April 27th, 2015

Weight vs. Volume — The Great Debate

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. VolumeMost competitive long-range shooters weigh powder charges for their handloads. Some even use ultra-precise magnetic force restoration scales to load to single-kernel tolerances. But is weight-based measuring always the best way to fill a case with powder? Another option is volumetric charging. This method fills a precisely-sized cavity with powder and then dumps the charge into the case. A Harrell’s rotary powder measure works this way, as does the sliding powder filler on a Dillon progressive press.

For long-range applications, most people believe that precise weighing of powder charges is the best way to achieve optimal accuracy and low ES/SD. However, those short-range Benchrest guys do pretty darn well with their thrown charges, at least at 100 and 200 yards.

Our friend Dennis Santiago recently observed something that made him scratch his head and wonder about weighing charges. His AR-15 match rifle shot better with volumetric (cavity-measured) charges than with weighed charges dispensed by an RCBS ChargeMaster. Here’s what he reports:

Cavity vs. Dribble (Dennis Santiago Report)
I had the chance to compare nominally identical ammunition loaded two ways. These were all .223 Remington match loads using 77gr Sierra Match Kings over 23.4 grains of Hodgdon Varget. Same gun. However I loaded some ammo with charges dispensed with a Lee cavity-style powder measure while other rounds were loaded with powder weighed/dispensed by an RCBS Chargemaster. The cavity-drop ammo (with powder dropped from the Lee unit) was consistently better than the weighed-charge ammo. I have no idea why…

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. Volume

So, ladies and gentlemen — what do you think? Why did Mr. Santiago’s volumetrically-charged ammo shoot better than ammo filled with weighed charges? What’s your theory? Gary Eliseo suspects that Dennis’s Chargemaster might have been drifting. What do you think? Post your theories in the comments area below.

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April 27th, 2015

Pete Brownell Talks About the State of the Gun Industry

brownells Pete Brownells AR-15 Podcast

In a revealing podcast, Pete Brownell of Brownells, the largest gun parts vendor in the world, provides some fascinating insights into today’s firearms industry. On Episode 122 of the AR-15 Podcast (see Podcast video below), Pete and Podcast host Reed Snyder talk about the growth of the firearm industry and the widespread popularity of guns in the USA. Looking back at the second half of the 20th Century, Pete speculates that the millions of GIs returning from WWII fueled the growth of competitive shooting and hunting. America’s love affair with guns has continued apace into the 21st Century. Now an estimated 39% of American households own guns according to a Gallup survey, and the NRA says the true figure is closer to 50%. Additionally, Pete and Reed talk about the changing face of gunsmithing. Pete notes that the tighter tolerances permitted by advanced tools have fostered new methodologies and improved precision in gunsmithing.

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