June 3rd, 2018

Reloading Basics: Neck Tension, Expander Balls, and Bushings

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
One thing that plays a major role in building an accuracy load is neck tension. I think a lot of reloaders pretty much take this for granted and don’t give that enough thought.

So, how much neck tension is enough?

Thru the years and shooting both a wide variety of calibers and burn rates of powder, I’ve had the best accuracy overall with .002″ of neck tension. Naturally you will run into a rifle now and then that will do its best with something different like .001″ or even .003″, but .002″ has worked very well for me. So how do we control the neck tension? Let’s take a look at that.

First of all, if you’re running a standard sizing die with an expander ball, just pull your decapping rod assembly out of your die and measure the expander ball. What I prefer is to have an expander ball that [can give] you .002″ in neck tension [meaning the inside neck diameter is about .002″ smaller than the bullet diameter after passing the expander through]. If you want to take the expander ball down in diameter, just chuck up your decapping rod assembly in a drill and turn it down with some emery cloth. When you have the diameter you need, polish it with three ought or four ought steel wool. This will give it a mirror finish and less drag coming through your case neck after sizing.

Tips for Dies With Interchangeable Neck Bushings
If you’re using a bushing die, I measure across the neck of eight or ten loaded rounds, then take an average on these and go .003″ under that measurement. There are other methods to determine bushing size, but this system has worked well for me.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Proper Annealing Can Deliver More Uniform Neck Tension
Another thing I want to mention is annealing. When brass is the correct softness, it will take a “set” coming out of the sizing die far better than brass that has become to hard. When brass has been work hardened to a point, it will be more springy when it comes out of a sizing die and neck tension will vary. Have you ever noticed how some bullets seated harder than others? That is why.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Paying closer attention to neck tension will give you both better accuracy and more consistent groups.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
June 3rd, 2018

Build Your Own Portable Reloading Bench with B&D WorkMate

portable reloading benchA while back, we featured a portable reloading bench built on a Black & Decker Workmate. That proved a VERY popular do-it-yourself project so we’re showing it again, in case you missed it the first time.

Texan Robert Lewis made himself a great portable reloading bench from plywood mounted to a Black & Decker Workmate. The bench, roughly 22″ x 19″ on top, folds up to fit easily in your car’s trunk or behind the seats in a pick-up truck cab. Four recessed bolts hold the wood top section to the collapsible B&D Workmate.The sides and back of the unit are attached to the base with small nails. There is a small shelf (also nailed in place) which can be used to clamp a powder measure or hold a scale. Shown in the photo is a Harrell’s Benchrest measure and Harrell’s single-stage “C” press.

Click for Detail of Top.
portable shooting bench

The whole unit can be built for about $65.00 with pine, or $80.00 with oak (as shown). Robert explained: “The Workmate was $40. If someone bought a 2’x4′ sheet of 3/4″ oak plywood, I think it is around $30. Using pine plywood would be about half that. Fasteners were $3. Spar Urethane would be $5.”

Robert told us: “I used a couple ideas I found on the web. The Larry Willis website gave me the idea to use the Black and Decker Workmate as a base. I found the Workmate on sale for $40 and the top is made from oak plywood I had in my shop. I sealed the wood with three coats of Spar Urethane. The whole thing folds into a nice package for transportation to and from the range.”

Editor’s NOTE: In the time that’s transpired since we first ran this story, the price of a Black & Decker workmate has gone up. However you can still pick a WM225 Workmate for under $65.00. Target is currently selling WM225 Workmates for $64.99.

Click HERE for FREE WORKBENCH PLANS.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
June 3rd, 2018

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

Kowa spotting scope TSN-501 TSN-502 500 series close focus
This Kowa TSN-501 optic is small and affordable. You can order from 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 »