Friday, June 19, 2015

More proof of the futility of firearms confiscation. (But enough to make a careful handloader shudder with fright.)

Thanks to a devoted reader in New York, I received a copy of a book I have long been looking to add to my collection: American Guerrilla in the Philippines.
In preparing for my presentations on improvised munitions tomorrow and Sunday, I ran across this description by David Iliff Richardson of ammunition production behind the lines during world War II. It is more proof, if any were needed, of the futility of firearms confiscation.
After the battle of Baybay our army's first problem -- more immediate even than establishing a civil government and getting paid -- was ammunition. They had shot off almost everything they had. Besides, they had been using battery separators and battery terminal lead as well as other soft metals for their bullets. With soft metal like that, you fire a few times and the rifling of the barrel fills up. Then you get a recoil that knocks you ten feet.
The whole ordnance problem became my baby. I had made a deal with Colonel McLish (another guerrilla unit leader, before leaving him, for four thousand empty .30 caliber cartridges. We'd load them and give him back one thousand loaded cartridges in exchange. I found a kid named Kuizon to organize an ordnance factory for us. We scrounged around and got a hand forge, some hack saws, and a file. That was the small-arms factory.
This boy Kuizon did all the experimenting. He was about twenty-one, the son of a pharmacist from Bato. He had never been in the army before, but I made him a third lieutenant because he was so ingenious and willing.
We foraged in schoolhouses for the bullets to fill the shells. The brass curtain rods there were made of a good hard metal just a little thicker than a .30 caliber bullet. We cut the rod up into appropriate lengths, then filed the end down to point it. There was an old broken-down Springfield rifle there, and they'd stick the bullet in this, thake a rod and try to run it through, If it went, it fit. If it didn't, they'd file some more.
For the primer, we used sulphur mixed with coconut shell carbon. Later we were able to get hold of some antimony and add it to the mixture. Then it worked 80 to 90 percent efficiently. Our main source of powder was from Japanese sea mines that we would dismantle, We;d mix in pulverized wood to retard the burning because mine powder is too violent for a rifle bullet. It took us blowing up about five rifles -- blowing off the firing pins, the extractors, and the bolts -- to find out about that.
All measuring was done rudely, by thumb and by guess and by God. You'd pour the powder into the cartridge with a little homemade funnel sort of thing until you thought you had enough. Then you'd put the piece off the brass curtain rod into the cartridge and crimp the cartridge around it with a pair of pliers. Presto, you had a bullet. Each bullet had to be tested for fit because all our cartridges had been fired once or twice or four times before. We'd load and extract each bullet. If the shoulder was too big, we'd crimp it down. If it was too small, we'd say that was fine.
Getting the right measure for the mixture was Kuizon's business. It was all trial and error. When there was an error, the cartirdges would blow up in the gun. Powder flashes would come out between the bolts and burn his hands. One morning he broke three rifles in succession, burning his hands three times and jolting his shoulder so badly his toes ached.
"Sir, I do not like to do this work, sir," he admitted finally. "I will put the rifle on the table, sir, and test by long distance, sir."
Finally we managed to dragoon an apothecary's scales and after a few more tests "by long distance" no more rifles blew up. Using this ammunition was hard on our guns, but it worked and killed a Jap to beat hell. The boys liked them because the mine powder gave the bullets so much power they never had to figure windage.
Our ordnance factory never filled more than a one-room house, about twenty feet by ten. But we expanded it to making extractors and firing pins out of such steel as we could find -- usually spring steel. These weren't very successful, but they worked fine for a dozen rounds. I put sixty soldiers to work in the ordnance plant, but the filing of the brass curtain rods to fit took so long that our production never got better than an average of 160 bullets a day.
So, dear readers, the next time you are tempted to complain about the price or availability of ammunition, remember the guerrillas of the Philippines. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but to those who are constrained by an absolute poverty of means, necessity can be a mother.


Anonymous said...

Heads up Mike.
So as Not to rile the linking dragon, Ill just pass on a tip.
Keep an eye on whats happening in Puerto Rico.....
A judge there just slapped down PRs "Shall issue" structure, going so far as to declare that Fundamental Rights Aren't Taxable and that permits THEMSELVES are out of bounds. That fingerprinting is a unlawful taking and even 120 day waiting period is a clear violation leaving only a 4473 in place as operative.

From what I read, this court is two steps below PRs supreme court, but that the decision was based plainly on Heller and McDonald.

This could be HUGE! Ironic it would be, for PR to destroy the judicial chicanery happening here in the states....but welcome none the less. I submit to you that its worth your time to check out. Worthy of a comment from you as well. I know you are busy, a heaping plate you have indeed, but this might be some ummmm gravy for you to just pour over the top.....possibly speech fare.


Anonymous said...

Every serious shooter should have at the very least - reloading components for every caliber they own/shoot. A press, dies, plenty o' brass, a stash of powder with the recipes all worked-up, primers by the thousand, bullets and lead to make more as well as casting equipment.
All of that should be in addition to the min. 1,000 rounds, per gun, par stock of manufactured ammo.

...and even with that, you simply haven't got enough ammo.


Anonymous said...

I have that book in my library. The information there is one reason I handload and store good quantities of molds, sizing dies, and components, primers, powder, lead, brass and wheel weights.

Other than the .22 RF, I don't own a rifle unless it shoots a heavy (150 grains, or better) cast bullet. They are very accurate at 1,900 to 2,100 fps. The 170 grain cast bullet in my 30-06 cycles the bolt in my M1 Garand and shoots a 2 minute group.

Semper Fi

Backwoods Engineer said...

"For the primer, we used sulphur mixed with coconut shell carbon. Later we were able to get hold of some antimony and add it to the mixture. Then it worked 80 to 90 percent efficiently."

This is astounding. Primers are the one reloading component that, in my thinking prior to reading this, would be a potential "choke point" that could use against FreeFor.

Hmm. Must try this in one of my old milsurp rifles. In scientific curiosity, of course.

Anonymous said...

^BE: I'm neither reloader or desirous of less than all of my fingers, but I've read that Armstrong's Mix, various chlorate/sulfur mixtures, and certain primary HEs are worth looking into. I believe the old TM 31-210 has a plan for using match heads. And if you don't want to reinvent the wheel, what about children's toy gun caps?

Anonymous said...

not a gun owner,
tripped over this blog looking up the german quote on the 1935 paul von hindenburg coin that my step grandfather left as inheritance .
first I've heard of the 3% 's

not particularly interested in weaponry but I am not a prohibitionist in any sense.
I love my sushi knives, find many weapons works of art, including guns and ammo, and am glad to have defended myself with a karate kick to the throat of a gent who pulled a blade on me while trying to help him up from the ground while he was getting circle kicked by a crowd of thugs with less than fair fighting sentiments than myself.

I have often wondered what new technologies on the horizon will mean for the growing controversy over gun and ammunition control ......I imagine lasers, electro magnetic launch, carbon/basalt super materials, microwave and other physics subjects will eventually dilute the muddied water, maybe producing a slow moving sedimentary slough, or perhaps a turbulent chaotic torrential excavating movement of some sort, whatever the outcome, I sense "things" are about to get very complex in the next few decades.

having focused my own anti authoritarian interests in researching drugs natural and synthetic, I do feel an alliance of sorts with those who exercise their right to bear arms, from the perspective of "leave me the hell alone man".

lately I think having access to weapons could be an unfortunate but realistic option on the way to being left alone to my own before the final exit. stockpiling simple commodities, atropine type compounds,currently uncontrolled research chemical painkillers, a few hundred lbs of food grade but viable poppy seeds (opium surely (exempt from federal control) and any other number of seeds, tools, as well as enough ball bearings hopefully swiss to supply the denizens of skateboarding post apocalypse gangs might help me carve a temporary niche in barter town.

as far as the current topic subject is concerned I was wondering what the possible applications of acetone and hydrogen peroxide might afford those suffering in a situation that precipitates a drought of combustion materials, this and other inventive possibilities have occasionally occupied my free time, that is purely conjectural.

the way I see it, the promulgating research chemical market targeting hedonistic drug use/abuse stems mostly from the fanning of the flames that the past and current DEA drug war situation has afforded since prohibitionist and and control status tactics have been exercised,or, at the very least the process of discovery and instituting technology was hurried along.

I don't see how extreme control measures placed on weapons and ammo would produce anything different than an up ramping of development of novel alternative to existing weaponry and probably will produce some much more devastating weaponry than already exists.
The general public is so stalled in seizing control tactics mid clench, that by the time "underground" production of any launch of new technology, or re launch of what was once viewed as archaic technology is re hashed, they are hopelessly swimming in piss filled pool before they realize where they really sit.

at the moment EU and US drug control measures and policy makers, forensics community and the supporting technology beneficiaries attempt to paint the picture of emerging drug development as a winnable war instead of the attritional concessions scenario that is the field of play.

I guess I am pro gun rights now.

Anonymous said...

I'm a hand-loader. Those guys had balls the size of cantaloupes.

Jerry The Geek said...

I never realized that Sulphur-and-Carbon combinations were innately percussion-sensitive. I always thought that modern primer compounds were refinements on the old Mercury Fulminate (sp?) compounds, with perhaps some other minor ingredients .. which I supposed to be catalytic in nature.

The use of Antimony ... yes, that sounds more familiar. but obviously this is an area wherein my assumptions are suspect at best.

Chuck said...

Their leading problem with soft battery terminal lead could possibly have been solved with proper lubrication. Even a little Johnson's Paste Wax would've helped. If their repurposed powder was pushing a plain base bullet much over 1600 feet per second they'd likely still have had leading. The devil is in the details.

skybill said...

Hi Mike,
"And," don't forget "Rockets!!!" There are the "Chinese fireworks" kind and the home made amateur rockets!! What ya' can't hit at a couple of thousand yards with a bullet....well??
Got Gunz....OUTLAW??,

Anonymous said...

June 19, 2015 at 2:51 PM

If you get some lead bullet molds designed for gas caps and crimp one on every bullet, you can get much higher velocities and keep your barrel clean at the same time. An un-jacked bullet traveling at 2500 fps is a devastating 'take down' round.
It's also next to impossible to do any ballistic forensics on the recovered projectile.

j said...

Love this, My FAVORITE line out of it all is that you pour powder into a case "until you thought you had enough."... Have not loaded since - well, ancient times, with a single caliber Lee loader- but I can visualize pouring in whatever powder was around and thinking... yeah, I reckon that;s about right...
Hope your trip goes well and uneventfully. Great speech! Be safe, God bless.