DIY Tumbling Media Separator

After getting my reloading press all put together and ready to rock, I found myself with a bunch of clean brass in the tumbler with no way to separate it from the crushed walnut media. I looked around the garage, and found a stack of 3 little trash cans that appeared in my garage about the time of our wedding a few months back.

I figured since they nest together so nice it would be pretty easy to turn them into a quick and easy (and free) media separator.

I grabbed one of the trash cans and a ruler and began marking spots for holes  on the bottom of it. After a few lines I decided to stop marking them, and just drill them freehand as close as I could.

This allows me to nest it inside the other trash can, pour in the contents of the tumbler, give it a few shakes, and I have nicely separated brass and media.

Then the media goes back into the tumbler for the next batch, and my brass is ready for the next step.

(By the way, adding a squirt of Brasso brass polish to the walnut media makes the media work a LOT better, and a lot faster.)

Loaded My First Rounds

We’ll surely talk about this some more in Episode 78 (which we’ll be recording Monday night), but I thought I’d add some thoughts on reloading my first rounds today.

.380ACP Casings Suck
Whoever decided to fire the one .380ACP casing on the range where I picked it up is a jerk. I tossed it in the shell plate, punched out the old primer, and seated a new one. I then dropped powder, and thought that the case looked really full, so I dumped it out onto the scale, and it came it at the 4.8 grains I was expecting. Odd. Charged it again, and this time when I lowered the ram down it tipped over, spilling powder all over. I did it again, and it spilled powder again. Then I pulled it out and looked at it, saw what it was, and threw it across the garage.

Props to Lucky 13 Cast Bullets in Kernersville, NC
Ive been looking for some pistol powder for a couple weeks and I ended up calling these guys to see if they had any. They were nice enough to put a few pounds of Unique on hold for me while I drove out from Raleigh. Nice little operation they have.

Primer Feed Systems:
When I announced that I was going to be buying a Lee reloading press I got a lot of criticism from the Dillon people telling me to buy a Dillon press. Almost everyone had good things to say about Lee’s safety prime system, and after loading 100 rounds today, I’m surprised by that.

I spent a lot of time getting the primer arm adjusted just right so it aligned perfectly with the cup. Even so, I found that it takes a very specific touch to get the safety prime system to drop the primer right into the cup. After some work I got it down to about a 90% success rate on the first try, and most of the rest went in on the second try. I did end up somehow getting one primer pressed into a case sideways, and a couple others fell out onto the floor.

I’m surprised to hear the praise for the Lee Safety Prime. If this is so good, the other systems out there must really suck.

The Press isn’t Slow, Everything Else is:
I found that I could load ammo on the turret as fast as I’m comfortable with, but I ended up spending the most time measuring cartridges and weighing charges. I measured OAL and neck size on every finished round, and weighed the charge on every fifth throw that came off the press. I’m pretty comfortable now that I could probably back off to measuring every fifth round in addition to weighing every fifth charge. That’s probably where I’ll go the next time I load.

Lawyers Make Reloading Hard:
Seems like every load manual has different numbers, and it’s hard to make heads or tails of it. For the powder I’m using, the different starting and max loads from different manuals varied as much as a full grain or more. Since I’m using coated bullets that don’t really have a lot of load data published already, deciding on a place to start with these was rough given the wide range of published loads for this weight bullet. I basically ended up taking all of the published minimums and averaging them out, and starting there.

I haven’t shot any of these yet, so I’m going to take them along to the Wake Action Pistol match Monday night and see how they do. Hopefully I won’t be disassembling 99 rounds tomorrow night…

Who Cares About Gun Safety?

With the news that Michael Bloomberg is launching yet another gun control group, this time called “Every Town for Gun Safety”, I thought we should have a look at who is actually promoting gun safety:

Gun Safety Programs
NRA NSSF Everytown et al Brady Bunch
Eddie Eagle Project Childsafe A YouTube Video
NRA Home Firearm Safety Course Firearms Responsibility in the Home
NRA First Steps Rifle Firearms Safety Depends On You
NRA First Steps Pistol A Parent's Guide To Recreational Shooting For Youngsters
NRA First Steps Shotgun Orientation
NRA Basic Pistol
NRA Basic Rifle
NRA Basic Shotgun
NRA Personal Protection in the Home
NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home
NRA Basic Muzzleloading Pistol
NRA Basic Muzzleloading Rifle
NRA Basic Muzzleloading Shotgun

Here’s the full list of NRA and NSSF safety courses and publications.

NRA: 13 safety courses that teach how to responsibly use and store firearms. They probably have even more, but I left out the defensive use courses just to help level the playing field.

NSSF: 1 safety program for kids, at least 3 fantastic publications on firearms safety. It should also be noted that the NSSF promotes safety as the first tab on their website, right under the logo.

Everytown/Moms/Mayors et al: Their site (I won’t be linking) has a link that says “What Should Parents Do To Keep Their Kids Safe?”. When the link is clicked, it plays a YouTube video that shows a girl finding a Beretta 92, and presumably having an accident with it. Nowhere does it talk about safe storage or anything like that. When clicking a subsequent link it just asks for personal information, still nothing about safe storage or anything about gun safety.

Brady Bunch: I couldn’t find anything about safety on their site anywhere. They just seem to want my money.

Who cares about gun safety? We do. Don’t be fooled by the new “gun safety” meme. These groups don’t want anything but complete civilian disarmament.


Extended S&W Shield Safety Prototyping #2

Earlier this week I mentioned that I’ve been considering making an extended safety for my S&W Shield 9mm because the standard safety is miserable. The JB Weld that I used to add material to the extra safety lever has mostly cured (I didn’t have a lot of hardener, so it took a bit longer than I expected), and I had time to install it.

It’s not big, just a hair bigger than the standard safety:

Extended S&W Shield Safety Prototype #1

For comparison, here’s the standard safety:

Standard S&W Shield Safety

You’ll notice that it’s not much bigger, but it’s just about right. I did a few draws from holster with the extended safety installed, and I really like how it works with just a little more material on it. I haven’t fired the pistol with it installed yet as I was just playing with it in the garage, but it feels like it’s just big enough that in addition to being easier to swipe off, it feels like it also should be big enough to ride with my thumb when firing the pistol.

The next step is to find someone who is experienced with a welder to add just a little steel to the thin safety lever, as I think that’s the best way to permanently extend it. Anybody have any other ideas?