I want to discuss briefly the history of firearm ammunition, the calibers of wildcat ammo, and reloading of casings in part 4 of the “Ballistics, Cartridge, & Ammunition Components” Series. Up until now I have discussed bullet calibers, cartridge components, bullet weight and sectional density. I already said before, If you read all of my posts and aren’t at least somewhat knowledgable in cartridges, you probably deserve a swift kick. I have laid it out for you.
Today is going to be an addition to the calibers, and I will discuss cases now. All of the items in the title are one in the same, so I will start discussing everything in a historic method. If you want to know dates and such, try Wikipedia. I don’t want to make this post boring with all the dates, so if I include them, they will probably be limited.
If you were to pickup reloading, you would need a reloader’s kit that would include a manual, black powder scale, powder, primers, and a press. With every press, you would require dies, some will hold multiple setups and some only a single die. You will also want to find someone who can provide you with the bullets you want, or you can cast your own lead, but then you need a mold. There is not much that I am going to discuss about the reloading process, but you basically change the primer, fill the charge, add wadding, neck it down or up, and add bullet.
Necking is what I wanted to discuss. The process of necking up or down (remember that I showed you what the neck was) is making the end of the case have a wider or narrower diameter in order to take a bullet of larger or smaller caliber.
Typically when a case is necked up or down, it is because someone has a foreign weapon that has very expensive brass, but the local equivalent is much cheaper and may need very slight modification to make it work correctly. Another common reason that it will be necked differently is to make a cartridge that acts a certain way, or makes better use of a specific property, such as power, speed, or penetration, of a parent cartridge.
Usually these necked cartridges are called “Wildcats.” Wildcat cartridges are just one that has been altered that is not mass-produced. The whole reason that we actually have all the different ammunition available today is due to the wildcat pioneers. Many times the same gunsmiths that created the round will re-chamber and bore out a new barrel for the round.
Once a wildcat became popular enough and widely accepted, manufacturers began offering firearms chambered for the round. These are known as “commercially accepted” wildcats.
Wildcat typically means that a private person has created it, but in the rush manufacturers began to create new cartridges by altering existing cases, just to stay ahead or within the trend. These are know as “commercially developed” wildcats.
So I am going to start with one cartridge, the 30-06 (or the 7.62x63mm). 30-06 is just a .30 cal bullet that was created in 1906 by the U.S. Military. This bullet was so well-built and had such good capability, that it is still in use today. The 30-06 was in the middle of the “wildcat revolution.”
Popular necked up versions of the 30-06 are the 333 OKH, 338 Winchester Magnum which was a commercial alteration, and the 35 Wayland. Popular necked down versions of the 30-06 are the .270, the 25-06, or the 280 Remington which we all know now is just a necked down 30-06 to take a 7mm right? Beyond this small list, the 400 Wayland was popular and we got another well liked and well used cartridge just by cutting the case down of the 30-06 from 63 mm down to 51 mm to create the 7.62x51mm NATO, or commercially known as the .308.
The 308 (which was the military’s more efficient version of the 30-06) begat the 243 Winchester, 260 Remington, 7mm/08 and the 358 Winchester.
If you tally the votes on the top 7 list of hunting cartridges, these that I have blasted at you are almost the entire 7 on the list. What is one that I think is on that same list that wasn’t a variation of the 30-06? The 30/30 Winchester. This old but good gun is a great addition to any survival collection.
I just realized in a past post, I mentioned hydroshock and never explained what it was. It is using an extremely high velocity round that has great penetration, and which will probably not do much damage itself, and will create a shockwave of water (which is most of an organ) throughout the organ to destroy it. It is kinda like throwing a large stone into water and seeing the ripples. Sorry for this bit of randomness, but I needed to add it since I was thinking of it.
So, when you think of the many different types of ammo that are out there, and why there are so many variations. It is because the pioneers before you. It is because many people have dedicated time to perfecting the rounds that you can just go out and purchase for many times less than a dollar a round.
As I write tips for your adventures and hear about cool gear, I will let you know all about it!