Thursday, July 26, 2018

Guest Post: Reloading the Savage .22 Hi Power

Another guest post from a local forum member, this is the same person that gave us the post on reloading the 45-75, see that post here.

The italicized words are that of the author. Enjoy!

Charles Newton was a lawyer and a firearms enthusiast that invented a number of cartridges but mostly known for the 22 Hi Power and the .250-3000
Newton had several businesses in his lifetime, Newton Arms Company, Buffalo Newton Rifle Company and LeverBolt Rifle Company around the turn of the 19th century.
Savage Firearms company adopted his 22 HP and .250-3000, the latter being the first commercial rifle projectile to travel over 3000 fps. Around this same time Newton created the .22 Newton which eventually became the inspiration for the .22-250. 22 HP and .22-250 are essentially distant kissing cousins.

In 1912, Savage adopted the 22 Hi Power for the venerable Savage 99 which used a 70 gr jacked projectile. The 22 HP was the first truly high velocity center fire cartridges. It was primarily advertised as a small game round but later touted as a medium game (Deer) round although it fell short of getting enough penetration to kill a deer without a lucky shot leaving many wounded game thus all 50 states banned the 22 Hi Power and cartridges in similar size for hunting med to large game. Savage even went as far as marketing the 22 Hi Power as an a tiger killer.

Today, there is no manufactured ammunition for the 22 hp whose dimensional name is 5.6×52Rmm. The last company to make 22 HP ammunition was Sellier and Bellot and their ammunition has a reputation for shooting a "shotgun pattern" due to the tumbling of this VERY unstable round.
The rest of this post is my journey with a 104 year old Savage 99H 22 Hi Power firearm and reloading for this unique wildcat round.

As you can see in this first photo, the Sellier and Bellot (SP) ammo is like a shotgun pattern. This is a VERY unstable round with evidence of bullets tumbling as they hit paper at 50 yards using a 1913 Savage 99H 22 High Power with a Marbles Peep sight. 

I spoke with several Savage experts specifically about this round and decided on a cast lead -gas checked bullet that is still made today. 
I was given instructions to scrub every bit of copper out of the barrel on my 1913 22 HP and boy oh boy did it bleed blue!

I contacted The Bull Shop in Montana and low/behold, he casts a 64 grain gas checked, lubed .228 bullet. Boom! Bought 100 for $25 including shipping.

I loaded 10 test rounds with no filler or wad, using a super low dose of BLC(2) in 19 grains, a Lg Rifle primer case up in Sellier and Bellot spent brass that has been neck annealed and trimmed. Then I proceeded to the range. The results from the first photo, compared to this photo is remarkable. Granted, I was looking for a closer grouping than the Sellior and Bellot (not adjusting the peep sight), and was pleasantly pleased with the results. The first two shots were low (Fouling shots if you will), then the grouping started appearing.

Pleased with the results and great information from the savage experts out there, I proceeded to use my Drill press CTS Case trimmer (.223 )to trim the brass to 2.045 and then chamfered, and steel-pin tumbled for 90 minutes

I have a socket with a bolt through it. I chuck it up on the hand drill, low speed, then drop each case in the socket, heat it up about 7-8 seconds on a propane torch.
As soon as it begins to change color (depending on the brass, 7-8 seconds) I drop it in a pan to cool
(no water or oil).

Using multiple sources and word of mouth (including Load Data website, which as been my "Go To" analysis along with 3 different manuals,) I decided to try another 10 rounds at 23.1 grains of BLC-2 for my next outing. It is recommended not to exceed 25 grs of BLC(2) with a lead cast gas checked bullet.

I'm certain I can get these groups tighter with the 104 year old rifle! I find great pleasure in researching and testing these wild cat cartridges in the field. My next outing I will chrono these rounds.. I'm looking for 2200 fps for this old bang stick, and no more!

Follow up answers to some questions posed:

I was using Load Data and found a recipe using BLC and based on the chrono data/bullet weight they advertised, I went with a powder puff version of it. (19 grs vs 25 grs)

Box ammo (Sellier and Bellot) chrono'd at 2600 fps, I don't want to match that with a gas checked lead bullet, but I think I'll be just over 2000 fps with 23 grains.

I used Barnes Bullets CR-10 Bore Cleaner. I use this on my old .45-70 once a year and it cleaned it up slicker than snot.


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