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Old July 15, 2011, 05:26 PM   #1
Gatofeo
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.25 ACP: Cheap, good reload with buckshot

Tired of paying $12 for 100 .25 ACP jacketed bullets for reloading, if you can even find them? Try this cheap, plinking alternative:
Resize a case and ensure it does not exceed the maximum length of .610 inch. If it does, carefully use a very fine file to reduce its length. Few case trimmers can accommodate the tiny .25 ACP. Though Lee makes .25 ACP reloading dies, it does not make a case trimmer pilot for this Lilliputian case.
Bell the .25 ACP case mouth to avoid shaving the lead ball when it's seated. If your dies do not bell, insert a .223 case into the .25 ACP case mouth and tap the .223 case lightly with a hammer a few times. The shoulder of the .223 case will easily bell the mouth of the .25 ACP case.
Prime a resized case with a standard small pistol primer. There is no need to use a magnum primer.
Add powder (detailed instructions below).
Seat a Buckshot No. 3 lead ball up to its midpoint into the case. The typical No. 3 buckshot ball weighs about 23 grains and is .250 inch in diameter. This is a good fit in the .25 Auto bore, which is nominally .251 inch.
Firmly crimp the case around the seated ball.
Turn the loaded case over and dip the ball, up to the case mouth, in Lee Liquid Alox. A screw-top bottle cap works well as a lubricant container for dipping the loaded balls. If the lubricant begins to stiffen, add a drop of Mineral Spirits and mix well with a toothpick to thin it.
The seated lead ball lubricated, stand the cartridge on its base in the open air and allow the lubricant to dry overnight.
This load is mild, functions most pistols, shoots to about the same point of aim as the 50-grain factory load and is accurate.
Not much power to it, but it’s no toy. It will penetrate both sides of a can at 20 feet.

For the powder charge, start with 1.0 (one) grain of Bullseye and increase the charge 0.1 (one-tenth of a grain). Stop when reliable functioning is attained.
Most guns will operate well with 1.3 grains of Bullseye.
Be very careful when charging the .25 Auto with powder, as only small powder charges are used and a double-charge can be easily overlooked. Look down into each charged case with a strong penlight to spot a double charge.
A double charge of Bullseye would likely damage the pistol, and may be injurious to the shooter.
I have not tried other powders but similarly fast pistol powders should work. Or not. You’re on your own when it comes to experimentation.
Using other powders, start the No. 3 buckshot load with a reloading manual’s suggested starting load for the 50 gr. jacketed bullet. This will ensure a mild starting load from which you can work up, if necessary. Remember, you’re seeking reliable functioning with this load, not velocity. If your first load is reliable and accurate, why go on?

The light lubricant on the ball is important. Without it, leading will occur quickly. If your bore does lead, run a dry, bronze brush through it a few times.
This is a surprisingly accurate load.
At seven yards, from a benchrest, I've placed six of these lead balls into groups of 1.5 to 2 inches. This was with a pre-war Sauer & Sohn Model 1928 of outstanding quality but very small in my hands. Inexpensive, average or poor quality pistols may not be as accurate. Most .25 ACP pistols have rudimentary sights, so consistent accuracy can be difficult.
I wish Ruger would chamber their Mark II for .25 ACP, with bull barrel and adjustable sights. I think people would be amazed at this cartridge's accuracy.
This No. 3 buckshot load is fun. It would be handy for farmers and ranchers who encounter rats in their barn but don't want big holes in structures. It is strictly for plinking and practice and should never be carried for self defense.
There are about 300 lead balls to a pound. Buckshot is usually sold in 5-pound containers, so you can buy about 1,500 No. 3 buckshot balls for about $20.
Quite a savings over the jacketed bullet price, eh?
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Old July 15, 2011, 09:21 PM   #2
Dr. Strangelove
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatofeo
It would be handy for farmers and ranchers who encounter rats in their barn but don't want big holes in structures.
Good thinking. I was getting tired of the huge holes my .25 ACP was making in all the structures around my farm; I mean one shot and you're having to replace a post or put up new siding or something. Don't even get me started on all the engine blocks and farm implements the around the farm .25 ACP has ruined when it slices through like a knife through hot butter...
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Old July 16, 2011, 02:05 AM   #3
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CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The Firing Line, nor the staff of TFL assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

I got thousands of .251" 50 gr FMJ bullets at a penny each.

The natural limits of a work up are:
4 gr Power Pistol, no one can stand the recoil
4.5 gr most powder that will fit without double compression
5.2 gr most powder with long brass life
6 gr primer falls out, case sticks in chamber
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Old July 16, 2011, 06:06 AM   #4
darkgael
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components and data

Thousands at a penny each? Care to share the source of that buy? And the date?

Quote:
The natural limits of a work up are:
4 gr Power Pistol, no one can stand the recoil
4.5 gr most powder that will fit without double compression
5.2 gr most powder with long brass life
6 gr primer falls out, case sticks in chamber
Beyond currently published data....I can see that. "Natural limits"?? That is a new expression for me in this regard. I have not seen any load data for the little .25 that specs more than two grains of anything (admittedly faster propellants). These loads are more suitable for the 9mm Luger.
Source of this data? Velocity and pressure data? Type of firearm used to gather the data?
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Old July 17, 2011, 01:37 PM   #5
Gatofeo
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"Good thinking. I was getting tired of the huge holes my .25 ACP was making in all the structures around my farm; I mean one shot and you're having to replace a post or put up new siding or something. Don't even get me started on all the engine blocks and farm implements the around the farm .25 ACP has ruined when it slices through like a knife through hot butter...
-- Dr. Strangelove

I meant, using the .25 as an alternative to larger calibers. Even the .22 Long Rifle can easily put a hole in a tin roof. I've fired these .25 ACP loads at the side of an abandoned washer, and it just left a small dent, knocked off some paint, and the flattened ball dropped to the ground. It never penetrated.
An air rifle or pistol might be easier against vermin, but a small .25 fits in the watch pocket of jeans, ready for immediate use.

As for the .25 ACP slicing through engine blocks ... you must have been using some of that newfangled Gatofeo Burn Blast powder for reloading. It's based on my chili recipe ...
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Old July 17, 2011, 02:15 PM   #6
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Have you considered a good slingshot? It'll fit easily in a back pocket. Ask any 10-year old kid. With better velocity and penetration.
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Old July 17, 2011, 10:10 PM   #7
Clark
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Quote:
darkgael

Thousands at a penny each? Care to share the source of that buy? And the date?
All I see on the box is a handwritten "1000 3545" which suggests a Honady number.

Over the years I have got hundreds of pounds [in 80 pounds max box via UPS] of [Hornady] surplus bullets from Lock Stock and Barrel and from Midsouth.

The big volumes I got at 10 cents on the dollar were in 2004 and 2005.

As I recall most great surplus deals on Hornady bullets are gone in a few days, but the 25acp bullets were around for years.
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Old July 17, 2011, 11:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Beyond currently published data....I can see that. "Natural limits"?? That is a new expression for me in this regard. I have not seen any load data for the little .25 that specs more than two grains of anything (admittedly faster propellants). These loads are more suitable for the 9mm Luger.
Source of this data? Velocity and pressure data? Type of firearm used to gather the data?
Clark stress-tests and blows firearms up for a living. Once you understand that, it sheds some light on his data.

He really should have a disclaimer in his signature, but we can't force the man to do it.
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Old July 20, 2011, 08:43 AM   #9
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interesting...

... BTW... I do the same with 32 S&W & with 38 S&W ( soft lead round balls ) just a little ( I like Trailboss, because it's so bulky ) powder & they make nice starting loads to test gun function on old antiques...

... I have some ball loads that approach taget grade as far as accuracy, & they are so quiet to shoot you "could" get by without hearing protection
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Old July 24, 2011, 01:03 PM   #10
Gatofeo
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I've never bothered to chronograph them, but these .25 ACP loads with the single ball probably do about 500 or 600 feet per second. A slingshot can't match that. I chronographed a Wrist Rocket with ball bearings some years back, owned by a friend. He got 300 fps at most, and usually downaround 250 fps.

I use the .310 Hornady ball in .32 Long Colt loads for my Marlin Model 1892 lever-action rifle in that caliber. The ball is too large for the case's .294 inch interior diamter, so I seat it firmly on the case with the blunt face of the expanding die. Looks terrible, but the case mouth pushed into the soft lead holds it in place. A dip of the seated bullet in Lee Liquid Alox provides lubrication.
This .310 ball load is accurate to about 25 yards, then the groups widen. Beyond 25 yards, it has the trajectory of a thrown grapefruit.

But the Hornady .310 ball is readily available and very useful in .30-caliber rifles and .32-caliber handguns. In rifles I'd suggest a light charge of Unique, or perhaps Trail Boss. In handguns Bullseye, W231 or HP-38 would be good. I haven't tried Trail Boss but the above poster says it works fine.

In my Marlin .45-70, I've loaded up to three .457 balls, separated by a thin card wad, in one case: one shot, three holes on target! This is adequately accurate for home defense out to 50 yards.

Every once in a while a factory produces .38 or .357 ammo wih multiple projectiles. This can be duplicated with a .375 inch ball sized down to .358 inch. It's usually advertised as a law enforcement or home defense round. In the early 1970s, I recall hearing that the Sky Marshalls carried Charter Arms .44 Specials with multi-ball loads. Two .44-caliber balls in your torso would ruin your day!

The humble lead ball is a tinkerer's delight if you reload. It's versatile, inexpensive and often readily available.
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