Reloading for Obsolete Rimfires, by Michael Z. Williamson

Yes, that’s correct. Reloadable rimfire ammo for your obsolete guns.

I can now shoot my original rimfires, most notably my 1863 Colt Pocket Navy conversion.

The company HC Collection in France produces these kits for .32 Rimfire, .32 Rimfire Long, .38 Rimfire, and .41 Rimfire, as well as several pinfire calibers. I bought one to try out.

The .32 Rimfire kit contains cartridge cases, bullets, swaging tools, dies, and instruction (in English.) It comes in a wooden case. Because it shipped from overseas, it did not contain primers, but those are readily available here in the USA. This kit can be used for loading rimfire cartridges for guns made in the medium-bore rimfire era of the 1860s to 1880s, as well percussion guns of the 1850s and 1860s that were later converted to rimfire.

As you can see from the photos, the cases are machined with an offset pocket for a .22 rimfire blank, that serves as the primer. To assure that the firing pins properly strikes the rim of the .22 rimfire blank, the cases have to be properly indexed for a revolver, and manually loaded in single-shot mode for a rifle, even if it is a repeater.

 

 

 

 

 

The Loading Process

The instructions are clear, and the process is simple. Swage the case to size if it isn’t already.  Insert case in the die base, place the bullet, and then tap the die with a mallet to seat the bullet. The die depth is setable and adjustable with a wrench.

 

 

 

 

 

If the bullet is oversized for your firearm’s bore, the die can be inverted and the bullet tapped through to reduce its diameter .1mm (about .0039).  The provided bullets measured .317, which is very close to factory specification for .32 Rimfire.

The seated case in the die is then inverted, blackpowder added, and the blank pressed carefully in place with a wooden block–this is the necessary sequence since the rim is sensitive to ignition and should not be placed in the hard metal of the die base. I had no issues doing this, but do it over a wooden surface, and press carefully just in case.  The die is sturdy enough to contain a discharge, but you don’t want a hard metal surface underneath.

Note that this requires a standard .22 blank cartridge for use as the primer. DO NOT use a .22 or 6mm nailgun powerload. DO NOT use any sort of smokeless powder.  Also note to fill the case fully with the correct grain powder (FFFg should be correct for a .36), but check an authoritative blackpowder loading table and compare to your weapon, keeping in mind that antiques should be professionally inspected before use, if you are unsure of the condition).  A partially-filled case can lead to chamber explosions.  If in doubt, consult a reloading text on fillers to match the propellant.

 

 

 

The HC Collection kit contains depriming tools and a powder ladle.

Consider It An Investment
This is an expensive investment, but you can order extra cases (I got a total of 36), and they should last multiple reloads, since the pressure is low.  This makes obsolete rimfire firearms viable and functional again.

I may add to this review after I can gauge shooting accuracy.

Note that some banks simply will not process an international charge or transfer to France.  Both my bank and PayPal card declined. Remitly doesn’t serve France.  Ironically, Xoom, managed by PayPal, did.

Shipping took about two weeks. – MZW




11 Comments

  1. “Because it shipped from overseas, it did not contain primers, but those are readily available here in the USA.” This obviously was written pre-ammo shortage, lol. But, good info for shooting those antiques. Opens up a lot more antique guns for collecting under the pre-1899 rules.

  2. I had a problem one time with H&C being blocked by the French Postal authorities. But the package eventually arrived. I have my own way of shooting .32 rimfires. I am familiar with the H&C 9mm Pinfire. The proprietary block for holding the primers is too short for any percussion cap I have been able to find. The case does not hold sufficient powder to propel the bullet, which is oversized for the bore of my revolver. Expensive compared to other alternatives for this caliber. Some of their offerings are aimed at the European market, where the variety of rounds available may be less than those Americans, until recently, enjoyed. If the feds ever decide to go after guns in a serious way, I don’t think the average jackboot will know or care if the weapon was made before or after January 1, 1899. Still, it is fun to bring an old clunker back to life. Anyone can shoot a Glock, or could if you could find ammo. How about a .25 Stevens rimfire or 9.4mm Dutch revolver? H&C does offer small sample kits for some of its cartridges so you can try out the concept before investing a lot of money in tools and brass.

  3. I never knew…… this is an interesting article and will get more attention as the ammunition shortage and Biden’s gang turn the screws on ammunition manufacturers.

    This is something for me to look at.

    God Bless and thank you for submitting this article.

  4. Sadly, I fully agree with the statement that any firearm would get seized.

    Moreover, if your are ever involved in a shooting, plan on never having that firearm in your possession again. The few folks I’ve seen interviewed afterwards when they were in the right, still never got their weapon back.

    So why carry your favorite? Something to consider.

    I have no faith in the effbeeyii as an agency although there must be sone good people on the force. Many of the best police are leaving the force in our insanely governed state. The bad ones are less likely to give up their positions.

  5. Might be an idea to resurrect some old pre-1968 clunkers that can be brought up to 100% performance, but not cause too much heartbreak if they have to be discarded. If you look on gunbroker. com you will find a fellow here in the USA who makes and sells a .32 rimfire using the offset case. His cartridges are made from resized .32 S&W Long. The French rounds are made from machined bar stock. This guy also offers some very nice .32 heeled bullets that can be used in .32 Short and Long Colt, as well as the rimfire. I’ve used them in .32 Short and Long Smith & Wesson as well. The ability to improvise usable ammo is always important, especially in times of shortages and repression.

    1. For more info try harrison4570@charter.net. His prices are lower than H&C, no overseas shipping problems, and his stuff is first rate.

      For those who own an obsolete .25 Stevens Rimfire rifle or pistol, useable ammo can be made from the new .17 Winchester Super Magnum. If you can find it.

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