August 27th, 2017

Berger Southwest Nationals 2018 — Registration Opens

Berger Bullets SWN SW Nationals Southwest Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona

Registration has opened for the 2018 Berger Southwest Nationals at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. This is a GREAT match, the best in the West by far. The match runs February 5-11, 2018. By all means, attend if you can. The Grand Agg filled up last year, so we recommend you register soon.

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger’s SWN team reports: “Registrations for the 2018 Southwest Nationals open on Sunday, August 27th, at 6:00 am (PST). CLICK HERE for the Match Program (it is also available on the Desert Sharpshooters website and Berger Bullets website). We are also moving to an online registration this year, and entry fees will be paid online. Please note that due to our capacity limitations, each stage of the match is listed as a separate event. Please be sure to enter each of the stages you plan to participate in. This will allow us to include as many people as possible. If you have any questions, send email to michelle.gallagher [at] bergerbullets.com.”


2018 SWN Match Program PDF | 2018 SWN Online Registration

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Rekindle Old Friendships and Meet New Friends
Some shooters come to to the SW Nationals for the swag (the prize table is amazing). Others come for the sunshine (think warm 75-85° weather). And even more folks come to try out their shiny new toys and to test their skills against the nation’s best shooters.

But we’d say the number one reason most folks make the pilgrimage to Ben Avery every year is the camaraderie — the chance to connect with friends, rekindling connections that may go back decades. Fundamentally, then, the Berger SWN is about the people. For many of us, this is the only time of the year when we get a chance to meet fellow shooters from distant corners of the USA (and other nations).

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Compete Against the Best
If you want to test your mettle against some of the best shooters in the world, get yourself to Ben Avery in February. Here you can compete, shoulder to shoulder, against the best Sling and F-Class shooters on the planet. Guys like Derek Rodgers (newly-crowned F-TR World Champion), John Whidden (reigning Long Range National Champion), Nancy Tompkins (the first women to win the National High Power Championship), and Kenny Adams (past World F-Open Class Champion). If you want to play in the Big Leagues, Ben Avery is the place. Having said that, novice shooters will enjoy the experience as well, because you’ll find that these top shooters are (almost universally) happy to share their knowledge.

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Just to whet your appetite, here are videos from recent Berger SW Nationals. Yes, this match is as much fun as it looks!

Berger SW Nationals 2017

The North-by-Southwest team set new National Records in winning the 2017 F-TR team event.
Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger SW Nationals 2016

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger SW Nationals 2015

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

The Brain Trust — Experts Galore
The best minds of the shooting world come to Ben Avery every year. Got a question about ballistics? Well, Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz (photo below) will be happy to answer your questions between relays. Want some expert advice about wind reading? Seek out Mid Tompkins (usually found hanging around the club-house) or Emil Praslick, one of the most knowledgeable wind coaches on the planet. And if you have a gunsmithing question, you’ll find some of the top barrel-fitters and stock makers, including Doan Trevor and Gary Eliseo.

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Permalink Competition, News 6 Comments »
August 27th, 2017

Controlling Grip on Bullet — Why Bushing Size is Only One Factor

case neck bushing reloading die tension bullet release

Many novice hand-loaders believe that neck bushing Inside Diameter (ID) size is the only important factor in neck tension. In fact, many different things will influence the grip on your bullet and its ability to release from the case neck. To learn the ins and outs of neck tension, take some time and read this article carefully.

Neck Tension (i.e. Grip on Bullets) Is a Complex Phenomenon
While we certainly have considerable control over neck tension by using tighter or looser bushings (with smaller or bigger Inside Diameters), bushing size is only one factor at work. It’s important to understand the multiple factors that can increase or decrease the resistance to bullet release. Think in terms of overall brass-on-bullet “grip” instead of just bushing size (or the internal neck diameter in non-bushing FL dies).

Bullet grip is affected by many things, such as:

1. Neck-wall thickness.
2. Amount of bullet bearing surface (shank) in the neck.
3. Surface condition inside of neck (residual carbon can act as a lubricant; ultrasonic cleaning makes necks “grabby”).
4. Length of neck (e.g. 6mmBR neck vs. 6mm Dasher).
5. Whether or not the bullets have an anti-friction coating.
6.The springiness of the brass (which is related to degree of work-hardening; number of firings etc.)
7. The bullet jacket material.
8. The outside diameter of the bullet and whether it has a pressure ridge.
9. Time duration between bullet seating and firing (necks can stiffen with time).
10. How often the brass is annealed.
11. Amount (length) of neck sized (e.g. you can size only half the neck).
12. Interior diameter of bushing, or neck section of non-bushing die.

— and there are others…

One needs to understand that bushing size isn’t the beginning and end of neck tension questions, because, even if bushing size is held constant, the amount of bullet “grip” can change dramatically as the condition of your brass changes. Bullet “grip” can also change if you alter your seating depth, and it can even change if you ultrasonically clean your cases.

Redding neck bushingsIn our Shooters’ Forum a reader recently asked: “How much neck tension should I use?” This prompted a Forum discussion in which other Forum members recommended a specific number based on their experience, such as .001″, .002″, or .003″. These numbers, as commonly used, correspond to the difference between case-neck OD after sizing and the neck OD of a loaded round, with bullet in place. In other words, the numbers refer to the nominal amount of interference fit (after sizing).

While these commonly-used “tension numbers” (of .001″, .002″ etc.) can be useful as starting points, neck tension is actually a fairly complex subject. The actual amount of “grip” on the bullet is a function of many factors, of which neck-OD reduction during sizing is just one. Understanding these many factors will help you maintain consistent neck tension as your brass “evolves” over the course of multiple reloadings.

Seating Depth Changes Can Increase or Decrease Grip on Bullet
You can do this simple experiment. Seat a boat-tail bullet in your sized neck with .150″ of bearing surface (shank) in the neck. Now remove the bullet with an impact hammer. Next, take another identical bullet and seat it with .300″ of bearing surface in another sized case (same bushing size/same nominal tension). You’ll find the deeper-seated bullet is gripped much harder.

PPC lapua brassNeck-Wall Thickness is Important Too
I have also found that thinner necks, particularly the very thin necks used by many PPC shooters, require more sizing to give equivalent “grip”. Again, do your own experiment. Seat a bullet in a case turned to .008″ neckwall thickness and sized down .003″. Now compare that to a case with .014″ neckwall thickness and sized down .0015″. You may find that the bullet in the thin necks actually pulls out easier, though it supposedly has more “neck tension”, if one were to consider bushing size alone.

In practical terms, because thick necks are less elastic than very thin necks, when you turn necks you may need to run tighter bushings to maintain the same amount of actual grip on the bullets (as compared to no-turn brass). Consequently, I suspect the guys using .0015″ “tension” on no-turn brass may be a lot closer to the guys using .003″ “tension” on turned necks than either group may realize.

Toward a Better Definition of Neck Tension
As a convenient short-cut, we tend to describe neck tension by bushing size alone. When a guy says, “I run .002 neck tension”, that normally means he is using a die/bushing that sizes the necks .002″ smaller than a loaded round. Well we know something about his post-sizing neck OD, but do we really have a reliable idea about how much force is required to release his bullets? Maybe not… This use of the term “neck tension” when we are really only describing the amount of neck diameter reduction with a die/bushing is really kind of incomplete.

My point here is that it is overly simplistic to ask, “should I load with .001 tension or .003?” In reality, an .001″ reduction (after springback) on a thick neck might provide MORE “grip” on a deep-seated bullet than an .003″ reduction on a very thin-walled neck holding a bullet with minimal bearing surface in the neck. Bushing ID is something we can easily measure and verify. We use bushing size as a descriptor of neck tension because it is convenient and because the other important factors are hard to quantify. But those factors shouldn’t be ignored if you want to maintain consistent neck tension for optimal accuracy.

Consistency and accuracy — that’s really what this all about isn’t it? We want to find the best neck tension for accuracy, and then maintain that amount of grip-on-bullet over time. To do that you need to look not only at your bushing size, but also at how your brass has changed (work-hardened) with time, and whether other variables (such as the amount of carbon in the neck) have changed. Ultimately, optimal neck tension must be ascertained experimentally. You have to go out and test empirically to see what works, in YOUR rifle, with YOUR bullets and YOUR brass. And you may have to change the nominal tension setting (i.e. bushing size) as your brass work-hardens or IF YOU CHANGE SEATING DEPTHS.

Remember that bushing size alone does not tell us all we need to know about the neck’s true “holding power” on a bullet, or the energy required for bullet release. True bullet grip is a more complicated phenomenon, one that is affected by numerous factors, some of which are very hard to quantify.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
August 27th, 2017

Less Is More — Kowa’s Compact TSN-500 Series Spotting Scopes

Kowa spotting scope TSN-501 TSN-502 500 series close focus
This new Kowa TSN-501 optic just hit the market. You can pre-order at Creedmoor Sports.

The photo above tells the story. Kowa’s new TSN-500 series spotting scopes are VERY light — just 14.1 ounces (400 grams) and VERY compact — 9.4 inches in length (239mm). This is a game changer for hunters, varminters, PRS shooters, and anyone who wants a spotter that is easy to pack and carry. And for long-range competitors (F-Class, Palma) who use a spotter mainly to watch mirage, the TSN-501 (angled) may well do the job. That’s a big deal because this spotter costs less than $350.00 complete with 20-40X zoom eyepiece. Put the money you save into a new barrel, or a stock upgrade.

Kowa spotting scope TSN-501 TSN-502 500 series close focusKowa offers both an angled model TSN-501, and a straight model TSN-502. Both have a 50mm front objective. We think most rifle shooters will prefer the angled model, but hunters and pistol shooters may favor the straight model. Creedmoor says: “It’s the perfect spotting scope for 10 meter air rifle, 50 ft or even 50 meter smallbore. Its weight and size make it convenient to carry with your gear and allows you to have a lighter scope stand to hold it.”

Close Focus Capability
Kowas’ TSN-500 series scopes will focus down to 2.5 meters. Read that again — this is a really big deal for those who use their scope for nature observation (as well as shooting). With the ability to focus so close (inside 3 yards), this optic can perform many roles.

TSN-501 SPECIFICATIONS: Polycarbonate body; 239mmx125mmx72mm; 400gr (14.1 oz.); 50mm Objective; 20X-40X Magnification; 2.5mm to 1.3mm Exit Pupil.

Kowa spotting scope TSN-501 TSN-502 500 series close focus

Permalink New Product, Optics No Comments »