The Venezuelan semi-auto SAFN 49 with cast bullets

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  • Last Post 08 May 2020
GregT posted this 05 May 2020

Now I went and did it. I'm coming up on my 72nd birthday in June and as part of my "survival project" I have decided to go thru some of my basically "not fired or not fired in years" firearms. This is a large accumulation of better than 300 military rifles starting in the mid-19th century with the trapdoor Springfield's (all but the carbine...dang!) and replicas of the Spencer and some others that got too expensive over time and continue to climb. I finished the Garands last weekend, total disassembly, and greasing, oiling, and adding my second Schuster Adjustable gas valve to the group. (I won't shoot a Garand without one of these valves as I look at the valve as a way of preserving the firing condition of the rifle as the internal operating parts are not stressed). Looked at the 3 SAFN 49's gathering dust and decided they would be next. Took down the Luxembourg contract rifle first, 1 of 6008 built.The original leather sling had little white speckles (mold of course) and I gave it a treatment with Nor-V-Gen Shoe Oil (tm). As I am looking the rifle over, I recalled that some time in the dark past, this very rifle gave me what I will term "SAFN 49 thumb". Those of you who have had "M-1 Thumb" strike you and know what an SAFN 49 is, can well imagine the feeling, I think... Cleaned and greased that rifle. Next I came to a Venezuelan SAFN 49 in caliber 7mm Mauser. That rifle is basically new. However, I did not know how "new" it was. I opened the gas system by removing the forward part of the upper wooden handguard and the gas system glared at me. Just dared me to turn the gas adjuster (part of that assembly is blued, and there was no mark at all where it generally would show that someone had turned it and made a gas adjustment, similar to the scratch that appears on the cylinder of a revolver as it is used. Hmm. The gas system is still at "unset". I then took the carrier and breechbolt out of the rifle and looked at the parts carefully. No markings that would tell me the breechblock and carrier had any steady firing at all. The locking area of the bolt (rifle locks up similar to what an SKS does) still had some original storage grease in it. Looked down the bore. No copper fouling at all. After all of the years that I have had this rifle, it has finally settled in my brain that I am holding in my hands a new, un-fired rifle, (other than the work that FN may have done with it before it made the trip to Venezuela), in May of 1949. OMG!!! I have always been on the lookout for a semi-auto rifle in the condition that this one is in to try to get it to shoot and shoot well with cast bullets. This particular model built by the Belgians has a beautifully simple gas adjustment system and is just as beautifully simple to clean. The rifle operates with a long operating rod and piston (hard chromed). Now, what do I do? Shoot it? Yes or no... I've cleaned out the barrel, removing any preservative that may have been in it. Did I say it gleams...? What would you guys do? I like "medium strength" cast bullet rifle loads. I have been playing with large caliber '74 Sharps rifles and carbines for some time. The 7mm is almost sub-caliber to those Sharps slugs. I will have to get the pressure up in the 7mm using perhaps IMR 4759 powder or ???? . I have a "quantity" of 7mm moulds.

How about it? Any ideas? No drooling permitted!

Greg T

Hayward, Wisconsin

 

 

 

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GregT posted this 05 May 2020

Thanks to the member who noted a huge typo in this post and explained a way I could correct it!

Greg T.

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45 2.1 posted this 05 May 2020

I don't have to drool... I have a like new one. Do you want it to work in semi-auto fashion? SR 4759 really doesn't put out enough gas for that. Go to the Lyman manual and pick a starting load for a jacketed bullet about the same weight as you lead bullet... 150 gr. bullet or more (that will give you a start and some load options). Somewhere in the Varget to IMR 4350 range. The Lyman 287308 or the heavy RCBS bullet work well. A caution with lead loads and semi-autos.... do not jamb the bullet into the rifling. The loaded cartridge needs to chamber and extract easily...... all the time.

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GregT posted this 06 May 2020

Hello and thanks for the note! Your reply reminded me of the time I heard that an entire case load of H870 powder could be used with most any cast bullet in most any rifle casing without overloading it. I recall trying it with either the 6.5x55 or it might even had been the 7mm Mauser, coincidentally. My recollection is that it worked alright. To me it was a good way to get rid of some useless (to me) propellant. Ever heard of that? Over the years, I have accumulated some antique gunpowder that is still in fine shape. I have a couple of pounds of HiVel #2 that I have always wanted to put to some good use. Also some SR#80. I guess I would like the rifle to function as a semi-auto would. I also recall working with the seating depth of cast bullets, again in the 6.5x55mm cartridge. I loved the long slender cast bullets and how they looked loaded in the case. The worst part of that was that they had to be seated to great depth to chamber in the Model 94 carbine I started reloading for as a 16 year old. I also recall not being able to get the bolt open and when I gave the bolt handle a great tug, the bullet stuck in the lead of the rifling and I got an action full of loose gunpowder. I did know some four letter words in those days...

     The beauty of any gas system as that in the SAFN 49 is that you fire the first cartridge with the gas adjustment sleeve turned to wide open. Upon firing, the action just sits there, does not move. Close the gas sleeve a bit for the second, third; maybe the 4th shot causes the bolt carrier to move a bit. Close the gas sleeve some more and perhaps the bolt carrier gets all the way back far enough to eject the casing. Close the gas sleeve some more and continue to fire and the action eventually operates and the rifle functions as it should. All the time you do this, keep checking the bore condition and look for the the grease ring that should form at the muzzle. You don't want a full length leaded bore... This is the sort of thing I try out to frustrate myself!

     I aim to try this same thing with my M-1 Garand. Also the M1-A. Both of these rifles have the Schuster Adjustable Gas plug installed. I thought I might write something up for the "Fouing Shot" about this new adventure if anyone wants to see what happens?

GregT

 

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45 2.1 posted this 06 May 2020

Hello and thanks for the note! Your reply reminded me of the time I heard that an entire case load of H870 powder could be used with most any cast bullet in most any rifle casing without overloading it. I recall trying it with either the 6.5x55 or it might even had been the 7mm Mauser, coincidentally. My recollection is that it worked alright. To me it was a good way to get rid of some useless (to me) propellant. Ever heard of that? Yes... I started using 50cal. and 20 mm surplus powders in the mid 80's. I learned to get a clean burn and velocities in the 2,000 to 2,400 fps range by duplexing loads. The 8700 duplexed loads give around 2,000 to 2,100 fps in most rifles and operate semi-auto when you get the load right with a clean barrel. Over the years, I have accumulated some antique gunpowder that is still in fine shape. I have a couple of pounds of HiVel #2 that I have always wanted to put to some good use. Also some SR#80 A little harsher than and became SR 4759.. I guess I would like the rifle to function as a semi-auto would. I also recall working with the seating depth of cast bullets, again in the 6.5x55mm cartridge. I loved the long slender cast bullets and how they looked loaded in the case. The worst part of that was that they had to be seated to great depth to chamber in the Model 94 carbine I started reloading for as a 16 year old. I never experienced that condition with the M94. I also recall not being able to get the bolt open and when I gave the bolt handle a great tug, the bullet stuck in the lead of the rifling and I got an action full of loose gunpowder. I did know some four letter words in those days...

     The beauty of any gas system as that in the SAFN 49 is that you fire the first cartridge with the gas adjustment sleeve turned to wide open. Upon firing, the action just sits there, does not move. Close the gas sleeve a bit for the second, third; maybe the 4th shot causes the bolt carrier to move a bit. Close the gas sleeve some more and perhaps the bolt carrier gets all the way back far enough to eject the casing. Close the gas sleeve some more and continue to fire and the action eventually operates and the rifle functions as it should. FN 49's and FNFAL's are nice about that, aren't they.All the time you do this, keep checking the bore condition and look for the the grease ring that should form at the muzzle. You don't want a full length leaded bore... With the proper alloy, that doesn't happen at all. This is the sort of thing I try out to frustrate myself!

     I aim to try this same thing with my M-1 Garand. Also the M1-A. Both of these rifles have the Schuster Adjustable Gas plug installed. The Schuster valve is a good addition to those rifles. Both shoot cast and work semi-auto quite well. I thought I might write something up for the "Fouing Shot" about this new adventure if anyone wants to see what happens?

GregT

 

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Ed Harris posted this 08 May 2020

MANY years ago I shot a Belgian SAFN49 which was a select-fire version with 20-round magazine.  Only with the most practiced and disciplined trigger control could you manage more than four bursts out of one magazine.  It had the bipod and hook buttplate, but I much prefered the late WW2 Saginaw Steering Gear M1918A2 with plastic stock.

 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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