Monday, February 13, 2012

An experiment Updated

Couple of days ago was over at James' place reading this post on the Walther PP, PPK and the .32acp cartridge. One of the commenters left this link on loads for the .32acp to make it better for small game(light carry pistol when hiking/hunting) and self-defense. Which got me to thinking...

I've got a Lee mold to cast 93-grain roundnose bullets for my .32 Hand Ejector; they work quite well(they come out closer to 95 with the mongrel lead I use). The Lee mold for a .32 semi-wadcutter has a fairly narrow nose; the Saeco and RCBS molds for that style have a much wider nose, but I don't really want to lay out that much to try the idea out. So, came the experiment:

Take a drill press vise, and some lubed bullets. Hold the vise vertically, place a bullet on the lower jaw, turn the screw down until it just touches, and from there crank it down. A little experimentation showed that a half-turn just flattened the nose a touch, 1.5 turns squished the bullet too much, and one turn gave a nice, wide flat nose without expanding the body too much.

Take those bullets to the Lee sizer
Lee makes these in a lot of diameters: the sizing die screws into the press, the ram fits into the shellholder slot, and the tub goes on top to catch the bullets; place the bullet on the ram and stroke the lever, you get a nicely sized bullet. It'll also seat gas checks. This one is .311", I use it for .303 cast bullets, and since .311" is also the nominal diameter of the .32 bore, I ran these bullets through. They'd been upset enough that the mouth of the die actually shaved a tiny bit off the sides. After they were all sized they were dosed with Lee Liquid Alox and left overnight. Here's an original on the left, reformed on the right
The tiny ring the die shaved off is TINY; the as-cast and lubed bullets run between 94.5 and 94.8 grains, the reformed 94.3 to 94.7 by my little electronic scale. I know they'll work in the .32S&W; I'm going to load some in .32acp and try them in friends' Pocket Hammerless for function, and when the weather allows try them from both on water jugs for penetration.

I've been thinking: if you wanted to reform bullets like this while eliminating the sizing die step, you could take a steel slug, bore a hole and polish it to .311 or .312 with a nice finish, and turn a ram for a proper fit. Drop in a bullet, set it on the vise jaw, drop the ram in and form. It would come out the proper diameter, needing only a second dose of lube*.

Or, yeah, you could find suitable cast bullets somewhere and buy them. I'll see how these work before taking such a drastic step.

*Lee specifies to lube bullets before pressing them through the die, otherwise you will get lead fouling on the walls that you'll have to clean out. I also took the precaution of treating my die with Microlon, and so far no fouling problems at all.

Windy in comments was right; just to try them out I loaded two bullets into cases and tried them in that .32; the slide will barely go into battery as the ogive engages the rifling enough to nicely engrave the bullet. And not knowing what that might do to pressure, not to mention others possibly not letting it get quite there, more thought is called for. First thing that comes to mind would be the die and punch idea above, but turn the end of the punch so it gives the nose a semi-wadcutter shape with that wide, flat nose. If I can get a problem with my little lathe figured out, I'm going to have to try that.

On the other hand, I loaded twelve into .32 S&W Long cases and tried them in the Hand Ejector: worked perfectly, and cut nice, clean holes in the target.


Gerry N. said...

There's no way I could afford a PPK, so I got a surplus CZ50. Nearly identical in feel and profile, and it only cost me $99.00 shipped. American ammo nearly always ends up in a smokestack jam at round three. Euro and South American stuff never jams. Go figure.

Gerry N.

Windy Wilson said...

I have a Colt Hammerless, and that bullet on the right would never feed in my pistol. In fact, to use hollowpoints I have to buy Wolf. Whatever the next quality up manufacturer of hollowpoints is (CRAFT disease strikes again) has too broad a blunt nose to feed properly.
Good idea though, I do have a couple of pounds of lead . . .

The WV is apped up, which could apply to an iPhone or a tacticool M4gery.