Thursday, December 23, 2010

My 32 rim fire reloading experiments

brass casingThese are my .32 rim fire pistols
top is a antique bacon single shot
the middle one is a antique Sharps & Hankins 4 barrel pistol
the other 2 are antique 4 barrel Remington Elliots

This is how i reload 32 short rimfire ammo

 When i saw the re loadable 32 rf cases with the offset blank i thought
there must be a better way.When i saw the brass casing 27 Cal Ramset/Hilti Powder Charge blanks at home depot i knew i found it.The "Green" has about 2.3 grs of powder, "Brown" has about 1.7 grs.i use the green.anything more powerful cant be used.

I use  32 short Colt Brass.(not colt new police)

- a 0.311-0.313" Round Ball Weighs about 48 grs

-or a 32 colt heeled bullet

- a 17/64"  drill bit was used. i use a lathe to drill the holes.

I Drilled a two step hole into the base of the 32 Short Colt Brass - a 17/64" all the way through the bottom, then a shallow 21/64 in the base, deep enough that the .322 base Ramset charge sits almost flush.
I used a lathe only because i have one i could of used my drill press with another drill chuck
facing upwards.I have found that i don't need to worry about crushing the brass case as long as i clamp it
close to the rim because there seems to be enough brass near the bottom of the case to keep it from crushing.

The best part of this setup is that the Ramset is both the primer and the powder charge, and you don't have to line up the round to align with the firing pin like you do with the Dixie style cases. The powder seems to be like Bullseye in Burn Rate (fast)  "Green" contains a  mild charge for a 48 gr Round Ball. 

i de prime the spent blanks using a metal rod and a small hammer.

of course a .22 or .25 calibre should work also if the gun has a longer vertical firing pin that will reach
the blank. I haven't yet experimented with them yet but will.
32 long rimfire reloading
 I wasn't able to find 32 colt brass locally so I started with some vintage 32 long colt rounds i found at a gun show i used a bullet puller to remove the lead bullet then i dumped out the gun powder. after that i fired off the primer in a gun so they would be inert. i probably could have soaked them in water for the same results.I then drilled them out the same way as the shorts above.

I reloaded the heeled lead bullet with a set of 32 long colt dies. before putting in the powder or hilti cap on  of course. 

I opened the .27 cal. caps and dumped out the gunpowder because these will be used with black powder
i glued the caps in using a loktite type glue to help make a seal.(i probably don't need to glue them in but i
did to be safe.)

I found that the emptied out blanks make no noise at all when fired just a very small puff of smoke so they can be fired indoors for testing purposes without the neighbours freaking out.i just make sure there's no open gunpowder containers of anything around.

white(gray) or brown caps would not need to be opened and could be used as is because of there light charge.
Brown or white 27 Cal charges are harder to find but are sometimes found on ebay cheap because nobody really wants them.
As you can see here the reloads all fired properly in my revolver. but i have found that the brass cap is harder than a original copper rimfire case so the gun has to have a strong mainspring to fire it. i had to replace the mainspring in my sharps pistol before it would work it worked fine on the vintage 32 rf rounds i had.

I am having problems with indexing in some guns (revolvers work best)

The pepperbox pistol below gun gave me some problems because it has a rotating firing pin

i was going to remove the rim completely and use a thin brass washer between the brass case and the blank but i tried trimming the rim down instead(above). and it seemed to work the best on this gun.
my sharps worked better because the firing pin rotates when the hammer is pulled back.



This is my newest antique gun a 32 rimfire red jacket pistol made by lee arms.

not really trying to hit anything just blasting away

                                                                 .22 acorn blank

I tried using a .22 acorn blank on the 32 colt brass by drilling a 7/32 hole and a 9/32 step so the .22
blank would sit in the .32 colt case and it worked great i only made one just to try it out but it may be a
better way to do it if you have a longer vertical firing pin.

I used a drill chuck to hold the brass case and drilled it with my cordless drill it works better than anything else i have used except my lathe. But it did drill the hole a bit off centre.
This was a berdan primed case there was about a 1/4 inch of brass to drill through on the bottom of the case.


                            As you can see below the .22rim(.276) on the right is not that much smaller than the .27 rim at (.327)                                          
                                        .22 blank seated in the brass
   I Fired it with the blank installed i did not load this one i fired the blank just to test it, the blank looks like it is made of a really soft brass.
                                                     reloading with white Match heads tips

I'm now going to try the match head method for reloading these like the cowboys used to do in the 1800's i
 used some white tip strike anywhere matches that i got from a dollar store.(redbird brand made by eddy match co.)  i didn't believe this method would work at all but thought i would try it anyway, i found that the white tips on the match heads ignite very easy when i tried to remove them with a razor knife so i switched to a set of wire cutters to snip them off they didn't go off as often but still did so i only did a few at a time.
I didn't think the match heads would ignite so easy so maybe this will actually work

 This was all i got from a box of 250 matches above i tried to crush it up into a powder in small batches but it kept igniting so i decided to add water to make a paste i had to let it soak for about 5 minutes before it was soft enough to mash up. the red part of the match dyed the white tips a pink colour

 I cleaned out the rim of 10 each .32 and .41 rimfire brass rims with a dental pick i didn't try to remove the crimped spot were the firing pin hit i will just position it to a different spot when i fire it.

 Here i loaded the match tip mush and pushed it into the rim with a screwdriver i tried putting it in a drill i thought i could spin it into the rim but it just moved it up the side of the brass and over the top.
now i will let it sit overnight to dry,i could have used acetone and i would only need to wait about a half hour to dry but didn't have any, i think i put too way much match head paste in so i removed most of it from the inside of the cases(not shown)i see now i made way too much match tip paste.
It looks like somewhere around 5 to 8 match tips per case would be all that's needed(That's my best guess right now anyway).
I probably could have just put the match tips in the empty brass case with the water or acetone and mashed up each one individually.  

Well it worked sort of i didn't load them with a bullet and black powder i just fired the empty cases to see if they would ignite all 10 of the 32 rimfires worked but all the 41 rimfire ones misfired i believe it's because the
.41s rim just doesn't have enough room in the rim for the paste to enter(pictured above) when i measure the rim thickness it comes to .40 and the case thickness is .16 so that would leave about a .08 space.
when i measure the 32 i have about .20 of a inch space.

if i can get a hold of some other brand of 41 rf brass (i had Winchester brand) i might try it again, i just did
this to see if it would work my conclusion is that it's not really worth all the work put into it but it will work.
it took about 2 hours to reload the 20 rounds,It would probably go faster next time because now i know how to do it.

I biggest concern would be that the bullet could fire if used in a set or reloading dies when the bullet is pressed in and crimped it could put pressure on the rim, the match tips ignited many times when removing them from the matches no matter how slowly and carefully i did it.PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS.     
I would think the only safe way to reload it would be to crimp the top of the brass case to the bullet with some kind of crimping tool.

Okay i decided to try and load a few and shoot them i crimped the top with a modified wire stripper the video is a bit dark i think it's from the bright snow messing with my camera lens.
If you listen carefully you can hear about a half second delay between the click of the hammer falling and
the gun firing.
I used my single shot bacon revolver for the test.     

Go ahead and send more ideas for me to try and i will add them to the bottom of the page under comments after i review them.
                                                       Using 32 S&W brass
This is a comment that someone sent me on resizing 32s&w brass-i would think 32 acp brass and 32 colt new police would work also.

"You can use .32 S&W LONG to make these cartridges as well. You need a .32 Colt Sizing die LUBED. Force the .32 S&W into the .32 Colt sizing die and it will continue up to a certain point where the case wall gets too thick. About 2-3mm away from the rim. Get a file and a hand drill to remove this high point on the case wall. Then resize it to the rim by putting a piece of metal over the shell holder. It may not go all the way so u may need to file it a bit more of the high point until you can size it and there u have it. You made a .32 Long Colt case from a .32 S&W long case. .32 S&W is a lot easier to find than .32 Colt."


I tried out a 32 s&w long and a short and it worked great,I'm going to start looking for some more brass and do some more testing.

I will save the .41 brass for a future project I'm planning on making a swaging die similar to .22 to .223 jacketed bullet maker to try and make pinfire cases from.32/.38/41and .44 rimfire cases
 Lyman made the following 32 colt molds but are almost impossible to find anymore.
299-152  80 gr RN Heel 32 Short Colt Heel Base

299-153  90 gr RN Heel 32 Long Colt Heel Base

299-154  105 gr RN Heel 32 Long Colt Heel Base

299-159  80 gr RN-FP-HB 32 long Colt Hollow Base

I bought my moulds from old west bullet moulds

32 colt dies and brass can also be a challenge to find.
.320 European brass can also be used it has a thinner rim than the 32 colt but is otherwise the same. 

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