The other day I picked up some .22 Hornet brass intending to make some .251 TCR cartridges. On my way out of Pinto’s Guns Chris asked, “Going to make some Velodog ammo?”
“Nah,” I responded. “Going to make some .251 TCR.”
He nodded, I left and went home. When I got there I thought about it. Making Velodog cartridges from tube and turned down .25 ACP cartridge bases is a bloody lot of work and the results are not really optimal; the tube is just a bit to thick. How would I go about making .22 Hornet into 5.5mm Velodog?
First I need to straighten the cartridge. It needs to be approximately 5.7mm outside diameter. It occurred to me to try my 5.56mm sizing die. I mounted my .357″ ram, screwed the die into the press and had a go. The result wasn’t bad, but the ram would only go so far into the die. OK, I needed a narrower ram to mount in the press.
I grabbed some 1/2″ round brass stock, chucked it up into the lathe and got to work. I used brass because I wanted the manufacture to be quick so I would have more time to refine the design. I put a nub on the face to sit in the primer-pocket to keep the case centered. I tried it in the press and the results were good. I have to remove the case by inserting a rod through the top of the die and tapping it out. As expected it left a fat area around the base of the cartridge next to the rim.
So now I had a mostly .22 caliber cartridge. I got a .224″ rod and mounted it in the lathe, slipped the cartridge on to it and pinned it in place with the live center in the primer pocket. I carefully cut away the thick ring of material in front of the rim, then turned the rim down to approximately .300″. I did fifteen cartridges this way.
I used a divider to mark the overall length of 1.15″, then cut the cases off with a cut-off wheel in the Foredom tool. After deburring it was time to load a cartridge… umm, OK; how?
The first problem is priming the case. I don’t have a shell-holder that will work with the reduced rim. In the end I pressed the primer in place with my thumb and seated it with a wooden dowel and a soft-hammer.
OK, load data… uh… there doesn’t seem to be any. I found a forum post where someone had opened an old case and it contained 1.7gr. of powder of an unknown type. OK, Unique was actually around when this cartridge was in common use. I figured I’d try 1.5 grains of Unique. Bullet? Easy-Peasy- I pulled bullets from .22 LR cases. These bullets are nominally 40gr., but they actually weigh .38gr. Pretty close to the 34gr. weight of the original jacketed bullets used in the cartridge.
I don’t have reloading dies for 5.5mm Velo Dog, and the only other dies that work are .22 CCM… which I also don’t have. So I simply pushed the bullet in against the workbench until it was fully seated, and it was too tight to remove or twist. Seemed good enough, and it fit in the chamber. Time to try it. OK, it worked. it went bang and the bullet sank into the gel. I don’t have a velocity for it; the Chronograph has gone wonky because the illumination on one end has gone out. I’ll need to replace some parts. I loaded four more cartridges and fired them into the gel. Average penetration for three shots was 7-1/2″, and one shot fell far short at about 6″. All the bullets tumbled on impact and came to rest base-forward.
All the tracks indicate the bullets were traveling straight on impact. A recovered bullet shows clear rifling marks, so it appears they were stabilized in the bore.
Ignition was inconsistent; two of four cartridges required multiple strikes before they fired. Federal primers are relatively soft, so I attribute this to the gun rather than the ammunition. Upon examination the un-sprung floating firing pin seems rather short; if I were planning on firing this gun regularly I might address that. I don’t expect to, so likely I’ll just leave it alone.
I think I will spring for the .22 CCM reloading dies though; the Velodog’s younger sibling intrigues me. I might have to chamber a gun for it and experiment.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 6 January 2021