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Safer cartridge portfolio

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by psalmsinger, Mar 10, 2008.

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  1. psalmsinger

    psalmsinger Member

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    I have always been concerned about putting the wrong ammo into a firearm. As such, I avoid owning firearms that could create some confusion between similar looking cartridges. So far, I have basically only two real rifle calibers (besides .22LR): .30-30 and .308 Win.

    I have had my .30-30 since I was a pup. It was standard issue back then to all who were reared in deer country and was a present received as I graduated from the .22LR squirrel gun. Incidentally, I also recently bought a BFR in .30-30, but I digress...

    Many years ago, I decided to get another cartridge, so I added the .308 Win. I chose this on several factors including versatility. The .308 is very plentiful and there has never been an issue getting ammo. I can load a variety of bullet weights, which seems to me like the widest range of weights of any caliber. Just about every rifle I liked came in .308 as well. But, very important to me is that a .30-30 will not lock up in a .308 rifle, nor will a .308 feed in the .30-30 rifle. So, to intermix the two calibers on the shelf cannot result in me taking a dangerous load to the range. Also, it has been convenient to have just .308 diameter bullets -- I have single-shot spitzers from the .30-30, and a round-nose from the .308, and can do so without worry or confusion. I have .308 rifles that include an ultra-lightweight SS mountain rifle, a heavy barrel "varmint"/target rifle, an M1A, etc.

    BTW, I do the same with my sidearm rounds. I selected the calibers based on their compatibility (or lack of attemptable use) with the ones I already own. Starting with my government-issued RemRand, I worked from .45ACP to include other cartridges that I felt could not be chambered in that .45 and which would not allow a .45ACP to chamber in a sidearm of the new caliber.

    Now, I find myself wanting a smaller caliber rifle. But, even though I think I am a careful sort, I want to select a cartridge for my portfolio which has this compatibility to my .308 (and .30-30). I also want versatility, since I am not likely to choose a dozen or so calibers so that I have a special one for every job. So, I am looking for a single cartridge that can do real varmint, target, etc., but not be easily confused with the .308 or even other cartridges, has a wide range of bullet weights, and reloads well. I considered the .223 Rem, but it seems not near the top of any varmint, target, or other favorite lists, although ranks high on the cheap list.

    I like the looks of the .22-250 and .243 Win, but either of these looks like it could chamber in the .308 Win. What I don't know is if firing either of these from a .308 chamber results in really bad stuff. I suppose I could accept a situation where a .243 Win fired in a .308 just results in missing the target, but a spray of brass, steel, wood and hot powder would be a negative. Certainly, a .308 won't fit a .22 or 6mm barrel, so I think a 6mm Rem is out of the running.

    So, after a long set up, my questions are: what caliber is a good selection? does anyone have any experience (bad or not-so-bad) with firing smaller calibers from a .308? Not that I would do such a thing on purpose, but since I have a chance to make a decision now to lessen the possibility of screwing up, methinks I should ask the wisdom that is.

    Thanks in advance for your kind responses.
     
  2. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    It's like anything else gun related, just be careful.

    I've fired .44Mag in a .45 Colt revolver before, scared the pee out of me when I realized what I'd done.

    It's going to be tough to find something that is just flat impossible to mix and match.

    But, while it can certainly happen, I guess my question back is, should that really be top concern?

    As for .308 I haven't mixed up that particular one.
     
  3. RancidSumo

    RancidSumo Member

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    Just be carefull. I don't really understand how people can get the rounds mixed up.
     
  4. EHCRain10

    EHCRain10 Member

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    maybe a 25-06, its a long action case so you might be able to put in in the chamber but the action will not close on the round, and i dont think the 308 would fit into the chamber of the 25-06
     
  5. Hoppy590

    Hoppy590 Member

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    well seems easy enough to me, but .308 is rimless and 30-30 is rimmed... i dont think id make that mistake.

    added, good to see some more MA Shooters here. what part of MA you in?
     
  6. psalmsinger

    psalmsinger Member

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    Following up...

    EHCRain10: The 25-06 may be just the kind of thing I was thinking to avoid. The .25-06 will sure enough not chamber in a .308, but the reverse looks like a disaster if tried. It sure looks to me, from the drawings, that a .308 might chamber (fit) in a .25-06, maybe easily with lightweight bullets or some telescoping, and if the rifle is the controlled-feed type, will ignite quite nicely. I'll have to venture out with a .308 dummy to see if I can find a 25-06 to try. Of course, the .308 diameter bullet will not fit through the .257 barrel, which means instant high pressure, bent metal, parts flying through the air, blood squirting all over my reloads, pain, lots of screaming like a sissy, funny looks from the range officer, lots of pain, etc. In other words, not the kind of shooting experience I look forward to. Yeah, I am more careful than that. But then again, I wonder how many people thought that before something like this happens.

    Hoppy590: Yes, I have never switched 30-30 for 308. That one is too obvious. But, the firearm still will stop me if it gets that far. I also don't confuse .357sig, 45LC, and 45ACP -- way too different. With these I really don't need the firearm to help me, but it still will if I were to reload in the dark. (I am often in the dark, or at least so they tell me. :D ) I am in metrowest.
     
  7. Vaarok

    Vaarok Member

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    In all honesty, I can tell 8x56R from 7.62x54R and 7x57 from 8x57 at arms-length.

    Despite my cartridge-guessing ability, you raise a valid concern, but it should never be a factor with proper weapon handling. How often do you have two very similar calibers loose and with the risk of interchanging?
     
  8. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I see your point but I think you are worrying a little too much. I can see how you could confuse a 7mm-08 with a .308 at a glance, but you would really have to work at it to confuse a 25-06 with a .308. Seems to me the .223 wuld make a good next rifle. They can be very accurate, make a great varmit round, plus are cheap to shoot.
     
  9. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    I'd go with the .243 and not worry about it being based on a .308 case. The bullet diameters are visibly different.

    I reload, and I keep various calibers in Dillon plastic boxes, with large plastic tape labels. I don't work on more than one caliber at a time.

    When I go to the range, or go hunting, I take the box(es) for the rifles that are going. (Usually not more than 2...)

    Take one out of the case at a time, select the box that matches, and so on.

    I can see how dumping rounds in your pocket could get them mixed up. So, like the old doctor joke, "Don't do that!"
     
  10. psalmsinger

    psalmsinger Member

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    Vaarok: Hopefully never. But, there are opportunities. Maybe I dropped ammo on the floor. All the ammo sits on a shelf, in MTM boxes, nicely labelled, but the ammo had to be put in the box -- maybe I thought I checked the label, but filled the box with something else. Maybe just one round sneaks into a magazine. It happens -- I don't know how or why -- I've never had a problem, but the first time could be the last. I only figured that if there is an easy solution that does not compromise too much, it would be silly not to use it. Even though there is that safety between the ears, I still use the one on the gun.

    There are other places where things could get messed up. I could try sticking a .308 bullet in a .270 case that went through the wrong resize, or some such... That could be a problem, too. But, I could not get a 243WSSM into any 308 die, nor into a 308. Too bad the WSSMs are quite dead (and hard[er] to reload).

    jmr40: Yes, a .223 sounds pretty good. I think the .223 might have been chosen by the military partly because it cannot chamber a .308, nor will a .308 fit in the .223 breech. Other than being cheap, you are the first to recommend it to me, for varmint or accuracy. Others look more to the 22-250 or some BR-like variation (or even 222Rem). The 6mm seems to be more flexible, going to weights high enough to take deer, but also the go-to round for varmint on windy days in lighter weights. But, the .223 is worth another look.
     
  11. psalmsinger

    psalmsinger Member

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    243 Win

    dmazur: I do like the 243 -- popular, wide range for reload, fairly reasonable cost, lots of rifles to choose from, etc. I guess I would feel better if someone knew what the consequences of firing a .243 from a .308 rifle were. If only Ackley were still experimenting. I suspect that the bullet would hit the ground 10 feet from the muzzle with no other real harm done, but ... That is why I hoped someone here had some insight. Maybe I can sacrifice my old Spanish Mauser and rig it with a remote release from the machine rest -- really remote. Ackley would be proud.

    At least if I do go .243, the .223 Rem is still an option down caliber for the next purchase! :)
     
  12. Jdude

    Jdude Member

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    I write the calibur on the magazine with a magic marker to help me from mixing them up.
     
  13. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    Doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

    I deal with mixed buckets of brass (for reloading) from time to time and I've never had any problem sorting the .380, 9x18, 9x19, 9x21, .40, .45, .38, .357, .44 special, .44 mag, et cetera... some of which is closer to identical than the rifle rounds you are talking about.

    I really don't think I'm going to have a hard time sorting out these:

    [​IMG]

    Left to right: 9.3x62, 30-06, 8x57, 6.5x55, and .308. From wikipedia.org

    Or these:
    [​IMG]

    "Left to Right: .17 HM2, .17 HMR, .22LR, .22 WMR, .17 SMc, 5mm/35 SMc, .22 Hornet, .223 Remington, .223 WSSM, .243 Winchester, .243 Winchester Improved (Ackley), .25-06, .270 Winchester, .308, .30-06, .45-70 Govt, .50-90 Sharps" -- Wikipedia.org

    Small differences in theory big differences to the eye. Same is true for just about any cartridge you can think of... the difference is usually pretty obvious.

    If you have any doubt, check the headstamp. If you can't figure it out from the headstamp get out some calipers and check it that way.
     
  14. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    Checking the specs for the .243 and .308, the length to the base of the shoulder is 1.560" for both, both have 20° shoulder angles, and both have the same head.

    So, (guessing), firing a .243 in a .308 would probably fire-form the .243 case to .308 dimensions. Bullet would probably tumble out the end of the barrel without forming an obstruction.

    I can't find any tests of this, but as it doesn't involve excessive headspace, this error isn't likely to tear off a head or rupture the case.

    So, even though it sounds strange, it might be reasonably safe...check with other sources.

    As you said, as long as it isn't blown up rifle!
     
  15. atek3

    atek3 Member

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    i had a friend fire a round of 9mm out of my XD40... it worked... but the case blew out to the dimensions of the chamber... funnny stuff.
     
  16. skinewmexico

    skinewmexico Member

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    Think about how much more likely you are to be killed in a car wreck, than by swapping ammo into the wrong gun. For that matter, you're more likely to be hit by lightening. Do you change your life for those things, or worry about them? It's good to be careful, but..........
     
  17. Regolith

    Regolith Member

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    I may have accidentally shot 7mm-08 in a .308 before. :uhoh:

    You just gotta be careful, and make sure that the only cartridges near the gun you're shooting at the moment are the ones that are for that particular firearm.

    This is real important with 12 and 20 gauge. I've heard of people unintentionally turning shotguns into pipe bombs by accidentally loading a 20 gauge shell into a shotgun, chambering it (which will get it lodged partway down the bore) and then loading up a 12 gauge shell right behind that and pulling the bang switch. :what:
     
  18. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    I just read a caution by a moderator to try to answer the OP's question, if you reply.

    That is, if he's asking about rifles for home defense, don't recommend a shotgun...

    So, I'm trying. I really am. I understand your concern for mixing up calibers, and see some value in making it impossible, in your environment to have a "chambered wrong caliber" accident.

    I still recommend getting a system (which it sounds like you have) and following it without deviation. This is the best way to ensure safe gun handling. It will work for you even if you visit somewhere with different calibers, someday. (Like a hunting camp with hunting partners whose calibers aren't compatible with your fail-safe system...)

    Think of it as an industrial lockout/tagout procedure. You devise a list of breakers, valves, etc. that will isolate all forms of stored energy for a particular maintenance task. Then you follow it each time you do that task. If you acquire a new task (caliber), you add it to your procedures. You never, never skip a step or alter the procedure while it is being used as lives are at stake.

    This will reduce firearms accidents to bad steel (Tikka?), bad design (Mossberg?) and things like that. :)
     
  19. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    I just don't see how a person can load a wrong cartridge if he's anywhere near paying attention. The factory box says what it is. On my plastic boxes for reloads, I just use a piece of masking tape with the cartridge designation written in ink--along with the reloading data.

    I dunno. I figure if I grab my 7mm08 rifle, I'm not gonna grab a box of .243 ammo...

    Art
     
  20. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    The .30-06 and 8X57 can be a disaster waiting to happen to careless shooters who have both. In the study of Spingfield K-Booms, some of them were traced to firing 8X57 ammo in a .30-06 chamber.

    On the other hand, you'd have to have pond scum for brains not to realize you're about to load a significantly shorter round into your magazine.
     
  21. Markbo

    Markbo member

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    If you can't trust yourself to put the right ammo in the right gun, then you had better get a system down to avoid such a thing. Now I have showed up at the shooting range and yes even at deer camp with mismatched ammo (6mm vs .243 is pretty danged tough to see laying side by side), but I have NEVER placed the wrong caliber in a gun.

    And I am not saying that like I am anything special. It is just as simple as not pointing a gun at someone or yourself. It is simply one of THE basic safety principals. Whether you reload or not, you can take a big fat magic marker and write the caliber on top of the box so that it is easily identifiable when in an ammo bag with other calibers.

    I was just hunting this past weekend with .338, .375 & .300 winmag ammo - all in the same ammo bag. It simply took a concentrated effort - even during high stress SHOOOT... SHOOOOOOOOT times to make sure you grabbed the right box.

    If you drive with a blindfold on, you might hurt yourself. If you stick your face in a campfire to light a cigarette you might hurt yourself. If you load the wrong ammo in a gun you might hurt yourself. It really, really is THAT simple.
     
  22. cpttango30

    cpttango30 Member

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    I have a 308, 30-06, 6.5x57mm, 223, 22lr.

    What you need is a 220 Swift. It's based on the 6mm Lee Navy (Obsolete now). It is as fast or faster than the 22-250. Do not listen to these people who tell you it will burn out a barrel. I had one that had shot well over 3000 rounds and was just as accurate the day it got stolen as the day my grand father bought it. Firing a smaller caliber out of a 308 will not do much harm other than maybe a case speration. The bullet will just simple exit the barrel and fall to the ground in a matter of feet. if it even exits the barrel.

    You really have to be doing something wrong to mix things up. I just keep my 223 ammo on one shelf 308 and 6.5x57 and 30-06 on one shelf and 45acp 22lr on another and 12 ga on another. That takes up just about half of the gun safe.

    If you reload it is up to you. I buy the clear (Smoke, red or blue) see through ammo boxes. I do not worry about color matching and all that. What I do is get the business card sheets from wal-mart or staples that are perforated and make load cards. These are easy to read threw the clear top of my ammo boxes. If I am working up a load like I did recently with my 308 I make one card per powder charge and stick it in with them with one main card on top. I load in small patches for my rifle. As I am always tinkering with something.

    Mine have the following.
    Caliber ( large print for quick id)

    Load Date
    Bullet type and manufacture
    Powder Type
    Powder charge
    OAL
    Case manufacture
    Primer
    Amount loaded.

    This card goes in the boxes on top of the ammo. No matter what ammo it is. Or you could get some clear packing tape and tape them to the top. While I am at the range shooting I take the card out when I am done shooting all of thoese rounds and staple it into my load book where I record all my velocity data and weather condition data.
    Here is a picture of what one of mine looks like.

    [​IMG]
     
  23. Deer Hunter

    Deer Hunter Member

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    My cousin just got his 7mm magnum, and wanted to know if I was interested in shooting it.

    Well you know what the answer was there.

    So he gets it out, loads it (mistake number 1) with the safety on, hands it to me. I take a rest, look through the scope at the target about 100 yards away, flip the safety off, and squeeze the trigger...

    on a round of .270.

    Bolt flew open, magazine flew out the bottom, I got hot sparks and brass in my cheek, and my ears are ringing. I turn to look at my cousin, who looks like he needs a new change of pants, and said "I think something's wrong."
     
  24. highorder

    highorder Member

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    I'm with Art. If you don't know your cartridges well enough to know what they are by looking at them, (nevermind the headstamp!) you need to spend more time educating yourself.

    Safety is more than developing a mindless system to avoid confusion, it is forming the body of knowledge that makes a mindless system unnecessary.
     
  25. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Just learn to differentiate. Not counting rimfire and shotshells, I keep ammo on hand in 47 calibers, some of which are extremely close, And I've never mixed them up:


    [​IMG]

    On the left are 6.5x50 Arisaka, 6.5x52 Carcano and 6.5x55 Swede. On the right are .30-06, 7.7x58 Arisaka, 7.5x55 Swiss, 7.5x54 MAS, 7.62x51 Nato and 7.35x51 Carcano.
     
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