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GUNS Magazine Digital February 2011 - Page 20
• M I K E “ D U K E ” V E N T U R I N O • time WeLL sPent A life of handloading. ecently on a cold rainy morning I was trying to R avoid doing anything productive. While dallying, for some reason this odd thought popped into my mind, “I wonder how many different calibers I’ve handloaded for since starting in December 1966?” So I sat down with Cartridges Of The World and began tallying them. To my surprise the total was about 120 different ones. They divided up into about 90 rifle and 30 handgun types but nary a shotgun gauge. shoulder she asked me to give it a break for a while. In handgun cartridges, my small end one has been the .32 Auto with my first pistol, so chambered, also coming in 1981. It was a Walther PP. My most recent one is a Colt Model 1903 purchased mid-year of 2010. (Actually I’ve reloaded for several other cartridges that on the surface sound smaller than the .32 Auto. Such would be .30 Luger, .30 Mauser, 7.62x25mm Tokarev and 7.65mm French Long. However they all will take the same cast bullet as the .32 Auto and it has the smallest case capacity of all.) Because he has always favored very heavy bullets in his BPCR (Black Powder Cartridge Rifles), Duke estimates he has fired more than 3-1/2 tons of lead through that genre of firearm since starting in 1981. Some of his favorite .4570s include (from left) the 520-grain roundnose, 513-grain roundnose, 555-grain roundnose and 560-grain Creedmoor. Photo: Yvonne Venturino For rifles, they ranged from the .17 Remington to the .50-90 Sharps. I’ve never actually owned a .17 Rem rifle, but a friend loaned me his decades ago along with the reloading dies and components. He forgot to factor in a powder funnel, therefore I had a heck of a time getting powder into the few dozen .17 Remington rounds assembled. At the other end, I have fired several thousand rounds of .5090 Sharps in the two Shiloh Model 1874s, which have passed through my hands. In fact, upon getting the first one in 1981, I went at shooting it so avidly that when Yvonne spotted the huge, deep purple bruise on my right This partial view of Duke’s gun vault shows why he is still actively handloading for no less than 47 different cartridges. Photo: Yvonne Venturino On the big end, I’ve handloaded a couple hundred rounds for a Freedom Arms .454 Casull, but freely admit never enjoying a single pull of the trigger on that cannon. When my handloading career began at age 17, so too did I become a bullet caster. In reviewing that list of 30 handgun cartridges for which I’ve assembled handloads, only one did not get loaded with home cast and/or commercially cast bullets. That was a .357 SIG, a pistol I had on consignment specifically to write about. The other 29 handgun calibers of my experience were either predominately or exclusively loaded with lead alloy bullets. For my own pleasure shooting, even nowadays, seldom is any other type of projectile used in my own handguns. The reverse is true of rifle cartridges of .30 caliber and below. Although I’ve fired many thousand cast bullets in rifles from the .222 Remington up through .300 Weatherby Magnum, the majority of my rifle shooting for those bore sizes has been done with jacketed bullets. Get above .30 caliber and then the table reverses once again with home poured lead alloy bullets dominating. In fact, I 20 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM•FEBRUARY2011