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GUNS Magazine May 2012 Digital Edition - Page 24
STORY: John Barsness Not like pulling teeth. Done right, you can reuse the bullet. andloading’s a fascinating hobby, but once in a while we need to “deconstruct” ammunition by pulling bullets. The reasons are almost endless, but probably 75 percent of the time the powder charge is wrong: We made a mistake in setting the scale, or forgot to test a new lot of powder before loading up a batch of new ammo. A couple of times I’ve worked up a new rifle load, then put together a box or two of ammo only to discover, a week or month later, that some of the new rounds won’t fit in the chamber of the same rifle. The reason? The powder charge was a little too compressed, and either pushed the bullets slightly out of the neck, or bulged the brass, or both. Sometimes we just want to break down factory ammunition or somebody else’s handloads to salvage the bullets and brass. The two traditional methods for pulling bullets are with an impact puller or a collet tool. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Impact pullers are essentially hollow-headed hammers. After inserting a round into the hammerhead, the hammer is whacked on a hard surface. After a few whacks the bullet pops loose, along with the powder. The handloader then empties the hammer-head and inserts another round. Impact pullers only cost about $20 and work on almost any handgun or rifle ammunition, since they normally come with a universal chuck (shellholder). They’re also slow and noisy, and don’t work very well with really light bullets. They can also damage bullets. Most handloaders don’t realize this, because bullets normally come out of an impact puller appearing unscathed except for the tiny scratches from the case neck. However, lead-cored bullets need to have the core firmly seated inside the jacket to shoot accurately, and the whacking required to knock a bullet loose from a case can also knock a bullet’s core slightly loose from the jacket. And no, you won’t be able to hear the damaged bullets rattle, because the core isn’t that loose. Obviously, this won’t happen with monolithic bullets, whether made of lead or copper, or bonded-core bullets. But it’s common with standard cupand-core bullets, especially if they’re light enough to require several whacks to dislodge, such as the small-bore rifle bullets used for varmint and target shooting. Nevertheless, the majority of handloaders use an impact tool, because they’re cheap and universal. One common problem involves the shell-holder, normally a 3-piece chuck PuLLiNG BuLLets H A wire cutter works as a quick, multi-caliber bullet puller, especially on harder bullets with cannelures, while causing minimal bullet damage. Collet pullers are most useful for soft, thinjacketed bullets, such as .22-caliber varmint bullets. held around the head of the case by a small rubber band. This isn’t super-secure, and getting it around the case-head slows down an already slow process. Here’s a really handy alternative: Substitute a standard loading-press shell-holder. This is a lot faster, believe me, as well as more secure. (Sadly, I didn’t think of this on my own, instead reading it somewhere. Thanks very much to whoever thought it up!) Collet pullers fit into the die threads of a typical loading press. A round is run up into the puller just like a case going into a die, and a collet of the correct diameter is tightened around the bullet. Lifting the press handle 24 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • M AY 2 0 1 2