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bruce moulds
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40/85 ballard case forming?
Apr 1st, 2017 at 8:47pm
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I have asked this previously, but cannot find it in a search.
would anyone have experience forming these case from 9.3x74 rimmed?
if so how long do they end up when fireformed.
this knowledge is important to have when designing a chambering reamer for use with black powder.
would you suggest making the reamer a little shorter such that the cases would need to be trimmed for safety.
keep safe,
bruce.
  

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Bent_Ramrod
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #1 - Apr 1st, 2017 at 9:58pm
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Bruce,

I don't have a .40-85 Ballard, but have blown out 9.3 x 74 cases for a Remington-Hepburn in .40-90 3-1/4" Sharps Straight.  The Norma cases are typically in the 2.845"-2.850" range when blown out straight, while the RWS cases are around 2.90" long.

If these cases are all you are going to use, and with black powder only, it would probably be best to get a reamer specially shortened for the job.  I generally use the German cases for smokeless loads with grease groove bullets and Bertram .40-90 cases for black powder loads, as these are closer to the actual length of my chamber.

The rims on the 9.3 x 74 cases are a little thinner than those on the Bertram .40-90 cases and the rim seat in my Hepburn chamber.  The diameters at the bases are a little smaller than the chamber as well.  However, these differences do not seem to create any problems when the 9.3 cases are used.  My Remington is not a target rifle; if that is what you are trying to make up, it might be worth while to tighten up the tolerances on the rim thickness and base diameter when you get your reamer made.
  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #2 - Apr 2nd, 2017 at 12:26am
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thank you bent ramrod.
you might well have saved a lot of time and heartache.
would you think 2,845 might be safe, or would 2.840 be the best bet?
interesting that the rws brass is longer than the norma.
rumour has it that bertram is to be avoided if at all possible.
they used to make a 405 win basic case which would work in theory.
i have also seen sellier and bellot 9.3X74 ammo.
keep safe,
bruce.
  

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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #3 - Apr 2nd, 2017 at 9:14am
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Bruce,

Of course, I haven't particularly worried about reproducible lengths in my rifle because whatever I use is well too short.  But both brands of brass have fireformed very well, with pretty even case mouths after opening and no failures upon forming.

But I don't really see any "safety" issue with the shell lengths.  If you want to make sure all your cases are even at forming, you ought to plan to trim them to 2.84", just to be sure.  If you want every last iota of length, it might be best to find a shooter with a .40-90, lay in a supply of shells, and have him fireform them to see what the lengths are, and then trim to the max possibility and order your reamer and dies accordingly.  I don't know how typical my small samples of German brass would be of the brass you may wind up getting.

Bertram quality ranges from barely there to annoying but acceptable, depending on caliber and vintage.  The.40-90 has been in the latter category; after a thorough annealing, the main irritation has been varying length.  (You might be in a better position to pound on Bertram's desk and give him what-for than we are; the Home Market ought to be of more concern than the barbarians in foreign countries that accept any trinket offered. Cheesy).

Most of my Bertrams have stretched out enough to reach max length and more by the use of paper patch bullets and black powder.  I've yanked a few in half by being careless about drying the chamber, but that isn't Bertram's fault, and there seems to be enough brass in the walls so that the shells can be "drawn," as it were, into the leade and trimmed back.  I've either gotten a lengthened shell to trim, a two-piece shell, or a "kurtz" shell with the bullet having dragged the front part out the barrel.  No stuck front ends in the rifling yet; knock on wood.  But this lengthening seems to be a peculiar hazard of long cases and paper patched bullets; something to keep in mind and to have a contingency plan for.  By the way, they are cavernous; I can drop in 100 gr of powder with plenty of headspace left.

As for the mutant .40s based on the .405 Basic brass, they've made things convenient for some people at the expense of throwing the rest of us into utter confusion.  The thick rims and narrow bases of these shells generally make for an expensive misfit in original chambers, and nobody but the "stuck-ee" who has gotten the wrong brass or rented the wrong reamer seems to be unduly concerned about this.
  
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marlinguy
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #4 - Apr 2nd, 2017 at 10:03am
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I picked up a Pacific last fall in .40-85 and bought Hornady 9.3x74R brass pretty reasonably. The 9.3 appeared to be a close donor case, and I figured it might grow slightly with forming to fill the chamber.
I opened up the necks with my Lyman M dies to get it to .411" and seated some bullets to fire form the cases. They had a bit of a wasp like shape to the cases, but easily fire formed to fit. Surprisingly the load shot pretty accurately when fire forming, and was close to what I ended up using as my final load.
But there is one minor issue with the 9.3x74R brass. The rims are smaller than the original .40-85 Ballard brass, so I have to be pretty careful chambering a round, or it can easily slip past the extractor. It can be a pain to carefully push the extractor in, while holding the lever slightly up, and chamber a cartridge. Bit of a juggling act.
I purchased some Bertram .40-90 straight brass, which was 3.25" long, and trimmed/formed them down to fit my Ballard. Haven't fired them yet, but I did anneal them prior to forming as I've had issues with Bertram being brittle and splitting. The Bertram rims and cases fit fantastic! No fiddling at all to chamber, but the Hornady 9.3x74 is way cheaper! I found them at Bud's Gun Shop for $27 per 20 pcs. A huge discount over the Bertram prices.
  

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KFW
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #5 - Apr 2nd, 2017 at 2:29pm
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bruce moulds
i just recently chambered my replacement ballard barrel in a approximate "40-85" by using a 40-90 ss reamer and short chambering it to 2 15/16 deep. the 9.3x74r will fire form to just short of that length. the hornady brass rim diameter is small, so i  made up a new extractor. i have been shooting this gun a lot in the last few weeks, and am closing in on a decent load for 100-200 yd shooting with was my original goal. i was too impatient and maybe cheap too to wait for, and invest in a custom reamer. by being a slighty undersize chamber (almost a tight match) it allows for opening it up if ever the need arises.
neck sizing or not, allows paper patch bullets to work too.
best.....kw
  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #6 - Apr 3rd, 2017 at 3:33am
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thanks for all the advice guys.
being in the fortunate (unfortunate?) position of not having an original does have some benefits.
i can make a chamber to suit the available brass.
it will not be a true 40/85 ballard, but will be ballistically similar enough to give an idea of original performance.there are some who consider this practice to be gaming when used in competition, but many of them use Winchester chamberings in sharps rifles, and have chambers with 45 degree transitions etc etc.
at least this chamber will be more similar to guns from "the day" than theirs, having a 4 degree transition/throat, and have a neck diameter suited to bore diameter bullets.
hell it will be more original than an original that has been rechambered to take greasers.
now that is gaming.
keep safe,
bruce.
  

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Reverend Al
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #7 - Apr 18th, 2017 at 1:56am
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I managed to source some once fired Norma 9.3x74R brass and they form into useable, shooter brass for my Ballard No. 5 Pacific in .40-90 Ballard.  I've also been lucky enough that my Ballard seems to extract them without problem even thought the rims are a bit undersized.  My gun came with 20 rounds of Bertram .40-90 brass and they seem prone to splitting even with annealing and are FAR too expensive to buy in quantity which is why I went the 9.3x74R route instead.  I need to do some more load testing and I also need to break down and buy a decent tang sight for it ...
  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #8 - Apr 18th, 2017 at 8:59am
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roger that on the bertram splitting. i split most of my box of twenty in my 40-90 everlasting chamber. the hornady 9.3x74r brass has been fired 7 or 8 times each now in my 40-85, and no splits or head separations.
regards
  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #9 - Aug 11th, 2017 at 3:59pm
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Haven't been on here posting for a while thanks to some ongoing health issues, but finally got up to the range yesterday with my No. 5 Pacific .40-90 Ballard to try a few shots in the reformed 9.3x74R Norma cases.  They work well in my particular rifle and as long as I am careful to ensure that the extractor is seated before I chamber a cartridge the fired cases extract without any problems.  Initially I pre-formed the cases using 8.5 grains of Nitro 100, a quarter sheet of toilet tissue, bulk yellow cornmeal up to the case mouth, and then another quarter sheet of toilet tissue to hold it all in place.  I held the muzzle vertical and fire-formed them.  The do come out a bit "wasp-waisted" with the blank charges, but then I loaded them with 10 grains of IMR4198 as a "kicker" charge over a Federal 215 Magnum primer, a small square of toilet tissue, 50.5 grains of 3F (didn't have any 2F or 1F on hand to try), a .410 hard card wad, a .410 fibre wad, and then a 400 grain RCBS Silhouette cast bullet seated on top.  This gives the powder charge about 1/4" of crush.  I've been using my .40-82 WCF dies to neck size the cases and seat the bullets.  (Didn't break down and buy a $200 US set of CH4D dies for it yet.)  They shot OK and the cases blew out fully formed to the bases now, but there was evidence of tipping or "key-holing" in the target holes so as I sort of suspected to begin with the 400 grain bullets I tried are likely too long and heavy for the rifling twist.  (They were all I had on hand to test initially.)  I've since bought a used 350 RCBS Silhouette mould to test in it and will try those the next time, but the eventual plan is to buy a proper smooth sided adjustable paper patch mould from Red River Rick out in Winnipeg and try shooting a paper patched 330 grain bullet in an attempt to match the original 1880's factory loading for the .40-90 Ballard cartridge.  (We can always use the 350 and 400 grain RCBS Silhouette bullets in my friend's .40-65 Uberti Highwall.)

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Reverend Al
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #10 - Aug 11th, 2017 at 4:04pm
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Actually, I still can't complain.  A 100 yard group of 1 1/2" wide by 6" vertical in a 140 year old rifle with a buckhorn sight and 64 year old eyes is OK by me!  Hopefully a lighter weight of bullet that better suits the barrel twist will get rid of the key-holing and maybe tighten up the vertical stringing ...

Wink
  
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marlinguy
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #11 - Aug 12th, 2017 at 11:15am
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Rev Al,
I am using the RCBS 335 CSA mold and with my 30:1 mix it drops at 345 grs. I am loading mine with smo9keless at around 1350 fps., and it will group around 1.25" at 100 yds. It shoots as accurate fire forming as it does the 2nd loading with formed brass.
I recently took mine to our annual long range fun shoot, and found it boringly accurate, as it consistently hit the 450 yd. dinger every shot once I got it sighted in. The 650 yd. was about a 70% hit ratio, but I can't blame the Pacific for that. More likely the shooter's lack of skill.
It's my new favorite caliber and gun combination for shooting!
  

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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #12 - Aug 12th, 2017 at 5:46pm
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I can understand if you don't want to share the charge weight (liability issues), but what smokeless powder(s) are you using?  I've been duplex loading mine just to try to cut down on fouling in the cartridge cases and the bore.  At the end of my last shooting session I was surprised how clean the bore still was without any wiping between shots.  And that was after about 20 rounds.  Again, I need to try some lighter bullets to see if it eliminates the "key-holing".  Might need to touch up the crown on the barrel too as it looks a bit rough.
  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #13 - Aug 12th, 2017 at 9:17pm
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Reverend Al wrote on Aug 12th, 2017 at 5:46pm:
I can understand if you don't want to share the charge weight (liability issues), but what smokeless powder(s) are you using?  I've been duplex loading mine just to try to cut down on fouling in the cartridge cases and the bore.  At the end of my last shooting session I was surprised how clean the bore still was without any wiping between shots.  And that was after about 20 rounds.  Again, I need to try some lighter bullets to see if it eliminates the "key-holing".  Might need to touch up the crown on the barrel too as it looks a bit rough.


I've used a lot of 2400 and Unique over the years in old guns, but only tried 2400 in this Pacific, as it shot so well with it right off. I'm using 20.0 grs. of 2400 with the 345 gr. bullet. I have a lot of old Ideal loading manuals and found the load in it for another similar sized case. I believe the load in my Ideal manual was at 22.0-24.0 grs., and I reduced it down to this starting point. But it did so well I never bumped it up. Just too pleasant and mild to shoot, so why push any further?
  

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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #14 - Aug 12th, 2017 at 10:00pm
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OK, thanks for the info!
Smiley
  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #15 - Aug 16th, 2017 at 3:40am
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Norma 9.3x74R cases fully fire-formed to .40-90 Ballard and then "prettified" after a trip through my ss pin tumbler!

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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #16 - Aug 16th, 2017 at 11:28am
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I bought a Ballard Pacific in 40-85 earlier this year and am having lots of fun with it.  I made some expander plugs and expanded the necks on 9.3x74r brass then fire formed them with a 400 gr lyman bullet sized to 0.409.  I replaced the sights with a vernier MVA midrange tang and it shoots exceptionally well with 67 gr of 1 1/2 Swiss with a 1/16 wad over the powder.  I drop tube but don't compress and seat the bullet all the way in the case (no grease groves sticking out).  I tried heavier charges ( up to 76 gr) and the fowling went crazy.  Also tried sizing the bullets down to the traditional 0.406 but they keyholed and leaded the barrel badly. So far i am sticking to this lighter load.  There is a BPCR shoot this weekend at our club so I am hoping to use it.  In practice I can knock all the targets down easily, lets hope I have some success in competition.

I do use a 3/8 Oring on the case and that seems to compinsate for the smaller rim very nicely and the extraction works without issue.  I didn't change the lenght of the cases as the fireformed seem perfect.  I only have 71 fireformed brass so may neee to by some more Norma brass from a buddy in Alberta.
  
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marlinguy
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #17 - Aug 16th, 2017 at 11:32am
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Pacific in .40-85 have very slow twist rates, and you might also consider trying lighter bullets in the 335-350 gr. weight range. I'm using an RCBS CSA 335 that drops at 345 gr. with 30:1 mix. It's been much tighter groups than the Snover 410 gr. I tried previously.
  

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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #18 - Aug 16th, 2017 at 12:22pm
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Rex, are you located in Canada or the US?  I'm in Victoria, B.C. and I still have 100 rounds of once fired Norma 9.3x74R brass left for sale.  (I had 1,200 rounds shipped over from Germany, kept about 1/2 for my own use and have been selling off the balance to try to recover some of my original costs.)  I can ship them within Canada, but of course I can't ship them to the US thanks to current ITAR regulations regarding rifle components.

Rex N wrote on Aug 16th, 2017 at 11:28am:
I only have 71 fireformed brass so may neee to by some more Norma brass from a buddy in Alberta.

  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #19 - Aug 16th, 2017 at 9:55pm
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Here is my Ballard.  Nicer shape than the pictures show.

  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #20 - Aug 16th, 2017 at 10:47pm
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Rex,

Wow! What a beautiful rifle.  It has been very well cared for.

By the way, that cartridge looks monstrous long. I just went out and measure the case length on one of my 40-72 Win cartridges and it is 65mm long.
  
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marlinguy
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #21 - Aug 17th, 2017 at 9:32am
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jy3855 wrote on Aug 16th, 2017 at 10:47pm:
Rex,

Wow! What a beautiful rifle.  It has been very well cared for.

By the way, that cartridge looks monstrous long. I just went out and measure the case length on one of my 40-72 Win cartridges and it is 65mm long.


The .40-85 Bal. is just under 3" long.

My .40-85 Pacific:
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #22 - Aug 17th, 2017 at 12:35pm
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Another very nice Pacific!  I think my next purchase needs to be a better set of sights for my .40-90 Pacific.  marliinguy ...  What do you consider the current best "bang for the buck" in a rear tang sight and a front globe set that would be suitable?  It would just be for casual target shooting at our local ranges, I won't be competing in any BPS matches.
  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #23 - Aug 17th, 2017 at 12:59pm
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The Lee Shaver Economy Soule is probably the best for your buck for casual shooting. The best is probably a MVA or Baldwin, or the higher grade Lee Shaver.
I am not a huge fan of globe sights for long range work myself. A .040-.050" wide blade works better, as when I hold off for wind the body of the globe often blocks out the target. A simple Skinner blade is much nicer, but a bit thick. He used to sell a .040" special order, but no longer does special order widths. I just file them down. The Skinner is also inexpensive at around $15 ea.
  

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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #24 - Aug 17th, 2017 at 7:53pm
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Great!  Thanks for the info ...

Smiley
  
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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #25 - Aug 24th, 2017 at 9:36pm
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I was up at the range today with my friend Holger from Hamburg, Germany who is out here on a holiday trip, and so I forced him to fire-form a bunch more 9.3x74R brass in my .40-90 Pacific model.  (I didn't have to force him too hard though ...)
Smiley

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Re: 40/85 ballard case forming?
Reply #26 - Aug 24th, 2017 at 10:26pm
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It's great to put an old single shot in somebody's hands and see how much fun they have!
  

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