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  #1  
Old 03-21-2008, 05:14 AM
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What load should I use when fire lapping a 45 colt?


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I want to try firelapping my 45 colt Uberti and Beartooth's manual says to use a very light powder load. I have been using Trail Boss powder but don't know how much to use for a "light" load. Has anyone firelapped a Uberti and does anyone have a suggestion on how much Trial Boss to use?
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2008, 09:07 AM
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I've only lapped rifles, but the usual recommendation is 600 fps. You can get that with Hodgdon's data for 250 grain bullets. Try estimating a load from their lighter bullet data. I'd start a bit on the high side and work down, as your first few shots will encounter the most barrel friction.

http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp

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  #3  
Old 03-21-2008, 09:38 AM
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firelap

I've firelapped approx. 40 guns and have been pleased enough with the results that I make it standard procedure whenever I get a new handgun. I also do it with .22 LR. I use whatever powder I have laying around and go with the lowest velocity recommended by any reloading manual. Use 5 grains of Trail Boss with 250 or 255 g. slug for .45 Colt. Use 6 grains Trail Boss with 200 g. slug. I usually shoot just 18 to 30 rounds and call it good. I have a S&W 629 that I firelapped with just twelve shots and it's absolutely remarkable how smoothly patches glide down the bore in the cleaning process. Upon examination with the bore scope it still shows micro scratches, etc. but they're orriented parallel with the bore axis which I think is a significant factor. Not all my guns responded this well, but all showed a degree of improvement. None were harmed. Don't forget to make absolutely sure that all fouling, copper, etc. is removed from the bore before you firelap or else you will be firelapping the fouling instead of the bore itself. Good luck, Randy

Last edited by rwa3006; 03-21-2008 at 12:10 PM.
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  #4  
Old 03-21-2008, 09:39 AM
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It isn't too critical. Basically, airgun velocities (400-800 fps) work. Some recommend the bullet barely make its way out of the barrel, but you don't want to get one stuck and fail to notice it, so Jack's velocity range is probably the best to shoot for (so to speak).

Trail Boss data is growing but isn't as established as some older powders. You'll notice that as you get down into the very slow loads (say, 4 or 5 grains), load increments increase ballistic efficiency so that velocity tends to change roughly in proportion to charge. As you get nearer the upper range, the ballistic efficiency is more constant so the velocity changes in proportion to the square root of the increase in powder charge.
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  #5  
Old 03-21-2008, 10:21 AM
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I haven't used Trail Boss, but about 2.5gr. of Bullseye worked in my Rugers. Hope that helps.....
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  #6  
Old 03-21-2008, 12:08 PM
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Thanks everyone for the information. I will load some rounds up this weekend and give it a try. It shoots fairly good now but I think it can do better. Never Leave well enough alone.

Mike
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  #7  
Old 03-21-2008, 01:31 PM
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Forgot to ask if you found a barrel constriction or an undersize chamber throat with slugs? If so, watching for them to shoot out by re-slugging after every cylinder full is a good idea. Also, if you have just one undersize chamber, as my Smith K-frame did, you can put more rounds through it than through the other chambers.

One other thing you can do with a revolver is shoot those low velocity loads for group. I remember Merill Martin (IIRC) posted some targets of firelapping rounds from a revolver. The groups got progressively smaller until he had either 18 or 24 lapping loads through the thing. I forget the number. It's not a bad way to tell how things are going, assuming the accuracy is not already too good to tell at the beginning.
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Last edited by unclenick; 03-21-2008 at 01:34 PM.
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  #8  
Old 04-07-2008, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by rwa3006 View Post
I also do it with .22 LR.

I'm not familiar with the term Firelapping but I am very intrigued. By reading this post I kind of understand the process when hand loading but not sure how this would be done with .22LR, as far as I know you cant reload .22, so I'm not sure how you would be able to fire anything with a velocity less than 1000FPS .I'm picking up a new Ruger MKIII on Friday and would love starting out with this procedure. The way it sounds lt will help improve accuracy right off the bat. any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
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  #9  
Old 04-07-2008, 09:09 PM
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You don't need to reload to firelap a .22lr. Use slow velocity, non copper plated ammo. Sub sonic target ammo does fine. Don't go with .22 shorts or longs, but use 22lr ammo. The concept of firelapping non-revolvers is a little different than revolvers in that you don't have the transition of cylinder/barrel to smooth up. Many guys choose to lap a barrel with a cleaning rod instead of firelapping. The only reason I firelap a .22lr is because it's easy and velocities and pressures are low (safe). Since there are no barrel/cylinder discrepencies to iron out, the only real advantage we can hope for is to smooth the bore which helps cleaning and reduces the frequency a barrel must be cleaned. I consider improved accuracy to only be a fortunate and sometimes by-product. I'm sure there are guys out there who would recommend the cleaning rod method over firelapping, but I've done both and can't tell any difference in results. Among many common rifles and pistols I've used several Anschutz 1827's to verify the results. It has never reduced accuracy in any gun of mine.
First, clean the bore and chamber to perfection. Next smear lapping compound on the nose of the slug, load it into the chamber by hand trying not to get compound on the sides of the chamber and fire the round. Repeat 10-50 times and clean the gun. Don't worry about trying to rub the compound onto the sides of the slug because upon firing the compound will flow back and funnel itself to the sides of the slug as it starts its journey. If you are lapping a match grade .22lr the odds are the bore is already polished as good or almost as good as what you can achieve by lapping. This indicates you should lap such a gun sparingly. 10-25 shots ought to do it. Rougher bores can get more lapping. If you examine the final results through a bore scope don't get too ruffled when you see you still have scratches, etc. Remember, the goal is not to remove all the perceived flaws, but to uniform them or smooth out the top surface of the rough spots. More is not always better.
For .22 revolvers I smear lapping compound over the chamber mouths as if loading a cap & ball revolver. Then I push it down against the bullet nose with a Q tip or whatever. Because .22s don't have big grease grooves to hold lapping compound like many centerfires I like using a compound with a thin consistency such as Clover brand so that it easily flows back from the bullet nose upon firing. For those folks who get nervous about this procedure exceeding safety/pressure concerns, just clip off the front third of the slug with wire cutters then proceed. This lowers the pressure so much that you can often find some of the powder that never even burned. Just make sure the slug exited the bore.

Last edited by rwa3006; 04-07-2008 at 09:15 PM.
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  #10  
Old 04-07-2008, 09:25 PM
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Talking

Thanks for your speedy reply this all seems to make sense , I'm picking up my new MKIII on Friday . First I will inspect the bore, its stamped target on the barrel so I may not need to do this but if it looks rough I will attempt it, the lapping compound you mention , I assume its the same as what would be used in automotive applications ? I will have to look for the least coarse compound I can find. Thanks for the info .
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  #11  
Old 04-08-2008, 05:28 AM
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No. Not the same. Finer grit. Check the kits sold by this board's sponsor. He uses 320 grit Clover compound. Because the .22 rifling is shallow, a fine compound is prudent. .22 rimfire barrels are often relatively soft steel, so they can cut fast. I am chicken, so I drop to 400 grit for .22 lapping and just accept that it will take more rounds to complete. Having a borescope is very useful for this, but slugging to feel constrictions is essential.

It is probably a good idea to distinguish between firelapping or pressure lapping and polishing. Though some use the terms interchangeably, I think it is useful to have two different terms. Lapping involves removing constrictions or other irregularities from a bore that affect accuracy negatively, while polishing just cleans up and resurfaces toolmarks to reduce fouling. Firelapping accomplishes both shaping and polishing simultaneously.

Using a subsonic bullet is a good idea. The alloy used for swaged lead .22's is soft enough to work both for firelapping and for slugging the bore. The most common technique for firelapping is to roll the bullet in compound between two flat surfaces. This embeds the compound in the bullet, making it into lead sandpaper. Even though that means light contact with the chamber, the bullet doesn't obturate until it jams into the throat. It also means the cutting action is greater at the breech end, which tends to taper the bore a little bit, leaving it narrower at the muzzle. That is a plus for accuracy, where the reverse taper (wider at the muzzle) is ruinous to accuracy. Hand lapping (using a rod and lead slug lap) creates a straight bore with no taper.

I strongly advise you get Marshall's technical manual and so some reading before embarking on this process. You can buy it separately or it comes with his Beartooth lapping kits. Click on the shopping cart to find them. His firelapping system is described in it in detail in the manual. Also look at this Beartooth Tech Note to read about the process in a revolver of larger caliber. It gives you some background on the concept that is useful.

One fellow writing in Precision Shooting magazine a few months ago actually deteriorated the accuracy of a .22 rimfire gun because he used the too-coarse abrasives that come in the Wheeler brand firelapping kit from Midway (I don't recommend this kit; its instructions give some outright wrong information, though you can read them free online at Midway if that interests you; they illustrate an improperly firelapped bore and claim it is what you should get by way of results; NOT). This fellow opened his bore up half a thousandth with that kit. Way too much. You should not take off more than one ten thousandth at the muzzle of a .22 RF, IMHO. My own firelapping of .30-06 Garand barrels never took more than one ten thousandth off their muzzles, three ten thousandths off the breech end bore diameter, and never moved the throat forward more than one thousandth. In the process, a half thousandth constriction was taken out of the area just ahead of the throat.
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Last edited by unclenick; 04-08-2008 at 05:44 AM.
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  #12  
Old 04-09-2008, 04:43 AM
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Thanks for this new info, Your right I do not want to trash my gun. I will look for Marshall's technical manual and wait until I better understand the process. Sounds like theres more to it than I originally thought. Thanks.
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  #13  
Old 04-09-2008, 06:49 AM
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Unclenicks advise is consistent with my experience. Get the tech manual first. Good luck.
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