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Thread: The small game/ plinking loads thread

  1. #1
    Pilgrim/Stranger awp_101's Avatar
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    The small game/ plinking loads thread

    In the Skeeter thread in the Revolver section, @Malamute (and others) mentioned using reduced loads in their hunting rifles for small game. I figured we could use a thread of rifle and pistol recipes suitable for small game or reduced recoil plinking.

    I don't reload yet so I got nothin'...
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  2. #2
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    In 30-30 I use 3 grs unique or Red Dot with a .310 or .315: round ball. I use a small tuft of dacron pillow stuffing as positioning material rolled into a ball over the powder with the Unique, otherwise I get pretty drastic velocity/report variations if pointed up (squirrels or grouse) or down (bunnies or snakes).

    6 1/2 grs unique with 115 gr cast in 30-30 for roughly 1200 fps.

    348, .350 round ball with some small amount of Red Dot (3-5 grs?). Would have to consult prior posts or my notes which arent easily available. Great grouse loads and dont make much noise or tear up the birds, having the magazine loaded with regular 200 or 250 gr loads when in grizzly country is reassuring.

    45-70, its been a while since I loaded any, I think i was loading 6 1/2 grs Unique with a .457 round ball or collar button bullet of the same weight (about 140-ish gr). I tried them without the dacron and had a round ball load literally bounce off a snakes head once, it was very weak. With the dacron they are consistent and reliable, the report isnt damaging or annoying to the hearing in small doses. I believe Red Dot is less position affected than Unique. Unique has been generally considered not to be too position sensitive, but thats not been my experience. If you can manually position the powder every time (load, muzzle up, then slowly lower to firing position if not pointing downward), great, but using them in the field its hard to do

    Id have to consult my notes, but ive also loaded light loads in 30-06 and 338, I think the old Speer manuals had info, its the loads that had the lowest velocity overall, with one of the old Dupont powders that I think have been discontinued (4756?). im sure theres alternate loads with available powders. I think it was greg mushiel that did extensive load work on light loads in various calibers. The Lyman manual usually hase cast load info on most common cartridges also, the lower end loads are good close range small critter and pest loads and fun to shoot. Ive never changed my sights from full power, just figured out the hold with the lighter loads and held accordingly as needed.

    9 grs unique w/200 gr cast bullet in 44 mag cases makes a nice mild small game and plinking load for carbines.

    I have some 110 gr 30 carbine bullets and 77 gr jacketed 32 auto bullets for small game loads, but havent tried them so far. Either should work in 30-30 or 30-06.

    I havent cast in a while, but have been slowly collecting various molds for light loads. i have 32 auto 77 gr (for 30 cal), 38 cal 115 gr swc, 121 gr RN, and .360 round ball. ive also loaded .433 round balls in 44 cases, very nice plinkers. i think i got the load from an older Speer manual. A 357 carbine can make a good cheap shooter for lean ammo/component drought times, very conservative on powder and lead, as most cast loads also can be.

    Paging @Outpost75 Im sure he has some good info to share on the subject.
    Last edited by Malamute; 01-29-2022 at 11:27 AM.
    ďFar better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.Ē
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

  3. #3
    Nice, this thread could be fun.

    I'd have to go look at my notebook and confirm with the labels for the details but my wife's old 9x19mm load has me about to start a project. She has no patience for muzzle blast and prefers low recoil though fullsize forties don't bother her beyond the noise. So I worked up a load that would just cycle her autos in her hands then bumped it up about 0.2 grains to be sure. The bullets varied with availability but were all 124 grain flat-points, mostly conical.

    She sold the nines to step down to 380 ACP as even the muzzle blast of a moderate 9mm got to her by the end of a range day but I kept the components, molds, and dies for my Camp 9.

    I'm looking to grab the Lee 125 grain flat point mold Flamingo has been playing with:

    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingo View Post
    Going to try a new bullet in the GP100. I cast around 100 of these this morning and loaded up 30. I seated them at the crimp groove and loaded them over 5.9 grains of True Blue.

    This bullet is a Lee 125 grain FP.

    So far everything I have loaded in this gun has shot pretty well.

    Attachment 82883
    The bullet's wider meplat should be better for critters than my current options and I hope it will have enough ogive to feed in the fussy Marlin. Those cast from soft lead at moderate velocity should do a number on crow, grouse, squirrel, 'coon, fox (I bump into ones not acting right more often than I like), or charging dog. Once I tweak the powder charge for the carbine, it should be easy on the old fragile thing and not chew up the pot meat too bad.

    If anyone has done similar with a 9mm PCC, I'd love to hear about it.

    I'm also working on a 380 ACP project. A Lee 95 grain roundnose flatpoint with wide meplate and soft lead over 3.1 grains of Unique. That load averages 789fps from my LCP but 950fps in my ported Shiel EZ. It has proven itself on tree rats and I just need serrate black sights for the Shield EZ to have a very handy little trail gun. Driving the dot with the stock tritium sights just is not precise enough for the application. Something like a set of Defoor sights as made for GLOCK pistols would be about perfect.

    In 38 Special, I had played with Lee's 105 grain SWC to save lead and it showed a lot of promise. Getting POI close enough for small game across all my revolvers was a bit much, though. So I've since settled on a moderate charge of Unique under Lee's 158 grain RNFP with wide meplat. It still kills small game dead with a minimum of fuss, loads more smoothly from a speedloader, and hits a bit harder if my trail gun has to be pointed at something a bit bigger. A friend kept himself fed through a homeless stint living in a tent on the side of a mountain with a Lee whack-a-mole loader, mere 3.9 grain of Unique (what his scoop threw) and a wide meplate mail-order 158 grain lead RNFP which was scary accurate in his daily carry 4" Colt Police Positive Special out to at least 50 yards.

    And I'm all ears for 30-30 roundball loads. My current project rifle is an H&R 058 30-30/20 gauge set. Want a Skinner rear peep, a front sight tall enough to zero with it, and to cook up a cast 170 grain flat point load. Then a roundball load. It would be a great rifle to hump up ridgelines when various hunting seasons overlap to to take backcountry camping because I like it.
    Last edited by SCCY Marshal; 01-29-2022 at 11:19 AM.

  4. #4
    In my mid 20s I was really interested in the subcaliber idea. I bought a couple of devices to try to "simplify" the down loading issue. The first one was a system called the Alex Caps. It is a steel insert cut for what ever caliber your rifle is. This is a 30-06. It uses 22 HP rounds with a soft lead cap that has a small nipple that goes into the hollow point of the 22 LR round that is inserted into the steel chamber.

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    The second one was called a Hammond Game getter and it is the more interesting one to me. It uses a piece of brass that is modified to take a 22 tool load to launch a piece of buck shot that has been swaged to the right diameter. I don't think there are many 6.5 Rem Mag Game Geters out there"

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    Last edited by Flamingo; 01-29-2022 at 11:54 AM. Reason: Photo edit and add text

  5. #5
    Pilgrim/Stranger awp_101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malamute View Post
    In 30-30 I use 3 grs unique or Red Dot with a .310 or .315: round ball. I use a small tuft of dacron pillow stuffing as positioning material rolled into a ball over the powder with the Unique, otherwise I get pretty drastic velocity/report variations if pointed up (squirrels or grouse) or down (bunnies or snakes).
    Iíve read about using Dacron for years but Iíve never been clear on how firmly itís pressed down. Is it crammed down hard against the powder? Iíve also seen it blamed for ringed barrels. Is that possible?

    @Flamingo, Iíve thought about .22LR inserts but Iíve never seen any real reports on useful range or accuracy.
    Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits - Mark Twain

    Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy / Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

  6. #6
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingo View Post
    In my mid 20s I was really interested in the subcaliber idea. I bought a couple of devices to try to "simplify" the down loading issue.
    I messed with the Ace chamber adapter in 32 auto/30-30, it actually works fairly well to around 30-40 yards, but....you still have to have 32 auto shells for it. I used to buy partial boxes at gun shows for fairly cheap, but i dont think thats a winner in todays environment. I decided it was simpler and cheaper to just make small game or light loads in whatever caliber i wanted, and theres no risk of losing the chamber adapter adapter. It was sort of fun ejecting it from a Winchester 94, the adapter spinning out, the 32 shell spinning out of the adapter, catching the adapter in my hand.
    Last edited by Malamute; 01-29-2022 at 01:08 PM.
    ďFar better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.Ē
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

  7. #7
    Trailboss or Tinstar powder may do the same thing for you as the Unique or Reddot loads without needing to put a filler in the case.

    It looks like the Gamegetter is still being produced. The price is CAN $45.

  8. #8
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by awp_101 View Post
    Iíve read about using Dacron for years but Iíve never been clear on how firmly itís pressed down. Is it crammed down hard against the powder? Iíve also seen it blamed for ringed barrels. Is that possible?
    I dont know, it may depend on how its used. i often see it called "filler", sort of in the concept of grits or cream of wheat being used as a "filler" to take up space in black powder reduced loads, but Ive used it in small tufts, rolled into a ball, and tamped down gently onto the powder, taking up maybe 1/3 of the unused space, only to help hold the powder near the primer by friction against the case walls by its springy nature.

    I first used such things with 45-70 loads. I stuck a bullet in the barrel using a 300 gr jacketed with mild load of 4198, lots of airspace. the powder was partially fused and clumped up and the bullet was several inches up the barrel. I started using a square of toilet paper folded up and tamped over the powder, and stopped using 4198. With 3031 loads I used it with the factory equivalent loads of 38.5 grs 3031 w/400 gr cast bullet. It makes them noticeably more consistent.

    The Lyman manual used to have loads with dacron squares cut to certain sizes over the powder in large capacity cases to position the powder near the primer.

    I have no authoritative information on the subject otherwise. ive used positioning material for a very long time and had no problem. Maybe ive been lucky? I plan to continue until further definitive info arises. It would be nice to not have to use it, but I havent arrived at a positive alternative so far. red Dot may be the answer. I dont tend to load quite as much powder as many do in low level loads, Im focusing on pretty low noise and velocity levels for the most part. Unique is probably a bit more forgiving in higher loads than Ive used.

    Regarding Red Dot vs Unique, Greg Mushials load work convinced me to try red Dot, his loads showed very consistent loads compared to unique with no positioning/filler material. I havent shot much of them so far, my shooting habit slowed dramatically some time ago when I hurt my back.

    Mushials low velocity load work. http://www.gmdr.com/lever/lowveldata.htm
    Last edited by Malamute; 01-29-2022 at 12:33 PM.
    ďFar better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.Ē
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

  9. #9
    Pilgrim/Stranger awp_101's Avatar
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    I forgot about grits or CoW. I may go that route.
    Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits - Mark Twain

    Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy / Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

  10. #10
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by awp_101 View Post
    I forgot about grits or CoW. I may go that route.
    Im not sure its suitable for smokeless loads, and probably not suitable for bottleneck shells. I for one trust it far less than a small tuft of dacron, at least in the sort of loads ive been doing.

    I think in the role of straight wall cases with smaller than full charges of black powder, its probably OK.
    ďFar better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.Ē
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

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