What this shows is the ability to run a slightly undersized bullet through a barrel without losing gas pressure or much accuracy (in this case accuracy is improved) -- all while burning black powder, which is notorious for fouling gun bores.
Basically, this bullet design appears likely to allow for repeated safe, consistent and effective black powder firing of tough jacketed ammo -- without bullet lubricant. In the Astra 400 test gun this black powder load's performance and handling charactaristics were very close to that of standard smokeless powder.
This is significant because it adds to a long list of observations and credible reports indicating that any attempt to heavily tax or regulate ammuntion in the United States is a fool's errand unlikely to produce any significant effects outside of the creation of a highly profitable new market for career criminals now primarily engaged in the smuggling, manufacture and distribution of illegal narcotics.
Here's a quick list of observations and reports, some of which I intend to investigate further:
FMJ bullets can be found in re-loadable condition in impact zones, formal and informal alike, anywhere in the US in significant quantity. In some areas, where deep snow fall is common, even high-powered expanding-type hunting rifle bullets can sometimes be found in excellent condition after the spring thaw, due to soft deceleration in snow. .355/9mm, .40/10mm, and .45/11.25mm pistol bullets in particular are to be found in great numbers with ease and often are found on the surface of the ground, due to ballistic churning and soil erosion.
New bullets can be machined from solid stock, cast in simple molds, swaged with the appropriate reloading gear, and sometimes found knocking around in junk drawers, at yard sales, and so on. They can also be improvised from a great many unusual materials. (I met a guy in Russia who made his own bird shot with nothing more than a perforated ladel full of lead held over a can of burning diesel fuel with a layer of water at the bottom of the can to cool the shot. And to be perfectly honest, that guy didn't exactly seem like a genius).
Materials for making bullets are so common as to be impossible to ban. Lead wheel weights are great for casting bullets. Common brass rod can be machined into extremely high performance long range rifle bullets, and so on.
Reloadable brass casings are to be found almost anywhere someone ever felt comfortable firing a gun, with some sites thickly littered with them in a wild array of chamberings. 9mm, .38, .357, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP pistol casings are very common. 5.56 and 7.62 NATO are also fairly easy to find in useful quantities.
Rare types of casings have been machined from brass stock by skilled workers with the right tools, but this is almost never done. There's no reason it can't be done. It's just not economical in an open market.
In Afghanistan, tribal ammunition scroungers and reloaders are reported to have discovered that decent smokeless rifle powders can be made by cutting up old photographic negatives and motion picture print stock. I will try to confirm this. If it's true -- which I think it probably is, due to the combusion properties of celluloid, then there's no way in seven hells that we'll run out of smokeless gun powder in the next hundred and fifty years. Old photographic negatives are ridiculously common. And there are other things made out of celluloid kicking around in our attics and closets (like ping pong balls, for example).
Black powder is easier to make than moonshine. And interestingly enough, I've been finding that black powder can be used as an effective substitute for smokeless powder to a surprising degree. Some of the more reliable guns, like the Kalashnikovs, probably could be run pretty well on black powder for useful stretches of fire. It might help that the Soviet ".30" caliber bore diameter is .311 inch. That should allow for use of skirted "Minie" ball type gas checks soldered to common .308 caliber bullets in the vast numbers of AKs, SKSs, Mosin Nagants and so on already in the US. Bolt, pump, and lever action guns, to name a few, would be remarkably easy to adapt to blackpowder propellant loads. But, the issues of fouling and related risks of excess pressures must be carefully addressed before trying this kind of thing. Don't blame me if you blow yourself up, because I'll tell you right now that you can definitely get yourself killed messing around with improvised ammunition. What I'm saying is not that the reader should try this kind of thing -- merely that someone will in fact do so if the right economic pressures are in play. And they won't need me to help them figure it out. Americans are remarkably resourceful and ingenious arms makers.
***3/25/2013 Note*** 3/25/2013 -- Notice of suspension of experiments to determinine feasibility of re-loading primers. Due to high risk of potentially fatal accident.
While attempting to re-load spent small pistol primers using "toy" cap gun caps as a priming compound source, I discovered that primers fire upon seating in cases, due to friction and pressure created between the anvil tip and inside of the primer cup. Although I would wager that carefully redesigned anvils capaple for allowing for some measure of success in reloading primers could be made with basic hand tools, such an effort is beyond my tolerance for risk.
Primers are manufactured with their compound "wet" when assembled and priming compound for firearms ammunition is not the same as cap gun compound. Again, my advise is not to try this. I definitely expect people to figure out how to manufacture or re-manufacture primers illegally in the event that legislation creates a black market economy for ammunition, but I have no intention to pursue a practical demonstration of how this might be done any further. As always, the information provided by KIR and KIR contributors is for academic and entertainment purposes only. Do not attempt to replicate KIR experiments.
The original text of this section of the post is intact, below:
[The metallic components of a common US-standard Boxer primer, and for that matter Berdan primers as well, remain with the fired casing and could be re-used with relative ease. The tricky thing about primers is the chemical priming compound used in them. Primer compound is exceedingly dangerous to manufacture, and to handle in large quantities -- such as encountered in a munitions plant. However, it is something invented way back in the mid-1800s, if not earlier. I think it's safe to say that if chemists could make it in the 1850s, a guy whose previous employment has been the local meth cook could probably whip up a batch in short order. He might eventually blow up the trailer park (literally, and with great loss of life), but someone else would be all too happy to fill the gap he'd leave in the market when he's gone. Priming compound is needed in such small quantities for making metallic cartridges that I'm confident it would instantly be worth more per gram than cocaine if any serious attempt were made to ban it. Actually, it's possible that during the 2013 weapons supply panic the practical value associated with primer compound may in fact have exceeded per-gram values of a number of hard drugs like cocaine, opium, and methamphetamine. If so, then US gun owners may arguably have already demonstrated the commercial viability of ammunition sold at pseudo black market price points.
Interestingly, common children's toy cap "gun" caps are widely used by percussion black powder muzzle loader shooters who find themselves out of genuine percussion caps for one reason or another. Caps for cap guns are in fact evolved from the cap and tape ignition systems once used to fire Civil War era rifle-muskets, handguns, and the like. So using them in similar arms is actually a return to original use. I strongly suspect that these cap gun caps can also be used in re-loading spent primers. If I'm right about this, gun prohibitionists would have to effectively ban cap gun caps as part of any serious effort to pinch off ammuniton supplies -- and even if they do, their efforts are still doomed to a humiliating defeat somewhere on the order of that of the Womens' Christian Temperance Union and the Anti Saloon League.
I shudder to think of the boost in wealth, status and influence organized crime will get if we get anything like prohibition applied to ammunition or firearms enacted into law. I really don't think that gun prohibitionists have any idea how dangerous some of their pet legislative projects really are. Deep corruption could arise from these efforts -- threatening the peace, stability and prestige of the nation.]
So -- this is why I'm working now to demonstrate what we will definitely learn later if the nation tries to choke off ammunition supplies to the general public. It cannot be done.