Case Strength Differences

It usually surprises me how fundamentally ignorant the shooting public is. Most people never really understand why or how guns go bang. They don’t understand what a case does, how it works, or really anything else beyond the operation of the firearm, and even that people get wrong.

Here is a demonstration of the difference between a 30-30 case and 375 Win. These cases are both based off the 38-55 case from the 19th century. In fact, a 375 case looks so similar to a 38-55 that it is almost impossible to tell them apart visually, but what is inside may be different.

The 38-55 was designed to work at black powder pressures, and the brass was thin. Both 30-30 (1895) and 375 Win (1978) are modern cases, designed in the era of smokeless propellant and were never factory loaded with black powder. The 30-30 maximum operation pressure is 42,000 PSI and the 375 Win is 50,000 PSI. That extra pressure in the 375 Win is held back by extra brass in the case head and web area. Modern 38-55 Brass (this is from Starline) is about as thick as 30-30. And it is STRONG brass. Much harder to cut than the Winchester made brass (one of the advantages of using hand tools).

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From left to right: 375 Winchester (W-W), 30-30 WCF (W-W), and 38-55 WCF (Starline)

Due to the present-day scarcity of 375 brass many folks are using trimmed down 38-55 or 30-30 brass that has been necked up. If you are doing these things adjust your power levels downward using starting loads of 375 Winchester as a max or using 38-55 Data! The truth is that 38-55 has plenty of power and a flat enough trajectory for deer hunting east of the Mississippi. And the lighter loads will be more pleasant to shoot and everything will last longer. 375 Win, to my thinking, was doomed by the fact that it was too powerful. I really think that if the folks at Winchester in the late 70s had capped the 375 Win to 45,000 PSI they could have used the same brass coins and most of the same dies they used to make 30-30. And there would have been no need to strengthen the actions of popular 30-30 Lever-actions like the Marlin 336 and Winchester 94. It would have just been a straight forward different chamber offering. Nowadays the 375 Winchester is mainly enjoyed by Contender shooters. It is an excellent cartridge for a Contender offering ample power and is quite efficient in shorter barrels. Since Contenders have no magazine, the bullet can be seated way out and pointy bullets may be used.

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Frost Seeding

It’s getting time to Frost Seed, and if you haven’t bought them yet, do so now.

Some companies that sell quality forage seed and have a distributor network in the Midwest:

Byron Seeds, LLC

Cisco Farm Seed

Ampac Seed Company

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Posted in Dairy Cattle, Gardening, Grass, Pasture Farming, Rotational Grazing, Weather | 2 Comments

Bad ideas, laborious solutions

Some people just cannot leave well enough alone. Despite the T/C Contender/G2 having one of the most secure rear sight attachments of any handgun, some folks think it ISN’T STRONG ENOUGH. So they do things like silver solder on the rear sight base. Great. Now the rear sight is permanently attached to the barrel. No way to mount a scope base. No way to replace the rear sight. A nice touch was filling one of the screw holes with silver solder so I had to re-tap the hole!

Heating this was a torch proved insufficient to melt the solder, which means a high-temp solder was used. Such high-temp shoulders have no business being used near the chamber this way since it can affect heat treatment of the steel, cause warping, weakening of spring, etc. So I manually removed the sight base, something that is tedious, ticklish, and annoying.

First the rear sight base was ground off with a belt sander, then a bastard file was used to bring it close to the barrel contour. Finally, a finer file was used, sometimes in a draw instead of a push fashion, to bring it down to the solder, thus removing all the steel. Putting some electricians tape around the area can help prevent errant file strokes from contacting unwanted blued steel.


The nest step was to carefully file off the solder and go into the barrel steel just a wee bit with a very fine file and then to draw hone with small stones the bare steel. Finally it was wire wheeled with a drill press and re-blued. Thus, the cylindrical shape was maintained so other sights or scope bases would fit nicely and securely.


With the new sight installed you wouldn’t even know all the trouble that went into it.

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Some major flooding

So the unusually cold and early winter gave way to an unusually warm and wet premature Spring. February was very warm, and about every river reached flood stage were I live.

Here is a picture of the flooded Great Miami River.


And here is a local nursery along its banks that was flooded.


I hope their trees survived.

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When in Doubt, Inspect

This is just a quick cautionary note. I inherited an old Craftsman belt sander from my father. I think the last time he used it was when I was a child, so it has been decades since it has ran. Anyway, at some point he must have damaged the power cord, and thought that a few quick wraps with electric tape would be a sufficient fix. Not knowing what happened, I assumed it was just a nick in the outer insulation that he reinforced.

I used the belt sander for a while and it worked fine, but sometimes it would just stop running for some reason. One time the circuit breaker tripped. I knew something was up with the thing.

I opened up the tool and nothing was amiss inside, so I started examining the trigger, a frequent cause of such problems in power tools of this age. Nothing wrong there. Then I started to just look at the power cord and decided to unwrap the electric tape. This is what I found:

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That enormous gash was just given a quick wrap with tape, and the inner insulation was compromised on BOTH wires, almost surely causing short circuits! I’m glad, given the cellulose cushioning, that it didn’t start a fire.

Anyway, this was pretty easy to fix correctly. Just cut a length of adequate extension cord (I used the orange indoor/outdoor kind of 14 gauge, plenty for a 7 AMP tool) at the female end and splice it into the tool’s wiring (I even went through the trouble of grounding the tool by screwing the ground wire to the metal frame). I used heat-shrink butt-splice connectors rated for copper (it turns out that the tools wiring was thankfully copper and not aluminum). This should be a durable fix. Now we’ll see how long it will last until something else breaks.

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Slugging a barrel

Slugging a barrel is the process of pushing a soft, lead round ball through rifled barrel to determine the precise internal dimensions. Usually modern firearms hold very tight barrel tolerances. I suspect that even the least expensive barrels made today are vastly better than the most expensive barrels of the past. Still, some very good barrels were made in the past, and most barrels can be improved. But one must start somewhere, and if you have an old barrel that isn’t shooting to your liking, slug it! This is usually the first step in any attempt to improve inherent accuracy in a firearm.


The round ball tells all! 

Accuracy problems are often related to barrel dimensions which are oversized, thus the bullet leaks gas around the sides or doesn’t engrave on the rifling well. Another common problem is that the dimensions slightly loosen from breech towards the muzzle, which is almost as bad, since the bullet will be swaged down to the narrow dimension near the breech and then leak gas as it proceeds towards the muzzle. In fact, in most firearms with a ¬†tapered barrel (and they taper narrower towards the muzzle) this occurs to some degree, and this is why cylindrical or “bull” barrels are often reputed to be more accurate (though their outer profile has little to do with the matter). When the metal is removed from the outside the inside of the barrel “springs” outward ever so slightly. With cylindrical barrels metal is not usually removed from the outside, and if it is, it is removed equally along the length of the barrel, so the “springing” never happens.

Now, the particular barrel I am concerned with is an older Thomson Center 32-20 barrel, or really a 30-20 barrel, since the barrel is thirty caliber (.300 bore, .308 groove) not 32 caliber (.306-.308 bore, .312-314 groove). I know this because I slugged it, and the slugging yielded other useful information.

How do you slug a barrel? First you will need a rigid cleaning rod longer than the barrel. You will need a soft lead round ball, too. For thirty caliber barrels this is easy to get. Cut open a shot-shell loaded with 0 (around 32 caliber) or preferably 00 (around 33 caliber) buckshot. Fortunately for me I own a 32 caliber roundball mold that can be used to make buckshot, but I also use it to make low-powered ammunition for 30 caliber rifles and handguns. Now lubricate the round ball and the barrel with some kind of high film strength lubricant. Over the years I’ve used Canola oil, WD-40, and motor oil, but I now think the best by far is Hornady One-Shot First Firing lubricant. It is very expensive, but it is made to specifically condition the bore of a firearms, and it results in less friction BY FAR compared to any other lubricant I’ve used. You will also need a micrometer or dial caliper to measure the slug.

Now what you do is get the lubricant on the inside of the barrel and on the round ball, then you drop it into the chamber. Usually you will want to put the barrel muzzle down on a piece of softwood. Then put the cleaning rod (with a flat faced jag on it or NO jag) against the rear of the bullet. I think no jag is best because the circular nature of the end of a rod will automatically center it on a round ball. For a thirty caliber barrel a 22 caliber rod will work. Now push or gently rap on the rod and drive that round ball down the barrel carefully feeling if you get more or less resistance as you go. The best situation is even resistance throughout the length of the barrel, this means the barrel is the same dimension breech to muzzle. But most barrels will get easier to push as you go which means they are slightly “belled,” like my T/C barrel. Anyway, as the round ball nears the muzzle take care to catch the round ball and not let it drop out on the floor. Now measure it. The shiny, deep parts will indicate the BORE dimension, and the darker shallower parts will indicate the GROOVE dimension, which is the more important to know of the two, since it determines what bullet diameter to use (bullet diameter should be equal to or slightly more than GROOVE dimension, so for a .308 bore, you want to use .308/.309 diameter bullets, or with very soft lead bullets, perhaps .309 to .312).


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Snow is gone

We had an unseasonably warm weekend and accomplished much. Discovered a few things, too. It’s important to get a few of these during the winter to catch up and fix problems that have accumulated.


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