Thursday, August 05, 2010

Loading with the XL650 ... sort of (Part 2)

After we left the range, HB and I made tracks directly to Abby's Pizza and a small pitcher of Heffeweizen.

Everyone else had either already left the match to go home, or they had only just finished the match and were waiting for the awards ceremony. HB and I have both attended hundreds of Awards Ceremonies, and while we usually stay to honor the winners, we had more important things on our mind: food and drink!

After the pizza and beer had been served, we talked about the match. HB related the story that on the last stage of the match, while I was shooting, one of the squad members commented that I had managed to shoot the whole match without a malfunction. (This was strikingly different from the last time I had shot the Open Gun, last October in Dundee, when a weak recoil spring had forced me to deal with a gun which would not return to battery ... one of the longest videos --- and most embarassing -- I have ever posted to YouTube.)

No sooner was the comment made, but the gun jammed. I pulled the trigger, gun went [click!] instead of [bang!] I think it was a high-primer, because I needed only perform the "Tap/Rack/Bang" drill and the gun performed flawlessly for the rest of the stage. Probably that would have happened even if nobody had mentioned that I was shooting a trouble-free match.


But under any circumstances, it was clear that I had not the clear advantage of reliable reloaded ammunition.

By this time, it was clear that my Dillon XL650 was one sick puppy, and I was unable to use it to load ammo for competition. I mentioned my firm intent to sent the press back to Dillon during the coming week, because I was unable to fix the problems.

The Hobo Brasser chose this moment to offer to load 1,000 rounds for me on his own press, so I could send my 650 back for factory maintenance. He didn't want me to miss more matches than necessary at the dwindling end of the Summer Shooting Season. (In truth, I suspect he wanted me to shoot so that I would add an element of "Comic Relief" to the matches.)

Faced with this extremely generous offer, I hemmed and hawed around for about half a split-second and accepted his help.

The next weekend (now Last Dunday) I showed up on his doorstep with 300 rounds of new Winchester .38 Super brass, 1200 CCI Primers, and 4# of VV N350 powder. I also had a half-dozen rounds of loaded ammunition (so he could confirm the correct Over-All Length) and the range of power load for each cartridge, which was 8.0 - 8.6 grains. I also included an STI .38 Super magazine, which allowed him to make a final check on OAL: if it will fit within the magazine, it's not too long a load!

During the past week I have contacted Dillon via phone and got a Return Authorization Number, dismounted the 650 and sent it (including the shell-plate and the entire primer feed assembly, along with the 1050 handle) to Dillon via UPS.

At this moment I have about 26 rounds of (probably usable) .38 Super ammunition left over from my last match. I have also ordered another 1,000 rounds of Winchester Brass from Dillon, and when it arrives I will forward it to The Hobo Brasser. Along with the 1200 primers, that should be sufficient components for him to load 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Not to put any pressure on but this year's Croc Dundee "You Got Bullets?" match has been replaced by a "Monster Match" at Albany Rifle and Pistol Club over the Labor Day weekend.

This match will require a minimum of 400 rounds, and I very much want to shoot it.

One of the problems with the Croc Match in the past has been the very tight schedule, which didn't allow shooters to pick up their brass after having shot a stage. This match announcement states that shooters will be allowed to brass at the end of a stage, as long as it doesn't delay the match. I REALLY don't want to dump 400+ rounds of once-fired brass on a range and lose it. Especially since the brass costs something like $200 for 1,000 rounds, including shipping.

So that's where I am right now. I checked the UPS Tracking Number on Friday last (August 6) and the 650 had got as far as Phoenix, Arizona. I assume it will be in Prescott sometime Monday. I don't know how long it will take them to fix it and return the press, but at lest due to the generosity of The Hobo Brasser, I won't have to sit out the rest of the 2010 competition season because I don't have ammunition.

Now all I have to do is relearn how to shoot the Open Gun.

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