August 5th, 2014

Don’t Bust Your Brass — Adjust Your Decapping Rod Correctly

One of our Forum members complained that he wasn’t able to set his primers flush to the rim. He tried a variety of primer tools, yet no matter what he used, the primers still didn’t seat deep enough. He measured his primers, and they were the right thickness, but it seemed like his primer pockets just weren’t deep enough. He was mystified as to the cause of the problem.

Well, our friend Boyd Allen diagnosed the problem. It was the decapping rod. If the rod is adjusted too low (screwed in too far), the base of the full-diameter rod shaft (just above the pin) will contact the inside of the case. That shaft is steel whereas your case is brass, a softer, weaker metal. So, when you run the case up into the die, the shaft can actually stretch the base of the primer pocket outward. Most presses have enough leverage to do this. If you bell the base of the primer pocket outwards, you’ve essentially ruined your case, and there is no way a primer can seat correctly.

The fix is simple. Just make sure to adjust the decapping rod so that the base of the rod shaft does NOT bottom out on the inside of the case. The pin only needs to extend through the flash hole far enough to knock the primer out. The photo shows a Lyman Universal decapping die. But the same thing can happen with any die that has a decapping rod, such as bushing neck-sizing dies, and full-length sizing dies.

Universal decapping die

Whenever you use a die with a decapping pin for the first time, OR when you move the die to a different press, make sure to check the decapping rod length. And it’s a good idea, with full-length sizing dies, to always re-check the height setting when changing presses.

Lee Universal Decapping Die on SALE for $9.89
Speaking of decapping tools, Midsouth Shooters Supply sells the Lee Universal Decapping Die for just $9.34 (item 006-90292), a very good deal. There are many situations when you may want to remove primers from fired brass as a separate operation (prior to case sizing). For example, if your rifle brass is dirty, you may want to de-cap before sizing. Or, if you load on a progressive press, things will run much more smoothly if you decap you brass first, in a separate operation. The Lee Universal Decapping Die will work with cartridges from 17 Fireball all the way up to 45-70. However, NOTE that the decapping pin supplied with this Lee die is TOO LARGE for LAPUA 6.5×47, 6BR, 220 Russian, and Norma 6 PPC flash holes. Because the pin diameter is too large for these brass types, you must either turn down the pin, or decap with a different tool for cases with .059″ flash-holes. Otherwise, the Lee Decapping Die works well and it’s a bargain.

Lee universal decapping die

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August 5th, 2014

Gun Tech: Pads for Cleaning and Working on Your Rifles

We normally use a gun cradle when cleaning or adjusting our rifles. But there are situations, such as when working on a barreled action, when it’s nice to use a pad that lies flat. Many work pads are too small — they’re nothing more than oversize mouse pads. Here are three gun pads that are big enough to work well with rifles and/or barreled actions.

DryMate Gun Cleaning Pad
rifle Gun cleaning pad drymateThe Drymate Gun Cleaning Pad is a full 54″ wide x 16″. That’s four and a half FEET wide — longer than most rifles, so you have plenty of surface area for working. Conveniently, this product can be washed with soap and water. It is offered in three versions: Green, Blaze Orange, and Camo. We like the Blaze orange version because the bright color makes it easier to see small parts such as screws and springs.

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

Boyt Harness Counter Pad
The 48″ x 12″ Boyt Harness Counter Pad was originally designed more for display purposes than for serious work sessions, but we like this product. It is useful if you want to lay your gun on a bench to make small adjustments. The Boyt Counter Pad is nice and big, a full four feet from end to end. The back side is canvas while the top-size is a quilted cotton fabric. This product has received high praise from buyers. Here are actual owner reviews:

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

Expensive… but worth every penny. I bought three of them because I want to have at least one always around. I use one for a shooting bench or tailgate mat and another for my primary gun cleaning workbench mat. Awesome for both purposes. This one was perfect for my array of needs. — Joe D.

This mat is great for cleaning guns and keeping your surfaces clear of oil or solvent. The mat has plenty of space for a rifle or handgun and the padding is thick enough[.] I would definitely buy again and have recommended this to my friends and family. — Safety Guy

I bring this to the rifle range with me every time, to rest my rifle on the table without worrying about scratches. It fits nicely in my soft rifle case. One side is a tough canvas material that doesn’t show scratches, and the other side is a soft fleece material that protects the finish of your gun. — MACPSU


Hoppes Gun Cleaning Pad
The Hoppes Gun Cleaning Pad is 36″ wide x 12″. That’s big enough for many barreled actions (unless you have a really long barrel). This pad has a non-slip nylon backing, and Hoppes claims that the “Soft acrylic material absorbs 8 times its weight in fluids.” This Hoppes Cleaning Pad is very affordable. It costs just $8.39 at Amazon.com with free shipping for Prime members.

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate
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August 5th, 2014

Shooting Skirt with Pockets Holds Gear on your Tripod

Here’s a clever product from Good Shooting Sales & Service, a shop operated by National Smallbore Silhouette Champion Cathy Winstead-Severin and her husband Jim Severin. The Shooting Skirt, available in either Nylon Mesh or Cordura/Mesh for $32.00, is a cone-shaped, fabric gear-holder that fits around the top of a tripod. The Shooting Skirt has various pockets that can store score cards, timers, Walkie-Talkies, spotting boards, and other accessories. The Shooting Skirt even has a water bottle holder. (Note: the Cordura/Mesh combo version is out of stock, but the all-mesh version is in available.)

Tripod Gear Holder Skirt Tripod Gear Holder Skirt

We think the Shooting Skirt is a really clever product that can benefit varmint hunters as well as those who are scoring/spotting in shooting matches. For anyone who spends a lot of time working with a tripod in the field or at a range, the Shooting Skirt can be a very handy accessory.

Craft Your Own Custom Shooting Skirt — With High-Tech Options
What’s neat about this basic design is that it could be easily modified to suit your needs. If you (or the significant other) can run a sewing machine, you could make something similar, customized for the particular gear you use. You might add a pocket for a windmeter, or a special section to hold the lens caps for your spotting scope. Or, if you’re really clever, you could add a flexible solar panel to provide back-up power for your PDA, cell phone, or cameras.

Foldable Solar Power Panel

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