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Part 5, questions and answers until 26.01.2000

G.O.W. Kickback:

Questions and Answers, part 5

Answered by: P. T. Kekkonen

aquila.jpg (7340 bytes)Aguila SSS (SubSonic Sniper) 22LR Ammo

Hi Pete! I've recently purchased a quantity of subsonic 22 ammo manufactured in Mexico under the 'Aguila' name by Industrias Technos of Cuernavaca. The firm is partially owned by Remington Arms.

The ammunition
(see Gunwriters' archive image at left) is of unique design, being essentially a 22Short case mounting a 60 grain lead bullet (20 gr heavier than the common 40 gr solid bullet in most 22LR's) with a velocity of about 900 fps. Bullet length is half again the length (visable) of the casing.  The story I get from the supplier is that the round was originally designed for use as sniper ammo for jungle warfare, hence the name 'SubSonic Sniper' that kept the shipment sitting in a US Customs warehouse for several months while the beuracrats messed around with whether it was 'military application only' and prohibited.  The stuff is selling at an accelerated rate at gunshows nationwide since the import red tape has cleared up.  It is about as loud as a 22CB.
I've shot the stuff through every 22 I own and those of a couple of friends, it functions well in autoloaders, both rifle and handgun, as well as bolt actions and revolvers. Accuracy is generally as good as the weapon being used with two exceptions: the long-barrel bolt actions (Mossberg and Radom) both with 25 inch barrels, keyhole the bullets past a range of about 30 meters on a consistent basis. Is this the effect of twist in the long barrels upon the elongated 60gr bullet? Interestingly enough, even with keyholing, accuracy dosen't suffer, the bullet-strike is sideways, but on target.
I'd be very happy to hear any comments you have regarding this ammunition, and whether you have any further information on it from other sources. Thanks, I very much enjoy your articles.


answer.GIF (573 bytes)   I have no personal shooting experience with .22 SSS but our test-shooter Markus has test-shot 30 rounds of them and another friend of mine shot also a "preliminary test" to see, whether those cartridges are safe to shoot through the Parker-Hale's "Sound Moderator MM1", mounted to a Russian TOZ Model 17-01 rifle (with barrel length ca. 10 inches). They were. Markus has also TOZ 17 rifle, made in 1961, nowadays with the real silencer of BR-Tuote and hand-lapped bore, with a barrel length ca. 17 inches. I got a box of 50 cartridges from USA as a X-mas present few weeks before Seasons and donated them for a most useful purposes I can imagine, because I have no .22 LR firearms in my possession, but just one 12.17 x 44 mm R Swedish Remington rifle, made in 1875 and so allowed to possess without any licence from "The Piggery". (Firearms, made before 1890, are "curios or relics" according to Finnish firearms legislature).

Markus has shot three-shot groups, average size .35 inches at 25 meters, in the indoor range (we have wintertime in Finland), without a real bench rest available. Accuracy seems to be about equal or slightly better than that of Finnish Lapua Scoremax .22 LR. Aguila SSS is TRULY subsonic, while Scoremax is trans-sonic when shot from rifles with 16" barrel length or even supersonic, if shot from (say) 10" barrel of silenced rifles or handguns. In Finland is not a minimum barrel length at all for .22 rimfire shoulder arms, but a demand for overall rifle length must be about similar to the minimum O.A.L. in USA, when the silencer is mounted.

Penetration of Aguila SSS bullets was more deep than usual .22 LR solid 40 grains bullets or that of .22 LR Scoremax, despite of the fact that 60 gr SSS bullet yaws soon after the hit on a dry paper pack used for penetration test media, and lost almost 50 % from it's weight. According to test report of Markus: The bullet of SSS acts as a "furtive DumDum" bullet soon after a hit, but as a real DumDum bullet of .303 British Mark II Special cartridge after the deeper penetration. In the actual soft tissue, the 45 + per cent fragmentation cannot, of course, exist, because of the low striking velocity, but the yaw-effect is able to cause all that tissue destruction, available with a kinetic energy or the striking momentum. (Kinetic energy = velocity x velocity x bullet weight per a gravitational constant. Momentum = velocity x bullet weight).

Rifling twist of TOZ rifles is difficult to measure, because the four rifling grooves are narrow and lands are broad, about two times as broad as the grooves. Bore and groove diameters are usual (bore dia. 5.50 mm, groove dia. 5.70 mm), but because of wide lands, the bore shall squeeze bullet tightly and concentrate it well into the bore. (If the grooves and lands are equally wide, the bore diameter of really accurate barrel must be 5.40 or just 5.30 mm. Diameters so small are usually met in old rifles, made before year 1914, when European C.I.P. standards were adopted, with allowed minimum bore diameter 5.50. Austrian-made Voere rifles have, however, 5.4 mm bore diameter and splendid accuracy). Chamber of TOZ rifle is also shorter than usual. Length for the .22 Long (Rifle) shell chamber is as usual (14.8 mm) but the rifling starts after ca. two millimeters distance from the mouth of chambered case. Closing movement of the bolt pushes the bullet's rearmost "rotation ring" into the rifling, engraving four clearly visible rifling marks on the bullet's shank.

TOZ rifles are very accurate firearms, if there is not a burr (made by a dull chambering reamer) ahead of the chamber. This burr is easy to remove by hand-lapping. I don't know, whether it is possible to shoot the burr away by so-called "firelapping", because the fault is usually found by gauging with a lead plug, and lapped away with the same lead rod, covered with emery powder and grease or valve grinding paste. Abbreviation TOZ comes from name: "Tulskiy Oruzheiniy Zavod" = Arms Manufacture of Tula".

I've possessed three TOZ rifles since mid-1970s (later sold or donated away), but I'm almost ignorant about the rifling twist. I chopped the barrel of my first single-shot TOZ-8 down to the length 150 mm (less than 6") before mounting of a long & rather fat silencer. I could note that rifling made almost exactly a half rotation from the chamber to muzzle. Twist might be therefore 300 millimeters (less than 1 - 12 inch). Usual twists of .22 LR bores are 14" to 16". In Finland were made in late 1970s some experimental barrels with 1 - 20" for shooting of High Speed cartridges only, but it was soon found that Hi Speed ammo is not suitable for competition shooting ("running boar" or "biathlon") at all. Those experimental barrels with 1 - 20" twist were presumably never sold. Fruitless tests with them were ended, as far as I can remember, in 1978. Manufacturer of them, Tampereen Asepaja Oy, has been out from business more than a decade.

Your Mossberg and Radom rifles may have 1 - 16" twist. My simple calculations told that 1 - 14" may be "marginal" and a twist 1 - 12" or less is needed for gyro-stabilization of overly long bullet. I have "optimized" the .22 LR subsonic bullet weight while designing a special TRURY subsonic cartridge for autoloading firearms in 1992. Optimized bullet has the weight 50 grains (to become stable in ALL existing riflings) or some 47 gr of a "stuffed hollow cavity" projectile. Not explosive one, since the tried explosives may cause "duds", but good old mineral jelly (vaseline) filling never fails to expand the bullet. Neither .22 Long nor .22 Short case is good with 50 gr bullet, shaped for positive feed in autoloaders (including belt fed miniature machine guns, shooting 1200 rounds per minute).

I forwarded my idea to Lapua cartridge manufacture in December 1992, but Lapua adopted just the heavy projectile, ill-shaped for the autoloaders, because seated in the .22 Long/LR case and must therefore have too blunt point. Bullet of Lapua Scoremax is also smeared with "tacky lube". It's muzzle velocity is O.K. for competition rifles with 26" barrel length, but if the barrel is more common, with 16" to 22 inch length, is the available velocity transsonic, and when shot from more shortened barrel of silenced rifles (common in Finland), the bullet gains supersonic velocity. A silencer is then needless, because the bullet's flight noise is more irritant and loud than the muzzle blast of non-silenced rifles.

.22 LR Scoremax is designed like most of Lapua's .22 LRs (all those velocity-tested in 660 mm barrel length) to be good for "Finnish Lion" competition rifle with a long barrel, bolt action, without a magazine at all. It is almost "silent without silencer", when shot from a competition rifle, but majority of .22 LR rimfire rifles are "utility guns", and many times autoloaders. I made the new cartridge drawings for Remington in the mid-1990s. They also adopted the heavy bullet.. too heavy one.! Many thanks to you for the information on the collaboration between Remington and producer of Aguila cartridges !!! I presume that .22 SSS is designed by Remington, but because of some unknown (political ??) reasons, it is impossible to yield .22 AutoLoader Subsonic ammo in USA. (Use of "silent without a silencer" cartridges or loads is a way to evade that lousy "Lex Morgenthau"/Federal Firearms Act 1934, without violation of it, and so hold it up to ridicule. My idea was to load these .22 ALS cartridges into the shortENED cases, but .22 Short cases may become utilized "for the preliminary test-shootings, when the flight stabilization of extra-heavy bullet is needed to test with various rifling twists by trial-and-error method".

Suggested .22 ALS cartridge was based on intermediate-length case, entirely novel one, with a length 13 mm (= ½ inch, or half from the overall cartridge length, when crimped on the bullet's heel). Designers of .22 SSS adopted, however, .22 Short case, which is found to be somewhat too short, while the bullet is accordingly too long to become gyro-stable in flight. My slogan was: "Functioning in ANY AND ALL firearms chambered for .22 LR ammo". Designers of .22 SSS designed also a special rifle with extra-steep rifling twist for shooting of these special "For Official Use Only" cartridges. One characteristic of .22 SSS is pleasing me: Bullet velocity is TRULY subsonic.!!!

According to tests recently carried out in USA, SSS cartridge gives the maximum velocity from 10 inch barrel length. My suggestion was to use 300 mm test-barrel with a tight "Target" chamber and a mirror-bright lapped bore. Maximum bullet velocity might be 300 meters per second, or 1000 feet per second; no more. If the barrel length is more or less than 300 millimeters, the bullet velocity shall be less than maximum, and not even trans-sonic in any conditions. It is easy to reach 1000 fps for 50 gr bullet without overly high chamber pressure, if the powder charge is loaded into ½ inch case. The .22 Short case simply cannot hold enough powder, Q.E.D.

My original suggestion to Lapua Oy was based on our "Bullet Velocity vs. Flight Noise" test-shootings, carried out in the early summer 1992. We found the trans-sonic velocity level during our scientific studies, done 110 years after those of professor Ernst Mach, who had not yet the instruments sensitive enough to find out the transsonic noise of projectiles. We had. Professor Mach discovered in 1880s so-called "sound barrier" and he photographed the "bow waves" of supersonic as early as in 1883. We continued his research work, and some cartridge manufacturers are seemingly paid attention to our findings, published by several technical periodicals and a book "Silencer History and Performance, Vol. 1" by Alan C. Paulson. (See table on the page 70).

My suggestions and drawings, addressed to then-director of Lapua Oy, were never forwarded to the product developement division of Lapua factory. Somebody, next from the director on the hierarchy, thought those innovations to be once again: "The horrible products of a brainstorm, designed seemingly to become pets of poachers and assassines". Waste-paper basket is the usual grave of "N.I.H." suggestions. (= Not Invented Here). When the .22 LR Scoremax cartridge was designed several years later, the primary demand was - seemingly - that it must be as UNsuitable for autoloading firearms as practicable to make.

Third set of suggestions and drawings were sent to Brazilian C.B.C. (manufacturer of low-priced ammo), but once again without success... But now back to your problems with long-barreled rifles Mossberg and Radom: A notable fault of .22 SSS is too thin (if any) lubrication of the extra-long/extra-heavy bullet. The projectile acts as a "compression bullet" of military rifles in 1850s to 1870s, including many early breechloaders. A sudden thrust of chamber pressure expands the bullet into the bore. It is beneficial for accuracy of shooting, but tends to cause leading of the bore; especially in the muzzle end of barrel with a length more than 24"/ 61 cm.

Lead fouling may cause the "precession" (yaw) of bullet, already just marginally stable because of too slow rotation. If the rifle shoots nice round holes to 50 yards/meters when cleaned, but starts to produce the "keyholes" after a dozen of shots, the lead has accumulated into the bore. You may try to "dip lube" the bullets in a melted bullet lubricant - or actually almost any fatty substance. ("Patent Medicine" of G.O.W's Technical Editor/Test Shooter Markus is the purified neat's fat, sold as a shortening for cooking of Pommes Frités/ potato chips in Finland). Bullets of .22 SSS have ample "cannelures" or lube grooves knurled around to receive the dip lubricant.

For .22 ALS (originally .22 LASS = Lapua Autoloader SubSonic) bullets I suggested metal plating with copper or cadmium, which is inherently "slippery" coating metal. It was also suggested to plate the cartridge cases with cadmium. The same suggestions were addressed also to Remington and C.B.C - without notable success. I have not yet abandoned that "LASSIE Project", but I am lacking e-mail address of Klimovsk cartridge factory in Russia and Norinco in China: "Ex Orient Lux.?!" Russian cartridges may have steel cases. If plated with cadmium, they'll become ejected reliably from the autoloading firearms, without too tight adhesion into the chamber. Shortened length of the case shall also lessen the case adhesion.

I have shot ca. 7500 rounds of Russian Vostok Sport & Hunting .22 LR cartridges with phosphate coated steel cases (known as "Black Russians" because of dark grey color; almost black, when lubricated) from as "impossible" rifle as Remington Nylon 66 autoloader, without feed or ejection jams or misfires, when I learnt to rub the cartridges between the palms of my hands before dropping them into the buttstock magazine of that "guttapercha gun". (Old folks in Finland call all kinds of plastic as "guttapercha" - including, of course, Carother's "Polymer 66"). Bullets of Vostok S & Hs were greased heavily with the tacky lube, which was easy to smear on the cases.

Phosphate coating (Parkerizing) made the cases very slippery and easy to eject, despite of overly heavy breech-bolt and linear hammer of Remington rifle, needing more than 800 gram-meters per second of momentum for complete automatic cycle and cocking, even if the case is of resilient metal. Shooting was somewhat messy bustling, but in 1970s "when my heart was young and gay", I didn't took care of lead poisoning or other risks of hobby. Entirely metal-plated cartridges are, however, "must" for the autoloading firearms, and I presume, the cadmium plating don't wear away from the bullets.

I donated the .22 SSS cartridges to the test-shooters, because I am never more entitled to possess (legally) any modern firearms or ammo. (In Finland the "gunwriter" is a person who is entitled, or actually privileged, to write articles for the PRINTED media. I am "black-listed" by the publishers of ALL Finnish periodicals. Finnish "Freedom of the Press Law" don't know the existence of Internet at all. It was enacted in the year 1919. The predictable next step is to extend our strict censorship and "black-listing" to cover also the Web-media). My "prima vista" impression was that bullets of .22 SSS cartridges are unlubricated and unplated, just like the lead pellets of compressed air or carbon dioxide rifles and pistols..! If so, the skill of dip-lubrication or home-workshop metal electroplating is needed. I'll try to learn those useful tricks, by words and drawings.

2101 MM; Pete

"I HAVE A DREAM.!": Subsonic .22 LR for autoloading firearms.

Actually it is not a .22 LR, with it's case length simply too long, but the usual .22 Short case is not long enough. Experiences from the current Lapua Scoremax .22 LR and Aguila .22 SSS shows that my idea is not just "a grey theory". Original suggested name of INTERMEDIATE-SIZED case was .22 LAPUA, and the suggested name abbreviation of a cartridges, loaded in those cases was .22 LASS (Lapua Autoloader Sub Sonic), but later I re-christened my "brainstorm" as a .22 ALS (Auto-Loader Subsonic) and the special case as .22 AL (Auto-Loader), since there were case sizes called "Automatic" designed by WINCHESTER and REMINGTON in the early 20th century. They had a diameter similar to that of modern .22 WMR case, because it was essential that usual .22 Long or LR is impossible to shoot from early autoloading rimfire rifles, since the usual cartridges were loaded with sooty blackpowder or LESMOKE powder. And copper was not uncommon rimfire case material in those days.

22lr2010.gif (10778 bytes)

The concept cartridge above might be a subsonic .22 LR in year 2010. It is a combination of P. T. Kekkonen's "ALS" concept and the M/2030 type cartridge with a primer igniting against a solid pellet of compressed powder (Monoblock powder). Resulting all base primer will work equally easily in rimfire .22LR weapons and with cheap cartridge chamber adapters in 5.6 mm centerfire rifles like .222 Rem, .223 Rem, 5,45 x 45 etc. Blunt nose is suggested by Mark White of Sound Tech by his experiences with wildlife managemant to improve terminal ballistics of the subsonic bullet. See also Mark White's article about the topic.

In the early summer 1992 I was a member of Finnish researcher team, studying flight noises of subsonic, trans-sonic, supersonic and hypersonic projectiles. I handloaded all of the .308 Winchester cartridges to the velocity levels needed, from 162 meters per second to 1200 mps muzzle velocities (532 to 3937 fps). See the table of velocities at 23 meters from the muzzle from page 70 on the book Silencer History and Performance, Vol. 1 by AL C. PAULSON. Our finding was that majority of available factory-loaded "subsonic" cartridges were too heavily loaded, giving transsonic, and many times even supersonic, velocities from the suppressed .22 LR rifles with shortened barrels (10 to 14 inches; usual in Finland, because here is just a minimum overall length but not minimum barrel length given for .22 rimfire rifles in Finnish Firearms Act). So I suggested Finnish LAPUA cartridge manufacture to adopt a foot-long test barrel (300 mm) for test-shooting of subsonic .22 LR, instead of usual 660 mm (26 inch) velocity and pressure test barrel - but in vain...

I had previously a nasty experience with Lapua .22 LR "Subsonic" H.P. cartridges, when I had handlapped or fire-lapped the bore of a Sako rifle, with 250 mm barrel length and almost 500 mm long silencer - with an intention to improve the accuracy. After the lapping was accuracy O.K. (less than 25 mm five shot groups at 100 meters = 3/4" at 100 yards) but the inherently efficient suppressor (truly a silencer) had no more silencing effect at all. Bullet velocities were measured: HELL's BELLS ! Average: 355 meters per second ! Ambient temperature was +19 degr. Centigrade. Sonic velocity: 343 mps. It was essential to enlarge the rifle chamber from it's Target dimensions to the common, exceedingly large, C.I.P. Standard diameter. (C.I.P. or European standards are usually ratified in 1914..!).

Fortunately enough, the accuracy of a rifle suffered not too much: Groups were 1.2" to 100 meters, or somewhat more than one Minute Of Angle. Average bullet velocity was now 330 m/s; still trans-sonic, but no more too noisy in flight, and decreasing after emerge to the ambient air. When shot from 26" barrel, were (and are) the muzzle velocities of "subsonic" Lapua's .22 LR bullets, including those of Scoremax, 315 meters per second (1034 fps). Jess; it is a subsonic velocity.! But who is fool enough to kill the rats on a dumping-ground with a silenced "Finnish Lion" competition rifle - in the country, where barrel length of a .22 rimfire rifle may be (legally) mere two inches, if the silencer's length is 15 to 16 inches ? Barrel length of a silenced "rat slayer" is usually less than a foot.

All of Lapua's .22 LR cartridges (with the exceptions of .22 LR Pistol King, Pistol Trainer and Polar Biathlon) are designed for "shooting from a competition rifle with 26" barrel, because only legal use of .22 LR cartridges is competition shooting, or training for the shooting events. The Match Grade rifles have a bolt action and not the clip or magazine at all"! I was not yet aware of this "factory policy" in December 1992, when I sent a letter, containing essentials of my .22 LASS project to the director of Lapua Cartridge Factory. He was interested, but some "old farth" below him, on the ladders of hierarchy, was not. My suggestions never met the actual cartridge designers of Lapua - as far as I know. And I know VERY far..!!

My idea was based on an intermediate-length case, because .22 Long/LR case is designed in 1870 for revolver cartridges and in 1887 for rifles, loaded with black powder only. This is the reason, why the smokeless loads of most .22 LR cartridges burns more or less incompletely, leaving unburnt or half-bunrnt powder kernels into the bore or (especially) into the suppressor: The case, designed to burn 5 grains of FFF-grade blackpowder behind a 29-grainer lead bullet in .22 Long or 40 gr bullet of .22 LR, is simply 1/10 inch too long for the smokeless powders - despite of 110 years long evolution of these "modern" propellants. (Yesh; the VERY original nitro-cellulose mixture, with 12.6 % of chemically bound nitrogen, is still an ideal powder for .22 LR cartridges. It is an "all-weather powder": Functional as well in Sahara as in Siberia. A Russian professor of chemistry in the University of Sant Petersburg - Dmitri Mendelyeyev - discovered this mixture already in 1890!).

Length of .22 AL case is 13 millimeters before loading, and ½ inch when crimped around the bullet heel, or about half from overall length of a loaded cartridge. Cylindrical body of the case is ca. 20 % shorter than that of .22 Long (Rifle) case. So the friction area and friction between the walls of case and cartridge chamber are 1/5 less, when compared with .22 LR case. There are, of course, still more ways to reduce the case friction: Cadmium electroplating of cases, dry-wax coating of them, or simply use of hard & resilient brass (alloy 67 % copper + 33 % zinc) as a case material.

I don't know the consistence of copper alloy of Lapua .22 LR cases, but they were in mid-1980s annealed to become less soft than the copper cases made by East German Schoenebeck cases. Not good for autoloader firearms, but don't forget: They were made for bolt-action single-shot competition rifles ONLY by allies of ex-Soviet Union. Rimfire cases (say, for example) of Remington .22 CB Long cartridges are of hard and resilient brass. If coated with dry wax (which may be done by dipping loaded cartridges into the mixture of carbon-tetra-chloride solvent and solid paraffine wax, leaving just the cartridge head unlubed), must the case and bullet be so dimensioned that the wax coating on a cartridge cannot yet raise diameter too much.

Priorities of characteristics are as follows. Number one: Reliable (read: POSITIVE) feed from all imaginable kinds of clips and magazines, including belts of "miniature machine guns", and equally positive extraction, ejection and re-cocking of the firing mechanism of any & all autoloading firearms, chambered for .22 LR cartridges. Number two: TRULY subsonic bullet velocity, despite of barrel length, chamber diameter (including narrow "Target" chambers), and slickiness of the bore. Number three: Stable "arrow-like" bullet flight from the muzzle to the extreme range. Number four: Shooting accuracy. Number five: Lethal effect of a hit.. (Read: Hits).

Contrary to the "sniping philosophy", a combined effect of multiple hits, is appreciated by many shooters. A vast majority of hunters or pest killers are less skilled marksmen and even the masters may have "bad day" or a bad luck. Then is a quick follow-up shot needed... or shots. Effect of three successive hits is cumulative. Lethality of a shotgun is based on multiple simultaneous hits of low-powered pellet, usually not penetrating the vital organs of a living target, but still lethal suddenly, as a strike of three-forked thunderbolt. Most shooters are able to learn a "triple tap" with a supported or rested autoloader .22 rimfire rifle. Three hits during 1½ second is a sufficient rate of fire.

"When my heart was yong and gay" and my eyesight was still keen (in early 1980s), I was able to shoot 14 shots from a rested feather-light Remington Nylon 66 autoloader during ca. three seconds - sometimes all the hits within ca. 30 millimeters ring and usually within 1½ inch circle at 100 meters. Easy with a rested rifle, even light one. Off-hand shooting I have never learnt, but those "kuularuisku-demonstraatiot" (machine-gunning shows) attracted notice on the public shooting range. I had a suppressor mounted on my own Remington, but the cartridges used for those demonstrations (brand VOSTOK Sport & Hunting, with a phosphate-coated steel case) gave transsonic or supersonic velocity and accordingly more or less loud bullet flight noise.

Most accurate cartridge was Lapua Sound Moderator Hollowpoint, which gave subsonic bullet velocity, but it was able to blow the overly heavy breech-bolt of Remington back no more than .1 or .12 inch. Firepower was, however, satisfactory if compared with a bolt-action rifle, and the dominant shooting signature was snap of the heavy linear hammer inside the hollow plastic stock of that rifle. The brass case, annealed "dead soft" (actually softer than the copper shell of contemporary Schoenebeck .22 LR cartridges) prevented autoloading, along with a rather low "momentum" of Lapua SMHP load. Bullet weight is 2.4 grams (when the deep point-cavity was filled with mineral jelly/ Vaseline, which is more effective way to enhance "DumDum effect" of that bullet than was use of real shock-sensitive explosive. I tried mixture of potassium chlorate and black antimony sulphide, sometimes made more sensitive with added glass powder, but the filling failed many times to detonate, and the explosion was unable to cause more effective expansion of bullet than Vaseline filling, which NEVER failed to function).

This weight 2.4 grams, multiplied by the measured average velocity 322 meters per second, products the momentum 772.8 gm/s (gram-meters per second or "gempses"). Insufficient momentum for Remington Nylon 66 or Remington Viper action, especially when the cases were of soft brass, almost without any degree of resilience. In the mid-1980s I knew that one kilogram-meter per second or 1000 gm/s is a momentum needed to give a positive autoloading cycle for any & all .22 LR firearms - if the case is of resilient material or lubricated from it's mouth to the rim. Resilience of Soviet Vostok .22 LR steel case was somewhat insufficient, but when I found a trick to lubricate the phosphate coated (Parkerized) shells, I was able to shoot more than 7500 rounds of Vostok S & Hs without failures of feed, misfires or ejection troubles with my own Remington Nylon 66.

Bullet weight was usual 40 grains or 2.59 grams and average velocity 339 mps (transsonic or subsonic in hottest summer days). Momentum was 2.59 g x 339 m/s = 878 gm/s. Ejection failed sometimes before discovery of case lubrication, but never more, when the shells were lubed by rolling the cartridges between palms of hands before dropping 15 rounds into the butt magazine of Remington and cocking the action before pushing the magazine tube into butt all the way. (Magazine held just 14 LRs). Lube was plentily available: Vostok S & H's bullets were as excessively greased with a messy wax - as are many Lapua .22 LRs.

I have shot Vostoks from a Finnish Army .22 rimfire training rifle, owing the barrel length 32½ inches (SIC ! 825 millimeters) without signs of "lube run off" and muzzle end leading. Shots were almost silent without silencer and the bullet velocity was apparently no more than ca. 250 meters per second. I had not yet a chronograph, but some idea about flight times of bullets, which were also possible to see in flight with a naked eye. Another amazing finding was that Remington Nylon 66 was able to feed and eject positively some High Velocity .22 Short cartridges, despite of it's excessive breech-bolt weight and the momentum of a heavy linear hammer, propelled by a stiff mainspring.

Those .22 Shorts were loaded by Winchester. (One "survivor" is headstamped with a letter "H" from word Henry). Solid bullets are copper plated. Cases are of unplated resilient brass. Bullet weight is 2.88 grams and measured velocity (average) was 347 meters per second. Momentum was so 999.4 gm/s or not far from 1 kilogram-meter per second minimum. Automatic ejection and feeding cycles were not "sluggish", but rather "vehement". I noted also a "farthing" from the action, i.e. noisy blast of powder gas from the chamber end of bore. It is easy to imagine noisiness of that farthing when Aguila SSS is shot from 20 inch barrel of an autoloading rifle. A mounted suppressor may made the things still more difficult.

.22 Short case is really TOO short for ALS cartridge, although I recommended it in my suggestions to Lapua "for the preliminary test-shootings with heavy bullets, for search of the limits of stabilizing in the varying twists of rifling", or twist up to 1 - 20". There are actually existing some (very rare) TAP Wildboar and Finnbiathlon-22 rifles, made by Tampereen Asepaja in the late 1970s, for shooting of High Velocity .22 LR cartridges only, with "two rotations per a meter" twist. It was found, however, that HV .22 LR cartridges are simply not loaded for the competition shooting, but for "plinking" and hunting only, especially for the autoloading rifles, designed for shooting of High Velocity .22 LRs. No alteration of rifling twist can turn the HV cartridge to become a tack-driver: It is senseless to harness a race-horse to the mule team.

Use of a .22 Short case for loading of ALS cartridge, which must have the overall length about similar to the common .22 LR, mainly for the feed reliability from any & all box, drum or arched magazines without need to file, stone & hone or bend the feeding lips. A .22 Long cartridge is not much shorter in overall length than is .22 LR but if the positive feed reliability is needed, many magazines are needing some kind of "adjustment". And when these alterations are done, may the feed reliability of usual .22 LR be questionable. Summa summarum: The side profile of ALS cartridge must be similar to that of very most reliably feeding .22 LR cartridges.

Bullet must have a round or actually ogival point; not hemispherical or blunt; not a truncated cone or slightly rounded wadcutter. Never forget the Priority Number One: Reliability of feed in autoloaders! Another unconditional demand is gyro-stabilization of the bullet in 1 - 16 or even in 1 - 18 rifling twist, despite of bad ambient conditions (frosty or rainy weather). And the bullet's flight must be TRULY (not just marginally) subsonic despite of bad ambient conditions (cold weather, when the sonic velocity in air is lowered) and bore & chamber conditions or barrel length. Since the early summer 1992 I have been aware of the true meaning of words "subsonic" and "trans-sonic".

Subsonic is a bullet with muzzle velocity no more than 1000 feet per second or 300 meters per second, shot from the velocity/pressure test barrel with a length 12 inches or 300 millimeters, the bore lapped mirror-bright and with a Target chamber (= all the dimensions close to allowed minimum of S.A.A.M.I. specifications). All the mentioned conditions tends to increase the muzzle velocity of 50 grains .223" diameter bullet. No actual rifle or handgun may develope "surprisingly" high bullet velocity (say 355 mps or 12 mps more than was a sonic velocity in ambient conditions, while factory test-barrel velocity is 315 mps with a very small plus or minus variation. Factory test-barrel length is, of course, 26 inches...). Momentum is calculated multiplying bullet weight 3.24 grams by velocity 300 m/s. Product is 972 gm/s - and the case friction to the chamber wall is about 13.4 % less than the friction of .22 Long/LR case by the shorter length of ALS case only, if the pressures and case materials are equal.

If it is simply impossible to test-shoot .22 ALS cartridges with a shorter than 26 in test barrel, it is essential to place the limit of maximum allowed bullet velocity to 290 mps level/ ca. 950 feet per second. Producer of Aguila SSS has seemingly adopted information from our "Bullet Flight Noise vs. Velocity" table, but that velocity level is impossible to reach because of too small powder volume of .22 Short case and 60 gr bullet, along with a projectile, long enough to act as a "compression bullet" of muzzleloader military rifles in 1850s and 1860s, and so develope an excessive bore friction. (A lesson: Study the history, when you're evolving a novelty ! That's the way how to evade cardinal errors).

Combination of .22 Short case and slightly more "pointed" 50 gr. bullet may be somewhat more reasonable combination for manually loaded firearms, but the "farthing" problem still exists in autoloaders, especially rifles, and the powder charge shall become crammed into too small space. Just 1/10 inch more case length may offer a drastic improvement of the situations, and the overall cartridge length shall become just correct for LR chambers and magazines. Fifty-grainer bullet, 1/10 inch shorter than 60 gr Aguila projectile is gyro-stable in flight, and it's point shape may be designed to allow easier feed.

This idea was, as mentioned, sent in December 1992 to Lapua Cartridge Plant (of course without knowledge on Aguila .22 SSS, which was at least five years later innovation, presumably evolved indepently, without knowledge on .22 ALS concept), without any effect. Later I suggested production of .22 ALS to Remington, and a couple of years ago to Brazilian C.B.C. - without effect. (I was presumably thought to be some "Gyro Gearloose" with impossible-to-realize ideas, like re-starting production of 5.75 mm Velo-Dog revolver cartridges as the reloadible ammo for "auxiliary cartridges" or adapters and centerfire arms with rifled barrel liners for caliber .224" ammo).velodog.gif (6787 bytes)

Lefaucheux cartouche, .22 short, .22 long and .22 long rifle. Velo-Dog cartridge at right.

I am interested in the e-mail address of Russian KLIMOVSK cartridge factory! (Producer of Vostok .22 LR cartridges ). Steel, preferably cadmium-plated steel, may be a fine case material for .22 ALS and the bullet may also be electroplated with cadmium. It is among the most "slippery" metallic bullet coatings, adopted sometimes in 1920s or 1930s (for the special smokeless .22 LR cartridges offered for use especially in the autoloading firearms in USA), but later abandoned, because of poisonous qualities of cadmium salts. Metallic cadmium is, however, considerably less poisonous than are lead or antimony-lead alloys.

Metallic coatings are preferable on the bullets of autoloading .22 rimfire arms, especially rifles. Thin "dry wax" coating shall run off easily, and the thick "tacky lube" (like that on Lapua Scoremax bullets) fouls the firearms action badly when mixed with carbon and unburned powder kernels. Feed jams of the clean firearms are also usual, when cold weather has congealed the tacky lube. There are some old but nowadays forgotten tricks for improvement of bullet expansion. I mentioned already a hollowpoint bullet with a narrow but deep point cavity of Lapua's Subsonic HP bullets, filled with mineral jelly. Depth of the cavity is 7 millimeters (.28"). I presume, the jelly filling of point cavity may be applied in a factory without too high extra cost.

Point channel of ALS bullet may be 9 mm in depth (.35"). Bullet weight of HP variation shall be ca. 47 grains. There is also an interesting old trick: To cut two crosswise slashes into the bullet point. Contrary to the hollowpointing, those slashes do not cause loss of the bullet weight. Because of the inherently slow bullet velocity and metal plating, it is also possible to reduce content of alloying metals so that the bullet's lead percentage is 99.5 % and the rest .5 % is antimony and traces of other metals. Soft lead bullets needs no hollowpointing or slashing. Diameter of them may be .223" because of the compression effect, without the notable loss of accuracy. These options are at least worth mentioning, althought professional animal controllers presumably prefers "handcranked" rifles and more wadcutter-like bullets. Millions of plinkers and hunters are stuck to their beloved .22 LR autorifles and handguns.

We must remember that .22 ALS cartridge is not intented for 60 shots prone or 3 x 40 shots Discipline Contests with single shot bolt-action rifles. It was designed primarily for autoloading rifles, handguns, machine guns or submachine guns, and not "For Official Use Only" but for each & every gun-owner, for use in silenced firearms but to become also relatively "silent without a silencer". It is designed to become loaded with smokeless powder; the first one of it's kind since 1903 or 1914, being designed for autoloaders and the very first one to give a TRULY subsonic bullet velocity along with function of autoloaders.

There are many reasons, why the cartridge manufacturers are hesitant to adopt my idea, plus one insuperable cause of negation: "N.I.H. syndrome". Abbreviation comes from words: "Not Invented Here".

13012000; P.T.Kekkonen,  Special Editor of "GUNWRITERS ON THE WEB" on-line magazine. Joensuu; FINLAND.

P.S. Idea about re-adoptment of .30 Long Rimfire cartridge might be my. I'll cancel it after more careful consideration: As far as possible, all cartridges must be reloadible with use of components generally available everywhere. Good calibers for .30/ .308/ 7.62 mm subsonic firearms are .30 M1 Carbine, .32 S & W Long or H & R Magnum and even .32 ACP. Chambers of some firearms may be "freebored" for use of extra-long bullets. Several years ago I had a "cane gun", chambered for a .32 ACPEL cartridge, with a common .32 ACP case but freebored throat or leade of chamber. Into the case mouth was possible to seat a cast bullet LEE C309-180R. That's why the cartridge was "Extra Long". I shot just some usual .32 ACP factory-loads from that inconvenient piece of equipment, before I sold it away.


91shot.JPG (13636 bytes)Whisper of The Reaper

HI, I'm enthusiast about your friend's (Marko) Mosin-Nagant/ DeLisle carbine. I want to realized it with my Lee-Enfield .303 or with my Mosin-Nagant. I want to know the number of the holes in the barrel, their measures, the lenght of the silencers and of the barrel, and the project of the silencers.

Thanks ; Stefano (from Italy).

answer.GIF (573 bytes)   "EJA, ejá, ala lá !" (Quotation is from a recording of an old Italian song with a refrain: "Giovinezza, giovinezza/ Prima vera di bellezza..!" and it's text starts by words: "Salve, popolo..." Can you get to me wording of this song ? It was once upon a time like National Anthem of Italy, of course along with the official "Mameli's Song").

I think, that LEE-ENFIELD is more authentic "basis" for the DeLisle Carbine clone than Mosin-Nagant. Original DL Carbine was overly complicated, "ad absurdum", because of the huge size of it's silencer unit and inherently subsonic .45 A.C.P. cartridge. Efficient it's silencer was, nobody can deny, but you may build considerably less complicated silencing unit and use the Lee-Enfield action unaltered: Old cartridge designs, like .303 British, are easy to handload with small charges of easily igniting pistol or shotgun powder for subsonic velocity level.

Powder gas-bleed vents through the barrel wall are unnecessary. These are good news, since drilling and reaming of these vents is not so easy task: Many barrels are ruined by venting. Accuracy is many times lost permanently. Barrel length has less importance. May be 250 to 300 millimeters, or one complete rotation of bullet in the rifling ("twist length" of grooves plus length of the chamber, measured from the muzzle to the frontal recess of breech-bolt head). Silencer unit itself may be ca. 50 mm in outer diameter, of mild steel. Seamless "drawn" tubing is preferable. About tenfold diameter ( ½ meter) is sufficient length of the silencer jacket. Baffle construction may be similar to that of Finnish BR-Tuote suppressors with 8 to 12 semi-toroidical baffles.

I found this text from my computer 1½ months afterwards. Sorry about long delay. I receive e-mail by our "telegraph operator" on the diskettes, since there is not e-mail or Internet communication to my ancient computer, used just as a typewriter only. Unfortunately I am unable to produce Auto-CAD or other easily made drawings with my available "machinery"...

1701MM; Pete

7.62 mm M-43 / AR-15: For Subsons Only

greetings from the great state of texas. i could use any help on loading 7.62x39 subsonic for use in an AR-15. i have a 1 in 10 twist .311 barrel. it would be nice if i could get this load to cycle the guns as a "Normal" load would. i can lighten the bolt, remove weights from the recoil plunger in the stock or whatever is needed. do you know if it would be advisable to move the gas port near the chamber where gas pressure is highest? i can use the short gas tube which is only about 3 inches in front of the actual throat area of the chamber. would this help to cycle the action more effectively?

can i do this with standard jacketed bullets to alleviate fouling of the gas port? can i do this without stuffing the cartride case with a filler? should i shorten the barrel to reduce velocity? i can go legally down to 16 inches (measured from the bolt face) or i can register the gun as a short barrel rifle if needed ($200 tax and 4 month wait) as you can tell i am starting from scratch on this! if it were a bolt action gun this would be easier but then again the fun is in the challenge.

Hello; Bob

answer.GIF (573 bytes) Shortened gas tube may help. Gas pressure close to the chamber is rather high, when the subsonic cartridges are loaded with advisable "subson" powder, with the burning rate something between HODGDON CLAYS (original Australian product) and ALLIANT (HERCULES) UNIQUE; including both mentioned brands. I don't know, however, whether 3 inches tube length is short enough. Gas port of US M1 Carbine is closer to the chamber mouth: Carbine action shall give reliable autoloading with these "hot" powder, but the subsonic velocity may be impossible to get, because the bullet of .30 Carbine cartridge cannot be much more heavy than standard 110 grains RN. Rifling twist of a carbine is simply too slow to gyro-stabilize longer bullets.

7.62 x 39 mm Yelisarov & Syemin M-43 cartridges you can load with extra-heavy jacketed bullets, with a weight 170 to 180 grains. Loads you must develope without known data, but your starting loads may be very light (2 to 3 grains of handgun or shotgun powder; depents on the burning rate). For .311" bore are .311" diameter bullets recommended; those made for .303 British/ 7.65 mm Argentine Mauser or 7.7 mm Japanese rifle. Roundnose plain based bullets are good for subsonic loads of M-43 Russian cartridge. Boat-tail hollowpoints may be too long to become gyro-stable in 1 - 10" rifling. Original Kalashnikov barrel has 240 millimeters twist.

Lightened bolt may help the autoloading, but if you are made a light bolt and reduced recoil plunger and moved the gas port backwards, you must forget shooting the "Normal" factory loads or handloads with usual rifle powders, giving the muzzle velocities of full-powered ammo. Your rifle shall become "for subsonics only" piece of equipment ! IMPORTANT NOTICE: Shortened barrel shall not reduce the available velocity of subsonic handload bullets. On the contrary: Bullet velocity may be higher when shot from 16" barrel than the velocity available from the standard barrel. Bore friction of a jacketed bullet slows down it's velocity after acceleration gained by 10 to 12 inch travel in the rifling.

One of my friends in Finland has made a really unique rifle from the .308 Winchester F.A.L. Autorifle for shooting of very mild subsonic handloads: He removed by grinding a locking lug of a spare breech-bolt. His F.A.L. is a blowback rifle (with the gas piston actuation), when the modified bolt is in the action, and when he shoots full-powered factory loads or handloads, he can use an unaltered breech-bolt. Power of his subson handloads is about similar to that of .32 ACP (pocket pistol) factory loads; almost silent without silencer, save the noise of autoloading cycle.

I don't know mechanism of AR-15 well enough to say, whether it is possible to grind away the locking lugs of spare breechblock of it, and use it as a blowback action rifle. If it is possible, the cartridges must be handloaded to the very low power level, with a standard bullet weight (123 grains) and start from (say) 2 grains of fast-burning powder like Hodgdon CLAYS or VihtaVuori N 310, and step up the charge with .1 grain increments until the bullet velocities are uniform. AR-15 with a blowback bolt needs not a gas tube at all. Without a gas actuation it is possible to load the cartridges with somewhat heavier powder charges, because the gas cannot kick the bolt open too rapidly.

Some earliest pre-Kalashnikov AK 47 prototype firearms were designed to function like common submachine guns, even with the full-powered 7.62 mm M-43 cartridges, but they were found to be impractical, because of a rather high chamber pressure and needed heavy weight of the breech-bolt. With the reduced charge handloads may a blowback action be functional.

It is unnecessary to use any case filler material in 7.62 mm M-43 cartridges, but an useful trick is to drill the flash hole (vent) of primer pocket with (up to) 4.0 mm/ 0.16" drill bit. Too small flash holes of Boxer primer pockets were designed in 1868 for ignition of contemporary military rifle cartridges, crammed full of black gunpowder. A small charge of smokeless powder needs more sudden and wide ignition flame from the primer. Also is beneficial to lube the bullet of subsonic cartridge. Thin coating of Molybdene Bi-sulphide on the jacketed bullet is useful lubrication, but almost any fatty substance shall reduce the bore friction and variables of bullet velocities.

A lubricated cast bullet (.312" dia.) with a gas check is usually ideal for subson loads, but cast bullets designed for 7.62 M-43s are inherently light, short and sharp-pointed. A short-necked cartridge case and strictly limited overall cartridge length are negations to successful use of cast bullets with a weight more than 150 grains.

1601MM; Pete

Still another wildcat caliber ?

I have been trying to think of a cartridge that will fit in .308 Win class bolt action rifle, for suppressed subsonic use only. It must be roughly the same size as the .308 Win, as I want it to feed well. Had thought of .308 Win with a fast 1-8" twist or .338 Whisper (7 mm Remington Brenchrest, necked up to .338). But what would a standard .308 Win case be if necked up to .338 size ? The idea is to get the heaviest bullet weight I can with jacketed rifle bullets. The rifle would have a barrel of around 12" and a large silencer. A twist would be 1-10.

The question: Would the smaller .338 Whisper be better than the .338/308 wildcat ? The longer .308 case could offer more protection for the heavy bullet while in the magazine.? The 1-10" twist would stabilize Lapua 250 gr and Sierra 300 gr, .338 bullets, hopefully, or would I need a faster twist ? Any thoughts will be much appreciated.

Yours Faithfully, Chris

answer.GIF (573 bytes) Hi again, Chris! I am sorry about the more and more long delay between the questions and my answers. Many Finnish visitors are asking questions too. Those, who have paid the (rather nominal) annual fee for keeping "Gunwriters On the Web" sites alive at all, are privileged to get answers. Millennium is over. Now is 00:45 o'clock in 1st January '00 and my old computer works very well. Stories about the Grand Total Delete of memory seems to be just fairy tales. I'll look, however, whether my "ARCANE" stories are still existing. (It is)..!

I presume, there are many "wildcatters" already designed a necked-up .308 Win cartridge for .338 caliber bullets. I recommend also fire-forming of the case to make it slightly "improved" one, with shoulder angle 25 degrees. There is an existing factory-designed/factory-loaded cartridge .358 Winchester available since 1955, with a shoulder angle mere 20 degrees. It became never very popular, because of some "headspace troubles": If the cartridge was pushed speedily into the rifle chamber, it could enter too deeply forwards, causing even misfires and extraction failures. Especially some lever-action rifles suffered from these headspace problems. At least SAVAGE Model 99 and BROWNING BLR rifles were (are ?) chambered for .358 Winchester cartridge.

A much older .35 Remington cartridge, shooting the very same .358" diameter bullets, designed in 1906 for a selfloader and slide-action rifle, didn't cause troubles, although it has a case shoulder diameter .425" (10.80 mm) while that of .358 Win is .454" (11.53 mm). Shoulder angle of .35 Rem case was carefully calculated 23 degr. 25 minutes. With 25 degr. angle it is possible to use even the European 9.3 mm bullet in a necked-up "improved" 9.3 x 51 mm wildcat cartridge with .308 Win fireformed case. For the silenced rifle has 9.3 mm caliber, however, no advantage over .358" projectiles. There is huge selection of factory-made lead bullets available for .358 caliber rifle, but no more for 9.3 mm guns. And "happiness is a lubricated lead alloy bullet" for the user of silenced rifle..!!

Your idea of necked-up 7 mm BR Remington case with .338" bullet sounds to be reasonable - but - why to content yourself with half measures ? The universal scourge of modern bottle-necked rifle cartridges is too short case neck - especially for use with the swaged or cast lead alloy bullets. You may design a wildcat cartridge with a case body length like that of 7 mm BR Rem and 25 degrees shoulder, but sized from a full-length .308 Win case for seating of .338" bullet. You must get a custom-made kit of sizing and bullet seating dies, along with 3rd die for expansion of a case mouth (and flaring of it for cast bullet seating).

It is possible to ream the rifle chamber with a sizing die reamer and to grind or "lap" it slightly more large with sized cartridge cases and valve grinding paste. Because your rifle shall be unique (one of it's kind), just a little allowance is needed between the dimensions of cartridge case and rifle chamber. It may be made along with "NIEDNER's Principle", so that you should not resize the cases after the shooting at all, but just to reprime them, charge them with powder and seat the bullets.

When seating cast lead bullets, the case mouth must be slightly flared. If the bullets are "gas checked" (which is recommended) it is needed just to bevel the inner edge of case mouth. If flared, the case mouths must be also crimped enough to make them again cylindrical or very slightly tapered. Bullet diameters must be as uniform as possible, and so also the thicknesses of case neck walls. If a jacketed bullet is too "fat", it is advisable to lathe-turn it to the correct diameter, and not try to squeeze it through a bullet sizing die. Lead alloy bullets are easy to size with it. Slightly undersized bullets are easy to "paste in" to the case necks with a sticky bullet lubricant or even with the beeswax or candle wax, while applying a dip-lubrication; which is a beneficial procedure - even for the jacketed bullets of subsonic handloads.

In the Good Old Times - presumably before invention of A.O. Niedner's Principle of precision fit between cartridge "shell" and a rifle chamber - dipped many Finnish target rifle shooters their loaded cartridges into the melted bovine or mutton tallow entirely, hanging them bullet end downwards by the case rims. (Caliber of the Target or Schützen Rifle - a "tussari" in arcaic Finnish - was usually 8.15 x 46R, but .32-20 Win rifles were also used). The tallow coating prevented expansion of a cartridge case. Resizing of the cases before reloading of cartridges was unnecessary, but the tallow was obliged to wash away after the shooting session, because it stained the brass "ugly" (= green in color). It didn't made the brass more brittle.

Some shooters had tin-plated or even nickel-plated cases for use with tallow coating. They were not lathe-turned solid-wall "Everlasting cases", but they could stand several thousands reloadings and shots before the primer pocket became too large to hold the primer - not because of chamber pressure (which was very low), but by the abrasion of priming mass residue or careless use of depriming chisel. Most 8.15 x 46R cases had BERDAN primer pockets with an integral anvil, very easy to ruin with a sharp chisel point. Those .32-20 Winchester cases with BOXER primers were less risky to de-prime and re-prime.

The cases were sometimes neck-resized, if the neck was expanded too large to hold the bullet and enter the chamber easily, but this action was carried out on a mature deliberation. Riflemen knew since 1880s until early 1930s that ANY - even the slightest - sizing of the cartridge case shall reduce it's active life. So it was essential to eliminate the permanent case expansion and avoid need of any resizing.

Summa summarum: This combination of .308 Win basic case and .338" bullet sounds to be functional, but somebody must be able to design and make a custom-made reamer for sizing die of cases, especially if they are long-necked shells (.338 x 2"), and also a reamer for the case neck inside diameter. If the neck wall is too thick, there is a risk of explosion of rifle because of an excessive bullet friction in the case neck.

07012000; Pete

AL-43 Assault Rifle & mid-sized cartridges

Mr. Kekkonen: I read mention yesterday evening of Aimo Lahti's 1943 assault rifle in Suomi History 2/2. I've been wondering for 35 years if this the "delayed blowback" Suomi variant mentioned in Hogg's Small Arms Of The World which fired a 7.62 mid-sized rimmed round (a shortened 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant rifle round similar to the 7.92 x 33K and its parent 7.92 x 57 ?). Your reply to both the weapon and the cartridge are appreciated.

Respectfully Yours; John

answer.GIF (573 bytes)  I have held one AL-43 assault rifle prototype in my hands several times in the 1980s, when it was in possession of Factory Studying Collection of VALMET TOURULA WORKS, but that collection fell suddenly to the hands of enemy (SAKO Oy) about twelve years ago. I have no literature about AL-43 at hand but just some "as-far-as-I-can-remember"-knowledge: Just some prototype rifles were made by a Finnish firm PARTATERA Oy (Razor Blade Ltd.) as a "Raskas Konepistooli m/43" (heavy submachine gun Model 1943). I had never enough time to disassemble that rifle, but I think, it's action is a copy of Italian FIAT machine gun / OFFICINE VILLAR PEROSA Model 1915 "miniature machine gun" / BERETTA Model 1918 submachine gun.

(All of them had similar delayed blowback action with a rotating breech-bolt but a top-mounted vertical box magazine. AL-43 rifle had a bottom-mounted drum magazine for 56 rounds). The "heavy submachine gun" looks like a over-grown SUOMI KP/31. Weight is ca. 6 kilograms with an empty magazine. According to the most respected Finnish authority on firearms, Master of Arts MATTI U.K. VIRTANEN, the AL-43 prototypes were not suitable for mass-production or use in the real battle, but they were just some kind of cartridge test-shooting and comparison devices. Of course, they were never "discharged in anger".

Finnish military authorities became aware of German assault rifle and cartridge designs in the late 1942 or very early 1943. Some Finnish officers, who were ex-services of Imperial Russian army, were also red the books and articles written by V.G.FYODOROV, who was able to predict the arrival of 1st generation assault rifles, intermediate-length cartridges and (NOTA BENE !) also the 2nd generation cartridges, like 5.56 x 45 mm NATO and Soviet 5.45 x 40 mm M-74 ... in the late 1920s.! This same Fyodorov was designed the first 6.5 x 50 mm "ABTOMAT" (assault rifle) in 1916.

It is not known, who designed Finnish war-time assault rifle cartridges, because all the knowledge on their history is kept by the historians, who are not interested in the cartridges, but they are also hostiles to persons, who are able to compile needed information about history of military cartridges and cartridge designs in Finland. A book "SUURI PATRUUNAKIRJA" ("The Great Cartridge Book", by TIMO HYYTINEN & al.) was planned to become published ten years ago, but the plan was abortive. I don't know, why..!! I have collected my scanty knowledge on 7.62 mm MOSIN cartridges by correspondence, mainly from Germany, and from some French sources.

No information is offered to me from Finland, ESPECIALLY about Finnish military cartridges and factory loads, with one exception: Home archives of M.A. Matti U.K. Virtanen (about Civil Guards cartridge orders from SAKO Oy and cartridge designs) has been valuable source of knowledge. Mr. Virtanen collected historical documents for the book "Suuri Patruunakirja". He was also a co-editor of that planned book, which was never allowed to become published. Finnish Ministry of Education was one known participant of "the censorship plot".!

There were three kinds of heavy submachine gun cartridges designed in Finland, without known immediate patterns. They are all loaded into RIMLESS cases. I have seen all of them. Two of them were developed for 9 mm and 7.62 mm versions of AL-43 and third one for very rare LILJA Carbine (which is usually mis-classified as a "submachine gun"). Cartridges for AL-43 were presumably based on the 6.5 x 55 mm Swedish MAUSER cases, with a slightly bigger case head diameter than that of German Mauser cartridge Model 1888 (and all of it's clones, like .30-06, .308 Win and their untold necked-up or necked-down variations). Cases were made by LAPUA plant of VPT (Valtion Patruunatehtaat/ State's Cartridge Manufactures, which had the plants also in Kanavuori and Ahtari, not in Lapua only, during the 3rd Finnish Independence War in 1941 - 44).

Production of 6.5 x 55 mm cartridges was started after the 2nd Independence War, a.k.a. the Winter War 1939 - 40. Since the order of Swedish Government, in August 1940, until the end of year 1940, there were produced 18.5 millions rounds of 6.5 mm cartridges by Lapua plant for Sweden, and when the production of them was ceased in 21st June 1941 (one day before start of "Operation Barbarossa"), the grand total production of 6.5 x 55 mm Swedish cartridges was reached 65.9 millions rounds, lacking just 100 000 rds from the Swedish order - but since 22th June, 7:15 o'clock there was a helluva hurry to start again production of 7.62 Mosin-Nagant cartridges for our own armed forces "with a High Gear switched on". There were, of course, a lot of surplus 6.5 mm cases left for prototype cartridge designing.

Dies and tools for production of 6.5 x 55 mm cartridges were also still existing in 1943, and there was a "lull time" of production, due to the lack of materials in VPT Lapua plant, and a good time for evolution of some promising products - like the short cases for AL-43 heavy submachine guns. I presume that the cartridge manufacturer was more enthusiastic over the intermediate-sized cartridge than Aimo J. Lahti was about designing of his assault rifle. Lahti was aware of the very limited resources of Finnish firearms industry during the last half of our 3rd Independence War: Finland should be the least possible country to adopt an entirely new kind of military firearms.

The minor improvements of KP/-31 were rejected in 1942, including the front sight protection "ears" and the butt-stock mounting with a "MARTINI-HENRY" bolt. There was not the production capacity even for the prototype samples of AL-43 by VKT or TIKKAKOSKI Oy, but just in the small shop, which made GILLETTE razor blades and steel washers for the barrel flanges of SUOMI KP/31s and toggle-joint adjustment washers of MAXIM machine guns. In Finland there was not capacity for the complicated sheet steel stampings, needed for mass-production of assault rifles similar to German MKb 42/43 (a.k.a. Sturmgewehr 44). AL-43 prototypes were therefore designed for production with usual toolmaking shop's machinery, by highly skilled craftsmen; not for mass-production.

As mentioned, there were both 9 mm and 7.62 mm variations of the heavy submachine gun AL-43. The cartridges had case length 35 mm; so the caliber designations were 9 x 35 mm and 7.62 x 35 mm. The first one looks like .357 Auto Mag wildcat cartridge with a roundnose FMJ bullet, but the case is longer by two millimeters. 7.62 x 35 mm AL-43 cartridge looks like .308 x 1½" BARNES wildcat with a pointed FMJ bullet, but the case is ca. 3 millimeters shorter. 9 x 35 mm AL had somewhat better "stopping power" at short ranges than 7.62 mm variation and slightly higher muzzle velocity, but it's standard bullet (weight 7.5 grams/ 115.7 grains ?) had a rather poor sectional density, ballistic coefficient and penetration, when compared with 7.62 mm projectile. 9 mm variation was abandoned after comparisons; presumably before the end of year 1943.

7.62 x 35 mm AL cartridge had a performance about equal with Soviet 7.62 x 39 mm M-43 (actually German 7.75 x 39.5 mm GeCo Model 34/35 cartridge). Finnish 7.62 mm cartridge might give somewhat slower muzzle velocity, if it had then-standard S-30 flat-based pointed bullet, weight 9.6 grams (148 grains). Ballistics of these cartridges is mere guesswork. I cannot get confirmed information about Finnish cartridges from any Finnish source (with an exception of M.A. Matti Virtanen), and about these rarities I am unable to get data even from the colleagues living abroad. Sorry !

Cartridge of Lilja Carbine was based on 9 x 19 mm (Luger/Parabellum/submachine gun) case extented to 40 millimeters length and equipped with usual 9 mm round-nose FMJ bullet. This carbine has a plain blowback action with a hammer or striker mechanism, just like that of selfloading 9 mm or .45 ACP "pistol carbines", popular in USA before restriction of their sales. Lilja Carbine has, however, a movable barrel, like that of firearms with short recoil action (pistols and machine guns since MAXIM MG). The barrel is not connected with a breech-bolt by any mechanical means, but just by the friction of extra-long case after shot, when the chamber pressure is still high.

Reciprocating barrel follows the breech-bolt, until the pressure in the bore and chamber has dropped to safe level and the case wall is loosened from chamber wall by the elasticity of case brass. Now the barrel return spring starts to push the barrel into it's foremost position, while the extractor hook of breech-bolt pulls the spent case from a chamber. Bolt completes ejection of the case and feeds the fresh cartridge into chamber after re-cocking of the firing mechanism. Similar functioning is applied later in USA to some handguns, namely ill-fated pistols designed by JOHN W. KIMBALL, Detroit, Michigan (calibers .30 MI Carbine and .22 Hornet), introduced in 1955, discontinued in 1958, and COLT COLD CUP NATIONAL MATCH pistol (caliber presumably .38 Special, flush wadcutter target load only).

History of last mentioned pistol is unknown to me, but existing of barrel return spring on the exploded drawing led (or misled) me to the conclusion that the barrel is reciprocating one. Distance of axial barrel movement cannot be more than a couple of millimeters. Barrel of Kimball pistols went backwards along with the slide 5 to 7.6 millimeters and barrel of Lilja Carbine retreated at least 15 mm. (I have seen the prototype carbine in Tourula Works Studying Collection in 1988. Presumably it is a really unique object. The collection is nowadays scattered: Some objects are accommodated to Finnish Hunting Museum in Riihimaki. Fate of the military firearms is unknown to me. A vast majority of objects were military arms, including anti-tank rifles and 20 mm machine cannons).

Ballistics of 9 x 40 mm Lilja Carbine cartridge is, of course, unknown. It looks like .357 Maximum/Super Magnum cartridge without rim, with an extractor groove similar to that of 9 mm Luger case, and is equipped with usual 9 mm FMJ RN bullet. Head diameter is usual 10 millimeters and case mouth diameter 9.6 mm. Straightened case of 5.45 x 40 mm Russian M-74 cartridge is similar to 9 x 40 mm Lilja case, but the original Lilja shell is of brass. VPT was bought some machinery for production of the steel cases and bullet jackets from Germany, but the war ended before start of "iron age" in VPT. Production lines of steel cases and jackets were incomplete and the personnel of Lapua was lacking some know-how on "substitute cartridge" production.

Muzzle velocity of 115 grains bullet may be ca. 2000 feet per second or somewhat higher. Inspector ERKKI LILJA of VKT (later: VALMET Tourula Works) started design of his carbine during the war, presumably in 1943, but because there was not production capacity for new-fangled firearms in VKT, he completed his prototype not until early or mid-fifties. Barrel jacket of carbine is "Parkerized" or phosphate-coated. This coating was adopted not until 1950s in Finland. 9 x 40 mm cartridges were loaded by VPT during the war, like cartridges for AL-43 prototypes. Last test-shots from 7.62 mm AL-43 were shot in 1945.

As mentioned, I have no technical data of AL-43 easily available. Lilja Carbine has characteristics as follows:

Caliber: 9.00 x 40 mm (lengthened, almost parallel-sided case).
Barrel length: 415 mm/ 16.3 inches.
Overall length of carbine: 925 mm/ 36.4".
Weight with empty magazine: 4 kilograms/ 8.83 lbs.
Magazine: 20 rounds; staggered box.

06012000; P. T. Kekkonen

Silence WithOut Silencer

Dear Sir, I greatly enjoy your site. I have a question for you I have read your comments on the long barrel .22 rimfires, and have been looking to buy the longest barreled pistol caliber (.38 - .45 or so) rifle that I can find. I think I have found exactly what I have been looking for. There are several variations of lever action rifle replicas with 24 inch barrels and Cimarron (I believe a US Importer) brought in 30 inch replicas of the Model 1873 Winchester lever action chambered in .22 LR, .22 WMR, .357 Mag, as well as .45 Long Colt. If I cannot find the 30" Cimarron, Marlin makes a 24" Cowboy Classic in the same calibers that I might try as well. Soon I'll have a LONG barreled rifle for .45 Colt, so what ?

Well, in the Handloaders Digest (15th ed. 1996 page 186) there is an article on "The Quiet Big Game load" by P. A. Widegren (I can fax you the article if you cannot get it otherwise). In it he describes a 500 grain lead Wadcutter load he developed for the 454 Casull Revolver that he achieved 950 feet per second with 15 grains of Winchester 296 powder (16.5 grains was all he could stuff in to the case without deforming the bullet nose) through a Magna Ported 6 inch 454 Revolver.

Because of the minimal length of the flatnose bullet, I think it could be stabilized by the lever action's rifling. (If this really works, I would then look at a radical boattail - teardrop design - even if I needed a fast twist barrel) PS: Can you show the various BC's for subsonic bullets.? Is the sharp pointed bullet turned backwards (tail first) really the slipperiest bullet in the subsonic region ?

But before I go off and chuck a pile of money into this venture I would like to solicit your advice & input. A TRULY QUIET rifle shooting 500 grain bullets at 800 - 900 fps would be just the ticket for shooting without hearing protection, etc....


Comments &  answer.GIF (573 bytes) I have just some experience about handloading of very mild S.W.O.S. loads for .357 Magnum BROWNING lever action rifle (a very cute modified Japanese copy of WINCHESTER Model 1892) by the commission of Finnish Police Arms Depot. Our Men in Blue had in the early 1980s .38 Special SMITH & WESSON revolvers coming to be the standard belt handguns. Previously they had .32 A.C.P. caliber F.N./BROWNING Model 1910 - if not Model 1900 - pistols, usually carried in their back-pockets, and many times left home. (A need for actual use of the handgun is still extremely rare in Finland. Many policemen, nearing the retirement, have "never discharged a shot in anger").

Chief of the Police Arms Depot knew very well that the use of firearms was usually to put down the animals (cats and dogs, but occasionally whitetail deers, cows, horses and even the big - up to 1000 lbs on the hoofs - mooses), injured by the traffic accidents. A snubnose revolver was sometimes too noisy for this purpose, and it is much more difficult to shoot a lethal shot with any handgun than with any shoulder arm, even to the very short shooting distances. It was also a good idea to adopt the very same or similar cartridge for handguns and shoulder arms. Carbines were not intented to become personal weapons but to be the armament of patrol/cruiser cars and "Black Mary" vans.

It was possible to chamber the lever action Browning carbine with .38 Special police revolver cartrige (with 158 grains lead bullet, of somewhat harder alloy than usual LAPUA bullets) and a Silent Without Silencer cartridge for animal control or "coup de grâce" commissions in the densely populated areas, or the full-power .357 Magnum cartridges, fed from the magazine for the most nasty operations of law-enforcement. In those days was a SUOMI KP/31 an official police's long gun for emergencies. It was not carried in a police car or van as routine, and it is hard to think use of KP/31 as a "first line counter-sniping weapon", because it had just the iron sights, and many policemen never learned to master it. Also there was not a silencer or Silencer Barrel Unit designed for KP/31 in early 1980s.

That Coup de Grâce cartridge of my design was loaded into the .357 Magnum case with usual LAPUA 148 gr lead wadcutter bullet, seated into the case to much more depth than wc bullet of usual target revolver load. Powder charge was mere 3.5 grains of VihtaVuori N 14 (salvaged from 7.62 x 39 mm blank cartridges), but the reduced powder volume assured it's regular ignition. The lubrication of lead wadcutter bullet was, and it is still, insufficient. So I filled the empty mouth of case with melted wax (beeswax with some paraffine wax added), used for coating of Finnish Edamer cheese. Case mouths were crimped no more than was needed to remove their mouth flare (which is essential for seating of frail hollow-base wadcutter bullets).

That wax sealed the bullet hermetically and it was also a kind of code color, being bright red, but it's purpose was primarily to prevent the bore leading. I was shot no more than 20 or 25 rounds of these cartridges, when The Reaper cancelled the commission of load development: Chief of Finnish Police Arms Depot passed away suddenly. Owner of that test carbine called his sample-gun back, also very suddenly, without any explanation.!

It was an era of "Governmental Hoplophobia" in Finland. Ministers of the Interior were not human beings at all: They were, as a rule, the leftist radicals - the creatures like a cattle or beasts of burden. And the officials of that Ministry, especially those of the Police Administration, were hoplophobics; some of them inherently and the others "ex officio". In those circumstances it was impossible to adopt "the Wild-Western Gun" as a police carbine, despite of it's versatility.

I could just test the noise level of my special load. It was like snap of a dry broken-off pinewood branch, thickness about one inch. I had no means to measure the noise level. I had a chronograph, but not yet an opportunity to measure bullet velocities, or carry out penetration tests or accuracy test-shootings. I know, however, that the lever action rifle and a handgun cartridge (especially the hand-loaded one) is not overly noisy combination, even without a mounted silencer. Finnish police adopted later 9 mm CLOCK pistols and HECKLER & KOCH MP 5 submachine guns; some of them equipped with silencers. The old idea of late NIILO UUSKALLIO became realized (= same caliber of handguns and light shoulder arms), but versatility of a lever action carbine is impossible to achieve.

A submachine gun with delayed blowback action is inherently noisy, because of mechanical noise of the action - even when shot with a silencer and subsonic cartridges. And that 9 mm Luger cartridge is, on the other hand, impossible to become loaded to the performance of .357 Magnum. You must remember that a .357 Magnum cartridge, when handloaded especially for shoulder arms, with a proper powder and premium bullet, is a lot better deerslayer than is .44 Magnum, when loaded for a handgun with too light or frail bullet.

But now to your .45 Long Colt lever action rifle with TRULY LONG barrel: Your idea is O.K. If you must get your rifle re-barreled, my recommendation is to get a barrel-blank rifled for .458 Winchester Magnum rifle with 1 - 12 twist, and load your ammo with the bullets of .458 WiMa /.45-70 Government cartridges. Chamber of your rifle must - of course - be reamed so that a cartridge with .458" diameter bullet slips in easily. Another trick is to turn or ream walls of cartridge cases thin enough to accept .458" bullets without expansion of loaded cartridge. You may shoot also usual .45 Long Colt cartridges from that rifle with .45 LC chamber, but if you'll shoot more fat bullets, those cases for them must be thinned.

That drop-shaped bullet is an old Prussian invention from the era, when there was not yet a German Empire established (it was pre-1871 era. Inventor of drop-shaped projectile was one JOHANN NICOLAUS DREYSE, who died in 1867). For the .45 LC cartridge is a drop bullet or a reversed pointed bullet not so good idea, since there is not too much powder space in a .45 LC cartridge. I recommend almost cylindrical cast bullet with just a little rounded edges of a point to assist the feed. It seems to be really possible to cast .45 LC bullet with a weight 500 grains and diameter .4560" (maximum for .45 LC), but I think that the reaming of case walls is once again needed, because of the depth of bullet seating.

Throat or leade of the chamber must also be "freebored" for the cylindrical projectile: Distance between the head recess of a breechbolt and the rifled bore must be at least 1.60". Action of Winchester 1873 replica may be too weak for your intented conversion. I recommend HEPBURN action of current MARLIN lever action repeater centerfire rifles. The COWBOY CLASSIC may presumably be based on that Hepburn mechanism, able to stand even the unkind .45-70 Gvt. handloads, kicking like a mule.
qahepbur.jpg (10506 bytes)

Drawing: Action of MARLIN Repeater Centerfire rifles; design HEPBURN in ca. 1893. "H" = a cartridge case (HYLSY in Finnish). "L" = a breech-bolt (LUKKO). "S" = a block wedge (SULKUKIILA). "K" = an opening hook of a lever (AUKAISUVIVUN KOUKKU). Black arrows denote distribution of stresses between the receiver roof and rear edges of the bolt mortise. If the breech-bolt and it's channel in the receiver are kept "bone dry" (= unlubricated), the friction between them shall reduce somewhat the stress of the block wedge.

As well as I can recall, it was possible to handload some noiseless loads even for the .45-70 Gvt. MARLIN Model 1895 SS rifle with .45 caliber Minié bullets wrapped into the paper jacket and propelled with 7.7 grains of Finnish VihtaVuori N 320 powder. Nowadays I am without the right to possess (and even to borrow) firearms and cartridges legally, thanks to our "amended" firearms legislature, dictated from the European Union. So I cannot design handloads for .45 LC rifles. "Cowboy Action" shooting is -however- coming over here too, and I am not a "law-abiding (read: SLAVISH) citizen", but we have depth of winter here, preventing the outdoors activity.

In the 1st day of 21st Century; Pete

Desaleux "torpedo" bullet

Hello, I am a French student in Paris. I was surffing on the web when I discover in your website "Gunwriter" that you were dealing with the BALLE DESALEUX. All I know from my grandmother, is that one of my ancestors was involved as a general in the French Army, and that he created this famous Bullet.

This part is from your Finnish web site. Please could you let me know in English what your are saying in it ? I will be really pleased to know more about my family and what they have done.

Descendant of General Desaleux

answer.GIF (573 bytes)  Solid or actually homogenous copper alloy bullet Balle Desaleux is in those days (1998) a full hudred years old. For the hunting are pure solid copper bullets coming swiftly popular for rifles, and shotguns too. Solid iron bullets were often used by Germans in the submachine gun cartridges during the 2nd World War and for the assault rifles there were designed also a Bernstein bullet, lathe-turned from the free-cut steel, but the production of them was never started. (Addition: The first prototype Bernstein bullets had a paper jacket or rotation band).

The "black bullets" for 9 x 19 mm submachine guns were of compressed iron powder/dust, heated close to the melting point of iron. Tiny metal particles amalgamated to become a solid piece of metal with precise dimensions. (The center of mass might remain slightly porous).

Menetelmän nimi on "pulverimetallurginen muovaus" tai tavallisimmin "sintraus". Teknologian tunsivat Etelä-Amerikan intiaanit jo vuosisatoja ennen Amerikan "löytämistä", koska he eivät osanneet hyödyntää rautaa, tai tuottaa terästä, vaan joutuivat valmistamaan purevimmat teräaseensa platina-metallin ja jonkin helpommin sulavan metallin seoksesta; sintraamalla. Venäjällä sintrattiin 1800-luvulla metallirahoja platina- ja hopeajauheiden seoksesta. (Platinaa ei kyetty sulattamaan senaikaisilla menetelmillä, ennen vety-happipolttimen keksimistä).

Engl. Name of this procedure is "powder metal moulding" or more usually "Sinterung" (in German). This technology was known among South-American indians centuries before Columbian era, because indians were unable to make iron or produce steel. The most keen metal edges were made from an alloy of powdered platinum and some other metal powder easier to melt; by Sinterung. Russians sintered also the metal coins by amalgamating of platimum and silver dusts. (It was not yet known the method for melting of platinum before invention of a hydrogen & oxygen burner).

Engl. A large technical application of powder metallurgy is production of electrical glowing lamp filaments (since 1910) from the heat-resistant metal tungsten, and later a production of "Widia" spare bits of high-speed metal cutting dies. There were also produced armor-piercing bullet cores and penetrators of artillery piece AP-projectiles, sintered from the powdered tungsten carbide and cobalt dust. Sintered iron was primarily applied as a material of artillery shell rotation rings but later for the mass-production of more complicated products.

Some artillery projectiles are mentioned in the "Official (Finnish infantry munitions) Nomenclature" (in 1947) as the "bullets": A French 25 mm HOTCHKISS anti-tank cannon AP-projectile was just like an over-grown armor penetrating bullet of a rifle, with a jacket, lead sheath and hardened alloy steel penetrator. Real "solid shots", designed for practice shooting, had the rotation ring and flat point. Material of practice ammo was mild steel. These cannons were bought from France, just before (or during ?) the Finnish Winter War 1939 - 40, also known as 2nd Finnish Independence War. They were called by a pet-name "Marianne Whip-Gun". (Addition: Although obsolescent in 1940, it could wreck some obsolescent Russian armored vehicles with well-placed shots with a soft practice ammo !!! The flat nose of projectile could perforate a thin armor, brittle in minus 40 degrees Centigrade, like a punch or a wad cutter.

I have, unfortunately any knowledge about late General Desaleux, not even his first name(s) or dates of birth & death. Just his solid pointed 8 mm LEBEL bullet with a well-designed boat tail (or torpedo shape) is known even in Finnish books, including the drawing with dimensions and allowances.

Balle Desaleux was officially adopted in 1898. It was made originally entirely by lathe-turning but later was adopted swaging for the mass production of point and tail ends. Just the crimp groove was turned. Crimping of the bullet into a cartridge mouth was essential, because contemporary LEBEL rifle had a tubular magazine. Sharp point of bullet rested in the annular groove of cartridge case heads around the central primers, and the "double conical" shape of cases prevented the bullets from resting on the priming cap of the next cartridge.

(In general is use of the pointed FMJ or solid bullets in the cartridges very risky, if they are loaded into the tubular magazine, but "chain ignitions" of Lebel rifle magazines were rare accidents. Just some special bullets - like explosive Balle Matter - could produce sometimes very nasty surprises. It was allowed to single-load the rifle when Balle Matter cartridges were used, but if some enemy soldier or querilla warrior had captured a Lebel rifle and some Matter cartridges, he filled, of course, the magazine with these "booby-trap cartridges").

Firearms technical and historical books don't tell the metal alloy of Balle-D projectiles. Some books mention it as "copper", some others as "bronze" and fewer sources as "brass". Range of Desaleux torpedo bullets was ca. 5 kilometers with still considerable (lethal) penetrating power, depending on wind direction.

For target practice that range within 5 km was too long. For the LEBEL and BERTHIER rifles was designed a shortened variation of Balle-D with 16 mm of tail-end cut off. Machine guns with gas-piston actions (PUTEAUX, St.ETIENNE or HOTCHKISS) were unable to function when shot using cartridges with reduced bullet weight. So the sides of practice MG bullets were flattened somewhat at their points by a hydraulic press. Parallel flat surfaces reduced the rotational rate of bullet, making it unstable after it's rather short (200 to 400 meters) flight, and when the solid bullets yawed to fly sideways, the excessive range was considerably reduced by the air resistance.

During the 2nd World War produced the French Maquissards a very special "furtive Dum-Dum" projectile from Balle-D, by filing or milling a deep notch onto it's point ogivé, developing so a kind of "Loeffelspitz" or "spoon-point" bullet. Rifles or carbines were, however, less suitable weaponry for resistance fighting. As soon as the Britons could delivery STEN submachine guns to the Maquissards, this Balle-D speciality went to oblivion. I have just one old Swedish book, telling about shortened and flattened Balle-D practice bullets of rifles and machine guns. That book cannot tell about "Maquissard Special" bullets, because it is printed before World War II.

In Finnish are pointed boat-tail bullets, designed in 1920s or 30s, known as "D-luoti" (D-bullet). There are two theories about the birth of their name: Bullets looks like Balle-D, and are named after them, although Finnish D-luoti is a very common projectile with a lead core and copper alloy jacket. D-46 and D-47 bullets are still in production by LAPUA manufacture. There was also a heavy bullet D-166, designed for long range machine gun shooting with "indirect aim".

All of D-bullets are made for 7.62 mm MOSIN cartridges but today they have diameter fit for Western .30/.308" bores. D-166 (weight 13 grams) had the accuracy and range equal with 8 mm Balle-D. Among it's designers (or a supporter of designers) was a famed Finnish Artillery General Wilho Petter Nenonen, who was studied ballistics in France. He might be a pupil or at least a friend of General Desaleux ??.

Another theory about bullet's name is a Russian word "davyitovaya (pulya)" = heavy (bullet). General Nenonen was originally an officer of Imperial Russian Artillery (just as our Marshall Mannerheim was a Russian Cavalry General. Finland had an Army not before 1918. Our First Independence War was fought by Civil Guards, first established in 1906 and then in 1917).

Russians have also a D-bullet, but since year 1930. It's name was presumably copied from Finnish nomenclature with a French origin. The very first Finnish D-luoti bullets were designed already in 1927. According to the history of Lapua: "The name D-bullet is internationally known name of torpedo shaped rifle projectile". Derivation from name Desaleux, I think so..!

17121999: Pete

"Unit's Property" Plaques

I have a Finnish Mosin-Nagant 91/30 sniper rifle 1939 dated receiver and SA marked barrel. Scope and mount serial numbers are matching to gun's serial n:r. The stock has a small circle carved out of the side of the butt stock about the size and depth of a quarter; inside this circle are 2 small nail holes at the 3-9 o'clock position. Do you know what type of medail or disc could have been inset into this spot ? I hope you can help.

Thank you. Greg

answer.GIF (573 bytes)  Your rifle is captured by Finns for sniping during our Winter War (105 Glorious Days, 60 years ago, between 30th November 1939 and 13th March 1940) or our Third Independence War (25th June 1941 to 4th September 1944). Soviet-Russian MOSIN-NAGANTs Model 91/30 were test-shot in the factories, and those rifles able to give very best accuracy were picked to become sniping rifles. They were equipped with scopes and mounts, usually serial numbered with a serial n:r of the rifle.

lugerp09.jpg (13228 bytes)Gunwriters' archive photo: Property discs similar to this were common with pre-war Finnish Army rifles and pistols like this Luger P-09 or Parabellum, as Finns preferred to call it. During wartime the plaques were removed before the firearm was assigned to the front. This Luger has luckily preserved it's brass disc with stamped letters "RATSU K" meaning Finnish Cavalry School (Ratsukoulu) located in Vöyri before wars.

Carved circle on the buttstock is a recess for the metal plate, known as "Unit's Property Plaque". It was usually of brass but sometimes of copper. Abbreviation of military unit's name and number was usually stamped, but sometimes engraved on this plate. I don't know, whether that plaque was nailed on the buttstock in Soviet-Russia or in Finland, because it is torn off before sales of that very rifle. Property plaques were more common on the German military firearms, especially before the First World War, but they were gradually omitted during that Big War. In 1909 there were regulated shapes and sizes of letters and figures of these plaques by the rules: "Vorschrift über das Stempeln der Handwaffen", but the very first booklet about the German states unit property marking rules was published already in 1877.

Use of property mark was less common practice in Soviet-Union and Finland. Just some elite units had these plaques on their arms. There were some special sniping units in Soviet-Russia, like: "Proletarian Sniper Division". P.S.D's Regiment of Moscow had the assault rifles (SIC !) soon after the October Revolution 1917 but these Fyodorov Avtomat Model 1916 rifles were declared obsolete since improvement of Mosin-Nagant rifle in 1930. Assault rifles were chambered for Japanese 6.5 mm Arisaka cartridges, since Russians had the inherently inaccurate spitzer bullets model 1908 in their 7.62 mm Mosin cartridges, unfit for sniping. Avtomat 1916 rifles were captured by Finns during the Winter War. Some of them had still plaques with Proletarian Sniper Division stamp on their buttstocks.

Along with improvement of 7.62 mm rifle, Russian cartridge designers (Yelisarov, Syemin & al) developed a new line of improved Mosin cartridges with the sniping accuracy since 1930, like one with a boat-tail bullet D-30. The very most beloved cartridge was, however, one with red color-coded (red tip) bullet "Za-Ra" (Zazhigatyelno-Razryivnaya Pulya), not because of it's explosive effect but since that bullet was VERY accurate one. The cartridges loaded with ZR bullets were loaded for the Soviet-Russian ShKAS aircraft machine guns, which didn't allow the large dimendional allowances of usual rifle or MAXIM machine gun cartridges. ShKAS cartridges had a small headstamp E on 9 o'clock position. Those with red priming annulus are second grade cartridges (but still of "Match Grade" quality). "Sha" cartridges without a lacquer ring around primer pockets were fit for use in synchronized machine funs of the fighter planes.

German specialists assisted Russian cartridge designers already since the Peace Dictation of Versailles in 1919. D-30 bullet is just a variety of German 7.9 mm s.S. boattail bullet, designed during the World War I. ZR bullet was also, like the almost similar German "Beobachtung" 7.9 mm bullet, just a derivation of an Austrian pattern 1913 explosive bullet with the "flashlight powder" as it's igniting explosive. Very similar German "B-bullet" had a small explosive charge of a primer composition and white phosphorus filling inside the bullet point. (You can see, I am an expert of ballistics, rather than an authority of the "Collector's Items". Please, forgive me..!).

I have a wall-hanger, "sporterized" Swedish 12.17 x 44R (centerfire) Remington Rolling Block rifle, made by CARL-GUSTAVS STADS GEVARSFAKTORI in Eskilstuna, with an engraved manufacturing year stamp 1875 (SIC !) on the right side of receiver. It has been originally a military rifle, having also a recess for an Unit Property Plaque on the left side of buttstock, with a diameter 30 mm and a depth minimum 1.0 mm and maximum 1.5 mm. The round plaque was - of course - removed when the rifle was sold from some Swedish Army depot to some gunsmith's shop for "sporterizing" or removal of military sights and mounting of fixed one with a bead front sight, shortening of the forearm, soldering of a front sling swivel below the barrel, and removal of a swivel from the trigger guard. I presume, the bore was "virginal" when I bought this very rifle.

I've shot just one spherical lead bullet through it, with 1/3 charge of black powder. New cases for this caliber are nowadays available from Australia, but I cannot afford them. They are not overly expensive, but the "dole" in Finland is simply too scanty for a human (urban) life. "Summa summarum": Many Russian, Finnish, German and Swedish firearms have a round recess for the plaque, but not so many guns in the private collections have original plaques still on them. "Swedish exception" (sight re-adjustment plaque) is, however, still common.

Your 91/30 Mosin-Nagant rifle has been sometimes the property of some very special unit; Russian or Finnish one. Swedish MAUSER 1896s have usually a sight correction plaque instead of a property plate, for re-adjustment markings of rear sight elevation, when the "Field Torpedo" bullets were shot instead of the original 6.5 mm roundnose bullets. These sight adjustment plaques of brass or copper are usually not removed from Swedish Mausers with original graduation of the rear sight.

Germans stamped or branded Unit's Property stamps on the wood of rifle buttstocks, especially when the rifle was imported or captured during 1st World War. German Auxiliary Reserve cavalry units were sometimes armed with Japanese Arisaka carbines. Russian Mosin-Nagants were exported to Finland in 1917 and 1918 from Germany. They could have the German property brands or stamps, but most of these captured rifles have just Russian or Finnish stamps on their stocks - if any.

08121999; Pete

Subsonics - but accurate !

Hi, I am an Italian reloader, I use a single shot rifle cal. .308, bull-pup, Burly falling block, made by an artisan with this technical data:

overall lenght: 22,5"
barrel lenght: 20"
twist: 1:10"

I'll try accurate subsonic loading. I use bullet Sierra hpbt from 200 to 240 grs, and Hodgdon H110 from 8 to 10 grs. What are your opinions about it ? Do you know best accurate loading data?


answer.GIF (573 bytes)  SALVE ! It is nice to meet an Italian visitor again ! Because of 20" barrel length of your rifle it is recommended to use some kind of porous-kernel (easy to ignite) powder for the subsonic handloads, or those with disc-shaped kernels with 50% of them perforated. If you can get the Original CLAYS powder (also distributed by Hodgdon although made by ADI in Australia as a shotshell powder AS-30N - NOT the Clays "Universal" or Clays "International") I recommend use of it.! H110 may ignite properly behind 240 grs SIERRA HOLLOW POINT BOATTAIL bullets, BUT those projectiles are in all probability too long to become gyro-stabilized in their subsonic flight at the rotational rate 1200 rounds per second..!

Jo vain ( = "yes" in Lappish), the truly subsonic bullet velocity is no more than 300 meters per second and 10" rifling makes just 4 full rotations per a meter of bullet's flight... The length of 200 grns HPBT may also be excessive for subsonics in 10" rifling twist. Finnish LAPUA 200 grns FMJ BT bullets was just marginally stable, although it was shorter and less pointed. It was designed for 240 mm per rotational twist of Russian caliber 7.62 mm MOSIN-NAGANT firearms and those chambered for 7.62 mm YELISAROV & SYEMIN M-43 cartridges (incorrectly called as the Kalashnikov cartridges). The powder H110 is presumably too erratic to ignite even as a propellant of 200 grns bullets in .308 Winchester cartridges. It is a RIFLE powder with smooth kernels and deterrent coating.

That "Centralite" coating slows down burning rate of kernel surface, making the powder "progressive" but also less sensitive to ignite. Use of progressive powder for subsonic loads may cause a Reduced Charge Detonation: Sudden rise of the pressure after smouldering of the charge until highly explosive mixture of smoke-like gasses and ignition of that gas mixture by a "Diesel effect". The gas mixture may have explosive power MUCH more shattering than that of solid TNT or liquid Nitro-Glycerol..! Almost ANY powder, including black gunpowder, is able to cause detonation, if ignition of the powder is insufficient, and the too SMALL charges are more hazardous than are somewhat excessive charges. 0.20 gram of smokeless powder may wreck the .308 Win. rifle, while double over-charge may just make a hard extraction and bend the extractor, but nothing more alarming is usually happened.

For the subsonic rifle loads are even the most easily igniting tested powders no more/not yet rapidly burning enough (with one exception: NORMA R1 "revolver powder"; not yet tested/ available in Finland). In our country is now-a-days a most advanced know-how on the subsonic rifle handloading, but a very limited selection of powders available. Experience about subsonic handloading of rifle cartridges is derived from year 1902 or so. Our very most respected National Hero EUGEN SCHAUMAN, who shot a Russian Governor-General of Finland in 1904, was a well-known pioneer of this special handloading - seven years before the introduction of the first functional firearms silencers. Eugen Schauman designed "silent without any silencer" handloads, because there were not yet rifle silencers available at all...

Recommended maximum bullet weight for .308 Win. with 1 - 10" rifling twist is 11 grams or 170 grains, if pointed FMJ or Hollow Point boat-tail bullets are used. A plain based round nose bullet is used, the projectile weight may be 12 grams, but not much more. I don't know current selection of SIERRA bullets but I presume the fine old "International" .308" dia. 168 grns HP BT is still on the production line. (May be of "Match King" series). It is presumably a most "balanced" bullet for your very rifle. Finnish LAPUA bullet D-46, weight 11 grams, is also proven. It's jacket is somewhat harder than Gilding Metal jacket of SIERRA bullets, but lubrication of the bullets shall reduce the bore-friction (= muzzle velocity) variations.

Lubrication of the jacketed bullets is an old trick, forgotten, and once again re-discovered - in Finland during my reduced charge handloading trials in early 1980s and in USA more recently. Americans use powdered Molybdenium Bi-Sulphide as a bullet lube. In my experience is almost any synthetic or natural fatty substance suitable for purpose, but some of them are messy in use. I've seated the bullets unlubricated and dip-lubed the cartridges: Visible bullet point and a couple millimeters of a case neck dipped into the hot lubricant. After ca. 30 seconds the lube is sealed also the seam between bullet and the case neck.

Now I let the cartridges to cool and the lubricant to solify, hanging the cartridges bullet-ends downwards. Last step is wiping the excessive lube away from the bullet tip and case neck.This procedure is similar to the lubrication of .22 rimfire cartridge lead bullets, already seated to the loaded cartridges. The very most "tidy" is so-called "dry wax lubrication" of cool cartridges by dipping the bullets into volatile solvent, carbon tetra-chloride, saturated with solid paraffine wax. When that solvent is evaporated, remains a thin coating of paraffine wax onto the bullets.

It is possible to carry dry-waxed loose cartridges in the pocket, since the lints and tobacco crumbs shall not stick on the coating. It is, however, difficult to get carbon tetra-chloride, since it may be a carsinogenic chemical, and production of the asphyxing poison gas (phosgene) from "Tetra" is notably less difficult than destillation of the potheen (= home-made Grappa or vodka, "pontikka" in Finnish) of potable quality.

Since you are using a falling block single shot rifle, you may also shoot the bullets "dry" and lubricate the rear end of bore, including the "throat" or "leade" (a space for the bullet of chambered cartridge) but excluding the chamber, before each shot with a lubricating oil or grease - but, please, do not use excessive dose of lube. Just moisten the metal of bore. Excessive lube may degrade shooting accuracy.

Adjust the overall length of cartridge so that the ogive of a bullet, seated into the chambered cartridge, is just toughing the rifling without sticking. Use of neck-resized cases is preferable. I have resized just 4½ millimeters length of .308 case neck. When you are "fireformed" your cases with full-pressure charges, mark the "12 o'clock" position of a case head before ejection of empty case with a felt-tip marker, and after ejection with puncturing, engraving or some other more permanent method. After the reloading(s), chamber the cartridge so that the "indexing mark" comes always to twelve-o'clock position. This is also an old trick from the times when most of the competition and bench-rest rifles had falling, dropping or rolling block action.

With these tricks, along with mild loads used, you may reload and shoot the same cases fifty or more times. Sometimes you must, of course, anneal the case necks (with a candle flame or propane torch) and trim the case length to 50 or 51 mm. (Length may be shorter than recommended nominal Trim-To Length 50.8 mm, since your cartridges are never crimped. It is, however, advisable to trim all the cases to same length. In general the Dark Mystery of shooting accuracy is condensed to a saying: "The name of the Game is THE SAME !"

Like each and every handloader of subsonic rifle cartridges, you must develope them exclusively for your rifle. Use SIERRA 168 grs HPBT bullets or LAPUA 11 grams D-46 bullets if you can get them, or other about similar projectiles. 200 grs and heavier bullets are presumably too long to become stable. Use them just with full-power loads. 240 grns bullets may be unstable even when shot with a full available velocity, I afraid. They are presumably designed for custom-made rifles with extra steep rifling twist: 1 - 8" or 1 - 7".. Powder may be distributed by Hodgdon, but propellants like original CLAYS or HP-38 are more preferable for subsonic loads than is harder-to-ignite H110. Use the primers of good quality. Do not handle them with greasy or oily fingers and don't seat them too deep. Faulty priming may cause a big "BOOM !" with the tiny charges of subsonics.

Safe starting load of CLAYS is seven grains (7.0 grs) and start load of HP-38 is 7.4 grains. These loads may give subsonic bullet velocity "Per Primam Intentionem" (= by the first trial), or not. All the rifles are individuals; especially custom-made guns like your bullpup. If the bullet velocity sounds to be supersonic (a "cracky" flight noise is echoing from direction of the target - and it is usually more loud than the muzzle blast of a rifle, even without a mounted silencer), you may reduce the charge of next batch of cartridges by one or two tenths of grains at a time, but not below the calculated minimum charge, ca. 6½ grains of Clays or seven grains of HP-38.

Because Hodgdon powders seems to be plentily available in Italy, you can ask more exact information from the distributor by E-mail. Addresses of reloading info service are: <> or <>. Say "hellow" to my friend MIKE DALY.! Handloading information may also be available from manufacturer of Clays/AS-30N powder: <>.

Nota Bene: HP-38 powder is not made in Australia but in USA. According to Mike Daly, there is no E-mail address of the plant known or existing at all....... Ejá, ejá alalá..!

12121999;  Pete

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