AKA How Trying to Make Oranges Out of Apples Gives You Lemons
In the course of answering questions about the Remington 700 ML/MLS 209 Conversion kit I've been getting some reoccurring questions. I updated the FAQ and realized I wanted to say more here as well.
Q: Have you considered making a Remington 700ML conversion that can use a 45 ACP primed case instead of a 209 primer?
A: "Yes, but in the end it didn't make sense and did not make it off the drawing board."
Q: Then why does Remington use a 45ACP/30'06 like primed case in it's new 700 Ultimate muzzle-loader?
A: "The 700 Ultimate is an entirely different rifle from the 700ML. Those cases have head diameters that are too big for a proper breech plug in the 700ML. Primer carrier ignition has been done in the 700ML with smaller cases like the 25ACP and 32ACP, but the kit would cost more to produce. What would anyone gain over what our current kit does with easily obtainable standard 209 primers? The only answer is that one who is set up to reload could save a small amount by using Magnum Rifle primers. Saving a little on primers with added complications like de-priming and re-priming hard to find cases isn't for everyone. So, it did't make sense to produce a cartridge based primer carrier kit. A simple, solid, effective, reliable kit is what we sell, so we are sticking with just a 209 kit."
Q: What about 209 shaped primer holders that use Magnum Rifle primers (the holder is reusable)?
A: "Not worth it in our opinion. They would require fitting to seal the breech properly, and add another level of complication for a very low savings. That savings is only achieved after many firings (you have to buy the 209 magnum primer adapter then factor the savings over the price difference between magnum primers and 209's). The use of standard 209 primers is effective and simple."
A complete detailed answer:
First, one can not compare the 700ML to the new Remington 700 Ultimate (AKA 700 UML, or 700 UM). That is plainly apples to oranges. Remember that the 700 Ultimate was designed to use more powder, and shoot farther more accurately than other muzzle loaders. It was a ground up design based on custom guns with this goal. It uses a standard 700 action (its a modern fire arm that requires 4473's and whatever else your state requires legally buy it from a gun dealer). From what I've read it is an awesome muzzle-loader; but it does this with a trade off in cost, length and weight (and complexity from where I stand). With the 700ML we are trying to leverage a readily available, out of production, slightly flawed rifle, that is shorter and handles well: and modify it into a great rifle. The 700 Ultimate is around double the cost of a 700ML with our conversion kit combined!
Also, would you compare the Savage 10 ML-II to the 700 Ultimate? To answer that you get into smokeless powder muzzle loading vs black powder (the 700 Ultimate is a black powder only rifle). So that's apples to oranges again. Apples to apples is comparing our originally leaky apple (the 700ML) to the more expensive, more capable, but not leaky apple (the Savage 10 ML-II). Our kit makes our apple better, but still a black powder rifle, and gives up on turning an apple into a lemon.
The real issue is, if you made a cartridge case based system work in the 700ML (and it can be done) what do you gain over our conversion kit and 209 primers? We concluded: "Nothing except being able to buy and stock less expensive magnum rifle primers." What do you lose? Conclusion: "Simplicity." Not a good trade from where I stand: lemon.
So while in the design phase of a case based primer carrier solution I reached the conclusion that it doesn't make sense in the 700ML. It boils down to: the 209 system Badger Ridge offers is simpler, effective, less expensive, and seals the breech just fine. I shoot 209 primers with BH209 without a problem why re-invent the wheel? So just go buy our kit... oh you want more... OK read on:
Second, the diameter of the 700 ML OEM barrel's breech is too narrow for a strong, simply removable breech plug with a .45ACP/30'06 case head. The guys who have made the cartridge case carrier system work for the 700ML tend to use .32 ACP and .25 ACP due to their smaller case head. Those cases are hard to find, cost a bit more, and require the shooter to be a re-loader, have hard to find dies, not so common shell holders to size/de-prime and re-prime. You also have to get the head spacing just right between the case web and nose of the breech plug to get consistent flash through the breech plug and into the powder charge. Definitely the realm of the motivated tinkerer. Randy Wakeman recently told me that in developing the 700 Ultimate from its custom gun roots, Remington changed the case to breech interface a little in the ultimate to improve this, and thus you can't just use any case and its easiest just to get the right ones from Remington. He mentioned that to make them 'right' yourself that the case web and primers flash hole had to tweeked. That was definitely a concern of mine as I drafted the plans for a cartridge carried based system. Not insurmountable by any means, just more costly and complicated. Again making that work in the 700ML is the realm of the tinkerer.
Truth be told, every deer I've shot at with my 700ML was hit and killed. The only ones I didn't take a shot at were to far away for 'me' to take a shot at in those conditions (about 200 to 350 yards); Will changing the priming source increase range or accuracy? I'm convinced it will not. What does it gain me beyond using marginally cheaper primers in a much more costly and complicated system? I cannot think of one legitimate thing. Some would argue the case based systems seal the breech against elements better. I've hunted in the rain and didn't have a miss fire. With our 209 conversion kit, the 209's seal the blow-back in and the elements out.
And as for using our kit with the hard metal primer carriers that allow you to put a magnum rifle primer inside to shoot from a 209 system; you'll have to do some precision work to tune them to our breech plug or the breech plug to them in order to get them to seal properly. As designed, the 209 conversion kit we sell and install swages a 209 primer slightly to get a sealed breech; I doubt the hard metal carriers will swage satisfactorily. Using the feeding action of the bolt to swage a standard 209 into the breech plug and then discarding the discharged 209 is simple and effective.
KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid
Consider all the issues with the case type primer carriers. Then factor in that our 209 system (as developed by Fred) is already an effective, simple to maintain, cheaper to make/buy, no reloading equipment needed, sealed breech system that uses the OEM breech plug wrench (or a standard 7/16 socket).
For all these reasons we decided our 209 sealed breech system comes out ahead, and dropped development of a cartridge case based primer carrier system before even turning the first part. Figured we were on the path to turning an apple into a lemon during our quest for an orange.
Check out the YouTube video below of our system in action. We think you will agree that the mission has been accomplished.
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