View Full Version : Working with fillers.

05-07-2005, 07:33 PM
Been playing with using blanket stuffing today. Been cutting a 3/4 strip then cutting it into 1/2" peices. I roll 'em up with the flow of the fiber and push 'em into the case till they hit hte powder, but don't pack it down. Other thant he first shoot being thrown out because of the primers, it shoots really good overall. 3 different 10 shot groups produced 9 shot clusters of 1.5", nicely rounded, no weirdness. I started the day using #107, but finally made a dipper up using a cut off 9mmParabellum case to throw 4.7 grains of AA #2. The combination shoots good, the filler made quite a difference with the #2 powder as compared to past experiments, glad I've tried it.

Bass Ackward
05-07-2005, 09:40 PM
The combination shoots good, the filler made quite a difference with the #2 powder as compared to past experiments, glad I've tried it.


Good for you.

This is always a touchy subject, .... but one I never hesitate to enflame.

I have always hated fillers because after several (way too many) years, " I " could ALWAYS produce with better accuracy without fillers. And after the failure of so many attempts, I had to look into my process to see why. I have since learned I have been wrong and have to change how I word what I say.

Fillers .... improve loads .... that are created with an "incorrect" powder choice for a particular bullet and case design. Of coarse, there are valid reasons for choosing "incorrect" powders. One is to either utilize what powder you have on hand. Another is to shoot as cheaply as possible. Third is to operate in a lower velocity range with a larger than necessary case design for that velocity.

Still, for me, superior accuracy always resulted (as long as case capacity isn't too over bore) when the "proper" choice for a powder is utilized. "Proper" choice means one that produces the velocity level of interest (dictated by bullet weight and lead hardness) when occupying 90% plus of available case capacity. In other words, I have always used fillers. But my filler is powder.

What this means is that I never had success with fillers because I don't shoot squib loads. If I want lower power loads, I get a lower power gun or a smaller case design. Because if I want to shoot cheap, it is extremely difficult to best a 22LR.

05-07-2005, 09:52 PM
As an additional thought...fillers can be and are used for other purposes other than strictly as a filler.

I personally use a lot of fillers...both dacron and the powdered "grex" type as a protection for a plain base bullet as well as to enhance ignition in a cartridge.

I do shoot squib loads and I do use unusual powder combinations sometimes as a matter of economy and as a result of "what's on the shelf".

I know fillers are a hot topic and nobody wants to put in writing what isn't known about them for sure. But, many of us use them and I'm one of them and if it makes whatever load I'm shooting shoot better for me, so be it.

So it's a personal choice./beagle

05-07-2005, 09:56 PM

Why don't you use Kapok?


05-08-2005, 01:24 AM
Isn't a common source of Kapok from old life preservers? I doubt that what I am using is even dacron. It is whatever WallyWorld sells in their sewing department. I have noticed that there is NONE of this stuff exits the bore. I assume it is consumed by the powdeer flame, I'll know more when I dig some bullets out of the log I use for a backstop so I can see the bases. That ought to tell something.

Yep, I'm using powder incompatable with the design intent of this case, in fact I am using the case incompatably with it's design intent. I'm trying to make it think it is a 38 Special. Yeah I could shoot 22 LR, but I hate 22 LR. I can't say how badly I hate 22 LR. I hate 22 LR so much that I have invested 2 1/2 years in squib loads for this rifle to avoid shooting a 22 LR that was given me for my 12th birthday. I have at least 5 boxes of 22 LR ammo that was given me, I've fired none of it, probably never will. I'll never own a 17 HMR or it's shorter brother. I fail to see the point of a rimfire, especialy when anything a rimfire can do can be done with a centerfire. Why won't somebody chamebr the 25-20 or 32-20 or 32 H&R Magnum???? I know these arn't shot sellers, ut put on the market and given some long term support fromthe makers, they would sell steadily I believe. Lot's of people are looking for firearms so chambered.

I reclaim at least 70% of the metal I shoot, I shoot milsurp powders, the primers are probably the most expensive component of the loads. While I try to get the most accuracy possible out of my loads, switching to a higher cost powder or using more powder in what are esentially plinker loads is not an option. Won't go there. I have shot a fair amount of powder like WC 846 and Reloder 15 through this rifle, gives very accurate results but has a high cost of powder. My next plinking mold is going to be something on the order of a 125-140 grian bullet.

When I first bought this rifle it was chambered for the 357 Magnum. But I could drop the Lee 357-158-RF into the chamber and there would be 1/4" between the bullet base and the mouth of a Magnum case. Thing wouldn't keep five shots on a paper plate at 50 yards. I reamed the chamber to 357 Max to get a more proper relationship between the case/throat/rifling. Further investigation with others owning NEF 357's has shown the chamber to be cut in dimensions allowing the use of the 360 DW case, about half the difference between 357 Mag and Max. I've never understood NEF's decisionfor this chamber dimension, other than it matches that which TC uses in their 357. (I'm sure there are exceptions)

I have an NEF frame that currently has no barrel. I am considering sending off for a 223 22 or 24" bull barrel, then having this rebored and chambered for the 45 ACP. this would be another near perfect chambering to me for plinkin' and such. Could be that a cheap '98 could be rebarreled for this as well, but cheap '98's are getting few and far between.

For now, we get to do what we can to make our 357 Max think it is a 38 Special.

Bass Ackward
05-08-2005, 07:27 AM
Yep, I'm using powder incompatable with the design intent of this case, in fact I am using the case incompatably with it's design intent. I'm trying to make it think it is a 38 Special. Why won't somebody chamebr the 25-20 or 32-20 or 32 H&R Magnum????


I left out the tirade about the 22 LR. I sense some hostility there. Thank God I didn't recommend a 22 liner!

Everyone should have something their own way. If you want a 32-20, buy a 32-20. Go up to your other thread for the link, FSW.

I haven't recieved any bullets yet, just so you know.

05-08-2005, 08:22 AM
I looked over at the server the other day and realized I hadn't sent the bullets yet. (Prolly to busy having tirades about how much I hate 22 LR :) )I'll get 'em your way soon. Thanks for the link.

David R
05-08-2005, 08:43 AM
Wow, I agree to a point about the 22 RF. I do shoot a 32-20 contender and its accurate as can be. My dad has an old 38 we use 2.8 of bullseye and a home cast boolet. Tons of more fun than a rim fire.

I shoot rimfire in matches because in the winter that is what is available. So I don't HATE them, but would much rather shoot a center fire with my home made boolets.

I would like to see a center fire cast boolet match around here, but there isn't enough intrest. I won't mess with black powder cause every time you use it, you have to take a bath with your rifle. (too much work to clean it EVERY time its shot)

Back on subject. I don't think I need a filler for Cast loads in the 22-250, but I will try it. I like to use SR4759 because its bulky, but it still only fills 1/2 the case. I seem to get better groups with 4198 which fills the case less.

NOW I have to try it because you guys got me thinking about it.

Bass Ackward
05-08-2005, 10:33 AM
I don't think I need a filler for Cast loads in the 22-250, but I will try it. I like to use SR4759 because its bulky, but it still only fills 1/2 the case. I seem to get better groups with 4198 which fills the case less.


Once you get your feet under you you are going to find your best powder for that 22-250 is probably going to be 4831. But there is a lot of learning between now and then and we will watch you grow with this project.

Remember what the great newspaper publisher of the 19th century, Horass Greely was always famous for saying, "Go big young man, go big." He get's a lot of press for saying, "Go west young man, go west." But he shot cast bullets long before he made that one.

05-08-2005, 10:52 AM
Bass' explanation of the use of fillers is correct. They can work very well with "ballistically incorrect" powder-cartridge combinations if certain precautions are taken: ~3/4 caseful of slow burning milsurps; mag. primers. E.g., in my neck of the woods, it is difficult to obtain smokeless or even black powder. (The owner of a local shop just passed away and I'm not sure whether his wife will still operate it.) That means searching for milsurp powders along the lines of WC 860 or IMR 5010, which are inexpensive (sort of) and work well in ~.30cal. cartridges at mid-range cast bullet velocities. Grex or powdered bran filler reduces extreme velocity spread and standard deviation with IMR 5010, but not WC 860, if you're using ~47-49gr. in a .30-06 cartridge for example. Since either filler reduces extreme spread (fps) by boosting pressure (burn efficiency), it may indirectly contribute to accuracy. I haven't used kapok or dacron fillers, but in spite of BruceB's & Buckshot's experience with them, I remain leery. Lately though I've become disenchanted with the slow, ballistically incorrect milsurps & fillers in favor of WC 820 or AA 5744, H/IMR 4198, and/or VV N133 when I can obtain them.

05-08-2005, 11:35 AM
Yes Kapok use to be used in lifejackets. I buy my Kapok from a place in NC. I like Kapok because it's not synthetic. It burns up or gets blowed out, rather then melted or blowed out like Dacron. I'll admit that Dacron is easier and less messy to use. For those of you not familar with Kapok, it's very much like the silky fiberous stuff inside a Milkweed pod. In fact the owner of Lee reloading equipment did cast bullet test that was written up in NRA's CAST BULLET BOOK, where he fired cast 30-30 bullets into a swimming pool so he could retrieve the bullets and he used milkweed pod fiber as a filler. Anyways Kapok is very similar to this. I suspect that alot of quilt batten and what have you that is suppose to be Dacron, in fact, may not be. I don't think that it makes too much difference if it's not. The main purpose is to keep the powder against the primer and to fill the airspace between the powder and the bullet base.


05-08-2005, 11:46 AM
John; I use poly-WADS with some powders with good results. I don't call them fillers as I cut the sheet polyester into 5/8" squares and push one down on top of the powder charge, this does leave an air space with some loads, although the polyester does fluff up after being rammed home. They are usually used with slow burning extruded powders that are loaded to about 60-70 % of full case, they keep the powder positioned against the primer to improve ignition and cut sd and improve accuracy most times. It has become standard loading practice with IMR7383 and cast bullets, as this slow burning stick powder ignites very easily with a standard primer and a 60% case full could "flash-over" becoming a "4227 BOMB". NO- the only ringing I get is in my ears!

05-08-2005, 12:10 PM
John, this primer thing has been discussed on another thread. There is no way a primer will throw the first shot out. That problem is always caused by a clean bore for the first shot or a problem with bedding, barrel temperature or a combination of things. Heat sensitive powder can do strange things from a cold chamber also. But my take on this is your first shot is from a clean oily bore. It will NEVER be in the group. Fire one shot into the backstop before shooting at your targets.
I used polyester fiberfill a lot in my 45-70 revolver because most slow powders will start to give pressure signs before accuracy is reached. The barrel length does not support slow stuff. I can get a lot of unburned powder from it too. The question is why not go to a smaller case? The reason is I can get very high velocities (up to 1800 fps) with very low pressures. My favorite load with a 317 gr. boolit gives me 1535 fps and way below 30K psi. I have loaded the 300 gr. XTP's to 1800 and should still be below 30K. It is easier on the gun then a .454 at twice, or more, pressure. So, yes, there is a place for large cases that hold pressures down while giving all the oomph wanted for hunting and a little filler works just fine. The only reason to go to a gun that needs higher pressures to operate is to reduce the size of the gun so it is easy to holster and carry. But I sling my BFR and it is still easier then toting a rifle and still gives the excitement of handgun hunting.
I also shoot a lot of light loads from my .45 Colt with a pinch of filler because they do shoot better. I have never needed it in my .44's or .475.
I have also gone downrange on my hands and knees to find the filler. All that I have picked up shows no sign of being burned. Just dirty, so it is not consumed in the bore. It is so light that it just blows away and is hard to find.

David R
05-08-2005, 07:46 PM

Once you get your feet under you you are going to find your best powder for that 22-250 is probably going to be 4831. But there is a lot of learning between now and then and we will watch you grow with this project.

I have never seen Data for a 22-250 cast boolit load using 4831. I have some and would try it.

Gotta go slug my bore :)

05-08-2005, 08:02 PM
I am a kapok filler user. I take issue with the argument about using the proper powder for max load density. I do not argue that load density can yield more accurate results but I also appreciate that barrel vibration has as much to do with accuracy as load density. different powders (some with very small volume) will create a distinct vibration (bang vs pow) that may yield a sweet spot in muzzle swing for a given velocity. I hold to the theory that all of the components create a system that is unique to the specific barrel and components. The "ladder method" of load development is a search for the spot where the barrel reaches the apex of it's swing and "stops" for a moment. Granted that cast bullets create less vibration and stress on the barrel and this I feel is why they shoot the most accurate groups with a wider assortment of loads than the other kind of bullets. It's all in the "swing" and a full cartridge or a near empty one with a hunk of TP may give you the music you need. IMHO JB

old gunner
05-12-2005, 09:07 PM
I use dacron as a filler. The dacron I use was purchased over thirty years ago, soon after the NRA published the report on cast alloys in a rifle. If I remember correctly the test was mostly with the 30-06. The NRA report tested many types of lube, but found that the alox and beeswax worked the best, as did dacron, if My memory is right. Since I have renewed My interest in casting, I will dig up the original NRA report and study it again, it is very interesting. I think some of the findings would still be of use today. When I read some of this "new material" I wonder if We sometimes are trying to reinvent the wheel.
When I find the NRA article Iwill make a copy, My computer has the ability to scan and send material, but I am not sure that I do.

05-12-2005, 09:15 PM
I use 2400 as it is miserly with the powder and works well with cast loads and you need no filler. I know it used to be common practice to use fillers according to the reload books but since the reload books shy away from it now so will I. What guns I have now I like a ringed Chamber to me is not worth it. but to each there own for them who like using fillers go for it if it makes you happy.

05-12-2005, 11:05 PM
We fired parts of the Nevada Shoot last weekend in a fair breeze. On one occasion, firing from the middle of the line, I SAW, repeat SAW, several tufts of dacron blowing by from somewhere up the line, and they were clearly in just about the same state as when they were stuffed into the cases. That is, they were still whitish in colour, still very puffy in appearance, and very "airy"....floating almost horizontal in the wind, not condensed or melted in any way. I was surprised, and rather tickled, because I'd never actually seen this before.

I have bits of dacron blowing back into Der Schuetzenwagen's benchrest whenever I fire into a breeze. These were usually single fibers, some rather long, and I'd find hundreds of them after a bench session. Never any tufts, though, and NO sign of melting or clumping of any kind..

I did a direct comparison in my brand-new #4 Mk2 Enfield one day last year. The loads were absolutely identical except that one had a small dacron tuft and the other did not. The powder was 2400, one those reputed to "not need" fillers, because it's not "position sensitive". HAH!

The first group (at 50 yards), WITH the dacron, was ten rounds in a shade under one inch. The other group, WITHOUT dacron, was OVER FOUR INCHES, pards. All shots were called good. This is one of the most extreme examples I've ever seen of what a tuft of dacron can do for me, but it's also a fine example of WHY I spend a lot of time and effort loading direct with-dacron/without-dacron comparisons like this load.

It does NOT always show superior results. However, I've had enough occurrences where dacron proved valuable that its use and testing is considered an absolute necessity in my cast-boolit rifle loading.

05-12-2005, 11:11 PM

I've been sold on both dacron and kapok for years. For me I find the same things you have except I find that my bore is cleaner too. In some cases where I didn't use a filler and the load was good, but it left a grey wash in the bore, I then used the same load again, but with a filler and there was no grey wash. There's no way to prove it, but I'm convinced ringed chambers are not from dacron or kapok fillers that are used correctly.


Ballistics in Scotland
05-13-2005, 04:57 AM
Indeed a filler is only useful for a case that isn't right for the powder in use. But with something like the .577/.450 or the very long American .450 cartridges, there is simply nothing but black powder or its substitutes (which have disadvantages all their own) that IS right for the case. I don't consider a small load of fast powder desirable in such cases - and certainly not UNLESS your intention is to produce a very light load. I'm sure it isn't likely to produce better accuracy than a correctly used filler.

I think it is VERY important, both for consistency and for safety, that the powder shouldn't be able to find its way past the filler. A disc of tissue paper would help. Apart from that, I feel happier about fillers which do nothing but position the powder. Anything with bulk of its own alters the subtle but important relationship of powder to initial burning space. I am particularly wary of asking anything bulky to force its way out of a bottlenecked case. It seems to work with cream of wheat, but this is not an area for experiment.

Dr. Mann wanted to experiment with the effect of unburnt powder, but the hard bit was finding out how much of it was burning, so the solution was to top up the charge with unburnable sand. This locked together and wrenched the last 3/8 or so off his cases (.38-55 if I remember rightly.) Obviously you aren't going to do that, but anything granular is liable to cause trouble. I've done something similar with perhaps the most unlikely of fillers, though. Having used my Portuguese 8x60R Guedes with a caseful of black powder; caseful of black powder on top of 5gr. of Unique; and 30r. of Reloder 7, all behind the NEI 245gr. .330 bullet. All this worked so well that I then tried filling the case with black powder on top of the Reloder 30. The cases parted at the body-to-shoulder angle, all with no indications of specially high pressure, and although I didn't recover the bullets, I would imagine they had neatly-engraved little brass half-jackets.

On another tack, I had an experience with the same rifle, which an intelligently-chosen filler would probably avoided. I tried to use a slow powder, and step it up from very small charges... Yes, I was younger then. It punctured a primer, left me with a tingling and sooty trigger-finger, and cracked the mainspring, which was infernally difficult to make. If I was a victim of the fabled detonation effect, I'd be uniquely qualified to comment on it, since I was firing through a chronograph and part-way through a group on a paper target. But I don't think I was, for the velocity was only 1300ft./sec. (at which the Guedes keyholes some shots, though not this one), and point of impact and case expansion were normal. More likely an undetectably brief hangfire gave time for the hammer to bounce, and fail to support the primer.

Another thing I'd be wary of is wads of any elastic or incompressible plastic substance. The best book I know on shotgun and smoothbore ball technology is in French and early 20th century, General Journée's "Tir des fusils de chasse." Nobody is likely to reprint or translate it, until I retire anyway, since it is too full of odd mathematical symbols to typeset, and originals, though always expensive, are so abominably printed that commercial scanning isn't on either. He tabulates the velocities and pressures obtained with various wads, and the result varies greatly with different powders, none of which are familiar today. But some oddball materials produce very large fluctuations. 10mm. of wax between card discs, for example, can run pressures up to around double the proof load. I think there is a place for wax cookies, but I'd keep them thin.

As Bruce says, dacron is far from certain to melt and turn into plastic deposits, but I prefer vegetable fibres to artificial ones. I favour the fibre, kapok I believe, which is nearly measured out and linearly aligned in cigarette filter-tips for people who roll their own. It separates out into slightly charred biodegradable fibres. But I think cotton-wool balls ought to be as good.