Making Dummy Rounds


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Reloadron
April 5, 2013, 10:16 AM
Since recently we have seen a few threads about dummy rounds (those that don't go bang) I thought I would show how I go about it.

Dummy rounds are simply rounds that don't go bang. They lack a primer for ignition and powder as a propellent. They have several uses but I would guess primarily to check the operation or manual cycling of a gun. The cartridges I am using and pictured are 308 Winchester but could be any cartridges. I will be loading 308 Winchester sans primers and powder. Not really much to it.

So we need some brass and bullets:
http://bearblain.com/images/Brass%20and%20Bullets.png

There are several ways to identify our rounds as being dummy and non-shootable. My preferred method is to drill holes through the brass cases. In this case a single hole is drilled about 1/2" up from the case heads. This results in two holes in each case. Sometimes I come up another 1/2", rotate the case 90 degrees and drill another through hole. The idea here is simply to identify the case as a dummy. Other methods use paint or marking ink. I just happen to like holes. :)

Sizing The Brass:
http://bearblain.com/images/Sizing%20Brass.png

I like to do a full length sizing of the brass cases. Since these dummy rounds will be used in a variety of rifles I want a case with dimensions that should fit and function in any rifle that has a chamber meeting 308 Winchester specifications. Not pictured is I use a good RCBS precision micrometer to check my datum point on the case shoulder.

Trimming The Brass:
http://bearblain.com/images/Trimming%20Brass.png

The Maximum case length for this cartridge is 2.015" and the Minimum is 1.095". I like to trim my cases to 2.005" placing my case OAL in the middle of the range. In this case I am using very common and inexpensive 150 grain FMJ bullets. I also like to keep everything uniform so each dummy cartridge is as uniform as possible with the others. Uniformity and cases that meet specifications is important if we expect these dummy rounds to work well in a variety of chambers.

Seating The Bullets:
http://bearblain.com/images/Seating%20Bullets.png

Finally with our dummy cases marked to indicate they are dummy rounds, sized uniformly, and trimmed to uniform length we can seat our bullets. Uniformity again is important as we want all finished cartridges to have the same uniform equal length.

The Finished Product:
http://bearblain.com/images/Finished%20Cases.png

A nice addition I did not bother with would have been to take some spent primers, remove the anvils and place some red RTV in the primer pockets using a toothpick. Then prime the cases with our dummy primers inserted upside down. Just a matter of getting creative. The bullet tips could also be painted a unique color and the list goes on.

The most important aspect in my humble opinion is making sure the cartridges end up uniform and being well within specifications.

308 Winchester Cartridge & Chamber Specifications:
http://bearblain.com/images/308%20Win%20Case%20Chamber%20Dimensions.png

That's about it............
Ron

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2@low8
April 5, 2013, 11:21 AM
Reloadron - Thanks for taking the time and effort to share your ideas. Drilling the hole in the case body makes it unmistakable that it’s a dummy round and I’m going to do that to mine as well.

I was thinking that if you glued a piece of hard rubber eraser in the primer pocket you could also use it as a snap cap. Maybe silicone caulking would also work. Any thoughts?

rfwobbly
April 5, 2013, 11:37 AM
I was thinking that if you glued a piece of hard rubber eraser in the primer pocket you could also use it as a snap cap. Maybe silicone caulking would also work. Any thoughts?

Glue gun excrement might have a better durometer, be easier to insert, and easier to replace.

Reloadron
April 5, 2013, 12:03 PM
Thanks guys. Part of the reason I mention...

Just a matter of getting creative.

Once the case and bullet meet overall specifications we can get creative with stuffing primer pockets or painting the bullet tips. I just figure the main thought is to get something functional. Then the imagination kicks in. Could buy a pack of mechanical pencil erasers and trim and glue in the primer pockets as mentioned, the possibilities are sort of endless.

I have a nice En-Bloc clip loaded with some original factory Frankford Arsenal dummy rounds I love for cycling in M1 Garands. However, sometimes rolling our own is the only way to go. I also have some .22 LR that are pretty cool, the downside is after several dry fires they get pretty beat up on the rims.

Ron

fguffey
April 5, 2013, 12:24 PM
Reloadron
Member

Join Date: July 6, 2012
Location: Cleveland, Ohio USA
Posts: 1,234 Making Dummy Rounds
Quote:
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Since recently we have seen a few threads about dummy rounds (those that don't go bang) I thought I would show how I go about it.
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Dummy rounds: Again, depends, I make transfers and standards I use for verifying, to call a case ‘a dummy round’ would be determined by who is going to use them. Then there is the practice round designed to be used for practice, show and parade, then there are inert.

Transfer and standards. I start by drilling the primer pocket/flash hole to a diameter that accommodates a cleaning rod for the purpose of pushing bullets out of the case and into the rifling when determining the length of the chamber for maximum COL. YES! WE all know! Weatherby rifles have free bore for jump starts/running starts, I am the fan of the running start, I want my bullets to hit the lands A-RUNNING, I do not want my bullets setting at the lands at a dead stop when everything behind it gets busy, because time is a factor. And, we all know the case COL of the case must allow the ammo to be feed through the magazine, that means loading shingle shot with disregard for the magazine, or the maximum OAL is determined by feeding through the magazine.

Back to maximum COL, when COL stands for the length of the loaded round from the head of the case to the tip of the bullet meaning the ‘O’ represents overall as in one word, Then there is COAL.

Transfers: A reloader can pile tools on the bench, tools are nice, not necessary but nice. I make transfers to adjust my seating die, that is the purpose of drilling the flash hole/primer pocket, I seat a bullet, remove the bolt then place the test case with bullet into the chamber, then, push the bullet out of the case until it contacts the lands, then I stop, I then carefully push the bullet out of the lands with a longer cleaning rod ‘carefully’. And that is it, no Hoirnady/Sinclair etc., tools and modified cases, and I have bullet hold. The neck of my drilled out cases have not been modified for easy bullet sliding, again, I am the fan of all the bullet hold I can get.

Purpose of making a transfer: I use the transfer to adjust my seating die for that chamber with that bullet, I place the transfer into the shell holder, raise the tam ‘THEN!’ adjust the seating die to the transfer, to avoid crimping the die must be adjusted off to avoid crimping first, after adjusting the die to crimp or not to crimp the seater plug is adjusted down to the bullet, once the seating plug is adjusted the height of the plug must be ZEROED with a height gage as on above the die. The height of the seating plug can be adjusted to seat the bullet off the lands by measuring the height of the seating plug.

WORKS, but more expensive, seating dies with micro adjusters, I have 7 seating dies with micro adjustable heads, but still, I have to have a transfer, other reloaders do not, they oile the tools on the bench and go back and forth with making an adjustment, remove, measure, place in the shell holder, raise the ram and start over.

I use transfers, I transfer dimensions of the chamber to the seating die with a case with the flash hole/primer pocket drilled out, if I drilled a hole through the case body I would still be required to drill the flash hole/primer pocket.

Head space: I skip head space and go straight to the length of the chamber from the shoulder/datum to the bolt face. Again, with cases with drilled out primer pocket/flash holes I form cases by controlling the length of the case from the shoulder back to the head of the case. My favorite case? The one that is too long to chamber because of the length of the case from the shoulder back to the head of the case. My favorite case must be sized to chamber, meaning I must shorten the distance from the shoulder back to the head of the case, not a problem, my presses and my dies are adjustable, all I am required to do is know how to adjust the die to the shell holder, and it helps to know how to measure the length of the case with tools from the shoulder back to the head of the caser, again, there are tools that accommodate that task, they are nice and expensive but not necessary.

Transfers, I use transfers as tools, it would cost me $80.00 ++ to purchase modified case for a Hornady/Sinclair type modified cases to accomplish the same task, I have a slight advantage, I have more bullet hold. Another method requires sheading the case neck to reduce bullet hold, again, I want all the bullet hold I can get, and, I do not have to worry if the bullet wants to stay jammed in the rifling.

F. Guffey

greybeard57
April 5, 2013, 05:58 PM
My little creative mind went from silicone in the primer pocket to using a lead plug. Maybe this was a mistake or it won't work for some types of firearms but it works great in my 9mm's. I had a electrician crimping pliers that would cut the perfect size plug off a homemade roll of lead bar. I just took a 50cal smokepole ball, because it's what I had, and worked it with a small ballpeen into the appropriate sized bar and then used the pliers to cut and swage it into a round plug all at the same time. Force it tight into the hole with a pin punch and slice any excess off with a hobby knife. After a few dry firings on the lead just use a knife tip to redistribute the lead in the pocket and you have a ready to use snap-cap again.

Inebriated
April 5, 2013, 06:03 PM
I do the same thing with some of the test cartridges from when I setup crimp/seating dies. When I get it where I want it, I drill a hole in the side of the brass, and super glue some rubber (from an eraser) into the primer pocket. Works great for me.

Reloadron
April 5, 2013, 08:41 PM
Just a matter of getting creative. Amazing what we can get into a primer pocket to cushion a firing pin.

fguffey provided an interesting reply as to creating a "Transfer Standard". While not quite inline with what I had in mind as to making some dummy rounds to test or check functioning of a gun it is a subject well worth getting into a little.

There are several ways to go about making an inert or dummy round to be used as a transfer standard that will be used to create very accurate ammunition, this being true for those who suffer from OCD when loading rifle ammunition. May as well take a look at it and see if I understand what Mr. fguffey has in mind.

fguffey wrote:
Transfer and standards. I start by drilling the primer pocket/flash hole to a diameter that accommodates a cleaning rod for the purpose of pushing bullets out of the case and into the rifling when determining the length of the chamber for maximum COL. YES! WE all know! Weatherby rifles have free bore for jump starts/running starts, I am the fan of the running start, I want my bullets to hit the lands A-RUNNING, I do not want my bullets setting at the lands at a dead stop when everything behind it gets busy, because time is a factor. And, we all know the case COL of the case must allow the ammo to be feed through the magazine, that means loading shingle shot with disregard for the magazine, or the maximum OAL is determined by feeding through the magazine.

As Guffy points out there are tools made to do this but they cost some bucks and to some extent we can make our own. Time to again get creative. So let's drill out a primer pocket.

http://bearblain.com/images/Drilled%20Pocket.png

Now please forgive some of my images. While macro is a fun thing I can also screw it up. We took a new 308 case and drilled it out. The primer pocket is now large enough to easily accept a 17 caliber cleaning rod (with jag). :)

http://bearblain.com/images/Rod%20Through%20Case.png

Now at this point in the game we have a few options in creating our transfer standard. I don't use the method prescribed by Guffy. His method will work just fine I just use another method. Keep in mind this is for one specific rifle. So I choose my bullet for my case.

http://bearblain.com/images/The%20Bullets.png

The bullets on the left are Sierra 168 grain HPBT Match King and the bullets on the right are generic 150 grain FMJ. Note the size difference in length. I want to load Match Kings. So what I do is gently start seating my bullet using a seating die and just get it started into my case. I then slowly chamber the round. If I am in a very OCD and patient mood I strip the bolt of pin, extractor and ejector. I feel the resistance as I use the bolt to finish seating my bullet and close the bolt. Then I open the bolt and remove my cartridge. Then measure my cartridge OAL.

http://bearblain.com/images/Cartridge%20OAL.jpg

I now have my own little transfer standard. I can place that cartridge in my press and run my seating die down till I am on the bullet. This is where the seating dies Guffy mentioned come in handy. I have several I use and here is a 308 example.

http://bearblain.com/images/COMP%20FL%20DIE%20SET.png

The seater allows me to run my bullet down in .001" increments and I begin experimenting to see how much bullet jump or freebore my specific rifle likes.

There are also tools to make this entire process easier like the Precision MIC sets from RCBS and others, they look like this.

http://bearblain.com/images/PRECISION%20MIC%20SET.png

However, as Guffy explained there are other older tried and true methods which cost less.

All of this being well off target from my making several dummy rounds. :)

Ron

edfardos
April 5, 2013, 09:02 PM
I like the idea, but how many times can you chamber them b4 the bullet tip is mangled?


edfardos

Reloadron
April 6, 2013, 09:20 AM
I like the idea, but how many times can you chamber them b4 the bullet tip is mangled?


edfardos
The bullet tips don't get mangled. Eventually the ojive may show marks where the bullet engages the lands and grooves.

You can get away with several neck sizing as the necks expand and get loose. However, in all fairness there is more to doing these things. That is for those on an OCD Accuracy Quest. :)

Personally I use once fired brass from the rifle I want to load for. Another method is using a full set of headspace gauges so you know exactly what your chamber is. Here is an example of what I am getting at as to 308 Winchester.

http://bearblain.com/images/308%20Gauge%20Set.png

The 3 gauges on the right are just 308 Go, No Go and Field gauges. The 8 gauges on the left range from 1.630" to 1.638" in .001 increments. They can be used to get a pretty exact chamber measurement.

In the following example my bolt will not close on the 1.634" No Go gauge.

http://bearblain.com/images/Rifle%20No%20Go%20Gauge.png

http://bearblain.com/images/Rifle%20NO%20Go%20Bolt.png

Working down I get a tight close on a 1.631" gauge and no close on a 1.632" gauge. So I know my headspace for this rifle. Now being OCD about it when I full length size I can use a precision mic set to check my brass cases. There are a number of ways to do this but I happen to use the RCBS set seen below.

http://bearblain.com/images/PRECISION%20MIC%20SET.png

Keep in mind that once fired brass in the rifle will form up close to the chamber dimensions so is all this added effort worth it? All depends on the rifle and how uniform we want to make things. Anyway, I can now set the shoulder where I want it.

When I look at this endless affair the idea is uniformity which means eliminating as many variables as humanly possible. I know guys who open a 100 count box of bullets and weigh and sort them. Talk about OCD? :)

Ron

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