Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snowy Sunday Nuthin' Big Goin' On...

I woke up this morning around 5AM and for the life of me couldn't get back to sleep. So instead of counting sheep I counted up all the reloading stuff I need to buy for the Spring .50 BMG initiative, where Michael Attempt To Get Beyond The ".50 Plinker" status. I've been lucky enough to put a lot of Big 50 rounds downrange from a bunch of different guns, including a few rounds through my own Barrett Model 99 single shot. I have a Hornady .50 BMG reloading set-up, and it works fine as long as it's a few rounds (think "power case trimmer!").

The .50 is irritating to reload because it's not like a "regular" commercial cartridge...specs are all over the place, since the cartridge was designed for the Ma Deuce with its adjustable headspace and blunt trauma style of operation. This is especially an issue with primer's hard to screw up repriming a commercial cartridge, unless you put the primer in upside down. Not so with a can seat 'em too deep, or over-crush them or, in general, screw up.

So I'm looking at a dedicated primer seater like the M2 Precision. At $300. Or the Hornady primer depth gauge, at a liitle less painful $117. I'd like little more precision in seating the bullet as well, so add another $238 for a CH-4D in-line seating die. And let's just flat out deal with this case trimmer nightmare, which means at the top end some sort of power tool like a Gracey or the painfully expensive Giraud, or more sanely a hand-cranked Forster, which I've used before on other cartridges, or a K&M, which comes highly recommended.

One thing I can unequivocally say for the .50 makes every other shooting sport cheap by comparison!


Anonymous said...

Please eliminate my ignorance. The drawing you posted shows the primer pocket depth as .212 inches.

What makes seating the primer on the
.50 so difficult? Are primers from different manufacturers different in size?

Michael Bane said...

That's a "representative" case diagram. There isn't a SAAMI spec for .50 at this point and they've been making .50 BMG cases since roughly WW1. Because the Big Deuce didn't care one way or the other — long firing pin & adjustable headspace — different lots of ammo from different manufacturers, especially in different countries, might be made to a slightly different dimension. A slightly deeper primer pocket wouldn't matter one bit to a machinegun, but might be an issue to a bolt action rifle, especially a match grade gun.

Current brass isn't a problem, but "plinkin' brass can be...


nj_larry said...

I am sure the local plumbing supply house has a rotary pipe cutter that you could re-task to trimming those cases ! Ouch !!

Anonymous said...

My ignorance has been diminished.

No SAAMI spec. That pretty much explains it all.

Thanks for the explanation.

Anonymous said...

Go to Dillon Precision's Facebook page. You will see a pic of the upcoming 50BMG case trimmer, and progressive 50BMG loader. The primer seater is up on the toolhead, and I believe primer seating depth is mechanically adjustable, and includes seating punches for both flat and cupped primers.Hope to be ready to ship in 45-60 days, already working on the manual.

Anonymous said...

I am jealous, your reloading.

I guess I should set my alarm to five.

Frank W. James said...

Michael: Just to pick nits, but I don't think .50 cal shooting is MORE EXPENSIVE than shooting belt-feds....extensively!

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

Possum Hollow makes a neat cutter that they call the Kwick Trimmer. You can buy a hex shanked adapter for it, so you can chuck the whole thing into a drill or a drill press.

Unfortunately they do not make one for the .50 BMG yet.

If you want to see one in action, go to YouTube and type in "wolverineatwork" in the search window.

For normal brass like .223 or .308, it goes pretty quickly.

Anonymous said...

I've had both a Gracy and a Giraud case trimmer. The Gracy would not trim 10 cases in as many minutes as the motor did not have sufficient torque. I can now do 10 cases a minute or more on my Giraud. He uses a much higher power motor. The primer pocket depth is a tricky issue since CCI changed the way they make primers. The new arsenal primers need a deeper pocket to seat properly. I have several friends who cut the pocket depth to .220 or more just to keep the arsenal primers from sticking out of the pocket when bottomed out. I sure miss the old CCI #35 primers.