December 1st, 2012

Smokin’ Deal: Garmin Nüvi 50LM 5″ GPS with Maps for $99.99

If you don’t own an in-vehicle GPS yet, you should strongly consider getting one. By routing you efficiently to your destination, a good GPS can save you time and save you money (by burning less fuel). By fixing your precise location, a GPS also performs a safety function should your vehicle break down or should you have some other emergency.
Garmin nuvi 50lm gps

Here is a smokin’ deal on a very fine GPS, in the new, larger 5″-wide format. Right now, on Amazon.com you can get the Garmin Nüvi 50LM 5-Inch GPS Navigator with Lifetime Maps (USA) for just $99.99. This unit, the #1 – selling GPS on Amazon.com, features a big 5” (12.7 cm) touchscreen, spoken turn-by-turn directions, and more than 5 million points of interest (POIs). With the price of gas these days, the Garmin Nüvi 50LM can pay for itself in a few months of use.

NOTE: The $99.99 Amazon deal is a special promo price that may not last long — you snooze you loose! Right now, this same unit sells for $120 at Walmart, $140 at Fry’s, and $163 at Sears!

Garmin nuvi 50lm gpsFree USA Maps Updated Four Times a Year
At just $99.99, the Garmin Nüvi 50LM is an exceptional value because it includes Lifetime Maps for the USA. This entitles you to FREE map updates up to four times a year, as long as you live. Along with the pre-loaded map data, this unit ships with: vehicle suction cup mount, vehicle power cable, USB cable (for synching with your computer), and a Quick start manual.

Note: The Garmin Nüvi 50LM gives you spoken turn-by-turn navigation, but it is NOT voice-activated. In other words, the 50LM will NOT react to the driver’s Voice Commands, nor will it locate a destination by voice input. We don’t think that is really much of a shortcoming. This Editor owns a Garmin with voice-recognition. It was amusing for a day or so, but I ended up turning the Voice Command feature off because it was unreliable. I found that it was much faster and easier to just tap the buttons on the touch screen for all important functions.
Permalink Hot Deals 2 Comments »
December 1st, 2012

Bill Gravatt Steps Down as President of Sinclair International

Bill Gravatt, President of Sinclair International, has chosen to leave his current position with Sinclair International, where he has served for 22 years. Bill told us “I sold Sinclair International to Brownells, Inc. in 2007 and have completed my five-year contract as part of the transition process. I had the opportunity to remain as President after my contract expired but, after giving the matter a great deal of thought over the past six months, I felt it was time to move in a new direction. I wish everyone at Sinclair International and Brownells all the best in the future.”

In Sinclair’s Reloading Press Blog*, Bill thanks Sinclair customers for their patronage and assures readers that Sinclair will continue to provide same high level of customer service.

Message from Bill Gravatt
Bill Gravatt Sinclair InternationalAs you know, I sold Sinclair International to Brownells a while back. Pete and Frank Brownell and I had known each other for years, and we all agreed that the two companies would be a good fit, both in the way we treat customers as valued friends and the way our respective customer bases are complementary, similar but not identical. We also agreed that I would stay on as President of Sinclair for five years to help manage the transition.

The five years ended last summer, and now under the Brownells stewardship, Sinclair will continue to serve its customers — you — with the same care and consideration my father-in-law Fred Sinclair and I would give you. I consider it a privilege and a pleasure to have been able to serve you over the years.

Now it’s time to move on with the next (actually the third) phase of my adult life (some of you may know the first phase was the nuclear power industry). I’m certainly going to be around… I plan to continue working in the firearms industry, and you’re going to still see me at competitions and events — maybe more than before. I hope to see you at an NRA Show[.]

In the meantime, I plan to spend Christmas the way I hope you do — with friends and family, relaxing and celebrating the blessings of this life. And maybe getting started on that big winter reloading project. Wouldn’t it be great to head into the 2013 shooting season with your ammo loaded up and ready to go? Spring is closer than you think! But first [comes] Christmas — all my best wishes to you and those close to you.

Good Shooting — Bill Gravatt

*Geoff Esterline, a key member of the Sinclair team for over 15 years, has agreed to take over as Contributing Editor of the Reloading Press Blog. Bill has “every confidence” in Geoff’s capabilities.

Permalink News, Reloading 2 Comments »
December 1st, 2012

Baney Weighs Merits of Heavy Sand

You’ve heard of Heavy Metal, maybe even Heavy Water, but what about Heavy Sand? Every serious shooter should know about Heavy Sand for benchrest sandbags. Heavy Sand can weigh up to twice as much as ordinary silica sand (sold as “Play Sand”). By filling your rear bag with Heavy Sand rather than silica sand, you can nearly double the bag’s mass, and that can translate to better bag performance. A heavier bag resists movement and stays aligned better during recoil. If your bag moves during recoil, or becomes misaligned from shot to shot, that can alter your point of impact and open up your groups. Adding weight to your rear bag is a simple, cost-effective way to shoot more consistently, with greater overall accuracy.

Heavy Sand for BR Sandbags

Jason tested and compared four kinds of sandbag fillers: Zircon, Chromite, Riverbed Sand, and ordinary Play Sand. Zircon is the heaviest type of sand readily available to shooters, followed by Chromite. Zircon is 98% heavier than Play Sand, while the black Chromite sand is 94% heavier than Play Sand. Riverbed Sand, commonly sold in pet stores as “Reptile Sand”, is less dense, measuring about 55% heavier than Play Sand.

Increase Bag Weight Up to 10 pounds
Compared to silica sand, how much extra weight can Heavy Sand (Zircon, Chromite, Riverbed) add to your sandbag? Up to 10 pounds, depending on the size of your rear bag. Check the chart below for the specifics. By filling a standard bunny ear bag with Zircon (vs. silica sand), you can increase bag weight by about 5 pounds. A super-sized BigFoot bag can gain 10 pounds in overall weight when filled with Zircon as opposed to silica sand.

Heavy Sand for BR Sandbags

To learn more about Heavy Sand (and where you can buy it), read Jason’s comprehensive Sand Comparison Article. It includes photos of the different sand types and links to Heavy Sand vendors, such as R.W. Hart (Zircon) and Sinclair International (Chromite).

Permalink New Product, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
December 1st, 2012

Verifying the True Value of Your Scope Clicks

Let’s say you’ve purchased a new scope, and the spec-sheet indicates it is calibrated for quarter-MOA clicks. One MOA is 1.047″ inches at 100 yards, so you figure that’s how far your point of impact (POI) will move with four clicks. Well, unfortunately, you may be wrong. You can’t necessarily rely on what the manufacturer says. Production tolerances being what they are, you should test your scope to determine how much movement it actually delivers with each click of the turret. It may move a quarter-MOA, or maybe a quarter-inch, or maybe something else entirely. (Likewise scopes advertised as having 1/8-MOA clicks may deliver more or less than 1 actual MOA for 8 clicks.)

Nightforce scope turretReader Lindy explains how to check your clicks: “First, make sure the rifle is not loaded. Take a 40″ or longer carpenter’s ruler, and put a very visible mark (such as the center of an orange Shoot’N’C dot), at 37.7 inches. (On mine, I placed two dots side by side every 5 inches, so I could quickly count the dots.) Mount the ruler vertically (zero at top) exactly 100 yards away, carefully measured.

Place the rifle in a good hold on sandbags or other rest. With your hundred-yard zero on the rifle, using max magnification, carefully aim your center crosshairs at the top of the ruler (zero end-point). Have an assistant crank on 36 (indicated) MOA (i.e. 144 clicks), being careful not to move the rifle. (You really do need a helper, it’s very difficult to keep the rifle motionless if you crank the knobs yourself.) With each click, the reticle will move a bit down toward the bottom of the ruler. Note where the center crosshairs rest when your helper is done clicking. If the scope is accurately calibrated, it should be right at that 37.7 inch mark. If not, record where 144 clicks puts you on the ruler, to figure out what your actual click value is. (Repeat this several times as necessary, to get a “rock-solid”, repeatable value.) You now know, for that scope, how much each click actually moves the reticle at 100 yards–and, of course, that will scale proportionally at longer distances. This optical method is better than shooting, because you don’t have the uncertainly associated with determining a group center.

Using this method, I discovered that my Leupold 6.5-20X50 M1 has click values that are calibrated in what I called ‘Shooter’s MOA’, rather than true MOA. That is to say, 4 clicks moved POI 1.000″, rather than 1.047″ (true MOA). That’s about a 5% error.

I’ve tested bunches of scopes, and lots have click values which are significantly off what the manufacturer has advertised. You can’t rely on printed specifications–each scope is different. Until you check your particular scope, you can’t be sure how much it really moves with each click.

I’ve found the true click value varies not only by manufacturer, but by model and individual unit. My Leupold 3.5-10 M3LR was dead on. So was my U.S.O. SN-3 with an H25 reticle, but other SN-3s have been off, and so is my Leupold 6.5-20X50M1. So, check ‘em all, is my policy.”

From the Expert: “…Very good and important article, especially from a ballistics point of view. If a ballistics program predicts 30 MOA of drop at 1000 yards for example, and you dial 30 MOA on your scope and hit high or low, it’s easy to begin questioning BCs, MVs, and everything else under the sun. In my experience, more than 50% of the time error in trajectory prediction at long range is actually scope adjustment error. For serious long range shooting, the test described in this article is a MUST!” — Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 8 Comments »