New brass for old, obsolete & foreign calibers.

November 15, 2017 Engineering

* In this day of enthusiasm for black powder, single-shot rifles, and cast bullets, there are thousands of old guns chambered for obsolete, foreign, or exotic cartridges, which cannot be fired for lack of reloadable cases. Their cartridges were of some unique design that could not be reformed from any existing cases. B.E.L.L. (Brass Extrusion Laboratories, Ltd., 800 West Maple Lane, Bensenville, IL 60106) has made great strides in offering fine-quality, Boxer-printed brass for many of these chamberings, and has appointed Armoury Associates, P.O. Box 55338, Fort Washington, MD 20744, as their distributor.

However, the B.E.L.L. line has not yet expanded to include some of the more exotic rounds, and this need has now been met, at least partially, by an innovative new product from Ballistek/Weapon Systems (2014 Sunray Ave., Odessa, TX 79763) in what they call their “tubing cases.” These cases are built up from turned, solid-brass bases with thin-wall brass tubing, the whole thing being assembled with a special 30,000 psi silver solder. Ballistek emphasizes that these tubing cases are warranted only with black powder or Pyrodex, but reports that they have under development a process which will, hopefully, produce tubing cases capable of withstanding smokeless-powder pressures.

To avoid BATF harassment, these cases are sold untrimmed and unformed, and no federal firearms license is required to purchase them, by mail or otherwise. For the time being, Ballistek offers R.C.B.S. forming dies for most of the obsolete cartridges to which the tubing cases can be formed, at reduced cost. For now, the line includes tubing cases on 13 different head styles. These are called the .25-20 Single Shot, .32 Basic, .38 Basic, .35 Maynard Basic, .44 Basic, .44 Webley Revolver, .40 BAsic Small Rim, .40 Basic Large Rim, .45-125 Win., .50-95 Win., .50-140 Sharps, .577 Basic, and a .45 Basic. From these, more than 70 different obsolete British, European, and obscure cases can readily be formed. Examples of some of the more exotic ones are the .300 Sherwood, .38 Ballard Extra Large, .35-40 Maynard 1873, .44 Henry, .44 Bulldog, .400/350 Rigby Nitro Express, 8 mm Lebel, .40-90 Bullard, 10.75 mm Russian, .50-50 Maynard 1882, .577/450 Martini-Henry, and many more. These cases can also be formed for low-pressure loadings in many unusual but more familiar calibers, such as the 7×57 mm Rimmed, .470 Nitro Express, .50-70 Government, and .45-70.
All tubing case heads are without head-stamp and pocketed for large-rifle Boxer primers. The manufacturer offers loading data for any suitable cartridge (with Pyrodex or black powder only), along with advice on sources of projectiles, and can sell cast bullets of correct diameter and weight for any of these rounds. As of my last information, formed cases and loaded cartridges were also offered, with the warning that these may be withdrawn if BATF harassment continues.

Prices were not available as of this writing, but the built-up tubing cases are made by hand, one at a time, so they can be expected to be relatively expensive. For many fine old rifles, however, they are literally the only source of shootable ammo.

The cases should last a long time because of the low pressures, and Ballistek will accept a minimum order of just 20 cases. The company continues to impress me with its efforts to accommodate shooters with special needs, and is to be congratulated on this effort to fill a 50-year-old void in ammo supply for a whole category of great rifles. Huntington Reloader

Nobody who knew Fred Huntington very well swallowed for one minute his protestations of retirement when he and his fellow stockholders sold R.C.B.S. to Omark. The “Oracle of Oroville,” as Jack O’Connor once called him, simply could not put his fertile and inventive mind out to pasture. Therefore, last autumn, when this engineering genius showed me a prototype portable reloading press capable of full-length resizing rifle cases and which accepts standard 7/8×14-inch dies.

Having been playing with a production model of this press for about six months now, I’ll forecast a successful future for it. Hand-held reloading presses are an old story in this country.

The new Huntington tool is actually an improved revision of an older design once marketed by a fellow named Decker. It is of what is sometimes called a “W” design, having two opposed operating handles driving the shellholder by means of linkages which cause the whole rig to resemble a capital letter W at the midpoint of the stroke. This tool will indeed full-length size .30-60 cases, although the linkage is not so powerful that it’s exactly effortless, and it is not recommended for heavy-duty case-reforming chores. Fred has incorporated a bracket by means of which the tool can be C-clamped to a bench, which materially improves the ease of operation. With the drop-in priming post, the tool also does an excellent job of seating primers with plenty of “feel.”

At the SHOT Show in Dallas last January, Fred showed me the most recent revision of this tool, which included contoured handles to make heavy resizing operations a little easier on the palms, which eliminated my one gripe about the device. It is now, in my opinion, by far the most useful portable reloader available, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t begin to see a good many of these at rifle ranges, in hunting camps, and everywhere else that it’s handy to be able to slap together a few rounds, away from a loading bench.


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