Saturday, April 3, 2021



One of my side projects has been to teach a fellow who attends the same church I do to reload ammo.

Between his schedule and my schedule we meet about once a week. My reloading rig is mounted to a 2X10" plank for transportability. It has been clamped to his work bench for the last three weeks.

Today we primed up his .270 Needlenose Deer-ionizer brass and dropped the starting load of Winchester StaBALL 6.5 powder into one.

He has a short shooting range outside his garage. He teed-up and dropped the hammer. Yup. The round cycled fine and the recoil was well within his tolerance level.

The brass and the primer looked fine.

"Want to add a little pepper to the load?" I asked.

"I didn't get a .270 Needlenose Deerionizer to shoot slow loads" he informed me.

We added a little bit of powder but were still well below the max load. He teed-up and the rifle went "CLICK". CLICK can be the loudest sound in the world.

There was a good firing pin mark in the primer. I told my buddy we had to pull the primers from the other 98 cases and I had to find a different lot of primers.

"Really? Can't we just load them up?" he asked.

"Would you be comfortable taking them out-West on a $1500 hunting trip if you knew that they had a more-than-1% failure rate?" I asked.

"Well, no" he said.

"Then we change them out. Even if you just shoot your reloads at the shooting range" I said. " 'cause you never know when a reload might sneak into your hunting ammo"....not to mention self-defense ammo.

I was moping and Mrs ERJ asked me what happened. I explained about the dud primer. She said it could been worse and brought up the "trophy of a lifetime" scenario.

" could have been worse" I agreed. I did not mention the 700 rounds of ammo I had already reloaded with that lot of primers. The upside is that I now have a great reason to shoot those 700 rounds, if only to empty the brass and refill with components I have more confidence in.

Dead trees

The survival rate of fruit trees planted at the deer lease has not been stellar.

We had 10-of-60 croak in one planting. I replanted those today. We had a piss-poor 13-of-28 croak in another planting. I am still thinking on that one.

The 13-of-28 is in the middle of the property. The other plantings are on a corner of the lease and deer can skip in and skip out without presenting any of our hunters with a shot. I will be scrounging around my property looking for trees to plug into the 13 "blank" spots.

Mrs ERJ is our designated optimist. She pointed out that 15 fruit trees is a darned sight better than zero fruit trees. I have to agree with her on this. Fifteen apple and pear trees dropping fruit during deer season is going to pull far more deer in front of our shooters than zero fruit trees.

Other stuff in the ground

One of my readers, Lucas Machias, hails from Nova Scotia. He seems to have an incredible number of resources.

This tree was carried back to Michigan as a seedling in a coffee can in 1949. My math suggests that it has survived 70 Michigan winters.

Lucas pointed out to me that there are Giant Sequoia growing in Manistee, Michigan. This is not a tiny tree!

Well, I just had to try some in Eaton Rapids so I bought 5 seedlings. Obviously it would have been better if I could have scored some seedlings (or rooted cuttings) from trees on the northern end of their range but I got what I could find.

I also planted some Cornelian Cherries which are actually a kind of dogwood and a couple of Douglas Hawthorn which has a highly discontinuous range. Most Douglas Hawthorn grow in Oregon and Washington state with a small population in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Hope springs eternal.


  1. Going tangentially from helping someone with the old zippityzaps. Someone I know asked me for suggestions regarding ye olde rear porthole. This was amusing because my experience and expertise with the modern sporting thingamagiggy are exactly equal to zero. The problem is this person was either too cheap or too broke( or both) to employ a glass solution. Someone else suggested using a backup spring loaded rear hole to solve this.I Have seen pictures of the original configuration with the gas block front post and the carry handle rear and while they seem to be a match for height, the flip up rear looks , at least to me, to be mismatched. When I pointed this out to the person I was informed that the salesperson said this would be just fine. It still looks like the back hole is lower than the post in front and would require at minimum a riser. On the other hand, I haven't been introduced to Diddley so what do I know. I'd be happy to say yay or nay to my friend(yes I know that's really "I told you so") I also know this sounded almost pornographic but I'm trying to emulate our hosts attempt at obfuscation. If there is an opinion that would clarify this I'd be grateful.

    1. There are two different rear heights and I have purchased the wrong one before.

      Opie Odd

    2. Ditto. I knew a fellow who bought a DPMS Oracle and all of the local sights were for flat-tops. The Oracle needed a taller front sight or a shorter rear.

    3. Just to clarify, the back end is a flat-top but the front post looks to me like what would be on the old army models( you know tied to the gas block). What he got was a magpull flip up( listed as a back up). With the shortage(and price) he is somewhat hesitant about attempting zeroing. Me saying "dude, that doesn't look right" doesn't help especially since I've admitted to ignorance.

  2. mark those suspect rounds with a sharpie or dyChem and use e, for range ammo. wy waste the primers?

    1. He is a hunter, not a shooter. He would not dedicate the time to shooting that much.

  3. Isn’t your sample kinda small? 1000 primers, the second one you drop the hammer on is a dud and you assume a failure rate >1? Before I went down the rabbit hole I’d run more of them through as primer only loads to check the failure rate, if it’s significant I’d run the misfires through another .270 to verify that it isn’t gun related.
    Finally, is the young fella actually planning on going on that hunt of a lifetime of is he actually going to use the loads for the local white tails? If the latter is the case he may only be firing a small handful of rounds per year. A failure rate of 1 or 2 in 1000 might be acceptable. (Unless you haven’t got anything better to do😊)

    1. Let me untangle this to the best of my ability.

      Is it my job to precisely define the exact failure rate of Lot Number BHL324G or is it to protect my "client"?

      If I were an engineer paid by the manufacturer of the primers it might be the first. But I am not employed by that manufacturer.

      There is a technique used by reliability engineers called Sudden Death Testing. A lot of material is tested until the first of the lot is tested. The lot might be 10 or 100 or 1000. The perspective of the SDT is not to quantify the best individual in the sample or the average but the weakest.

      If you have a TV with 5 million discrete "devices", do you care about the one that will last three thousand years or the one that will fail first?

      The deep firing pin indent absolved the firearm.

      Regarding the segregation of loads...I am a simple man. If somebody breaks into my house I want every round to be capable of stopping him. If I have a .308 Winchester (for instance) I want every round I reload capable of humanely harvesting the largest game I am likely to encounter. That way, should your plan to segregate you ammo fail, you need not worry that the ammo you stuffed into Ol' Betsy will only enrage your target.

  4. A comment on the primers. I loaded a batch of 9mm using Winchester small pistol primers. A batch was 1000 rounds. I took the rounds for testing and the second or 3rd went click. The next on also went click. I took them apart and could find nothing wrong until I compared the ones that I had shot from the rest and noticed a very small difference. The primers of the ones that went click we set deeper than the ones I had not tried to shoot. What happened was the progressive press had failed to seat the primers all the way. If this happens when the firing pin hits the primer it got a good dent but some of the firing pin energy was wasted by pushing the primer the rest of the way home, reducing every so slightly the force of the firing pin, at least that was my theory. So I saved 15 rounds from the batch and then using a hand primer re-seated all the rest of the primers.
    This was many years ago and I was doing IPSC competitions at that time so the ammo was all practice rounds. I took everything back to the range and the 15 I had saved had 2 more failures for a total of 5 out of 20. The entire rest of the batch had zero failures. 1000 rounds was about 3 weeks of practice ammo so the theory, in my mind was confirmed. And that was a good thing because at that time I was buying primers 5000 at a time. I still have a full, unused box of 5000 small pistol primers. I wonder what they are worth today?


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