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Old June 13, 2018, 03:20 AM   #1
McDowell300
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"Waterproof" reloads?

Just curious if anyone has made any reloads that would be considered waterproof or water resistant at least. If so did you test them? Just curious planning on an elk hunt in a couple years and want to have as many possible problems ironed out ahead of time.
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Old June 13, 2018, 06:27 AM   #2
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NRA recommended thinned fingernail polish dipped with a paperclip, then applied to the edges of the primer for sealant. Same treatment on the case mouth as I recall. Ed Harris was the author IIRC. In my own use, I've left hand gun rounds in my jeans pockets several times that went through the wash and subsequently found that they fired just fine and stayed in the group as well. YMMV, Rod
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Old June 13, 2018, 08:21 AM   #3
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Just curious if anyone has made any reloads that would be considered waterproof or water resistant at least. If so did you test them?
I have and I didn’t even mean to. All I did is forget some of my regular reloads in my pocket and washed my pants. When I hear the bullet bouncing around in the dryer, I remove it and set it on top. Next time I go out back to shoot, I fire it first.
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Old June 13, 2018, 08:52 AM   #4
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I sunk a canoe one time, including my 686 and a box of .357 reloads. The tasco pro-point red dot, filled with water. Later, as the water drained out, and it was only half full, I could joke that I had the only red dot with a built in level. Anyway, the ammo was underwater for an hour or more, but it all fired just fine. Bottom line: a 17' foot canoe full of water, is really, really heavy!
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Old June 13, 2018, 09:37 AM   #5
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Basically, you can't get any water into a rifle bullet if the bullet is seated properly in the case with enough pressure to keep it in the case. Same with the primer. Water will not pass through an opening that is .04mm or smaller without being forced through under great pressure. An opening of .04mm/.0015 is small enough to prevent water from passing through. Millions and millions of pressure containers are tested every year for various reasons, and it was long ago discovered that in order to see air bubbles coming out of a pressurized container under water the opening had to be larger than that. It's actually called a water seal in the automotive climate control industry. Until helium testers came into use, all coolant products (radiators) were tested that way. Ammo may become corroded after being left outside and getting wet, but it will still go bang. In your pocket, coat, or pack it will be dry enough to not cause any problems. Capillary action doesn't apply here.
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Old June 13, 2018, 10:04 AM   #6
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Normal hunting with rain, etc. and even short term dunking shouldn't harm reloads. The bullets and primers are an "interference fit" (insert is a few thousandths of an inch smaller than the hole) and water tight...
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Old June 13, 2018, 02:38 PM   #7
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I sunk a canoe one time
Heh, there's a story there. I know it.
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Old June 13, 2018, 09:43 PM   #8
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Normal hunting with rain, etc. and even short term dunking shouldn't harm reloads. The bullets and primers are an "interference fit" (...) and water tight...
They're far from "water tight".

With a quick dunk in water, or constant rain on a loaded firearm, and standard ammunition (including reloads) should not have a problem.
...But it should be considered water "resistant", not "water tight".

Almost ten years ago, now, I started testing water incursion into military ammunition, factory SD ammo, factory 'blasting' ammo, and reloads exposed to submersion in water.
Yea, yea... most people aren't going to be storing their ammunition under water, but I wanted to know how each type of sealant (or lack thereof) performed under very undesirable circumstances.

.380 Auto, 9x19mm, and .30-06, submerged in 6" of water.
I had control cartridges, and dunked the rest. Samples were removed in pairs: One cartridge to pull down to check for moisture, and one cartridge to attempt to fire. The cartridges were fired once a week, after being stored in a sealed bag (case thoroughly dried on the outside, then bagged).
Samples were removed every few hours at first, then every day for a few days, then once a week for six weeks, and then once a month for three months. ...And then I forgot about the test for about a year.

A short(ish) summary of the results, from memory:
ALL unsealed ammo had water incursion within 24 hours. Reloads were even worse (likely due to carbon residue in the necks and primer pockets).
Reloads sealed with Markron primer sealer did slightly better than nail polish, but both were wet by the end of the first week.
Most sealed factory ammo had evidence of moisture in the powder by about week three (9mm Speer Gold Dots were the primary contender here).
With two exceptions, all loads had soaking-wet powder by six weeks in.

The two exceptions: 10+ year-old Winchester SXT .380 Auto SD load (the "not a Black Talon" load from the '90s -- now PDX1, or whatever it is). And some old LC 67 .30-06 that had been pitch-sealed.
The SXT and vietnam .30-06 was, on average, bone dry after all others failed, even after being submerged for a total of almost 18 months.
But, even then... Both the SXT ammo and the surplus did have cases that had wet powder inside them at some point during the testing.

No matter how well the ammunition is sealed, there's always a weak link that doesn't quite make the cut. Will that weak link be the cartridge in the chamber when you need it the most?...

(I was being a bit facetious with that last statement. Unless you store your ammunition under water, it won't really matter.)

My takeaway was that if your ammo will be getting wet, it needs to be sealed (a good cleaning before applying Markron being the assumption for reloads). And if your ammo might be exposed to water for a prolonged period of time (such as with water/snow sitting on the cases heads all day while in a cartridge carrier/belt), you'd better figure out how to pitch-seal.

But, of course, it's well within reason to also reach the conclusion that it doesn't really matter if you aren't submerging...
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Old June 14, 2018, 07:02 AM   #9
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Great write-up Frank. Very thorough. Rod
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Old June 14, 2018, 07:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
A short(ish) summary of the results, from memory:
ALL unsealed ammo had water incursion within 24 hours.
What was the submerged time to the first ones not firing?
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Old June 14, 2018, 10:48 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by FrankenMauser View Post
They're far from "water tight".

With a quick dunk in water, or constant rain on a loaded firearm, and standard ammunition (including reloads) should not have a problem.
...But it should be considered water "resistant", not "water tight".

Almost ten years ago, now, I started testing water incursion into military ammunition, factory SD ammo, factory 'blasting' ammo, and reloads exposed to submersion in water.
Yea, yea... most people aren't going to be storing their ammunition under water, but I wanted to know how each type of sealant (or lack thereof) performed under very undesirable circumstances.

.380 Auto, 9x19mm, and .30-06, submerged in 6" of water.
I had control cartridges, and dunked the rest. Samples were removed in pairs: One cartridge to pull down to check for moisture, and one cartridge to attempt to fire. The cartridges were fired once a week, after being stored in a sealed bag (case thoroughly dried on the outside, then bagged).
Samples were removed every few hours at first, then every day for a few days, then once a week for six weeks, and then once a month for three months. ...And then I forgot about the test for about a year.

A short(ish) summary of the results, from memory:
ALL unsealed ammo had water incursion within 24 hours. Reloads were even worse (likely due to carbon residue in the necks and primer pockets).
Reloads sealed with Markron primer sealer did slightly better than nail polish, but both were wet by the end of the first week.
Most sealed factory ammo had evidence of moisture in the powder by about week three (9mm Speer Gold Dots were the primary contender here).
With two exceptions, all loads had soaking-wet powder by six weeks in.

The two exceptions: 10+ year-old Winchester SXT .380 Auto SD load (the "not a Black Talon" load from the '90s -- now PDX1, or whatever it is). And some old LC 67 .30-06 that had been pitch-sealed.
The SXT and vietnam .30-06 was, on average, bone dry after all others failed, even after being submerged for a total of almost 18 months.
But, even then... Both the SXT ammo and the surplus did have cases that had wet powder inside them at some point during the testing.

No matter how well the ammunition is sealed, there's always a weak link that doesn't quite make the cut. Will that weak link be the cartridge in the chamber when you need it the most?...

(I was being a bit facetious with that last statement. Unless you store your ammunition under water, it won't really matter.)

My takeaway was that if your ammo will be getting wet, it needs to be sealed (a good cleaning before applying Markron being the assumption for reloads). And if your ammo might be exposed to water for a prolonged period of time (such as with water/snow sitting on the cases heads all day while in a cartridge carrier/belt), you'd better figure out how to pitch-seal.

But, of course, it's well within reason to also reach the conclusion that it doesn't really matter if you aren't submerging...
OH. Please forgive my misuse of a word! Having only worked with metals (fabrication and machining) since I was 13 years old I certainly couldn't describe a process that will not allow water to enter an assembly. What would this forum do if we didn't have vocabulary experts/gurus? So, keep a stopwatch with you when you go hunting and measure the time the cartridges are wet!


Thank god for the forum experts...
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Old June 14, 2018, 01:57 PM   #12
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Nail polish thinner?

Quote:
NRA recommended thinned fingernail polish
Thinned with what? Acetone? Lacquer thinner?
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Old June 14, 2018, 06:40 PM   #13
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Nick: This is where I got the information regarding primer/bullet sealing. It's an old article by Harris who has always been a very knowledgeable authority... he's the inventor of "Ed's Red" as I understand it. As I recall, I originally found the article in the American Rifleman...but it appears that I was mistaken.

Here's the current internet seach reference:
https://www.scribd.com/document/4981...-E-Harris-1986

HTH's Rod

C.E. Harris' piece entitled: "Reloading for the Semi-Auto 1986" in Handloader #139, pg. 60 at the very end of the article writes: If you insist on waterproofing primers or wish to identify batches of loads, the following method will give satisfactory results. Obtain some model airplane lacquer (not epoxy or urethane-based paint), of a highly visible color such as red, green or blue. Dilute it with lacquer thinner to a watery consistency. With the primed cases or loaded rounds stacked base up in an MTM box or similar container, dip a straightened paperclip about half an inch into the diluted lacquer. That should leave exactly one drop on the clip. If you touch the end of the wire to the edge of the primer pocket, the lacquer will flow neatly and perfectly,looking just like Lake City did it. You can seal the bullet by holding the round in your fingers and applying a single drop where case mouth and bullet meet. Use one drop on a .22 to.270 round and not more than two on a 7mm to 8mm cartridge.
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Old June 14, 2018, 07:18 PM   #14
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Thank you rodfac. Much appreciated.
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Old June 14, 2018, 09:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
What was the submerged time to the first ones not firing?
I had to go digging, but came up with the answer for you: An unsealed reload failed to fire (squibbed) after 9 hours submerged.

I also came across notes for two other previous tests that I had completely forgotten about: I initially did a short overnight submersion test, followed only by live-fire the next day. And then there was a 5-month submersion test that involved letting one group of cartridges air-dry for two weeks, while another group of cartridges was immediately sealed after removal from water.

The live-fire-only test had a wet powder failure to fire (squib) as soon as testing started -- 12 hours after submersion.
The 5-month test had an unsealed cartridge fail to fire after just 1 hour under water, and two weeks air-drying.

Somewhat contradictory to the test mentioned previously, I had ZERO failures or wet powder in any sealed factory ammunition in the 5-month test. Markron sealant on reloads stayed dry for almost 2 months in that test, as well.

However, looking at the notes also reminded me that the test mentioned in my previous post also involved shaking the container of water and ammo once a day for about 5 seconds. That agitation may have (quite literally) had an impact on the sealant failing more quickly.



Quote:
OH. Please forgive my misuse of a word! Having only worked with metals (fabrication and machining) since I was 13 years old I certainly couldn't describe a process that will not allow water to enter an assembly.
You described the concept correctly. Unfortunately, you incorrectly applied it to the wrong application.

To back up my belief that primer pockets are not water tight, I'm going to kick off another experiment tonight. Results will be available some time between tomorrow and next year.
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Old June 14, 2018, 11:10 PM   #16
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I had to go digging, but came up with the answer for you: An unsealed reload failed to fire (squibbed) after 9 hours submerged.
Thank you for digging. That’s the kind of experiment I would do but never have. Thank you for taking the time to do it and giving us the results.
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Old June 15, 2018, 03:36 AM   #17
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The military issued us 'Waterproof' ammo for extended wet condition use.
As usual, the schizophrenic nature of anything military or government came right out...
The outer package proclaimed "Waterproof, Amphibious Assault" and the inner box said, "Store In Cool Dry Areas Only"...

I was trying to place the smell those rounds had, and I think a previous post hit the nail on the head, they smelled like pine tar when you opened the packages.
I was thinking of boiled linseed oil when I started reading this, but now I think it might have been pine tar/pine pitch. Been several years back, but that's one smell you don't forget.

As for water not being able to enter anything smaller than .0015" I point to capillary movement...

I have to admit, I haven't done any water testing.
Other than a muzzle loader one time deer hunting I've never had moisture problems that prompted testing.
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Old June 15, 2018, 05:23 AM   #18
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It's a bit archaic and laughable - especially when taken in the context of my general view toward not screwing with questionable ammunition - but my motives were driven primarily by a crate of mixed ammo that I was given.
Specifically, the crate of ammo was given to me by someone close to me, after being in the uncovered bed of his truck for two years -- completely exposed to the weather, with most ammo boxes exhibiting notable to significant amounts of water damage.

But, between curiosity and the fact that the crate contained 100% commercial ammo, I wanted to know...


(For the record: My family ended up firing every single round of ammo that was in the crate, with the exception of some .410 shells. Why? ... Because I didn't have a .410 until recently, and haven't gotten around to shooting or repurposing it all ... yet. )

"Water tight" primer test underway. Results and methods to be posted when I have something (or nothing) worth mentioning.
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Old June 15, 2018, 06:57 AM   #19
Don P
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Quote:
Just curious if anyone has made any reloads that would be considered waterproof or water resistant at least. If so did you test them? Just curious planning on an elk hunt in a couple years and want to have as many possible problems ironed out ahead of time.
Thanks
Over the years I have inadvertently had my wife waterproof test my reloads through the washing machine. Every single one of them went bang at the range after being washed and even some were dried. I do nothing special to my reloads to make them waterproof.
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Old June 15, 2018, 08:13 AM   #20
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The outer package proclaimed "Waterproof, Amphibious Assault" and the inner box said, "Store In Cool Dry Areas Only"...
Kind of like a cigarette lighter warning label that says “do not use near hands or face, do not expose to heat or flame...”
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Old June 15, 2018, 08:17 AM   #21
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(For the record: My family ended up firing every single round of ammo that was in the crate, with the exception of some .410 shells. Why? ... Because I didn't have a .410 until recently, and haven't gotten around to shooting or repurposing it all ... yet. )
When ai was a kid there was a sack of .410 shells in the shed out back and a can of oil tipped over enough to drip some oil on them at some point. Made the first of only two occasions in my life to see hang fires.

“Click...........bang” and some were just “click.......poof”
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Old June 15, 2018, 10:49 AM   #22
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I find the whole idea of people getting "antsy" about dunking ammo to be funny. Spearfishermen have long used various normal ammo for bang sticks. I used to carry a 30-06 bang stick cartridge when I dove - thankfully never needed to use it. I've never heard of one failing to go off because it was wet. They do however, normally toss the unused cartridge overboard at the end of the day because salt water tends to do nasty things to most anything it touches.
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Old June 15, 2018, 02:32 PM   #23
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My bang stick is .44 Mag. I sealed common ammo with what ever clear spray can sealer was on sale.
Kept the salt from eating up the case and I assume kept water out since the rounds I kept in my dry box and dove with went off when hammered.

I didn't leave it loaded when I wasn't in the water, ammo washed, dried and put back in the dry box.
The clear Krylon clear coat/sealer worked pretty well, I never had serious corrosion.

I did however, watch a guy pour water out of a 12ga round, which is why I went with a .44 Mag.
Fewer ways for water pressure to force it's way in.

Asked why I needed a 'Gun' underwater, I said pepper spray doesn't work on sharks, they don't have taste buds or sinuses...
The dumb anti-gunner dude actually bought it! I heard him repeat it to his boyfriend!
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Old June 15, 2018, 02:50 PM   #24
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Quote:
Just curious if anyone has made any reloads that would be considered waterproof or water resistant at least. If so did you test them?
I have loaded ammo that was waterproof, I tested the loaded rounds for leaks by placing them in a gallon jug that was 3/4 full of clear water. After closing the lid I placed a vacuum on the jug and watched for bubbles escaping the loaded ammo.

I have pulled down thousands of loaded rounds of ammo; in the process I found rounds that did not seal when loaded.

I am the fan of bullet hold, I want all the bullet hold I can get. A tight neck assures a tight seal, I have no ideal what tension does for sealing, again, I can not measure neck tension in pounds.

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Old June 15, 2018, 06:36 PM   #25
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Years ago Herters sold their "Improved Military Bullet Sealer" which looked and smelled like red fingernail polish. Since then I have used regular cheap undiluted nail polish and it works equally well, but then it may not have been needed in the first place. I stopped using it altogether without any problems and I live in a very wet climate.
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