40MM Reloadable Smoke Projectile
and 40MM M212 Improved Casing
From Scot Pace @ ReloadableShells.com
By GROG Copyright 2016 3LC Productions
Scot Pace at ReloadableShells.com sent me a few of his new 40MM smoke marking projectiles and aluminum M212 casings for some good ole T&E. The best part about these is, they are reloadable, and re-useable. The M212 casing is new and improved, with a stainless steel high pressure chamber that is capable of holding 23 grains of Bullseye! For the smoke projectile, the white plastic band you see in the photo above engages the rifling of the launcher barrel, imparting a nice spin stabilization to these rounds in flight. The aluminum nose of the round is thick, so no worries about hitting rocks. It may dent slightly, but shouldn’t break. The projectile comes with 5 holes pre-drilled around the base of the top section for use with slow burning smoke mixes. Cover these with a bit of masking tape and you are ready to load. The base section screws into the top, and has a pre-drilled fuse hole with rebated sections for glue to help hold the fuse and keep it from being blown into the projectile on launch. I recommend using slow burning smoke mixes, such as those from Firefox, that you mix your own oxidizer into, and making sure you mix it properly. Once prepared, the projectile can be used with either nylon M212 casings, or Scot’s aluminum M212 casings. The white nylon type plastic band is replaceable, so after you wear one out, you can put a brand new one in place, and keep on firing. The base has rims lathed into it to allow the RTV to get a good seal, needed to allow pressure to build up and launch the projectile.
I received my smoke projectiles in bare aluminum, and decided to paint a couple in bright orange, in order to make them easier to recover during field testing. The bare aluminum might have also been easy to see, but I decided to go with the orange. Scot advises he can anodize these in any color the end user desires, but plans to offer them in orange for recovery purposes. As you can see from the above photo, the base screws into the top portion, and is made to keep the plastic band in place on launch. The aluminum inside the band is knurled to keep the band from spinning in place. The base fits tightly into the top, and with hand tightness, should not come loose during launch or flight. The rifling acts on the band, which is attached to the top of the projectile, so it will not loosen the base.
In the photo above, you can see the thickness of the top, and the fuse cut at 45 degree angles to provide positive ignition when launched. The base I used for the testing is the new improved base, Scot designed with a stainless vent cup. This base is going to be universal to Scot’s product line, so you can use this base, and higher side-walled tubes for launching other types of projectiles, and with the CANNON tubes for firing buckshot and flechette loads. This should be quite cost effective when purchasing things to fire at your range, plus it will make reloading a dream. You can now load up multiple types of projectiles, head to the range with your scale, a box or two of primers, some powder and vent burst discs, and reload on the spot.
When loading the base, I started with 5 grains of Bullseye, and, based on testing, I increased the load to 7 grains. This loading provided results similar to that of the M781 loading. I see no reason to go higher than that personally, as the range is perfect for me at that loading. I very highly recommend NOT going higher than 9 grains for these projectiles, as the pressure might be too much for an aluminum tube to handle. The 23 grain loadings are designed for light loads such as flechette or buckshot in the CANNON thick tubes. When pushing a half pound, you gotta go light.
I used the copper burst discs provided by Scot, and a 5 hole vent plug, tightened with a wrench. I used CCI Magnum pistol primers for this testing as they are softer than others, and provided positive ignition. I tested the first batch, one at 5 and one at 7 grains, (use a reloading scale…) to get a range on the projectiles. When loaded with smoke mix, they come in at 6.4 oz, which is a bit heavier than the 781 zincs at 5.4 oz. That’s the reason for the lower powered loading. One could load them with more, but caution is advised. Increase by .5 grain increments, and go slow. You can always increase, but if you go too far…
I used black RTV sealant to seal the projectile into the base sidewall. This works very well, as the aluminum sidewalls are removable, and easy to place the projectile. There is no seal that pushes back as there is when trying to load a projectile into a completed 212 base. (I recommend keeping the blank out of the 212 nylon casings, so as to allow the pressure to escape when you seat your projo in the casing.) You can check that the RTV is spread well inside before screwing the sidewall onto the base of the casing. I also allow the RTV to cure for at least a day before completing the round.
Looking inside the casing sidewall after seating the projectile into it. You can see how easy it is to check your seal, and fuse. Notice the fuse is glued in place using Gorilla Glue, which expands slightly on both sides to lock the fuse in place. The RTV also has a lot of area open, to allow for quick curing.
The side holes are covered with small squares of clear tape, to keep the smoke mix in place while launching and in flight. I also removed the paint from the rotating band, to keep the new launcher barrel clean. The base was screwed on after the RTV cured, and the round is now ready for firing.
As always, I recommend waiting until after a good rain before testing out any burning pyrotechnic rounds. I did so for this testing. I also recommend having a 4 gallon water sprayer handy in case of accidental fires. Remember, you are responsible for any damages you cause by accident or negligence.
The launcher I used in this testing was my LMT with 12” barrel. The projectiles were loaded with green smoke mix from Firefox. I filled the projectiles to the bottom of the threads, so the base would go on easily, and did not pack the smoke mix in. I also used no other delay element or first fire mixture in these rounds. Simple fuse and smoke mix.
The bases were loaded with both 5 grain and 7 grain loads. As written, I recommend using 7 grains of Bullseye Pistol powder and Scot’s bases for launching these projectiles a normal range.
The rounds loaded easily into my launcher, and fired with no issues. The range was similar to the M781 practice round even though this projectile weighs slightly more. The spin imparted to the projectile makes them very accurate. Unfortunately, the smoke mix was old, and did not function properly. I recovered the projectiles and observed that the fuse did burn all the way into the smoke chamber.
On recovery, the projectiles were in good condition. The rotating bands obviously engaged the rifling, but were undamaged but for minor scratches from the rifling. The projectiles bounced on impact, and one sustained very minor damage to the top. (One small gouge from a rock.) I recovered the test projectiles easily due to their orange color.
The projectiles were re-fused and loaded with new smoke mix of the violet persuasion. I tested this mix before using in these projectiles to make sure that it would function. Everyone makes mistakes and has failures, but the last one was due to me, not the projectiles or casings. After lugging all the testing materials, video camera, launchers, and so on to the range, I wanted to make sure the next test would be a positive one.
On testing these projectiles, I also loaded one with the new mix and did not seat it in a casing to shoot a video of one burning close up, so you can see the effectiveness of these new projectiles.
On burning, the smoke mixture popped the tape off, or burned through it, and the smoke poured from the vents around the side of the projectile. I like this system as it permits the smoke mix to “choose” how many vents it opens, so it will not burn too slowly, or too fast. The vents will allow a certain amount of mix to escape per second, and if the mix is burning slow, it will only open the vents it needs.
The projectiles were taken back to the reloading room, and opened. The base was not deformed in any way, and opened easily. I used a fuse sized drill bit to remove the burnt fuse section, replaced same with new fuse, and added new tape to the smoke ventholes. I then refilled the top with more smoke mix, waited for the glue on the fuse to dry, and screwed the base back into the projectile. Projectile reloaded, easy as that. So far, I have reloaded the projectiles twice, and have not had to replace the rotating band on any of them. I estimate a long life if used in normal dirt or sand environment. If hitting large rocks or buildings, a shorter life is to be expected. The burning of the smoke mix does not harm the bands or the projectile in any way. The burnt material is easy to remove from both inside and the outside of the projectile. A wire wheel makes quick work of the outside, and a scraper is all you need to remove the stuff inside. Re-tape the ventholes, drill out the old fuse, replace the fuse and tape the ventholes then refill the smoke mix of your choice. I highly recommend using Scot’s aluminum M212 casings with the stainless high pressure chamber so you can control the powder and range of your projectiles. For shorter range, decrease the powder charge to 3-5 grains of Bullseye. For normal range, 6-8 grains, and for extended range, 9 grains. I don’t recommend going over 9 grains of Bullseye lift charge.
VIDEO LINKS TO RANGE TESTING:
RECOMMENDATION: I give these smoke projectiles and casings 5 stars out of a possible 5. The thickness of the projectiles will allow them to be reused multiple times, and the easy to replace drive bands are a thing of design beauty. No more one “pop” and you are done. The projectiles can be loaded with burning chemical agents for LE/Corrections use as well.
The casings are really the cat’s ass. I can’t say it any other way. You can use so many loadings for different projectile weights, types, and sizes… The possibilities are really endless. I don’t see a need to go any farther with the design of the base, as Scot has perfected it with these. The materials used are easy to clean, easy to reload, and should last a shooter forever. With the multitude of tubes that go with these, they are truly multi-purpose. Using one base, one can load these projectiles, or switch to the CANNON tubes and load flechette or buckshot, or use one of Scot’s thinner tubes and load his reloadable plastic finned or non-finned projectiles loaded with Ninja smoke burst mix, or mix your own burst with CS, CN or OC powder. You could also load wood batons, rubber batons, wood or rubber shot, paintballs… I know Scot has a really good product here, and he has my full endorsement on them. GROG