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Thread: Handloading at the range

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    Default Handloading at the range

    Does anyone handload at the range? I've never done it but I know some who do when working up a load. My buddy welded together a mount that attaches to his receiver hitch to mount his press. It sticks out past the tailgate when down so he can use the tailgate as a bench. If you reload at the range what techniques do you use and any special equipment you might use or have had fabricated?
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    Thought about it, but never done it. Sure seems like the logical way to work up a load, though. If I were to try it, I believe I would run a ground wire if I was loading on anything that was attached to a vehicle. A spark from static electricity could ruin your day.

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    I have on occasion loaded at the range when I was working up a particular load, specifically working up towards the top recommended load.

    What I do is prepare the cartridges (rifle), prime them and drop the powder in them. I place them in loading blocks that are well marked so I know what amount of powder is in each set of cases but I don't seat bullets.

    After shooting the first set (loaded at home) and recording accuracy and looking at the cases I use a Lee hand press to seat the next group of bullets in cases with the next higher amount of powder.

    I repeat until accuracy drops off or I get to the top load that I am willing to try. I never have seen pressure signs (I stay by the book) but if I did I would of course stop.

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    The problem I see with this, at least in Alaska, is that you lose control over the temperature and humidity of the loading environment. When fine-tuning a load, you're hand measuring each charge and basically making match grade rounds. When you do this at home, everything is loaded at the same temp & humidity, thereby giving you the most consistent results. If you are loading and then shooting small batches in a cold, wet environment, you just added variables into the mix that could affect accuracy of individual batches that are loaded some time apart in a changing environment. Now if you were at the range in a desert down in America, these factors might not come into play.

    The other thing you lose when you're talking about working off the tailgate of a truck on a press mounted to the sloppy hitch receiver, is that you may not have a perfectly level surface for your powder scale and you'll have movement of the press, which can also add variables to the bullet seating.

    Now if you went to a range with an indoor shooting station, such as the one at the rifle range of the Snowshoe Gun Club in Kenai, then you could probably do this fairly easy and without nearly as many potential problems. At any rate, what I think you could do to proof any setup you came up with is to take a known load that you already have worked up and try loading that exact load at the range and test a few groups comparing a batch you loaded at home with a couple batches you load at the range. If the group stays consistent regardless of where you loaded, then you'd know that your setup isn't degrading the loading process and you could try using it for your other load workups without too much concern.
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  5. #5

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    Used to do it all the time in the 60's and 70's when it was THE thing to do for benchrest comp. You just weren't anyone if you didn't shoot a whole match with the same rifle case, loading each round at the bench. Arbor presses made it easy, even if it was a long time between shots. But you could still do it within the time limits. Interesting enough, no one ever weighed charges. Powder measures all the way for precision benchrest. Go figure! I wouldn't bother for producing lots of loads, but could almost justify the effort for working up a load. But I'd go the arbor press route and do it right at the bench rather than going to all the trouble of rigging up for a conventional reloading press.

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    Default Another popular myth

    Actually gunpowder - even black powder- is about impossible to ignite with static electricity. Just not enough energy to get things burning although the spark can look impressive.

    I think there are a few video clips that show some attempts to ignite powder that way but I don't recall ever seeing one that was ever sucessfull in igniting the powder.

    Similar situation is trying to ignite gasoline with a cigarette or cell phone.


    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Dummy View Post
    Thought about it, but never done it. Sure seems like the logical way to work up a load, though. If I were to try it, I believe I would run a ground wire if I was loading on anything that was attached to a vehicle. A spark from static electricity could ruin your day.
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    I thought about it, but never found it worth the trouble...I live close enough to a range. The wind bothering the scale, needing to box it in, is one of the bigger problems I would have to content with. I'd box every thing up and be out at the range and find I'd forgotten...primers, or powder, the right shell holder, or some thing else...if I tried it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    Actually gunpowder - even black powder- is about impossible to ignite with static electricity. Just not enough energy to get things burning although the spark can look impressive.
    Here is all anyone needs to know about black powder and static electricity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    Similar situation is trying to ignite gasoline with a cigarette or cell phone.
    Don’t know about black powder and BBs link don't work for me . . . I suspect you are correct, I never worried about static at all. Gas, on the other hand I know about, I drove a fuel tanker as my first job. At 17 years old I tended to get board easy when unloading 9,916 gallons by gravity and I know you can not light gasoline with a cigarette no matter how you do it. That red placard on a gas tanker reads 1203, that’s the lowest flash point of gasoline. The end of a cigarette gets to just about 1000f when you are sucking with all your might, 203* short of lighting gas even in optimal conditions. Now a Bic lighter, even if it’s out of butane works every time.
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    I don't have a place like that but I think that would be a great help with load development. As is, it's just a dream.....

    Quote Originally Posted by AKHunterNP View Post
    Does anyone handload at the range? I've never done it but I know some who do when working up a load. My buddy welded together a mount that attaches to his receiver hitch to mount his press. It sticks out past the tailgate when down so he can use the tailgate as a bench. If you reload at the range what techniques do you use and any special equipment you might use or have had fabricated?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    That red placard on a gas tanker reads 1203, that’s the lowest flash point of gasoline.
    Not even close. The number "1203" is simply the assigned DOT placard number that references the material being shipped into the DOT Haz-Mat guidebook to speed up the process of finding out what kind of physical hazards the material has. The number has no actual reference to any of the physical properties of the material.

    The flash point of gasoline is -45°F and the autoignition temperature is 495°F. You can ignite gasoline with a cig, but you must ignite the vapors above or beside the liquid where they are at the correct air/fuel ratio for combustion. The liquid and the vapors close to the liquid are far too rich to burn. Move a few inches away and they can be ignited by spark or heat in the 500°F range.

    Think about it for just a sec... if the flash point of gasoline was 1203°F, how on earth could we use it for a motor fuel? It simply wouldn't ignite when exposed to a spark. The flash point of diesel is around 143°F and look how hard it is to ignite.
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    Lee has what you need to load while at the range. $40 from midway.

    Attachment 54130

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Not even close. The number "1203" is simply the assigned DOT placard number that references the material being shipped into the DOT Haz-Mat guidebook to speed up the process of finding out what kind of physical hazards the material has. The number has no actual reference to any of the physical properties of the material.

    The flash point of gasoline is -45°F and the autoignition temperature is 495°F. You can ignite gasoline with a cig, but you must ignite the vapors above or beside the liquid where they are at the correct air/fuel ratio for combustion. The liquid and the vapors close to the liquid are far too rich to burn. Move a few inches away and they can be ignited by spark or heat in the 500°F range.
    You may well be correct about the placard and temp numbers but over the last 40 years I have won lots of dollars betting people they can’t light gas with a cigarette. Nobody has yet been able to do it including half the Phoenix Fire department . . . well one guy did by rigging a hose off a SCOTT pack oxygen tank but adding pure oxygen to the mix is cheating. Gasoline won’t light off a cigarette no matter where you put it in the vapor, try it!

    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Think about it for just a sec... if the flash point of gasoline was 1203°F, how on earth could we use it for a motor fuel? It simply wouldn't ignite when exposed to a spark. The flash point of diesel is around 143°F and look how hard it is to ignite.
    Well when you apply extreme pressure and the heat that comes with it then add that very hot spark that is a couple thousand degrees just like a little arc welder a chain reaction starts then all kinds of things will burn. Gas engines will run on wood smoke, they will burn the vapors that weren’t flammable enough to burn in the fire it came from . . . it’s called “wood gasification” and you can easily look it up. I have seen a little piston fire starter that you put some saw dust or something in than whack the piston and the compression lights the sawdust, you start your campfire with the ember . . . it’s all about the compression.

    Diesel engines are harder to start in the cold because they don’t have spark plugs at all and rely completely on compression to ignite the fuel. Diesel engines are “direct injection, compression ignition” where the fuel lights on entering the cylinder just from the heat of compression. Gas engines (most anyway) bring the fuel/air together into the cylinder then require extra heat of a hot spark to get things burning.

    A cold engine has lower compression because the rings are not sealing as well as when they are worm. Add to that the thickness of frozen oil and the loss of battery efficiency in the cold and you get even less compression because the motor won’t spin as fast. Gas engins overcome this with a spark plug, some diesels have glow plugs that glow red hot to help but they are not nearly as hot as a spark plug. Run more CCA (cold cranking amps) use a good full synthetic oil and diesels cold start every bit as well as gas motors even without any spark plugs. I've got two 7.3 Powerstrokes, a 5.9 Cummings, a 3406B Cat and a couple tractors out in the yard that all cold start better than the wife’s gas motor does.
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    Not that I'm trying to thread drift, but there is no internal combustion engine that will run on a liquid fuel that has a flash point of 1203°F. You might as well try to make water burn.

    "Theoretically" you most certainly can ignite a gasoline vapor mixture with a burning cig. Clearly you must setup the ideal conditions and just tossing a smoke on a pool of liquid will never do it. I'd bet you I can get it done in the lab under controlled conditions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    "Theoretically" you most certainly can ignite a gasoline vapor mixture with a burning cig. Clearly you must setup the ideal conditions and just tossing a smoke on a pool of liquid will never do it. I'd bet you I can get it done in the lab under controlled conditions.
    Yup, heard it all before. Normal conditions that could exists from a live person smoking a cigarette and normal 83 octane pump gas, no adding oxidizers or modifiers like oxygen, ether, nitrous, alcohol, peroxide . . . what's your bet?
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    This could get interesting. All this from a question of whether or not you handload at the range.
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    Default 2 watts of energy

    In engineering electical wiring around hazardous vapors from crude oil, gasoline, etc. it has been proven and accepted that around 2 watts is the minimum anount of energy required to ignite vapors or liquids. For circuits that are limited to 1 watt or less- intrinsically safe - open contacts and no special means to prevent a spark are required.

    The question that occurs to me is how much energy do the pizo-crystal ignited lighters generate? Seems like generation over 2 watts by pushing on the trigger of the lighter is a bit much but they obiously work well for propane and gasoline. Perhaps they generate a lot of short duration peak energy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    Yup, heard it all before. Normal conditions that could exists from a live person smoking a cigarette and normal 83 octane pump gas, no adding oxidizers or modifiers like oxygen, ether, nitrous, alcohol, peroxide . . . what's your bet?
    Do we get to use "real" gasoline with a flash point of -45° and autoignition temperature of 495°F, or are we going to use your "special" gas with a flash point of 1203°F? (which is the equivalent flammability of something like maple syrup)

    The average temperature of the burning tip of an American cig is around 700°F while smoldering and up to 1300°F while drawing. Both exceed the autoignition temp of gasoline vapors. Place this cig in a 5-6% gasoline vapor mix with normal air, and you will get a fire once it heats the correct f/a mixed vapor up to autoignition temp. Give it a try. Put about 3 drops of gas in an empty metal coffee can and shake it vigorously for a few seconds to vaporize most of the gas, then immediately place your cig in the can and see if the vapors flash. Lemme know how your eyebrows held up.

    Back to the OP, while I don't handload at the range, I can certainly see another's concerns about wind have a major affect on your powder scale. So some kind of windshield would have to be part of the operation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Put about 3 drops of gas in an empty metal coffee can and shake it vigorously for a few seconds to vaporize most of the gas, then immediately place your cig in the can and see if the vapors flash. Lemme know how your eyebrows held up. .
    I keep telling you I have tried it, not only have I tried it but I have watched at least 200 other cocky guys that watched too many movies try it. This is how I know you haven’t tried it. It’s hilarious watching fifteen pyromaniac firemen with degrees in fire siance working for hours trying to do it. It’s one of those “theoretically possible“ things that just doesn’t pan out in the real world, like flying bumble bees that theory says can‘t fly there is far more to it than numbers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeonardC View Post
    I'd box every thing up and be out at the range and find I'd forgotten...primers, or powder, the right shell holder, or some thing else...if I tried it.
    That'sa GOOD point.

    I'm set up to load, completely, 2 different cartridges at the range, but I've not actually done it. YET.

    I did some outside at my Picnic Table in the back yard, and at my easy chair, to make sure I had EVERYTHING I'd need, and it was surprising how many things I needed, that were not in my KITs originally.

    The problem is, measuring the powder, if you're gonna try different charges. I can do it with a dipper, but that limits me. I have a small Electronic Scale, now, and that works fine outdoors.

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