Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's Time I Talk About My Disease

But first, I'd like to publicly thank Larry Potterfield at Midway USA for sending me a birthday discount to his fine candy store.  I've heard talk from insiders that Larry is really a very nice guy and completely genuine.  And, no, I'm under no illusions that Larry personally was sitting up there last week and said, "Hey, the Silicon Graybeard's birthday is coming up!  Let's give him a discount on everything!"  But he did set up the business.

So Midway made it a bit cheaper for me to buy myself something I've been contemplating for a while: a kit to get started reloading.  After reading ASM826's articles on reloading last month, I was pretty sure I needed to try this.  I have a friend locally who reloads, but we can never seem to get together so that I can watch.  Both of them own an RCBS Rock Chucker Single Stage Press, so that's what I got.

Since I'm an absolute novice at this, I didn't get any powder or primers.  I've saved brass from my .223 and .308 rifles, so I'll start with the .308.  I got a set of dies and shell holders for both of those calibers.  Eventually, I will almost certainly add pistol reloading.

Now it's time to come forward about my little problem.  Everyone knows there are "fad diseases" that get lots of attention and become big celebrity fund raisers.  Anything that has a ribbon associated with it, from breast cancer to autism. I don't have one of those.  Everyone has heard of Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD.  I don't have that; I have its opposite, Attention Surplus Syndrome, ASS.

ASS is not as widespread as ADD, and there are no drug treatments for it.  ASS is characterized by paying extreme amounts of attention to things.  ASS sufferers tend to be involved in extremely intricate tasks that, simply stated, require the amount of attention only those with attention surplus can provide. They can't watch half-hour TV shows because, "they're over before they start getting interesting".  Hour shows are somewhat better, but a two hour movie is about right.  ASS sufferers can be easily recognized by the quote, "I don't know where the time went!  I just sat down to do this!" 

The previous paragraph hints at the diagnostic tests for ASS. 
  1. Sits quietly engaged in any activity for more than 20 minutes. 
  2. When presented with a new problem, studies alternative solutions rather than just saying "do something!"
  3. A wide range of hobbies is possible: model trains, making any sort of models from scratch: ships, cars, trains, - anything.  Mathematical problems, crossword puzzles, things that combine manual skills with mental effort, such as jewelry, lapidary, telescope making, stained glass making, music, F-class shooting or any long range shooting.   
Because of their innate ability to do tasks others can't, ASS patients can be well-paid, although obviously not as well paid as the ADD cases that hire them.  And because they tend to be absorbed in their puzzles and problems, ASS patients integrate well with society.  They may not "play well with others", but they don't ruin other people's play, either. 

Physicians consider it diagnostic to leave an intractable problem with them (Fermat's last theorem has been used) and casually suggesting, "anyone should be able to do this". 
Three famous ASS sufferers (artist's depiction). 


  1. Like sickle-cell anemia, or Tay-Sachs disease, I believe there is a genetic component to ASS. It seems prevalent among that subset of humanity known as "engineers". As it can be passed on in the absence of obvious symptoms in both parents (and how often do engineers marry each other, anyway?), I believe it may be a recessive disorder. Some non-engineers may be carriers (give your father-in-law a close look, folks.)

    RCBS makes good equipment. I still have my original RBCS press, powder dispenser, scale, etc. from over thirty years ago. There are a few good sources of powder and primers on the Web, but due to your friends and mine at .GOV, hazmat fees add quite a bit to the cost of shipping. It can still be cheaper to buy online, though. Sometimes lots of powder go on sale for a very good price when they are discontinued or when they first hit the market. Powder Valley, Inc. ( and Wideners ( are two sources. I especially like the folks at Powder Valley, but sometimes prices are better elsewhere on some items. Shop around.

    If you are committed to reloading and can afford it, buying your powder in 8 lb. jugs and your primers by the 1000 box are often much more cost-effective, especially if you get into the hazmat fees associated with online purchases. If you are starting out and feeling your way around on what powders you like or that work for you, probably better to buy locally, at least until you settle on what powders you will end up using in quantity.

    Damn. I'm not an engineer, but I suffer from the written form of verbal diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by mental constipation. If you have any questions at all that I might help with, don't hesitate:

  2. Now, pick one powder to get started with. I use Varget for .223, and it's gotten to where that's all I use.

    I use IMR4895 for 30.06, because the burn characteristics let me make a load that works well in a Garand.

    That's not to say that I think those are better than others, they are not, just what I'm using.

    Once you see the work involved in working up an accurate reliable load, you'll only want to change powders for good cause.

    Also, go for accuracy, not velocity. With the syndrome you mentioned, you will soon be reading about barrel dwell time, harmonics, velocity, and the effects on group size.

  3. Very nice setup! My dad had an RCBS RockChucker and associated paraphernalia that served him quite well for better than 15 years.

    I love MidwayUSA, and I've given Larry Potterfield a lot of business over the years, but I've found that on most reloading stuff Natchez Shooters Supply is cheaper if you can deal with the primitive website. As Reg T says, Powder Valley has the best prices on powders and primers that I've found anywhere. Also, there's Graf & Sons that only charges $4.95 (handling and insurance) for whatever you order - no shipping as such.

    I got my stuff almost 3 weeks ago and so far I've read the Lyman manual, the Lee manual, the Speer manual, and I'm working on the Hornady manual. Once I've digested all that then I'll be ready to reload a few rounds of 35 Remington to start with. I think I have ASS - my wife thinks I do too. (also accounts for my lack of blogging for the last few weeks)