Rifle cartridge dating
Rifle cartridge dating
Marlin’s New XL7 Bolt Action Rifle
January 1st, 2008
Shooters and hunters in the US are very fortunate to have a huge selection from which to choose when it comes to choosing a good, accurate bolt action rifle. While some lament the passing of older bolt action designs, I do not, as every worthy design ever built is now available from some source. Also, bolt guns have lost a little weight over the past several years, and synthetic stocks are readily available for most bolt action rifles as well, for those who prefer their stability over that of wood. Shooters these days can expect good accuracy from most bolt actions, and in the past couple of years, even the trigger pulls on most bolt action designs from several makers have improved significantly. Savage started the trend with their AccuTrigger, and other gun manufacturers have followed suit, greatly improving the trigger action on their rifles.
Recently, I received in for review a new Marlin XL7 bolt action rifle. There is nothing new or radical about the XL7, but it combines some of the best features found on today’s modern bolt guns into a very shootable, reliable, accurate, and affordable package.
First of all, a bit about the Marlin Firearms Company. Marlin is one of the oldest and best known firearms manufacturers in the United States, dating back to the 1870s, with their reputation built on their legendary lever action rifles. I have often stated that if I ever get down to owning just one rifle, it will be one of my Marlin Model 39 leverguns. Those little .22 Long Rifle shooting jewels are some of the sweetest shooting rifles and carbines ever inspired by God and built by man. While it would take some adjusting, I could do ninety-nine percent of what I need a rifle to do with a Model 39. The other one percent could easily be accomplished with my Marlin .45-70 Guide Gun. Marlin’s entire line of leverguns are good-shooting, well-built rifles. I get emails pretty often asking why I do not review new Marlin rifles, along with all the other guns that I review on Gunblast.com. Since the inception of Gunblast back in the year 2000, I have tried to talk with the marketing folks at Marlin, and would get a blank stare in person, or just an answering machine when I would call. The man handling that stuff for several years just didn’t want to talk to me. Anyway, there were no hard feelings at all, as he was doing his job as he thought it should be done. I have bought for myself and recommended Marlin rifles to Gunblast readers for years. In addition to their leverguns, their rimfire bolt action rifles have an excellent reputation for accuracy. However, a few months ago, Marlin hired a new marketing manager who is a twenty-first century kind of guy who seems to be really on top of things, and he actually returns telephone calls. A few weeks ago when he told me that Marlin was making a new bolt action rifle, I jumped at the chance to review it. After it arrived, I was not disappointed. After shooting it, I was impressed.
While priced to compete with other affordable bolt guns, the XL7 has several nice features that make it shoot like rifles costing a lot more. The black synthetic stock is lightweight, pillar-bedded to the receiver with two Allen-head bolts, and is comfortable to shoot. The stock wears molded-in checkering for a secure hold, has a soft, comfortable recoil pad, and has sling swivel studs attached, which is always a good idea on a hunting rifle. It bugs me to see many rifles marketed to hunters that have no provision for attaching a sling. Thankfully, Marlin chose to put sling swivel studs on the new XL7. The XL7 received for testing is chambered for the .270 Winchester cartridge, which is a fine choice for just about any medium to large game in the US, or for hunting plains game in Africa, with the right bullet. The XL7 weighed in at six pounds, eleven ounces. The slim tapered barrel is twenty-two inches long, and the muzzle is finished with a recessed crown. The barrel is threaded into the receiver, and locked in place with a Savage-style barrel nut. The rifle balances very well, and comes to the shoulder quickly. The fast-stepping .270 Winchester cartridge is a good match for such a rifle. It is very flat shooting, and can really reach out and hammer medium game like whitetail deer, without punishing the shooter with heavy recoil. What recoil the cartridge does produce is abated handily by the excellent recoil pad that Marlin has installed on the XL7. The XL7 has an internal box magazine, which holds four rounds, giving a total loaded capacity of five cartridges. The push feed design of the bolt head allows an extra cartridge to be fed directly into the chamber, eliminating the requirement that it be fed from the magazine. The bolt head is pinned to the bolt body, much like the system used on the Savage 110 series rifles. I like that feature. It allows to bolt to self-center, doing away with the need to have the lugs lapped as is often required on other designs to improve accuracy. The thumb safety is to the right rear of the bolt handle, as we have seen on the Remington Model 700 rifles for many years. It blocks the trigger from movement, but allows the bolt to be worked. To remove the bolt for bore-sighting or cleaning, a bolt release is located at the left rear of the receiver, and is easy to use. Pressing downward while withdrawing the bolt allows it to slide freely from the receiver. A red cocking indicator tells the user, by sight or feel, that the bolt is cocked and ready to fire. One of the best features of the XL7 is the trigger. Called the Pro-Fire Trigger by Marlin, it is user adjustable for pull weight, and releases crisply with no hint of creep or overtravel. It is a fine trigger. The sample rifle arrived with the pull set to release at just over three and one-quarter pounds, but I lightened the pull slightly to two and one-half pounds. Like the Savage AccuTrigger, the Pro-Fire trigger has a safety inset into the center of the trigger blade that prevents the rifle from firing if dropped hard. The result is an excellent trigger pull that is safe to carry, and easily adjusted. I detest a heavy, gritty trigger on a rifle. It makes it hard for the shooter to take advantage of the accuracy of a rifle. The Pro-Fire is a good system, and Marlin did well incorporating it into the XL7. I like the trigger.
Shooting the XL7 was a pleasure. As mentioned earlier, the stock design and recoil pad make the rifle very comfortable to shoot. The excellent Pro-Fire trigger made it easy to hold the rifle on target while pressing the trigger blade. For accuracy testing, I mounted a Leupold VX-L atop the Marlin using Weaver bases. The Marlin uses any scope base that is made for the Winchester Model 70, which is a nice feature, as that base is very common and readily available. However, during the accuracy testing, I also realized that this Marlin is priced below just about every other bolt action centerfire rifle available in the United States. Keeping that in mind, I mounted a Bushnell 3 to 9 variable Sportview rifle scope. This scope sells for a very low price. It is nothing like the quality of the Leupold VX-L, but I realize that most buyers of the Marlin are not going to pay twice as much for a scope as they do for the rifle. I also used no premium or handloaded ammunition in the Marlin. I wanted to see how this rifle would perform for a hunter using ammunition that is readily available to everyone. I tested the XL7 for function and accuracy using the inexpensive and plentiful Remington yellow and green box Core-Lokt .270 ammo that I purchased from the Wal Mart. I also tested the XL7 with Federal 150grain round nose ammo that is also commonly available at any Wal Mart store. None of this ammunition is high priced, and in the .270 Winchester, premium ammo is not needed, as the Core-Lokt has probably killed as many animals as any bullet made, and it still works quite well.
Functioning of the XL7 was very good, with the cartridges gliding smoothly from magazine to chamber, and extracting just as easily after firing. Accuracy was fine, using either of the two scopes tested with the rifle. The targets were much easier to see clearly with the Leupold, but the accuracy of the XL7 was the same with either. As can be seen in the pictures, this rifle preferred the heavier 150 grain bullets to the 130 grain loads, but even the 130s grouped three shots into one and five-eighths inches. The 150 grain Remington grouped into one inch, and would do so every time, all day long. The Federal ammo grouped almost as well. For deer hunting, a rifle this accurate is not a necessity, but it is nice to know that the rifle will shoot into an inch at 100 yards if needed.
While testing the new Marlin, my cousin Jacob Taylor arrived to help out. I had already sighted in the XL7, and Jacob was going to take it hunting for a few days, so he settled down behind the rifle. It was wearing the Bushnell scope, and he selected a target at 100 yards and squeezed the trigger. His first shot from the Marlin hit the X of the bull. I told him there would be no excuses on the deer hunt after that. If he misses, he can’t blame the rifle!
I like accurate rifles. I especially like accurate rifles that are a real bargain in today’s market. I usually do not list prices in a review, as our articles stay up on Gunblast in the Archive section forever, and we are constantly getting new readers who find our site. In this case, however, I will make an exception, as this new XL7 carries a list price, as of this writing, of only $326 US. This price, combined with the accuracy, comfort, and handling of the rifle, along with that excellent trigger, makes this new Marlin XL7 one of the best bargains available in a quality rifle. In addition to that, it is made in the United States by American skilled workers. Considering reliability, accuracy, and price, the Marlin XL7 is hard to beat, and I highly recommend it.
For a look at the entire line of Marlin rifles and L C Smith shotguns, along with H&R rifles and shotguns, go to www.marlinfirearms.com.
For the location of a Marlin dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER button at www.lipseys.com.
For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to:
Jacob Taylor assisted in accuracy testing.
Jacob's first shot demonstrates that if he misses his deer, it won't be Marlin's fault!
100-yard groups show that the Marlin XL7 is as accurate as rifles costing several times its price.
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Bolt head is pinned to fluted bolt.
Marlin's Pro-Fire trigger is safe, crisp, and easily adjustable.
Weather-resistant synthetic stock features checkered panels and grip cap, swivel studs, and soft recoil pad.
Manual safety (top), bolt release (center), and cocking indicator (bottom).
Barrel is attached with a Savage-style barrel nut.
Trigger guard is synthetic to match the stock.
Stock contacts barrel at two points near tip of forend.
The XL7 uses commonly-available Winchester Model 70 scope bases.
Author accuracy-tested the XL7 using Leupold VX-L (top) and Bushnell Sportview (bottom) scopes.
Rifle cartridge dating
Historical and Experimental Investigations of the Pressure Characteristics of the 8x58 Rimmed Danish Cartridge
Spearfish, South Dakota USA
Don't miss the pressure charts at the bottom of the page.
The work on this project would not have been possible but for the generous help and contributions of friends and firearms enthusiasts in the USA and Europe. John Unze provided the Norma factory ammunition and historic Norma literature which form a foundation for much of this work. Dayle Hammock provided a fantastic work space that made life much much easier while I was carrying out the shooting part of the research. Steve Bruns also provided much Norma factory literature and encouragement that kept me upbeat about the work. Don van den Brink also provided direction and encouragement. Thanks to Bill Woodin for his review and suggestions. Also to Bo Casserberg and Ken Buch for many years of wisdom on Swedish firearms and shooting them.
Introduction to the 8x58R Danish Cartridge
Although generally known to collectors of Scandinavian rifles, the details of the development of and military and commercial use of the 8x58RD(1) cartridge are sparse. Remington Model 67 rolling block rifles in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark were reworked to chamber the cartridge. Norway converted a very small number of rolling blocks to the 8x58R (Hanevik 1998), as was the case in Denmark. Sweden refitted a very large number of rolling blocks and many of these would later be turned into hunting rifles for Swedish civilians. Denmark of course, produced two bolt action rifles chambered for the cartridge, the Model 1889 Krag-Jшrgensen military rifle (Nielsen 1990) and a police rifle, the Schultz & Larsen RPLT 42 (Schultz & Larsen 2007). There are one-of-a-kind Mauser trials rifles from Sweden chambered for the 8x58RD (Jones 2003:26). In Figure 1 are shown the M1889 and M1908 cartridges developed in Denmark for the M1889 Krag-Jшrgensen.
Norma Factory Ammo: History and Documentation
So, let me begin with the Norma factory documents that provide the most information and which I hope provide the most accurate historical understanding of the 20th century commercial/civilian 8x58RD cartridges. Commercial cartridges were also loaded by Dansk Ammunitionsfabrik A/S in Otterup, Denmark, and DWM and RWS in Germany, but I have had little success in gathering primary documentation on those companies’ loadings. 8x58RD also appears to have been loaded by Remington late in World War I, but I have as yet found documentation for that ammunition. There may have well been other commercial ammunition makers in Sweden, Norway, or other countries that produced 8x58RD, but there have been no examples I have seen as yet.
Non-Factory Loadings from American Hand Loading Literature
Now we come to the thorniest part of the 8x58RD saga; the information published in American cartridge and reloading books. The earliest American mention I have found for reloading the 8x58RD cartridge is in the 41st Edition of the Lyman Ammunition Reloading Hand Book (Lyman 1957: 110). In Figure 12 I have scanned the important information from that publication. In the Lyman printing, it is unclear who developed this loading data, but it does acknowledge that the “velocities and pressures given below have been taken with standard European pressure and velocity equipment”(Lyman 1957:109). Significantly, an asterisked footnote tells us that the 8x58RD data is a “load intended for Danish Krag rifles or other arms of corresponding strength“(Lyman 1957:110) Also of note is the specification of Hercules HiVel 2 powder for two of the loads. So, the question arises, where was this load data developed? It states Norma cases and bullets were used and velocity and pressure values were obtained with facilities meeting European standards. But, where did this data actually come from?
- The Norma Factory Load Index Number
- The Norma Powder
- Norma Powder load weight
- Norma Powder Pressure
- The only velocity listed is the muzzle velocity
I wanted to add some real world shooting experience and it was with the generous help of collector friends that I was able to obtain a quantity of Norma factory 8x58RD to do so with. In order to carry out such tests, I obtained a Pressure Trace II strain gage pressure measuring unit and a CED M2 chronograph (Figure 15). I will not go into the details of the Pressure Trace II technology and the science behind it and refer the reader to the RSI website for further information on this measuring device. www.shootingsoftware.com
A documented source for information on the operating pressure of the Swedish Model 67/89 rolling block has not come to light yet. Second, the historic literature, i.e., phamphlets, tables, books, from the Norma factory, document that Norma was rating their 8x58RD loads at an average of 27,532 X (I use X here since the actual measurement is probably a copper crusher type). The actual PSI that these old cartridges operate(d) at, could be several thousand PSI above or below that average pressure. I also demonstrated that 8x58RD loads in American publications are at the least, suspect and should be approached cautiously. The loads found in Cartridges of the World, in my opinion shouldn’t be approached at all. The assertion in CotW that those loads duplicate factory specifications has been shown to be untrue. There are no known Norma factory 8x58RD loads that even come close to the quantities of powder used and the velocities reported. If Norma factory information from a later period, such as, 1975-2000, is discovered that shows Norma factory ammunition being loaded to those specifications than of course, my conclusions are rendered invalid. But, the lack of documents and publications detailing 8x58RD specifications after ca. 1965, would indicate that Norma stopped production of the cartridge at that time. I was able to examine Norma factory literature, i.e., catalogs, American dealers price lists, and Gunbug’s Guides, ranging from 1959 to 1980, and found that after about 1961-65 there is no mention of the 8x58RD cartridge. I have asked Еke Nilsson at Norma technical support for his help in determining when production did stop and hope he can provide answers.
Footnote 1- I refer to the 8x58R Danish cartridge as 8x58RD because the 8x58R Sauer cartridge is sometimes confused with it.
Footnote 2- A slight, but pertinent divergence here. The pressure values in the Norma literature are given as PSI (pounds per square inch) and the European convention of atm. (atmospheres). As has been discussed in any good reloading manual and numerous articles in books and shooting magazines for decades, that before the late 1960s, all pressures were measured indirectly, mainly by a copper crusher type of instrumentation. The American standards developed by SAAMI/ANSI refer to the figures derived from copper crusher as CUP. Although it seems almost elementary to have to discuss this, it is very important to understand the copper crusher measures are indirect and relative measurements of pressure and may or may not represent the actual PSI. It must also be kept in mind that although most copper crusher methods of testing either by SAAMI or the European CIP and the various ammunition and reloading component companies, while supposedly rigorous and standardized as to protocol, are not easily, if at all, comparable to one another. Testing of identical loads by different laboratories often results in pressure values that differ from one another, sometimes by considerable amounts. So, what we are dealing with when discussing pressures is a quite relative and possibly broad range of results and we should never assume that these measures are definite universal values. But, over the decades the laboratories, physicists, and ballisticians have developed a level of confidence in their testing protocols and can recognize when things are operating within a normal and usually safe range of pressures. The sheer mass of scientific literature concerning the measurement of pressure is mind boggling, but a basic and useful understanding can be derived from such references as Bramwell(), Brownell (), Sharpe() and the better reloading manuals.
- Barnes, Frank. 2006 Cartridges of the World, Vol. 11. Gun Digest Books, Iola, Wisconsin
- Hanevik, Karl E. 1998. Norske Militжrgevжrer etter 1867. Hanevik, Rena, Norway
- Jones, Dana 2003 Crown Jewels: The Mauser in Sweden. Collector Grade Publications, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
- Lyman Ammunition Reloading Hand Book, 41st edition. 1957. The Lyman Gun Sight Corporation, Middlefield, Conn.
- Mallory, Franklin B. 1979 The Krag Rifle Story, 2nd Edition. Springfield Research Service, Silver Spring, Maryland
- Nielsen, Bjшrn A. 1990. Indfшrelse af det danske Gevжr 1889. In, Vеbenhistoriske Еrboger XXXVI, Vеbenhistoriske Selskab, Kшbenhavn
- Norma Reloading Manual. 2004. Norma Precision AB, Еmotfors, Sweden
- Norma Gunbug’s Guide Nos. 59, 61, 65. Norma Precision AB, Еmotfors, Sweden
- Schultz & Larsen De Danske Rifler I Verdensklasse: Otterup Gevжrfabrik-Dansk Ammunitionsfabrik A/S 2007, edited by Margit Egdal. Devantier, Kшbenhavn
- Svensk Jakt 1947 N:r 9 and 1951 N:r6. Svenska Jдgarefцrbundets Tidskrift, Stockholm
- Ohm, Torben 2007. The Virtual Museum of Danish Arms and Armour.
Figure 1. Danish M1889, 1915 dated cartridge(left) and M1908, 1918 dated cartridge loaded at Hжrens Laboratorium in Copenhagen.
Figure 2. Sealed box of 8x58RD ammunition. The bullet was a full metal jacket roundnose of 196 grain.
Cartridge was intended for the Swedish 67/89 rolling block rifle.
Figure 3. Advertisement for Norma ammunition in 1947 issue of Svensk Jakt magazine.
Figure 4. Advertisement for Norma ammunition in 1951 issue of Svensk Jakt magazine.
Figure 5. Advertisement for Norma ammo including 8x58RD from 1949 American Rifleman.
Interestingly, the American market ammunition appears to come mostly in 20 round boxes.
Swedish market boxes of this time period were 10 rounds.
Figure 6. Page from Norma catalog dating to circa 1953.
Figure 7. Norma packages showing differentiation between rolling block and Krag-Jшrgensen cartridges.
The first two packages from the left are dated 1959 and 1953. The two packages on the right are not dated,
but the end package is of a design that came into use in the early 1960s.
Figure 8. Table listing of cartridge loads from 1956 Norma factory brochure.
Figure 9. Table listing rom Norma factory loading data booklet. Exact date is unknown,
but it appears to have been published after 1958.
Figure 10. Cartridge load listing from Norma factory booklet. Exact date is unknown,
Figure 11. Disassembled cartridge from undated Norma box.
Note the box is clearly marked "8mm. Danish Krag". The index number is Nr. 764.
Bullet is the old style 203 grain soft point.
Figure 12. Page 110 from the Lyman Ammunition Reloading Hand Book (1957).
Figure 13. 8x58RD loading data from Norma Gunbugs Guide, No.59(1959).
Figure 14. Scan of 8x58RD description from Cartridges of the World (2006).
Figure 15. Pressure Trace II pressure measuring unit and accessories.
Figure 16. Schultz & Larsen RPLT 42 rifle with strain gage attached.
Figure 17. Shot-string #1, five rounds of Norma factory full metal jacket 196 gr bullet loads.
Figure 18. Shot-string #2, Norma factory rounds, 196 gr old style soft point bullet.
Figure 19. Shot-string #3, Norma factory loads marked "Danish Krag" on box label.
Figure 20. Shot-string #5, from newest design box with 196 gr Alaska bullets and no "NP" stamped on primer.
Figure 22. One shot trace, stopped because of pressure signs.
Figure 23. Plinking load suitable for rolling blocks and Krag-Jшrgensen rifles.
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