Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 7

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
Part 4 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 5 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 6 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges

This report covers:

  • Bullets
  • Ton to the rescue
  • Sheathe the mold handles
  • Change gloves
  • Hotter lead pot temp for soft lead bullets
  • Better bullets
  • 38-grain bullets
  • Flashing
  • 25-grain bullets
  • Summary

Now that we know how to get positive ignition with a reloaded rimfire cartridge, it’s time to reload some more and get to testing.  In Part 6 we learned that both the primer powder that I bought commercially from Sharpshooter and the powder I removed from toy caps were successful to prime .22 rimfire cartridges, when used according to the directions that came from Sharpshooter. It’s time to move on and load more cartridges to test.

Bullets

If you recall, I was disappointed by the bullets I cast the first time around. The little mold I got from Sharpshooter is all-aluminum and also too small. The aluminum handles heat up so hot I cannot hold them, so I was casting from a relatively cold bullet mold last time. That’s never good. It was 300 to 400 degrees, which is too hot to hold and too cold to cast well.

On top of that I used up all the barely acceptable bullets when I reloaded the 28 unsuccessful cartridges. So I had to cast more bullets and they had to be better.

Ton to the rescue

Ton Jones was reading my report and called me over to AirForce. He gave me a pair of Ton Jones barbecue gloves to hold the hot handles of the bullet mold. What a great gift! Thank you, Ton!

Jones gloves
Ton Jones gave me a pair of his famous barbecue gloves to help me hold the small bullet mold.

Ton told me the amount of time and at what heat these gloves will work. They are effective for temperatures of up to 900 degrees F for 10 seconds, but at the estimated 400-degree heat of the mold handles they work for several minutes.

Sheathe the mold handles

Besides the gloves I decided to sheathe the mold handles with wood. My neighbor Denny had made a nice pair of wooden handle covers that I tried fastening with electrician’s tape last time. The tape melted from the heat, so it was ineffective, but these wood handles are now held to the mold handles by two bolts with nuts on each side. Some reader suggested to use epoxy, but there is no commercial epoxy including muffler cement that can withstand the intense heat for as long as it is needed.

mold handles
The wood handles Denny made are held on the aluminum mold handles with two bolts on each handle.

Using the wooden handles and the gloves I was able to get the mold up to a good casting temperature and cast enough bullets of both sizes for a really good test. The bolts that hold the wooden handles on do transmit the temperature, but the gloves allow me to hold the mold better. I hold the handles toward the rear where the bolts are not located, though I do come in contact with them. 

Change gloves

I found I only need one glove on my left hand, so the other one sits around until I need it. Every few minutes the glove I’m using gets too warm and I switch with the idle glove. This allows for an unlimited time of casting.

Hotter lead pot temp for soft lead bullets

I also discovered this time that I needed to set my Lyman lead furnace hotter because I was casting softer lead that has less tin. Pure lead flows at a higher temperature than lead alloyed with tin and antimony. There was some of each of those metals in the pot, but less than if I was casting bullets for a large caliber firearm pistol. As a note to myself I set the pot at 7.5 on the scale instead of the usual 6.5 for the harder alloys. And the bullets that came from the mold remained shiny, which indicates they were formed at a good casting temperature.

Better bullets

The worst of the bullets I retained from this casting session are better than the best bullets from the first cast. There are still some problems, but they look mold-related and are unlikely to improve.

38-grain bullets

Here are some of the 40 or so 38-grain round-nose bullets that I kept after inspection.

38-grain
The 38-grain round-nosed bullets cast cleaner this time.

38-grain flashing
Some 38-grain bullets had flashing that has to be removed before they can be used.

Flashing

The flashing occurs because the mold halves don’t come together tightly and the sprue plate doesn’t fit the top of the mold tightly. That is a function of the mold. A better mold would not have those problems, but the bullets I get from this mold are suitable for the current project. If I was going to cast thousands of bullets it would be worth spending the money on a better custom mold.

25-grain bullets

The first time I cast bullets the smaller pointed 25-grain bullets fell easily from the mold and the longer 38-grain bullets were harder to get out. This time that was reversed. I believe the hotter mold was the principal reason for this.

I did get about the same number of keeper bullets in the smaller size this time. But some of them also had some flashing on them. I will clean that off before loading the bullets, but I plan to use all of the keepers, or as many as possible.

25-grain flashing
Most of the 25-grain bullets have a little flashing on their base, but these two were the worst.

25-graion tweezers
The 25-grain bullets came from the mold cleaner than the 38-grain bullets. One of them is held in the cross-locking reverse tweezers I mentioned recently.

Summary

This casting session went better because I was better prepared for it. I am also better prepared to load the next set of cartridges for testing because of the experience I have gained from recent testing The next test will be the velocity of both types of bullets with smokeless powder and with Pyrodex, using both kinds of priming compound.

After that I will shoot the cartridges for accuracy, but I’m looking to pare down all the test variables, to keep this testing manageable. I think I will wait to see the results of the velocity test before I load for the accuracy test.


Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 5

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
Part 4 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges

This report covers:

  • Why reload rimfire?
  • The real reason for shooting .22 rimfire
  • No ammo!
  • Loading the primed case
  • The bullets
  • The powder
  • Static electricity
  • Insert the bullet
  • Crimping the bullet
  • Try the cartridge fit
  • Experience grows
  • Summary

Today we will complete the reloading of the 28 .22 long rifle cartridges we have now primed. Reader GunFun1 says he’s been waiting for this one and so have I. Lotsa pix and lotsa talk. Let’s go!

Just as a reminder, this series was inspired by reader Yogi, who asked about reloading rimfire cartridges several months ago. As I have done for the 26 years I’ve been writing about airguns, I puffed up my chest and was about to bellow, “Rimfire cartridges cannot be reloaded.” However, in an uncharacteristically intelligent move, I went online, just to be sure. Lo and behold, not only can rimfire cartridges be reloaded, people have been doing so almost from the inception of the first .22-caliber rimfire cartridge by Smith & Wesson in 1856.

Why reload rimfire?

As airgunners we might ask why anyone would feel the need to reload .22 rimfire. We now have pellet rifles that produce over 100 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle and pellet rifles passed rimfires for accuracy out to 50 yards many years ago. The only drawback a good pellet rifle has is actually one of its biggest benefits — diabolo pellets don’t carry nearly as far as bullets. But the .22 long rifle cartridge we are talking about reloading is usually restricted to shots of less than 100 yards, and in the limits of that domain it only surpasses the accurate and powerful pellet rifle between about 50 and 100 yards.

The real reason for shooting .22 rimfire

The real reason for shooting .22 rimfire is the size of the support tail. A good rimfire rifle and 500 cartridges can be carried easily. An equally good pellet rifle can weigh almost the same as the firearm and, while 500 pellets are certainly lighter than a brick of long rifle cartridges, it doesn’t end there. Spring-piston guns and CO2 guns are not competitive in this arena. Only precharged pneumatics can play, because of their power and accuracy. That means there also has to be a means of refilling them. A hand pump is the lightest and most convenient way to replenish high-pressure air over the long haul, with a small carbon fiber buddy bottle coming next — because it only holds limited air.

A hunter can put a box of 50 rimfire cartridges in his pocket and be out for an entire day. An airgunner might get 20 good shots from a powerful AirForce Condor or an AirForce Escape and then he has to top off. While 20 shots are probably all he needs for hunting, the small box of 50 long rifle cartridges is dwarfed by the salami-sized buddy bottle. I can understand why a nice .22 rimfire is still respected so much. There is just one problem.

No ammo!

It’s very hard to find .22 long rifle cartridges in the United States right now. That won’t change with the new administration, either. If anything, it will get worse. So reloading rimfire that we once thought impossible and then, when we learned it could be done, we wondered why anyone would go to the trouble, has taken on a whole new perspective. You may be sitting on a few bricks of long rifle cartridges and if so, good for you. But don’t expect to replace them easily any time soon. The only rounds I found for sale are selling at 56 cents EACH! At that price a box of 50 rounds costs $23 and you can add a zero for a 500-round brick. So, if you want to shoot a lot, this may be the best and most affordable way real soon.

Loading the primed case

To load a primed case you must do two things — put in a charge of gunpowder and load a bullet. The instruction sheet sent by Sharp Shooter, the company that made the reloading tools, gave several gunpowders that might be used. One of them was Hogden’s Pyrodex P — a replica black powder that’s equivalent to FFFG, which is pistol powder. While most smokeless gun powder is currently unavailable, Pyrodex is still being sold and I bought a pound of it for this series. But as a replica black powder Pyrodex produces a lot of smoke and I didn’t want to stink up my office. So I used Bullseye gunpowder that I had plenty of. When you see how little was used you will appreciate that I can get about 7,750 cartridges from one pound of powder.

The bullets

The other thing you do is push a bullet into the cartridge case and crimp it. That proved to be a problem. The bases of all the 38-grain bullets I had cast had flashing on their bottoms. It had to be removed before the bullet would slide into the case. I used a combination of my fingernail and a small pen knife to do this.

flashing
All the 38-grain bullets had flashing (arrow) around their base that had to be removed. This wrinkled bullet will be used to test velocity. I don’t usually accept bullets that are malformed like this but I still have to get the bullet mold working correctly.

Most of the 25-grain bullets had very little flashing on their bases. One, though, had a lot and it all had to be removed before the bullet could be loaded

flashing 25-grain
This 25-grain bullet is also unacceptable and will only be used to test velocity. All that flashing at the base had to be removed.

It took longer to prepare the bullets than to fill the case with powder, so the bullet was the first thing I did and then I loaded the powder. I loaded one cartridge at a time. My first cartridge probably took me five minutes to complete, but by the end of the session I was loading each round in about a minute and a half, give or take.

The powder

To verify the accuracy of the powder scoop I used a digital powder scale that’s made for measuring gunpowder. The same scoop I used for the priming powder was used to scoop out the Bullseye, that was in the same shot glass I used to mix the four priming powders (see Part 4). The small scoop picked up 0.6-grains of Bullseye, and the large scoop picked up 0.9 grains.

scale
The large scoop that came with the rimfire reloading kit measured 0.9-grains of Bullseye gunpowder consistently.

I scooped and measured many scoops of powder and it was consistently 0.9-grains — never more. One time it was 0.8-grains and then crept up to 0.9-grains, so I felt the charge was on the lower end of 0.9-grains. I became confident that the scoop was always picking up the same amount of powder. So I stopped measuring and started reloading.

powder measure
The large scoop consistently gathered 0.9 grains of Bullseye powder.

powder cartridge
Here we are looking down inside the cartridge after powder has been put in. It fills about the bottom third of the case. But of course the bullet will take up some space inside, as well. With smokeless gunpowder the case doesn’t have to be full for safety reasons like it does with black powder.

Static electricity

The gunpowder has some static electricity and some of it sticks to the inside of the plastic funnel after the cartridge is loaded. I used a brass cleaning rod swab holder to push the stray flakes down into the spout of the funnel when tapping the side with a finger wasn’t enough.

powder funnel
Static electricity held a few flakes of gunpowder to the side of the funnel. They were pushed into the spout by a brass fixture.

Insert the bullet

Now the bullet can be inserted into the case. If the bullet base was cleaned of flashing it goes right in and stops at the right place — hopefully. The first 38-grain bullet I loaded didn’t go into the case far enough and was crimped in the wrong place. But I learned from that and didn’t make that mistake again with that bullet.

bullet case
The bullet has been put into the case.

Crimping the bullet

The last step in reloading is to crimp the case mouth into the side of the bullet, to hold it steady. The bullet mold that came with the reloading tools has a case crimper built into it. It is sized for long rifle cases, which means it will also work with longs but not with shorts. However a short case can be crimped if you come in from the other side (which is the top) of the crimping tool.

cartridge crimping tool
The cartridge is put into the crimping tool and the case mouth is crimped to the bullet.

On the first cartridge I discovered that it takes a little fiddling to get the cartridge into the crimping tool correctly.  The first one I tried was put in too deep and I almost crimped the rim of the cartridge! That could have set the cartridge off! But I played with it and got the cartridge in correctly.

cartridge in tool base
This is how deep the cartridge fits into the crimper.

cartridge in tool bullet
This is how far the 38-grain bullet sticks out when the case is loaded into the crimping too correctly. The shorter 25-grain bullet sits deep inside the tool and doesn’t stick out like this

When the cartridge is all the way inside the crimping tool, squeeze the handles hard and the crimp is made. It doesn’t look that deep, but it really does hold the bullet tight in the case.

cartridge crimped
The crimp at the top of the case mouth holds the bullet tight.

Try the cartridge fit

After reloading the first cartridge I tried inserting it into the chamber of the rifle I plan to test it in. The cartridge with the 38-grain bullet went about halfway into the chamber. I was able to close the bolt all the way on that cartridge but when I opened it again, the bullet was pulled out of the case and remained stuck in the barrel.

cartridge halfway
The cartridge with the 38-grain bullet went this far into the rifle’s chamber before it stopped. The bolt shoved it in all the way.

bullet pulled
When I opened the bolt to extract the cartridge, the bullet remained in the barrel.

I pushed the bullet out of the barrel with a .22 cleaning rod and reloaded it into the cartridge, but first all the powder had to be removed and refilled.

When I loaded the 25-grain bullet into a cartridge and crimped it, it went deeper into the chamber, but not all the way. I didn’t force this one into the chamber with the bolt. When the cartridge was removed the bullet remained in the case. I believe the crimping step is making the case out-of-round just enough to affect it this way.

Experience grows

As I reloaded the cases I got faster and better at it. By the time I loaded the five 38-grain bullets for the accuracy test and the 25-grain bullets as well, I was under a minute and a half loading a cartridge.

This is the first time I have ever done this, so there was a lot to learn. But now that I’ve done it, I know what to expect and things will go more smoothly. 

If you add together all the time it took to cast the bullets (Part 2), mix the priming powder and prime the cases (Part 4) then load the cartridges (today), I probably spent about six hours loading 28 long rifle cartridges. Don’t think that’s how long it takes, though. I was doing many other things like taking pictures, plus learning how this all works. I think my estimate of 1.5 minutes per loaded cartridge (starting with a primed case) could be tripled and you’d have a rough estimate of the time it takes to cast and sort the bullets, prime the cases and load the cartridges. A box of 50 cartridges would take 225 minutes (at 4.5 minutes per cartridge, total), which is 3 hours 45 minutes.

38-grain-cartridge
A 38-grain cartridge.

25-grain-cartridges
These are the nine 25-grain bullet cartridges I loaded for the velocity test. The arrow points to one whose bullet is seated too deep.

Summary

Three months ago I didn’t even know it was possible to reload .22 rimfire cartridges. Now I am finishing Part 5 of a series on doing it, and my first 28 cartridges are loaded! Most definitely there is a long road ahead for me as I refine each aspect of what I’ve reported so far. But this is something I’m interested in learning and, from what you have told me, you are too.

I know this is a blog about airguns and that the .22 rimfire cartridge certainly does not qualify, but in these perilous times when ammunition is difficult to find, shooters need all the help they can get. Many are either not yet informed that pellet rifles have come as far as they have (shooting one-inch groups at 100 yards and killing whitetail deer at 200 yards with one shot) and it’s my job to inform them.

Others are not yet ready to give up their beloved rimfires simply because ammunition is not available. They may know a lot about airguns and may even own several, but they still love their rimfires. Well, bless their hearts! Perhaps I can help them as we all learn about this fascinating niche in the shooting sports together.


Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Why this blog?
  • Quick history
  • Today
  • The kit
  • Bullet mold
  • .22 rimfire pressure
  • The instructions
  • The priming compound
  • That’s all
  • Why you need this
  • What about the dent left by the firing pin?
  • Sizing the empty cartridge case
  • How to test?
  • Summary

I hope you have seen at least the first movie in the 3-part Karate Kid video series, because in this report you are going to be challenged by me. As I try to strike you with various karate blows, you will defend yourself from muscle memory gained while sanding the deck, waxing the cars and painting the fence! Hajime!

Why this blog?

Several months ago in a comment to a cartridge reloading report, reader Yogi asked what about reloading rimfire cartridges. As I have done for the 26 years I’ve been writing about airguns, I puffed up my chest and was about to bellow, “Rimfire cartridges cannot be reloaded.” However, in an uncharacteristic move, I went online, just to be sure. Lo and behold, not only can rimfire cartridges be reloaded, people have been doing so almost from the inception of the first .22-caliber rimfire cartridge by Smith & Wesson in 1856.

So why this series for airgunners? Because, you guys have learned so much from shooting airguns that you will see and understand this material better than most firearm shooters. Plus you’re going to see some parallels to airgunning as the series unfolds.

Quick history

I learned in my research that the Inuit hunters were avid .22 rimfire cartridge reloaders.  When I was a boy in the early 1950s, the Inuit hunters used a lot of .22 long cartridges. In fact my buddy Mac told me that the .22 long cartridge was partially kept alive to supply subsistence hunters like the Inuit. And they do reload their .22 cartridges. Of course they own centerfire rifles today, but the .22 rimfire always goes along on a trip. Countless polar bears have been taken with a shot behind the ear, not to mention seals, caribou and other wildlife.

During the Great Depression, rimfire reloading was quite popular. If you wanted to shoot, you reloaded. The airguns of the day weren’t as capable as they are today, which made the rimfire king of the field.

In a future report I will discuss how people reload rimfire cartridges without any of what you are about to see today, but I wanted you to know that this is a practice that’s more than a century old and it’s still flourishing today.

Today

Today I’m going to show you a .22 rimfire reloading kit that has all the tools and instructions for reloading rimfire cartridges. Most importantly, it has a bullet mold for two different weights of heeled .22 rimfire bullets. Heeled bullets are best for shooting in rimfire cartridges.

This tool set also comes in .22 Magnum. It’s different because the .22 Magnum cartridge uses a .224-inch bullet, while the .22 short, long and long rifle cartridges use a .223-inch bullet. As airgunners you understand better than most how important that thousandth of an inch can be!

I will also show you a 4-part powder set that gives you enough priming powder for about 2,000 cartridges. It costs $20, so you are buying four 500-round bricks of .22 ammo for less than the cost of one brick! Of course there is the bullet, which we will cast, so it’s free. There is also about one grain of gunpowder. So you get 7,000 cartridges from a one-pound can of gunpowder that costs another $25. That adds four-tenths of a cent to the cost of each cartridge.

Based on these numbers a brick of 500 reloaded .22 cartridges will cost you about $5.25. Do away with the priming powder and the cost for a brick is 25 cents. Do away with the gunpowder and the cartridges are free!

Of course the problem these days is — you can’t find bricks of .22 rimfire or any gunpowder in the United States because of the hoarders, but in this report we are talking about the way around the .22 rimfire cartridge problem through reloading. I won’t get into the manufacture of gunpowder, but understand that it is possible.

The kit

reloading tools blister pack
The kit of tools for reloading rimfire cartridges is very complete. Everything on the list on the right of the card in this set is in this blister pack.

reloading tools out
Here are the tools out of the blister pack.

Bullet mold

Sharpshooter, the company that sells the kit of tools, says their mold is the only one on the market for a heeled .22-caliber bullet. A heeled bullet has a smaller diameter at the base of the bullet, to fit inside the cartridge case. The part of the bullet outside the case is the diameter of the bore. A .22 rimfire chamber is cut so the bullet enters the rifling immediately upon leaving the cartridge case. There is no “jump” into the rifling the way there is in a revolver and even in many centerfire rifles. This design cooperates with the smaller heel at the bullet’s base, to allow the base to obturate and seal the bore. See what your airgunning knowledge has taught you? I guarantee you, not many firearms shooters other than reloaders and black powder shooters understand the importance of obturation.

.22 rimfire pressure

SAAMI specifies that the pressure of a .22 rimfire cartridge never goes above 25,000 psi, but they probably never come close to that. I say probably because there is no reloading data for the cartridge, since very few people ever do it. The cartridge manufacturers certainly aren’t talking!

Given the softness of the bullet I estimate a .22 long rifle cartridge reaches a pressure of around 12,000 psi, which is .38 Special territory. That’s enough to obturate the base of a soft lead heeled bullet.

The bullet mold that comes in the kit has two different size bullets. The larger one is a 38-grain round-nose solid for your powerful cartridges and the smaller one is a 25-grain pointed solid for your weaker rounds and your CB caps (cartridges made with priming compound alone).

reloading bullet mold
The 38-grain solid bullet is on the right. The 25-grain bullet is in the center and on the left is the crimping die that crimps the end of the case around the bullet. This design is quite clever and both bullets are heeled. 

I will have more to say more about the mold after I cast some bullets with it. I know that a .22-caliber bullet mold is hard to get up to casting temperature, so I’ll be looking at that. And the sprue plate on this mold has no positive stop, so aligning it with the mold cavities is an eyeball exercise. Also those metal handles look like they will get hot!

The instructions

The instructions that come with this kit are the most important part. Not only do they tell you how to use all the parts of the kit, they also tell you how to make priming compound out of commonly available items like toy caps and strike-anywhere matches. Additionally they tell you how to make your own gunpowder from things like matches that don’t strike anywhere.

reloading instructions
This instruction sheet unfolds again to be twice this size, with information and pictures on the back.

The priming compound

The same company that sells the tools also sells priming compound in 4 powders that you mix together. It should be obvious to everyone why there are four separate powders instead of just one. According to the instructions, one lot of powders makes enough priming compound for 2,000 cartridges.

reloading priming powders
You can purchase this bag of 4 powders that, when mixed together in the right proportions, makes priming compound. At the bottom of the bag is the powder scoop that’s used to measure the powders and many other things.

The powders are mixed in different proportions, using a small plastic powder measure that comes with both the kit of tools and with this batch of priming powders. It has a small measure on one end and a large measure on the other.

reloading priming powders
These four powders are mixed in differing proportions to make rimfire priming compound.

reloading powder instructions
The directions for mixing the powders and priming the shells.

That’s all

That’s all I’m going to say at this time about the kit of tools and the priming powders. I’ll have more for you in upcoming reports.

Why you need this

Okay, like BB you have squirreled away plenty of bricks of .22. Why is this report of interest to you? Well, what about making cartridges for that .41-caliber rimfire Remington derringer your grandfather left you? He left you a box with 32 cartridges inside and over the years you have fired ten of them. For reasons unbeknownst to you at the time you kept those empty cartridges, and now you have a way of reloading them again. A sealed box of 50 cartridges starts at $300 on Gun Broker, which provides a great incentive to learn!

reloading Remington derringer
Your grandfather’s .41-rimfire derringer is a good reason to reload rimfire.

Or you have a 9mm Flobert rifle that you want to shoot? It came with a box of 50 cartridges, but when they are gone, what will you do? Now you have an answer.

What about the dent left by the firing pin?

When a rimfire fires, the firing pin leaves a dent in the cartridge rim. What is to be done about that? Well, you can try to knock it out with a punch or even make a special tool to knock it out, but you risk weakening the case at that place if you do. It’s better to leave the dent in the cartridge and, when you load it, position it so the firing pin won’t strike in that place. That means reloaded rimfire cartridges are best used in bolt-action rifles or most any single-shot rifle. By no coincidence, the shooters who reload rimfire cartridges are the same sort who own single-shot rifles. But there is one more concern.

Sizing the empty cartridge case

When a cartridge is fired, it expands to fit the chamber precisely. It may be too large to fit into another rifle. There is a .22 rimfire cartridge case resizing die available, but why go to that expense and bother? Just use the same rifle and you’ll never need to worry.

What if you don’t have any .22 cartridges to shoot, so you can’t generate any empty cases? Well, all you have to do is use your rifle’s chamber to select or reject all the cases you pick up on the ground at the range.

How to test?

My plan so far is to cast some bullets then reload some cartridges and show you how all of that is done. Then I will shoot them. I plan to use my Remington model 33 single shot bolt action rifle for this. Before I do that, though, I will shoot some 25-yard groups in that same rifle with a cartridge I know to be accurate. That gives me a baseline for comparison, plus those will be the cases I reload.

I have some thoughts for tests after that, such as how accurate can I make a reloaded .22 long rifle cartridge, and so on. But I need to get this far first.

I’m not looking for gold dollar groups from this rifle — just some groups to compare my tailor-mades to store-boughten ammo.

Summary

We are looking at something pretty special today. This reloading kit is something not too many shooters know about. When we finish this series we should all know a lot more about our sport. Thanks, Yogi!


What you know

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Everybody’s a prepper — let’s get an airgun!
  • What you know
  • The BIG one!
  • Clean that barrel
  • You can shoot quietly at home with the right airgun
  • A powerful air pistol
  • Bullets have to fit the barrel
  • A cheaper way to shoot at home
  • How did you know that?
  • Summary

The current world situation in the year 2020 has caused many people to become preppers. People who are not mentally suited to preparedness are doing things these days that they have never done before. I saw the same thing happen in 1977, when I returned from Europe and watched the aftermath of the 1973-74 gas crisis. People were eschewing land yachts in favor of more economical automobiles that they could sustain in times when there wasn’t enough gas to go around.

Everybody’s a prepper — let’s get an airgun!

Now that ammunition and even reloading supplies are unavailable (in the United States) I hear people talking about getting an airgun. But what they don’t know, and you do, is going to hurt them!

What you know

You know instinctively that higher velocity is meaningless without accuracy. Those new to airguns are attracted to the velocity figures, and the highest one must be the best. You know that if your pellet doesn’t hit the target, all the velocity in the world is meaningless.

You know that breakbarrel springers can be extremely accurate. The uninitiated think that because the barrel moves when the rifle is cocked, it must be less accurate. And the kinds of breakbarrels they buy at the discount stores will only confirm their beliefs! You know that a SIG ASP20 can have the same high velocity they seek, yet also outshoot anything they can find in the big box store. See what you know?

The BIG one!

You know that ALL rifles, both air-powered and firearms, are very subject to barrel droop. These new guys don’t. They buy their $1,500 AR-15 and then go through scope after scope and mount after mount until they either give up, or resign themselves to the fact that an AR-15 isn’t accurate, or they blunder into one of the drooper scope mounts made for AR-15s and they correct the situation.

At present these “downward-angled” scope rings are being sold under the auspices of making rifles that are sighted for 300 yards suitable to shoot 1,000 yards — you know — macho stuff! The truth is, guys are using them to correct barrel drooping (and scopes not holding zero) issues a lot closer than that. They just don’t like to talk about it in public. But you guys know all this and don’t have to pay the price that the newbies pay! See what you know?

Clean that barrel

B.B. Pelletier is a proponent of never cleaning an airgun barrel — unless it needs it! When does BB say to clean a barrel? When accuracy drops off. Now, I would love to pretend I’m Mr Miyagi and that I was just testing my students, but the real truth is — reader Yogi recommended that I clean the barrel of the Beeman 900/Diana 10 target pistol with a brass brush and JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound! Good work, Yogi. I needed to be reminded of that. I will clean it before the next shooting session. See what you know?

You can shoot quietly at home with the right airgun

Think this is a well-known fact? Think again. The others go to the box store and choose a rifle from the three or four on the shelves. They choose it on power (velocity) and price. You know they do because that was once you and me. Then they discover that all that power brings on vibration, hard cocking, loud noise and horrible accuracy. Oh, you could teach them the artillery hold and cut the size of their groups dramatically, but even more so by showing them your Price-Point PCP. Your rifle is more powerful, more accurate and quieter than theirs. They complain that they don’t want to buy all the other stuff that your rifle needs to work and you teach them about 2,000 psi being just as capable as 3,000 psi, and what a hand pump can do. See what you know?

A powerful air pistol

“They” want an air pistol that’s just as powerful as their air rifle. All they know about are the few CO2 pistols they’ve seen at the discount store. You show them your TalonP pistol in .25 caliber and tell them that it’s 2-1/2 times more powerful than their .177 Gato Buzzalot breakbarrel. They say that’s fine, but can they get one that powerful that also fits in their pocket? Sure. Have them transport to Jupiter Station and the replicator there will build it for them.

You try to explain that with pneumatic and gas guns, the length of the barrel plays a huge factor in determining the velocity. They wonder why, because they have read that a Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum revolver produces the same energy as a 30-06 rifle (2,800 foot-pounds). And “they” can get one with a 3.5-inch barrel from the S&W Custom Shop. You ask if “they” have ever fired one of those revolvers and they start giggling. They haven’t, but they’ve watched several videos on You Tube of people shooting them.

Then you inform them that a 3.5-inch barreled revolver won’t get anywhere near the power that the standard 8.38-inch barrel will — probably less than half as much. They want to know how you know that and, because you are an airgunner, you can explain it to them in detail. See what you know?

Bullets have to fit the barrel

A buddy of yours just found an almost-full box of 130-grain .30-30 bullets. He sold his .30-30 ten years ago, but he has a 7.62X39 upper for his AR. He reloads for that caliber but these bullets turned out to be lousy in his gun. His five-shot groups at 100 yards are larger than 12 inches! You told him that the .308-caliber bullet for the .30-30 couldn’t possibly be accurate in the .310-inch bore of his upper. He asked why. Aren’t they both .308s? You explained that not all 7.62 mm cartridges are .308, just like a .38 Special is really smaller than .36 caliber and a .38-40 is really a .40 caliber.

You know this because you know all about the fit of the pellet to the bore. You even sort pellets by head size with the Pelletgage. See what you know?

A cheaper way to shoot at home

A guy at work told you he wants quieter .22 ammo so he can shoot his pistol in the basement without disturbing his family. You made him aware of the Beeman P17 and then turned him on to the 2-part resealing series for that pistol. He was able to buy a pistol and 500 pellets for less than what he would have to pay for a brick of .22 CB caps on Gun Broker. He’s shooting again very safely in his basement and having the time of his life! See what you know?

How did you know that?

Your brother-in-law showed you his aging Benjamin 392. He said it doesn’t work anymore and wondered if you would take a look at it. He said he has always pumped it 18-20 times for more power. The manual said to stop at 10 pumps, but that was just lawyer-talk to keep it safe. He knew what he was doing. The last time he pumped it he was watching TV and lost track of the count. But it had to be 25 pumps or more. When it didn’t fire he pumped it 10 more times, but nothing came out. So he brought it to you.

You asked him when was the last time he oiled it and he told you that nothing squeaks. The felt ring in front of the pump cup is bone dry. You partially disassembled the action and tapped the valve stem with a fat punch and a plastic hammer to release all the air. Then you oiled the pump cup and pumped the rifle 8 times and voila — it shot like new. All the while you did this you instructed your brother-in-law on the fine art of operating a multi-pump. See what you know?

Summary

You may not consider yourself to be an expert on airguns or on shooting in general, but through this blog and the comments we read every day, you really are!


Reloading firearm cartridges: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Trimming the neck
  • Deburring the case neck
  • Uniforming the case neck
  • Primer pocket uniforming
  • Straight-wall cases
  • Tapered cases
  • How to save time
  • Mistakes
  • Summary

First I want to thank everyone who is taking the design an airgun challenge seriously. We are seeing some thought put into your designs. And remember, the contest is still running until the end of the month. Now, on to today’s report.

This report on reloading is starting to attract some attention, as I hoped it would. Your comments have been instrumental in determining what I write about. I’ll start with a comment by reader Brent.

So you don’t have to trim the neck with any tool separate than the Lee Loader?  I guess the only other things I would need to get are a tumbler with some stainless steel pins and perhaps a scale if I wanted to experiment with powder charges.  I do think you need to address leaving empty space in the case because that is a real no no with blackpowder because it tends to act as an explosive rather than a propellant then.”

I responded to him this way.

Brent, The Lee Loader bypasses several steps that a careful reloader would do. Working on the case neck is one of them.”

Trimming the neck

When we talk about trimming a neck we are usually talking about a bottleneck cartridge, which is one with an angle from the shoulder to the smaller neck. The 5.56mm cartridge that’s used in the M16 rifle is such a cartridge.

bottleneck cartridge
This 5.56mm is a typical bottlenecked rifle cartridge.

There are several things that can be trimmed. If the overall cartridge case length is too long, a case trimmer can cut it back to length. We have a maximum “trim to” length that we watch and do not exceed. A case can be trimmed with a file, but a case trimmer designed to trim is much better. Some cases stretch fast and must be trimmed after every three loadings. The Swedish Mauser 6.5X55mm cartridge is notorious for stretching. After the second trim the case should be discarded and not trimmed a third time. It develops a weak spot about two-thirds back of the shoulder and will separate when fired if continually loaded. So you get about 6 reloadings from such a case, and less if you shoot heavy loads.

Deburring the case neck

After trimming the case neck you have to remove the burrs on the inside and outside. That’s done with the deburring tool I showed you in Part 2

deburring tool
After trimming to length the deburring tool is used inside and outside of the case neck to remove any burrs that remain after trimming.

Uniforming the case neck

Back in the 1960s some reloaders of bottleneck cartridges started worrying about making the thickness of every cartridge case neck uniformly  identical. They felt the cases would then exert a uniform hold on their bullets and that would improve accuracy. Tools were built to not only cut the thickness of the necks uniform, but to also spin the cartridge to ensure concentricity of the bullet to the cartridge case. This is still being discussed and even done by benchrest competitors with results that are difficult to prove. One camp holds that all this is anal and has little effect on accuracy — the other camp swears by it. I side with the guys who don’t uniform their case necks. I am not a world champion benchrest shooter but I do save countless hours of time while reloading.

Primer pocket uniforming

There is also a school of thought that says the primer pocket flashholes need to be uniformly sized and all burrs on the inside of the case around the holes that were punched through need to be removed. So they drill them all to a uniform size and them deburr them inside. I do not do this. At the end of this section I will tell you a little trick that gets around all this (possibly) useless work.

Straight-wall cases

Besides bottleneck cartridges there are also cartridges with straight walls. They are far more forgiving to reload. They don’t stretch much, but you still must measure their overall length. If they are rimless pistol cartridges, they stop in the chamber of the pistol on the mouth of the cartridge case. That is what determines the headspace of the cartridge and if the headspace isn’t right you can have a problem with exploding ammo. So the length of the case is important.

Rimmed cartridges like the .357 Magnum headspace on the rim. The neck of the cartridge gets folded over and crimped into a groove on the bullet to hold it tight when the pistol recoils. So case length is not as critical there.

357 cartridge and case
The neck of the .357 Magnum case is crimped into the side of the bullet to hold it tight during the recoil of the pistol when the others are fired.

These cases last much longer than bottleneck cases. I get over 10 reloadings of them, even when I load heavy. But eventually the case mouth will crack from being worked back and forth. When that happens, throw it away.

Tapered cases

Then there are a few cases that are neither straight, nor are they really bottlenecked. The .22 Hornet is an example of these. It has a gradual tapered shoulder that ends in an extra-long neck. You can argue that it’s a bottleneck, but it doesn’t act like one. It’s a rimmed cartridge, so it headspaces on the rim and not on the neck. This case is made of brass that is super-thin at the mouth of the neck and gets damaged very easily.

Hornet ctg
The .22 Hornet is an oddball case that doesn’t fit well into a category.

How to save time

Instead of doing all the tedious little things mentioned here, and other things besides, you can shoot groups of 10 shots, and, when a bullet strays outside of the main group, set that case aside and do not use it again. You end up with a set of cases that shot very well for whatever reason, and they will keep on doing the same, reload after reload.

Mistakes

When you reload you will make mistakes. Despite taking every care in the world, things won’t go right every time. You’ll load primers upside down or sideways, you’ll crush cases, you’ll strip bullets. You’ll load the wrong powder, making the cartridge dangerous.

For your mistakes you need an eraser! Reloaders call it a bullet puller and a kinetic puller like the one shown below is the easiest to use.

sideways primer
Oooops! The primer went in sideways and was crushed.

bullet puller
This bullet puller holds the base of the cartridge fast and is struck like a hammer on a hard surface, pulling the bullet by kinetic energy.

Summary

Phooey! Three reports already and we haven’t reloaded one cartridge yet. That’s coming soon!


Finding that silk purse

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • A break
  • The real story
  • Fell into it
  • Oh, no!
  • The real story
  • Back to the future
  • The lesson
  • More
  • The point
  • Summary

A break

I need a break from punching holes in paper. Been doing a lot of that this week. Today I was all set to test the Slavia 618, but the next test is accuracy and like I said — I want to do something else.

As I was sitting at my computer trying come up with an idea for today, I got messaged that the parts for my .22 rimfire High Standard Sport King pistol had arrived in my mailbox. What’s the story there?

Fell into it

Many years ago I was at one of the last gun shows I ever attended. I had two tables full of guns to sell and one of them was something I had priced at $450. I forget what it was — it was that unimportant to me. But my price was reasonable and there was some interest. One guy came by and asked if I would come over to his table and see if there was anything I would take in trade for it. So I did.

He had a Taurus model 62LA that was new in the box. It was stainless steel, which I don’t like, but it was a slide action (pump) gun, which I do like — or so I thought! I never even picked it up out of the box. I could see it was like new. He saw that I was interested so he offered it to me. It was priced at $300 as I recall and I sort of stalled on that — my gun being priced reasonably at $450. I went back to my table and a few minutes later the guy brought by a High Standard Sport King pistol that he said he would throw in to sweeten the deal. Well, that sounded fine, so I agreed.

Taurus 62LA
How can anyone look at this Taurus 62LA and not realize that it’s a lever gun? I’m living proof that it can be done!

He brought the Taurus box over with the pistol and took his rifle away. My buddy Otho opened the box and looked at the Taurus and says to me, “I didn’t know Taurus made a lever-action .22!”

Oh, no!

A lever action? Oh, no! I had paid so little attention to the rifle when looking at it that I failed to see the lever. I assumed it was a pump. I already owned a Marlin 39A that’s the sweetest lever action .22 ever made and I sure didn’t need another one! Certainly not a shiny silver one! Shazbat!

Otho told me he thought the Taurus might be worth some money, so when we got home he bugged me to look it up on Gun Broker. When I dragged my feet he looked it up himself. It turned out that the Taurus 62LA was the most desirable .22 rifle Taurus ever made and they were bringing $850 on Gun Broker. And they were actually selling at that price! So — I guess I fell into it.

I still have the rifle. It’s still silver and I still don’t like it, but since my information on it was at least 10 years old I looked it up on Gun Broker for this report. Maybe the bottom had fallen out and they were now going for nothing?

No, in May of this year there were 39 bids on one in the same condition as mine, which is almost new in the box. That one sold for $1,681.00. Apparently Taurus only made the rifle one year (2006-2007) and they are quite rare.

The real story

But that’s not the story today. The real story is the other gun — the High Standard Sport King pistol that sweetened the deal. It’s a blued steel handgun and I had high hopes for it. But alas, it didn’t work. The magazine is sticky and doesn’t feed. So I put it aside and thought that I had been on the bad end of a deal once again.

Sport King
High Standard’s Sport King is a fine old semiautomatic .22 pistol.

Back to the future

But my neighbor, Denny the woodworker, has fallen in love with my Ruger Mark II Target Pistol. He has taken it to the range a bunch of times and a pistol that wasn’t clean to begin with started to malfunction. It needed to be cleaned and lubricated. I HATE disassembling that pistol. It comes apart easily but it is a royal bear to assemble — or that was my impression. So, on to You Tube I go and when I “remembered” the assembling problem. It was easy enough to solve. Result, clean pistol that’s lubed up and ready to go, Denny. But on You Tube a guy remarked that he wished that Mark IIs were as easy to assemble as High Standard Sport Kings. Hey! I have one of those!

Long story short I got it out and remembered the sticky mag, so I ordered a good one off Ebay. Then I disassembled the pistol which is dirt-simple to do and found it had a broken firing pin and was missing a firing pin return spring. Another order for the two parts and a week later the pistol is back in business. I fired three long rifle cartridges wiuthout failure. For about $75 I put the “deal sweetener” pistol back in action. And Type 1 High Standard Sport Kings in excellent condition like mine are fetching about $400 and up these days.

Sport King apart
The Sport king comes apart in less than 10 seconds and goes together just as fast. It was designed for that.

The lesson

The lesson is — don’t panic. If you get into a bad deal, sit on it awhile. Not everything that starts out bad ends that way. Remember those two Slavia 618s I got? One has a bent rear sight and the other needs to be rebuilt. But the first one is shooting better than any other 618 I have seen and, if I wasn’t tired of putting holes in paper this week, you’d be reading about it right now.

More

I have more to say. When I go to an airgun show with a single purpose in mind I usually get skunked. Let’s say I am there to find an FWB 124. There are two at the show. One is a deluxe model that’s like new in the box with all the paperwork. The seller is asking $800. The other one is a rusty beater sport model without sights that the seller wants $275 for. In my book, both rifles are a bit too high. But that’s not my point. My point is on another table at the same show a guy has a very nice-looking Hakim that he only wants $150 for. Seventy-five percent of the buyers in the hall are looking for a .30-caliber FX Impact with a 700 mm barrel. They aren’t interested in old pellet rifles and they could care less about that beat-up old Egyptian air rifle with the Arabic writing painted on the stock.

Well, I got skunked on the 124 I came for, but I have the money, so I take the plunge and buy the Hakim. I ask the seller if I can leave it on his table because I still want to walk around the show for a few hours.

About a hour later a guy taps me on the shoulder and asks if I own that Hakim that’s sitting on that table over there. I do and we strike up a conversation. Turns out he brought his deluxe FWB 124 with a scope to the show to see if he could swap it for a nice Hakim. We both walk to his car, I look at the rifle, which is exactly what I want, and we swap — straight across!

But here is the deal. Instead of all of this happening at the one show — wouldn’t that be nice? — it takes three shows over four years. Good things come to those who wait!

The point

My point today is obvious — I hope! Relax on your desires and let the good things come to you. Keep your eyes open for the deal of a lifetime. A friend who was very good at doing this once told me that the deal of a lifetime comes around about every 18 months. I will add that a doorbuster deal happens a lot more frequently and good deals are everywhere. I have to brush them off frequently to keep them from clinging to me!

Summary

Okay, I get it. You are a young man with a young family. You don’t have two spare dollars to rub together. But you are a nice guy who mows the old widow’s lawn every week. She makes you cookies in payment. But one week she asks if you know anything about old guns. You do and she asks if you would like that old rifle that’s up in the attic. Her husband put it up there so the grandkids wouldn’t fool with it and that was ten years ago. She can’t climb the fold-down ladder anymore but you go up and find a dusty Winchester 427 that cleans up to near-mint. Next to it is a Mossberg pump shotgun that she forgot all about. Please take both of them she says — she’ll feel better knowing they are not in her house, but with someone who cares.

What goes around…


Crosman Mark I and II reseal

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is a guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. He’s going to tell us about the Crosman Mark I pistol he recently acquired and what he did to fix the leak it came with.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

A history of airguns

Over to you, Ian.

Crosman Mark I and II reseal

by Ian McKee
Writing as 45Bravo

This report covers:

  • Just kidding!
  • Four major changes over the years
  • I got this one cheap
  • It’s mine!
  • Bringing it back to life
  • BB’s end cap
  • Resealing both caps
  • How did it go?
  • Outer barrel removal
  • Wrong o-rings

Back in December 2018, and January 2019, B.B. reviewed a classic Crosman Mark I pistol in .22 caliber.

There were many comments about how it worked internally, and how the power adjuster worked, so today I thought I would give you a little peek inside the gun.

Mark II disassembled
Here is your peek of a disassembled pistol. This is actually a Mark II I photographed some time back. The parts of the two pistols are identical except for those pertaining to the caliber.

Thank you, that concludes today’s blog.

 

Just kidding!

I could not do that to you. Here is a synopsis to refresh your memory.

The Crosman Mark I and Mark II (.22 and .177 calibers, respectively) pistols are airgun versions of the classic Ruger Mark I and Mark II .22 rimfire pistols. They share the same grip angle, sight profile, and overall profile of the iconic Ruger rimfire pistol.

Ruger Marl 1
Ruger’s Mark I pistol.

All Crosman Mark air pistols retained an adjustable trigger throughout their production run, which was 1966 to 1986, but had other changes in their design over the years.

Four major changes over the years

The flip-style piercing cap was changed to a button-style piercing cap, similar to what’s found on the Smith & Wesson 78/79-series air pistols.

The metal bolt guide that was secured in the frame by a screw on either side below the rear sight was changed to a plastic bolt guide that is retained by 1 screw that’s hidden under the rear sight blade.

The power-adjusting screw that was located under the barrel was eliminated.

And to hold the grips they changed from using screws with countersunk heads to screws with flat heads, as shown.

Mark I grip screws
There are two different grip screw head profiles and grips that match them.

If you use the countersunk screws on grips made for flat-head screws, you will crack them, and it is not easy to find replacements.

There were some other minor changes over the years, but these were the big ones.

I have been a big fan of these pistols over the years, and have owned and resealed more of these than I have of the Smith & Wesson 78/79G series. In my opinion, the adjustable triggers of the Crosman guns are better than the adjustable triggers of the S&W guns. The engineer that designed these air pistols later had a hand in the design of the Smith & Wesson guns.

I got this one cheap

I saw this pistol online with a $50 or best offer price tag, and no photo. These two things together usually tell me to run away and let someone else take the chance.

I got to thinking I could always use it for parts, so I took the bait and contacted the seller. I found out he lived not too far away, and decided on a face-to-face look at the pistol.

He sent some fuzzy photos by text, that didn’t help my feelings about the deal.

In the ad he said the gun had leaks. When I finally saw it, it was one of the roughest Mark Is I have ever seen. It had been repainted several times, and at some point, someone had covered the bare spots with a permanent marker to make it all black again.

Mark I right
Right side.

Mark I left
Left side.

I put a CO2 cartridge in it and it vented all of the gas out of the piercing cap while I shot it a few times. [Editor’s note: Doing this in front of the seller is a big negotiating tip, because it emphasizes the fact that his gun doesn’t work!]

From this short examination I knew 3 things:

1. This was an early model Crosman Mark I in good mechanical condition.

2. All of the parts were there.

3. It did NOT leak out of the barrel, when it vented the gas.

It’s mine!

I made a ridiculously low offer, and he accepted. When I got it back home and on the bench, I started by cleaning off the permanent marker with alcohol.

I knew it was an older model, but did not realize how old, as in serial number 000659! There is not even a date code.

Mark I serial number
This is an early Mark I.

I now own one of the first ones made and also one of the last ones made.

Bringing it back to life

I put a second CO2 cartridge in it to check it out on the bench. It vented the gas in about 30 seconds and it all came from the piercing cap. That told me the valve seal was still good.

I shot it over the chrono as it was venting. The gun was cold from the CO2 cool-down, but it still registered 485 f.p.s.

Most times the leak is because the tiny o-ring in the piercing cap deteriorates. The piercing pin moves up and down in the older models by a lever. You flip the lever one way to pierce the CO2 cartridge, then return to its normal position to let the CO2 into the gun.

Some online disassembly guides say you have to remove the snap ring at the bottom of the cap and then drive out a roll pin. That is the hard way. The easy way is to use a 3/8-inch wide (9.5mm) screwdriver blade in the slot inside the piercing cap. Use it to unscrew the cover that contains the 006-sized o-ring.

This cover is threaded and acts as a screw to hold the small o-ring in place. It looks in the photo like the piercing pin will prevent unscrewing it, but the end of the pin is actually below the screw slots. Remove this cover. In a moment I will describe and show a newer style end cap that has some different parts and comes apart differently.

With the cover off, use a dental pick to remove the old o-ring. It is probably hardened and will break into fragments when you pick at it. It may not even look like an o-ring, but it is tight around the base of the piercing pin.

Once all the small pieces are out of the cap and the o-ring groove is clean, lightly lubricate the new o-ring with your choice of lube, center the new o-ring over the piercing pin, and push it into its recess. Then screw the cover back into place over the o-ring.

Mark I cap 1
The screwdriver fits into the slots on either side and unscrews the cover. The tip of the piercing pin is below the slots. The cap looks brassy in this photo but it is really steel.

Mark I cap 2
This picture with a different angle shows how the o-ring sits at the base of the piercing pin.

Check the large o-ring that seals the end cap to the pistol. Is it still pliable? It can look okay and yet be brittle and useless. If it is okay, lubricate it. Then insert a new cartridge and test it, listening for leaks.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: When I looked at my Mark II end cap from a very late pistol I discovered it was made differently inside. I contacted Ian and he provided the following information.]

BB’s newer end cap

BB was following this article and rebuilding an end cap of his own. His is much newer (made in 1977) and has a slightly different design. I disassembled a newer end cap like BB’s for you to see. Instead of the threaded plate that holds the tiny o-ring, there is a star washer inside the cap. Believe it or not, that star washer is not held inside the cap by anything other than its own fingers. Use a small dental pick or something similar to get under it and pull it out of the cap.

Turn the cap over and tap it sharply on the wooden bench and the plate that looks like a screw but isn’t falls out. The o-ring can then be seen around the base of the piercing pin.

Like the other cap you need a sharp pick like a dental pick to get the small o-ring out, as the space is small.

Mark I new cap 1
This is the newer Mark I and II end cap.

Mark I new cap 1a
Reach under there with a small strong hook or a hooked dental pick and pick the star washer out of the cap.

Mark I new cap 2
The newer end cap apart. The cover with the screw slots has no threads and should come right out of the end cap, once the star washer is out.

Mark I new cap 3
BB followed my instructions and has disassembled his cap. Now he is picking out the tiny petrified o-ring around the base of the piercing pin.

Resealing both caps

After the o-ring groove is clean, lubricate and install a new 006 o-ring. If you have an old cap, screw the threaded plate back on top of the small o-ring. If it’s a newer cap insert the plate that looks like a screw, then insert the star washer and press down on it with a screw driver that has interchangeable bits. But leave the bit out of the driver. You want to press down on the edges of the star washer, but not touch the piercing pin in the center.

How did it go?

My new/old pistol has now been holding gas for a month. When I test-fired it, I noticed it was significantly louder than my other Mark I pistols, and it only had 1 cocking power level, none of the other ones I had ever handled or worked on had just 1 setting. I had to see what was going on inside.

I ran it across my chrono, at room temperature, it registered 545fps with Crosman Premier 14.3gr. domes, this thing was smoking!

Outer barrel removal

Using a pair of needle-nosed pliers, or snap-ring pliers, turn the front barrel nut counter-clockwise and the outer barrel will back out, as it is under spring pressure from the hammer spring/power adjuster. It just slides off the inner barrel.

Mark I muzzle
The piston barrel sleeve is held on the barrel by a nut at the muzzle.

Some previous owner had inserted a 5mm thick brass spacer to add extra preload to the hammer spring. That’s where the extra power was coming from.

In the photo below, the power adjuster can be seen, and the hammer and cocking knobs. The power adjusting screw just increases the preload of the hammer spring.

Notice the hammer spring has a extension that goes through a tiny hole in the cocking knob rod to keep the knobs from rotating. It’s shown in the detailed photo below.

Mark I hammer assembly
Mark I hammer assembly.

Mark I hammer detail
Mark I hammer spring detail.

After reassembling the hammer without the extra part the pistol is back to where it should be at 478fps, and 2 cocking power settings.

Wrong o-rings

What happens when you use o-rings that are not resistant to co2 gas? They swell much larger than their normal size.

Mark I normal o-ring
This is a normal-sized end cap o-ring. You can barely see it!

Mark I enlarged o-ring
When the o-ring absorbs CO2 gas it enlarged like this! It took over an hour for this o-ring to return to normal size. This makes the end cap difficult to remove when you want to replace the CO2 cartridge.

I am sure the other o-rings inside are the same as this one, but they are captive, and should not be a problem, so I am going to order a seal kit, and get to know it for a few weeks. Then I want to repaint and reseal the pistol.

Are there any suggestions for a good durable paint, that can be applied by someone with less than average painting experience?

And, of course I will document the rest of the rebuild for everyone.

Ian