COOKIN’ WITH DILLON: Mike Dillon’s Favorite Machine Gun Ammo Recipes
(The Interview: Part II)

By Dan Shea

Welcome to “Cookin’ with Dillon”, an SAR feature where we took the time to visit with Mike Dillon, king of the progressive reloaders, a man who has taken hopper feeding his machine guns that one more step by trying to manufacture the ammunition fast enough to feed the guns.... We caught Mike back in the kitchen, working on some of his favorites:


For Thompsons, Reisings and Greaseguns, This simple formula can’t be beat. Properly inspect the brass as in the 9mm loads. Use 230 grain FMJ bullets with 5.0 grains of W231. This should ensure safe, economical full auto fun.


One of the reasons I dislike the M60 is that one almost put my eye out. The other reason is I couldn’t reload for the damn thing, it would always separate cases, and I would make the headspace so long that the gun would have to crush up the cartridge to get it into the chamber and I would still get case head separation on it, and it’s not like a Browning, where when you get a case head separation, it’s not big deal, the trash drops out of the bottom of the gun, through the open ejection port in the bottom of the receiver. With the Browning, you just stick a broken case extractor on the front of the bolt and yank out the separated case. Then you’re shooting again. With the M60 you’re there trying to turn the damned thing upside down and dump the broken pieces out, meanwhile the top cover is flapping back and forth hitting your hands. I mean, I don’t like the gun, I can’t, I could never figure out why it would separate case as bad as it did. I truly regard the M60 as being a factory ammunition gun.

While I am definitely not a fan of the M60 GPMG, the following load for 7.62 x 51mm ammunition should work in the ’60 as well as the FAL, M14, or other .308 machine guns. Properly inspect and treat your brass. Use 147-150 Grain .308 FMJ bullets, and 48 Grains W748.


The main thing about loading 223 is that you use a case gauge. Use a Wilson case gauge, use a Dillon case gauge, I don’t care what kind of case gauge you use, but use a case gauge, and make sure you are sizing the cartridge so that the headspace is correct. Now headspace was one those terms that drove me nuts trying to explain to people. What it really refers to, I think, regardless of who’s definition we look at, is that once you put the cartridge in the chamber, if the cartridge moves all the way forward in the chamber to the limits of whatever stops it going in, that you should have some separation between the base of the cartridge and the face of the bolt. Now to me is what headspace is. How you arrive at it, is an entirely different matter. In other words there has to be room in the chamber for the cartridge to go in and yet not be sloppy. When talking about headspace, that’s what I am talking about. So you need to push the shoulder back, in order to gauge it right. I thought all cartridges headspaced on the mouth of the cartridge like a 45 did, I didn’t grasp that most of the shoulder cartridges headspace on the shoulder, not on the mouth of the case. I was abysmally ignorant when I started this.

Those who like to shoot AR15/M16 series rifles will enjoy the following quick recipe. It works just as well in any 5.56mm rifle or machine gun. Don’t let the 55 grain bullet fool you, this is a nice, even shooting accurate load. Properly inspect your brass. Use 5.56mm (.223) 55 Grain FMJ bullet, with 23 Grains of H322.


Those who know me are aware that the Browning 30’s and 50’s are my favorites (Other than Miniguns, of course). I like the 30’s in the original caliber, and load in the following manner: properly inspect and treat the brass then use 147-150 Grain FMJ bullets, with 55.5 Grains W760.

Consistent bullet seating is important, as is proper case trimming. Semi and fully automatic firearms rely on certain consistency in the feeding process, and deviations in length can interfere with the process.


9mm Subguns are the mainstay of shooting. Inexpensive to feed, and even more so if you are reloading for them. Reloading, properly done, not only saves you money, but provides top quality ammunition for your pet Subgun. For this recipe, first we take 1000 used 9x 19mm brass cases, inspect and clean them. Look for any imperfections in the brass. Hopefully you are tracking your brass usage, but if this is a “Mongrel” pile that is all right as long as you do a good inspection. Lube the cases with Dillon’s Spray Lube case lubricant, then put them in the hopper. Fill the primer tube, bullet reservoir, and powder reservoir with W231 powder. Adjust the powder according to the projectile weight.

Commence loading. These should properly,

9mm - 115 Grain FMJ bullet, 4.7 Grains W231
9mm - 125 Grain FMJ bullet, 4.4 Grains W231


Lubricate the cartridges so that they are all lubricated about the same, and the magic lubricant is hydro-lanolin. This stuff works absolutely fantastic. It’s the oil out of sheep’s wool. We used to buy this stuff, it went for about 3 bucks a pound at drug stores. It’s a thick white cream. You figure a way to get it on your cartridge. I’d stick them in a tumbler and put the hydro-lanolin on my hands and just stick my hands in the tumbling media, and let it take it off my hands. Now this process is a lot easier- all you need to do is use Dillon’s Spray Lube. It’s hydrous lanolin in a quick drying solvent. The best way to clean brass for the commercial loaders, (that’s who I dealt with in the beginning were commercial loaders), is citric acid and TSP Tri Sodium Phosphate . Tri Sodium Phosphate is garage floor cleaner. You can get a pound box for a couple of bucks, It’s as cheap literally as a box of dirt. This stuff is almost free and it’s the best cleaner there is, it’s a grease cutter and you mix that with a little citric acid. You might say “Acid, Mike? That’s dangerous!” Well, you can take 1/2 teaspoon of the citric acid, put it into a glass of water and add a little sugar and you’ve got lemonade, cause that’s what it is. So two of the cheapest and safest things in the world can be used to do a fantastic job of wet cleaning large quantities of brass. Smaller batches of brass (Up to 500 cases) can be cleaned an polished using a small vibratory “Tumbler”. In my kitchen, I of course recommend the Dillon tumblers and ground corn cob. Add a small amount of case polish and run for an hour.

When you are “Wet cleaning”, you’re putting this mixture of TSP and Citric acid in water- just a little bit of each into a bucket of water. Dump it over the brass, and let it soak overnight. When you are ready, just pour the water off and throw the dry brass into dry corn cob and tumble a few minutes. Just as bright and shiny as can be. Then you examine the brass, size and trim, then tumble with the hydro-lanolin, and the brass is ready to go!

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N6 (September 1999)
and was posted online on July 29, 2016


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