Fulton Armory

On Reloading for US Gas Operated Service Rifles

by Clint McKee, with additional thoughts from Walt Kuleck & R.J. Suckow

Hi, Clint! Why don't you condone reloading for the US Gas Operated Service Rifles?

This should not be an honest surprise for anyone. Forgive my ignorance, but what firearms manufacturer recommends reloads, or warrants the product for such? In all the world? One might reasonably ask why this is so. Well, there's all the obvious stuff. Then, there's destruction, maiming and death.

Most of you are vastly more educated than I re reloading, and I apologise for my ignorance, and, for dissapointing you with my very unpopular position. Yes, it hurts business, and has even been the catalyst for the "trashing" of my business and myself personally on the Internet. So, why in the world don't I just "get with it" and give you guys and gals the "load of the month" (there have been so many over the years), and make even more money and then join the ranks of your "worth" class?

Because I do not want you to get hurt. If I do anything re: this 20 year position, I at least alarm the thoughtful ones, and maybe, just maybe, it'll save you from something you never thought possible, no matter what safe and serviceable rifle you may be shooting.

Always remember it's 50,000 PSI only a few inches from your face.

Be prepared, as I am, for the torrent of "reloading is safe", and "I've been reloading for 20 years and never had a prob", and "can't win witout reloads", and "only an idiot would say such things", and ........ ???


And so it goes, and goes, and goes. This stuff happens all the time. But, like that accident we all heard of, we just know we would not have done such a dumb thing. The psychological libraries were filled with this proof decades ago. Sadly, "we" believe things will be different for "us." It's the way we humans are constructed. For those that have been in this business for more than a few years, it's deja vous all over again, and again, and...Oh, and remember, it takes only ONE catastrophic failure over your entire life to really ruin your day. So spare me the "I've been doing this for... years," "I'm a tool & die maker", ...

If you insist on reloading:

--Clint McKee

I'm convinced that only rarely do we hear of rifle failures induced by reloads. I have a couple of AR blowups on file I'll bet you never heard of. Nobody wants to broadcast their mistakes.

Now, it may be that since every shooter drank milk as a child, milk causes rifle blowups. Correlation is not causation. It's just spooky when every rifle failure that comes into Fulton Armory (and there have been more than a few, over the years) can be associated with (note the wording, not Attributed To) reloads. You'd think at least one would come in that blew up with factory or USGI ammo in twenty years.

Just food for thought, no intent to convince anyone or condemn anyone. Be careful out there.

--Walt Kuleck

Maybe I'm wrong here guys,but I think you're missing the gist of Clint's position, especially in regard to the reasons for reloads being potentially dangerous.

Most military autoloaders, especially rifles like the Garand, are far stronger than their bolt counterparts. What blows a Springfield or Enfield makes a Garand hiccup, in terms of general ability to handle pressure. The cause isn't pressures, but out of battery firing.

Reread Clint's response. Little is said about weighing charges, this is general reloader responsibility. What is mentioned, conspicuously, and several times, are case length, length overall of loaded rounds, etc., hence the references to the Stoney Point gauge and cartridge headspace tolerancing. Expecting all bullets to have the same ogival profile can get you in trouble, even from the same box. I've made draw dies for a friends bullet swaging, ain't no way all the jackets are drawn the same from the same die, hence different ogival profiles, hence different LOA's, hence one hits the rifling a bit soon in that "really accurate load" and BOOM! Please note what Clint mentioned about bullet seating to lands depth.

Bottom line is, it isn't the pressures. It's the seating depth, cartridge headspace, primer seating, primer cup resistance, neck thickness, and cartridge basal sizing that will get you killed. This beyond the ken of what metellurgical condition the brass is currently in after sizing. That's why you better have your head on straight when you load for an autoloader.

Thanks for tolerating the rant.

--R.J. Suckow