it does not break!
    It worked well!!!!!
    After using both dies I have found pros and cons with both designs. The first die although needing more operations to use was easier to keep clean, you would not imagine how much wax the manufacturers coat their ammunition with! Because the body is removed from the press it is easy to run a cleaning brush through the die. I should mention with this die I used a 44 magnum case flaring die to set the punch depth position.
    The second die, looking like conventional reloading dies has a more aesthetic appeal but at the cost of the damn wax building up so much that it pressed the bullet further into the case!!!! It also had one further quirk because of the shell extraction and the power of a reloading press it would pull the case away enough for the bullet to be loose! Any way a little tweaking, a less aggressive Hollow-pointing punch and everything works well.
    Latest idea has a removable die so that it can be cleaned without having to reset the punch assembly....
    But unfortunately it will have to wait Magazine project is off and running now!

    Now as to the Aguila 60gn SSS Hollowpoint in my 1422 Anschutz it is incredibly accurate At its rated 50 yards it is deadly on bunnies have taken a few at 80-90 yards with it also, but it does have a trajectory like a rainbow!!!!!!!
    Well if you want pics of the dies etc leave a message here and I will post them here.
    Apologies for boring you all to tears


  4. #4
    Didn't bore me! I have an attention span longer than my crank.

    Fascinating actually. I'd love to see pictures. After getting my hands on DRock's, I decided I would make my own 'the next time'.

    Everything you went through prior to deciding to 'roll your own' is precisely why I - in Alaska and "at the end of the road" for the most part - end up making my own stuff. I find a great deal of satisfaction in the process and the usefulness.


  5. #5
    Hi Paul,
    Some pics!
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is the first die set I made

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Fairly conventional hollow point (cb shorts)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    5 sided hollowpoint

    Will have to take photos of second generation die Possibly tomorrow or Sunday.... need to get out and actually do some shooting


  6. #6
    Nice stuff! I like the Delrin plugin for the ram. I'm gonna do that.

    Do you find a difference in terminal performance in the ones with the pentagonal hollow?


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by gitano View Post
    Nice stuff! I like the Delrin plugin for the ram. I'm gonna do that.

    Do you find a difference in terminal performance in the ones with the pentagonal hollow?

    Delrin anvil with a bit chopped off so that it would fit the RCBS press!!
    Terminal performance of the pentagonal be honest, just looks pretty and was a 'what if' punch, squirrels do not seem to notice the difference!
    I have found that I only really use the conventional hp tip to minimise distortion of the bullet.

    Pic of latest die set;

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8
    Very nice!

    I noted
    modifying a woodruff cutter to be 1mm (0.040") thick and hope that it does not break!
    the first time. Looks like you did a great job on it.

    Instead of reinventing that wheel myself, I would be happy to pay you for one (or more) of those .22 RF shellholders.


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by gitano View Post
    Very nice!

    I noted the first time. Looks like you did a great job on it.

    Instead of reinventing that wheel myself, I would be happy to pay you for one (or more) of those .22 RF shellholders.

    Not being funny Paul, but why not contact Neil Waltz and see if he will supply a shell holder or two? He is in the USA so should not be a problem for you!
    I have some other irons in the fire at the moment, I could possibly revisit the shell holder in the future!

  10. #10
    Fair enough. I appreciate people that know how to say "No" politely. Much better that, than being strung along.

    As for Waltz, I didn't realize he made the shell holders. I'll check that out.


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