Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 2 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 3 Bore size versus performance

This report covers:

  • Mix and apply the priming compound
  • What do you need?
  • Acetone
  • Priming powders
  • Mix the powders
  • Think small
  • Be safe!
  • Prime the cases
  • The purpose of the acetone
  • How many cartridges?
  • What I did
  • Summary

Okay guys — today is THE DAY! This is the day when all the commenting on whether or not reloading rimfire cartridges is worth it, whether it’s possible, whether it is safe and whether I can actually do it ends. No more talk. Time to do! As Jedi Master Yoda taught us, there is no try.

Mix and apply the priming compound

Today I will mix a batch of priming powder and put it into the rims of the .22 long rifle cartridges that I cleaned in Part 2. I added Part 3, Bore size versus performance, because it bears directly on what I’m doing, though it will take me some time to make the case for that.

What do you need?

I showed you both the tools for reloading the cartridge cases and the priming powders in Part 1 of this report. Now I’m going to mix those 4 powders and prime my cases. I’ll also show you some other things that now come into play

Acetone

Once the priming powder is dumped into each case, a drop of either acetone or rubbing alcohol is dropped in on top of it. That softens the mixture and allows you to pack it into the rim of the case manually. I used acetone, because it evaporates faster. In the kit of reloading tools there is a small glass bottle with a glass eye dropper to use with the acetone.  My first job was to fill that bottle.

Acetone
Put the acetone into the glass bottle to use as you prime the cases.

Priming powders

The PrimeAll kit of priming powders comes with four bags of different powders. They are labeled, though you aren’t told what they are. There are the components for approximately 2,000 cartridges in this 20-dollar batch of powders.

four powders
The four powders that make up the priming compound.

Mix the powders

In both the kit of reloading tools and also the PrimaAll powders there is a powder measure with two different scoops. One side is large and marked L for large and the other side is S for small. 

The instructions for mixing the powders say to mix them in a plastic container and to avoid metal. But in the reloading tools kit the instructions say you can also use a glass container to mix the powders. I found a shot glass perfect for the job!

shot glass
There is my shot glass for mixing the powders, plus the white powder scoop at the lower right. The metal rod above the powder scoop is the rim packing tool. You already saw it when I cleaned the case rims in Part 2, but today I’ll use the smaller end to pack priming mixture into the rims.

Think small

The powder measure is wee-teeny, which is the scientific term for itty-bitty. It is SMALL! You scoop one full large scoop of the blackish powder in bag L and two large scoops from bag L2. Then scoop one small scoop from bag s and one scoop from bag S. All the scoops go into the shot glass. When I say fill the scoops I mean level with their tops.

The powder in Bag L2 has clumps in it and you must knead it to get them out before you scoop that powder out. There will still be small clumps after that powder is put into the shot glass, and you’ll deal with them as you mix the powders.

powder in glass
The first large scoop of powder L has been dropped into the shot glass.

Now, pardon me for not showing you each powder as it was dropped into the shot glass. I was concentrating on doing everything right at the time, because these powders become much more sensitive when they are mixed. But I followed the instructions exactly as I described above — one full large scoop of powder L, two full large scoops of powder L2, and one full small scoop each of powders s and S. This is where I noticed the small clumps of powder L2.

Be safe!

I used the powder scoop as the mixing stick. You are mixing powders that explode when crushed. If you watch the short film from SharpShooter about mixing the powders, he takes a very small scoop of mixed powder and whacks it with a hammer to show what happens.

The object of mixing the powder is to get a uniform gray powder. It will have white specs in it. I held the mouth of the shot glass pointed away from my face as I mixed so if the powder should detonate, the blast would be away from my face. My glasses are a special safety glass that I paid extra for, and if yours aren’t, then wear either shop or shooting safety glasses while doing this.

Because the shot glass is clear I could see the powders as I mixed them and carefully crushed the small clumps of L2 powder. Finally, after several minutes of mixing I got a reasonably uniform gray powder mixture.

powder mixed
Here the four powders are almost completely mixed. There are still a couple small clumps, like the one the arrow points to, in the mix, but I will grind them out CAREFULLY as I finish. This is not a job for a mortar and pestle!

Prime the cases

Once the priming powder is ready it’s time to prime the cases. For that you need the small scoop and a tiny white funnel that fits inside a .22 long rifle case.

ready to prime
Now we have all the tools we need to prime the cases. There is the powder funnel, the acetone, the powder packer tool, the powder scoop and of course the cases.

funnel in
The funnel is in the cartridge case and ready for the priming powder to be dumped in.

powder dump
When the small scoop is a third filled with priming powder, it is dumped into the funnel.

The purpose of the acetone

The acetone makes the priming compound easier to spread and pack into the rim. It also activates the hardener in the priming powder mixture. The directions say to wait 5 minutes after priming each case but the film says that’s only for humid places. Where I am in Texas it is dry and the priming powder dried almost instantly, so there was no waiting. It took me about a minute to pour in the powder, drop one drop of acetone and use the packing tool to pack the powder into the rim. We will have to wait until I can shoot them to know whether I did it right.

acetone drop
A drop of acetone liquifies then immediately hardens the priming compound.

hardened priming compound
I scraped these hardened priming compound chunks from the inside wall of the first case. That’s the small powder scoop above, for scale. This is how I know that the acetone dries the priming compound almost immediately. After taking this picture I carefully put this compound back into the first case, where it will be exploded when that cartridge fires.

How many cartridges?

How many cartridges can be primed from one mixture of priming powder? I got 18 cases primed this first time around. I may have used too much priming powder in some of the first cases, but right now I don’t know that for sure.

I wouldn’t mix a second batch of priming powder before the first batch was used up. Remember, this is an explosive that goes off from percussion!

I also wouldn’t try to mix a partial batch. Those scoops are too small to allow for guesstimation beyond what I’ve already discussed.

Is it safe to store the mixed priming powder? I wouldn’t do it. The separate powders are the safest way to store this stuff. Plan your work from that. I have given you the count of cases that the first batch filled for me. If you want more, do the whole thing over again.

What I did

Like I said, I loaded 18 cases with the first batch of priming compound. But that wasn’t enough for my first test, so I mixed a second batch and loaded 10 more. In these I put about twice the priming compound, because I wanted to use it all up in the 30 empty cartridges I had prepared. I got a total of 28 — 18 from the first batch and 10 from the second. I didn’t want to throw any priming compound away!

But I will load the second batch of cases separately and chronograph them separately. I will also watch the reliability rate (cartridges that fire on the first strike, etc.). This will tell me a little more about how this all works. I may even load a couple cartridges with no powder and just a 25-grain bullet, in an attempt to make a CB cap. Ain’t this fun?

Summary

This was an interesting day. Of course I haven’t completely loaded the cartridges. I have to let the priming compound dry before I load the cartridges. Complete loading happens next time. Then we test. I am excited!

There are probably going to a great many tests as I learn this process and refine it. And remember, a .41 rimfire short and a .32 rimfire short cartridge are also coming. Oh, happy days!

60 thoughts on “Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 4

  1. B.B.,

    Much as I would like to experiment with this is becomes a non starter because acetone is a strictly controlled substance in my country. There is no pure acetone available on the market ever since it was noted, several years ago, to be used in the processing of methamphetamine.

    Siraniko

    PS Section How many cartridges? 2nd paragraph 2nd sentence: “Remember, this is an explosive that goes off from concussion (percussion might be a better word)!”


  2. BB
    Thanks. Good report today. There was some questions I had and you covered it all pretty good.

    Now I’m ready for the next report for loading the gun powder and the bullets.

    And I was going to ask about just a primer CB cap round. And here is a question though. I wonder if you could chamber one of the cartridges you just did in your gun and shoot it to see if it will go off before you go through the trouble of loading the gun powder and bullets. Kind of like a blank. And from the sound you might be able to tell how strong the primer load is.



      • BB
        I would go ahead and try it. And use your sound meter app.

        I would like to know how much difference in sound if it does or doesn’t have a bullet loaded in the case.

        Plus your going to have so much fun testing that you will be whipping up another batch of 28 I’m thinking.


  3. B.B.

    How do you store the opened bags of the various mixing compounds?
    I’m sure that you do not want moisture to get into them.
    If you properly mix all the contents in the bags, will you have any bags that are not completely used up?

    -Y


  4. BB,

    Very interesting. The 1/3 small cup per case sounds a bit subjective. I would venture to guess that if you wanted to be precise, you would weigh each charge on a powder scale?

    I would imagine the cases would be prone to tipping,.. especially with a funnel atop. Maybe you can come up with a jig to hold the cases in process? Like some U shaped slots that you could slide the case in and out of? The jig could bear some weight on the rim that way. Maybe your wood worker buddy could whip something up for you?

    Chris






          • Deck,

            While at one time I was capable of fine motor control, these days I seem to have developed a slight tremor while attempting to be very careful. Reloading 22 cal. is very interesting but I surely will need some kind of jig to secure a shell case. No artist hands these days!

            Dan



            • Dan

              Most of us develop familial tremor as we age. It varies I’m told from serious shaking to hardly any. I had it as a child in one hand and eventually changed writing hands. Teachers knew not to call on me to draw a turkey on the chalkboard around Thanksgiving. It never improves with age I think. There are ways to release a sear gently if one uses their imagination.

              Stay safe everybody.

              Deck


            • GrandpaDan,
              I’m in the same boat. I have a very strange tremor in my left hand that began when I was about 60 and still working. I am now 74 and it has gotten worse. The strange part is that I can hold my hand out and there is no tremor, but put a pencil in my hand (I’m left handed) and at times the tremor is so bad I can hardly write my name. I can still do some fine work when required when doing computer repair. It really only seems to be a handycap when I attempt to write. Filling these little .22 cases with powder would probably be difficult for me too.
              Geo



    • Yes I was thinking the same thing, having to judge when a tiny scoop is one third full introduces an unnecessary variable. I suppose they do this for priming different caliber casings, which would require filling the one scoop to different levels. An expedient method would be to make your own dedicated scoop for each size casing. You could take something like an old toothbrush or thin strip of wood, and drill just the right size diameter and depth of hole in the handle so that you could dip and collect your primer, screed it flush with a popsicle stick, and then dump it in the case. You would probably want to keep the scoop diameter fairly large to allow it to fill and dump properly and then just control the depth of it for the correct volume.


    • Chris,
      I thought the very same thing as I read 1/3 of the small cup. It’s such a tiny cup to begin with, it would seem to be difficult to judge the amount as 1/3 of the tiny cup. Tipping cases also came to my mind. Must be great minds think alike. 😉
      Geo


      • Geo,

        Perhaps? 😉 I for sure would do something to steady the cases.

        As for the prime,… a full scoop would seem easier (though maybe not required). But,… weighing would just add another step to what seems to be an already tedious process.

        Chris


        • I agree. I am thinking if time is money, these would be some very expensive reloaded cartridges. I can remember shooting .22s as a kid and we could buy .22 long rifles for $0.50 for a box of 50. We never shot shorts or longs, only long rifles.
          Geo


          • Geo,

            Yes,… but I think the whole point of this exercise is,… (that you CAN do it). Plus,… BB has noted that there is some good deals to be had on firearms that have obsolete/hard to find cartridges.

            Chris



  5. Siraniko ,

    While i was in Slovakia I encountered a similar problem sourcing powder for an experiment.
    i was able to make my own powder by scraping the powder off the side of a match box with a razor blade and mixing it with crushed match heads. it worked very well for my experiment.
    if you try this make sure you crush the match heads into a fine powder before mixing the 2 powders.
    in the image below it shows the powder on the side of the box im referring to .

    Ton


  6. BB, What would happen if you added a drop of glycerin to the mixture?Just curious.
    I think the purple one is potassium permaganate, oxidizer. Jeez, I could be wrong. Carefull out there.
    Rob



  7. B.B. and Esteemed Readership,

    Do be careful!

    Many of these chemicals are TOXIC; some are very TOXIC.
    Possession of some of these chemicals and materials by individuals in aggregate can result in arrest at a minimum if not in actually being successfully prosecuted. Both DEA (Methamphetamine production) and BATFE (manufacture of explosives) have rules (Laws) as well as in most countries, states, and local jurisdictions.

    You don’t want to lose your RIGHTS to your legal hobbies, possessions and other pursuits!

    shootski


  8. B.B.,
    These are very interesting reports on reloading a .22 rimfire cartridge. I had never heard of being able to do that until reading the blog. There’s always something new to learn here.
    Geo


  9. So I received the FWB Sport I ordered from the Champions place. It, in many ways, is similar to the one tested here. I first ran a ballistol patch through the barrel, that was clean on the second pass. I am glad I got it at the lower price, I would really be disappointed with the stock finish if I paid $800 for it. There are visible sanding scratches in the buttstock. There are no dings in the wood or metal OTOH.I do like the trigger as well, I haven’t touched it, nice and light, predictable as well. My initial shooting was disappointing, it didn’t really seem to like any of the tested pellets at 10 yds. I was shooting with the iron sights and for some reason decided to move out to 20 yds and keep trying. The pellets were hitting high and to the right consistently, so I decided to switch to the narrow rear slot, crank some correction in and keep trying. Apparently the sights really needed to be moved down as the groups shrank considerably. Much to my amazement I shot 5 AA 8.4gr 4.51 pellets into a group I could cover with a nickel at 20 yds, something that I have never done with iron sights on a springer or SSP ever. The rifle has the same twang mentioned in the review, I admit I am curious how it might respond to “tune-in-a-tube”. For now I want to shoot it for a while and look for a scope mount.



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