April 19th, 2016

Fun Shoot — The St. Thomas Pennsylvania Groundhog Match

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's Shoot

St. Thomas Groundhog MatchSt. Thomas Groundhog Shoot, Report by Jonathan Trivette
Nestled at the base of a mountain in south-central Pennsylvania is the St. Thomas Sportsmen’s Association. On a cool Saturday morning you’ll find some of the area’s best shooters at the monthly Groundhog Match. The match attracts shooters from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and of course Pennsylvania.

It may not be the longest-yardage match in the area, but it can be the one of the toughest. The range is sloped up the mountain a little so the winds can be very tricky. Often times the three wind flags at 200, 300, and 400 yards will all be blowing in different directions.

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's Shoot

A Class for Everyone
St. Thomas’s Groundhog match has five different classes: Heavy (Unlimited) Custom, Light Custom, Heavy Sporter, Light Factory Sporter, and an AR Class. The Heavy Custom is any gun over 17 pounds while Light Custom is any gun up to 17 pounds. The Heavy Sporter is any factory gun that has a heavy/varmint barrel on it. The Sporter class is any factory rifle that has a light profile barrel on it. And the AR class is any AR style rifle. CLICK HERE for Match Rules.

Groundhog Match Format
Signups start at around 7:00 am the day of the match. During sign-up you’ll choose a bench from the 20 available benches. The cost is $15 per gun and you can shoot as many guns as you would like. I’ve shot as many as four different guns but that makes for a busy day. For the Heavy Custom and Light Custom you will shoot 5 shots for score at 200, 300, and 400 yards. In the Heavy Sporter class you will shoot 5 shots for score at 100, 200, and 300 yards. In the Sporter and AR class you will shoot 3 shots for score at 100, 200, and 300 yards.

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's ShootThe Targets feature a groundhog with scoring rings on the left side and 5 practice rings on the right side. Shooters get as many practice shots as they want, subject to a time limit. The three relays run 6 minutes, 6 minutes and 9 minutes respectively.

The match is very well-organized yet has a “laid-back” feel. The first relay starts at 9:00 am and the match is usually over around 1:30 pm. There’s a covered picnic table area for socializing with fellow shooters while waiting on your relay. They have doughnuts and coffee in the morning and usually have some very good chili and hot dogs (for lunch) in the concessions area.

Groundhog Match Results
April 16, 2016

On Saturday the weather was perfect and conditions were very good early on. However, by the time the last relay rolled around, mirage made it difficult to see. Ben Brubaker obviously had less trouble than most finishing 1st (143.02) and 2nd (143.02) in the Heavy Custom Class and 1st (144.04) and 3rd (142.04)in the Light Custom class using a 6mm Dasher in both classes. Bob Daron won the Heavy Sporter class with a score of 144.04 followed by Fred Kaminsky with a 142.06. Sporter class proved to be a family affair, with the Bollinger brothers, Glenn (87.01) and Bob (83.02) finishing first and second. We had one junior shooter on Saturday, 7-year-old Lydia Funk. The talented yound lady shot a 68 in Sporter class with her .223 Rem.

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's Shoot

You may have missed the first Groundhog Shoot of the year, but there are several other chances for you to get out and test your skills against some of the best shooters in the region. St. Thomas Sportsmen’s Assn. has one shoot a month until October on the second Saturday of each month. Don’t think you have to be a professional shooter to come to these matches. Take it from me as I started shooting these matches about five years ago with a $270 Savage sitting on top of homemade sand bags. The guys here are great to shoot with and are always willing to help out a fellow shooter. They made me feel right at home and always helped me when I have any questions. I started doing this to become a better shooter for deer hunting. I continue to do it because I fell in love with the sport. So if you are looking for something to do on the second Saturday of the month come out and test your shooting skills and enjoy the fellowship of like-minded shooters.

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's Shoot

CREDIT: We want to thank Jonathan Trivette for supplying this story and the photos. We welcome reader submissions such as this.

Permalink Competition, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
April 19th, 2016

How to Remove the Primer Crimp in Military Cartridge Brass

Primer Crimp Milsurp Brass

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. On older “Handloading Hump Day” post covers removal of military primer pocket crimps. If you ever use surplus military brass, you really should this article. It contains vital information “learned the hard way”. The writer has tried many different options for removing/swaging out crimps. He weighs the pros and cons of various methods and provides some advice that will save you time and headaches. Visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for more informative articles for handloaders.

A common question, and important issue with US GI surplus 5.56 brass is “what to do with the primer crimp?” Our Handloading Shop does not prime/re-prime GI 5.56 brass, as we receive it in virgin state (primed) and don’t reload it. However, our staff has extensive private experience handloading GI brass in our own competitive shooting careers, and have several tips to offer.

Once the brass is full-length sized and decapped, the staked-in ring of displaced metal from the primer crimp remains, and hinders re-priming. Some swaging tools exist to swage out this ring, allowing free access to the primer pocket. Some are stand-alone products, and some are reloading-press mounted. Early in this writer’s High Power career, he used the common press-mounted kit several times, with less than stellar results.

Setting Up Swaging Tools
Surplus brass tends to come from mixed lots, and primer crimp varies from very mild to strong. Also, primer pocket dimensions vary. So, setting up this “one size fits most” tool involves trying to find a happy medium for a selection of different types of brass in your particular lot. Some are over-swaged, some under-swaged, and some are “Just Right.” Overall, it was a time-consuming and sub-optimal process, in this writer’s experience.

Cutting Out the Crimp Ring with a Chamfer Tool
[After trying swaging tools] this writer evolved to using the ubiquitous Wilson/RCBS/Other brands chamfer and deburring tool to cut out only the displaced crimp ring at the top of the primer pocket. One caution: DON’T OVER-DO IT! Just a little practice will let the handloader develop a “feel” for the right degree of chamfer that permits easy re-priming without removing so much metal that primer edges start to flow under pressure. For this writer, it was three half-turns of the tool in the primer pocket, with medium pressure.

Here, as with all bulk reloading operations, mechanization is our friend. A popular reloading supply house has developed an inexpensive adaptor that houses the chamfer/deburr tool (retained by an allen screw) and allows mounting in a hand drill or drill press. This speeds the operation significantly, as does use of one of the popular Case Preparation Stations that feature multiple powered operations. (Say good-bye to carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis!)

military crimp removal USAMU

One advantage of chamfering the primer pockets lightly to remove remnants of primer crimp, vs. swaging, is that primer pockets are not loosened in this process. US GI (usually LC) NATO 5.56 brass has a great reputation for longevity due to the superior hardness of the case head vs. some softer brands of commercial brass. This means the brass will stand up well to multiple full-pressure loads without loosening primer pockets, and the chamfering method helps support this benefit.

Powered Case Prep Centers — What to Look For
A word of advice (often learned the hard way) — think carefully before jumping on the “latest/greatest” case prep center. One with a proven, long-time track record of durability and excellent customer support has a lot going for it, vs. the flashy “new kid on the block.” Analyze the functions each case prep center can support simultaneously — i.e., can it chamfer, deburr and clean primer pockets all at the same time, without having to re-configure?

Do the tool-heads that come with it look truly functional and durable? If not, can they be easily replaced with proven or more-needed versions, such as a VLD chamfer tool, or a solid/textured primer pocket cleaner rather than a less-durable wire-brush type?

military crimp removal USAMUTips for Priming with Progressive Presses
When re-priming, a couple of factors are worth noting. When re-priming using either single-stage presses, hand tools, or bench-mounted tools (such as the RCBS bench-mounted priming tool), precise alignment of the primer pocket entrance with the primer is easily achieved, and priming goes very smoothly. When using certain progressive presses, due to the tolerances involved in shell-heads, etc., one may occasionally encounter a primer that isn’t quite perfectly aligned with the primer pocket.

If resistance is felt when attempting to re-prime, DO NOT attempt to force the primer in — doing so can be dangerous! Rather, just exert SLIGHT upward pressure to keep the primer in contact with the case-head, and with the support hand, move the case back/forth a trifle. The primer will drop into alignment with the primer pocket, and then prime as usual. After priming, check each seated primer by feel. Ensure it is below flush with the case head (cleaning primer pockets helps here), and that there are no snags, burrs or deformed primers.


More Info on Primer Pocket Swaging
For more information about removing military crimps in primer pockets, we recommend you read Get the Crimp Out on the Squibloads Gun Thoughts Blog. This is a detailed, well-illustrated article that shows how to use various primer pocket reamers/cutters. It also has a very extensive discussion of swaging using CH4D, RCBS, and Dillon tools. The Squibloads author had much better luck with swaging tools than did the USAMU’s writer — so if you are considering swaging, definitely read the Squibloads article.

The illustration of primer pocket types is from the Squibloads Blog Article, Get the Crimp Out.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 3 Comments »
April 19th, 2016

U.S. F-Open Team Hardware Choices

Are you trying to decide what components to use for your next F-Class build, or are you looking to upgrade your current rig? Wonder what the “big dogs” in the sport have selected as their hardware? Here’s what United States F-Open team members are using. The most popular chambering is the .284 Winchester, followed by the 7mm Walker (a 40° .284 Winchester Improved). Kelbly and BAT actions are the most popular, and nearly all team members are using cut-rifled barrels. A wide variety of stocks are used, with PR&T holding a slight edge over second-place McMillan.

F-Class Team USA F-Open

Click Image Below for Larger Version:

F-Class Team USA F-Open

Story Tip from Dominion of Canada Rifle Association.
Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 14 Comments »