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Part 6, Questions & answers until 10.03.2000

G.O.W. Kickback:

Questions and Answers

Answered by: P. T. Kekkonen

A Gospel according to Markus:

Subsonics and "Economy Loads" to .308 Winchester

I have designed some light loads for caliber .308 Win. Earlier I wrote my test reports in Finnish to this website. Now here is some reloading data and experience of using so-called "pistol" powder in this rifle cartige. Test rifle was Sako 75 Varmint (barrel length 660 mm twist 1 - 11"). I shot these tests mostly in summer and autumn of year 1999. All of test shootins were done with VihtaVuori N310 pistol powder (the fastest burning VihtaVuori powder available to handloaders). All accuracy tests are shot from Harris bipod rest, with a sand bag under rifle butt.

Bullet: Lapua 6,5 g/ 100 grs Hollow Point (G477)

Min. Load: 0.36 g/ 5.6 grs. Max. Load: 0.91 g/ 14.0 grs Recommended load: 0.6 - 0.7 g/ 9.2 - 10.8 grs. (This gives the best accuracy for most of guns).

All of these are supersonic loads and the Author does not recommend Lapua's 100 grs HP for subsonic loads. It's shape is not suitable for small charges of powder, as the bullet is too light in relation to it's shank length, but G477 is excellent for plinking, or even more serious target practise and small game hunting. In my rifle 0.66 grams N310 and Lapua's 100 grs HP gave good accuracy, all 10 shots groups are less than 30 mm (c-c; center to center of bullet holes) at 100 meters, usually between 20 to 25 mm; less than a Minute Of Angle (MOA).

The Author uses this load nowadays for plinking and small game hunting. It's recoil is very mild and sound is like that of a .22 WMR rifle. (Author has not yet a suppressor/silencer/"suputin"/sound moderator/"design" for his .308 Win. rifle).

I measured speeds of 0.66 g charge by chronograph. Primers were CCI 200 and cases Sako's. Temperature was 17 C. C.O.L. (cartridge overall length) was 66.0 mm. Velocities were as follows:

Min. 498,6 m/s. Max. 516,9 m/s. Average 506.3 m/s

Trajectory is straight enough for hunting. If the gun is zeroed to 100 meters, the bullet hits about 4 cm / 1.6 inch above sight line at 60 meters range.

Bullet: Lapua 8 g /123 grs FMJ (S374)

Min. load: 0.42 g/ 6.5 grs. Max load: 0.91 g/ 14.0 grs.

Velocities were measured at temperature of + 21 C. Primes were CCI 200 and cases Lapua.

0.42 g/ 6,5 grs: Min. 287,6 m/s. Max. 302,0 m/s. Average 296,3 m/s. Notice: Subsonic !

0.91 g/ 14.0 grs: Min. 556,9 m/s. Max. 567,2 m/s. Average 563,0 m/s.

Those cartiges loaded with 0,42 g charge were quite noiseless even without a silencer. In those countries, where possession of silencers or sound moderator devices are banned or heavily taxed, these "silent without silencer" (SWOS or "Supu") loads are more valuable than in Finland, where possession and use of firearm's silencers is unrestricted, even for hunting.

Subsonic with Lapua 9,7 g/ 150 grs Lock Base

I tried preliminary trials with subsonics loaded also with Lapua 9,7 g/ 150 grs Lock Base (B466) bullets. Powder charge was 0,50 g / 7.7 grs. Unfortunately I couldn't measure bullet velocities, because winter freezes my chronograph and indoor range was too dark for chronographing. Bullets gave no flight noise, so they had to be subsonics. Other test confirms also this notice. Bullet velocity was most likely around 300 m/s. (Mach 1.0 reading or a sonic velocity was 342 to 343 m/s in the temperature of indoor range).

It is also possible to calculate the bullet velocity, since the calorimetric energy of the powder is known - 4200 Joules per gram - and it is also known that 32.46 per cent of heat energy shall become transformed to bullet's kinetic energy in my rifle, when the jacketed and lubed Lapua's bullets are propelled. Lock Base can be loaded also backwards, the base-end forward. The "teardrop shape" of a projectile, flying rounded base first and it's sharp point as a tail, has about ideal aerodynamical shape; the least possible air resistance during it's subsonic flight.

It is stream-lined like a body of a bird or an aeroplane - or a mortar shell without tail fins. (The future projectiles of suppressed smoothbore guns may be fin-stabilized. Needed is just a plastic collar with six fins, fastened on the bullet's tail. Fin-stabilized shells are daily fodder for smoothbored turret cannons of most modern Main Battle Tanks. German ballistician Armand Mieg designed functional arrow projectile for 8 mm smoothbore military rifle in 1886, but the hidebound military men in German Weaponry Proof Commission preferred "tried old rifling" for the German Commission Rifle Model 1888).

Cartridge overall length with reversed bullet is around 61 mm. A .308 Winchester cartridge with point-on seated Lock Base is usually 71 mm long. These loads were very accurate at 25 meters indoor range. Five shot groups were 8 mm (c-c) with normally loaded LB and 5 mm (c-c) with backwards shot bullets. In Finland it is known since 1925 that the boat-tail FMJ bullet can be shot tail-on with as good or sometimes better accuracy as with point-on shot bullets. The shape of Lapua Lock Base bullet was known to be ideal as early as in 1885 (Nota Bene !) but the idea was possible to realize not until our days.
qakula.gif (2190 bytes)

"Theoretically correct shape of the pointed bullet". This crude drawing was published in many European technical books and magazines in mid- or late 1880s. Text of original captive is Swedish from a booklet "SKJUTVAPEN" by C. Lemchen; published in 1889.

Cast bullets works well

Cast bullets are excellent for subsonic loads, because there is only marginal risk of S.E.E, even with small charges of powder. Lubricant on cast bullets reduces the bore friction and so renders possible to use even as small as 0.20 gram charges with some cast bullets. NOTA BENE: Such tiny charge with a jacketed bullet is extremely dangerous, because there is a known risk of S.E.E. - the Secondary Explosion Effect, also known as a Reduced Charge Detonation.

A couple of .308 Win. caliber rifles has destroyed as a consequence of a S.E.E. here in Finland. In the other case the loader used 0,20 gram VihtaVuori's N320 powder and 8 grams jacketed bullet. This load was just one half of minimun charge, which is 0,40 gram of N320 powder. Minimun load is perfectly safe, although giving variable velocity, unless the jacketed bullet or a rifle bore is lubricated, but it is NOT allowed to reduce it. Safe load with Lapua S374 bullet is 1.0 to 1.10 gram of N320 and the Maximum load for some .308 Win. rifles may be 1.20 gram of N320. "Kamikaze Charge" was mere 1/6 of Max. load. With a lubricated cast bullet (LEE 311-93-1R) the same 0,20 gram of N320 is almost "standard" subsonic .308 Win. load, well-known in Finland since November 1982 when the loading data for it was first published here after the systematic research work, carried out since 1981.

Swaged bullets of less alloyed lead are also useable for subsonic cartridges but not necessarily for more powerful Economy Loads with fast-burning powders. Bullet expansion by the sudden strike of rapidly rising chamber pressure is beneficial to the some extent but it may cause heating of the barrel, lead fouling of the bore and loss of accuracy. Some swaged bullets are copper plated, but this plating is not a jacket or even the functional substitute of a real jacket, if it is not as thick as the "envelope" or separate jacket. Lubrication of bullets (or actually the bore lubing) is needed despite of metal plating on the lead bullets.

Copper is not a good "bearing metal" but it generates uniform bore friction, especially if it is precipitated by electroplating or electroless plating from the copper salt solution, but the separate copper jacket may also be more uniform than the brass "envelope". (Brass is always brass if it contains zinc more than the "traces": 0,1 per cent by weight in copper). Pure metals does not cause as severe bore fouling as does the metal alloys. This is the reason why "virgin lead" bullets were able to shoot unlubricated from the muzzleloader rifles but scrap lead or lead alloy bullets needed a lube patch or paper jacket, if they had no lube grooves filled with a lubricant.

Bullets may become seated dry and tidy to the cartridges: Never more messy bullet seating dies, able to cause variable cartridge overall lengths by accumulated bullet lube. (LEE Liquid Alox is a most messy stuff if applied on the bullets following the advices given, but a convenient dip-lubricant). Those bulleted cartridges may become dipped into lube AFTER loading of the "batch", or just before shooting on the range. The bullet lube may be almost any fatty substance, if free from salt or corrosive acids: "Dry wax" (solid paraffine wax dissolved into carbon tetra-chloride) which may cover the bullet and almost entire length of cartridge case, or Vaseline (mineral jelly), the axle grease or castor oil; just some examples given.

Bullets of the cartridges are dipped to the most messy lubes usually on the range. My favorite is molten purified bovine fat, as the recommended mutton tallow is not for sale on the marge shelves in our local cooperative store. I dip the bullets and case mouths to the fat just deeply enough to let the lube become imbibed to a gap between bullet and case. The dipping may be done at home if the cartridges are packed into boxes, and not carried loosely in the pocket along with the lint and tobacco crumbles. The cartridges which are loaded on the range bench just before shooting of them may be dipped into the castor oil or Vaseline. Especially the oil may deteriorate powder charge during few minutes when imbibed through the seam between the bullet and case head.

"Bullet Weight versus Velocity" trial

Test charge was "Author's pet" 0,66 gram/ 10,2 grains of N310 powder. Primers in use were CCI 200.

Bullet: Lapua HP 4,7 g/ 73 grs. (L403). C.O.L: 67,8 mm. Velocities: Average: 577,7 m/s. Min: 570,6 m/s. Max: 586,3 m/s. (Nota Bene: These nowadays discontinued bullets L403 had aluminium cores).

Bullet: Lapua HP 6,5 g/ 100 grs (G477). C.O.L: 66,0 mm. Velocities: Average: 506,3 m/s. Min: 498,6 m/s. Max: 516,9 m/s.

Bullet: Lapua FMJ 8 g/ 123 grs (S374). C.O.L: 67,0 mm. Velocities: Average: 447,8 m/s. Min: 441,6 m/s. Max: 457,4 m/s.

Bullet: Lapua Lock Base 9,7 g/ 150 grs FMJBT. C.O.L: 70,4 mm. Velocities: Average: 434,3 m/s. Min: 424,2 m/s. Max: 445,6 m/s.

The very same charge can be used with 4,7 to 9,7 grams bullets. No rifle powder is capable to similar versatility.


Barrels lasts more shots with "Economy Loads" than full-power loads. For example, standard .308 Winchester caliber rifle barrel lasts about 20 000 shots of full-power loads before notable loss of the accuracy. With Economy Loads (for example: 0,66 g/ 10,2 grs of powder N310 and 100 grs HP bullet) it lasts over 75 000 shots. This modest estimation is based on the reduced calorimetric energy of the powder charges only, since the heat deteriorates the rifle bore much more than mechanical wear. If one shoots cast or swaged lead bullets only, he/she is presumably unable to wear out the bore during a lifetime of a human being, despite of an active shooting with that one rifle only.

Effect of the pressure is difficult to estimate, since the chamber pressure of this economy load is never measured ? <Presumably it is, but the powder or cartridge plants are reluctant to give any information about handloads of independent researchers. (Comment of a type-setter)>. The bore pressure is much reduced when compared with full-power loads. The charge of quickly burning powder, with it's kernel diameter 0,6 millimeter and kernel length 0,7 mm, is almost entirely consumed when the bullet has left the case mouth.

Powder gas volume is small. Therefore the bore pressure is decreasing almost as rapidly as it was risen after the ignition. On the muzzle it is not much higher than that of .22 rimfire rifle, loaded with some High Velocity .22 LR cartridge. Low muzzle pressure generates less noisy shot and less powerful push onto the base of bullet left a muzzle. There are no unburned powder particles shoving the bullet and starting it's "precession" i.e: Yaw with a rather low rate but large amplitude; a cause of shot dispersion to unpredictable random directions.

The rapid yaw with a rate as high as the rotation of a bullet, gained from the rifling, known as "nutation", is unable to cause loss of accuracy. That's why the bullet point tips may be badly asymmetrical without ill effects to the shooting accuracy, but just a slight asymmetric fault of bullet base shall push the projectile aside from it's intented course. Faulty muzzle may, in turn, deteriorate accuracy of all the bullets which are shot through it.

Better Safe than Sorry (= blind or crippled)!

Accuracy of Economy Loads is as good as "standard" loads with rifle powder, or sometimes even better. Bullet's trajectory is somewhat more curved than that of standard loads, but straight enough to 100 meters. Noise of these loads is pretty quiet even without silencer. Some listed minimun and maximun loads are not absolute charges but you should not reduce the minimum loads, unless you know what you are doing. Those Economy Loads, generating half or ca. 2/3 velocity of "standard" loads are as safe as the full-power loads charged with commonplace rifle powders.

Developing of subsonic loads with jacketed bullets and unknown powders, without any available loading data for rifle handloads, may be risky. Every handloader must search the exclusive powder charge for his/her rifle, since all the firearms are individuals. (One shall get no loading data from the component manufacturers: They all hate the idea of Economy Loads, in general). The S.E.E. does not warn by the "pressure signs", like excessive pressure cautions in advance when one is stepping up the charge towards the maximum load and still upwards. S.E.E. may hit like a bolt from the blue - sometimes; if the load is a lot less than suggested minimum charge.

How to find the Minimum Load?

When one is "stepping down" the powder charge, a chronograph is almost essential instrument - along with the common sense for estimation, how much velocity variation is tolerable; how many meters or feet per second Extreme Spread or Standard Deviation is a normal velocity spread? And what E.S. or S.D. is a sign of approaching danger? Every designer of subsonic handloads has met some "zero m/s loads" amongst the seemingly correct combination of powder and bullet:
The bullet lodged in bore, usually close to the muzzle. (If the bullet is stopped close to the chamber, it is propelled by the primer only.? If the cartridge is loaded also with powder, your alert Guardian Angel has prevented the Secondary Explosion Effect by a miracle...).

The lodged bullet is, as a rule, a jacketed one with a copper alloy jacket, alloyed with 5 to 10 per cent of zinc. It is practically impossible to keep the hardness and bore friction of these alloys uniform. It is easier to control the (almost) pure elements like copper or iron, but in the Western World is copper "too dear" and the iron "too humble" to become popular jacket materials. Mild steel or iron jackets shall also "wear out the bore very soon". But how could the bore of German MG 42 stand shooting of ironclad bullets ? An eternal mystery...!

Latest news:

Finnish bullet producer SAKO Oy has recently adopted some .308 caliber bullets with copper jackets to the production and sales. It is interesting to observe, whether Sako starts factory-loading of subsonic cartridges with these bullets fit for use, or distribution of handloading data for "subson" cartridges. A small batch of copper jacketed bullets was made by Sako many years ago. It was noted that the copper (almost pure Cu) isn't more expensive jacket metal than is the usual brass (Ms 90 with 10 per cent of zinc), and the copper does not cause the bore fouling more than the usual jacket brass. On the contrary: Shooting the copper jacketed bullets could remove the existing brass, Gilding metal or lead alloy fouling from the rifle bore.

Level and limits of subsonic bullet's velocity

The sought-after bullet velocity of subsonic loads is usually 300 meters per second average, or 1000 feet per second maximum. Allowed velocity variation is 300 m/s (average) minus 10 m/s or plus 5 m/s; id est: No less than 290 m/s but no more than 305 m/s. With the lubricated cast or lead bullets and the suitable powder it is easy to keep bullet velocity within this 15 m/s scale. It is also possible to keep velocities of some jacketed bullets on the level which is, according to the ancient Imperial Linear Measure Units: Maximum 1000 fps, sought-after average 985 fps and minimum ca. 950 fps. Scale or area is 50 fps.

Sometimes may velocity of many jacketed bullets stay on the level but then, suddenly, "Zero fps": Bullet lodged in bore and the powder gas seeping out slowly through corners of rifling grooves. Jacket of a random bullet has been too hard and too resilient. The bullet has presumably been too small in diameter and the bore friction of it has been excessive. Did you forget something ? Of course: Lubrication of bullet or the bore.! It is needed - or actually essential, even when the bullets are jacketed or metal plated. "Kamikaze handloaders", those producers of S.E.E., were shot three or four jacketed bullets with the charges recommended for a light and slippery cast bullet.

At first the shooting was gone well - as long as the rifle bore was slippery with storage grease or oil. Then the lube was worn away, evaporized, or burnt away, and: "KA-BLOOM !" The "Bore Condition" was changed between the first and last shot. It is possible to keep the bore friction uniform. The most convenient "grease brush" is a lubricated bullet. Cast bullets are recommended for the subsonic loads, not only because of the fine "bearing characteristics" and softness of the lead alloys, but also because of the bore lubricant in their lube grooves or "cannelures". There are also some promising jacket materials, usually plastics like DuPont Polymer 66, also known as Nylon, with very good self-lubricating characteristics.

When "Unsern Kampf" against the unreasonable biases is over; when the idea of Economy Handloading and self-sufficient production of subsonic rifle loads is generally accepted, we may ask the special projectiles for low-velocity rifle cartridges. Many authorities predict that the material of non-metallic bullet jacket is this "good old Polymer 66". (Really old; invented by W.H. Carothers in 1930). It's molecules contains some water, which makes it self-lubricating. Nylon-jacketed revolver bullets are already in production. Needed are .308 caliber rifle bullets with weight ca. 150 grains and pointed shape with hemispherical base, for base-on shooting of course.

But back to our days: If it seems to be impossible to keep the velocity inside the area 290 to 305 m/s = 950 to 1000 fps, the bullet is not suitable for subsonic cartridges. For the loads with higher average velocity it may be better. Some kind of record with 8 grams Lapua S374 FMJ bullets was eight shots from a .308 Winchester rifle, average velocity 640 meters per second, plus 1 m/s minus 3 m/s. Six successive shots gave velocity 641 meters per second. I have not YET reached as perfect uniformity of velocity. With copper-jacketed bullets there is some hope to beat this old record. It was shot 2 ½ years before my birth, using the charge 1,10 gram of powder VihtaVuori N320, which is also a suitable propellant for subsonic loads. Record was made "accidentally" when some mysterious trial of "wax-vapor bore lubrication" was in the preparation.

Why the N310 powder?

Advantage of powder N310 is easiness of dosage by volume, without the need to weigh each charge (one Cubic Centimeter weighs 0,50 gram). It is also more flammable (easier to ignite) than N320 and has somewhat faster burning rate. It is, however, still too slowly burning for some special loads. My opinion is that there is not such thing as "powder with excessively fast rate of burning". Powder N310 is known as a "pistol powder" but it was actually a blank cartridge rifle powder, used also for loading of 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant low-pressure cartridges since 1936 and "semi-charged cartridges" for silenced rifles in 1942. It was adopted for .32 ACP and .380 Auto pistol cartridges sometimes during the Second World War. Nobody can tell, when..!

The complete and detailed history of Finnish cartridge and powder production is never written. There are STILL too many classified details or too "delicate" information in archives to become published for Finnish common people. Knowledge on the old commonplace products is too many times able to demonstrate the arrogant and putrid falsehood of a more recent indoctrination about handloading.

Nowadays the manufacturer VihtaVuori Oy distributes very limited selection of reloading data for N310, most of it for blowback "pocket pistol" cartridges like .25 ACP, .32 ACP and .380 Auto. Not many Finns handloads these cartridges. <It is almost impossible to get a license for possession of a "pocket pistol" for actual shooting. Self-defence and home protection are in practice prohibited deeds in Finland. A "Brauning's Mutka" is considered to be more dangerous piece of equipment in private possession than a submachine gun in many Finnish "piggeries". Firearms licenses are granted or refused by local police-offices. Arbitrariness is almost infinite.! Collectors are privileged, of course, but the number of "authorized collectors" shall become limited to one thousand persons, selected by Ministry of the Interior. (Comments of the type setter)>.

Handloading data for revolver cartridges was some decades ago plentily available with N310. Nowadays it is almost absent from the reloading manuals and leaflets. "It is too easy to load revolver cartridges with double or even triple charges of N310 and Finnish revolver shooters are some kind of masochists, who enjoys the pain of recoil. They read words 'Maximum Load' as 'Recommended Load' and are unable to utilize the fact that the proper target load may be one third Max. Load of N310, with a deep bullet seating". Rejoinder of an employee in VihtaVuori's test-shooting laboratory is presumably based on experience - gathered during several decades. It is, however, possible to load (especially) Magnum revolver cartridge with a double charge of any powder from VihtaVuori N300-series and blow up the wheel-gun.

The addition of this rejoinder is promising: "Powder N310 was born as a RIFLE powder PaP N14. It is more suitable propellant for rifle loads than the cartridges of frail handguns..!" Handloaders, who know what they are doing, may enjoy from the versatility of this old blank cartridge powder (PaP = PaukkuPatruuna). For the Magnum-crazy masochists are available powders like N105 and N110 (last mentioned is a rifle powder introduced in the 1920s), able to generate enough recoil with maximum charges without the risk of double charges in the Magnum or Maximum revolver cartridges. The rejoinder of a VihtaVuori's handloading expert is, of course, just a personal opinion. Not YET an "Official Factory Policy" - but it may be an intimation from the future attitude on the special handloads.

Pressure-tested loading data exists for rifle cartridges with N300 powders in VihtaVuori, Lapua and Sako Oy. With powder N310 (= PaP/ N14 until 1st September 1973) were developed low-pressure cartridges in mid-1930s with cast bullets and since early 1936 with swaged lead bullets for 7,62 x 54 mm Mosin-Nagant cartridges. It is said that all the loading data published in Finland by periodical magazines and on the web is pressure-tested by some of these three plants but it is, of course, impossible to get any information about test observations. Nobody has confirmed the hearsays about comparative tests and trials carried out since 1981 or 1982 until the present time - with sole aspiration to find "incorrect and really dangerous loading instructions" distributed to the handloaders; in vane.

"Official Policy" is that all the Economy Loads and especially subsonic handloads are dangerous and definitely not recommended: The rifle MUST boom and kick by burning as much powder as is practicable and safe. The cases MUST be preferably deteriorated after shooting of very first handloads and the bore of a rifle MUST also stand no more than 20 000 shots. This is the Philosophy of Disposability in our days, but those philosophies may also be disposable - as well as the philosophers. "Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis".

Markus 26022000

Pete's comments: Some knowledge about powder N310

"PaP rifle powder N14" was introduced in late 1920s or early 1930s. It is extruded single-base (nitro-cellulose) powder with solid cylindrical (non-tubular) kernels, diameter 0,6 mm (0.0236"), cut to the length 0,7 mm (0.0276"). Uncut powder looks like a thin monofil fishing line, but it is opaque. It is gelatinized with ether-ethanol mixture from well-soluble nitrocellulose, with 12 per cent (or less) nitrogen percentage.

Into the powder "dough" is added potassium nitrate (saltpeter or nitre) as micro-chrystallized dust. Solidified and cut powder kernels are washed in hot water, which dissolves the potassium nitrate away from surfaces of powder kernels, leaving it porous or "pock-marked". Potassium nitrate remains in the cores of kernels, where it acts as an inorganic oxidating chemical like nitre in the black gunpowder.

The plastic-like matrix of gelatinized nitrocellulose seems to be almost completely soluble into the ether-alcohol solvent. So it contains not enough oxygen for burning of the cellulose. Solubility of nitrocellulose depents on the degree of nitration, content of nitrogen di-oxide (NO2) in the cellulose. This content is easiest to measure and notify by the percentage of nitrogen. Usual "collodium cotton/wool" contains 11 per cent of nitrogen or even less. It is completely soluble into the ether-alcohol mixture, making lacquer or "collodion", if thinned enough. It may also become moistened with small amount of solvent, mixed with camphor.

From pingpong balls to smokeless powder

This dough is known as celluloid when hot-moulded. It was an earliest plastic or polymer, invented in 1869 by brothers Hyatt as a substitute ivory. Celluloid is a flammable material and in some circumstances it may be explosive too - not in it's solid form of existence but the gas (acrid "smoke") of smouldering celluloid in the closed vessel may even detonete with considerable rapidity and pressure. Pure celluloid is bright and transparent like glass. It was usual material of photographing plates and films until adoption of less flammable cellulose acetate. Many old movies are lost forever by spontaneous deterioration of celluloid film material, and the movies & recording studio of Thomas A. Edison blew up in December 1914 by a fierce conflagration of Blue Amberol and Diamond Disc phonograph record materials. Blue Amberol cylinders were actually of compression moulded artillery powder known as Munroe's Indurite. They could stand 20 000 playings without notable loss of sound's fidelity. Vinyl LP records wear more badly by a hundred playings.

French marquis H.B. de Chardonnet patented in 1884 a method for making of artifical silk from the collodion. This "nitrate silk" was as beautiful as natural product, but flammable like celluloid. French chemist Paul Vieille found in 1885 a mixture of soluble and less soluble nitrocellulose pulp useable as a propellant in the cartridges of 8 mm Lebel rifle, shooting jacketed bullets. "Poudre Blanc" of Paul Vieille was not yet entirely smokeless, since it was needed to add some inorganic oxidating salts like potassium and barium nitrate into the powder dough. Vieille tried to develope a powder which burns completely and generates inert gasses: Free nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water (steam). It was possible to nitrate the cotton fibers or other cellulose to reach more than 13 % nitrogen content. Highly nitrated cellulose is able to burn completely and it may contain also some excess of oxygen as a nitrogen dioxide, but it is also less soluble or completely insoluble into solvents like ether-alcohol mixture or ethyl acetate; the most common volatile solvents of nitrocellulose a century ago.

"Hot" powders and "cool" powders

A jewish chemist Chaim Weizmann, subject of England, invented a method for mass-production of acetone during the 1st World War. He sold his discovery to British Government, needing inexpensive acetone for powder manufacturing. Price was Balfour's Declaration in 1917. Jews and Philistines could continue their milleniums-old struggling in Palestine 30 years after the deal. Acetone is better but more expensive solvent of the nitrocellulose than ether-alcohol. (VihtaVuori Oy has always been self-sufficient producer of ethanol and ethyl-ether. The renewed ether plant is adopted to use about a year ago. There are no drastic change-overs, like adoptment of production line for spherical powders, to be expected in the near future).

A Russian chemist Dmitri Medeleyev found the balance between more and less soluble kinds of nitrocellulose in ca. 1890, a mixture of highly-nitrated insoluble cellulose (pyroxyline or a gun-cotton) and low-nitrated completely soluble cellulose (collodion cotton) mixed with a slight addition of camphor to make the powder kernels less brittle. Hyatt brothers were already discovered use of camphor in their celluloid. It made the cast and dried collodion cotton elastic like a real ivory. The hollow "ping-pong" (table tennis) balls were of celluloid until the recent years. (May be still.?! Ball games aren't too familiar hobby for the scientists). The first celluloid products were billiards balls. Usually they were made from ivory, but it was to be feared that extinction of elephants may dry up sources of ivory during 1870s. So rapid was evolution of big-game rifles after introduction of metallic cartridges.

Nitrogen content of Mendeleyev's Pyroxylin Powder was 12.6 % and it was like a Micarta composite: "Hairs" of insoluble pyroxylin (nitrated cotton pulp) in the collodion "matrix" flowing enough to become extruded like Cordite powder of Britons. Cordite is nitrocellulose, gelatinized by addition of nitroclycerol - or actually nitroglycerol thickened with nitrocellulose to become a dough. (Content of nitroglycerol was 58 % in the Rifle Cordite Mark 1). Additional solvent is acetone. Mixture of nitroglycerol and nitrocellulose is known as Gelignite or gelatine dynamite; a high explosive. Rifle powder was tamed by 5 % addition of Vaseline mineral jelly, incorporated with the powder dough. Acetone dilutes the dough to become pliant enough to be extruded through tiny holes of a "noodle press", used for extrusion.

Another kind of double-base powder, the Ballistite, may be made without volatile solvent. Nitroglycerol dissolves the nitrocellulose, or at least dampens the fibers. Ballistite is usually too "hairy" to become extruded. So it is rolled or mangled to the sheets between heated metal rollers, and the sheets are cut to strips or flakes. Many shotgun/handgun powders are of Ballistite with ca. 25 % content of nitroglycerol. Nitrocellulose may be low-nitrated, since the nitroglycerol contains excessive oxygen, which compensates the shortage of oxygen in nitrocellulose.

Double-base powders burn usually completely, generating non-flammable products: Carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water steam. Nitrogen is a light and expanding gas. Carbon dioxide and water steam are "thick and dense" gasses, but they are thinned and lightened by heating. Combustion temperature of double-based powders is ca. 1000 degrees Celsius (or Kelvin) more high than is burning temperature of "straight" nitrocellulose powders, also known as single-based propellants. Cordite and Ballistite are called as "hot powders", but in usual slang means "hot powder" incorrectly just the propellant with a very rapid or fast burning rate. The straight nitrocellulose powder may be fast-burning and the double-base powder may be slow-burning. NORMA R1 is close to the top and HODGDON H870 adjacend to the bottom of "Relative Burning Rate" tables, just some examples given.

The carefully balanced Mendeleyev's Pyroxylin Powder is burning with insufficient quantity of generated oxygen. It is somewhat difficult to ignite, demanding efficient priming flame. (That's why the oldest 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant model 1891 cartridges have Berdan primers with diameter .254 inch/ 6.45 millimeters). The generated powder gasses contains considerable amount of combustible gasses: Carbon monoxide and hydrogen. In 1890 it was a small wonder why incomplete combustion of powder could develope considerably higher bullet velocities than more complete burning with additional oxygen and much higher temperature generation.

Mendeleyev was able to explain: Carbon monoxide is a light and easily expansive gas. Hydrogen is the least dense known element. Elasticity of these gasses and the low friction between their molecules, along with the low specific gravity of them allows to get the high projectile velocities without need to heat them to high temperatures. Hot air may lift the balloon but a hydrogen or even the coal gas (mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) can lift it without need to lighten the gas by heating. From a known volume of solid powder is possible to generate higher volume of gasses by the incomplete combustion than by complete combustion. Invention of old Russian "guru" of organic chemistry was a "cool powder", the real "straight" nitrocellulose powder.

67 per cent of waste energy

Temporary volume of the gasses is about equal, because complete combustion generates higher temperature. This calor(imetr)ic energy of powder shall not, however, become transformed to become kinetic energy of a projectile. No more than ca. 1/3 from chemically bond energy of powder is possible to utilize in usual firearms. The "energy gain" is about equal with a Diesel engine. Usual gain readings are, examples given: 32.0 % in the Finnish Valmet M62 assault rifle (+ 0.48 % utilized for the autoloading by a gas piston actuation).

Energy is wasted for production of muzzle blast a lot more than utilized: 45.0 % (gas rush and the remainder heat of powder gasses). Heating of the barrel and gas cylinder produces 22.25 % waste of the powder's caloric energy. 32 to 33 % gain ratio is almost constant for the rifles. A rather long-barreled bolt action rifle of our test-shooter Markus transforms 32.46 per cent from his "pet load's" powder energy to the kinetic energy of a jacketed bullet. This load is 0.66 gram of powder N310, containing calorimetric energy 4200 Joules per one gram of powder.

Welcome to the Metrics!

By the Metric units of measurement it is easy to calculate the gains and wastes of energy, since the unit of calorimetric energy is Joules per gram and unit of kinetic energy of projectiles is also Joule. With a cheap pocket calculator and the arithmetic learnt in a rural Public School i can predict the bullet velocity of a rifle load, if I know the calorimetric energy of the powder used and bullet weight. Some idea about friction of the bullet (jacket) material is also needed. If the bullet velocities are given in feet per second, weights are grains and the heat energy of powder is given in B.T.Us or some as ancient units as are those feet, inches, pounds and grains, those calculations are somewhat more complicated. (I can master, however, units like arshins, vershoks, zolotniks, dolyas and alnars as well, but blessed are the children of French Big Revolution: Guillotine and Metric System of Measurement).

Strong medicines

That 4200 Jpg energy of powder N310 (and majority of other powders of VihtaVuori's N300-series) is high for the straight nitrocellulose powder. The High Energy rifle powders of N500 series, introduced with drums, bells and whistles, contains actually less energy than those old N300 propellants: 3950 to 4050 Joules per gram, despite of nitroglycerol content up to 25 % by weight. (Nitroglycerol is added on the powder kernels; not mixed into gelatinized powder dough. Discovery is about 70 years old idea of Fred Olsen, father of the ball/ spherical powders and co-founder of Olin Corporation).

The Ballistite powders like Laflin & Rand/ Hercules/ Alliant "Bullseye" contains ca. 5000 Joules per gram of heat energy, but N310 must also have "something special" incorporated to its little kernels. The pure-blooded straight nitrocellulose powder N140, made by the directions of Dmitri Mendeleyev with some more recent improvements like deterrent coating and organic stabilizers, has an energy content 3700 J/g. Additional energy of the N300 series powders is produced by more intensive combustion, "by boosting more air (= oxygen) to the ember", but not by addition of some common organic oxidizer.

Nitroglycerol is a problematic source of extra oxygen in the countries like Finland, because it tends to freeze in a low temperature. Di-nitroglycol has no similar characteristics. (Mono-ethylene-glycol is a common antifreeze liquid of the car engines, and also a popular poison for "wolficide" in the Eastern Finland, where wolf population is always excessive but legal wolf hunting with firearms is strictly limited by the directives of "Ever Green" European Union). Di-nitroglykol is, however, somewhat volatile solvent. It is suitable for powders of artillery pieces, but a fine-grained DNG-powder may weaken, if it is loaded into non-sealed cartridges or kept in a non-hermetically sealed (or half-empty) canister. One promising organic and very stable solid oxidizer is penta-erythrite tetra-nitrate, but because of some unknown reason, an old German invention known as Nipolite powder was not adopted for the general use after Second World War.

"Semi-smokeless" powders

Inorganic oxidizers have been in use as addition of semi-smokeless chemical powders since 1860s, when the first lots of Schultze shotgun powders were introduced, but "Chinese snow" or potassium nitrate was oxidizer also in the blackpowder. This good old gunpowder is known to be least temperature sensitive propellant. Blackpowder itself burns with about constant rate, but heating of cold bore and chamber may, of course, reduce the the projectile velocity in the cold ambient climate. Nitrocellulose powder, when "brined" with micro-chrystallized potassium nitrate, is not entirely smokeless propellant.

A pale puff of solid residue, mainly the potash (potassium carbonate) dust emerges the muzzle when a shot, loaded with N310 or other powders of N300-series and the rapid-burning rifle powder N110. All of them contain potassium nitrate as an oxydator and the water-soluble salt, which makes surface of the powder kernels rough or pock-marked when the visible salt chrystals are washed away. The sole exception may be "submachine gun powder" N330. According to the hearsays it has an "inert salt", potash or Glauber salt, as a water-soluble salt, without oxidating characteristics. N330 has slightly lower energy content, 4150 Joules per gram, while all other N300 powders contains calorimetric energy 4200 J/g.

Cookie Assortment from one dough tub

All of them are extruded from the very same dough to the different kernel sizes and shapes. Usually they have single-perforated tubular kernels. Rifle powder N110 is also extruded from the same gelatinized mass of potassium nitrate spiced straight nitrocellulose to the kernel diameter 0.8 mm. It is, however, coated with a deterrent (a chemical, usually poly-urethane derivates known as "Centralites" or "Akardite", which reduces the burning rate of powder kernel's surface), and the potassium nitrate content remains in it's kernels almost intact. N110 is also graphite coated. Burning rate of N300 powders may be adjusted with added chemicals like Centralite but also by wash-away of the soluble salt.

Less salt, more rapidity

More thorough washing makes the powder more porous and enhances fastness of burning rate. "Bulk density" or weight per volume turns accordingly lighter. The most rapidly burning blank cartridge powder weighs ca. 0.45 gram per Cubic Centimeter. (This powder N305 is not available to handloaders). N310 weighs 0.50 g/ CC. Comparatively slow-burning N350 powder weighs 0.69 gram per CC and the rifle powder N110 weighs 0.80 g/ CC. It is presumably unwashed, containing all of it's added "saltpeter" and the graphite coating may also add it's bulk density.

"Finn-Titewad" exists already

In Finland is handloading of shotshells very uncommon hobby; especially loading of Skeet cartridges. Some experimenters are tried adaptability of N310 for modern light Skeet loads with maximum allowed 24 grams shot charges, and found it serviceable. Needed is, however, still more rapidly burning propellant, which exists alteady: "Finnish Titewad" or "New PaP" N305. There are, of course, many other uses for a powder with rapidity of burning and flammability still enhanced over N310, without the risk of "freezing" in our sub-arctic winter climate.

0903 MM; Pete

qamg34fa.JPG (22051 bytes)
A blued steel treasure

Hello Pete, I have an MG 34 and I was wondering where it was built ? It has the markings: "BSW...2023...1938". The gun is of almost new condition, and really a nice gun. The reason of its condition is that it was captured by Norwegian troops in 1940 and it was hidden away for the rest of the war, and then almost until the 1990's.

Greetings; Bo.

answer.GIF (573 bytes)  BSW (stamped always with the caps) is abbreviation of firm's name "BERLIN - SUHLER WAFFEN- und FAHRZEUGWERKE" factory in Suhl, Germany. BSW was a less-known producer of Mauser-designed firearms: Rifles 98 K, Mauser-designed MG 34s (limited quantities; 2023 is a serial number and 1938 denotes the year of manufacturing) and the machine cannons. In Finland is BSW known as a manufacturer of anti-aircraft machine cannons, caliber 20 x 138 mm Solothurn Long, which was later adopted for our L-39 anti-tank rifles and VKT-40 anti-aircraft machine cannons.BSW-made MG 34s are rarities. Congratulations: You have a valuable treasure !

0303 MM; Pete

Choosing "Supu Powder"

Dear Pete, I have purchased a number of blank cartridges, trying to find a good, fast burner for subson loads. So far I have British .303, East German 7.62 x 39, Czech 7.62 x 25 and 7.62 x 54mm. The German and Czech 7.62 x 54 have a green flake powder, like small squares cut out of sheet plastic. It is unlike any I am familiar with. The other two contain a very fine grain powder , similar to Bullseye, but about half as large.

These cartridges seem to be widely available, and the price is reasonable. Do you have any information on these types of powders or can you recommend a safe testing procedure for their use ? Do you know of an inexpensive (comparatively) procedure for testing the burning rates ? I have some technical skill and a machine shop, so it doesn't have to be too easy, just not needing a full laboratory. I would be happy to share any of my findings with our web family.


P.S.- In a previous post, you mentioned a subscription fee that our Finnish brothers pay for your services. Could you tell me what that is and where I might send it ? I would very much like to contribute to your efforts. Research on a "shoestring" is something I am very familiar with.

P.P.S- I believe that the new Hogdon "TITEWAD" powder is meant to convey that it is economical to use. "Tightwad" is an English/American slang for a cheap or miserly person. - Dave.

answer.GIF (573 bytes) & comments: Most usual way to test the approximate burning rate is shooting of test loads, preferably using swaged lead or cast lead alloy bullets of standardized alloy (Linotype metal or Lyman N:r 2 alloy) with hardness and bore friction as uniform as possible. Jacketed bullets are less suitable for this use, because of inherently variable hardness/friction of most common jacket materials. Chemically almost pure iron or copper may be uniform enough, or iron jacket plated with copper.

Unplated iron jackets (lubricated with wax or Cosmoline) were preferred in Austria since 1880s until 1920s, and for the premium-quality Nahpatronen (loaded for the silenced 7.9 x 57 mm JS Mauser M 98k rifles to give subsonic 300 mps muzzle velocity; made by Finower special cartridge plant) was the copper plated or zinc plated and bi-chromete passivated iron found to be the best jacket material, when uniform bore friction was needed. Many copper alloys like Gilding metal, Lubaloy/Nobeloy, bronzes and brass (like Finnish alloy 90 % Cu + 10 % zinc) were tried but rejected during tests carried out by Finower plant in 1941 to '43.

The powder test shootings are actually just comparisons between unknown powder versus known powder. Because all of the unknown blank powders are (presumably) rather fast-burning propellants, you may use a "hot" powder like Bullseye as a known powder for the comparison. A chronograph is needed for comparisons. The test gun may be cheap and simple "do-it-yourself" gadget or an old barreled rifle action mounted on the simple tripod. Remote triggering by the lanyard is preferable. Most powder researchers use, however, their firearms for test-shooting, since the risk of an accident is - actually - very remote if the quality of an "unknown" powder is known at least on approximates. Blank cartridges may, however, be charged with a "hot" powder, usual military rifle powder or Ballistite. Appearance of powder kernels is unable to tell anything. Structure of them and especially the "loading density" (weight per volume) may give the information for classification of unknown powders. Directions for it shall follow later in this text.

Let's start from the assumption that the unknown powder is a real blank-cartridge powder with a fast burning rate and high grade of "flammability". Test procedure itself is as follows: Load some test cartridges with a known powder. (Bullseye or equivalent propellant. Finnish VihtaVuori N310 and N320 are presumably the very best known "supu-load" powders in the world). Develope the load to give average velocity ca. 300 meters per second/ 1000 fps.

Push a slightly oiled cleaning patch through the bore after each shot (and before the first one, of course). Shoot at least five test shots loaded with known powder for the record, keeping the "bore condition" as uniform as possible. Inspect the bore after each shot, whether unburned powder kernels or other fouling is left. Then push the oily patch through. (It is normal that some kernels are found from the bore. I've never met a .22 LR cartridge, able to burn it's powder charge cleanly). Allowed velocity variation for 300 m/s "supu-load" bullets is + 5 m/s minus 10 m/s (= minimum velocity 290 m/s and maximum 305 m/s), five shots through slightly oil-moistened bore. "Imperial" readings are minimum 950 fps, sought-after average 985 fps and maximum velocity 1000 fps. Swaged or cast lead alloy bullets are preferable if available for test work, and for the loading of subsonic cartridges in feneral.

Before chambering of a cartridge, keep it horizontally between palms of your hands and roll it around for positioning of the powder charge along the entire length of powder space. You may, of course, position the powder to the bullet-end or primer-end of cartridge before chambering, but don't forget the rule: Name of the game is THE SAME.! Finnish oldtimers positioned powder charges of their target rifle cartridges always to primer-end of a shell by lifting up the rifle muzzle, but in our paranoic days it is banned by the rules of some outdoors (and most indoors) shooting ranges to point the muzzle of loaded (rifled) firearms much above horizontal level.

Now you may start the comparative test-shooting with unknown blank cartridge powder. Load at first just one cartridge with same kind of bullet and same charge of blank powder as was loaded to the comparison cartridge. (Shoot it with a lanyard). If there are much unburned powder kernels in the bore, those blank cartridges are loaded with usual rifle powder or with Ballistite. (All the cartridges looking like blank cartridges are not blanks.! They may be rifle-grenade launching ammunition and loaded with a powder less suitable for bulleted subsonic loads). If the bore looks (about) as clean as after shooting of the comparison load, you may load five to ten test cartridges with the same charges and place the chronograph or screens of them to the bullet trajectory.

If the average velocity of first five shots is more than 300 m/s or 1000 feet per second without variations more than + 5 minus 10 m/s from the average, and there are just some kernels left in the bore, you may adopt this powder. It is also possible to reduce the charge to get a good subsonic velocity, or to use slightly heavier bullets or even the jacketed projectiles for your subsonic loads. Before acquiring of large quantities (truck load ? train load ?) of chosen blank cartridges, it is advisable to look at the labels of cartridge boxes and cradles. They may tell something about the powder.

If the charge weight is mentioned and if it is about same in all packages, the powder is uniform enough for use, despite of small lot-to-lot variations. Don't trust on "year stamps" on the case heads. Blank cartridges may be reloaded into the circulated cases. Try to find manufacturing year from the box labels Quantity of the powder in disassembled saple cartridges can tell more reliably than appearance, smell, color, kernel size or shape, whether the powder is blank cartridge powder, usual rifle powder or propelling charge (grenade launching) Ballistite. If the rifle cases are half full or less filled (at least 1/3 of powder space is empty), the powder is presumably "hot stuff" and useable for subsonic loads. If the cases are filled up to the shoulder, the propellant may be rifle powder.

It is loaded into blank cartridges of some machine guns. Reduced charges of usual blank cartridge powder may not generate sufficiently lasting pressure to give reliable functioning of automatic mechanism. Weighing of weight/volume ratio can also tell something about the powder. More than 0.65 gram (10 grains) per cubic centimeter denotes the rifle powder. Finnish N310 weighs 0.50 gram/CC or 550 grams per liter. (The liter scoop comes filled more tightly than 1.0 CC Lee Powder Measure dipper). Modern blank cartridge powder N305 weighs 0.45 to 0.46 gram/CC when scooped with 1.0 CC measure dipper.

There is no easy way to test the burning rate of smokeless powder. Needed is a pressure test barrel, the pietzo-electrical transducer and the oscilloscope + all the complicated electronics needed. There are some more or less expensive "strain strip" systems for measurement of chamber pressures (without drilling the hole through the chamber wall and case), but they are able - as far as I know - just to tell the peak pressures, like the old Rodman's Gauge and LUP or CUP crusher gauges. Burning rate is not the most sought-after characteristic of "subson" powder.

"Flammability" or easiness of ignition is at least as important. Reduced charge detonations (S.E.E.) are consequences of deficient ignition. The best "supu powders" have coarse surface of kernels, like badly pock-marked skin or a sponge, when seen through a microscope with 50 x or 100 x magnification. Powders are called "porous". They have a large surface area of kernels when compared with kernel size and many sharp edges of "craters", catching the priming flame easily. Rifle powders have usually more smooth surfaces of kernels, sometimes literally polished with polyurethane coating (a deterrent; methyl or ethyl "centralite") and usually graphite coated.

A special tip: If you have a flintlock gun, you may try, whether the unknown powder is flammable enough to flash in the pan. Some most flammable blank powders may become ignited with sparks, produced with flint and steel. Those powders are usually good for subsonic rifle loads - but, please: Don't LOAD the flintlock gun with that blank cartridge powder. Just prime the pan with it, without any other powder mixed with it. Just a few kernels of blackpowder in the pan amongst the blank powder leads to false test-result acting as a priming charge.

When the porous-surface powders were not yet invented, there were available powder measures (IDEAL U.P. N:r 2 and 4) for handloaders of target rifle cartridges with two powder containers, large one for "nitro powder" and a small one for "booster charge" of fine blackpowder. When the hand crank was turned, the booster charge (1 to 15 grains of blackpowder was dropped into the cartridge case. Then came the main charge of smokeless powder from it's container just before the crank reached the lowest position.

In Finland was also a common practice to load shotgun shells with a mixture of (expensive) blackpowder and salvaged military rifle powder, during the Depression Era in 1930s and the wars 1939 - 44: Whole capacity of shotgun powder production was needed for making the fodder for pistols and submachine guns in war-time. One shotgunner exploded his gun in early 1920s: He made a mixture of blackpowder and "the powder salvaged from a sea mine, washed ashore". (Naval mine powder was loaves or slabs of compressed non-gelatinized pyroxylin or gun-cotton, almost as hard as the masonite. A high explosive, when dried). Most shotguns stood easily use of blackpowder & rifle powder mixture, despite of the fact that they were usually built for shooting with blackpowder only, and were not "nitro proofed"...

So: If some quantity of rifle powder shall become mixed by accident into your "supu-powder" keg, don't worry ! You'll find just some more unburned kernels from the bore. When you are found and bought quantity of the blank cartridges, loaded with suitable powder, you must disassemble them. Don't buy the blank cartridges with "rosette crimped" case mouths if wood-bulleted blanks with suitable powder are available. Rosette crimps are difficult to open. Preferable are cartridges with hollow wooden bullet (but without paper or felt wadding behind case shoulder. They are REALLY unpleasant to disassemble. Rosette-crimped ones are easier). When all of the powder is salvaged (screening away the clumps, extra large kernels and wood splinters of broken bullets), mix the whole powder lot THOROUGHLY.!

Then you must develope your subsonic load for the test gun and finally for the gun in daily use. Need for the "fine tuning" of a charge is usually decimals of a grain. You was presumably able to read "from the whites between the lines" that these advises are based On The Experience. When we made Bullet Velocity vs. Flight Noise research work, the shots giving lowest velocity were propelled with a sweet coctail of PaPP N14 (N 310) and N 305 powders (plus presumably some Russian "Piroksilin Poroh dlya Revolveriy", since there were 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant blank cartridges with Russian headstamps), mixed with shovel in a plastic bucket. Lowest chronographed bullet velocities were 163 meters per second (average) from a .308 Winchester rifle.

Bullet's flight noises were impossible to become registered: Decibel meter was not sensitive enough to catch the sound. Bullets were lead RN:s, made for .32 S & W revolver cartridges, squeezed into flared cases without any resizing. Jacketed 123 grains bullets were also shot with the blank powder coctail. Heaviest charges were about 13 grains. None of them were weighed ! Dosage was carried out with LEE Powder Measure Kit dippers by the cronograph readings - but observing pressure signs more carefully than never before or since this test-shooting session in the early summer 1992.

The "coctail powder" and Hodgdon Clays were compared by the open-air burning and the burning rates of them was found to be very similar, when the powder "trains" (100 mm long) were burned in the grooves cut on the pinewood plank. This method is, however, inaccurate and "unscientific" way for the burning rate comparisons. Recommended laboratory instruments are: A powder scale or other precision scale, a 1.0 CC powder dipper and a microscope or lupe with at least 10 x magnification. I think, there is no powder with TOO FAST burning rate existing even in the blank cartridges. Source of the risk is TOO SLOW burnig rate, but especially lack of the flammability.

There was once upon a time a non-gelatinized "E.C. Blank Powder" existing; actually small spherical kernels of guncotton felt. Usual warning was: "Don't seat ANY bullet to the cartridges, charged with E.C. Blank Powder. Just a thin cartboard top wad is allowed". Danish Jens Torring Schouboe designed, however, a .45 caliber blowback pistol, shooting light jacketed bullets with wooden cores. Jackets were of mild steel, plated with cupro-nickel ("maillechort"). Cartridges of Schouboe model 1907 pistol were loaded with E.C. Blank.

Pistols were completely safe to shoot. The bullet velocity was "tremendous", as well as the penetration at short ranges. Long range accuracy was poor, of course, and the bullet lost it's velocity soon. Military men were demanding the "stopping power" of heavy bullets. Schouboe pistols were never adopted for military service. This was just one example re credibility of "friendly warnings", so generally distributed by the powder manufacturers. Sometimes they are "WAHOO", sometimes not, and it is not easy to note the difference. Distribution of "wahoo" has economic motivations, of course. (Word "wahoo" is euphemistic synonym of word "bullshit" in some fictious Indian or Afro-American dialect). Use of salvaged blank cartridge powder is tried also succesfully for handloading of Skeet shotshells with modern 24 grains shot charges. Majority of usual shotgun powders are too slow-burning for them and the wads aren't "tight" enough to rise the chamber pressure high enough to assure uniform burning of a powder charge.

P.S. It is really a shame & scandal that Finnish visitors must finance also the G.O.W. site published in English. It is true that majority of our Finnish visitors are able to read English too, but the visitors of site in English may get inspiration for the product ideas from the illustrations on Finnish site. Many drawings of designs and methods for "do-it-yourself" production are self-explanatory and many times "definitely not available from elsewhere"-information.

The subscription fee is not entirely correct term. Many Finnish visitors are calling it as "support fee" or "maintenance fee", since they are aware of the fact that the almost nominal annual payment is literally a vital condition to some of us... and to G.O.W. sites too: It is, unfortunately, not a joke that in Finland may some "blacklisted" person get as generous Poor Relief as a North-Korean farm-worker, when income is compared with cost of living here. A blacklisted person shall never become entitled to get a real employment and real salary.! These facts are not my grim joking or fairy-tales: They were exposed yesterday, 2nd March 2000 in Finnish Parliament by television news transmissions. And this situation shall NEVER become amended.!

The support fees may become paid via Eurogiro or SWIFT to our account, number 800028 - 6450 515 (owner: P.T. Kekkonen/ GOW) with LEONIA BANK plc, Unioninkatu 22, FIN-00007 HELSINKI, FINLAND. SWIFT address is PSPBFIHH. Fee may be paid in any exchanceable currency, also by "shawing from a card". Sum is "open" but I presume US $ 10:00 (or equivalent) is not excessive from full year's info & amusement.

P.P.S. The "tightwad" may also be really tightly fitting wad of shotshells (loaded usually into the thin-walled brass cases with "two numbers oversized" wadding: 10 gauge wads to 12 ga. shells). Tightwads, as used in Northern Europe, were sometimes cardboard top-wads, stacked and impregnated with tallow or wax. In Finland they could be of impregnated soft wood (alder or aspen) and in Sweden of cork. Swedish shotguns, like Husqvarna Model 12 - with a Remington Rolling Block action and barrel length up to 37.8 inches, or Sjoegren autoloaders with inertia action (invented in 1901 !) had many times the taper-bore plus an usual "Greener choke" in the muzzle.

Definitely not Skeet guns or wing-shooting pieces.! Husqvarna M 12 had semi-buckhorn rear sight like some Hawken's plains rifles, and tightwad handloaders used it just as a rifle. Cartridges were loaded with rather large-sized shots. Minimum size might be BB but those with diameter .20" (5 mm) or .217" (5.5 mm) were also popular. They were made in Finland too: The shot-dropping tower is still existing in a Tampere city but no more in use. Usual load was a charge of blackpowder. Not the commonplace charge with volume ratio 1 to 1 or weight ratio 1 part powder to 6 parts shots, but ca. 1 part by weight powder to 10 or 12 of shots. A "semi-charge", but not a short-range load.!

The idea of tightwads and reduced charges was to enhance the effect of choke so that the shotgun was no more a scattergun but something like a submachine gun. Velocity of the tight wad became considerably reduced in the long tapered bore when the push of powder gasses was "exhausted" after the burn-out of a reduced charge. Shots were gained velocity and they had less friction in the bore than the tightwad. When they went through the Greener Choke, the wad was no more in contact with them. Since there was no more backward push of wad behind the shot charge, the pellets could line up to the long, narrow queue. Then came the tightwad out from a muzzle, like a cork from the pop-gun. It had no more velocity left enough to reach the shot string and scatter it.

Sometimes the tightwad (especially wooden one) could lodge in the bore. Some "de luxe" variations of Husqvarna rolling block shotguns had full-length fore ends and a ramrod, just like muzzleloader guns. Not for loading or cleaning but for pushing the lodged wad rearwards into the bore, which was "depressurized" before safe opening of the rolling block. (I presume, the personnel of Husqvarna's Factory Museum didn't know the function of a ramrod). The modern "noiseless firearms" (including PRB spigot mortar and recoilless Ambrust anti-tank launcher) with their captive piston construction are based on this same effect. A German word "Armbrust" means the crossbow. It may give idea about a shooting noise of German "sinko"/ A-T Launcher. (Word "sinko" is Finnish, meaning recoilless gun in general).

"A noiseless rifle" with a long-stroke captive piston was patented actually as early as 1901 in Austria. Inventor was one Josef Hutfless. Some years earlier there were carried out some trials in France with hyper-extra-full-choked shotgun by shooting even the solid lead cylinders through it's bore. Many times the rear end of "slug" lodged the choke while the frontmost end of broken cylinder came off with rather low velocity, cenerating a hissing flight sound, like a flying arrow. Report itself was a noiseless snap, like that of contemporary Flobert rifle - or a snap of crossbow string.

There are many stories about a hundred meters (plus) practical effective range of Husqvarna rolling block shotguns still told in Finland. Modern hunters ridicules this folklore as "the fairy-tales of old folks", but I don't sit in the seat of scornful Magnum-crazy gunners, because I am not a hunter - I'm a scientist and historician. To me these stories aren't "wahoo". There are many scientific facts confirming the folklore, and the sight construction tells also tales about extensive ranges.

When the aiming line of semi-buckhorn rear sight and barley corn front sight of Husqvarna M 12 is compared to the bore axis, it is easy to see that sight adjustment is done along with the trajectory of shots (diameter .20"/ 5.0 mm) to about a hundred meters ! Oldtimers of Finland and Sweden never tried to shoot flying or running animals with taper-bored Husqvarna or Sjoegren guns. They shot sitting forest birds to tree tops or swimming waterfowls. Foxes were shot when they were eating a carcass. Running hares were scared to "freeze" by whistling with lips or a whistle, before the fatal shot..

There were also available special bores for Husqvarna shotguns (side-by-side models also) at extra price: A cylinder bore with straight rifling. It was primarily intented for shooting of tightly fitting spherical lead bullets. Side-by-side guns with one barrel choked and another straight-rifled were ordered in Sweden for use as combination guns, because there were mooses to hunt in Sweden. (In Finland the moose was practically extinct in the late 1800s and early 1900s). The bears were also shot with groove-sized spherical bullets. Not many straight rifled guns were imported to Finland, because of their extra price.

Idea of straight rifling is very old invention of a gunsmith Kasper Zollner or Caspard Koellner, resident of Vienna, Austria. (There are at least three ways to spell his name). Zollner discovered the grooving of a bore sometimes in the late 1400s. Swiss rules of the shooting matches with firearms banned categorically use of "bullets equipped with the tail, wrapped bullets and the grooved bores" in early 1500s. Straight grooves prevented random rotation of the spherical bullet, which was a cause of inaccurate shooting. Use of a patched ball was seemingly also known in early 1500s.

Spiral rifling (a way to standardize rotation of the bullet and not just try to prevent it) was invented by gunsmith August Kotter or Cotter in Nüremberg about a century after discovery of straight grooves. Snipers with their spiral-grooved "Scheibenrohrs" killed and wounded many opponent's officers during the Thirty Years War 1618 - 48 in Central Europe. Possession of those target rifles was finally banned on pain of "kaulalta ja kunnialta" punishment, i.e. penalty of: "Beheading and loss of the regard". This threat made the snipers just more defiant.

It was thought that the straight-grooved bore with rather shallow and very narrow "micro grooves" is able to shoot like a commonplace cylinder bore, but if a shotshell was loaded with a tight wad of some material which was too hard to expand and fill the grooves, and with the reduced powder charges, the patterns could be almost as tight as those shot from a full-choke barrel. Factory loads or handloads with usual (soft felt or pulp paper) wads and normal 1 to 6 pbw (parts by weight) ratio of blackpowder or equivalent load of "nitro" powder gave cylinder or improved cylinder patterns from the straight-grooved barrels.

Explanation ?! "Elementary, dear Watson": The choke effect of a shotgun is based on the velocity difference of shots; center pellets versus edge pellets of a shot charge. Usual choke retards velocity of the edge pellets. Those in the center of a load are able to rush from the muzzle with less retarded velocity. (Contrary to the common delusion, an usual choke is unable to accelerate velocity of pellets of a shot load !!). A push of powder gasses is trying to prevent this generation of velocity difference of edge vs. center pellets by a wad bottom, but because the wad has more friction and less weight than the shots and the powder gas pressure is rather weak in the muzzle of a shotgun (if the barrel is not sawed off to the "whip-it length"), the wad is no more able to carry out it's duty.

The mechanism of a choke effect in the straight-grooved bore is entirely different, when compared to the commonplace choke, but the effect is similar: A velocity difference of edge pellets vs. center pellets - if the wad between shot and powder charges is a hard "titewad". The powder gas leaks past the wad and shot charge, through the bore grooves. Pressure of the gasses behind the wad is decreasing rapidly. It is already moderate, because of reduced powder charge of the usual tightwad handloads. A push of a wad is soon too weak to prevent the generation of a velocity difference of center pellets versus edge pellets. "But how this difference may generate in a true cylinder bore ?"

So may ask some Skeet scattergunner. An answer: Because the powder gas is leaking past the titewad AND the shot carge. The gas stream accelerates velocity of those edgemost pellets of a shot load, while velocity of center pellets in the shot charge remains unchanged. I can predict that some shotgun manufacturer shall offer soon the guns with straight-grooved bores or spare barrels with micro-grooved bores for sale as a "revolutionary innovation" and some producers of shotshells shall offer the "Titewad Cartridges" for sale. Available may be soon also the tight wads to the handloaders, without gas seal skirts and shot cups; otherwise like the usual plastic wads.

Our web visitors are now aware of the fact that "the revolutionary innovation" was actually a novelty already a century ago, but an envious producer of choke-bored shotguns, one William Wellington Greener, who was an authoritative "shotgun guru" all'round the world, was able to prevent the general adoptment of this "Continental invention". The Greener Choke - rival of straight-grooved shotgun bore - was not invented by W.W. Greener but it was connected to production of Greener guns so closely that there was a need to belittle the straight grooving by ridiculous argumentation. It is, however, another story: I hope I can tell it sometimes...

I presume that the Hodgdon's Titewad powder is designed to produce the very quickly increasing and decreasing pressure with a small volume of powder gasses, for low pressure in a muzzle end of shotgun bore. This kind of powder is also good for the subsonic rifle handloads, but I presume, we can get it never to Finland for test-shootings and comparisons, because of our increasing protectionism. Our test-shooters are adjusting their old coffee-grinders for production of "do-it-yourself" powders for the "catsneeze loads", since the gelatinized propellants of subsonic loads cannot - simply - have TOO fast burning rate, or even fast ENOUGH. This is not a joke - or "wahoo".!

Our young test-shooter Markus is just developing the "Parlor Loads" for his 9 mm pistol. Some Italian shotgun powder salvaged from the disassembled Skeet shotshells has been fast enough for purpose for the present...

0303 MM; Pete

A Catsneeze Gizmo and option of it's evolution

qacomcat.jpg (3202 bytes)I came across something at a gun show which might interest you. I will call it a Commercial Cat's Sneeze since it is not of the "roll your own" variety and it definately fits into the cat's sneeze definition. See attached image. However these things are not being produced by the thousands as it is only one guy making them.

This ingenious little gizmo is being produced by a guy here in Alberta, Canada. It consists of a standard cartridge case which has had its head cut off and replaced with a machined steel case head (containing the offset chamber). The case body and steel case head are bonded together with a very strong epoxy. The charge is supplied by a .22 cal blank (nail-gun blank) which fits into the offset chamber.

The chamber is positioned so the rim of the blank will be struck by the centerfire firing pin. These blanks can be had in various powers so one can tailor the "load" to one's needs. The projectile is a pure lead ball which is hand swaged to the proper bore size with a small tool provided with the kit. The inventor claims that the swaged projectile actually shoots better as it has a greater bearing surface on the rifling.

To use the gizmo, all the components are assembled by hand and the cartridge is then used as a normal cartridge would be. Apparently with the medium power blanks, the case neck does not expand and thus the cartridge can be used without sizing. If need be the modified case can be run through a sizing die to return it to the proper dimensions. The entire kit including a small supply of lead balls goes for $ 40 CND. I have no idea what that would be in Finnish Krones.


answer.GIF (573 bytes) and comments: Finnish money is not Krone (like the currency unit of Scandinavian countries and Esthonia) but Mark (FIM) like in Germany; actually a very old weight unit, also used in Sweden sometimes in 1600s. In 2002 shall the common currency unit of European Union become an Euro; slightly less than 6 FIMs. I call that coming money as "ECU" or "EQU" (once upon a time there was a gold piece "equ" used in France).

The "gizmo" seems to be interesting but somewhat impractical in Europe, since we have slightly bigger nail-gun blanks here, made by HILTI company in Liechtenstein. Our telegraph operator made similar device for Swiss 10.4 mm rimfire Vetterli rifle, using these Hilti blanks as propelling charges. I presume, these Hilti's nail gun blanks are too powerful for "catsneeze" loads. The rim diameter of them is also excessive for auxiliary cartridges of usual rimless cases with 12 mm or less head diameter. There are also .22 rimfire blanks for toy revolvers ("starting pistols") available, but they are usually too short to give a good seal, having practically no parallel case sides.

Shotshell primers, having a battery cup with a thin and broad "brass" (= zinc plated, yellow passivated STEEL) flange may be suitable catsneeze propelling caps. So the "auxiliary cartridge" or "adapter cartridge" is easier to produce by lathe-turning, since a shotshell primer needs no offset chamber and no separate steel case head is needed. It is possible to drill a primer pocket of usual cartridge case completely through the bottom. Then ream it to diameter of shotshell primer (0.24") and turn the shallow recess for a battery cup flange.

As far as I know, the priming compound of a shotgun primer is (at least) as powerful as that of Federal's Large Rifle Magnum N:r 215 primer but the steel battery cup is yet strong enough to stand pressures generated by the priming compound, without sideways support at all. The plastic or "papier maché" head of a shotshell offers very weak support. The catsneeze cartridge with a shotgun primer is technically like the usual 40 mm grenade launcher cartridge: Primer acts as a high-pressure chamber and empty powder space as a low-pressure chamber. Additional powder is not needed. If it is, one may load the "Gallery Cartridge" (which is NOT the Catsneeze) into the usual case, with somewhat reamed priming-flash hole and an usual rifle primer, powder charge, wadding if needed and groove-sized spherical bullet. Lubrication of either bullet (cartridge tip dipping) or bore is needed or essential.

Short puff of MoS2 aerosol/spray oil ("Dri-Slide" or something similar) into the bore from breech end before shooting and after every second or 3rd shot shall prevent the bore leading. Preferable is to seek out the chemicals for gun care from the garages/ gas stations.! Prices are lower there. Remember the chemical name "Molybdene Bi-sulphide / Di-sulphide" or just the formula "MoS2". Designer of the "gizmo" seems to be forgotten the 11th Commandment: "You Should Not shoot lead or lead alloy projectiles through UNlubricated rifled bores of any FIREarms"! Pure lead projectiles are less prone to foul the bore with lead than are the alloys. I know. But better safe than sorry..!

Yup; I said exactly what I mentioned: The BORE must be lubricated - not necessarily a projectile. That's why the lube-grooves of cast bullets are cast around the base ends of them. When one shoots a cast bullet, he/she is lubricating bore for the NEXT shot. For the FIRST shot there is (we'll hope so) some storage grease or oil left for bore lubrication and to prevent the lead fouling... Boys and girls: There seems to be many things to learn but I've a very short time left to teach..!

Just before the end of blackpowder/ lead bullet era it was found that a dry or wax-impregnated paper jacket prevents the lead fouling if there is a short tallow & beeswax plug just behind the bullet's base in the cartridge case neck, for lubrication of the bore and to prevent hardening and accumulation of blackpowder fouling. The first jacketed bullets of military rifle cartridges had also a thin cardboard wadding behind them for bore lubrication and prevention of so-called "Gaspolster Effekt" (in German = intrusion of powder gasses to the seam between jacket and the lead core).

Similar wadding may be good for the Gallery and Catsneeze cartridges too: A pasteboard disc into the case neck, a more thick disc of lubricant above it and a slightly heated bullet on the lube plug, warm enough to melt the lube (which may be more hard than usual bullet lube when solidified. "Candle wax" or solid paraffine wax may be good for purpose). This method - glueing of the bullet - is preferable especially for the real catsneezes with bore-sized spherical lead bullets, loaded into un-resized cases. Original catsneezes were loaded usually "on the range/ not at home" but glued-on version may be pocket-proof.

Somebody may, of course, start to produce "Cat's Sneeze Lube Wads", which may be tablets, composite of cellulose pulp, paraffine wax, Vaseline oil and beeswax; diameter ca. .31" and ca. .16" thick..? An old discovery again: They were (may still be ?) existing for sale to the percussion revolver shooters. Oh, Hell's Bells: It is difficult, if not impossible, to discover anything truly new and innovative, but just some new applications for old inventions...

Pure lead bullets are available even in our remote Finland as spherical projectiles for .31 caliber percussion revolver; swaged by a firm Haendler & Natermann. Diameter of them is 8.00 mm and they are really sphericals, not oval in shape like Spanish buckshots. (Spanish "Moose Shots" are, however, less expensive and therefore popular projectiles. The biggest size of them is good for 9 mm "Parlor Loads" designed by our young test-shooter Markus. They are also propelled with the primers only and dip-lubricated with bovine fat. When shot from 9 mm Luger pistol the noise of report and penetration of the bullet is on a par with an air rifle, caliber .177. Once again - an old German discovery with a clever Finnish improvement: The dip lubing).

For .308 Winchester "Gallery Loads" I resized in early 1980s some of those .31 caliber lead pills to .309" diameter for seating them into the case necks, but I found soon this procedure unnecessary. A soft lubricated 8 mm round bullet slips easily through the leade/throat of .308 Win. bore. A considerably harder .315" spherical cast bullet needs also no resizing but mere thumb-seating into the case mouth and dipping in the Vaseline mineral jelly. The bearing surface on the rifling was entirely sufficient when swaged by the throat of rifling itself:

I could shoot the H & N .31 caliber lead pills and those cast bullets to 100 meters range (outdoors) with acceptable accuracy, when my eye was still keen and my hand was steady. A scope sight with 19 ½ x magnification was, of course, an essential expedient. Powder charge equals 3 to 4 grais of original Hodgdon Clays (or 2½ to 3 grains of Titewad ?). Use of case stuffing was unnecessary but I elevated the muzzle upwards before each steady lower of a rifle onto the bench rest.

2902 MM; Pete

"Kissan Aivastukset" in Polymer 66 jackets and "Supu Load" cartridge cases.

I've very much enjoyed reading your articles concerning "Cat Sneeze" loads. I discovered at an early age the "relative silence", by firing CB Longs from my Walther .22 rimfire bolt action Sports Model Rifle with it's long barrel. Recently, I came across a manufacturer of .224 sabots for .30 cal. rifles. The sabots are a Nylon polymer composition that allows the seating of a .224 bullet. This seems to be like the answer for the manufacture of .30-06 cal. "catsneeze" loads. Whether powered by primer only or with a small charge of fast-burning powder with a dacron fiber "patch" to keep the powder to rear of the case are the options you've described. I intent to shoot this load through a M1 Garand. This weapon is noted for it's strength but a weak link is the potential for piston damage by excessive gas pressure.

Because the sabot is the only thing touching the bore, I can't imagine need to overcome much friction. What do you suggest? As a habit, I've come to coat all my rifle bores with molybdenum disulfide which further reduces bore friction. Keep up the good work ! I enjoy very much reading about Finnish war history especially, since you have a history of beating the Russian Red Bear.

Dan M.

answer.GIF (573 bytes) From the end to very start: Not only the Russian Bear stumbled against the threshold known as Finland, but also the Red Global Revolution was stopped by our stubborn resistance in 1918 and by our heroic Winter War in 1939 - 40, and in the summer until early fall/autumn 1944, by the struggles of Tali, Ihantala and Ilomantsi. Finnish troopers were - actually - attacking in Ilomantsi, when our oldest and most cowardly politicians ordered Finns to give up and end the fighting. Deeds of all Finnish warriors were thwarted - literally overnight - in the early September 1944... The World War II was not yet over: Russian bolsheviks constrained Finnish troopers (the young inexperienced conscripts) to fight our Shameful War against Germans (retreating from Finnish Lapland) until 27th April 1945. It was the very most dishonorable era of known Finnish history. Don't wonder my comments that the communists and socialists aren't human beings at all, but just "Live Point Targets". We have not lost any war in 1900s, but we lost all the peaces, with one exception: Peace Treaty of Dorpat in 1920.

But now, away from that bitter rememberance, to the tomorrow's trend of the ballistics: The sabot material, "Polymer 66", or Nylon, is very good for "Catsneeze" loads. You may use the lead buckshots N:r 4 as subcaliber bullets, when sized to the diameter .224" or .225" by a sizing kit. Good kits for users of a reloading press are 90049 and 90036 made by LEE PRECISION, Inc. That .224" sizer is for shots propelled by the primer only (preferably FEDERAL Large Rifle Magnum N:r 215), and the .225" sizer for the buckshots intented to shoot as a subcaliber bullet with a booster charge of some fast-burning powder like original HODGDON "CLAYS" or Finnish VihtaVuori N 310.

NORMA R1 may be even better ?! Comparisons are not yet carried out. There is also a new Hodgdon powder, a very promising TITEWAD coming to sales. I don't know, whether it is produced by the suggested method of SUBSON powder production: "Popcorning" like making of HP 38 porous kernels, but omission of the flake rolling, which is a way to slow down the burning rate of HP 38. I afraid, the import of Hodgdon powders is ended in Finland and so I'll never get any information on Titewad. From Hodgdon I'll get "no more knowledge for abuse of the shotgun/handgun powders to the rifle loads, since a rifle MUST be noisy and kicking".!

Real catsneezes are shot with primers only, since even the minimum booster charge for .30-06 must be ca. 2 ½ grains, giving a supersonic muzzle velocity. The maximum charge is more than 15 grains of Clays, N 310 or R1. A chamber pressure is still less than half from the maximum allowed pressure of .30-06; unable to give an autoloading cycle and positively unable to damage the gas piston of your Garand rifle. The gas-port pressure may be mere fifth from that given by the usual service load, but the centrifugal force may tear the lead buckshot apart soon after it's emerge the muzzle. The saboted buckshot, propelled by some fifteen+ grains of Clays or N 310 has at least as destructive "DumDum effect" at close range as a real explosive bullet, but the effective range may be less than ten feet, and the penetration is inherently shallow.

Riflemen of the civilized world are lacking bullets for short range target practise, with the self-lubricating jacket material and a projectile weight light enough for catsneezes, propelled with primer only, especially for the most common caliber .30 or 7.62 mm. Bullet must be useful for handloading of most of rifle cartridges, including those for rifles with tubular magazines, like .30-30 Winchester. Bullet must therefore be flat-nosed, especially if the core material is recommended zinc alloy, ZAMAK or NORZAK die-cast metal. Lead-free bullet materials are preferable in the future, I can prophesy. Some airgun pellets are already of die-cast zinc alloy with a plastic "jacket". Polymer of them "smells to be" common poly-ethylene.

A flat-nosed bullet shall reduce the ricochetting hazard, which is only drawback of zinc alloy projectiles, with an exception of frangible zinc bullets. A short-range practise bullet with Nylon jacket may have the weight about 3 grams/ 46 grains, or about equal with old spherical groove-sized lead bullet of the "Gallery Loads" with a booster charge of powder. Lead bullet of the real "Catsneeze" was bore-sized. It could be even slightly undersized to the bore (a rounded 40 gr solid .22 LR bullet, excavated from the backstop sand bank of the shooting range, diameter 7.5 millimeters/ .295"), centered by the heavy tacky lubricant; mixture of bovine or mutton tallow, yellow beeswax and VALVOLIN Cylinder Oil - which was primarily used for lubrication of steam engine and locomotive pistons.

This mixture was used by barrelsmith HARRY M. POPE (N.Y.C., USA) in 1890s but it was well-known in Finland too. Every box of 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant low pressure cartridges (SAKO factory loads) had since 1936 the recipe of dip lubricant printed on the back label. Cartridges were topped with lead alloy bullets SAKO 110 A Lyijyinen, weight 93 grains, without grease grooves but just dip-lubrication. Catsneezes with bore-sized or smaller bullets were always handloaded into the unsized cases. They were makeshifts of the 1930s Great Depression era - but very clever makeshifts; nobody can deny..!

The lube could act as "discarding sabots": It could transmit a slow but sufficient rotation from the rifling to a spherical lead bullet. The Nylon jacket of .30 caliber 46 grain short range bullet should not be a discarding sabot, but really a jacket. Sabots may offer nasty surprises in the suppressors, especially in those with "wipes" (shoot-through self-sealing rubber or soft plastic baffles, used in Russian S-40 or current PBS suppressors and many American designs). Jacket should be fastened so that it doesn't separate when the bullet perforates 2 inch thickness of soft dry pine-wood.

Nylon is O.K. and tried jacket material. I wonder, why it is not adopted to more common use, even for the handgun bullets. Federal's "Nyclad" projectiles are well-known. Some more exotic plastics or polymers are used as the rotation bands of artillery shells. They may withstand heat and strains of muzzle velocities up to 4000 feet per second. Air rifle shooters are coddled by supply of special projectiles like flechettes and plastic-jacketed pellets. ("Prometheus" & al.). Shame and scandal that there are not YET too many .308 caliber airguns available.

Apropos: You may use a .22 caliber airgun pellet as a subcaliber projectile in the sabot of your catsneezes; a lead pellet or Prometheus as well. It is possible to boost somewhat the effect of primer's blast by reaming the primer pocket flash holes to diameter .16"/ 4.0 millimeters. This is a well-known trick for prepare the cartridge cases for handloading with "economy loads", subsonic loads and all special loads with reduced charges of fast-burning powder, if any charge at all. If you have a rifle, shooting .224" bullets, and cases with a primer pocket for Small Rifle primers, you may drill the flash holes to diameter .12 inch/ 3.0 mm and use .22 airgun pellet or projectile, seated directly into the neck of unsized case.

Smear the inside wall of case neck heavily enough with bullet lube to keep the pellet from dropping into the powder space of shell (previously shot in the same rifle). Voilá, here is your .224 caliber catsneeze. It is possible to use airgun flechettes for "primer only" shooting from cartridges like .22-250, but usually not from .222 Rem. or 5.56 x 45 mm cartridges: The blast from a primer may shatter the fluted plastic tail of a flechette, especially if the primer pocket's flash hole or vent is an UNlargened "pin hole". Once again "I wonder": The flash holes of Boxer primer pockets were optimized in 1867 for ignition of case-filling charges of black gunpowder - a propellant easy to ignite with a priming flash in the pan. Just by a flame - without any or much pressure.

I wonder why the flash holes are STILL the tiny pinholes, just like they were 133 years ago.? Smokeless powder has been the dominant propellant since 1890s. As far as I know, it is easier and less expensive to drill or puncture wide 3 mm and 4 mm vents through the primer pocket web than to make a tiny flash hole. For the makers of plastic products I have still one free idea, but it is advisable to realize it by the collaboration with some cartridge manufacturer(s). A special "Catsneeze case liner" and "Economy Handload liner" for bottlenecked rifle cases, placed into the case before it's bottlenecking. It is about a century-old invention; not my discovery.

There were planned to load ".30 Army Cartridges, Guards, Duplex Ball" for US National Guards, presumably for the riot control purposes. Caliber of contemporary .30 Army cartridges was .30-40 Krag. There were already made some mechanical machine guns, like a "Police BULLDOG" GATLING, able to shoot 1500 to 1800 rounds per minute by hand cranking (3000 - 3600 bullets pm, in practice 880 bullets from two 440 rds ACCLES feed drums, which were able to shoot empty during one "Mad Minute"). As early as in 1893 was US Navy tried a ten-barreled Gatling Gun with an electric motor drive, able to shoot with 3000 rpm rate of fire: 6000 bullets, if loaded with Duplex Ball cartridges, in theory, and in practice three Accles drum magazines = 1320 bullets per minute.

Interesting detail of Duplex Ball .30-40 Guards Cartridges was a rear-bullet support sleeve, installed before necking of the cartridge case. Bullets were commonplace FMJs with cupronickel or "maillechort" (French) a.k.a. "melkhyor" (Russian) jacket with weight 220 grains. Loads were adjusted to give "non-lethal effect" (I don't understand: WHY ?) but, according to the military surgeons resumed their work from Spanish-American War from Cuba and the Philippines with up-to-date empirical knowledge re long range effects of jacketed small caliber projectiles, the frontmost bullet was lethal within several hundreds of yards, because it didn't tumble during it's early flight, as supposed. The rear bullet could also inflict severe laesions even without deep penetration.

Just those rear-bullets hit side-on when shot from a Bulldog Gatling guns or Krag-Jörgensen rifles to the "counter-insurrection ranges", 30 to 40 yards. Muzzle velocity of the bullets is unknown, but it might be ca. 330 feet per second; lethal if the .30 caliber 220 gr bullet hit point-on or base-on (SIC !) into some "hot spot" of human (or physically equal "Live Point Target's") body. It was impossible to reduce the muzzle velocity, because of a risk that the bores of rifles and machine guns might became full of lodged bullets. Reduced-charge detonations were presumably never occurred with duplex-bulleted cartridges. The powder was "something special". Black gunpowder or LAFLIN & RAND's "dust" BULLSEYE..?! I don't know, but I am more interested in these loads than any other scientist in the World...

Funny enough, all my available sources - if printed in US - are ignorant about L & R Bullseye powder and .30 Army Guards Cartridges with Duplex Ball. Some German books knows both of these remarkable but forgotten inventions. The rear bullet support sleeve of .30-40 Guards cartridges was presumably of paper mass ("papier maché" in French; a contemporary "composite") or simply a roll of gummy paper installed below the cartridge case shoulder before it's necking. In early 1980s, when Mr. C.E. HARRIS designed his "Schuetzenplinker" lead bullet for .30 caliber rifles, he wrote to me that there were an intersting but less-known .30-06 "Cartridges, Antenna Erecting", made for US Signal Corps for hurling the weight of radio transmitter antenna to the tree top with a very low velocity.

The .30-06 shells had a "fiber" (Micarta ?) filler installed to reduce the case volume. I presume, power of the primer's blast was enough for throwing the antenna weight and thin wire up to trees. Similar Nylon (composite ?) liner with a passage from the case neck to the bottom of case head with an inside diameter just large enough to allow entry of neck expander button of the resizing die, and snugly fitting into the cartridge case, shall reduce the needed powder charges considerably by two ways: Unnecessary case volume is eliminated and the powder charge is heat insulated from metal wall of the case.

Caloric energy of the powder or the priming blast of "catsneezes" shall become transformed into the kinetic energy of a projectile with an improved gain; without need to warm-up of the cool metal or an air inside the empty powder space. You may imagine your .30-06 case with a Nylon liner with a concentric passage, diameter .312" from it's head to the neck. You may shoot cheap buckshots (heavily lubed N:r 1 Bucks) without powder at all, with high enough velocity for pest control, target practise or even small game hunting. With the "homeopatic" charges (say 2 grains) of really "hot" powder like Hodgdon's new TITEWAD you can propel the light (say 70 gr) cast bullets to 50 yards with almost as good accuracy as bullets of .22 rimfire rifle - still without the disturbing noise.

I cannot understand, why the new powder was christened as Titewad and not as "SUBSON" ! Hodgdon's people is definitely aware of adaptability of their new powder as a propellant for subsonic rifle loads, a.k.a. "Supu Loads" but, for the time being, they are offering it to the shotgunners only. With the lined case and powder suitable for purpose, you can duplicate ballistics of each and every .30 caliber handgun cartridge from .30 Short Rimfire to .32 H & R Magnum or 7.62 mm Tokarev, and the rifle ballistics from the .30 M1 Carbine or 7.62 x 39 mm GeCo ("Kalashnikov") to - almost - .30-30 Winchester.! For duplication of rifle ballistics you must use the rifle powder in the lined cases, of course...

The special "catsneeze cases" you may make from some cases, previously shot in your rifle chamber and no more than neck-resized, by filling the deprimed cases (flash hole of the primer pocket must be plugged) with a non-shrinking moulding plastic with a hardening chemical, or with the paraffine wax. Some added indegrient like beeswax may be beneficial, making the paraffine less brittle. Pour the moulding material into the case so that just the neck is empty, but the shoulder is filled up to neck. Then drill the flash hole of .30-06 case to diameter .16" or 4.0 mm with a drill bit, long enough to go through the solidified plastic or paraffine wax filling (2.2" or 56 mm long for .30-06). Now you have a thin flash passage in yor catsneeze case, without any unnecessary volume.

Even the wax-lined case will last several catsneeze shots and reprimings; therefore it is needed to ream the flash hole large enough for easy depriming with a suitable steel rod. Wax liner with enlargened flame passage is easy to reproduce, when the primer flash hole is plugged with a tightly fitting metal rod extending to the case mouth and just by warming up the case until the wax is molten. Wax may be added, if necessary. When the liner is solidified, pull the rod out from the case while twisting. Each shot may shave the flame passage somewhat bigger. The molten (or evaporized ?) wax from the liner shall be an extra lubricant of projectile - or actually the bore lube.

These tricks are, of course, just some "funny makeshifts". Definitive products should be Nylon liners, tightly fitting into the cases and installed by the case manufacturer before necking of the "virgin" cases. The pre-moulded liners may have either projectile-sized passage for resizing with the usual reloading dies and shooting with a powder charge, or the real "Catsneeze Liners" with a thin flame passage, diameter 4.0 mm for cases with large primers, or 3.0 mm for those cases with small primers. Cases may, of course, have the flash holes of primer pockets as large as the flame passages of catsneeze cases. I don't know whether some case manufacturer shall become inclined to collaboration with some would-be liner producer.

Polymer or composite lined catsneeze cases shall become almost everlasting reloading components, and the cartridge manufacturers (not only the powder producers or distributors) HATE our idea of "Economy Loads". It is a most efficient way to make cartridge producer or distributor angry (or melancholy) by praising: "Your rifle cases are EXCELLENT for Economy Handloading ! I've reloaded some of them more than a hundred times - until the primer pockets became leaky..!" My personal record is mere 43 reloads into a .308 Winchester case, made by Lapua, but at least ten of them were full-powered handloads.

The primer pocket's flash hole was reamed after the first shot to (an excessive) diameter 4.5 mm/ .177". Sometimes I couldn't find the primer anvil when depriming the case. After the first misfire I discarded that superannuated shell. Primer pocket of it wasn't yet leaky. More moderate reaming of the flash hole is, however, advisable. Diameter 4.0 mm/ .16" is O.K.

2202 MM; Pete

"Designs" & Designed loads

I only recently found your website and that of BR - Tuote. I had spent a lot of time researching internal details for suppressors on the web without much luck. None of the US manufacturers will supply any hard information. Your site and the BR Tuote site are everything I have been looking for. Your sense of humour is refreshing as most peoples are much too serious.

I find it somewhat ironic that you live in a country where suppressors may be freely had but firearms are strictly controlled while I (also Peter) live in a country where firearms are freely had but suppressors are completely banned. I live in Canada.

I am an experienced handloader but I am just learning about subsonic loads in center fire rifle cartridges. I am working with a Mauser 98 chambered in 7.62 x 39 with a 1:10 twist .308 barrel. Do you have any specific loads which I could try ?

I am interested in any baffle designs which might be suitable for such a "theoretical" rifle. I am familiar with the cone shaped baffles but would like to know more about complex thick baffle designs. I also would like to know something about baffle spacing.

Peter/ Canada

answer.GIF (573 bytes)  My name is not Peter but Pertti (derives from an arcaic Gothic name Adalbert -> Albert). In Finland I am usually known by abbreviation of my all names: PTK (since mid-1970s) or just as PeeTee. (In "our gang" is a Swedish test-shooter, also Peter, a specialist of .30-06 handloads for silenced rifles).

I'm calling the "designs" as silencers if they are intented for use with subsonic or "supu" loads only. Most BR Tuote's designs are suppressors, as they are strong enough for shooting with full-power loads too (including caliber .50 BMG / 12.7 x 99 mm Browning Machine Gun).

Silencer may be a very simple device with just one gas expansion chamber ahead of the rifle muzzle and one baffle or end cap in the front end of tubular metal or plastic jacket. This end plug may be drilled through permanently, making a bullet passage large enough for the projectile plus some allowance for bullet "yawing" or sporadic misalignment of the silencer. I prefer a rather thick end plug, not only the cap. My first "do-it-yourself" silencer had a pinewood plug, thickness ca. five times the bullet diameter. The bullet passage was made by shooting through the wood and then drilling the bullet hole two millimeters more wide than is the bullet diameter (.22 LR).

The silencer was long and fat (outer diameter 30 millimeters, length ca. 300 mm) but my rifle had considerably shortened barrel. Length of the silenced rifle was less than one meter or 40 inches and it's weight was ca. 2 ½ lbs with a mounted silencer.For your Mauser rifle, chambered for 7.62 x 39 mm GeCo Model 1934/35 cartridges... (Yup, the "Kalashnikov" cartridge is actually a Gustav Genschow Co. round when loaded into brass case with lead core bullet with Gilding Metal jacket. If loaded into the copper-plated or lacquered steel case with an iron core bullet with copper-plated mild steel jacket it is a Yelisarov & Syemin cartridge Model 1943 Russian).

Your 7.62 mm GG & Co. rifle should have a "suputin" with outside diameter 1 ½ inch and length ca. 250 mm. Wall thickness of an aluminium jacket should be 1/10 inch. Steel jacket may have thin wall, say 0.06 inch. (In Metrics: Aluminium 2.5 mm, steel 1.5 mm thickness).

Thickness of the rear end plug may be .6 inch, with a concentric threaded hole, matching with the threaded muzzle of your rifle. End cap thickness (or length) of a design should be ca. 2 inches. Recommended diameter of it's concentric bullet passage is 0.35 inch. Rear and end caps may be fixed by threads and some good epoxy cement may keep them also firmly fastened BUT: Never shoot full-powered cartridges or factory-loads with a mounted "suputin"! (This funny word is modern technical Esthonian. It means: "A whisperer" or silencer, especially one for firearms. It is pronounced as "soopooteen", with short vowels. "Somewhat" easier to pronounce than the Communist-era Russian term: "Pribor Dlya Bezzvutsnoy i Besplamennoy Stryelbiy"..?).

Needless to say that a mounting thread for Suputin, on the rifle muzzle, must be co-axial and concentric with the bore. Not only (or not at all) with outside of the barrel. You may figure, how many miserable "blacksmith made" mountings I have seen during the past quarter of century - including those made by plumber's threading dies..! Ush ! Nothing but a lathe-turning should be allowed way to cut those Suputin threads !

The end plug may be of aluminium, plastic (Nylon is preferable) or wood. Threaded rear plug may be of steel. The single chamber design may seem to be too simple to be functional. But the Four Grains Suputin Loads for 7.62 x 39 mm GG & Co caliber rifles, especially bolt action guns with 20 - to 24 inch barrels, are the reports not very noisy even without a mounted "design". When almost whole volume of powder gasses can become trapped into the jacket of a suputin for a rather slow exhaust with almost ambient pressure, we may use the word "silencing" or even the term "absolute silencing". The silencer/ whisperer/ Suputin may be simple in construction, if it is large enough in size.
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Your mentioning re "thick baffle design" means presumably thick "wipe" design, with self-sealing rubber baffle(s) ? It is a very common illusion that a designs with the "wipes" are more efficient than those with open bullet passages. They may be as effective and smaller in size than the "open baffle" design , but the wipe system may give a very poor accuracy of shooting and the shooting through a wipe is not as silent as many peoples believes. A most efficient combination of wipes may be 0.6 inch thick disc of natural rubber and ca. 0.4 inch thick disc of wool felt onto the front of a rubber wipe.

First shot through a wipe may be almost unaudible (depending on the cartridge and load; subsonic one is always preferable), but the next shots shall be more or more noisy. Bullet "snaps" when it is perforating the wipe, and the following projectiles drills a permanent passage through a wipe material. It is, of course, possible to add the number of wipes into the Suputin: Original German Eissfeldt silencer had just one wipe and several usual steel baffles. (Russian modern PBS silencers for assault rifles have very similar construction). Russian S-40 "Glushitel" for Mosin-Nagant rifles had two rubber wipes and their rare model S-43 had three rubber discs.

But, since the cartridges for shooting from silenced rifles were too powerful "half-charged" factory loads with supersonic bullet velocity, the shooting was equally noisy with or without "glushitel" and when the subsonic "Partizan cartridges" were produced (usually by handloading), the silencer was found to be needless. I presume, the "silenced" shot was more noisy than a shot without a glushitel, because snap of a bullet, perforating two or three rubber wipes 0.6" thick each, was more noisy than the report itself. I think the design with wipes useful for handguns, for "one shot only" commissions - not because of a good silencing effect but the possible compact size of the Suputin.
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Presumably the oldest kind of designs was so-called Humbert silencer or multi-chamber design. I think, the inventor was a Russian despite of his French name, because he never patented his innovation. (Inventor of the metal obturator ring of artillery pieces, Lewis Wells Broadwell was also citizen of Imperial Russia and resident of St. Petersburg, despite of his English name. He was unable to receive patent in Russia at all. The patentee of a "Broadwell's Obturator Ring" was his British patent attorney Richard A. Brooman). No other sources but Finnish and Russian articles on technical periodicals know Colonel Humbert at all, and the Finnish article was published in 1920...

Humbert's design is able to retard the velocity of powder gasses by the multiple baffles. They may be straight aluminium or Nylon plastic discs. A rearmost disc may (or should) be of steel. For your 7.62 x 39 mm GeCo chambered Mauser rifle, for use of reduced "Supu Loads" ONLY, is possible to construct a design with one inch outside diameter and length ca. 8 inches. Wall thickness of the jacket may be 0.8 inch (aluminium) or 0.4 inch if steel. (In Metrics: Dia. 25 mm, length 200 mm, aluminium wall 2.0 mm, steel wall 1.0 mm). About one third of the jacket volume (between rear plug and rearmost baffle) may be empty, the gas expansion chamber.

Thickness of the baffles may be 0.35 inch and the spaces between them is also 0.35 inch (ca. 9 mm) - but three frontmost baffles may be 0.2 inch thick with 0.2 inch spaces (5 mm). Bullet passage diameter 0.35 mm is recommended. Spacers may be lengths of aluminium tubing with 1 to 1.5 millimeter wall thickness but I made them from an aluminium sheet strips, bent to @ shape, or strip length ca. fivefold the inside diameter of jacket. (The spacers made 1 ½ circuits in the jacket. They were cut from the 1.0 mm aluminium sheet. Nylon baffles were also tightly fitting into the jacket: I pounded them in with a hammer and metal rammer).

You may fix the front or rear plug or a frontmost baffle by tight press-fit and a roll-crimp, similar to that of old paper shotshells with a cardboard top-wad. It is easy to produce the roll-crimp by lathe turning with a ball pointed press-turning tool. Another end-plug or end-cap may be fastened by welding, before (NOT after) seating of the aluminium or plastic parts. My "De Luxe" designs for .22 rimfire rifles were drilled from a solid aluminium rod, leaving the front end "blind", save the bullet passage, diameter seven millimeters. Those designs for Russian .22 LR TOZ rifles with non-tapered "bull barrels" had no rear end-cap or plug at all.

They had either bayonet fix or a friction mounts around the barrel's muzzle end. (Those designs were made in the late 1970s.! BR Tuote does not make the designs with friction mount - even for the .22 rimfire guns. Designs are usually mounted by a thread. Bayonet mounts are fitted in the factory only, since just some firearms have their front-sight bases durable enough for the bayonet fixing, like integral front sight bases of Mosin-Nagant rifles). Mauser rifle with it's original front sight needs a very complicated and expensive "shackle mount" for all of it's muzzle mounted devices, like silencers or rifled grenade launchers; "Schiessbechers".

The "almost-standard Supu Load" in Finland is combination of 123-grainer FMJ bullet with diameter .311", but because you have .308" barrel, you may use .308" bullets. Most common powder in Finland is VihtaVuori N 310, known as "pistol powder" but it was actually a rifle powder N 14 PaPP, for blank cartridges, low pressure cartridges (for 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant rifles) since 1936 and "semi-charge loads" for silenced rifles, factory-loaded in 1942. For 7.62 x 39 mm GeCo is a correct load FOUR GRAINS of N 310 with 123 grains bullet. (In Metrics: 0.25 grams of powder with 8 grams bullet).

There are dozen of powders fit for four grains loads, most of them giving subsonic velocity level. With N 310 powder is calculated MV about 980 fps/ 290 meters per second. May be slightly higher or lower from your Mauser barrel, but not much. PLEASE NOTE: All the practicable powders have a burning rate faster than that of HODGDON INTERNATIONAL or ALLIANT UNIQUE ! I presume, that new Hodgdon TITEWAD is good for purpose. (Import of Hodgdon powders is stopped in Finland nowadays, and I am unable to get needed powder info or loading data from Hodgdon or manufacturers of their powders).

Also it is possible to use 150 grains bullets for subsonic loads of 7.62 x 39 mm GeCo cartridges with slightly more powerful charges of powder - ca. 5 grains for jacketed projectiles. In Finland are also the factory-made gas-checked and sized cast bullets available for 7.62 mm subsonic handloads. Weight is 140 grains. Usual starting load is 3 grains of powder N 310 (an empty .22 LR case filled up to the brim; Metric weight 0.20 gram). Cast bullet shall give higher average muzzle velocity than jacketed one with equal powder charges, and considerably less variable velocities shot-after-shot.

Handloading of 7.62 x 39 mm cartridges to the subsonic velocity level is easy and safe, BUT: Never use the rifle powder for reduced charges and beware of double-charges. Precautions are same as for handloading of .357 Maximum or .44 Magnum revolver cartridges with the mild target loads.

2102 MM; Pete (or just P.T.)

.222 Remington in a submachine gun ?

Hello ! I am a French student (beginner), with two questions to put: Is the functioning by blowback (as that of Uzi or Sten) possible with a caliber .222 Remington ? Do you know a calculation method for the weight of the breech bolt according to the caliber or documents treating of those ? I hope that my mail will be understandable because I am useing a translation software. Congratulation for your site. It is Super ! Bravo..!


answer.GIF (573 bytes) It is not as easy to apply as simple "differential locking" blowback action for .222 Rem. cartridge as is for 9 mm Luger or 7.63 Mauser/ 7.62 mm Tokarev cartridges; all of them loaded as usual factory loads. Pistol cartridges of submachine guns shall develope a peak chamber pressure ca. 2500 atmospheres (max. 2600 atm.) and a rapid drop of residual pressure. Allowed maximum pressure of factory-loaded .222 Rem. is more than 3500 atm. and the powder is slowly burning rifle powder, developing a more lasting residual pressure, because of a small area of the bore. It is possible to handload .222 Rem. cartridges with reduced charges of handgun powder to the pressure level ca. 2500 atm. and get bullet velocity 500+ meters per second for projectiles, weighing 3.2 to 3.6 grams. If you build a submachine gun for these loads, you must shoot these cartridges ONLY; no factory-made cartridges or full-power handloads..!

There is still a problem existing: An excessive case length when compared with 7.62 mm Tokarev case, 43 mm versus 25 mm. I presume, you must LUBRICATE the cartridges before shooting of them. Another way to prevent case ruptures is the fluting of a chamber with narrow longitudial grooves. Some French military firearms have fluted chambers. They are shooting full-powered rifle cartridges (like 5.56 x 45 mm) NATO but they have also a delayed blowback mechanism, designed by Hungarian Pál Király. Without this rather simple mechanism the breechbolt of French 5.56 mm assault rifle must weigh as much as "lock, stock & barrel" plus an empty magazine; weights combined.

Thanks to the fluted chamber, a 5.56 mm rifle MAY function with simple blowback action, but it weighs six to seven kilograms. This fluted chamber or "gas lubrication" of cartridge cases was invented by Italian Giovanni Agnelli (co-founder and first manager of FIAT automobile/aeroplane/firearms manufacture) some years before the First World War for 6.5 mm S.I.A. (then Ansaldo & Armstrong, later FIAT) machine guns, but his innovation was too radical for the hidebound high-ranking officers of Italian Army. They relied on "proven oil lubrication" of machine gun chamber or cartridge before feed and discharge.

Russians re-discovered the fluted chamber in 1930s for their ShKAS aircraft machine guns (with a cyclic rate of fire 1800 to 2000 rounds per minute) and Tokarev's autoloading rifles. For your submachine gun, shooting reduced charge .222 Remington handloads (only), is just a fluting of case-neck space of the chamber needed. Tokarev rifles had also grooved neck spaces. Powder gas, leaking backwards through the flutes ca. ½ millimeter wide and one millimeter deep, shall push the cartridge case back from the cartridge shoulder too. With this simple arrangement you must use a breech-bolt with a weight ca. 150 times the bullet weight.

If you will shoot bullets, weighing 55 grains/ ca. 3.6 grams, suggested weight of a breech-bolt is 540 to 550 grams. Not yet excessive for a submachine gun but, please, shoot the catrtridges loaded with the shotgun/handgun powders only: Full-power charges of rifle powders shall give too high residual pressure and ruptured cases, or at least too high breech-bolt velocity backwards, straining the receiver of your gun.

As you can see, I usually proof-read coming messages and carry out some "editing". Translation softwares are, in general, far from perfect. Your message was, however, easy to comprehend.

0802 MM; Pete

"SUPUTIN Loads" for Intermediate Russian cartridge & The Mechanism and Chemistry of Secondary Explosion Effect

I have followed your article series about subsonic handloads. Perhaps it even stopped me from doing foolish things like for example starting with standard 7.62x39 ammo & doing half-/ quarter- or 3rd part of original powder charges which could then result in the S.E.E. effect or "Reduced Charge Detonation". Let's say one is interested in a safe approach would starting from primer-only handloads then switching to powders "with a known MINIMUM! load" be a better strategy ?

I am still a newcomer to hand- & reloading. So I would appreciate any hints on how to avoid the S.E.E. effect, or an explanation what exactly causes the SEE effect (like one guy standing by while another had the rifle exploding in his face...saying: SEE that's what I meant ! Now you see (and propbably feel) exactly what I talked about as it is quite hard to get any info on military powders / cartridge loads and eventual minimum loads/specs to avoid S.E.E.

Any hints on how a "safe" approch to reduced standard charges with military rifle powder (reduced 7.62 x 39) mil. charges COULD work without "turning ones world into a world of hurt" would be greatly appreciated from my physical background there seems to be a "safe" region in rifle powders (where reduction /uneven loading of cartiges) is still safe....

Whereas being under this barrier (result S:E.E.) or being over the barrier (result excessive pressure buildup-or super-hot load) may blow the rifle apart the question is now: is a militairy rifle powder charge (above the S.E.E. barrier) still able to produce a low enough velocity (to be sub-sonic) and in ballpark figures: where does the SEE barrier in a powder exist (at below 0.5 of standard charge) and how to find this barrier without killing the shooter ?

Thank you & best regards, C. M.

answer.GIF (573 bytes)  I have written a very probable explanation re "birth of S.E.E." in Finnish, based on all the available material, since studies of Frenchman PAUL VIEILLE, who knew already this effect in 1880s, when he was developing the first stable and practical smokeless rifle powder. Length of this explanating "essay" was more than twenty pages...

I have not too much knowledge re modern rifle powders, since I am an Odious Persona Non Grata among the powder manufacturers, Here, There, and Everywhere, because of my "anarchistic interest" in so-called Economy Handloads of rifle cartridges. So I cannot tell, where is the barrier, or limit of "danger zone", when the charge of some rifle powder is "stepped down". One of my friends designed once upon a time a subsonic (or actually transsonic) 7.62 x 39 mm handload with a 200 grains Lapua FMJ BT bullets, designed especially for Finnish assault rifle and 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant cartridges. Powder used was Hodgdon H322 and the charge was 14 grains; able to give complete autoloading cycle in his Valmet M 62 assault rifle.

But, alas, production of those bullets is nowadays discontinued. My own policy is to load Economy Handloads with handgun or shotshell powders or blank cartridge powders, which are as easy-to-ignite as possible and very quickly/cleanly burning propellants, behind the standard weight (8 grams/ 123 grains for 7.62 x 39 mm) or just slightly heavier (150 grains for 7.62 x 39 mm) projectiles. My "TOP TEN" list of available powders is as follows: 1. NORMA R1 (maybe the very best one ?), 2. HODGDON CLAYS (a.k.a. Australian ADI AS-30N), 3. VIHTAVUORI N 310, 4. ALLIANT BULLSEYE, 5. SCOT's SOLO 1000, 6. ACCURATE ARMS No.2, 7. ALLIANT RED DOT, 8. VIHTAVUORI N 320, 9. SCOT's ROYAL SCOT, 10. HODGDON HP-38.

There are, of course, many other propellants good for "Suputin Loads". Many well-known powders like Russian SOKOL, Finnish blank cartridge powder N 305 or Swedish NORMA blank cartridge powder are still existing but unavailable for handloaders in Finland or Western countries. There were some discontinued powders like all kinds of Bulk Shotgun powder or "dust" Bullseye (the perforating vaste of LAFLIN & RAND's flaked "INFALLIBLE" shotgun powder) good for reduced charge rifle loads, including "suputin cartridges". (This "novelty word" is not Finnish but Esthonian: Suputin = "the whisperer" = firearms silencer/ suppressor/ sound moderator. Pronounced as: "soopooteen".

Suputin load = a powder charge developing a TRULY subsonic projectile velocity; no more than 300 meters per second or ca. 1000 fps. Higher velocity is trans-sonic or supersonic. Suputin loads generates usually very low shooting noise even without the suppressor or silencer. (Shooting of supersonic projectile is noisy - despite of existing suppressor). All the succesful cartridges, designed for silenced or suppressed rifles - handloads or factory-loaded ones - are stoked with blank cartridge powder or some handgun/shotshell powder..!! NEVER with rifle powders, owing smooth, dense, deterrent-coated kernels. (Previously mentioned exception, loaded with H322, was topped with a non-standard, extra-heavy 200-grainer bullet. Powder charge fills almost entirely the available powder space).

Rifle powders are hard or almost impossible to ignite (because of deterrent coating), if the "loading density" of them is too low: If the powder space of a cartridge is half-full, 1/3-full or 25 % full. In one well-known instance the powder space of a .243 Winchester case was 85 % full of very slow-burning NORMA MRP powder but topped with 80 grains bullet. S.E. Effect wrecked a strong Universal Receiver and broke the Pietzo-electric Transducer (able to stand ten thousands atmospheres of peak pressure !). Test was repeated with another Universal Receiver and pressure test-barrel: Again "KA-BOOM !" Universal Receiver was ruined and the Transducer broken once again.

It was a rare event, when S.E.E. was REproduced purposely. It happened in West-Germany in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Whole story is told on a book: "Handbuch für den Wiederlader" by Dr. K.D. MEYER. This load of NORMA MRP was and is completely safe, if it is topped with 90 gr or 100 grains bullet. The pressure reading 10 000 atmospheres is just a tip of an iceberg: PAUL VIEILLE (a French inventor of smokeless single-base powder) knew about 110 years ago that the "wave pressure peak" of detonating smokeless powder may reach ca. 100 000 atmospheres. I know two instances (both in Finland) when a charge THREE (3) grains of shotshell powder behind a jacketed bullet (8 grams) was able to wreck a receiver of .308 Winchester rifle.

Another "heroic Kamikaze handloader" almost lost his eyesight by hits of case head fragments. Charge was also 3 grains of shotgun powder behind a jacketed bullet: One fifth from the safe maximum charge - and mere half from the PUBLISHED DEFINITELY MINIMUM LOAD of powder N 320.! Three grains charges of N 320 are completely safe in .308 Winchester with LUBRICATED cast lead bullets LEE 311-93-1R (I've shot hundreds of them), but behind DRY (unlubricated) jacketed bullets, weighing 123 grains or 170 grains - ush ! - use of so small charges is courting The Reaper. Known minimum charge for 123 gr FMJ bullet is seven (7) grains of powder and for 170 gr FMJ BT bullet it is nine (9) grains of powder VihtaVuori N 320.

Recommended is also lubrication of the bullet - or the bore: Dipping the bullet point of a cartridge (visible from the case mouth) into Vaseline (mineral jelly) or viscous lubricating oil will reduce the variation of bullet velocities shot-after-shot. (Our test-shooter dips bullets into the melted neat's fat. Almost any fatty substance, synthetic or natural, is better than nothing for lubrication of jacketed bullets). Another trick is to puff Molybdenium Bi-Sulphide aerosol mist into the rifle bore before shooting and after every second or third shot, and let most of the solvent to vaporize away before shooting. Some fellows shoot even unlubed cast lead-alloy bullets through the "Dri-Slided" bore, without notable leading.

What is the actual mechanism of a Secondary Explosion Effect ? I prefer the terms: "incomplete misfire" or "short hangfire". Usual hangfires, lasting .1 second to several seconds, are signs of IMMINENT danger. Something is wrong: Primers may be faulty (handled with oily fingers or seated too deeply. A crushed priming pellet is unable to give enough "spark"). Combination of projectile weight, powder charge AND burning rate of the powder may be incorrect, courting incomplete ignition. Strike of the firing pin may be simply too short or weak.

In the events of S.E.E. the hangfire has lasted less than 1/10 second. Normal burning of the smokeless powder is "deflagration" or "explosive burning" of the solid powder kernels, like burning of firewoods in the stove. Incomplete ignition may cause a temporary deflagration but then just an extinguishment of the charge - if the Lady Luck is favorable. If she is in the bad mood, there is a very short smouldering phase between ignition and Secondary Explosion. The powder charge decomposites to the gasses: Cellulose (and clycerol of double-based powders) are hydro-carbons. They yield mixture of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and the molecular hydrogen, but hydrogen "in the nascent state" (or actually "in the EMANCIPATED state") may also be, at least partially, a PLASM, or gaseous composition of single atoms H; and not yet the usual molecular gas, or composition of molecules H2.

Unbound hydrogen plasm is VERY reactive stuff, searching for the oxygen for mating. That oxygen is plentily available from free nitrogen dioxide gas NO2, which starts it's decomposition. Oxygen, free from NO2 bond, is also a plasm of two independent atoms O; not the usual oxygen gas (mixture of the oxygen molecules O2). Free oxygen radicals are also very reactive, just like the free hydrogen radicals (unbound atoms). Oxygen radicals are also "horny", searching for either hydrogen or carbon to become a mating partner for the love-affair. And there are hydrogen radicals, gaseous carbon (in the carbon monoxide) and even the free carbon available for love-making.
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The "Machina Infernalis" is now loaded.! Trigger pull of that "Hell-uv-a Bomb" is presumably a Diesel Effect. A bullet, lodged into the bore, prevents the increasement of available volume. Smouldering of the powder charge generates mixture of combustible and oxydating gasses - plus the heat into the closed space between a projectile and the case head. Increased pressure starts the sudden chemical exotermic reaction, just like the compression of air-fuel mixture is ignited in the cylinder of a Diesel engine (or "knocking" Otto-engine). Hydrogen radicals join together to make molecules and they steal free oxygen radicals from nitrogen dioxide. Product of this explosion is H2O; the water steam. Another oxygen atom, emancipated from the nitrogen, makes a compound with carbon monoxide, also by a sudden "high explosion". Product is the carbon dioxide; CO2.

There are still free oxygen radicals left, but also fine carbon dust from decomposed hydro-carbon. Oxygen and carbon yields either carbon monoxide or dioxide, depending on the percetage of free oxygen radicals. Nitrogen is now alone; emancipated. It is a "light" gas, and easily expanding when heated. It makes the "brisance"; a shattering effect of high explosives. Another light gas is carbon monoxide. "Dense" gasses are carbon dioxide and water steam. About the same reactions happens when one pulls the trigger and starts the normal "explosive burning" or "deflagration" of the powder charge... BUT ! The solid powder kernels must first generate the gasses by decomposition, which is usually a well-controlled process; just like burning of firewood in the stove.

Before the Secondary Explosion, the generation of gasses is aconsiderably slower process than a normal yielding of the gas mixture for immediate burning or re-composition to yield nitrogen, water steam and carbon oxides (mono and di). Some fellows, actually experienced the S.E.E. (and survived), have told: "I could hear first some kind of SNAP and then BOOM !" (In English is onomatopoeic utterance of S.E.E. as: "KA-BOOM !" Again: Two sounds).

But why this horrible disaster with 3 grains charge of powder in a strong .308 Winchester rifle ? This "homeopatic" load is, when it burns by normal deflargration, unable to propel even a 100 grainer half-jacketed Speer "Plinker" bullet through the rifle bore (unless bullet or bore is lubricated). How it is able to wreck the receiver of a rifle ? Or squeeze the case head through narrow extractor and ejector slots towards the face of shooter as the almost dust-sized splinters ?

Because the mixture of flammable and oxidating gasses is already in GASEOUS form of existence, COMPRESSED and PRE-HEATED until the blazing-up temperature. Powder burns like firewood. Gas mixture burns like mixture of fuel vapor and air in the cylinder of internal-combustion Otto engine - when the fuel has too low Octane Value for the compression ratio of that engine, and the fuel-air mixture is blazed by a compression (whole charge at a time); not from the spark of a plug. In Finnish this phenomenon is called as "nakutus", the knocking.

Because of the compressed gaseous existence of decomposited powder and at least partial presence of reactive elements, oxygen and hydrogen, this gas mixture in the bore and chamber of firearms, in the very moment of a Secondary Explosion, is the very most efficient imaginable chemical explosive. Just the nuclear or thermo-nuclear chain-reaction is more powerful.

All the known solid or even liquid explosives are "milds", if compared with a "gun-smoke", generated between the ignition and Secondary Explosion, able to cause wave pressures ca. 12 times as high as is the detonation pressure of T.N.T. Fortunately, those highest wave pressures have short duration and the energy of pressure peak is too low to hurl the fragments of broken receivers and barrels very far. They falls down like fragments of a glass tube or bottle struck with a light hammer on the end or mouth. (Steel of the rifle parts was sometimes too brittle. ?! Those experiences were similar when noted by Paul Vieille in 1880s and JULIAN C. HATCHER's notes on records re accidents, caused by faulty barrels and receiver heat-treatment of .30-06 Springfield M/1903 rifles in 1917).

I presume, you have not a risk of S.E.E. because of a rather small case volume and length of 7.62 x 39 mm GeCo/ Yelisarov & Syemin cartridge. With a standard bullet, weighing 8 grams or ca. 123 grains you may try 1/4 gram or 4.0 grains of ANY "Top Ten" powder, whatever available, without a risk of S.E.E. or too high pressure. Lubrication of bullets is beneficial. Somebody may think lubing of jacketed bullets as a ridiculous precaution. Let the oil out from the engine of his/her car. When it stops, you can tell that any copper alloy bearing needs some kind of lubricant between bearing alloy and steel surfaces: "Dry, unlubricated, bearing contact may often cause variable velocities... for projectiles... and for the motor cars".

For the "tyro" handloader is use of standard weight (123 gr) bullet and 4 grains of quickly-burning powder a safe combination for 7.62 x 39 mm. VihtaVuori's N 310 shall give ca. 950 feet per second bullet velocity. This is the most proven "Suputin Load" in Finland: Comparatively silent even without a silencer and accurate too in many assault or "Sporter" rifles. Standard bullet is Lapua S405, but one private manufacturer yields also cast lead alloy bullets with cas checks for 7.62 x 39 mm cartridges.

This load is unable to product an autoloading cycle, but especially those shooters with silenced rifles enjoys really noiseless shooting with no other signature than snap of a hammer and another snap when the bullet hits the target. Finnish Sako M92S rifle has also an "ON/OFF" gas port valve for disconnection of autoloading, when the rifle is used with a suppressor/silencer mounted. Production of this nice rifle is - of course - discontinued in Finland.

Please, DO NOT play with reduced charges of RIFLE powder; especially the powder from factory-loaded cartridges ! It's characteristics are UNKNOWN and they may VARY, depending on production lot of cartridges. The only "surplus powder" from salvaged 7.62 x 39 mm cartridges, I dare to use for handloading, is VihtaVuori N 305, a "non-canister propellant", from the Finnish blank cartridges with blue hollow wooden bullets. That term "non-canister" means: a powder unavailable for handloading.

1202 MM; Pete

Still more about Aguila .22 SSS

Hi again Pete! Just a couple of short additions to the info on the Aguila SSS ammo. You mentioned in your reply that the 22 Short case can't hold enough powder to to shoot a 60gr projectile. The Mexicans changed the composition of their RF powder to include an addition of Sulphur to the nitrocellulose-base powder, don't know how much, but they use it in most of their RF ammo, for the added punch. It certainly does the job in their Hyper-velocity 22LR round with a 30gr HPcopper-plated bullet = 1750 fps! Most definetely not a subsonic! By the way, thanks for the tip on Vaseline in the HP cavity. It works. Oh My! I turned a brick into a cloud of dust.

Regarding Remington's role in the Aguila company, under Mexican law, no foreign company or individual may own a majority of a company. My guess is: Remington uses the Mexicans for their research and to get around "politically incorrect" manufacture of rounds like the SSS and the Hyper-vel in this country, given the ignorance/paranoia of the hoplophobic neurotics in the current administration.

Oh yes, tell the Lapua folks that their plan to make their ammo non-functional in self-loaders doesn't work. I've shot their 48gr subsonic loads through my Ruger 10-22 without any difficulty at all. (Blue bullets ! What are these things coated with anyway ?)...Very nice for silhouette shooting.


answer.GIF (573 bytes)  and comments: Many thanks for additional information re Mexican powder. I have met some Spanish 9 mm Luger cartridges; might be loaded by Toledo Arsenal (if not Sevilla) with the powder containing presumably "Liver of Sulphur" (potassium poly-sulphide) as a stabilizing material. Cartridges were loaded in early 1950s but they were still shootable in mid-1980s. Load of them was rather mild, good for pistols like German P-08 or Finnish Lahti L-35 with "Achillean heels" in their construction. Veteran shooters on the range sniffed at the gun smoke of Spanish cartridges and recalled days of .22 LR "PALMA" ammo, also puffing the smoke with a smell of rotten eggs: "Tulee ihan nuoruus mieleen..!" (= "I can remember my early life..!").

Powder of Palma cartridges in 1920s or 30s might be some kind of LESMOK(E); the blackpowder with ca. 10 % by weight of added nitrocellulose pulp (like nitrated paper fibers ) mixed in the gunpowder mass before incorporation in the roller mill, compression and crumbling to the kernels. Added nitrocellulose made the solid powder fouling in the bore easier to remove by brushing after shooting of 20 or 40 shots. Fouling of Palma cartridges was black and also smelling like rotten eggs. Chemically speaking, it was a mixture of carbon dust and potassium poly-sulphide/carbonate.

I have not shot .22 SSS cartridges, and so I'm unable to tell, whether the powder is spiced with sulphur or some sulphide. Those cartridges, donated to me by Joulupukki (Santa Claus in Finnish) were soon distributed to test-shooters and our telegraph operator, since I have no legal right to possess live cartridges at all..! (Funny situation ?! Explanation: Finland and Cuba are "living museums of the Stalinism" without many Human Rights for dissidents, waiting for the broke-out of 4th Independence War, similar to the first one in 1918. Or according to the old song: "Kuularuiskut kun pian laulavat/ ra-ta-tat-tat-taa/ niin on Suomi taas vapaa/ valkoinen maa).

As far as I know, the sulphur or alcalic sulphides are unable to enhance the Calorimetric Energy of smokeless powder but the added pure sulphur may render the powder to ignite more easily and to burn completely. If the powder gas has somewhat acrid smell of sulphuric dioxide, the added material is pure sulphur. It is necessary to clean bore of the rifle or handgun carefully after the shooting session, since the sulphuric dioxide + water (air humidity) may yield the sulphuric acid, by the presence of lead dust (= residue of the exploded priming pellet), which acts as a catalytic material... But fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy:

I presume that the powder contains also enough potassium nitrate as an oxidating material to neutralize sulphuric dioxide. "Depleted" potassium nitrate + carbon dioxide = potassium carbonate; potash (or "pearl-ash" according to the arcaic nomenclature of chemistry). It is a basic compound, and when combined with the sulphuric dioxide, it yields the potassium sulphide, which smells like rotten eggs. It is harmless to the bores.

I told your "hellow" to one friend in LAPUA PLANT. He knew already that well-designed autoloaders are able to feed heavy bulleted .22 LRs. (He has also RUGER 10/22 in his private possession). However, not all autoloaders are well-designed, but needs "honing & stoning" of feed lips. That friend wonders your saying: "blue bullets". The bullet lube on 48 gr subsonic projectiles is nowadays synthetic, not beeswax & tallow "tacky lubricant", but it is colorless. Bullets looks like bright lead, without any code color.

Earlier lots of these cartridges had really yellowish brown coating on bullets (because of old tacky lube) but, I suppose, suggestions of the silhouette shooters is heard in Lapua Plant. 48 gr bullet is a very good silhouette knocker, and since crowds of silhouette shooters use autoloading guns, is reliability of the feed also re-considered. I think, the next step is electroplating of bullets. Know-how of copper plating is not unknown in Finland. At least one friend in Lapua Plant is interested in the technology of electroplating.

An "Old Specialist", who turns down all the "Not Invented Here" suggestions or proposals, addressed to Lapua Plant, is nearing his retire age. So; we have hope...

P.S. Our test-shooters told that there is no acrid or rotten eggs stink in the powder gas or residue of .22 SSS. Sulphur or sulphide is probably added after production of that lot of cartridges we got for our test-shootings. If the powder kernels contains yellow particles, looking like sulphur but are not actually sulphur, it is possible that they are particles of "active stabilizing stuff", Di-Nitro-Toluene..!! Russians use DNT in their powder designed for 5.45 x 40 assault rifle cartridges. DNT is able to enhance "caloric energy" of powder, without calling forth the excessive pressure.

Yellow specks in the Russian powder were also thought to be sulphur in early 1980s, when the very first AK-74 cartridges were captured in Afghanistan. Analysis told, however, that the specks were of DNT. If nitrated further, this stuff is known as TNT. Not very risky spice of powder, since original British Rifle Cordite held 58 % of nitro-clycerol and Nipolite powder, of cartridges loaded during WW II for Luftwaffe's aircraft weapons, contained 65 % of Penta-Erythrite-Tetra-Nitrate (PETN).

Why the Nipolite powder (supposed to be an ideal propellant for .22 LR cartridges) is not produced since WW II; everywhere ? Because: "It is a Nazi invention..!!!" But so was also the "beetle" Volkswagen..! That powder of Aguila cartridges is perhaps a VERY special propellant.

01022000; Pete

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