The usual drill for home-brew ammo makers is to load ammo which either duplicates or exceeds factory ammo. If you shoot a lot, this practice can pay for itself very quickly. I don't shoot as much as I should, but I like to explore in the depths of the ammo-making hobby. Recently, I got the idea to explore the notion of making low-power ammo, mostly because it is not available on the market, you HAVE to make it if you want to shoot it.
Everything old is new again, sometime.
What if we reloaders turned this issue upside-down? What if we loaded LESS-powerful ammo than is usually sold from factory suppliers? Is there any advantage to that?
Not only is the answer yes, it is HELL YESS!
In 30-caliber rifles (30 US Carbine, 30-06, 308 Winchester, 300 Savage, 300 Blackout for you AR folks, not to mention the "fat-30's", starting with the old 32-20 Winchester, the 32 Winchester Special, the AK round 7.62x39 and even the beefier 7.62x54R and 7.92s (aka 8X56, 8x57), we have, usually, an inherently good rifle with good sights that we can't shoot except in the wide-open spaces, and even then we have to realize that these bullets can carry 8 miles!
So, when we go afield and we're NOT hunting big game, the 30-cal blunderbusses get left behind or stay locked up in the shooting brake (Brit humor, that!). What if we had ammo with us for that blunderbuss of an old battle-rifle that pretty much ran out of effectiveness after 50 to 100 yards? Then, if we kick up a bunny or a varmint requires dispatch, we load the "down" round and pop the target. Pop goes the low-power round, and roll over goes the bunny, while remaining in one piece and if there is an exit wound, you can probably even find the bullet nearby!
I did a fair amount of research for this post, and my computerized wanderings took me to CastBoolit.com where there is considerable discussion of this topic. Of course, that site exists for those who cast their own bullets, or "boolits" as they call them, but powder loading is also discussed, as is the choice of the best 30-cal rifles to "load down".
I have basic bullet-casting gear, but haven't played with this sub-sport in the reloading game yet, so I buy my cast boolits ready made. Last night, I ginned up some low-power rounds for a test:
These Oregon Trail LaserCast TruShot 170s are huge boolits, but it's what I had. Better would have been something in the 100-125 grain size. The beauty of these boolits is that they are hard (sintered with silver!) alloy, and gas-checked, so despite that my 25-grains of W748 will only move them at about 1500 fps, I could load them up to as high as 2300 fps, pretty much as fast as 180 JSP factory. If I go to just a few grains of Bullseye, with Dacron over-powder wadding, I could load them down further into the 800-900 fps range.
This week, I and the Savage 99f will go to the range and I will do mixed-load comparisons with these and some factory, both factory 150s and 180s.