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Ask The Experts

03A3 Springfield Floorplate/Trigger Guard?, Holster For Taurus Judge?, Seating Depth For .308?, Mauser M2?, Why Did My Cases Split?.

03A3 Springfield Floorplate/Trigger Guard?
I am finishing two 03A3 Springfields that are tackdrivers, and I am looking for a company that makes hinged floorplates/trigger guards for the Springfields. Can the experts help me?
Keith Sage
Swartzcreek, MI

A. Unfortunately there are no current manufacturers of aftermarket trigger guards with hinged floorplates for the 1903 or 1903A3 Springfields. In the 1950s, '60s, and '70s these were readily available from several sources; however, due to diminishing demand as fewer Springfields were converted to sporters and more were left original as collectables, this item was gradually dropped from production. At this point I am afraid that you basically have only two realistic options. The first is to find an older sporter that may not have been very well done with a hinged floorplate/trigger guard. You could then remove and reuse the commercial trigger guard on your rifle. The other option is to take a milled military trigger guard and convert it to a hinged floorplate. The last option is probably the most realistic and practical.
Reid Coffield
Gunsmithing Editor

Holster For Taurus Judge?
I just purchased a Taurus Judge .45 Colt, and I would like to buy a western-style leather holster for it. I don't have a computer, so that limits my search. Does any company make such a holster for the Judge?
Norman Fischer
Sginaw, MI

A. You didn't specify which barrel length your Judge has, but Hunter Company recently announced a leather holster for both the 3-inch and 6-inch Judges. The listed price is $75.50. You can contact Hunter by phone at 800-676-4868. Galco also offers leather Dual Action Outdoorsman and Wheelgunner holsters for 3-inch-barreled Judges. Prices range from $55 to $89.
Joel J. Hutchcroft

Seating Depth For .308?
I read the article by Layne Simpson in the June issue of Shooting Times, and I have some questions regarding how deep to seat my bullets for better accuracy. Any help he can give me would be appreciated.
Darren Rowe
Via e-mail

A. Optimum bulletseating depth for best accuracy will vary not only from rifle to rifle, but from bullet to bullet as well. One rifle might shoot a particular bullet most accurately when it is seated out close to the rifling (and sometimes lightly touching it), while another rifle may prefer for that same bullet to be a few thousandths off the rifling. For this reason finding the correct depth for a particular rifle/bullet combination boils down to a trial-and-error procedure.


When developing a load for a new rifle/bullet combination, I begin by seating .030 to .050 inch off the rifling and shoot a few groups with a starting load of the powder I have decided to use. Staying at that same seating depth, I shoot groups while increasing the powder charge in half-grain increments until a maximum load for that particular rifle is reached. If at that point I think that the rifle is capable of better accuracy than I am getting, I drop back to my starting load of powder and continue the same program by seating the bullet closer to the rifling in .010-inch increments. Regardless of how the rifle is shooting at that point, I prefer to seat the bullet no closer than .010 inch off the rifling. I know some folks who seat bullets against the rifling, but they are asking for trouble in the field because doing so can leave a bullet hung in the chamber throat when a cartridge is extracted from the chamber.
Layne Simpson
Executive Field Editor

Mauser M2?
About 10 years ago I won a pistol at an NRA event. It is a Mauser M2 in .45ACP. SS# XXXXX182. It is in the box with all the paperwork and a spare magazine, and it's never been fired. A wooden glass front display case came with the pistol. The pistol is labeled "SigArms Exeter NH." This is a pistol that seems to have come and gone. What can the experts tell me about the history of the gun and its value?
Joe Turner
Linden, TX

A. The Mauser M2 pistol was offered in the United States by SIGARMS from 1999 to 2006. SIGARMS had purchased the Mauser name for pistol manufacture in 1999. It is dimensionally similar to the SIG P229 pistol, but utilizes a rotating barrel-locking mechanism instead of a cam-link system. It's also striker-fired, not hammer-fired. The M2 is no longer supported by SIG SAUER or Mauser Jagdwaffen GmbH, and the Mauser Oberndorf plant where it was manufactured has been closed. A review of the Mauser M2 appeared in the October 2001 issue of Shooting Times. I've recently seen used .40 S&W and .45 ACP Mauser M2s offered for sale online from various sources for $400 to $500. A first-year-production "Presentation Case" version might be worth a bit more to an interested buyer.
Dick Metcalf
Executive Technical Editor

Why Did My Cases Split?
I have been a very "longtime" subscriber to Shooting Times and look forward to its arrival every month. I have been handloading since 1965 and have been an avid shooter for over 50 years. My question is this: I loaded some .41 Magnum loads and drove to the range to test them. Before trying the handloads, I fired five rounds of Winchester 210-grain factory loads from a new box that I had recovered from my ammo inventory. While the box had not been opened previously, it had been sitting on my shelves for at least 10 years. When I fired the loads, I noted that there was a little more recoil than I associate with the .41 Mag. (firing a Ruger Blackhawk single action with a 6-inch barrel); however, it wasn't so severe as to concern me. I ejected the cases from the cylinder and placed them back in the box with the other unfired rounds. Then I shot the handloads, which seemed to be much more forgiving in the recoil department. I returned to the remaining box of ammo and examined the spent brass, only to find that each one of them had split at the neck. I examined the spent brass from the handloads, which showed no defects at all. Once more I loaded several of the factory loads and fired them, and just as the others had done, they split at the neck. I fired more of my handloads and sample rounds from other factory loads that I had with me, which evidenced no problems at all. I examined the gun, and it appeared to be fine. The revolver was not new, having had probably 200 rounds fired through it without incident. The cylinder walls were smooth; the forcing cone was clean, as was the barrel. Everything appeared normal. However every case that I fired from that one box of ammo split. None of the handloads nor several boxes of other factory ammo exhibited any problems. Temperatures were in the 50s. The ammo storage area is a cabinet that has a constant dehumidifier running to keep the humidity at 40 percent. Does Allan Jones have any idea why those case necks split?
Frank Bowersox
Mechanicsburg, PA

A. I suspect ....

A. I suspect there is nothing wrong with your fine Ruger nor your storage conditions. Split necks almost always indicate a minor metallurgy problem with the case dating to the time of manufacture. It can arise from improper heat-treating, age, or the two factors working together.

After coming off the final forming operations, most cartridge cases are stressed and harder than needed. The aspect ratio of the case (length divided by body diameter) affects the stress build-up. The .41 Magnum has one of the higher ratios, meaning it went through one more forming (draw) operation that the maker would apply to a case the length of, say, a .44 Special. Formed cases usually go though either an anneal or a stress-relief stage (less aggressive than annealing) to relax the metal to a point where the metal is more flexible.

Nonferrous metals like copper and brass have a tendency to slowly migrate to a harder state with age. The anneal or stress relief forces a change to the fabric of the alloy that is a little softer than the "natural" state. Nature tends to slowly overcome our efforts to change metals, and that is usually manifested as a case that is harder today than it was when it was tested at the time of manufacture.

It is common to find very old cases (like more than 50 years) that split at the neck simply due to the long-term stress of holding the bullet. You can find this on ammo that's not even been fired. Even if the case is properly annealed, there is a modest stress applied to the neck when the bullet is seated, work-hardening the neck; it is more prevalent with nonyielding jacketed bullets than with soft lead bullets.

I'll admit that this is not very common with handgun cartridges. However, if the ammo has been on your shelf for at least 10 years, it could have been on a dealer's shelf for a long time before you bought it. Twenty-year-old ammo doesn't usually sound a "hard case" alarm in my mind, so what you see is unusual but not without precedent or explanation.

Both annealing and stress relieving require incredibly tight temperature tolerances, in the order of a few degrees out of hundreds. Temperature is measured with thermocouples, and a quarter-century ago, those electronic devices were not as capable as those today. Combine that with the huge leap in digital control technology in the last decade and today we now have ways to control oven temperatures to the narrow ranges required for superb heat-treating. In the 20+ years I was associated with CCI-Speer, I saw a huge leap in this technology, from tray ovens with one or two old thermocouples to new belt-fed linear ovens with arrays of many sensors, all feeding data to a computer that controls the material feed rate and the temperature to "bullseye" the desired heat-treating effect required.

I suspect that your old ammo was made at a time sensors were not as good as today's, so the temperature was detected as being in the proper range. However, with the "plus/minus" nature of the old sensors, the actual temperature may have been just a few degrees under the sweet spot for a level of anneal or stress relief that would let the cases survive unchanged for decades. Your batch of cases probably passed every test that Winchester applied at the time they were made. It is the normal action of time combined with the challenges of older temperature-sensing technology that every manufacture once faced that caused the cases to harden with age.

As for the greater recoil, that's probably not related to the splits either. When there were few options in .41 Magnum ammo, I recall thinking the factory 210-grain jacketed loads produced as much felt recoil in S&W revolvers as full-power .44 Magnum 240-grain loads. Felt recoil can be affected by something as subtle as the propellant burning rate. If the batch of factory ammo was loaded with a faster-burning propellant than your handloads, the kick would be applied to your hand over a shorter time interval and feel more severe.

The bottom line is that you and your revolver are safe. I've never seen a handgun damaged by a split case neck. Although you lose the case for future reloading, it is otherwise almost a "nonevent."
Allan Jones
Ballistics Editor

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