Small Ring Mauser, the never ending internet debate.

For years debate has gone on about exactly what is the “safe” pressure levels for small ring Mauser actions.

Someone I respect, Larry Gibson, has used his ballistics lab to produce some data. Larry and I have been arguing about the relative safety of small ring Mausers for fifteen years now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that “He’s may be right, but I’m not wrong.”

You can see Larry’s original post here:×57-psi-for-use-in-sr-mausers/

For the 7×57:
The SAAMI MAP is 51,0
The C.I.P. PTc maxis 57,0
Both are with transducer measurement.

Commercial Factory and hand loads:
Federal 175 RNSP; 49,9 2400
Rem-UMC 175 RNFMJ; 57,2 2311 
Remington 175 RNSP; 48,2 2393
Winchester 175RNSP; 50,2 2376
My standard load 175 RNSP; 49,2 2334
Hornady Light Magnum 139 SPBT; 44,5 2624
My standard “light” hunting load 154 SP; 55,7 2579

Military Surplus:
CAVIM (Venezuela) 139 FMJBT; 46,0 2590
PS 1950 (Spanish) 154 FMJBT; 59,8 2442
PS 1951 (Spanish) 154 FMJBT; 60,5 2543
FAMME (Chile) 133 FMJBT; 55,3 2718
DWM 1918 (German) 172 Cupro RNFMJ; 54,8 2295

This data, combined with pressure data for surplus and commercial 308 Win and 7.62×51, convinced Larry that the Small Ring Mauser’s are essentially safe to shoot with 7.62×51 ammunition, because so many of the 7×57 loads tested were above the 51k PSI SAAMI max.

This is where I disagree with Larry. All of the new manufactured commercial ammunition in his data set are below 51k PSI except for the Rem-UMC 175 RNFMJ load, which is pretty dang old.  The Rem-UMC headstamp was discontinued around 1959 and transitioned to the R-P headstamp for “Remington Peters” so whatever ammunition Larry shot, it was at least 57 years old based on possible latest date that Remington could have made that particular headstamp on 7×57.

So, with that data in mind, lets ask ourselves why all the older ammo had a much higher max average pressure then new commercial ammo, despite having essentially the same external ballistics? The answer lies in the chemistry of smokeless powder.

Single base smokeless powder is a mixture of nitrocellulose, binders, preservatives, and burn rate conditioners. The purpose of the preservatives is to be “sacrificed” as the nitrocellulose breaks down over time, and one of the byproducts of this breakdown is nitric acid. Nitric acid is will etch the inside of a brass case and even eat all the way through it over time. The other thing that it will do, is once the preservatives are eaten up, is go after the burn rate conditioners which changes the burn rate of the powder.

So, how dose powder that has no preservatives and fewer burn rate conditioners perform? It performs like a faster burning powder and for the same charge weight as a slower burning powder you get a faster and higher pressure spike. This is why lots of ammunition are regularly tested, to see if the powder is still within operating specifications, and some lots last a long time (I’ve shot off 7.62×51 from the late 70s not even a decade ago as it was issued to me, and some 50 BMG literally from the Korean War era). Other lots…go bad and get demilled and sold off as components much quicker.


When IMR4895 goes bad over time, notice the corrosion inside the brass and on the base of the bullets.

But, and this part is important, the amount of energy contained in the gun powder doesn’t increase. This means that the maximum amount of energy that this old powder can impart to the projectile remains roughly about the same (some power is lost as the powder degrades). So you get a higher initial pressure spike, but then also a more rapid pressure decrease as the bullet goes down the bore and out the muzzle. This is why Larry’s data can show an almost 9k PSI difference in pressure (the max pressure) and less than 80 fps in velocity difference (with the lower pressure load being faster). If you run into a situation where a powder didn’t get 100% burn before leaving the bore, you may see an increase in velocity as the powder burns faster and you get 100% burn before the muzzle is unsealed.


Another cutaway to show internal damage to cartridge brass from smokeless powder degrading over time.

Now once the powder has really degraded, you begin to have significantly less and less energy in the cartridge, and so you start seeing more and more significant velocity losses. You also begin to see many more hangfires and duds as the remaining powder gets harder and harder to light off as so much of it has degraded to the point of being mostly inert. Even Larry’s M80 ball data shows this:

Military Ammunition:
M80 Ball WRA 68; 5 2,8 2790 (oldest is slowest, most powder degradation, lowest MAP and velocity, might still be using IMR stick powder)
M80 Ball LC 87; 61,2 2924 (next oldest, over NATO EPVAT pressure, nitric acid eating those burn rate inhibitors, velocity higher than specified for the load)
M80 Ball LC 90; 57,3 2852 (only 27 years old, not too bad)

I wish we had more data to discuss, but the data Larry presented is consistent with the published literature about pressures rising with age until the start falling.

The other reason that I disagree with Larry about what is an acceptable pressure level for a small ring Mauser is the gas handling capabilities of the actions themselves. You can add a flange to redirect gasses, cut a gas port in the receiver ring and bolt, and several countries did at least the gas port cutting on some of their small ring Mausers.

And here’s why, brand new Federal Gold Medal Match…


Fed GMM 308 Win. Case Head crack, how does your rifle handle this type of failure?

If you get a full or partial case head failure on a small ring Mauser, there is dang near nothing stopping all that hot gas from pushing directly down the left receiver rail along the bolt and shooting right back into your face. If you shoot a small ring Mauser, and you don’t wear quality Z87 or better safety glasses while doing so, I highly recommend that you start immediately.

And that’s the real reason why the old “45k CUP” or “51k PSI” limit comes from, brass is less likely to fail at lower pressures than higher pressures.

So, unlike Larry I won’t tell you to go out and rechamber your Spanish M93 into a 243 Win or 260 Rem and run max SAAMI pressure loads through it. Larry is right that many people have done it, the 308 Win conversion was very popular at one point. But I’m not wrong either, those rifles were designed in the late 1800s and the reason why the small ring Mauser platform was abandoned for the M98 Large Ring Mauser platform was because they had obvious design deficiencies that showed up in actual use.

Here is a picture of an M96 swede bolt with both bolt lugs sheared off:


I hope the bolt was bent into a notch on the rear of the action and stock to slow this bolt down as it shot backward…


Losing both front lugs is the reason why the M98 action has the third safety lug at the rear, to stop bolts from flying back and killing the shooter.


See that yellow brown patina on the bottom of the receiver and front of the bolt? That’s not rust, that’s vaporized brass from the cartridge failure coating the steel of the Spanish small ring. Notice how far rearward that bolt shot when the rifle failed, black eye at the least, broken cheekbone most likely.

So yeah, you can blow up any rifle. But different rifles handle failures more or less gracefully than others. The small ring Mausers can give you a lifetime of good service, and you may, like Larry, have no issues whatsoever going through multiple barrels on a single action. Or it could go the other way, which is why I recommend keeping the pressures down. The 6.5×55 and 7×57 have killed game cleanly for over a century without being high pressure hot rods, and there is no need to start today.

And if you want a long range target or hunting rifle, there are much better and cheaper actions to build on than a small ring Mauser. But, it’s your money and your life, and all I can do is state my case for loading conservatively.

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Terminal Ballistics, much fire and fury over the internet.

So Tam, writes a pretty reasonable post about not using old bullets that have better alternatives now:

What kills me is how they’re hyping 90gr +P .38 Spl & 9mm and 185gr +P .45ACP bullets as if the last thirty years of accumulated terminal ballistics knowledge hadn’t even happened.

Flying dimes with no sectional density moving at Warp Factor Six are how we got Miami and then wound up spending twenty years wandering in the .40 caliber wilderness, and the shit is being pimped by people who should goddam well know better because, I dunno, Cameron Hopkins is a nice guy or something and the boxes make older gunwriters feel nostalgic.

So…she’s right, 90gr bullets in 38 Special are a poor choice, and 185gr 45 ACP bullets are a poor choice.

However, it was the “flying dimes with no sectional density” part that ticked off the drama llama over at the captain’s journal, who doesn’t address either 90gr 38 Special nor 185gr 45 ACP, but goes off on a tangent about the 5.7 FN.

Now…he’s also right. The 5.7 FN has a lower sectional density than other pistol rounds and the 5.7 FN proved that it could kill unarmed people charging you when Nidal Hasan went postal at Fort Hood back in 2009. 13 people died at Fort Hood, 12 from center of mass hits and one from a head shot. 32 more were wounded.

Now Tam is a gunwriter, and Herschel has been around the block, and any drama between them is between them, but just to stir the pot a little, here’s Roland’s Rules of Ballistics.

  1. All bullets are lethal.
  2. Shot placement matters.
  3. A better bullet doesn’t kill ’em deader.
  4. Incapacitation is impossible to measure via ballistics gel.
  5. Mass shootings are not defensive gun uses.
  6. Any formula to calculate “knockdown power” is garbage in, garbage out.

To illustrate point 5, the Hi Point carbine and TEC-9 9×19 firearms were used quite successfully during the Columbine school shooting. 13 victims died at Columbine, 21 more were wounded. When you compare Fort Hood 2009 with Columbine 1999, you have some similarities and some differences.

Similarities include number of victims and the choice of deliberately unarmed victims. Nidal Hassan could have chosen to shoot up a rifle range on Fort Hood, but that would have ended his jihad right quick. The differences are that at least 3 people charged Hasan, and there is no record of anyone charging the two murderers at Columbine. The police response at Fort Hood 2009 was much faster than the Columbine response. The terrain of a school is much different than an Soldier Readiness Processing Center.


There are a lot of formulas out there that calculate some level of effectiveness based on bullet weight, velocity, diameter, and use that to calculate some numeric score. It’s all bullshit designed to sell guns, but people like to use it to show that the 45 ACP is a monster slaying badass while the 9mm doesn’t make “Major Power Factor” in some games. It is all bullshit.

Why is it BS? Well because if you run the numbers for a 223 Remington with 55gr soft point bullet through one of those pistol bullet calculators it’ll tell you that it’s a horrible choice for actually stopping an attacker. The reality is that a 55gr soft point is a great choice for stopping an attacker because that 55gr soft point is going to shred all sorts of internal organs and stop the attacker as long as the bullet hits anywhere near center of mass or central nervous system.

But Roland, rifles are rifles and pistols are pistols! Sure, but that why the FN 5.7 with it’s low sectional density and tiny bullets still goes back to point #1, All Bullets Are Lethal. The way that the 5.7 is lethal is largely different than how a 9×19 with a quality hollow point is lethal (the 5.7 will fragment, the 9×19 will expand) but essentially they accomplish the same outcome, blood out, air in.

Now the FN 5.7 isn’t the first high velocity, low bullet mass pistol cartridge. The 7.62×25 Tokarev developed quite the reputation for pushing it’s FMJ bullet through all sorts of soft body armor way back in the ballistic stone age of the 1980s. The 85gr bullet up to over 1,600 fps isn’t something I’d like to get shot with, as Rule #1, All Bullets Are Lethal. As a side note, the 357 Sig was chosen for use in Chicago because it could defeat the seats on trains with duty ammo. Ironically enough bullets designed for law enforcement like the original KTW round was the impetus for Federal laws that prohibit armor piercing bullet technology because they were “cop killers.” Then again, passing a law is what Congress does instead of anything useful.

Now, with that in mind, lets turn away from mass shootings and go to the infamous Miami shootout. Two military veterans turned murdering bank robbers were armed with a shotgun, a Mini-14 rifle, and some handguns got into a shootout with FBI agents who had shotguns, 38 Special & 357 Magnum revolvers, and 9mm handguns. At the end of the shootout both criminals were dead, and two FBI agents were dead.

The criminals were killed by a combination of pistol and shotgun fire. Both FBI agents were killed by the Mini-14. The obvious lesson here should have been that going up against two military veterans with a rifle is a dangerous thing to do, and yet the FBI chose to focus not on issuing “patrol rifles” for FBI Agents, but changing the handgun caliber to something that might have given the agents on the ground in Miami better performance. The FBI first tried the 10mm, and when that was too much for some agents switched to the 40 S&W. After the FBI testing criteria had been available for a while, ammo manufacturers made 9×19 ammo that passed, and the FBI went back to issuing 9×19 to agents.

However, if the Miami shootout happened today, with modern 9×19 ammunition, the outcome would likely be exactly the same. Going up against two military veterans, one of whom has a rifle, is just a poor life decision or really shitty luck if you only have pistols and shotguns as police in Hollywood, California, found out just over a decade later in 1997 at the North Hollywood Shootout.

And rather than ramble on for several more paragraphs, whatever you carry, train with it. Whatever you carry, feed it the best bullets you can afford. Whatever you carry, try not to get into a gunfight with someone who has a rifle. Because no matter the quality of bullet you have in your heater, there is no guaranty of instant incapacitation. Not with a FN 5.7, not with a 357 Magnum, not with a 9mm, 40, 45, or 10mm. It can happen, but if it does it will be because YOU put the bullet where it needed to go, as Rule #1 goes, “All Bullets Are Lethal.”


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The Mueller investigation has transparently appeared to many Americans as a politically motivated witch hunt.

I didn’t lay down the timeline of the witch hunt, but thankfully someone else did:

Now…I don’t normally put too much stock into obviously partisan news sources, but even if the “spin” is a bit over the top, I don’t find anyone disputing the facts.

And the facts are this: All of the convictions associated with the “Russia” scandal have been “procedural crimes” created by the investigation itself, and now the investigators are looking to interview President Trump. Why? Because the entire basis for the Russia probe is a politically motivated witch hunt and if the investigation team can catch Trump in any factual inconsistency, they can use that “procedural crime” to provide some semblance of legitimacy to the witch hunt. After all, everyone knows that Trump is evil, and so he must be guilty of something, right?

This…is the weaponizing of our legal system to achieve the political ends of the Democratic party. Sally Yates, possibly the most morally corrupt leader in modern DOJ history has essentially sanctioned sedition and treason. Our President is still a citizen of the United States, and still has the rights of every citizen, and the current situation of the legal apparatus deliberately attacking a citizen should scare the shit out of everyone of us.

Cliven Bundy, support him or hate him, had the entire charges against him tossed and the government’s ability to bring him to trial for the same again. The reason for this is that the prosecution hid exculpatory evidence and engaged in deliberate misconduct in some misguided crusade to destroy the Bundy family. 

The DOJ, under the direction of Sally Yates, went after Howard Root with the flimsiest of cases only in order to send a message to other CEOs. The jury acquitted Howard Root: and since then the DOJ has played dirty with regard to Mr. Root in the professional circles:

Ask yourself if you want a Department of Justice that uses the essentially unlimited power of the State to go after individual citizens based on their personal politics? How do you send the message to the DOJ that their actions are completely unacceptable on their face and the damage done to their reputation is not easily repaired.

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How to avoid black Kafka trapping

Courtesy of Damon Young, writer/editor at The Root.

1. If you need a day off and you have no PTO or vacation days left, cite Kwanzaa.

“Hey, Bob. We’re off Friday, right?”

“I don’t think so, Tyreke. Why would we be?”

“Wait, so you’re telling me, as the manager of this company, that it doesn’t celebrate Kwanzaa?”

“Um, it’s November. I thought Kwanzaa was in December.”

“So you’ve never heard of the 37 days of Kwanzaa, the pre-Kwanzaa recognition of family, unity, Claymation and Isabel Sanford? Tell me, Bob, that you know that Friday is when we light the quadrangle and sing ‘Lift Every Voice on the Mountain’ with our families. Are you trying to keep me away from my family?”


Follow up the “No” with “You can have unpaid leave or take a one day advance of leave.”

2. Jokingly drop the racism bomb … but with a straight face.

“Hey, Tyreke, did you see the game last night?”

“No, Bob. Flat-screen TVs are racist. Why would you even ask me that?”

“Wait … what?

[Tyreke walks away while Bob wonders what the fuck just happened.]

Ask Tyreke why he is so bigotted against Asians. Ask about how the black community became so bigotted against Koreans.

3. Get out of jams by referencing your hair.

“Hey, Iesha. Are those expense reports ready? Been waiting on them for three days now.”

“Sorry, Bob, but I had to get my edges chopped and remarinated, and that took longer than usual. I won’t get the reports done until next Wednesday.”

“But they were due this Monday.”


“I’m not saying that, I’m just … ”


“Nothing. Just that Wednesday will work.”

Formally counsel Iesha on meeting assigned deadlines, in the presence of an HR representative. Assert your authority as boss/supervisor, even if you are a minority.

4. Imply that they’re racist without actually saying anything.

[A meeting in Bob’s office.]

“So yes, Bob, we should expect a 12 percent increase in revenue this quarter.”

“That’s great news, Iesha. Thank you.”

[Iesha gets up to leave but pauses while noticing something on Bob’s desk.]

“Hmm, that’s … interesting.”

“What’s on your mind?”

“Nothing, Bob. Just … I don’t know … it’s just that out of all of these pictures of family and friends in your office, none of them have black people in them.”

[Iesha pauses for second, looks at Bob disapprovingly and turns to leave.]

Go to Iesha’s desk, casually notice that she doesn’t have any pictures of white people. Openly comment that in a country with such large Caucasian and Latino populations she must work hard to segregate her social circle.

5. Invite them to an über-black event even though they already had plans.

“Hey, guys. Just wanted to remind everyone that I’m going to be out Friday. Going to Tampa for my cousin’s wedding.”

“So you’re not coming to my Niggafied Drinks and Darts party Friday night?”

“Um … I … had no idea about your … um … drinks-and-darts party.”

“I texted you an invite last week. It’s part of the Niggafied series of events I’ve been throwing. Next month it’s Niggafied Trap Knitting.”

“I don’t remember receiving that, Tyreke.”

“Of course you don’t, Bob. Of course you don’t. It’s just funny how … ”

“OK, OK, OK. I’ll come to your … darts-and-drinks party.”

“Nah. Go to your wedding. Iesha and I will see you when you get back.”

Keep hounding Iesha about upcoming black heavy events. Attend as the token white person and tell everyone how much you love Tyreke’s work ethic and say that he’s going far in your company. The other blacks will turn on him for acting white.

Damon’s original work can be found here:

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Around the web…

Since my creativity seems to have holed up for a long winter’s nap…here are some of the more interesting things I’ve stumbled across.

Interesting analysis of potential impacts of Trump deregulation on the longer term economy:

Speaking of deregulation….. While this article focuses on a dumb choice of a weapon system, the Abrams SEPV3, which really is just an upgrade to an existing program that Congress won’t let the Army stop purchasing, it has some pretty astute observations about how the procurement laws written by Congress don’t serve the military or taxpayers very well:

Suggestions on changing “qualified immunity” to increase police accountability:


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1 January 2018

Well…2017 is history.

May your next year be better than your last year.

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The Cattaraugus 225Q Knife

If you had to describe the “average” US military knife from WWII, it would be a bowie pattern blade with fullers (aka blood grooves) between 5 and 7 inches long made of a high carbon steel, usually 1095, which was through hardened (possibly tempered) with a stacked leather handle. This “average” knife would be made in New York. I guess the next most average knife would be a dagger pattern, or half dagger pattern, with similar metallurgy and handle composition between all the M3 and similar knives like the V42.

WWII Came at the tail end of the Great Depression and the War Department had to outfit the three branches of the military, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, with kit ranging from uniforms to combat knives. The vast majority of the fighting knives used by the US military in WWII were built in New York by companies such as Cammilus (from the town of the same name), Ka-Bar (Olean, NY), the Utica Knife Company (in Utica, NY), and Cattaraugus knives, in Cattaraugus County where the Ontario Knife Company also made its home. The Case knife company was relatively close by in Pennsylvania (and founded by the Case brothers who had worked at Cattaraugus). The PAL knife company of Chicago purchased the Remington knife line and produced a large number of the “Remington PAL” knives for WWII (and PAL operated at least one factory in New York). The Marbles company, of Gladstone, Michigan, saw a number of privately purchased “Ideal” knives used in WWII, as did the Western Cutlery Company of Colorado. But, all of the outside NY companies were rather minor players compared to those in NY.

Of course the most famous knife of WWII is the US Navy Mk2 Combat Knife, which has becomes synonymous with the Ka-Bar company due to good advertising on behalf of that company.  The “USMC Fighting Knife” pattern has been produced by Remington PAL, Cammilus, Ka-Bar, Ontario, and many others.

But this post is not about the famous “Ka-Bar” pattern, it is about the Cattaraugus 225Q or the Case 337-6-Q knives (almost visually identical to each other). These have less of a “fighting knife” profile and a much more obvious “sporting” profile as the Q has a sufficiently deep belly for skinning, and a fifth of an inch thick blade for sturdiness, although the “blood grooves” are tiny and do very little to lighten the blade. The “three layered pommel” which is unique to the “Q” knives has given rise to the urban legend that the purpose was to hammer nails on crates by the Quartermaster corps (a legend somewhat supported as the son of the Cattaraugus president served in the US Army Quartermaster Corps and was given a custom 225Q by his father), alternately the “Q” was supposedly because the Quartermaster Corps was tasked with specifying a combat knife. My take on the matter is that the three layers of steel pommel were chosen to properly balance the blade, putting the center of gravity behind the guard rather than in front.

It is not definitively known whether the 225Q or 337-6-Q knives were official issue or a substitute official issue, although one guy stated that 1.2 million of the 225Qs were issued across all services although he didn’t leave a convenient citation for me to investigate. One soldier, who served stateside as an MP his entire WWII career wrote down that he acquired his 225Q at a local hardware store for 25 cents (at a time when a Marble’s Ideal knife was marketed for a buck twenty five) as the knives had been rejected from service (aka, “seconds”) and that the handles on those knives often needed sanding down which indicates that the 225Q was accepted by the Army for official issue. Another reported that his father purchased his 225Q from the “ship’s store” and carried it through the Pacific campaign, which indicates that the 225Qs were available but not standard issue.

The Case 337-6-Q knives had a different stacked leather handle configuration which didn’t have the same reputation for needing a good sanding. Despite the identical blade geometries the Case variant goes for a lot more on the market as there are more Case collectors than Cattaraugus collectors. A lot of the Q knives came with a “left handed sheath” and no one seems to know why, my guess is that is just how the stamping machine to make the sheaths was originally set up and no one saw anything wrong with it at the time. A more practical option is that if you have a gun in your right hand (most people shoot right handed and right eyed) then if you need to get your knife you should probably do it with your left hand, but whatever the real reason was it has been lost to history.


Still, the 225Q is shorter than a Ka-Bar by an inch (despite using almost three more ounces of steel to make, much of it in the thicker blade and pommel), with a better belly for skinning, and a better blade design for standard camp chores or “bushcraft survival.” Like the Marble’s Ideal pattern knife, it’s a solid choice to carry with you out into the great unknown. It’s a tad heavier than other options, but if you want a truly lightweight option a Mora Companion is really the best choice rather than something that can double as a pry bar in a pinch.

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