... .September 2008 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Brimstone Pistoleros has set a date of November 30th for our Annual All Black Powder Match. 
                        "Thunder Valley" 2008

Details have been finalized . . . . . . the 6 stages are being tweaked here and there but we're ready. 
All the information can be found here.  Category Requirements & Entry Form

Remember at this match you can choose to enter two categories if you really want to do a lot of shooting.  12 Stages of black powder! 
The main match will cost you $30.00. If you pre register by Nov. 22nd., it will include your lunch. For $15.00 more you can shoot two categories.  If you decide to just show up on match day, Come on, you'll be Welcome. Lunch will be cost ya an additional $5.00..

Volcanic Repeating Arms From Wikipedia

 The Volcanic Repeating Arms Company was a company formed in 1852 by partners Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson to develop Walter Hunt's Rocket Ball ammunition and lever action mechanism. Volcanic made an improved version of the Rocket Ball ammunition, and a carbine and pistol version of the lever action gun to fire it. While the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company was short lived, it's descendants, Smith & Wesson and Winchester Repeating Arms Company, became major firearms manufacturers.

A Smith and Wesson Volcanic pistol, circa 1855, in .31 caliber

The original 1848 "Volition Repeating Rifle" design by Hunt was revolutionary, introducing an early iteration of the lever action repeating mechanism and the tubular magazine still common today. However, Hunt's design was far from perfect, and only a couple of prototypes were developed. Lewis Jennings patented an improved version of Hunt's design in 1849, and versions of the Jenning's patent design were built by Robbins & Lawrence Co. (under the direction of shop foreman Benjamin Tyler Henry) and sold by C. P. Dixon until 1952, when financial troubles ceased production.
The Jennings (top) and Volcanic (bottom) rifles

In 1854, partners Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson purchased the Jennings patent rights, and further improved on the operating mechanism, developing the Volcanic pistol, and a new Volcanic cartridge. Production resumed, still under the supervision of the Jenning's foreman, B. Tyler Henry. The new cartridge improved upon the Hunt Rocket Ball with the addition of a primer. Originally using the name "Smith & Wesson Company", the name was changed to "Volcanic Repeating Arms Company" in 1855, with the addition of new investors, the principle investor in the new company being Oliver Winchester. The Volcanic Repeating Arms Company purchased all rights for the Volcanic designs (both rifle and pistol versions were in production by this time) from Smith and Wesson, who left the company soon after, to found another "Smith & Wesson". The company was moved, and in 1860 was reorganized as the New Haven Arms Company--still under the supervision of foreman B. Tyler Henry. While continuing to make the Volcanic rifle and pistol, Henry began to experiment with the new rimfire ammunition, and modified the Volcanic lever action design to use it. The result was the Henry rifle. By 1866, the company once again reorganized, this time as the Winchester Repeating Arms company, and the name of Winchester became synonymous with lever action rifles.

Top: A Jennings patent version of Walter Hunt's Volition Rifle, which fired the Hunt Rocket Ball cartridge. Note percussion cap hammer, as the Rocket Ball was externally primed. Bottom: A Volcanic Repeating Arms Company lever action rifle, firing the improved, internally primed Volcanic cartridge. The Henry Rifle uses the same design, adapted to rimfire ammunition.

History of Rimfire Cartridges From Wikipedia 

The first rimfire cartridge was the .22 BB Cap, which used no gunpowder by relying entirely on the priming compound for propulsion. Dating back to 1857, the .22 BB Cap is essentially just a percussion cap with a round ball pressed in the front, and a rim to hold it securely in the chamber. Velocities are very low, comparable to an airgun, as the round was intended for use in indoor shooting galleries. The next rimfire cartridge was the .22 Short, developed for Smith and Wesson's first revolver; it used a longer rimfire case and 4 grains (260 mg) of black powder to fire a conical bullet. This led to the .22 Long, with a longer case and 5 grains (320 mg) of black powder. The .22 Long Rifle is a .22 Long case loaded with a longer, heavier bullet intended for better performance in the long barrel of a rifle. The .22 Long Rifle is the most common cartridge in the world. While larger rimfire calibers were made, such as the .41 Rimfire Short, the .44 Henry Flat devised for the famous Henry Repeating Rifle, up to the .58 Miller, the larger calibers were quickly replaced by centerfire versions, and today the .22 caliber rimfires are all that survive of the early rimfires. The early 21st century has seen a revival in interest in rimfire cartridges, with two new rimfires introduced, both in .17 caliber (4.5 mm).

Rocket Ball From Wikipedia

The Rocket Ball was one of the earliest forms of metallic cartridge for firearms, containing bullet and powder in a single, metal cased unit.

The Rocket Ball, patented in 1848 by Walter Hunt, consisted of a lead bullet with a deep hollow in the rear, running a majority of the length of the cartridge. The hollow, like that of the Minie ball, served to seal the bullet into the bore, but Rocket Ball put the cavity to further use. By packaging the deep cavity with powder, and sealing it with a cap with a small hole in the rear for ignition, the Rocket Ball replaced the earlier paper cartridge with a durable package capable of being fed from a magazine. The cap was blown out of the bore upon firing, leaving no cartridge case to be ejected, making the Rocket Ball a form of caseless ammunition. The Rocket Ball was used in the earliest magazine fed lever action guns, allowing the first practical repeating, single chamber firearms.


The Jennings rifle, top, shows the hammer and nipple needed for the Rocket Ball's external percussion cap. The later Volcanic rifle, bottom, used the internally primed Volcanic cartridge
The Jennings rifle, top, shows the hammer and nipple needed for the Rocket Ball's external percussion cap. The later Volcanic rifle, bottom, used the internally primed Volcanic cartridge

While the Rocket Ball provided the means of making practical repeating firearms, it was not an ideal solution. The limited volume in the base of the bullet severely limited the amount of powder that could be used, and thus limited the potential velocity and range of the cartridge. Despite these limitations, the Rocket Ball was used in a number of attempts at making a commercially successful firearm, culminating in the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. The Volcanic cartridge went one step further, adding a primer to the cap of the Rocket Ball, making the ammunition completely self contained.

Drawing from US patent 5,701, for 
Walter Hunt's Rocket Ball metallic cartridge

Reloading Bottleneck and Long Tapered Rifle Cases by Cliff Hanger

Those of us that reload bottleneck and long tapered rifle cases have at some time had rounds that would not chamber correctly. We use the right die set but yet the rounds lack about 1/8" of entering the chamber completely. In rifles usually the levering advantage will force the round home. But in pistols the round rim sticks up out of the cylinder and requires a lot of force that may not seat the round full. Now the pistol cylinder will not rotate.

What's going on?

Well, my opinion is that during the reloading process the crimping process is the culprit. When the die rolls over the brass in to the crimp groove, the brass is being swaged from one diameter to a smaller diameter. This process causes the brass to form a slight bulge about 1/16" to 1/8" below the neck of the case. Now you say , "I don't have problems with my straight case rounds." Actually you do. But the crimp die for straight cases have an advantage that the tapered dies do not. As the brass is rolled in to the crimp groove, the brass does bulge but as the case is straight the die hold the brass to it's maximum diameter. Also when pulling the round out of the die it full length sizes the round at maximum spec. diameter. So you really don't see or have the bulged case. (Yes I know, we can crimp even if there is no groove in all lead bullets. The problem is the same.)

Bottleneck or tapered cases also produce this bulge when the brass is crimped in to the groove. But when the round is pulled out of the die the die side walls move away from the brass as the die gets bigger for the large bases of the cases. This process does not resize the sides of the case leaving this slight bulge. 

You may not see this slight bulge. But if you measure the case about 1/4" down from neck then move the calipers up they will open up slightly as they go over this bulge. It is enough something to stop the rounds from chambering correctly. I have seen from no bulge at all to as much as .004"

If you load a lot of these bottleneck cases and long tapered cases for cas, you probably don't check the overall length and trim those found to be a little long. I know I don't. I only check for overall loaded length.

So what can we do if you have this problem? I'll tell you what I do. And No I do not use a "Factory Crimp Die". I use standard reloading dies. But not as you might use them. 

So let's see if I can get through this one step at a time:

1. Toss the brass to be loaded in to the tumbler. I have a mechanical 4 hour windup timer. I paid $12.00 for it at a electrical wholesale house. It runs 3 to 3.5 hours a day. 4 days a week. Some times twice a day. The cheap electric ones from the hardware store just don't hold up under daily use. The plastic turn off/turn on pieces break. 

2. I set my press up for the caliber to be done. I have an extra tool head that I keep handy on the shelf. In this tool head I put a sizing die with NO decapping pin. I run it all the way down to the shell plate pre die instructions. Case Lube.  I use Honaday One Shot spray lube. Doesn't take much and you don't have to get all the way around every case. I place the brass about 200 at a time in a 3 gallon bucket and give a quick shot. Then I shack the bucket and give one more spray. I let them dry before putting them on the press. I now resize all the brass to spec. 
3. Once this is done, I toss the brass back in to the tumbler for about 1 hour. This gets the case lube off and makes shinny cases. 
4. With a full toolhead on the press, I start the normal reloading process. 

However, I do not want to stick any of these cases in the sizing die which without lube will happen. So in station one, I use a Universal Decapping die instead of a sizing die. It will accept rounds up to 45-70 without touching the case outside walls. It only pushed the spent primers out. The rest of the loading process is normal. 

5. Powder is measured and dropped using your standard methods.
6. Next you place your bullet of choice on the case and seat it. 

If you are using Dillion dies, you adjust the seating of the bullet per their instructions.

If you are using any of the many Bullet Seating/Crimping dies you adjust them per their instructions. 

I use Lee dies because I like them. Also by using the combination die, it frees up one station in the toolhead. The reason for this will be explained later.

7. Which ever die set you use, the crimping procedure is about the same. The round is run up in to the die and at the top of the stroke the brass is swaged in against the bullet and the top of the case is rolled in to the crimp groove. 

This is where the bulge in the case comes from. Noted on drawing.

When the case is withdrawn from the crimping die the die sides move away quickly leaving the bulge.

At this point you have a loaded round but most likely have this slight bulge issue. If your guns will take these rounds then you're done. If not, then we go on.

Now for the magic! I have one more step to do.
8. My press allows me to put one more die in the toolhead after the crimping station because I use the Lee Seating/Crimping die. They do the job and are cheaper then other dies. I use Dillion presses. But the press is just a personal preference. 

What I do is put a sizing die in the last station. Remember I have NO decapping pin in the die as I used it is step 2. I place it in the last station in the toolhead but I do not run it down. I raise the loaded round up to the top of the press stroke. I then screw the resizing die down as tight as I can get it by hand. I lower the round a little and then turn the sizing die 1/2 turn.  Run the round up in to the die. I remove the round and inspect it with my calipers. I am looking for the bulge. If it is still there, I return the round to the press and turn the sizing die down 1/4 turn and do the process again. There will be a point where the bulge will be flattened out and in line with the rest of the case on the side of the bullet but not touch the rest of the case. If you screw the die in too far you will be resizing the bullet in the case. We don't want that. We want just enough to remove the bulge at the neck of the case. 

If your press does not have enough holes in the tool head to include the last step. Don't worry. Just like the first sizing step, just put the toolhead with just the sizing die in it back on the press. Sure you will have to run the rounds through the press a third time. But the benefits at the range of not worrying if your rounds will chamber is worth every minute you spend at the press. Oh! One more thing. During the First sizing step and if you have to run the rounds through the press a third time, make it easy on yourself. You're not pushing the primers out so put the sizing die in the easiest station to put round in. I use station 4 on Dillion 650s. When I have to put loaded rounds in the press this is the easiest station to do that. It is where you usually place the bullets on the case. 
Now go out and shoot smaller groups without fighting the Bulge!

Finished Round
with NO bulge

All articles submitted to the "Brimstone Gazette" are the property of the author, used with their expressed permission. 
The Brimstone Pistoleros are not responsible for any accidents which may occur from use of  loading data, firearms information, or recommendations published on the Brimstone Pistoleros web site.