Crimping of primers on military ammunition is to prevent primers from backing or falling out when shot in firearms with poor head space. Once fired military brass in 7.62 NATO, 5.56 NATO, and .30 cal. M2 ball (.30-06) are plentiful. But to reload them takes much effort. Military cases are difficult to de-cap. Full length resizing and de-capping in one step can be a challenge. Many hand loaders will remove the crimped primers and full length resize separately with two different dies. Once done, the crimp has to be removed.
Two basic methods are reaming and swaging.

Reaming involves cutting away metal. It has disadvantages since it can distort the primer pocket and leave it non-uniformed. Reaming is normally done manually with a deburring tool or primer pocket reamer. This is slow tedious work.

Swaging re-forms the entire pocket and results in uniform primer pockets. But the disadvantage is the setup and adjustment time. The RCBS has an excellent tool that must be set up on your reloading press. It’s a bit of a hassle. The Dillon Super Swage 600 is the Cadillac of crimp removers. This dedicated tool does not need to be hooked up to your press. The crimp removal process is very quick. The case goes in, decrimped, and flipped out. You can also attach a spring or rubber band so that the case is flipped out without being touched. However, the Dillon is expensive… about $100. The Dillon works so well that RCBS is now selling their version of a stand-alone swagger called the bench tool. The RCBS is priced a little less than the Dillon and is said to work as well.

At a HHAA meeting a few months ago, GARY CHANG had a plastic grocery bag with some sort of tool. I asked him what it was. He said a Dillon primer pocket swage and added, “You like borrow?” Well I had nearly 1,000 once fired 5.56, about 600 .30 cal ball (.30-06), and bags of 7.62 ball. These have been sitting in a bucket since I was dreading the reloading process. Thanks to GARY, the hard part of removing the crimp from 2,000 primer pockets along with decapping and full length resizing were done in just a few evenings. But now I need to trim the cases… “Hey, GARY! You got an automatic trimmer?”

(And I am not sure I want to return the Dillon.)

Historical Korean War Arms Display on Molokai

chungHistorical Korean War Arms Display on Molokai

August 14, 2015


Aloha” from Molokai. I am MEL CHUNG, the lone and long-time HHAA member on Molokai. Occasionally, I put on gun exhibits in my shop (Mel Chung-Gunsmith) in Kaunakakai such as: French Military Weapons, Chinese Weapons, etc.

On August 14, 2015, I displayed some representative individual small arms used in the Korean War. The occasion was the grand opening of the Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans facility in Kaunakakai; I am a lifetime member of this organization.

The “Korean Conflict,” as it is sometimes called, took place from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953, and ended in an armistice. The war was a result of the invasion of South Korea (Republic of Korea) by Communist North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and its allies, Mainland China (People’s Republic of China) assisted by Russia (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).

Both sides in the Korean War had a wide variety of individual small arms including World War II surplus weapons. The North Koreans had access to Chinese made copies of Mauser rifles and pistols; captured Japanese rifles and pistols; U.S. M1 rifles, M1 carbines and pistols supplied to China to fight the Imperial Japanese forces during WWII; Russian rifles, carbines and pistols supplied by the Russians; Russian-captured German rifles from WWII; and many other weapons that the Chinese had accumulated over the years. The logistics of ammunition supply for the Communist weapons was difficult, to say the least. The U.S. was part of the United Nations effort to fight the Communists. Eighteen other countries provided combat troops and joined the U.S. in the Korean War. These countries brought their own standardized individual small arms to the war.

The exhibit consisted of weapons on two tables. The left table had Chinese, Russian, and Japanese made weapons. The right table had U.S. made individual small arms.

The Left Table: Russian Mosin-Nagant 1891 Rifle, 7.62x54R caliber; Chinese type 53 folding bayonet Carbine, 7.62x54R caliber; Japanese type 99 Rifle, 7.7×58 caliber (all hand operated bolt action weapons); and a Chinese copy of a Russian TT-33 Pistol (Norinco M213 9mm Parabellum).

The Right Table: Springfield Armory M1C Garand Sniper Rifle with original M82 telescopic sight, cone flash hider, and leather cheek piece; Saginaw Steering Gear (S’G’) M1 Carbine in .30 M1 Carbine caliber and a Union Switch & Signal 1911A1 Pistol in .45 ACP caliber. Note that these are all semi-automatic weapons.

My daughter, Rina Chung, helped me set up, clean up, and serve as docent and photographer. (You might remember Rina attending the Gun Shows; she grew up at the Gun Shows through the years. She had joined the re-enactors and dressed up as a young Red Guard complete with red scarf, Mao’s red book, and SKS; she even blurted out Red Guard slogans! The judges were duly impressed and awarded her the Honorable Mention Plaque.)

Thanks to DARRYL CHOY for lending me the South Korean Flag used in the exhibit.

Hangun Corner: Wnat’s the best crimp?




Originally Published in the Oct, 2014 Newsletter

QUESTION: What’s the best crimp for a handgun cartridge? Roll crimp or taper crimp? No crimp?

ANSWER: First of all, a roll crimp is where the edge of the case is rolled over onto the bullet. A taper crimp squeezes on the bullets. Secondly, a crimp is essential to keep bullets from moving forward out of the cases when one round is fired from a revolver. In a semi-auto, a crimp is important to keep the bullets from moving back into the case as the handgun is fired and the slide moves back and forth. Essentially, crimp addresses reliability of ammunition. Not crimping is not recommended.

Crimps are also important to insure proper ignition of the powder charge. Additionally, in semi-autos head space is controlled by the cartridge case length so the crimp will have an effect. In revolvers, most cartridges have rims so head space with a crimp isn’t critical

The type of crimp, roll or taper, does not affect accuracy; e.g., the .38 caliber wadcutter factory ammo is beautifully roll crimped, and it is accurate out of both revolver and semi-auto.

For lead bullets, use a light crimp. Just enough so you can’t push the bullets into the case with your finger. Too heavy of a crimp will change the diameter of the bullet and even damage the driving bands of the bullet. Accuracy will suffer. Remember, there are soft swage commercial lead bullets and hard cast lead bullets. The hard cast bullets are normally .357 semi-wad cutter (SWC) bullets. The .38 Special bullets are normally swaged soft lead. Many of these are generally full wad cutters (WC). They should have a very light crimp. For jacketed bullets, you can use a heavy crimp on the cannelure. You wouldn’t damage the much harder jacketed bullet. Again, if you can push the bullets into the case with your finger, then the crimp is too light.

Many semi-auto shooters will still have feeding problems with either roll or taper crimped ammunition. In most cases, it isn’t the crimp but likely feeding ramp problems.

While neither roll nor taper crimp can claim to be more accurate, many believe taper crimp has an edge on reliability. Buying dies and have a choice? Get a taper crimp. Already got dies with a roll crimp? Don’t worry. Work on the shooting skill instead.

Handgun Corner: Sorting Brass



Originally Published 10/2009


Question: Is it worthwhile sorting handgun brass; for example, GI (decrimped) vs. commercial or nickel vs. brass, before reloading?

Answer: I have not seen any difference in the various brands of empty cases for the 1911 45ACP. But nickel cases do split much faster than brass cases, so I would not use nickel cases. But stay away from cases that have “AMERC” on the bottom of the rim. The primer holes are slightly smaller. Priming these cases with normal large pistol primers can be dangerous since the primers can get crushed and go off. Also be sure to discard all steel and aluminum cases. These should not be reloaded.

As for split cases, if you are only shooting for fun, don’t worry. I have found that cases with split lips shoot just as accurately up to 50 yards. So don’t waste your time sorting brass. And you can reload those cases with split lips. I shoot them all the time with no problems.

With the other popular calibers like 357 mag, 38 Spec. 9mm, don’t worry about mixing GI, commercial, brass or nickel. Just reload them. Accuracy should not be hurt.

Forget the Tumbler (Brass Cleaning Tip)



Forget the Tumbler

By Darryl Choy

Originally published 11/1998

Wanna a cheap and easy method to clean brass? Try unsweetened Kool Aid. One packet makes 2 quarts. A couple of hours soak in this liquid will brightened most brass (heavy tarnished brass will come out pinkish). Solution is reusable until it gets so dark you can’t stand it any longer (the citric acid will give out about then). Any flavor will work but you should get a light color like lemon since it will stain your hands (teenagers use this stuff to dye their hair). Caution: if you have small rug rats, place a green poison yeech face sticker on the container so that they don’t recycle (drink) it. Use gloves and enjoy!

Things to Ponder

Editors Note:  At the time this is being republished, we have just successfully completed our 76th gun show.  This article, published just after the October 1999 Gun Show, seems as relevant today as when it was written. 


By JP, HHAA President

Originally published: 10/1999

As I observed the people attending our recent gun show, I saw that there is hope for our firearms liberties. The sight was of young families with children; the parents discussing and letting the youngsters handle the firearms while instructing them in the proper safety procedures. After being beaten down by the usual media hatred of guns, this was very reassuring.

The future ofour firearm liberties is in the hands ofthese parents and their children. We need to spend more time as HHAA members and as individuals reaching out to more families such as these. They need to know not only about frrearms but also about the history o f firearms. How our country was formed and defended throughout the centuries by courageous patriots with their muskets and rifles. Few people today seem to know or care about the role that firearms play in the protection of our liberties, both individual and as a nation.

We need to counter the message that is being presented by the media. In the charter of the HHAA, the very first purpose listed is: “educate the public about the historic and cultural importance of arms and related items”.  I challenge each of you to look around your community and find ways to get this message out to your friends and neighbors and to think of innovative ways that the HHAA can use to present the history of firearms to the Hawaii public. Let us work to preserve our heritage!

Handgun Basics


Hangun Basics by PK (October 2011 Newsletter)

You may be asked occasionally by a non-shooter friend, co-worker, or family member about shooting a handgun and going to the range. Here are some tips on instructing a non-shooter.

  1. First, explain in detail all the safety rules and the proper and safe handling of firearms. Emphasize all of the range rules. Be sure eye and ear protection are provided and used.
  2. Teach the basic handgun functions of both revolvers and semi-auto handguns; i.e., location of features and how to operate them.
  3. Demonstrate proper sight alignment. Lining up the sights IS NOT ENOUGH. Show what proper sight alignment looks like with a drawing or picture. Make sure your student can demonstrate the sight alignment needed.
  4. Explain that sight alignment is the relationship between the front and rear sights, whereas the sight picture is the relationship between the sights and the target. The sight picture includes the front sight, the rear sight, and the target in correct relationship with each other.
  5. Explain that, when proper sight alignment is maintained, the sights will drift slightly back and forth anywhere within the desired target (wobble area). But the shot will hit the target provided the shot is fired with proper trigger control.
  6. Explain proper trigger control. Squeezing the trigger IS NOT ENOUGH. The learner must be aware that trigger control is a series of adding trigger pressure, STOPPING trigger pressure (not releasing trigger pressure) when the sights/sight picture are out of alignment, CORRECTING ALIGNMENT/SIGHT PICTURE, then continuing to add trigger pressure until the shot is achieved. This may involve PRESS, STOP, ALIGN, PRESS, STOP, ALIGN, PRESS, several times before the trigger pressure is enough to fire the shot. Most inexperienced shooters will incorrectly align the sights, attain a satisfactory sight picture, and then press the trigger hard enough to fire the shot.
  7. Initially, do not allow a novice to shoot a fully loaded revolver or semi-auto. The act of single loading a cartridge for each shot will reinforce the proper operation of the firearm and prevent a dangerous situation in the event the student can‟t control the firearm (muzzle control). Observe the student‟s handling of the firearm before allowing him/her to load multiple cartridges into the firearm.
  8. Let the student fire the first series of shots from a rest to determine if s/he understands proper sight alignment, proper sight picture, and trigger control.
  9. Position yourself close enough to the student so that you can correct an inadvertent loss of muzzle control or unsafe operation of the firearm.
  10. After the student is able to shoot a good group utilizing proper sight alignment and trigger control, you can then get them off the shooting rest and practice shooting in the Weaver Stance or the Isosceles Position.

Buying Reloading Dies


BY Gary Chang

Originally Published 2/2011


A mainstay on gun show tables are reloading dies. After three decades of purchasing and using many die sets, here are some words of caution. Although this discussion is primarily concerned with pistol calibers, it also provides insight into rifle calibers.

  1. Verify dies correspond with the box label. Read the caliber designation stamped on each die’s head as sellers sometimes mistakenly mismatch the dies in the box.
  2. Make sure the die set includes provisions for each reloading step. Even with the same manufacturer (RCBS, for example), one die set might feature the depriming operation in the sizer die while another set might have that same step built into the expander die. Visualize the reloading process when examining the dies. This is especially critical if you are using a progressive press.
  3. In acquiring a set for either the.38Special/.357Magnum or .44Special/.44Magnum, buy either the set marked .38 Special or .44 Special or the die set with the dual Special/Magnum designation. Do NOT buy a die set marked solely .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum; the expander die may not be able to screw down far enough to bell the case, and the bullet seater may not be able to seat/crimp bullets in the shorter case.
  4. Unless you own a firearm with earlier, looser tolerances, search for dies made after 1985. Although I am not absolutely certain all dies have proper specifications after that date, those I’ve bought have performed satisfactorily. Date of manufacture is normally stamped on the die’s head, next to caliber designation. Small Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI) specifications have changed (generally tightened) over the years, particularly in “oldtimers” such as the .45 Colt, .38-55 Winchester, and .22 Hornet.

I hope these tips will save you from making an unsatisfactory purchase. If it seems like a lot of precautions, isn’t this why we spend hours perusing the array of tables at the Gun Shows? Good luck, and see you at the Blaisdell in March!

Death defying myths we gun collectors harbor


  • I’ve got a lifetime left to sell my guns. No rush. I just need to keep buying and be happy. Even though I hardly go to the range.
  • 85 guns isn’t that much. The pre-1898 stuff and the black powder guns don’t count right?
  • My family will just love to inherit all my guns. They will take care and cherish them, as I have, over the years.
  • All my guns are so well kept. When I am gone, it’ll be easy for my heirs to take over. No rust, top shape, not broken or in parts, and all cleaned.
  • All my records are in order, in one place, and all the guns listed and easy to find. I have a master list of everything along with the HPD paperwork.
  • Read more

Flintlocks: Why Choose A Flintlock ?

Why Choose A Flintlock ?

by Earl Matsuoka

There are so many advantages to a caplock or cartridge gun, why would anyone choose to shoot or hunt with a flintlock?  Let me extend that argument by asking, with all the advantages in an AR-15 or a FAL, why would most of you choose vintage guns like Garands, Springfield 03s or Krags as your favorites?  I guess the easiest answer is tradition, but I think it goes a little deeper for all of us.  Replica or original, a flintlock rifle or a musket gives you no advantage over the same gun used 150 – 200 years ago.  The round ball is the same and the powder is similar or the same and if you are a hunter who has been fortunate enough to harvest game with a flintlock, then by gum you’re as good as Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone.  A reference and appreciation for history is strong in a club like ours and I hope we are open enough to understand that our narrow fields of interest are not the only areas worthy of celebrating.  I type this to remind myself of the importance of this statement as I am as guilty of sometimes looking too narrowly as anyone else.

The knowledge that somehow early Americans had made a flintlock fire reliably when their very existence depended on it kept me trying to find answers to the many problems I’ve encountered for years.  The solutions which I will present here are presented with the full knowledge that they are not the only answers or the best answers, just the way I solved my difficulties.  I hoped to learn more from those I can encourage to try and enjoy shooting this unique style of firearm.

From the 25,000 French muskets presented to this new country and the many contract copies and the famous “Brown Bess” musket of our tormentors to the rifled Jagers brought by earlier settlers from the Old World, to the resulting development of the unique American “Kentucky” long rifle which evolved from the Jager into the finest military rifle of the time which then became the heavy bored “plains rifle” that led our western expansion of America, the flintlock had a long and distinguished history in our maturing country.

All this from a gun that depended on a flint stone striking steel to create a spark which ignites a charge of crude blackpowder.  A gun that won our nation, fed a country and protected its explorers and settlers from harm’s way.  A gun that had to be not only reliable but which could be easily mended and supplied, far from sophisticated machine centers or specialty shops.  A gun that the framers of our Constitution had in mind when they penned the line, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed…”.

A flintlock rifle was sometimes ornamented into a high art form, although it was more often a very utilitarian example of stark practicality.  Each was a prized possession of its owner and was handed down to the next custodian as the years pass.

Why choose a flintlock?  Because it represents the best reasons this club appeals to me.  In the next several months, I will present my thoughts on learning how to shoot this type of gun.  Because good replicas are now common and available, I hope you will not attempt to shoot an original piece of history, but will pass it on to the next lucky custodian.

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