Homemade Loading Block and Bullet Starter

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Homemade loading block and bullet starter
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DGW .32 caliber loading block
Homemade .32 caliber loading block
Homemade .32 caliber bullet starter
Homemade .50 caliber bullet starter
I discovered a design flaw in the Dixie Gun Works .32 caliber traditional loading block about 10 seconds after I used it for the first time. While trying to keep one eye on the limb-jumping squirrel I had just shot at and missed and my other eye on the hand trying to position the loading block over the muzzle of my rifle, I learned that it takes both eyes to correctly position the loading block. You must align it forward and backwards and from side to side—in 2 directions.

A few days later I spied a pile of cedar branches I had cached several months earlier. They were dry and ready for making into something useful. But what? Ahhhhh, I decided, a better designed loading block!

I hacked off about a 7" section of a limb about 1 1/8" in diameter. Using a Dremel® tool with a little sanding drum, I flattened the top of the section, then the bottom, leaving the section about 1/2" thick across the flats. Then I de-barked the two rounded sides.

I then penciled 10 Xs exactly 1/2" apart along a flattened side. Using a drill slightly too small, I drilled the 10 holes, then carefully reamed them with a rattail file until a patched round ball fit snugly inside. If I had reamed one of them too large, I would have painted the inside of the hole with epoxy, let it dry, then reamed again. All 10 holes the proper size, I used a cone-shaped grinding wheel and slightly beveled the edge of each hole, top and bottom. I rounded the ends of the section, drilled a lanyard hole, and a section of a dead cedar limb became a .32 caliber loading block.

Ready to start a ball As you can see from the photo on the right, it self-aligns forwards and backwards. I can start a ball and keep an eye on an escaping squirrel. Notice that the loading block is not straight. The flats aren't even perfectly flat. But it works like a charm and looks very cool, at least to me.

The ball starter that came with the Dixie Gun Works loading block worked just fine, but now that I had such a cool-looking homemade loading block I needed a cool-looking homemade bullet starter. Off came another section of the same cedar limb.

Closeup shot I sanded it, then drilled one end to fit a smaller in diameter and sanded section of a cedar limb, then epoxied the smaller section in place. The epoxy dry, I drilled an exact fit, tiny pilot hole, filled it with epoxy, and inserted a 5/8" X 18 solid brass escutcheon pin. (Box of 100 = $1.69 at Ace Hardware.) Only that pin goes into and through the center limb section. The other brass pins you see in the closeup photo are for decoration. I cut them off about 1/4" in length and inserted them in epoxy filled pilot holes.

I needed some sort of brass ring around the bullet end of the starter in order to keep the wood from splitting. The neck of a fired .270 Winchester case fit loosely inside the muzzle of my .32 caliber rifle. Perfect. I used a tubing cutter and removed the neck from the case and epoxied it over the end of the starter. I then carved out the end of the starter to fit the contour of a round ball.

Tubing cutter in action on a rifle case
  The tubing cutter in action. In spite of the case's odd angle, the cutter easily removed the neck.
The.50 caliber starter you see in the closeup photo above was made from sections of 2 hickory limbs. The brass ring at the business end is a section of a fired 30-06 case, cut off with a tubing cutter.

To make the business end of the .50 caliber starter fit the flat, Keith-style nose of the Lee R.E.A.L. bullet I like to shoot, I carved out the end and filled it with epoxy. The starter pointed up and wedged in place, I inserted the oiled nose of a R.E.A.L. bullet into the epoxy-filled cavity, carefully positioned the bullet, then left it in position until the epoxy dried.

Notice that the handle of my .50 caliber starter is 1 1/2" longer than the handle of my .32 caliber starter. (4 1/2" vs 3".) The .32 caliber starter's handle is a little too short for my hand. Thus I made the .50 caliber starter a little longer.

To me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of muzzleloader hunting/shooting is making my own stuff. It may not look perfect, but it works and I made it with my own hands. Try it; you might like it!

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