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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:13 pm 
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Today, I finally got my Berthier (M16 carbine) to the range. Unfortunately, the ammunition I was using keyholed badly. It is PCI factory loaded, using PRVI brass with what I assume are .323 175 grain soft points [post edit--I later measured them to be less than .323, see post below]. During an unscientific "bullet test" (shown below), the bore completely swallowed the projectile portion of the factory load, while a .327 round I have on hand (I bought a bunch of them a while back in preparation for getting my Berthier) engages the bore much better (see the photos).

I was hoping to buy some Lee dies and begin loading the larger projectiles, but I have now read that the die uses an expander suited for .323 bullets. I suppose that if I select a longer .323 bullet with a flat base and more surface to engage the rifling, the keyholing might go away, but I would really like to use these .327 (pulled machine gun) projectiles. What would happen if I tried to seat these projectiles after using a .323 expander? Is there any chance the nicely angled base and hard jacket will act as its own expander, allowing me to seat them? Or will the effort crush the case, shave the jacket, or do something worse that I haven't even thought of? Can I get the proper size expander from Lee? Has anyone ever adapted their dies like that with a larger expander? Thanks for any insight.

P.S. Althought I'm aware that using lead bullets will solve most of these problems, I'd like to be able to load FMJ jacketed bullets as well...


Attachments:
Berthier ammo issues.JPG
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Berthier ammo issues (2).JPG
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Berthier ammo issues (3).JPG
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Berthier ammo issues (5).JPG
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Last edited by PennsylvaniaRifleman on Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:01 pm 
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You mention using "pulled machine gun projectiles" can you check their diameter, if their maximum 8,30mm (.327")diameter is located ahead of the crimping groove they would work fine in any decent barrel, if the maximum diameter is located behind the crimping groove, then they are of the 1932N type and should be used only in rifles marked "N" at the top of the barrel and receiver. These rifles were modified in the late 1930s, the enlarged collet area of the chamber allowed them to fire the hot MG ammunition without risk of overpressure.

See this:
http://surplusrifleforum.com/viewtopic. ... 52&t=16140

I handload for the short Berthier rifles with .323" Sierra #2410 flat base soft nosed 175grs bullets over a fast burning powder, with good results on accuracy (on good days A4 sized steel plates get knocked down regularly at 200M).

kelt


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 7:46 pm 
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Thanks Kelt--yes, the pulled bullets I have are the 1932 N rounds. They measure about .327 after the crimp groove and weigh about 230 grains. And yes, my receiver and barrel are N marked. I've put my calipers to the PCI rounds that were keyholing, and can't find an exposed part of the projectile more than .320--I'm thinking they're even more undersized than I thought. I'm hoping that will explain the keyholing and I will be fine with .323 bullets. Just for fun, I stuck a loaded 8mm Mauser round (.323) into the bore, and it also went all the way to the case--just didn't feel quite as wiggly as those PCI rounds do. Those things must have been rattling all the way down the bore. I got at least one full profile keyhole at 50 yards and accuracy was non-existent.

Any chance of seating those N bullets with a die made for .323? It looks like that sharply angled steel base would act as its own expander with a touch of Lee lube inside the case mouth. I guess once I get my dies I'll just give it a try and see what happens.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:30 am 
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Have you tried slugging the barrel to see if the diameter of the entire barrel is that large, or only at the muzzle? If the bore is standard sized, and the muzzle is enlarged from cleaning rod wear, bigger bullets won't help, since they would just get swaged down to bore size as they pass through, then come to the enlarged muzzle. If you don't have a way to slug it, maybe try a pulled bullet from the ammo you have, see if it goes all the way through like that, or just a little way at the muzzle.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:38 pm 
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The land diameter is supposed to be around 0.315. Some wear and tear could increase it. In any event a 0.320 bullet with a land diameter of 0.315 doesn't leave much rifling engagement. No surprise you get keyholing. The groove diameter usually runs slightly over 0.327, but long 0.323 bullets have shot well in my rifle. Have you measured the case capacity"?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:19 pm 
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Thanks guys. Well I'm a bit closer to being able to answer some of my own questions. I finally got some dies and a bag of the 198 grain, .323 PRVI FMJs--much better on the "bullet test" as shown below (compare to the PCI factory-loaded rounds in my first post above). I'm hoping to get to the range next week and will post a range report. I'll try loading the 230 grain surplus projectiles after everything checks out with the PRVIs. One thing's for sure, FMJ bullets just look better with a military rifle--softpoints just aren't the same...


Attachments:
Berthier bullet test PRVI.JPG
Berthier bullet test PRVI.JPG [ 2.37 MiB | Viewed 5317 times ]
Berthier (20).JPG
Berthier (20).JPG [ 2.38 MiB | Viewed 5317 times ]
Berthier (21).JPG
Berthier (21).JPG [ 2.39 MiB | Viewed 5317 times ]
Berthier clip.JPG
Berthier clip.JPG [ 2.39 MiB | Viewed 5317 times ]
Berthier PRVI handloads.JPG
Berthier PRVI handloads.JPG [ 2.42 MiB | Viewed 5317 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:08 am 
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Wow, those rounds look bad arse. Beau Gueste would be proud to shoot them.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:46 pm 
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Charles Lipscomb wrote:
Wow, those rounds look bad arse. Beau Gueste would be proud to shoot them.

Thanks Charles! I'm happy with how they turned out--here's hoping they shoot as good as they look...

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:56 pm 
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Oh darn...Unfortunately, those good-looking PRVI bullets still keyholed from my Berthier (see pics below). I'm glad I have the .327 Balle N projectiles, as it seems those may be my last hope for being able to shoot jacketed rounds with any accuracy. I'll post another range report once I have fired them. I added a picture of those below, because they make me feel like a French Foreign Legionnaire!

(In answer to my earlier question, I had no problems seating the bullets in the cases sized with a .323 expander.)


Attachments:
Keyholed shot.JPG
Keyholed shot.JPG [ 2.37 MiB | Viewed 4482 times ]
Keyholed shot 2.JPG
Keyholed shot 2.JPG [ 2.46 MiB | Viewed 4482 times ]
Berthier Balle N handloads.JPG
Berthier Balle N handloads.JPG [ 2.41 MiB | Viewed 4482 times ]

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:05 pm 
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I really hope these work well, because I'm loving this carbine--What a blast to shoot!


Attachments:
Berthier Balle N.JPG
Berthier Balle N.JPG [ 2.41 MiB | Viewed 4480 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:50 pm 
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Success! What a relief it was today to immediately spot those lovely round yellow blossoms appearing on my target...I'm sure you guys can relate. I was seriously worried that this just wasn't going to work out for me, and it was with a certain sense of apprehension that I touched off the first round from my .327 handloads.

What a difference a few thousandths of an inch makes! The right bullet is the right bullet--period. The .323s were flat-out un-usable, while the .327s shot perfectly to point-of-aim. I couldn't be more thrilled--as much as I had come to appreciate what a handy and powerful package the Berthier is, what good is a rifle that can't shoot straight? If nothing else, this makes me really appreciate the value of handloading for calibers like this...

Vive La France!


Attachments:
Berthier groups.JPG
Berthier groups.JPG [ 2.39 MiB | Viewed 4192 times ]

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Last edited by PennsylvaniaRifleman on Sun Oct 26, 2014 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:58 pm 
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Congratulations. I love seeing those old war horses getting out of the safe and back in use.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:25 pm 
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Great! Now all you have to do is find a source for plenty more .327 bullets.

You could try cast with the Lee .329 bullet. Another possibility would be IF you could find a .323 bullet that's NOT a boat tail, with a long straight bearing surface. Might be hard to find, though. Kind of like an Enfield that won't shoot BT well, but shoots fine with long heavy RN bullets.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:00 pm 
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Congratulations. I love seeing those old war horses getting out of the safe and back in use.

Thanks Charles. I've really come around on the Berthier--I think they are seriously under-rated. Any rifle this small that can throw 234 grain slugs at over 2000 fps has got to be respected. That is some serious power-to-weight ratio! I can see why they stayed in service all over the world for many years.

And the looks have grown on me--so ugly it's attractive is how I might describe it...


Attachments:
Berthier Balle N (3).JPG
Berthier Balle N (3).JPG [ 2.38 MiB | Viewed 4173 times ]
Berthier Balle N (2).JPG
Berthier Balle N (2).JPG [ 2.39 MiB | Viewed 4173 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:04 pm 
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les1234 wrote:
Great! Now all you have to do is find a source for plenty more .327 bullets.



Since we're all friends here, I'll share the fact that Buffalo Arms has "Ample Stock" listed for their .327 208 grainers. Hope they keep offering those! I don't want to regret sharing my secret! :shhh:

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