303 Reloading. Steel Jackets

Discussion in 'Shooting, Hunting and Fishing' started by Marc_St_Hilaire, Jan 2, 2011.

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  1. Marc_St_Hilaire
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    Marc_St_Hilaire War Hero

    Now that the heady days of cheap HXP ammo at 20p a bang are over and even the South African and Yugoslavian stuff's been used up, I turn to reloadong. I have a nice supply of once fired HXP cases, so off we go! I've got the primers, the powder but it seems the S&B bullets I bought are steel jacketed. I only discovered this by accident.

    The question is, do i want to fire these in my nice (and valuable) SMLE and No4? What are the bore wear considerations? Do they generate higher breech pressures due to the harder surface when engaging in the rifling. Is it a case of 'penny wise, pound foolish?' Or does the copper wash make it alright?

    You thoughts greatly appreciated.
  2. llech
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    llech LE

    Point of order, a No4 is a No4, a SMLE is a SMLE never the twain shall meet.:)
  3. Marc_St_Hilaire
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    Marc_St_Hilaire War Hero

    Yes. Good point. Thanks. :)
  4. ooooh_matron
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    ooooh_matron LE

    You are better off with some Sierra .311 diameter copper jacketed bullets, than that steel shite.
  5. Troy
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    Troy LE

    Not having any expertise in this topic, can I suggest an alternative for you to consider, just as a bit of a guess...

    Rather than fire steel jacketed bullets through your precious barrel, would it be feasible to cast bullets (heads?) without a jacket, purely of lead? Would this work ok? Or does it raise new problems?
  6. cernunnos
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    cernunnos LE

    There are a lot of steel jacketed rounds out there, mostly copper plated so you don't notice it. Almost all the rounds designed for really big game have steel jackets. Are your rounds magnetic? There' also a version of brass called Tombak in German, it looks like steel, and Nickel or Nickel plated jackets are also out there.

    Some of the oldest and most sucessfull rounds made in German are made of "Flussstahl". I'm talking the Brenneke "TIG" & "TUG". They fly really well with very consistent results on impact. I use them without concern, the steel used is very soft, Nickel plated and lubricated. They've been a sucess story for about a century now so I suspect that high barrel wear would have rung the alarm bells by now. On the plus side you get no copper build up in your bore. Now if some Polish bloke were to offer me a bag full on a street corner, I'd probably give him both barrels. I prefer the quality end of the market and since I'm shooting mostly big game and not punching holes in cardboard, it's affordable.
  7. 4(T)
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    4(T) LE

    Steel jacketed bullets (some coated with copper/cupro-nickel) have been commonly used and trialled for over a century. UK experience (vide Text Book of Small Arms) indicates that steel jackets cause no different bore wear to copper alloys, and that in fact steel jackets are the best method of minimising metal fouling. The only reason steel jackets are/were not commonly used was because cupro-nickel jackets were easier to mass-manufacture. I think EGB Reynolds also notes in one of his books that steel jackets do not reduce the service life of Enfield barrels.
  8. Marc_St_Hilaire
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    Marc_St_Hilaire War Hero

    Thanks everyone. I had loaded up 40 rounds (4 batches of 10) for load develpment before I noticed the bullets were steel jacketed. Yes they are magnetic, that's how I found out. I have not yet fired them. My loading data is all US (Speer) and assumes copper (?) jacketed bullets. I am loading to well below max pressures for copper jackets and presume steel jackets must perform in a similar manner, pressure wise.

    BTW have you noticed how much Lee Enfield stuff there is on fleabay at the moment? And what it's fetching!
  9. 4(T)
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    4(T) LE

    I think much of it is the sell-off of the stuff that was in AJ Parker when they finally collapsed. I'm not sure how AJ Parker eventually got sold off, but its a shame that the stock wasn't offered to the UK gun trade at tender. Now you have individuals buying up boxes of, say, 30x No1 safety levers, when they perhaps only need one. Thus all of these precious parts are being dispersed to be lost forever in the back of someone's shed, meaning that in a few years there'll be no spares available to anyone....
  10. Marc_St_Hilaire
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    Marc_St_Hilaire War Hero

    Pretty much what I was thinking. I was hoping LERA were on the case. Not sure if they have a remit to hold spares at a club level. Might bring it up at the AGM.
  11. Marc_St_Hilaire
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    Marc_St_Hilaire War Hero


    Good point Troy.

    I do reload with lead bullets now. There was an artical in Target Gun some years back. I use Custom Bullet's 200grn gas checked bullet and a pretty fast magnum pistol powder, in small quantities! This is fine out to about 200 yrds. Velocity with the lead bullet is limited to under 2000 fps or you get stripping in the rifling. I really want to duplicate the MkIIV round so jacketed it is! I think with the limited amount of shooting I do, I'll shell out (ho ho) and buy some good Sierra bullets.
  12. cernunnos
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    cernunnos LE

    Traditionally mutton fat is used to reduce lead stripping, dip the finished rounds in fat which has been well heated to boil off any water. It's worked well enough with my Webley MK IV revolver in .455Brit. I wouldn't recommend it for anything much faster.
  13. ugly
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    ugly LE Moderator

    Selling off at the auctions old boxes of parts was common enough 20 years ago. Nowadays you tend to get unfinished hobby jobs selling their parts bins. The old trick used to be to sell 10 different lots of 10 foresight blades. All the lot would be the same size so I used to buy as many as I could, make up sets and sell them to mates in clubs.
    I sold loads of spares in the early 2000's to a mate in germany who was into restoring Lee Enfields.
  14. stoatman
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    stoatman LE

    If you can't break 2000 ft./s one of several things is wrong:

    1. Your lubricant is kak.
    2. Your bullet diameter is too small.
    3. Your alloy is seriously too soft.

    For the record, I occasionally shoot 55 grain .225" diameter bullets out of .223 Remington at 2400 ft./s with absolutely no leading.

    The problem is that cast shooting is such a black art that it requires dedication and time input to get it going properly. Mark 7 ballistics at short range is achievable -- forget it at long range because of the reduced ballistic coefficient.

    But, to achieve it you will need at least the following:

    1. A bullet that fits the throat of your particular rifle, which could easily be .315” or even larger.
    2. An alloy somewhere around 15 BHN: don't go too hard since you need a degree of setup, and don't go too soft.
    3. A decent lube, such as NRA formula, BAC, Carnuba Red or similar. These guys do some great stuff: White Label Lube
    4. Hand weighing every bullet and batching by weight and inspecting for flaws visually.

    Expect to try quite a few loads before finding one that works. Ultimately something tiny will change and screw it up. You never know, you might get lucky.

    Do not under any circumstances muck around with mutton fat, that is for eggy-smelling, bearded blackpowder types.
  15. cernunnos
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    cernunnos LE

    I resemble that remark. But to be honest, if I had hill billy turn-ups in the legs of my sweat stained sears roebuck union suit, you wouldn't find either black powder, napped flint, or even chewing tobacco in them. My Webley was nitro proofed long before you were born.

    Mutton tallow is still used in industry in metalwork applications, steelrolling, non ferrous cutting lubes, jewellers lathes etc. It burns without a residue which is why it turns up in expensive smokeless candles as stearate. It is also a solder flux, i.e. it helps molten lead alloys to flow.

    In other words you can stick your shoddy coloured palm oil based products right up your hoop.

    One thing puzzles me, I cast .455 British because the commercially available varieties are fully jacketed and therefore unsuitable (and in Germany illegal) for giving reticent pigs and reds the option of a third eye. Why do you bother to cast billy-bob-mary-sue-jim-ellen homesteader bullets for a varmint calibre which has really high quality commercial rounds available in any colour you like, for next to **** all?
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