June 15th, 2016

Father and Son Win Big at 2016 MGM Ironman Event

Ironman MGM Idaho 2012

The 20th Annual MGM Ironman Match was held in Parma, Idaho earlier this month. Over 250 shooters vied for honors at this ultra-challenging event. The “OLHOT” (Open, Limited, Heavy Optics, and Trooper) classes competed June 5-7, while a Scoped Tactical Match followed June 9-11. Present were top pros, privateers, juniors, ladies, plus elite military and LEO teams. This very demanding 3-Gun event features ten tough, high-round count stages, including a signature zip-line descent from a tower. Without question, the MGM Ironman is one of the toughest shooting matches on the planet.

Watch POV view of the Zipline Stage at 2016 MGM Ironman:

Father and Son Duo Dominates 2016 Event
This year’s OLHOT match was definitely a “family affair” for the Gibson clan. In the Trooper Division, 17-year-old Wyatt Gibson won convincingly, finishing 138 points ahead of the next-best shooter. Meanwhile Wyatt’s father Travis Gibson won the Open Division. In true ‘Like father, like son’ fashion, Travis dominated the Open field, finishing 121 points ahead of his closest Open-class competitor.

2016 Iron Man MGM idaho 3-gun match

This year’s aptly-named Ironman was particularly tough with triple-digit temps and strong winds. Over the course of three grueling days, competitors completed ten tough stages, shooting in excess of 1100 rounds per shooter over the course of the match. EVERY stage required the use of ALL three guns with 100 or more rounds. The average time spent shooting on each stage was about seven minutes. The Ironman is long, intense, and you shoot till you drop! Mike Gibson, the founder of MGM Targets, and the “inventor” of the Ironman, has said: “This match isn’t for weenies or crybabies”.

The week-long Ironman event is broken into two, 3-day sessions, with five different divisions. The OLHOT (Open, Limited, Heavy Optics, and Trooper) sessions ran June 5-7. During the second segment, held June 9-11, 120 Scoped Tactical shooters took on the same demanding course.

2016 Iron Man MGM idaho 3-gun match

Ironman MGM Idaho 2012MGM Ironman Has Unique Stage Designs
The MGM Ironman is an intense test of both shooter and equipment. Participants shoot a variety of classes and various scenarios including shooting from the back of a moving vehicle, from a 20-foot tower, while driving a golf cart, and while carrying a dummy.

Of course there are plenty of MGM-made reactive targets (photo right). The MGM Ironman regularly offers unique and demanding stages including firing a pistol from a zip line, and plunging down a steep slide from a 30 foot tower, rifle in hand. One stage involves carrying an 80-lb dummy over 100 feet and lifting it to the top of a six-foot platform before climbing it to engage rifle targets at distance. With creative and challenging stage designs and high round counts, he Ironman is truly a unique match.

Ironman MGM Idaho 2012

Here is a video from the 2010 MGM Ironman. It shows many of the multi-gun stages, including the Zipline stage, filmed from multiple camera angles.

Permalink Competition, Tactical No Comments »
June 15th, 2016

High-Volume Case Lubrication — Tips from the USAMU

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Recently the USAMU’s reloading gurus looked at the subject of case lubrication. Tasked with producing thousands of rounds of ammo for team members, the USAMU’s reloading staff has developed very efficient procedures for lubricating large quantities of cases. This article reveals the USAMU’s clever “big-batch” lube methods. For other hand-loading tips, visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.

Rapid, High-Volume Case Lubrication

Today’s topic covers methods for quickly applying spray lube to cartridge cases prior to sizing. A typical order for this shop may be 25,000 rounds, so [speeding up] the lubrication process can be a real time-saver. While your ammunition lots probably aren’t this large, the efficient methods discussed here may help save a considerable amount of time over your handloading career. Our case lubrication rates range from 1500-1600 cases per hour, to 2400-2500 cases per hour, depending on caliber.

This shop uses virgin brass, whereas most home handloaders use fired brass, which necessitates some small changes at times. These will be discussed as they arise. Begin with fired brass that has been tumbled clean.

Ensure as much tumbling media as possible is removed from the brass, as when it gets into a size die, it can dent cases significantly. This is a good time to round out dents in the case mouths using a tapered tool to prevent damage from the decapping stem.

First, dump the clean cases into a large box or reloading bin. Shake the bin back and forth so that many cases are oriented with the mouths up. Next, pick up as many cases as is convenient with the mouths “up”, from natural clusters of correctly-oriented cases. With 7.62mm-size cases, this is usually 3-4, and with 5.56mm cases, this can be up to 8-10. Place the cases into the rack slots, mouth-up. Doing this in groups rather than singly saves considerable time. Once these clusters have been depleted, it will be time to re-shake the bin to orient more cases “up.”.

This photo shows a case lubrication rack made by a USAMU staffer.
accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Naturally, adjust the spacing to best fit the calibers you reload. We have found this size … convenient for handling through the various phases of case lubrication/transfer to progressive case feeders for processing. Note that the 1/2-inch angle does not cover much of the critical case area at the base, just forward of the extractor groove, where most re-sizing force will be exerted. As the USAMU uses virgin brass, less lubrication is required for our brass than would be needed for Full Length (FL) sizing of previously-fired brass.

NOTE: The amount applied using our rack is easily enough for our purpose. If using fired brass, be sure to adequately lube this base area to avoid having cases stick in the full-length sizing die.

Using a spray lube, coat the cases adequately, but not excessively, from all sides. Be sure to get some lube into the case mouths/necks, in order to reduce expander ball drag and case stretching/headspace changes. The spray lube this shop uses does not harm primers or powder, and does not require tumbling to remove after lubing.*

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Take a close look at the photo above. The USAMU shop uses a common kitchen turntable, which allows the rack to be rotated easily. We place this in a custom-made box which prevents over-spray on to floors and walls.

Angled Box Method for Smaller Cases to be Neck-Sized
A refinement of the above method which especially speeds processing of 5.56x45mm cases is as follows. A small cardboard box which holds about 100 cases is fitted with an angled “floor” secured by tape. With the smaller 5.56mm cases, usually about 8-10 cases per handful can be picked up, already correctly-oriented, and placed into the box together. This prevents having to place them into the rack slots, saving time.

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

HOWEVER, note that this does not allow nearly as much lube access to the case bodies as does the rack. For our purposes — neck-sizing and setting neck tension on new brass, this works well. If using this procedure with fired brass, take steps to ensure adequate lube to prevent stuck cases.

As always, we hope this will help our fellow handloaders. Good luck, and good shooting!


*A two-part test performed here involved spraying primed cases heavily, while getting more lube into the case mouth/body than even a careless handloader would likely apply. The second part of the test involved literally spraying considerable quantities of the lube directly into the cases, drenching the primers. After a several-day wait to allow the lube to penetrate the primers, they were then fired in a test barrel. All fired normally; no unusual reports were noted. This bolstered confidence that normal amounts of the lube would not adversely affect our ammunition, and we have been pleased with the results over several years.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
June 15th, 2016

How to Find Wind Direction with a Kestrel Wind Meter

Kestrel Wind Meter Direction Vane Applied Ballistics

A Kestrel Wind Meter will record wind speed with its impeller wheel. However, to get the most accurate wind velocity reading, you need to have your Kestrel properly aligned with the wind direction. To find wind direction, first orient the Kestrel so that the impeller runs at minimal speed (or stops), and only then turn the BACK of the Kestrel into the wind direction. Do NOT simply rotate the Kestrel’s back panel looking for the highest wind speed reading — that’s not the correct method for finding wind direction. Rotate the side of the Kestrel into the wind first, aiming for minimal impeller movement. The correct procedure is explained below by the experts at Applied Ballistics.

How to Find the Wind Direction with a Kestrel Wind Meter

Here is the correct way to determine wind direction with a Kestrel wind meter when you have no environmental aids — no other tools than a Kestrel. (NOTE: To determine wind direction, a mounted Wind Vane is the most effective tool, but you can also look at flags, blowing grass, or even the lanyard on your Kestrel).

Step 1: Find the wind’s general direction.

Step 2: Rotate the Wind Meter 90 degrees, so that the wind is impacting the side (and not the back) of the wind meter, while still being able to see the impeller.

Step 3: Fine-tune the direction until the impeller drastically slows, or comes to a complete stop (a complete stop is preferred). If the impeller won’t come to a complete stop, find the direction which has the lowest impact on the impeller.

Step 4: Turn the BACK of the Kestrel towards the direction from which the wind is blowing. Then press the capture button, and record your wind speed.

Do NOT simply point the Kestrel’s back into the wind until you get the highest wind speed — that’s not the correct method.

Permalink Tech Tip 3 Comments »