QUESTION: I just started hand-loading my own rifle ammunition. I am using a hand-loader guide and I am not exceeding the suggested maximum amount of powder on any load. A friend came by and told me that I should never work up a maximum load in the winter time, but he couldn’t remember why. Is there a danger in this? If so, what?
ANSWER: I’m glad your friend came by. He might have saved you some heartaches. First, never use any suggested maximum powder amounts when starting to work up a load. Any reliable hand-loader guide I have ever used shows a beginning load, an intermediate load and a maximum load. Begin with the suggested starting -- or minimum -- load. After firing a few of these, look for signs of overloading, such as split case mouths or extended primers. Every rifle is different, due to diminutive differences in chamber boring and head-spacing. Your rifle might handle maximum loads and the next rifle off that assembly line might not.
If all is well, step up to the next level, still looking for signs of overload. If you reach the maximum (summer time) load level with no tell-tale signs -- stop right there.
Your friend gives good advice. There is a reason why one should never work up test loads in the winter. If a shell is exposed to 85 to 95 degree temperatures, the propellant (powder) burns hotter and creates more pressure when the shell is fired. A load that does not show excessive pressure in 50 degree weather can be a dangerously high-pressure load in summer. Conversely a safe summer load is safe all year.
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Another safety tip: Hand-loading guides are not perfect. I like using two guides and go with the lower suggested amount of powder for each level of testing.
QUESTION: Why do some fishing lures have rattling devices and others do not? What function does a rattle perform?
ANSWER: Fish do not hear as we do. The lateral lines on their sides are filled with neuromasts that pick up vibration. A retrieved lure creates vibrations by displacing water. In clear water, this is enough vibration to catch the attention of fish and to guide them toward the lure until its sight takes over. In stained to muddy water, the vibrations might not give a signal strong enough for the fish to hone in on the lure. The adding of a rattling device multiplies the intensity of the vibrations several times over and the fish can more easily locate the lure in discolored water. If you fish clear water all the time, don’t be concerned with rattling devices. If you fish stained water, then consider them. Some lures have rattlers built right in. If you shake them, you can hear it. Rattling devices such as tiny glass tubes with BB-shot in them are available to add to lures that do not have them.
Emory Josey is a freelance writer who has a weekly column. Send questions for him to The Telegraph, P.O. Box 4167, Macon, Ga., 31208-4167, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org