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GUNS Magazine September 2011 Digital Edition - Page 22
• M I k E “ d U k E ” v E N T U R I N O • P h O T O S : y v O N N E v E N T U R I N O • fIRMLy IN ThE MIddLE lthough by and large I’m known as “The Black Powder guy” amongst gun’riters, for about the last five years I’ve handloaded and fired far more smokeless powder rounds than ones carrying black powder. why? Because I’ve been deeply involved in building a shooting collection of all types of world war II firearms. However, even before taking up black-powder cartridge reloading in the mid-1980s, I handloaded many tens of thousands of smokeless powder rifle cartridges ranging from .222 Remington to .375 H&H. For the most part, in that rifle handloading there was one self-imposed quirk. For small capacity cases I used fastburning rifle powders, such as IMR 4198, Reloder 7 and H322 etc. For the larger cases I preferred slow burning powders like IMR 4350, ACC3100, H4831, etc. I can’t say I ignored all medium burning smokeless propellants, but they definitely didn’t get much of my attention. All that has changed because of late, I have been shooting powders of medium burn rate by the pound. They are ideal for most of the full-size rifle cartridges associated with World War II weapons. The Lyman Reloading Handbook 49th Edition on page 458 has a list of 114 current smokeless propellants in order of relative burn rate. Those I’ve been focusing on start with Hodgdon’s H4895 at number 72 and go to Vihtavuori N150 at number 89. While I have not experienced all 17 propellants between those numbers, most certainly ones like IMR 4064, Hodgdon’s Varget, Vihtavuori N140, Reloder 15 and IMR 4320 have been given quite a workout from dozens of my rifles. barrel’s muzzle. The gas then drives the operating rod rearwards to cycle the action. If gas pressures are too high at the barrel port the op-rod can be overworked, bending in the process. In a nutshell, slow-burning powders still have too much pressure at the gas port but medium-burning propellants do not. In fact it has often been written that medium-burning IMR 4895 was developed specifically for loading US M2 Ball (.30-06) for the M1 Garand. My first .30-06 military rifles were bolt actions—US Models 1903, 1903A3 and 1917s. With those I was perfectly happy with handloads using 150-grain bullets and IMR or H4350 powder. Then came a Garand to the collection and fearing a mix-up of ammunition that could damage the A Medium burning rifle powders. M1 I ceased loading .30-06s with those powders. I’m glad I did because by focusing my reloading efforts on the medium burners, I’ve discovered just how versatile they can be. For instance I’ve come to consider Hodgdon’s Varget as my everyday powder for .30-06, .303 British, 7.62x54mm Russian and 8x57mm Mauser. The following are some details. Matching Original Ballistics US M2 Ball .30-06 used 150-grain bullets at a nominal velocity of 2,700 feet per second from a 24" barrel. When I put 48 grains of Varget under a 150-grain Sierra FMJ, the 24" barrel of my ’03 Springfield gave 2,703 fps as clocked by a PACT Mk IV Timer in chronograph mode. The same load gave 2,689 fps from an M1 Garand. Germany’s “S-Patrone” 8x57mm Mauser load of World War II vintage used a 198-grain FMJ bullet at a nominal velocity of 2,540 fps. My load of 47 grains of Varget under Hornady’s 195-grain spirepoint gave 2,560 fps from a K98k Mauser’s 23.6" barrel, 2,460 fps from the 19.6" barrel of a G33/40 carbine and 2,528 Too Much Gas What brought on this change in my preferences? I can lay the blame precisely on the M1 Garand. With that semi-auto rifle design a small amount of gas, generated by the powder’s burning, gets siphoned through a small port not far from the 22 duke has found that the medium-burning rifle powders are useful for handloading a wide range of military rifles, such as these ranging from 6.5mm Japanese to 8mm mauser. WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2011