Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Converting Rifle Brass to Use No.209 Shotshell Primers

AKA, “Yet another reason to have a small lathe.”

Obligatory disclaimer: We don’t guarantee that these will be safe in your rifle or with your components. Do this at your own risk.

The cartridge cases converted using this method are NOT safe to use with full loads. Read that again. They are only safe to use with low pressure reduced loads. Use at your own risk.

My friend N. has recently delved into shooting his M-1891/59 Mosin-Nagant and No.4 Mk.I Lee-Enfield with "mousefart" loads. These are even less powerful than Ed Harris’s “The Load” of 13 grains of Red Dot under a 150 - 180 grain bullet. N. is loading a 115 or 125 grain cast bullet on top of 5.0 grains of Bullseye. (His first try in 7.62R used 6 grains of Bullseye but accuracy was horrible. Backing off to 5 grains shrank the groups.)

He has a good stock of No.209 shotshell primers but not a lot of large rifle primers. He also has a lathe in his basement workshop, as you can see in the picture. It’s an older Jet unit with a 7” swing (not sure how long it is). He took some Berdan primed .303 cases that he’d stashed away and drilled out the primer pockets so they will accept No.209 primers.

Per N., he used three drill bits to modify each case:

"Center drill to keep main drill from following the firing pin dent, letter C for the main body, 21/64 to countersink the flange on the battery cup.  Be careful!  My Fiocchi primers are .002" larger than my Cheddite, and I understand the Cheddites are larger than most Yankee brands."

So measure the No.209 primers you have and pick drill sizes to match.

We haven't tried this with Boxer-primed brass but I don't see why it wouldn't work. This project was primarily to make something useful from what otherwise would be trash.

Something else to consider is how your rifle will handle escaping gas if something goes wrong. I have been present when someone experienced complete case head separations in a No.4 Lee-Enfield and another time in a Mosin-Nagant. The Lee-Enfield shooter didn't notice anything awry until he opened the bolt. The Mosin shooter got gas back in his face but was uninjured because he wore eye protection.

Also note that a lot of milsurp .303 and all 7.62x54R were corrosively primed. Make sure to clean your rifle accordingly when shooting that ammo. You also need to rinse out the brass with water if you plan to reuse it. (The No.209 primers are not corrosive. I'm only referring to the initial firing with the original primers.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A Canoe Gun by Jackie Brown, and Muzzleloaders for Survival

Over on Blog O'Stuff I've already posted about this, but this post will have a different slant.

I bought this "Canoe Gun" (really just a short version of the Indian Trade Gun) at Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop last weekend. It's a 20 gauge percussion smoothbore. It was built by Jackie Brown. As a southpaw I could not pass it up.

I made a sling for it from a cowhide shoulder I had.

Some measurements I took:

  • Overall length 40"
  • Barrel: 24.5"
  • Length of pull 13.5"
  • Weight 6.5 lbs.
  • Width of buttplate 2"

The lock is a large Siler. The barrel has a slight flare at the muzzle end. It may be slightly coned on the inside. The front and only sight is a trade gun-style turtle. It has a large Siler lock and the nipple is sized for No.11 caps. A .580" ball will drop freely down a clean barrel all the way to the breech.

I got a chance to shoot itthe next day over at a friend's place. He has some land and we can shoot safely in his yard. Unfortunately it was raining and the only place I could load while under overhead cover was his patio. I'd then step out to shoot and some tin cans we placed on a hillside.

My load of 1 oz. of #5 shot on top of 65 grains of Scheutzen 3Fg black powder penetrated both side of a #10 can from about 20 yards, so it's got enough power for hunting.

I also tried a couple varieties of ball loads. I shot a half dozen .570 balls loaded in paper cartridges on top of 65 grains of powder. I also tried a few shots with .575 balls loaded on top of a tow wad, with another tow wad over the ball to hold it in place. The balls loads shot high with how I was holding the gun.

Recoil with both the shot and ball loads was very mild. I plan to try some heavier charges.

I absolutely need to put both shot and ball loads on paper.

Everything went mostly well until the gun fell over onto the brick patio, landing on the hammer which was set to half cock. That broke the half cock notch on the tumbler. (Insert vast amounts of profanity here.)

When I was done I used tow wrapped around a worm to scrub the bore. This was the first time I've tried using tow for cleaning and it works pretty well, much like a bore brush. I'll be using it at least for my smoothbores in the future. This is what tow looks like when wrapped around the worm. There's no reason you can't use it in a modern shotgun. It can even be washed and reused. Once it's worn out you can use it as tinder. You can make the equivalent by cutting a 4" to 6" length of hemp, sisal, or jute rope and unraveling it.

The primitive worm I use is just a coil of wire that winds onto the end of my ramrod. It works like a Chinese finger trap and doesn't easily come off.

After getting home I ordered a replacement tumbler from Track of the Wolf and I paid extra for 2 day delivery. My order arrived today and I repaired the lock after work. It took about a half hour with some needle files to fit the new tumbler to the hammer. I also cleaned up the side of the tumbler that rubs against the lock plate, using a stone. The hammer now clicks solidly into both the half and full cock notches.

I may be going upstate next weekend and if so I should be able to pattern shot loads and figure out how to hold it when shooting ball.

OK, Dave, I know you're saying. Why consider a muzzleloader for a survival gun? Sure, when these guns were originally made they were used for real as survival guns, but it's 2022 now.

For a long term/TEOTWAWKI survival gun a muzzleloader has some advantages, IMO:

  • No paperwork in most states.
  • You can make your own black powder and projectiles.
  • You can shoot birdshot, buckshot, ball, or buck and ball in it. In extremis you can shoot rocks or sticks.
  • It can use modern plastic shot cups for better shot patterns, or traditional materials for wads like felt, tow (flax or hemp fiber), or wasp's nest.
  • You can make percussion caps if you have the correct tool, thin sheet aluminum, copper, or brass, and the chemicals which are freely available now.
  • If it's a flintlock, each flint should be good for at least 30 shots and it's possible to make your own if you live in the right area and know how to do it. (For me, making caps is actually easier.)
  • If the gun is constructed like mine with a nipple and drum, the gun can easily be converted to a flintlock by replacing the drum with a vent liner and the lock with a large Siler flint lock.

I'll have to do a separate, more detailed post on the caplock vs. flintlock for a survival gun.

Of course it's nowhere near as good as even a single shot breech loader for defense but it still beats a sharp stick or harsh language. You are far from unarmed with one of these.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

While you're prepping for food shortages ...

It occurred to me this morning at breakfast that while we're prepping for possible food shortages, we should also be stocking vitamin and mineral supplements. Compared with food and water, storing enough supplements for one person for a year is inexpensive and takes up minimal storage space, and are easily portable should you need to bug out.

I'm planning on picking this up for myself.

This is the formulation for women.

A main difference between the two is that women's multivitamins include iron while those for men don't.

Note that while the above are Amazon affiliate links, I'm planning to purchase locally so I can check the expiration date before purchasing. I don't want to buy a 10 month supply that expires in a few months, regardless of how long they'll last past the expiration date.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

TA Outdoors: 10 Wilderness Survival Tips

I ran across this video from TA Outdoors and was very impressed with what he was able to accomplish with a Swiss Army Knife. A lot of these would apply to scout knives as well.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Some new pocketknives

Every so often I go through a knife buying binge.

I had a MidwayUSA gift card and put it towards a large Case Trapper. This one has yellow Delrin scales and the blades are Case's chrome vanadium (CV) steel, which is a high carbon steel rather than stainless. I've found it to have good edge holding properties while being easy to resharpen. The Victorinox Pioneer is for scale.

Next up was an old Imperial Kamp King. One of these was the second knife I ever owned, back in the late 1970s. It was an inexpensive Boy Scout-type knife and to be honest, was pretty cheaply made. The blades are carbon steel and will develop a patina with use. Somewhere along the line I lost my original. They are easy to find on eBay but most are well used. I found this one that looks like it spent most of its life in a drawer. I put an edge on the blade and it'll find its way into my carry rotation.

Next up were a new Hen & Rooster mini-stockman and an old Kabar 1152 camp knife. The H&R was made in Germany and has stainless blades. From what I've read about the Kabar, it was actually manufactured by Camillus for Kabar. 1152s in fine condition list for $90 - $100 on eBay. This cost about half that due to the pitting on the blade. Someone didn't care for it properly and the pitting is the result. However, that puts it into the user category for me.

When I got it the top of the screwdriver blade rubbed against the knife blade, making the screwdriver almost impossible to open without first opening the knife blade. I filed a slight bevel on it for clearance and now it opens normally.

The blades were a bit rough when opening, so I lubricated them with Sentry Solutions Tuf-Glide. (Amazon affiliate link.) I've found this to work really well on pocketknife pivots. After the carrier dries it leaves behind a lubricant that doesn't collect lint and dirt.

This past weekend I brought the Kabar with me on a camping trip to Tioga County. The can opener worked great on a can of corned beef hash we had with breakfast one day.

If you like Swiss Army Knives but are in the mood for something different there are plenty of affordable old scout knives to be found on sites like eBay and Etsy.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The DEF Shortage

On top of the diesel shortage, we have the Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) shortage. DEF is injected into the exhaust to reduce pollution.

DEF is required in Diesel engines built since 2010. Without some kind of a hack, they won't run. They won't even start.

Without Diesel-powered trucks, nothing in this country moves.

Morning Call: Record Diesel Prices Crushing Pennsylvania Farmers

Warning, doomer post:

The Morning Call is the third largest newspaper in Pennsylvania. It's not what anyone would consider to be "fringe." So, the fact that it ran this should get your attention.

HARRISBURG — A Lehigh County farmer recently called Kyle Kotzmoyer and said something like “I’ve got a tractor hooked up to my corn planter out here, no diesel fuel, and I can’t afford to get any.”


After the hearing — in a phone interview — Kotzmoyer made clear that food may not be as available because of the fuel price surge.

“One, if they can’t afford to put it in the ground,” he said of farming using diesel-thirsty machinery. “Or, two, if they can’t afford to take it out.”

Average diesel fuel prices Tuesday in Pennsylvania were $6.19 a gallon, about 75% higher than a year ago, according to AAA.


Asked if food shortages were a possibility, Kotzmoyer said, “If the farmers cannot get crops out of the ground, then there is not food on the shelves.”

Kotzmoyer said he has already heard of farmers selling seed corn or beans back to dealers so they can plant hay, which has “more return on investment.”


Full article.

Of course, the problem is not limited to Pennsylvania. This is nationwide.

This picture was posted by "Lorax" from Wisconsin on yesterday:

They are spacing out bratwurst in a Wisconsin supermarket like they are cars at a dealer with low inventory.

On top of the disruptions in global food supplies due to the Russo-Ukrainian War, none of this bodes well.

Continue to stock up.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

A Couple More Rides

Yesterday I took the Nishiki out for my longest ride since the early 1990s. I started at SEPTA's Spring Mill train station and took the Schuykill River Trail out to Valley Forge National Park. Round trip was 22.22 miles.

I continue to be pleased with the Selle Anatomica saddle. I would've been hurting if the bike still had the OEM saddle.

This morning I wanted to ride again but without a recovery day wasn't sure how well I'd do without some assistance, so I took the Lectric XP out for a bit more than 20 miles on the Cross County Trail and the SRT.

I wound up keeping it on pedal assist level 2 for most of the ride, only bumping it up to 3 a few times for hill climbing and passing. This gave me a pretty good workout. On anyting other than dead flat ground or a downhill, it's a heavy pig to pedal without assistance.

The Vee Speedster tires I installed a month ago make a big difference when riding on pavement, compared with the OEM knobby tires. That said, I've come to the conclusion that the bike would have been better designed to use BMX-type wheels with 2" (at the most) wide tires. It could be made lighter and it would be a lot more nimble, and I bet battery life would be better as well.