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Thread: Getting to know my Drilling...

  1. #1

    Getting to know my Drilling...

    I recently acquired this drilling I Kinda Like Drillings as a replacement for one I lost in a boating accident. It's an 'oldie', having been made in 1898. It's nice that shotgun bores are fairly 'standard', and this one is a common drilling size - 16 bore. However, there's nothing "standard" about how these century-old drillings' rifle barrels were chambered.

    As I mentioned in the above thread, the arm was advertised as "10mm". It's not. It's actually 11.2mm (~0.441"). Sorta. Here's a drawing of the profile of the rifling with an attached slug of the muzzle.


    A chamber cast (on the right, in the following picture) shows that the chamber length is just a bit longer (~2mm) than a .348 Win case.


    Other dimensions of the chamber suggested that .348 cases could be used. Based on the chamber cast, I made a 'prototype' resizing die on my lathe and 'squoze' a .348 case down sufficiently to fit in the chamber. I then swaged a .458" cast bullet down to 0.442", filled the case up to the base of the bullet with black powder, and 'touched one off'.

    One of the many 'nice things' about BP cartridges is that you don't have to worry about how much powder to use. With few exceptions, if you know the bullet weight for which the cartridge was designed, you can 'fill 'er up' and have at it safely. While I didn't know what this cartridge was, I had a pretty good idea about what bullet weight was used based on the other 11.2mm cartridges I found that were "almost" this chambering. Anyway, the fired case gave me a good feeling about how well the .348 case was going to work for this firearm.

    Using the fired case dimensions,

    I ordered a reamer from Welcome To Pacific Tool and Gauge Inc. -- Reamers, Gauges, Bushings, and more. . There was a bit of a SNAFU with the pilot, but that got resolved fairly quickly, and I made a nice full-length resizing die. It takes a bit of 'muscle' to form the body of the cartridge even with the custom-made die. The head of the .348 is about right, but by the time I get finished "squeezing" the body in and down, the head has swollen by about 0.005". The last few millimeters of sizing requires quit a bit of effort. Here's what the finished case looks like between some better-known cartridges. From left-to-right: 45-70 Gov't, .416 x .348 Win (one of my wildcats), the 11.2 case, the .51x.348 Win (AKA .50 Alaskan), and the 'native' .348 Win case.


    Next was bullet selection. There aren't any .440-ish jacketed bullets 'out there' available to me. However, having been down this road before, I was not particularly deterred. I would simply swage down bullets of larger diameter, and "swage" up ones of smaller diameter. I ordered four "bullet sizing" dies - two over-the-counter ones from Lee (.455" and .451"), and two custom dies (.442" and .439") from:

    Rick Tunell
    501 Lime St
    Redlands, CA
    92374

    Tunell's dies are outstanding and I can HIGHLY recommend him. The 0.442" die was for cast 'boolits', and .439" for resizing jacketed bullets accounting for about 0.001" of spring-back, yielding a finished diameter of 0.440". When I received these dies, I started "making" bullets.

    Here are some images of bullets I started with in the finished 11.2mm diameter:

    The left one is cast from the Lee 1R .45 ACP Ball mold and a the right is a "generic" .45 ACP Ball jacketed bullet. Both weigh 230 grains. Finished diameters after swaging: cast = .442", jacketed = .441".


    This one is from a Lee custom mold that they had "laying around", nominally 0.446" in diameter. Actual diameter as cast from wheel weights was .448". With gas check it weighs 416 grains. I think it's a bit heavy for my interest, but we'll see how it shoots.


    Here is an over-the-counter cast bullet from Oregon Trails. It is a 405-grain bullet in .458". It is the bullet that shoots best from my .45-70 rifles. Finished diameter = 0.442" and finished weight with gas check = 408 grains. Also most likely too heavy for my interest.


    This is a bullet cast from Lee's 300 RF-GC mold, nominally .458" in diameter. Finished weight = 303 grains, and finished diameter = 0.442". This is a bullet I am interested in. If it shoots straight, it will be high on the 'short list'.


    This is Hornady's .458", 300-grain "LeverLution" bullet. Final diameter, 0.441".


    Here are the bunch of them side-by-side:


    I have also swaged Hornady's 225-grain .452" LeverLution bullets down to .441", but I don't have pictures of those at the moment.

    At this point, it's time for load workup. I've been playing around in QuickLoad, and it's difficult to find a load that is low pressure enough - I want it below 28,000 PSI - and still fills the case at least 75% full. I'm not averse to using BP, but I'd prefer not to for two reasons. First, it's just plain 'messy'. Cleanup - mandatory immediately - is a pain. Second, I seriously doubt I could get any of these bullets to MVs that I would be satisfied with (over 1500 f/s), using BP.

    It's been "the Holidays" and very dark here, so there has been no paper-punching. I expect to get out and see how these various bullets 'work' before too long.

    Regards,
    Paul
    Last edited by gitano; 06-01-2011 at 05:03.

  2. #2
    Nice work, Paul. RCBS once stocked a .446" mold for the 11 Mauser and I bought it as I have several of the rifles. Want to borrow it for a while?? Or have me send you some bullets? Seems like a natural for your project.~Muir

    ADDENDUM: Oops! I re read your post and see that you already have a bullet like this in the form the custom Lee. My bad. ~M
    Last edited by Muir; 06-01-2011 at 06:38.

  3. #3
    Thanks Muir.

    I've been playing with QuickLoad this evening, and I think I've got some good loads for the Lee 303-grain bullet (the one just above the LeverLution in the above pictures) using Accurate 2495. I get good load densities (about 95%), and good MVs (about 1950 f/s), and low pressures (about 20,000 PSI). The bad news is that even with a 26.78" bbl, all of the 2495 doesn't burn in the barrel - only about 93%. That in turn means the pressure at the muzzle is on the order of 4,000 PSI. Not bad for 'modern' rifles, but I'm not excited about it for this old piece. Should be no problem, but I'd feel better if all the powder was burnt. That unburnt powder "flashes" when it hits the 'fresh' oxygen after the bullet leaves the muzzle. Discounting anything to do with pressure, 'flashing' powder doesn't "help" precision. We'll see.

    The external ballistics are "good". Some are below what I would expect of a modern rifle, but that's just the way it is. I make allowances for things I like.

    With a MV of 1977 f/s, the ME is then 2777 ft-lbs. That shouldn't be bad at all in terms of recoil, even in a 'light' gun like this one.
    With the open sights, and setting the max practical range at 200 yd, the gun delivers 1400 ft-lbs of energy with an impact velocity of 1400 f/s. That's "good" energy, and "OK" impact velocity for a 'lead' bullet. I may put a wax-filled hollow in the nose just for a little extra 'security'. Drop at 200 yd would be in the vicinity of 9 inches below line-of-sight.

    Of course these estimates are all just so much paper-whipping. Everything has to be tested at the range.

    Regards,
    Paul
    Last edited by gitano; 06-01-2011 at 07:40.

  4. #4
    Paul, I am as ever in admiration to your inginuity and willingness to play around with all this gear. I find it fascinating! Thank you for another great post.

    Atb, Simon
    Blindness to suffering is an inherent consequence of natural selection. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but fiercely indifferent.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by gitano View Post
    Thanks Muir.

    I've been playing with QuickLoad this evening, and I think I've got some good loads for the Lee 303-grain bullet (the one just above the LeverLution in the above pictures) using Accurate 2495. I get good load densities (about 95%), and good MVs (about 1950 f/s), and low pressures (about 20,000 PSI). The bad news is that even with a 26.78" bbl, all of the 2495 doesn't burn in the barrel - only about 93%. That in turn means the pressure at the muzzle is on the order of 4,000 PSI. Not bad for 'modern' rifles, but I'm not excited about it for this old piece. Should be no problem, but I'd feel better if all the powder was burnt. That unburnt powder "flashes" when it hits the 'fresh' oxygen after the bullet leaves the muzzle. Discounting anything to do with pressure, 'flashing' powder doesn't "help" precision. We'll see.

    The external ballistics are "good". Some are below what I would expect of a modern rifle, but that's just the way it is. I make allowances for things I like.

    With a MV of 1977 f/s, the ME is then 2777 ft-lbs. That shouldn't be bad at all in terms of recoil, even in a 'light' gun like this one.
    With the open sights, and setting the max practical range at 200 yd, the gun delivers 1400 ft-lbs of energy with an impact velocity of 1400 f/s. That's "good" energy, and "OK" impact velocity for a 'lead' bullet. I may put a wax-filled hollow in the nose just for a little extra 'security'. Drop at 200 yd would be in the vicinity of 9 inches below line-of-sight.

    Of course these estimates are all just so much paper-whipping. Everything has to be tested at the range.

    Regards,
    Paul
    Ever thought of Pyrodex? The CTG grade is gone (too bad!) but RS Select might work well and take off the burden of immediate cleaning. I use it in my Snider with great results.~Muir

  6. #6
    Ever thought of Pyrodex?
    Thanks for the reminder, Muir. When I lock my jaws on one of these projects, I can get 'tunnel vision' pretty quick.

    The answer to your question is "No".

    I have both Pyrodex and RS in hand, but just don't think of them because they aren't part of QuickLoad's (QL hereafter) repertoire of powders, and I rely heavily on QL when developing initial loads. The only 'concern' I would have with either Pyrodex or RS is the muzzle velocity. I've gotten over the Jack O'Connor-induced addiction to velocity/kinetic energy, but that doesn't mean I don't understand its value when viewed as a part of the over-all measure of a cartridges "lethality". In firearms I have (excluding a rare "collectable" here or there) they all have to 'pull their own weight' in a practical usability sense. For me, that means I would actually genuinely consider grabbing the firearm as I walked out the door to go hunting. With the shotgun barrels 'on board' it's not too difficult to extend my hand to grab the gun, but if the rifle doesn't genuinely allow me to Hunt, it's going to become a wall-hanger or closet queen. I have applied for a couple of local "urban" moose hunts. If I get drawn for one of them, I will most definitely be using this drilling... IF I can get it to shoot straight and "moose-lethal" by next Fall. I'll give Pyrodex and RS a 'shot' (pun intended), thanks.

    Thanks, flytie. Resuscitating these old firearms, especially Drilings, is what 'turns my crank' these days. They give me a chance to do what I like - number crunching, amateur machining, 'creative' reloading, and hunting with a 'quality' firearm. I have an armload of "modern" arms that shoot tiny little groups. I love them, but they're very 'predictable' - thank goodness!. If I had the opportunities to Hunt like 'you guys' do, I'd probably have less time for all this 'fiddling'.

    Regards,
    Paul

  7. #7
    If you can give me the rough powder volume of your case in CC's I can tell you the charge volume and about what to expect for velocity from a given bullet. Like black powder, the load with Pyrodex is a slightly compressed charge and that's it. You might find that it works quite well in your rifle. Quick-load is nice, but as you're finding, not supportive of all ballistic challenges.~Muir

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gitano View Post
    If I had the opportunities to Hunt like 'you guys' do, I'd probably have less time for all this 'fiddling'.

    Regards,
    Paul
    Finally Paul, I have an insight that explains why some guys seem to want to own an entire armoury.
    Mastering your kit through experiment and development I can understand. It's enjoyable and it's good to climb the curve, but there's a definite limit to the amount of time I'd spend on making things go. I'd far rather be using tools to do the job. But.... If I couldn't get to go out as and when it suited me I guess I might take up the violin too.

    Having said the above and even at the risk of seeming sychophantic, I'm another who's slightly in awe of people like yourself and Muir who get so "hands on" with the whole process.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tamus View Post
    Finally Paul, I have an insight that explains why some guys seem to want to own an entire armoury.
    Mastering your kit through experiment and development I can understand. It's enjoyable and it's good to climb the curve, but there's a definite limit to the amount of time I'd spend on making things go. I'd far rather be using tools to do the job. But.... If I couldn't get to go out as and when it suited me I guess I might take up the violin too.

    Having said the above and even at the risk of seeming sychophantic, I'm another who's slightly in awe of people like yourself and Muir who get so "hands on" with the whole process.
    I love shooting. I don't remember a time when I didn't own a rifle... and that goes well into my earliest childhood memories. I also had an uncle who was a very good country gunsmith who kept me at his bench when I was willing to behave. I saw all manners of rifles and handguns and got to shoot many of them as well as work on them. Later I went to school for tool and die making.... it all seems to dovetail into a passion for firearms and shooting, doesn't it?

    One of the reasons I'm living where I am is because I can shoot every day if I wish. I would no more want to shoot the same rifle every day as I would eat the same meal every day. ~Muir

  10. #10
    Paul, you do yourself a disservice by using the term "Amateur", the work you are doing is the essence of smithing & armouring, & often produces the baselines that "Professionals" plagiarise. Steve.
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

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