January 19th, 2017

SHOT Show — Day Two Quick Picks

rcbs redding shot show reloading

SHOT Show is a cornucopia of products, with everything gun-related under the sun on display. The SHOW features a vast array of items for hand-loaders. Here are some of the most notable reloading and ammunition products we found at SHOT Show, Wednesday, January 18th.

Alliant Reloder 16 — Great Powder — Accurate and Temp-Stable

reloder 16 powder temp stable

If you like Hodgdon H4350, you should like Alliant’s Reloder 16 powder. First revealed at SHOT Show 2016, the impressive Reloder 16 is now widely available at vendors nationwide. This advanced-formulation powder is extremely temp stable. We confirmed that during hot weather testing sessions last summer. In addition, in mid-sized match cartridges such as the 6XC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and 6.5 Creedmoor this powder has shown impressive accuracy. No hype — our Forum guys who’ve used Reloder 16 have told us this stuff can deliver match-winning results. This is definitely a viable rival to H4350. We recommend you buy a pound and test it.

Reloder 16 is NOT just a slower version of Alliant’s double-based Reloder 15 (which words great in the 6mmBR and Dasher cartridges). Reloder 16 is a completely new formulation, produced in Sweden by Bofors for Alliant. Reloder 16 utilizes TZ technology, which resists the natural tendency to generate more pressure at higher temperatures and less pressure at lower temperatures. Based on the test results we’ve seen, if you are using H4350 or IMR 4451 currently, you should definitely give Reloder 16 a try. The powder also boasts excellent lot-to-lot consistency and contains a proprietary de-coppering additive.

Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass

Lapua 6.5 creedmoor brass

The 6.5 Creedmoor has been “all the rage” at SHOT Show 2017. This cartridge, a proven winner in PRS competition, is riding a huge wave of popularity right now. There are many great factory rifles now offered with this chambering. And now we have superb Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass. You read that right Lapua is now producing ultra-premium 6.5 Creedmoor brass that will “raise the bar” for this cartridge. Lapua’s new brass features a small primer pocket and small flash hole (just like Lapua’s superb .220 Russian, 6mmBR, and 6.5×47 Lapua brass). This small primer pocket design can deliver longer brass life, and (potentially) enhanced velocities. We predict serious 6.5 Creedmoor shooters will be switching to this brass as soon as it becomes available later this year. NOTE: The new Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass can also be easily necked down for the 6mm Creedmoor.

New RCBS ChargeMaster Lite

shot rcbs chargemaster lite

RCBS unveiled a new, more affordable electronic powder scale/dispenser system. Called the ChargeMaster Lite, this new-for-2017 unit has some features we really like. The touch screen is easy to use and the power tray cover slips off easily — no more hinges to fight. Most importantly the CM lite has a redesigned, fluted dispensing tube which delivers powder kernels is a smooth flow with no clumps. The RCBS Rep told us “No more McDonald’s straw required”. We tested the unit and it does seem like the newly-designed dispensing tube is better. In fact, this new design will be adapted to the next generation of larger ChargeMasters.

Here is the RCBS Press Release: “The new RCBS ChargeMaster Lite packs unparalleled powder-measuring accuracy in a compact package. The one-piece unit features an LCD touchscreen display that ensures accurate data input. The hopper holds nearly a pound of smokeless powder, and can dispense anywhere between 2 to 300 grains with a +/-0.1-grain accuracy. The ChargeMaster Lite is an effective, accurate powder-measuring tool. Featuring 120/240 switching power supply, the ChargeMaster Lite is EU/UK/AUS compliant, includes a cleaning brush and two calibration/check weights and has an MSRP of $299.99.”

22 Nosler Brass and Ammunition

22 Nosler .223 remington ar15 6.8 spc

Here’s a new higher-capacity cartridge designed for folks who want to step up from the .223 Remington in their AR-platform rifle. Nosler has created a new SAMMI-spec cartridge which is similar to a 6.8 SPC necked down to .224 caliber. Nosler says the .22 Nosler cartridge will deliver significantly more velocity* than a .223 Remington, when shooting the same weight/type of bullet. For varminters using AR-style rifles, that’s a significant performance gain. We hope to test the 22 Nosler this spring in the varmint fields. This little round should definitely out-perform the standard .223 Rem cartridge while still operating from a standard AR platform, using the same bolt carrier group but with different, 6.8 SPC magazines.

Nosler explains: “Retrofitting a standard AR-15 chambered in .223 Rem / 5.56 NATO to a 22 Nosler is simple. All that is required is a simple barrel swap to the new 22 Nosler chambering, run 6.8 Remington SPC magazines instead of 5.56 magazines and the swap out is complete. Approaching 22-250 velocities in a significantly smaller package, the 22 Nosler® yields nearly 25% more capacity than the 223 Rem/ 5.56 NATO making the round capable of pushing a 55gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet at 3,350 fps out of an AR-15 fitted with an 18″ barrel and a 77gr Custom Competition® bullet at 2,950 fps.”

*When Nosler’s listed 22 Nosler velocities for 55gr and 77gr bullets are compared with .223 Rem maximum loads from Hodgdon load manuals, it looks like the speed gains with the 22 Nosler are 250-300 FPS, or about ten percent.

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January 19th, 2017

SHOT Show Pistol Parade — Bling Is the Thing

SHOT show pistol Desert Eagle 2017
Bring the Bling, Baby! This Desert Eagle Mark XIX features a highly polished Gold-Tone Titanium Tiger Stripe finish. Conspicuous Consumption, SHOT Show Style.

There were literally thousands of handguns on display at SHOT Show, most of which you could hold, cycle, and test the trigger pull. Among the hordes of handguns, we found some very eye-catching examples, such as the Gold-tone Titanium plated “Tiger Stripe” Desert Eagle above. Just what a Rap Star or Tin-Pot Dictator needs. Below are some other interesting handguns we saw at SHOT Show 2017

Ed Brown Signature Edition Engraved 1911
This Ed Brown Signature Edition Model 1911 boasts elaborate engraving over the entire slide and frame. The blueing is rich and deep (the photo does not do it justice). This is not an “entry-level” handgun, that’s for sure — the wholesale “dealer price” is a whopping $6,156.00. Expect to pay well over $7000.00 at retail. Beauty ain’t cheap.

Ed Brown 1911 Engraved Signature Edition

Smith & Wesson Performance Center 9mm Revolver with Hogue Mods
This handsome S&W Performance Center 9mm revolver features a beautiful Cocobolo and Walnut grip along with a special speed lever for the cylinder release. That speed lever assists rapid reloading of the pistol with moon clips. This kind of revolver is used in action shooting matches, such as the Bianchi Cup.

9mm Revolver S&W Hogue

Best of the Old West — A Slew of Schofields
At the Taylor & Company booth, there were hundreds of single action revolvers on display. Here is a brace of top-break Schofields. This design features a hinge at the front of the frame which allows rapid unloading. Based on the original S&W Model 3, the “Schofield” model was named after Major George W. Schofield, who modified the original Model 3 to better serve the needs of Cavalrymen. Smith & Wesson incorporated the Major’s mods into an 1875 design that now bears Major Schofield’s name. S&W Model 3 Schofield revolvers saw service in the Indian Wars, and they were popular with legendary lawmen and outlaws in the American West (including Jesse James).

S&W Model 3 Schofield Revolver Wild West

9mm 1911 — Havoc Dan Wesson Elite with Angled Reflex Sight
We like 1911s, and we like the 9mm Luger cartridge for its affordability and low recoil. Put the two together and you have a very accurate, shootable package, with a superb trigger. This bad-ass 9mm 1911 is a Dan Wesson Elite Series Havoc. It caught our eye because it boasts a C-MORE SlideRide red dot Reflex Sight mounted at an angle on the left side of the slide. Clever design — that gives you the advantage of the Red Dot Sight, with a lower profile. The Havoc, which sells for $4,299.00, is also offered in .38 Super.

Dan Wesson Havoc Elite 9mm Luger 1911 pistol

dan wesson 9mm elite havoc pistol

Taurus Spectrum — A Pastel Pistol Fashion Statement
Apparently small carry guns have become fashion items. Tauras displayed its new .380 ACP Spectrum pistol in a rainbow of frame/grip color combinations. Along with white frame and blue grip, there were gray/tan, gray/green, gray/red, and gray/blue versions. Taurus really does deliver a spectrum of colors…

taurus spectrum colored pistol .380 acp carry gun

Double Trouble — Two Super-Sized Revolvers
At the Smith & Wesson booth, one visitor showed off two mega-sized S&W Performance Center hunting revolvers. These jumbo S&W500™ wheelguns, chambered for the mighty 500 S&W Magnum cartridge, feature massive 10.5″ barrels plus muzzle brakes. Overall length is 18″. Size counts right?

S&W 500 hunting revolver pistol shot show

smith wesson 500 revolver shot show

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January 19th, 2017

Primer Pocket and Flash Hole Uniforming Basics

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has published a series of reloading “how-to” articles on its Facebook Page. This post explains how to uniform primer pockets and remove burrs in flash holes. These brass prep operations can help ensure greater consistency, shot after shot. Visit the USAMU Facebook Page each Wednesday for other, helpful “Handloading Hump-Day” tips.

Primer Pocket and Flash-Hole Conditioning

This week, we’ll address a question that frequently arises: “Do you uniform primer pockets and deburr flash-holes?”

As we tailor our handloading methods to the specific needs of each instance, the answer, not surprisingly, is “occasionally!” Generally, the USAMU Handloading Shop does not uniform primer pockets (PP) or deburr flash holes (FH) of our rifle brass. That’s not to say we’re against it — rather, it reflects the very high volume of ammunition loaded, the fact that very few cases are ever re-loaded for a second firing, and the types of brass we use. However, as a need is perceived, we DO deburr flash holes (of which, more later.)

As to the type cases we use, many thousands of our long-range 5.56x45mm cases come to us from the arsenal with the primer of our choice pre-installed and staked in per their usual practice. Obviously, we could not uniform either FHs or PPs on this live-primed brass. However, after careful sorting, inspection and preparation, we do obtain match-winning results with it. Regular readers have seen photos of some of the tiny 1000-yard test groups we’ve fired with weight-selected domestic brass which had neither Primer Pockets uniformed nor flash holes deburred.

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket
Figure 1 shows a fired, deprimed 7.62×51 case with primer residue intact. In Figure 2, the primer pocket has been uniformed to SAAMI specs. Note the shiny finish — evidence of the metal removed to uniform and square the primer pocket.

Shooters who reload their brass several times may decide to uniform PPs and deburr FHs, especially on their “300-yard and beyond” brass. Unlike us, they will be using their cases many times, while the operations are only needed once. Also, most handloaders only process a relatively moderate amount of brass compared to our 20-thousand round lots. Having high quality Long Range (LR) brass helps. Many of the better brass manufacturers form their flash holes so that no burrs are created.

Still, it does pay to inspect even THESE manufacturer’s products, as occasional slips are inevitable. Very rarely, some of these makers will have a significant burr in, say, 1 per 1000 or 2000 cases, and it’s worth catching those. Recently, we began processing a large lot of match brass from a premier manufacturer, and were startled to find that every case had a burr in the FH — something we’d never before seen from this maker. We then broke out the FH deburring tool and went to work.

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket

For those who do opt for these procedures, note that various tool models may have adjustable depth-stops. Pay attention to the instructions. Some flash hole deburring tools which enter the case mouth, not the primer pocket, depend on uniform case length for best results.

Does It Really Make a Difference?
It can be difficult to truly verify the contribution to accuracy of these procedures, particularly when firing from the shoulder, in conditions. Members of this staff, as individual rifle competitors, do often perform these operations on their privately-owned LR rifle brass.

One could ascribe this to the old High Power Rifle maxim that “if you think it helps, then it helps”. Another thought is to “leave no stone unturned” in the search for accuracy.

However, an extremely talented World Champion and Olympic Gold/Silver medalist commented on his own handloading (for International competition, which demands VERY fine accuracy). He noted that he did seem to see a decline in accuracy whenever he did not uniform FH’s, deburr FH’s and clean primer pockets before each reloading; however, with the wisdom of decades’ experience, he also remarked that “It could have been that I just wasn’t shooting as well that day.”

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