Mr. Murphy Visits

Discover | Handloading |

It is a well-known fact the Good Lord watches out for fools and drunks. Both groups are quite large, with the first one being almost uncountable as it takes in so much territory, with one of the subcategories being dumb re-loaders. My first attempt at reloading occurred in late 1956. I had one of the first of the brand new 2nd Generation Colt Single Actions; mine happened to be a 71/2″ .45. I had not yet started casting bullets and my reloading press consisted of the Lyman #310 Tong Tool. I found some 230-grain-cast .45 ACP bullets and purchased a Lyman Powder Measure. This particular measure had a scale on the bottom of the drum, as well as sliding-adjustment bars on top. It also came with a chart for setting certain charges.

At the time I was still a teenager and definitely in my stupid period, so instead of using the chart as a reference then checking my charge with a powder scale, I skipped the last step. Those 230-grain lead bullets were loaded over what I thought was a proper charge of DuPont’s #5066. When I fired the first round, the 71/2″ reared back and pointed straight up at the sky.

I was smart enough to know something was definitely wrong, but dumb enough to make the wrong option to correct it. Instead of pulling the other 49 rounds, I shot them all as fast as I could. I guess I thought shooting them fast would get rid of them quickly enough that nothing would happen. I was without a doubt watched over that day, as I did not hurt myself, or that brand new sixgun.

I continued to reload — after I bought a powder scale. Over the years I’ve loaded for virtually everything, and have an inventory of well over 300 bullet molds. For use with the .44 Special and everyday working loads in the .44 Magnum, Keith bullets are molded from wheel-weights and then lubed and sized. During the winter, I purchased a goodly supply of new brass, including 3,000 rounds of .44 Special. I decided to load these in groups of 500, using various Keith bullets in different sizes, and with my three standard .44 Special powders of Unique, Universal and Power Pistol. The priming punch on my progressive press was sticking and often had to be released by hand, making the first 500 an exercise in frustration.

After those first 500 rounds, I replaced the priming punch and everything was running so smoothly I got careless, lazy, negligent and stupid.

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