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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2012 Digital Edition - Page 34

SHOOTINGIRON tHUMB BUstIN’ MUsINGs FroM tHe DUke TM MIke “DUke” veNtUrINo Photos:Yvonne Venturino A LIFE SPENT ist making is an exercise in mental relaxation for me. Recently, I set about listing the handgun cartridges for which I currently handload, and that ballooned into how many different ones I’ve reloaded in my lifetime. It’s a list with some odd twists and turns. The total was 32, with handguns and die sets for 21 still on the active list. For semi-auto pistols they have ranged from .30 Luger to .45 ACP. For revolvers, on the small side they were .32 S&W Long, to .454 Casull on the big end. At this writing the smallest handgun cartridge for which I’m actively reloading is .32 Auto. The largest in volume is .45 Colt, but the largest in regards to bullet diameter is .455 Webley. RELOADING L Like so many other reloaders of handgun ammunition, my career started with the .38 Special. That was in December 1966. Being a list keeper even at that age I jotted down the quantity assembled after each session at the bench. I quit doing that in 1980, by which time the total of .38 Specials had passed 60,000. Remember that was before the advent of commonly available progressive presses. On the other end of the spectrum are .357 SIG and .454 Casull; both calibers for which I have loaded only a few hundred rounds. They were fired in borrowed guns solely for the purpose of writing articles and I wasn’t impressed with either round. By the fall of 1968, I was reloading At the time of this writing, duke actively reloads for all these handgun cartridges. for .44 Special, .44 Magnum and .45 Colt. At that time I also began assembling my first autoloading pistol cartridges. Naturally that was .45 ACP. Here’s one of those odd twists. Over the decades, I have handloaded tens of thousands of three revolver cartridges, but perhaps only a couple thousand .45 ACPs. I seldom take those .44- or .45-caliber revolvers off the shelf now, but have fired many thousand .45 ACPs (and 9mm Luger) these past few years. That’s because in building my World War II firearms collection, a couple each of .45 ACP and 9mm submachine guns have landed in my vault, along with handguns for same. I have one progressive press dedicated each to .45 ACP and 9mm Luger. duke’s most recently reloaded oddballs are the 7.65 french long for their model 1935A and the Japanese 8mm nambu for their Type 14 pistol. over the years, things change and so has the handgun cartridge for which duke does the most reloading. now .45 ACP and 9mm luger are at the top of the list. Duke Cussing? H ere’s an odd turn. The most cussing I did at a handloading bench was the first time I tried loading .44 WCFs (.44-40s) for a Colt SAA revolver. None of my rounds would chamber in a friend’s 1890 vintage revolver. Reloading manuals said to use .427" bullets, but cartridges carrying them were too fat for the chambers. With research I discovered that early .44 WCFs used .425" bullets and sure enough, when my cast ones were sized that they fit perfectly. With such a start it’s probably odd that now .44 WCF (.44-40) is my favorite for revolvers. Reloading them requires a little bit of finesse and an eye for mating bullet specs to barrel and chamber mouth dimensions. When that is done my Colt and U.S. Firearms “Frontier Six-Shooters” are tackdrivers. Speaking of tack drivers, there are four handgun cartridges I think are the inherently most accurate of the 32 which I’ve handloaded. Those are the .38 Special, .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum for revolvers and .40 S&W for pistols. In my experience, it’s difficult to reload an inaccurate combination for them. ODDBalls i n 45 years of handloading, I’ve seldom shied away from tackling oddball cartridges. In earlier years, some such were .38 Colt, .41 Colt, .44 American and .44 Colt. All of those were introduced with the so-called “heel-type” bullets fitting inside a cartridge case, as do .22 LR bullets, and carried their lubrication on the outside. Later .38 and .41 Colt evolved into “Long Colt” versions using hollowbase, inside-lubed bullets. I’ve handloaded them both ways and prefer the latter method. I’m still not scared of tackling oddball cartridges. The most recent ones added to my list have been the French 7.65mm Long and the Japanese 8mm Nambu. The semi-auto handguns both are part of my World War II collection. I also handload for a 7.62x25mm Tokarov, although there has never been a handgun for that cartridge in my collection. Those cartridges have been fed to a PPsh41 submachine gun. Still I count it among my life’s list of handgun cartridges reloaded. From my vantage point, I can’t see adding to my list in the future. In fact, just yesterday I made arrangements to sell my only .38 Super pistol, so I’m actually down to 20 handguns cartridges actively being loaded. That’s still enough to keep me busy — especially since I cast bullets for all. * 34 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY2012

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