Bullseye Powder in Light Gallery Rifle Loads


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Ed Harris
October 6, 2009, 04:36 PM
Re-visiting .30-’06 “Guard” and “Gallery Practice” Loads with Bullseye Powder


A year or so ago friends recently gave me several thousand pulled Cal. 30 Ball M2 (152-gr.FMJ) bullets and fired empty cases. These had been accumulated from DCM .30-’06 ammunition from which they had pulled the GI bullets and replaced them with Sierra 155-gr. Palmas over the original powder to use for competition. I was offered half the fired brass and pulled bullets to use my Dillon Auto-Swage 600 to rework the cases and work up a gallery load for Junior training and rapid-fire practice at 100 yards in bolt action military rifles. The intent was to approximate the old M1906 Guard cartridge. An article in Rifle Magazine, March-April 1990, by Jeffrey W. Houck, p49 was a useful resource to assist with this.

Reduced range guard cartridges were developed for use in the M1903 Springfield on urban installations where full power ammunition posed a risk of collateral damage if fired in anger. The M1906 Guard cartridge used a reduced charge of Bullseye powder with the standard 150-gr. FMJ service bullet. It was identified by 6 dents or flutes on the shoulder of the cartridge case. According to ordnance pamphlets, the M1906 Guard cartridge gave accuracy equal to normal Ball ammunition at ranges up to 200 yards and shot approximately to point of aim at 100 yards using the standing bar of the folded down battle sight on the M1903 Springfield rifle. At a range of 200 yards the Guard cartridge required an elevation of 650 yards on the elevation slide.

My initial experiments sought a subsonic load producing minimum noise, but 100-yard groups with the M2 Ball bullets loaded subsonic weren’t not as good as when they were driven a bit faster. Nor did I find any benefit to using pistol primers, inert space fillers in the cartridge case or enlarged flash holes using Bullseye powder in these .30-’06 gallery loads.

Once-fired LC military cases were full length resized; primer pockets swaged, trimmed to length and primed with standard Winchester Large Rifle primers. After experimentation I settled on a charge of 8 grains of Alliant Bullseye as the best compromise using pulled Ball M2 150-grain or 148-grain 7.62mm M80 jacketed bullets. After seating bullets were crimped using the Lee Factory Crimp die. Velocity from my 22" Mauser sporter with European style, long tapered throat is 1080 f.p.s. and from a Sako A2 silhouette rifle with 24” Douglas Premium barrel with tight-necked target chamber and SAAMI throat 1160 f.p.s. Report and recoil are mild, like shooting a .32-20.

The average of five consecutive 5-shot groups fired at 50 yards from the Mauser sporter with 4X scope was 1.2 inches. The point of impact at 50 yards was 3.5" below that of normal Ball M2, which enabled using the heavy duplex reticule as a short-range post, using my normal zero for 180-gr. hunting ammunition. The Sako with 10X scope shot very consistent inch groups at 50 yards. So it was time to go to out to 100 yards and stop “fooling around.”

The Mauser sporter struck much, much lower at 100 yards, and required re-zeroing, but accuracy was fairly good, averaging 2.6” for ten consecutive 5-shot groups at 100 yards. This grouping compares with full-power Ball M2 ammunition from the CMP. The Sako with 10X scope averaged 2inches for ten consecutive 5-shot groups, also typical of M2 Ball ammunition fired in that rifle.

While I was at it, I decided to test cast bullets, without a GC, to compare their performance against the Ball M2 pulls. The cast bullets were cast in 4-cavity gang moulds and sight culled only. They were loaded as-cast and unsized after tumbling with Lee Liquid Alox. I found them highly satisfactory as practice, training, small game and utility loads useable in any sound .30-’06 rifle. Cast bullet groups were equal to or better than the M2 pulls, an inch at 50 yards and 2 inches or so at 100 yards. Velocities using the 8 grain charge and 152-grain plainbased cast bullets such as the #308241 or RCBS 30-150CB approached 1400 f.p.s., and caused mild leading in other than the target grade barrels. For general use I recommend reducing the charge with cast bullets to 7.0 grains of Bullseye so that leading won't impair accuracy over longer strings of fire.

The M1919 Gallery Practice cartridge used a 140-grain, plain-based, round-nose lead bullet shaped very much like the Ideal #308241. Prior to WWII it was reclassified as the Cartridge, Guard, M1. This lead bullet reduced load was originally intended for indoor and outdoor short-range practice. It was alternately used as a Guard cartridge around defense plants and military installations in non-combat areas which didn’t require the FMJ bullet of the M1906 Guard cartridge for compliance with the 1905 Hague Convention.

Gallery Practice cartridges were loaded with a charge of Sporting Rifle No. 80 powder to attain about 1100 f.p.s. Guard units commonly reloaded indoor practice ammunition. Ideal Reloading manuals prior to WWII and Phil Sharpe's Complete Guide to Handloading (1937). featured data for assembling gallery center-fire rifle loads.

Cast loads using 7 grains of Bullseye with the RCBS 30-150CB or GC type bullets of similar blunt shape, but used without the GC should be cast no harder than wheelweights. These light loads do not cycle the action of semi-automatic rifles, but can be hand cycled from clips in the Garand when the action is worked manually. The 7 grain charge of Bullseye can be used in the 7.62x54R Russian, 7.62 NATO cartridge or 8mm Mauser (with proper bullets) with similar results. To produce similar gallery loads for the 7.65 Argentine, 7.7 Japanese, .303 British, or .30-30, which operate at lower pressure use 6 grains of Bullseye with a 150-grain lubricated cast bullet, 110-gr. jacketed .30 carbine softpoints or 123-grain .310-.311 jacketed 7.62x39 bullets, as appropriate for the caliber.

When using reduced charges of dense, fast-burning pistol powder it is absolutely necessary to visually inspect 100% every case for correct powder fill using a pen light to positively prevent missing or double charges or spilled powder.

To recap, if low noise and minimum danger space are the goal, carefully load 8grs. of Bullseye in the .30-'06, 7.62 NATO, 7.62x54R Russian or 8mm Mauser with a 150-gr. jacketed bullet appropriate for the caliber. Lighter jacketed bullets such as 110-gr. softpoints designed for the .30 M1 carbine can be used in the .30 cal. rifles. The 123-gr. .310-.311 bullets intended for the 7.62x39 work well in the 7.62x54R Russian and .303 British. Do not reduce these charges further with jacketed bullets because below 1000 f.p.s., you are likely to "stick" a bullet in the bore.

If you do stick a bullet in the barrel the safe way to remove it is by first flooding the barrel with Kano Kroil penetrating oil, then using the Brownell's "squibb rod" (in the .32 revolver size) threaded with the adapter onto a one-piece Dewey cleaning rod and tapping the bullet out using many light taps.

You may substitute a soft, lubricated lead cast bullet of a weight similar to or less than the service bullet with good results. Do not reduce charges further because ignition. Do not use any inert cartridge case space fillers and stick to standard large rifle primers.

Bottlenecked cases such as the .30-'06 which are reloaded frequently with these reduced loads will shorten in head-to-shoulder length, being driven forward into the chamber by the primer blast. Rimmed cases used in reduced loads do not suffer from this difficulty. Gallery loads are a good way to use nearly worn-out cases one more time before smashing them for scrap to trade to the recycler for lead with which you will cast more bullets.

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justashooter in pa
October 7, 2009, 08:20 AM
this has also been done with green dot and unique, which was advertised for the purpose as much as 80 years ago. squib (stuck in bore) usually happens below 600 fps with jacketed bullets, in my experience, and below 500 fps with cast. years ago we had the fluted guard cartridges. got them at Sunny's Surplus. hatcher's notebook discusses loading the bullets in reverse orientation, indicating better accuracy is possible this way.

bluetopper
October 7, 2009, 11:09 AM
I need to show this thread to people who scold me on the forums for using Bullseye for cast lead 44 Magnum target loads.:)

And yes it works wonderfully.

Noveldoc
October 7, 2009, 08:23 PM
I use Titegroup, also a very fast powder, for 44 Mag target loads with medium hard lead SWCs and DEWCs. I am sure Bullseye would also work well but cannot get any at the moment.

No leading at all in my piece.

Tom

Bwana John
October 8, 2009, 01:02 PM
Ill keep using IMR SR4759 for my 30-06 reduced loads, Bullseye is too scary for me!

Kernel
October 9, 2009, 12:02 AM
Good info, Ed.

Unique, Bullseye, Red-Dot are the three most common shotgun/pistol powders I see published for reduced loads in rifle cartridges. Really, any pistol powder should work, if it's worked up carefully.

Trail Boss is a new one that's gaining more acceptance. It's bulk density, ie "fluffiness", is a major plus, from the standpoint of safety and ignition consistency.

4759 is another good powder for reduced loads. And not by coincidence. It was originally developed by IMR specifically to be a powder for reduced velocity loads in rifle cartridges. It's also very "fluffy" and ignites easily.

kingmt
February 6, 2011, 06:12 PM
I know this thread has a lot of dust on it but it has a lot of info I'm looking for. Most of what I'm finding is for lead but I want to know about jacketed. I have some 106gr frangible bullets in .30 cal., a 30-06 bolt action, & Bullseye.

What would be the lowest charge that would work?

PapaG
February 6, 2011, 06:58 PM
Don't know when "squib" became a term for a lodged bullet but going back to old Whelen and other writer's notes, squibs were "gallery" loads, using a light lead bullet in big cases for practice and for small game while on big game hunts.

Trivia time.

TonyT
February 6, 2011, 07:20 PM
I would not use Bullseye and would recommend using abulkier powder such as SR-4759 or Trail Boss.

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