Making the gas checks for your cast lead bullets.
Last month, I made a posting about applying ‘gas checks‘ to cast lead bullets. Now we’ll go over how to actually make the gas check discs that I use in the manufacturing of that type bullet. I mentioned in the previous posting that you could buy ‘factory made’ gas check discs from a few places online. But, just as in casting and loading your own lead bullets frees you from dependence on the sometimes ‘iffy’ market supplying factory made bullets, making your own gas checks for your ammo loads is just one more thing you can be self reliant on.
As far as I know, there are only a couple of sources for do it yourself gas check disc making tools. One seems to be occupied by a guy who probably does make a good item….but has NO people skills, blowing his top over customers merely inquiring a couple weeks after the order was placed, as to the status of the unit ordered and the possible shipping date, only one time annnd….BOOM! Here’s your @#%#&&*@ money back! BLAH BLAH BLAH! Oookaaay then, well so much for doing business there, I reckon. The other manufacturer that I mentioned last month, the ‘FreeChex’ tool, sold through ‘GunBroker.com‘ or direct from the maker, seems a little less under pressure or something.
So, you order your tool to fit your particular bullet caliber. As of today there were 224,30, 357,41,44,45 caliber models available on the gunbroker site. If you need a custom size, check with the freechex website. When your tool arrives you get these 3 pieces:
You can see the tiny slot pretty well above. When in action you use an arbor press, preferably, to punch out and form the disc, which goes down into the hollow portion of the cutting tube, which has the spring around it shown above. I have used my Lee Precision single stage loading press for this operation, but it’s kind of harsh on the tool, because there’s little control over how far the thing travels as you work it, which could damage the tool in the long run. I have access to a machinists lathe, so I made the following adapter from a bit of aluminum bar stock, so that I can continuously punch out discs which fall out through the center of my ‘adapter’.
The adapter I made isn’t crucial to operating the punch, but it’s way more convenient than having to stop and empty the tube frequently during a production run. I’m sure, if you’re independent enough to be loading your own ammunition, you can probably come up with something to accomplish the same process. I bought a cheap Chinese made arbor press from Harbor Freight Tools near my home, but you can no doubt order one online or locate one somewhere. My adapter fits nicely into one of the 4 press slots on the unit.
I made this batch of gas checks from some left over aluminum roofing flashing that just happened to be the correct thickness of .010″. I cut the sheet into 1″ x 10″ strips as you can see on the left side of the press above. You can see a punched out strip on the right. I’ve found that a one inch wide strip works best for handling and quality of product. I strongly suggest using gloves while working with this process, because as the discs are punched out, the remaining material becomes like razor wire and will trap and stab your fingers mercilessly.
You will find it necessary to hold the strip against the back side of the punch slot to keep your discs consistent and usable, as shown above. As you develop an ‘eye’ for the positioning of the material, you’ll be able to get the maximum number of discs per strip. I can get up to about 40 discs per 10″ long strip most of the time.
As you see above, the punched out discs leave wicked sharp, pointed edges that will absolutely eat your hands, stabbing you and trapping your skin between the points at the slightest touch. The gloves are practically mandatory, unless your just enjoy personal pain and blood. At the bottom of the press you can see a top from some spray paint or lubricant can that is handily catching the discs as the fall down the tube. As you punch the discs, you must press the punch down completely, but ‘gently’ after the initial resistance so that the discs will be properly pushed out.
I went through about 16 strips of 1″ x 10″ material in just a bit over an hour, making about 600 or so discs. At the retail price of about 4 cents each, that’s about $24 worth of product.
You may calculate this punching setup was about $150 all together, and it does seem pricey until you consider it an investment, just like the Lee Precision turret loading machine. It frees me from dependance on the unstable market supply of crucial components, and as we’ve seen over the past months, supplies of items like ammo can be really scarce even without some kind of large crisis. Even during this long term ammo shortage, I’ve been lucky enough to find gunpowder, primers and either cast my own or buy bullets. The most hard to find item is the brass cartridge cases. When I go to the range for a little practice, I carefully pick up all my fired casings, and usually ask the range people if they have any used brass for sale, which occasionally happens.
Roll your own, save a ton of cash and become independent of the system a little more. Your are responsible for compliance with local laws and ordinances concerning firearms and ammunition. Failure to follow reloading instructions carefully can lead to personal injury and / or death. Pay attention, get away from the kids, no TV in your loading room, check, check and recheck your procedures, inspect, inspect and inspect your loading components, check your cartridge brass for cracks and damages that your press doesn’t remove, make sure the primers are seated correctly, double check your powder charge in each load with your scale.
Keep prepping, my friends….might save your life.