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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
No pun intended, (well............... ;) )

After having researched this reloading consideration until my eyes are bleary and my head hurting from the contradictory holdings of various respected authors, I've come to the momentous decision that no one knows whether it's a good or bad practice! Sure generates a lot of verbage on each side of the issue, though!

Adding to the skimpy material on hand, Kragman 71 was kind enough to forward a goodly selection of comments he has accumulated over the years on the subject. I suppose he is just about as confused as I am with the opinions.

OK - it's a crap shoot whether you should use case fillers for insufficiently filled cases or when assemblying reduced loads using cast bullets (hereinafter referred to as CB's).

Folks have used a multitude of articles as case fillers - cork, cardboard, waxed milk cartons, dacron, kapok, cotton, tissue paper (never said whether 1 or 2 ply!), grain cereals (one of the very best uses of grits I have ever heard of - not fit for human consumption, otherwise), plastic and ground polyethylene, to name a few.

In the olden days, black powder loads were judged best when the powder filled the case and the seated bullet applied a slight compression for proper ignition. Sometimes a full charge wasn't desired so artificial material was used to complete the case filling and get the compressed powder. Wads of various materials, similar to those used in shotgun shells were stuffed in and worked fine. Remember, most old blackpowder cartridges were of the straight walled type and everything blew downbore with little restriction, again similar to a shotgun. Also, CB's were the primary projectile in these cartridges.

Today, with smokeless powders we have a different situation is presented. The powders vary in burn rate from extremely fast to extremely slow. Projectiles are both CB's and jacketed. Jacketed bullets offer far more resistance to being engraved with the rifling and will develop higher pressures than a CB of similar weight. BE CAREFUL not to interpose the two thinking the same powder load is OK for both.

We still have folks that like to shoot CB's in bottleneck cases using reduced powder loads using primarily fast burning pistol powders. The trick is to always have consistent ignition of the powder to provide consistent velocities and accuracy. Most powders are position sensitive, in that if the propellent is not held in the same place inside the case, the burn, and therefore pressure, will be erratic.

What to do?

The most obvious and best answer is to fill the case as near as possible with the slowest burn rate powder available to achieve the desired reduced velocity. Believe me, this is much preferred to the addition of fillers.

Since this doesn't work in all cases, we now decide to use a fast burn powder in a reduced load that only partially fills the case. NEVER REDUCE SMOKELESS POWDERS MORE THAN 05% BELOW THAT LISTED IN THE MANUALS - IT IS DANGEROUS. a situation known as double detonation (will not be explained here) can occur causing much mayhem. Follow the manual's recommendations for reduced powder loads and remember the difference with the CB's and the jacketed bullets.

The quandry of powder positioning can be solved in several ways.

1) The use of a "position insensitive" powder (AA5744 is touted as such)

2) The old "elevate and lower" method. Elevate the muzzle of the chambered round to past 45 degrees from the horizontal, then slowly and without bumping, lower the rifle to the shooting position. This should cause the powder to back up against the inside base and remain there until firing. Not recommended for rapid firing events!

3) Stuff something into the case that will assure the powder will remain against the flashhole.

Would strongly advise no's 1 and 2 be used. If still persistent in the desire to use fillers, then OK - here's more to ponder.

It has been reported that both straight walled and bottlenecked cases having fillers placed between the propellent and projectile have "ringed" the chambers. A ring is a bulge in the barrel metal, usually in the place where the bullet base resided when excess pressures developed. This ring will always be there and in some cases is so severe as to cause very sticky extraction of future cases. The necks fireform into the barrel/chamber bulge and are stuck.

I personally ringed the barrel of a fine old pre-Garcia Sako Forester L579 in .243 Win some years ago. Being an impressionable youngster and reloading my own ammo, fell victim to a sage old gun writer advocating the use of cornmeal as a case filler. Decided to top off the charge of Hodgdon H380 that nearly filled the case to the shoulder with a helping of cornmeal up to the bottom of the neck. The Nosler Partition 85 gr semi-spitzer (wonderful bullet) was seated to just at the neck bottom. First shot and the rifle didn't sound right. Bolt lift was heavy, to say the least. The primer was blown from the pocket and the case base was formed to the bolt head. Shoving a cleaning patch down the bore, a peek revealed the dreaded dark "ring" at the chamber neck. My personal belief is that there was a slight compression of the filler which packed, or caked, and that upon firing it acted as a plug in the bottleneck, bridged off momentairly and caused a tremendous buildup of pressure. That was the last time a cereal was used for a filler in any case, regardless of type. If using cereals or other dry forms for fillers (sawdust, etc) be aware of not compressing the stuff and that the added filler MUST be weighed and taken into consideration with the load. The added weight the propellent has to push is the same as using a heavier bullet for the same load, which we all know gets reduced the heavier the projectile.

The present day fillers seem to be cotton, dacron or kapok (if you're able to find an old life jacket still having it). Most advocate just a pinch of it, around .5 to 1.0 grains worth, to stuff it into the case with a blunt pointed instrument (extra decapping rod, sans the pin will do, or a blunt ended pencil if the case is big enough) to push the carded (fluffed) whispy bit of filler material lightly down onto the powder and allow it to naturally spring back. DO NOT make a tight pill or wad of the material and tamp down tightly. This could act as a secondary slug or plug with sufficient strength to hold the powder momentairly as it begins burning and then let go with a force that slams into the bullet base that can cause the aforementioned ringing effect.

Now, I've used the cotton/dacron (can't find the kapok, either!) methodology on some lightweight handgun loads and rifle loads when firelapping bores. Everything has gone well so far, but then again, tomorrow is a different day. When I do, a very minimum of the stuff is used - just enough to assure the powder will remain against the flashhole with careful handling and not enough to begin to fill the complete case.

Ground polyethylene, such as Super Grex, the stuff used to buffer shot in cups when loading shot shells, has been advocated. Not sure I'd try it, because I know for a definite fact that polyethylene melts at 425 degrees. Can just envision the mess it would leave in a bore, not to mention the hydraulic effect that could be pushed as a molten goo against the bullet base.

A product on the market for the past several years called Puff-Lon is said to be a valid filler. Among it's other ingredients are molybdnum disulfide and teflon. It is a very light weight powder to volume and said to be effective. Again personally, I've worked my buns off de-molying my barrel tubes of the moly previously used with abandon when it became the rage in the shooting fraternity. Became dissolutioned with it and have since gotten all the bores scrubbed back to pristine condition. Don't need a product that will re-introduce it, IMHO.

There you have it - danged if you do, danged if you don't.
The gist of this little article is to try and use full, or nearly full, propellent loads to avoid having to possibly use fillers in the first place. If fillers are still desired, use a very minimum amount of space filling naturally springy stuff like cotton or dacron. Watch closely for any increased pressure signs.
 

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Case filler

kdub:

I have heard very good reports on the use of PSB as a case filler to obtain lightly compressed and near full powered loads.
This material is apparently spherical, does not bond or clump when compressed. One friend is using it in front of a heavy load of RE 19 with a 255 grain bullet from a 348. He claims increased accuracy and that it provides a bore cleaning effect.

He directed me to Chargar who posts on another forum and I got similar information from him. I have tried a number of other fillers but this one has me curious enough that I ordered 3 lbs. of it to try out.

Usual cautions in its use seem to apply. Make sure you work up the load using the weight of the PSB as part of the ejecta (bullet and PSB combined). Fill the cases with enough PSB over the pwoder to obtain a light compression so as not to break powder sticks and expose surface area on the powder which is not retardant treated. Leave no air space between bullet and PSB and do not use with a powder or load type that does not seem appropriate.

I don't think it will arrive here for a couple of weeks but if it works out I'll try and provide some info here. I am particularly interested in using it in my own 348 as the cast hunting bullet I am using seats well below the case neck and the PSB is reported to provide protection to bottom end of the bullet.

best
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply, BCstocker -

Would you mind telling us what the "PSB" is - what sort of matrial and where it can be purchased. Also, does the manufacturer supply instructions for it's use? Appreciate any further info you might provide.
 

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Psb

kdub:

As indicated I don't have my grubby little paws on it yet so I'll tell you what I have been told.

PSB is a spherical synthetic usually used as a shotshell buffer. It apparently is so round that if you spill any on your loading bench it will cause items laid on top of it to slide around. It may be similar material to Grex or it may not but rather than granulated or ground each little bit is round.

Veral from LBT reported use of it on another forum as his preferred filler and a friend tracked it down as being available at www.precisionreloading.com which is where I'm having it shipped from. My friend thinks a 1 and 1/2 pound container will last his life time as he is only using 6 grains of it at a time. Either I shoot more or plan to live longer as I ordered 3 pounds of it and if it is truly good stuff hope to need more yet. His initial use of it apparently significantly reduced group size and he reports extremely clean barrel after shooting with it. His load was 60 grs. RE19, 6 grains of PSB, behind a 255 grain gas checked flat nose 348. I am not recommending that load as I haven't tried a work up of it but that was his report to me. He also had some correspondence with Chargar on yet another forum and learned he was getting very satisfactory results from it. My friend also tried it in front of H4895 at a level he thought was reduced quite a bit but wasn't. It took a lot more filler to gain a compressed load and although no damage occured he found he had a load equivalent in recoil, point of impact and cartridge case condition that matched his RE19 load. He said this load which had been inacurate with no filler suddenly became accurate. He doesn't have a chrony so couldn't clock it. In any event approach load work ups cautiously when using this or any filler.


It suddenly became one of those "gotta haves" to try out.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the reply, BC -

Will look forward to your report on material and results of use.
 

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kdub- use of PSB

The PSB arrived today so constructed a series of loads with PSB and an identical set of loads without.

The jury is still out on the enhanced accuracy claim (one load actually was a smidge better).

Notably, pressures were increased and likely velocity was too.
The final load I tried with PSB was max in my opinion whereas the same load without PSB was moderate. This same load produced fliers where the one without PSB was still grouping pretty good.

My impression is that adding PSB is about like adding an extra grain or grain and a half of powder to a conventional load.

PSB topping varied from 7 grains to 5 grains as the powder load increased.

I am going to try just a bit more PSB next time, perhaps an additional 1/2 grain and see what comes of that.

This stuff is slippery. A few grains on the floor and it's like stepping on ball bearings.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Discussion Starter #7
I take it from the ball bearing comment the PSB is a granular product. Does the mfg'r give a description of what the product is actually composed of?

Did you notice any of the product on the ground beyond the muzzle or in the bore? Was the bore clean after firing?

Your results sound about like what was written beforehand and pretty much verifies previous results.

Yes, please take into consideration the extra weight of the product and add that to the bullet weight, then adjust your powder load accordingly.

Loaded up a box of .41 Mag the other night and added the fluffed cotton filler to them (having a hard time getting the AA5744 powder to burn completely - nothing irritates me more than unburned powder!) So far, this addition has helped, but not eliminated the problem.
 

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Psb

kdub: The actual composition of the product is not revealed on the container or in the catalogue. I'm guessing it's some kind of teflon like material . PSB is round, and each piece is very small, smaller than a grain of sugar by a lot. I can't quite figure a way to get a measurement that is reliable as it's hard to keep in place in the jaws of a micrometer. Possibly in the .005-.010 range. You would have to have 20 pounds of it on the ground before it would be noticeable as it slips into every crevice it's exposed to and our range is fine gravel.

I have an old Pacific powder measure that has a tube with a screw adjustable cavity that I used to measure the PSB out and it worked very well but I think if I get this stuff working well I may simply make up some small dippers in varying capacities to measure it.

I am going to increase the load compression just a bit and see how that goes as a next step.

Bore was clean, no lead present but that is normal with this rifle even at the 2000fps + range. As I was shooting both types of loads (filler and no filler) I am not positive if there appeared to be less general powder fouling or not. Possibly marginally less.

I have not found 5744 to be particularly clean burning either but no worse than some other powders like 3031. It seems to work well enough without fillers in terms of accuracy that I'm not tempted to complicate the loading process.

best.
 

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Psb

After a lot of fiddling I was able to measure the PSB grains with a micrometer. They vary between .009 and .012 in diameter. Slightly larger than my first guess. It is compressible to the extent that you can crush a grain in the micrometer faces. Crushing several at once did not result in them sticking tightly together. I ended up with several flattened pieces that fell apart.

Most pieces are perfectly round but the odd time it appears that two may have bonded together to form a linked pair. Probably during the manufacture it appears. .
 

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Has anyone had problems with, or heard of firsthand accounts of problems with dacron or kapok used as a filler? I've used a filler in sevaral calibers for years with no problems. Some loads burn cleaner and more consistantly with a filler in my experience.

I had a friend that used cornmeal filler in a 45/70, and in a straight sided case it may be less of an issue, but I was never comfortable with something that dense as a filler. The tiny amount of dacron or highly compressible fluff doesn't seem to cause any problems for me, but then I'm loading very light level loads for the most part, with Unique or IMR 4756 (4759? whatever the reduced load powder is, been 10 years since I bought any.).
 

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To Filler or Not to Filler

A solution to the problem is to use Hodgdon's TiteGroup pistol powder. It is position insensative, produces consistant velocities, is very accurate with reduced charges, does not require the use of a filler, and is not problematic with as little as a 3 grain charge in CAS pistol calibers and 5 grains in CAS rifle calibers. In addition, it is easy to ignite and can be used with any primer, including lead-free primers.

See www.hodgdon.com/smokeless/shotpist.php for a description of TiteGroup.

44 Magnum: 200 gr. cast RNFP, 5.0 gr. of TiteGroup produces 878 fps.

45-70: 405 gr. cast RNFP, 12 gr. of TiteGroup produces 1155 fps.

Hodgdon's TiteGroup fills a tall order. Try it; you'll like it.

Note: I am not employed by Hodgdon Powder Co. or any other company. I retired last year and intend to remain retired for the duration.

JJ
 

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Nitro: That would be a solution for a light load. Iam working with near max loads of slow burning powders with heavy for caliber bullets. I'm pushing 2200 FPS with a 255 grain cast in the 348 using H4831 and Re 19 for instance. I have not done a lot with the filler recently except for a 197 gr. bullet from my 300 Savages. Been too busy hunting or repairing stocks.
The 300 Savage did respond very well to use of this filler using IMR4895. Accuracy was significantly better than not using it but I did not run it through the Chrony. Took a nice buck last month using the load. Leading was non existent and velocity should approximate 2100-2200. 10 shot groups ran a bit under 2" at 100 yds. which is more than adequate for hunting.
The 348 is on hold as it is going through a tuneup (forend bedding) and wood refinish and checkering . Got the forend in the cradle today and pattern laid out but am going hunting for a couple of weeks tomorrow. Should be complete at months end so can get serious about testing loads at the range again.
Also want to work up some loads for the 45-70 using PSB also in the heavy category.
 

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kdub
I read your article on fillers- as a Cap & Ball revolver, Smoke pole shooter for many years before getting into centerfire rifle and pistols I had plenty of experience with fillers. Always used corn meal- easy to measure and plentiful! Now I've dabbled in it's use with pistols/straight wall cases with smokeless powders mostly with the 454 Casull in the seach for a low recoil/ light load for general plinking /small game hunting. Most loads were for my 255gr SWC PB bullet . As I shot this load with full house loads being a PB bullet it fouled the barrel quite badly. So I started tinkering with fillers. Found that 3gr of cornmeal over 30 gr W296 would give me 1877 fps out of my Puma with very little leading and very good accuracy. Now I don't have any experience with bottle neck cartridges so I will refrain from cooments on the use of fillers in them.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Discussion Starter #14
Yes, cornmeal or other granular cereals make pretty good fillers for straight walled cases, Gunnut.

As stated previously, the old BP shooters used it to get compressed BP loads with under and over wads. Have been tempted to use it for my 45-70 reduced plinking loads. Even bought some vegetable fiber wads for the purpose.

The problem in bottleneck cases is the tendency to "bridge" and compact into a hard mass in the shoulder. Man, talk about radical pressure increases! :eek:

Bottle necked cases do well with things that don't harden into such compact masses, such as dacron or kapok. Haven't tried the new ground polymers, but as reported above by others, seems to work well.
 

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kdub:

I certainly mean no disrespect, however the suggestion of using a cereal filler sandwiched between two wads under the bullet, would likely raise a lot of eyebrows on the black powder forums; ie: www.shilohrifle, www.goexpowder.com and www.bpcr.net. I personally have not heard or read of any old timers who employed this method of reduced loads with black powder.

I just took delivery of a nice 1877 Sharps in 45-90 and I guarantee you that I will not be performing any experiments like this. I have heard of black powder cartridge shooters who have "ringed" their chamber by creating an air space between the powder and the bullet via an over powder wad on a reduced load. The method you describe might give someone these same bad results.

I would hate to see anyone ruin a nice BPC rifle.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Discussion Starter #16
8iowa -

The whole idea is to avoid an air space. The cereals fill up the case from powder to bullet base (wads are to keep things seperated).

Several BP shooters at our local range use the cornmeal with reduced powder loads in their 40-65's, 45-70's and 45-90's cartridges will no ill effects. They weigh the meal charges and compensate for the extra weight.

No disrespect intended either - if someone feels uneasy about ANY loads or procedures listed on the internet, they should by all means avoid doing so.
 

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kdub:

I agree, shooters should be cautious about loading information posted on the internet. Always use common sense.

There are a lot of variables here that we have no control over; the powder vs filler ratio could vary from 10 to 90 and certain types of fillers that someone might use could very well mimic an "air space". We don't know for certain if someone would use black powder, substitutes, or smokeless powder. The type of wads, method of compression, or lack thereof, would also influence results, perhaps dramatically. The size and type of cartridge is a significant variable. Would we want to try something like this with a bottleneck case? Is this an older rifle with a soft iron barrel or a modern firearm with the finest steel?

If someone is determined to use reduced loads with fillers I suggest contacting the rifle's manufacturer for advice. Don't be surprised if they tell you that a "ringed" chamber is not covered by warranty. Also, try running this idea in a black powder rifle forum such as www.shilohrifle.com, where there are many of the top BPCR shooters participating.
 

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I read the article posted on SurplusRifle.com where the guy was loading PSB for the FR8 and cast bullets a while back. I just happened to find the copy of the article I printed out, and found a reference to PSB here.

I have only been reloading centerfire for about 8 months. I realize from the comments above that a copper jacketed bullet takes more force than a cast bullet to get moving. And of course I don't want end up 'ringing' a barrel. And If you could get 100% load density with a slower powder that would be 'a good thing'.

I'm not to up on substituting powders for loads, I just usually follow close to what the data published in my reloading manuals suggests. But I got to wondering if it would be wise to use filler (PSB) in a load with a copper bullet. If I could use a reduced load and get better accuracy, and a cleaning effect at the same time that would be great. But are we talking apples and oranges here? I would like to hear what some of you have to say.
 

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Tubing Liners as Fillers

In the 1870s the Army experimented with using cardboard tubing liners as fillers in the 45-70-55 carbine cartridges instead of the normal over powder wad. Several empty cases with remanents of these liners were found during the 1984 Custer Battlefield Survey, but the liners were too deteriorated to be salvaged from the cases intact. The ammunition was tested for accuracy by the War Department in 1875 (Ordnance Notes, no. 43) and found to be slightly less accurate than the standard wad loading, so the liners were never incorporated into regular production.

It seems that such liners might be useable for modern smokeless powders in straight walled cartridges. It would take significent knowledge and equipment, so I believe it could only be done by a powder manufacturer. Has anyone seen anything regarding testing done using liners as fillers?
 
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