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Thread: Introducing: The .22 ladybug

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    NoZombies's Avatar
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    Introducing: The .22 ladybug

    I've been messing with small capacity and small caliber wildcats for a while, and the most recent endeavor is the .22 ladybug. It's intended to answer the question of "Is there a direct CF reloadable replacement for the .22 LR?". While the ladybug requires a different chamber than the .22 LR (experiments for a cartridge that didn't require rechamber didn't go well) it is a very good analog for the .22 LR cartridge, performance will be discussed below.

    It ends up being pretty similar to the cartridge Chas. Askins developed in the 30's (the .221 askins) though it's derived differently and has some dimensional and application differences.

    Beside the LR cartridge:


    I was explaining to my wife that many small caliber wildcats are named after bugs, like the hornet, bee, wasp etc. She said this one is more like a ladybug "It's cute, and it kills garden pests quietly". So the name stuck.

    Here's the ladybug next to a few behemoth cartridges, the .32 S&W long and .32-20.


    So far I have 2 rifles in the caliber, a 16.25" Contender (easiest conversion ever!) and a 24" H&A falling block. All accuracy and velocity testing has been through the contender.

    Case capacity is fairly low at avg 3.91 grains water capacity. As a result, powder charges are low. I'm currently experimenting with titegroup powder, as it's very conducive to the small capacity and bore of the cartridge. 1.1 grains of TG is pushing a 40 grain cast bullet (BHN 12-13) tumble lubed with 45-45-10 to velocities of 940 FPS avg. (keeping it subsonic for suppressor use).

    The first 10 shot (offhand) group at 25 yards with that load:


    I've pushed the same bullet as high as 1600 FPS, but at those velocities, the accuracy was terrible and it loosened the primer pockets in the brass and stuck brass in the chamber. Loads up to about 1250 FPS remain accurate and show no pressure signs. This is intended as a .22lr replacement anyways, so keeping things below about 1250 doesn't give up anything on the desired goals of the cartridge.

    I've also tested a light bullet through the gun... you know, for the recoil sensitive... at 20 grains, the same 1.1 grain TG load pushes it close to 1300 FPS, but maintains accuracy.





    I started out making brass from .22 hornet brass through a fairly complex process and a number of operations on the lathe. I later realized that I could accomplish the same thing by using cheaper brass, I just couldn't have the length any longer than the original RF case. After several iterations, I arrived at the current version.

    Now I form the ladybug from .25ACP brass. I deprime the brass first, then using a special base punch designed to support the primer pocket, I swage the body down in 2 steps from .278 to .247. I swage all the way to the rim, but the brass springs back more around the web of the case, so I still have to do a quick trim in the lathe just above the rim, although I'm only removing about .003 from each side, and not touching the original rim.

    The brass ends at .247 diameter straight, with a rim diameter of around .300-.305 and thckness of .042. My chamber is .251 straight with a rim recess .309 in diameter.. trim length is .625" and long bullets can theoretically be loaded and fired due to the long throat that results from the rechamber from the .22LR chamber, but I haven't checked anything over 45 grains for stability.

    The first 10 cases I made are still going strong without even an anneal, and they've all been loaded and fired at least 50 times. I just dump them in the ultrasonic for a bit between loadings to remove the powder residue.

    I've made up a bunch more brass, and I'm working on a way to make the brass without a trip to the lathe, but I'm not 100% happy with that solution yet.

    Here's a box of ammo ready to go shooting:
    Last edited by NoZombies; 03-10-2018 at 12:02 PM. Reason: typo
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master


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    Hats off to you sir;taking your day dreams and ideas into proof of concept and then to to working models . This is a good idea, my never replace .22lr but sure could ease the next rimfire drout , I'm very impressed by your work and write up! Like to see pics of your two rifles. Very cool!

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Jack Stanley's Avatar
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    And then there's that guy up north that offered to powder coat bullets for you ....... red with black specks

    Jack
    Buy it cheap and stack it deep , you may need it !

    Black Rifles Matter

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Randy Bohannon's Avatar
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    I love it I would buy one get the brass forming to easy endeavor as you said. I would go back to a TC for one of these.Good luck in getting figured all out, sounds like you're on your way.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy Nines&Twos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Stanley View Post
    And then there's that guy up north that offered to powder coat bullets for you ....... red with black specks

    Jack
    You might have’ta drive “UP” from his house to get there but “NORTH?” !!!
    Thems fightin’ words to a redneck ess ohh bee like that guy.
    Then again, the guy is a hypocrite for associating with all them ‘Liars’.


    The LadyBug is a beauty. Perfect companion to the Badger.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Outer Rondacker's Avatar
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    I like it.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I need to get a photo of the H&A, but here's the contender... not that it looks any different than any other contender... but yeah...

    I just replaced the scope I was using with the vintage Leupold that I've got on there now. I'm not sure if the scope was having any problem, but I think it might have been, but I know the leupy is good, so when I finally get the chance to really put it on a rest and try it out next week, I'll know the scope isn't an issue.

    Nozombies.com Practical Zombie Survival

    I collect all things .32. If you have something you don't need, please let me know!

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy Nines&Twos's Avatar
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    Ohh and it’s even set up for very discreet ‘Cat-secutions’
    Strays beware. Nice work NZ.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master



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    Color me impressed
    I like it too
    "Had his shooting been as good as his running, he might have given a better account of himself."
    James. C. Henderson

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Jedman's Avatar
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    That is just plain COOL ! May I ask what type of press you use to size the solid head on the 25 ACP brass ? Also do you have to recut or ream the primer pocket after sizing.
    I have several wildcats in larger calibers but was planning something like what you have there.

    Very Nice ! Jedman

  11. #11
    I need a lathe!
    Awesome job!!!

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I am wondering if you can use the 5.7x28 FN case to make your cases. It seems to be about the same dimensions as the 25 acp brass.
    Keep up the good work!
    Camba


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Can you neck it down to .17?

    Just kidding. Awesome work!

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    Wow. Awesome work.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    Nice job!!

    A lot of thought and work went into this and a fine result
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  16. #16
    Boolit Master




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    Excellent thread. Great idea too. It sounds like you have arrived at a cool wildkitty logically. I also once tried making a direct replacement for the 22LR and found it way too hard to get something viable. Your approach makes more sense. GOOD JOB!

    Edd
    Last edited by badgeredd; 03-15-2018 at 12:05 PM. Reason: typo correction
    Charter member Michigan liars club!

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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks guys! I appreciate the compliments, and I'm really enjoying the little bugger. It's not practical for many things, and wouldn't be practical for many people, but it works for me, and does something I've always wanted to do.

    To answer some questions:

    I have considered the 5.7 brass as a parent case, but I didn't have any to mess with, and the 25 ACP ended up working about perfectly for what I was trying to accomplish. If I find some 5.7 brass, I will experiment with it, I promise

    I did the initial run of cases on an RCBS RCII, Now I'm making brass using a Corbin CSP1 on the swaging setting. The RC would do the work, but the swage press just makes life easier.

    The first few cases I made, I didn't support the primer pocket sufficiently (I left the old primers in, but it wasn't nearly enough) and so I had to ream the primer pockets. The punch that I'm using now fully supports the primer pockets, and I don't have to touch them as part of the case forming process.

    The cases are pushed all the way into the forming dies until the rim is touching, as a result, they have to be driven out of the dies with a punch. I've made several versions of the forming dies, and have settled on .263 (intermediate) and .246 as my forming die diameters The case springs back a little bit through the body, but much more at the head, so into the lathe it goes to make the head match the body diameter.

    I'm working on a set of dies that would actually utilize the swaging press better, and eject the formed case using the ejector pin, rather than hammering the brass out of the dies with a punch. When I have the time, I'll get those done, but it might be a bit...

    I've tried making shear dies to prevent the necessity of the lathe work, but so far I've only had limited success with that. I've got a few more tricks I may try with that, but at the end of the day, a few seconds on the lathe isn't that bad, and if I didn't have a lathe, a drill press and a file would honestly get it done, we're only talking a few thousandths.

    I have necked the case to .17 actually, and I've got a rifle that should be done for testing that in a few weeks...

    A few other notes for the interested:

    The Lee hand primer doesn't do well with the case, because the shell holder they make for it is too loose, and tends to want to bend the rims, as they're only supported by a few thousandths by the shell holder. The standard Lee shellholder for 25 ACP works fine for reoading or ram-priming however. I haven't had issues with any other shell holders for the .25 ACP.
    Last edited by NoZombies; 03-09-2018 at 11:06 PM.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    This is awesome!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master Jack Stanley's Avatar
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    Sooooo................ the new rifle in seventeen caliber is the what? ....... rabid skeeter?

    Jack
    Buy it cheap and stack it deep , you may need it !

    Black Rifles Matter

  20. #20
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    That is a really good job there.
    What if (I thinking out loud here) you took 25acp and necked it down to .17.?
    Do you remember the movie "Honey, I shrunk the kids" ?
    Would the end result look like a .308 shrunk down to .17?

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check