Friday, January 13, 2012

Guest Post: 8mm Turk Ammo Tear-Down

Hey there Guns & Coffee fans!!  This is CRO.  So since the winter weather has hit the great northern state of Wisconsin I have decided to clean out the corner of the basement where my reloading bench lives.  The first can I grabbed was a .50 cal can that had my 8mm Turk inside.  My brother had recently picked up a Syrian Mauser and wanted some food for it.  I pulled the first bandoleer out of the can and removed 2 full clips of ammo.  I saw some cracked necks on a few of the cases and gave the bullets a wiggle.  The bullet pulled clean out of the case with just my hand strength.  Out of the 10 rounds I checked I was able to pull 3 of the bullets clean out of the case.  Now I could not give my brother some crap ammo to fire out of his Mauser as he is not too familiar with old surplus and does not know what to look for in selecting safe ammo to fire.  I decided to go through all my Turk and sort out the good stuff from the bad and all the bad I would pull for the bullets and powder.  Now for those of you who have been doing the surplus thing in the last ten years you are sure to have run across the 8mm Turk, and many of you are fully aware of the “quality” that this ammo has made for its reputation.  I decided that even though the supply of Turk is now drier than a Baghdad rooftop in July, and trust me that’s dry, I thought it might entertain many of you that know this ammo too well to know your not the only one who had “well worn” ammo.
That’s right, I’m not embaressed to let you see my messy bench top… I told you it needed cleaning.  But you can see the Turk bandoleer in its complete form.  And bottom center is the 50 cal can it has been stored in for a few years.

The clips were held one up, and one down inside each pocket.  The buttons are the thinnest stamped metal buttons I have ever seen, they do not have any edge to grab a hold of so getting a pocket open through the small buttonhole is very difficult.  I would not want to have to open one of these under stress!!  The ends of the bandoleer are just one foot of thin cloth one inch wide.  There are no buckles so the ends have to be tied together.
This is just the full clips on top of the bandoleer. So far so good right?  Well lets take a closer look-

1947. Yep.

So here are 3 very typical cracked necks seen on the ammo.  The bullet is very loose.  I was able to push the bullet inside of the case with only finger pressure.  No pliers or bullet puller needed here!   Now can you shoot these?  Yes,  Should you… probably not.  Have I shot bullets like this??  Yes.  Why?  I don’t know,  I was young and didn’t know better.  Do the vent hole work in my Yugo Mauser?  Yes.  Thankfully.

This was the worst cracked case I had.  The brass was just brittle.
Pulled bullet,  I would not exactly call that a cannalure.  More like a really, really tight crimp.
Fill er to the top!!  The powder would be just under the bottom of the bullet.  I have a suspicion that these were compressed loads.

No the pliers were not used for the bullet pulling.  The electrical tape covered jaws work great for holding surplus 30-06 rounds when reaming out the primer pocket,  why is it in the photo??  I told you I need to clean up.

I wanted to keep the powder to load some cases eventually.  Because I am not aware of and current load data for using surplus 1940 Turk powder I measured 20 cases of powder to get an average weight.  Surprisingly the loads were consistent.  The average was 48.2 the variance was only a few tenths of a grain.  There was the occasional case that varied as much as a grain but I think there were only 2 of them.  The powder is a flake type powder.  Reminded me of shotgun powder.  It was very different than the IMR 4895 I am used to dealing with.  I do not currently own a 8mm Die for the RCBS otherwise I would load a few and give a report.  Guess I’ll save that one for later.

I've shot plenty of this stuff over the years, and as many of the MilSurp shooters out there know, this stuff is hot, and it's not surprising the powder is jammed in the case.  Dad and I used to joke they simply filled the case with powder, jammed the bullet on top, and called it a day; and it looks like we may not have been that far off. "Powder measures are for pussies!"

As Cro mentioned, it'll work in a bolt-action Mauser fine, since it's a strong action, and has gas channels to redirect wayward pressure, but I strongly suggest you DO NOT use Turkish 8mm Mauser ammo in any Semi-Automatic rifle! Blown cases happen quite regularly with Turkish 8mm ammo.