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Thread: Bullet-less Fireforming

  1. #1

    Default Bullet-less Fireforming

    I heard about a much cheaper way of fireforming rifle brass: use a pistol primer, then fill the case to only 10% of its capacity with a very fast-burning pistol powder, then stuff a small wad of toilet-paper down it, and fill the rest of the way with cornmeal, or something granular like that. Seal it off with a blob of bullet lube, and load them individually into the rifle while it's standing straight up...then just fire it straight up.

    #1. has anybody tried this?

    #2. would this neck the case up, also? For instance, using this method, could I just stick 30-06 brass into a rifle chambered for 338-06, and end up with perfect 338-06 brass, without any manual resizing?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by go_north View Post
    I heard about a much cheaper way of fireforming rifle brass: use a pistol primer, then fill the case to only 10% of its capacity with a very fast-burning pistol powder, then stuff a small wad of toilet-paper down it, and fill the rest of the way with cornmeal, or something granular like that. Seal it off with a blob of bullet lube, and load them individually into the rifle while it's standing straight up...then just fire it straight up.

    #1. has anybody tried this?

    #2. would this neck the case up, also? For instance, using this method, could I just stick 30-06 brass into a rifle chambered for 338-06, and end up with perfect 338-06 brass, without any manual resizing?
    This a good question, I would like to know if it works because fire forming for my 30-06 ackley Impr. is a pain and time consuming not count bullet expeince and waste.
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  3. #3
    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Default Fire forming

    This method works well for going from "std" cartridges to "improved" cartridges in the same caliber, but I would not use it to go from one caliber to another larger caliber. I have used it successfully to go from 35 Whalen (or '06 )to 35 Whalen Improved and to go from '06 to 35 Brown-Whalen tho this can be a bit tricky since you are not only blowing out the case but also moving the shoulder forward. Works best with new cases. If you use old cases, b/o the brass is likely to be work hardened prob should anneal the necks first. I would not use pistol primers since you are more likely to puncture a pistol primer with a rifle firing pin.

  4. #4
    New member George's Avatar
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    Default forming

    Yep it works... kinda.

    The trick is to get consistent, high enough (but not too high!) pressures to form fully and evenly. After some experimenting with powder charges and wads and cornmeal and wax, I tried some 30-06 to 338-06. I found for me at least it worked better to just run a tapered 338 neck button into the inside lubed 30 cal neck for going from 30-06 to 338-06. Finally, after trying both the cornmeal fireforming and the neck resizing, I bit the bullet and bought some Norma 338-06 headstamped- easier and better in the end. Also, the original case has to have the same headspace (for shoulder headspacing cases) as the chamber headspace.

    For just blowing a shoulder out as in Ackley cases (like 35 Whelen to the AI version) I found a medium cast bullet load where the bullet is seated into the lands works best. This insures best fire reforming and perfect headspace. Still lots of folks shoot cornmeal and like it??

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by beartooth View Post
    This a good question, I would like to know if it works because fire forming for my 30-06 ackley Impr. is a pain and time consuming not count bullet expeince and waste.
    The Ackley improved chamber will have the same headspace as the standard caliber if correctly made. They will safely fire standard ammo without a hitch. I have owned a dozen different ackley calibers and this is the way they work. Some chambers are done incorrectly and leave some slop in the shoulder but I have six different calibers now and they will all shoot standard into tight little groups and make perfect brass.

    But yes the corn meal and wax method works very well. The trick is use 10% of a full case load of bullseye or similar powder then a tissue wad then your favorite hot breakfast cereal, (malt-o-meal, cream of wheat, etc.) and top off with a soft wax plug. Don't do this indoors and you will need a back stop.
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  6. #6
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Default

    Odd that I've never felt the need for more than 15 grains of Bullseye with COW blow out loads. Just remember to keep the muzzle pointed up when doing rimmed cases. Some guys worry about recovery of the COW and shoot it into a hanging barrel.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    The Ackley improved chamber will have the same headspace as the standard caliber if correctly made. They will safely fire standard ammo without a hitch. I have owned a dozen different ackley calibers and this is the way they work. Some chambers are done incorrectly and leave some slop in the shoulder but I have six different calibers now and they will all shoot standard into tight little groups and make perfect brass.

    But yes the corn meal and wax method works very well. The trick is use 10% of a full case load of bullseye or similar powder then a tissue wad then your favorite hot breakfast cereal, (malt-o-meal, cream of wheat, etc.) and top off with a soft wax plug. Don't do this indoors and you will need a back stop.
    Wow, it seems to be more trouble doing the corn meal and tissue wad than just firing some factory 06 ammo and have new formed brass in my 30-06 Ackley IMp. Murphy, it seems to me that to have for sure perfect formed improved brass would be to fire the 06 ammo. What do you think????
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  8. #8

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    so... I'm going to use 475 GNR (475-70) as an example, since I'm asking about it in another thread... would I need to neck the brass up to .475 before fireforming? Or could I just put 45-70 brass, with cornmeal and wax, into the chamber and let that do the whole thing (necking-up included)?

  9. #9
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Default

    I think you would do better keeping the case centered by necking up, before blowing it out.

    By the way, I guess it's a regional thing. I just feel like you should save your corn meal, and us cream of wheat. COW is much better to throw away than corn meal, after all it taste better!

  10. #10
    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    Default Reiterate Murphy's comment...

    I used this method to form brass for my first .35 Whelen. An old timer in Great Falls, where I was stationed at the time, told me his method. The first thing I did was to stand the cases in a pan of water, then heated the necks and shoulders until they just turned color, and then tipped them over in the water. After they dried, I used Bullseye, tissue paper and corn meal, with an over wad of tissue. Thinking it surely couldn't do any damage, I naively stuck the muzzle into a pillow against the floor and let one rip. Rip, it DID! The pillow disintegrated, there was a hole about the size of a silver dollar in the linoleum, through the underlayment, and into the sub-floor! The load would've been absolutely deadly at a fair range! Nothing to screw with. Needless to say, the Security Police and I had an interesting discussion, as well as with the neighbor (a Tech Sergeant, and I a lowly A1C) about firearms safety in base housing.....
    By the way, after I took it out behind the base in a gulley, and blew them into the air, I was rewarded with very nicely formed .35 Whelen brass, after which I full length sized them in Whelen dies and got with it.
    Nowadays, I use the Hornady dies with the tapered expander, and they give me the same or even better results.
    With the Ackley's I use standard brass, load them fairly warm with a powder on the fast end of the spectrum for the bullet weight, and go have some quality time. The .22-250 Ackley I have will fireform loads with the same accuracy as the fireformed cases subsequently reloaded, just won't have the velocity. If you can't shoot standard ammo in an AI chamber, someone didn't do the job right....

  11. #11

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    Darreled,

    I don't get the bit about using a pan of water and tipping them over... what exactly were you accomplishing?

    Forming Whelen brass... you were using 30-06 brass I assume? Did you neck up to .358 before fireforming? Or did the cornmeal method do that for you?

  12. #12
    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    Default The idea was to...

    Trying to anneal the necks of the brass. The fella who told me how to do it said that's what he did, and that was my first try ever at the process. Only did it on the one batch, the second batch, I used once fired LC53 headstamped GI '06 cases sans the annealing, and it worked perfect. That was back about 1974, if memory serves correct, there wasn't any store-bought Remington .35 Whelen brass available then. I used the cornmeal to form the brass entirely, then full length resized and loaded normally after that, trying to do it on the cheap. I DID have some loss, like one round in fifty or so.
    Last edited by Darreld Walton; 06-25-2007 at 20:06. Reason: Forgot a thought

  13. #13
    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    Default Speaking of fireforming brass...

    I had an '03 Springfield that had a 'long' chamber in it. Long enough that even I felt a little uneasy using new GI ammo in it. I took about a hundred cases, expanded the necks with an 8X57 expander ball, then put them back through the '06 sizer adjusted so that the bolt would just close on the new shoulder with some effort. After the firing, I had very nice fireformed cases for an otherwise unsafe headspace situation. Problem was that I had to judiciously keep the cases segregated from everything else, and with (at the time) 35 03's and A3's kicking around got to be a chore, but it let me use the rifle till I got a new bolt that tightened up the headspace.

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