July 19th, 2018

AutoTrickler + AutoThrow System for Precise Powder Dispensing

autotrickler v2 autotrickler autothrow autothrower powder dispenser force restoration scale
The AutoTrickler/AutoThrow system dispenses powder with 1-2 kernel accuracy in just 10-12 seconds.

Review by Craig Arnzen of Area419.com
Guys in the PRS world are finally ready to admit — the more accurate we want to be, the more we should borrow practices from the F-Class and Benchrest worlds. There are no better examples of this that have popped up in the last year than the widespread adoption of highly accurate powder dispensers and high-end annealing techniques.

I’ll talk about the annealers another time, but today I want to introduce you to the powder dispenser contraption that is popping up on reloading benches everywhere — the AutoTrickler plus AutoThrow running with an A&D FX-120i magnetic force restoration scale.

The setup is priced firmly between the standard RCBS Chargemaster and the high-end $3,800 Prometheus powder dispensers. Depending on how you outfit it, and where you buy it, an AutoTrickler/AutoThrow setup will cost between $900 and $1,200. Figure $500-$525 for the A&D scale, $399.00 for AutoTrickler + AutoThrow (for A&D), and up to another $300 for Area 419 accessories.

autotrickler v2 auto-trickler autothrow autothrower powder dispenser force restoration scale

The AutoTrickler V2 by itself is $229-$269 (depending on scale model), while the AutoThrow is $199.00 purchased separately. Current AutoTrickler owners can add the AutoThrow as an upgrade. It’s worth it — the AutoThrow speeds up the dispensing process dramatically. Watch this video with the smart guy who invented the AutoTrickler and AuthoThrow systems, Adam McDonald:

AutoTrickler Inventor Adam McDonald Demonstrates the AutoThrow System:

How the AutoTrickler + AutoThrow System Works
The “brain” of this system is a micro-processor that controls the motors on the AutoThrow powder dispenser and the AutoTrickler, taking more than 100 readings per second from the scale. The process starts with the AutoThrow first dropping 90% of the charge directly into the pan via a vertical drop tube. Then the AutoTrickler finishes dispensing the charge with super precision, using its horizontal tube. This two-stage process allows the system to throw powder within a kernel or two of your target weight every time — in just 10-12 seconds.

Powder is dispensed onto an A&D FX-120i scale (other models, including a Sartorius Entris 64-1S can also be used) that is able to detect and register the weight of individual kernels very quickly, providing data back to the “brain”. The initial powder drop from the AutoThrow gets you within about 2 grains and then the AutoTrickler finishes in just a few seconds with amazing accuracy. When set up right, this system can weigh repeatably to within one or two kernels of powder.

Area 419 Accessories for AutoTrickler and AutoThrow
The system can also be outfitted with milled aluminum accessories from Area 419, adding adjustability, stability, and ergonomics to the process. We sell a base for the AutoTrickler that adds weight (to reduce movement when the stepper motor runs) and has adjustable feet to help tune the powder flow, a larger cup with handle (to reduce powder splashing when dumped from above) and upgrades for the auto-throw that enhance powder capacity and reduce noise and vibration.

Area 419 accessories billet base powder cup autotrickler v2 autotrickler autothrow autothrower powder dispenser force restoration scale

All in all, this is one of the most popular new ways to throw powder of the last year, and these systems are becoming common enough that we think they are here to stay. This video review by the 6.5 Guys offers some tips for setting up your AutoTrickler System with Area 419 base.

AutoTricker with Billet Base and AutoThrow Review by 6.5 Guys:

Product Purchase Links

AutoTrickler and AutoThrow: http://www.autotrickler.com/autotrickler.html
Area 419 Accessories: http://www.area419.com/product-category/reloading/at-accessories/
Balance + AutoTrickler + AutoThrow Combo: https://ce-products.myshopify.com/products/

This TECH TIP brought to you by Area 419
Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.com

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July 19th, 2018

Wilkinson Dominates in Score at .50 Caliber FCSA Championships

Walter Wilkinson .50 BMG fifty caliber FCSA Raton New Mexico Whittington Center Steyr HS .50

Retired Army Special Forces Sgt. Maj. Walter Wilkinson won two of the four individual 1,000-yard Score titles — for Light Gun and Hunter Classes — at the recent Fifty Caliber Shooters’ Association (FCSA) 2018 World Championships. In addition to his two individual score titles*, Wilkinson was also a member of the winning 4-shooter team.

The FCSA World Championships were held July 5-7, 2018 at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico. There were shooters from Australia, Great Britain, Spain and the USA in attendance. The FCSA 1000-yard matches have four classes: Light Gun, Heavy Gun, Unlimited, and Hunter. In the first three classes, the rifles are normally shot from a machine rest off the bench. Hunter Class requires the shooter to fire from the ground with a bipod. And that’s how Wilkinson shot all his relays…

Steyr HS .50 BMG FCSA

Remarkably, Wilkinson, who shot his near-“box stock” Steyr HS .50 equipped with factory bipod from the ground in the prone position, posted the FCSA Championships’ highest score, beating out shooters in the Light Gun, Heavy Gun, and even Unlimited Classes.

Beating the Benchresters — While Shooting Prone from Bipod
Wilkinson, a Gunsite instructor from Edgewood, NM, shot a two-day total of 290-10X for the Hunter Score, and his Light Gun Score total of 291-7X was the highest of any shooter in any class — most of whom were firing custom-built rifles from mechanical rests atop concrete benches. Wilkinson also placed fourth overall in the 2-Gun Aggregate, which factors both scores and average group sizes from both classes. Wilksonson’s score wins marks his third FCSA victory in the Hunter Class with his Steyr HS .50 since his first win in 2012, and this year he notched his first Light Gun Score World Title.

Walter Wilkinson .50 BMG fifty caliber FCSA Raton New Mexico Whittington Center Steyr HS .50

The Wicked Whittington Range at Raton
Nestled at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Whittington Center’s 1,000-yard range has notoriously tricky winds, especially in the afternoons. On the first day, Wilkinson shot on the afternoon relays. As usual, switching and swirling winds proved to be a formidable foe for all shooters. Wind coming from behind the shooters was switching from 4 O’clock to 8 O’clock and back again, often changing within seconds. Wilkinson was able to very quickly make wind judgments and adjust his hold accordingly. “I couldn’t do anything wrong,” Wilkinson said. “It was like every time the wind changed, I knew exactly where to hold, and the bullets just kept going where I wanted them to.

Walter Wilkinson FCSA .50 BMG fifty caliber

Walter Wilkinson FCSA .50 BMG fifty caliber
Photo courtesy Brett Berger.

Holding Off Right and Left for the Cycling Wind
“The highlights of the day were the last two strings of fire in Hunter Class during Relay 4″, Wilkinson explained. “I shot a 50-2X with a 9.8-inch group and a 49-2X with a 7.9-inch group. The Ten-Ring is right at 1.15 MOA, and when you keep them all in that, it says something about your rifle and your load. During both of those two strings, I changed from holding on the right side of the target to the left side during the string.”

Wilkinson’s .50 Delivered Quarter-MOA Groups During Load Testing
Wilkonson’ Steyr .50-Cal has always been an accurate rig. Back in 2012, when Wilkinson developing loads, the big rig showed outstanding accuracy: “As I was working up a load for the HS.50, I shot groups that amazed me. I was getting groups of 0.214 MOA at 220 yards, and I didn’t know what to think. All the bullets were going in the same hole, and it was like ‘Wow, I’ve really got a rifle that can shoot here’. That stunned Wilkinson: “With my [military] experience with the performance of the same .50 BMG cartridge overseas, I didn’t expect that kind of accuracy out of it.”

FCSA 50 caliber Fifty Cal world championships

Cost of Big-Bore Shooting
Is owning and shooting a 50 BMG caliber rifle expensive? Relatively speaking yes, but one must put it into perspective. Rifles may run from $2500 to $6000, maybe even more for a top of the line custom rifle. (Current MSRP for the Steyr H2 .50 is $5910.00). A premium long-range scope will set you back $1500 to $3000. And while excellent commercial ammo is available, it runs $3 to $5 per round! Most serious shooters start reloading for the rifle as soon as practical, not only for the economics of reloading but also for the ability to fine tune custom ammo for their specific rifle. It’s a very rare match that is won shooting commercial ammo.

*Wilkinson’s FCSA trophies state “Hunter Class Score World Champion” and “Light Class Score World Champion”. NOTE the FCSA also recognizes, for each class, a World Champion for Group size, AND a World Champion for combined Group and Score (Aggregate). Plus there are Championship Trophies for Two-Gun. This gets a little confusing. With other Disciplines there is only ONE World Champion per class, generally the competitor who has the best combination of Group Size and Score.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 1 Comment »
July 19th, 2018

Guided .50 Caliber Projectile — DARPA’s Steerable Bullet

DARPA Exacto .50 Caliber guided bullet

With the Fifty Caliber Shooting Association (FCSA) 2018 World Championships being in the news lately, we thought our readers might enjoy a report on some amazing 50-Caliber technology. For the past few years, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been developing a guided 50-Caliber projectile. No this is not an April Fools joke — this is for real boys and girls — DARPA has produced a guided bullet. Read on to learn how DARPA did it…

DARPA Exacto .50 Caliber guided bulletImagine if you could “steer” your bullet to the target, after the projectile leaves the muzzle. That has been a dream of marksmen ever since the first rifle was invented. Well that dream is now one step closer to reality, thanks to DARPA.

DARPA has developed a manueverable .50-caliber rifle bullet. DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program recently conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets. Inside EXACTO bullets are optical guidance systems, aero-actuation controls, and multiple sensors. The top-secret technology permits the trajectory of the bullet to be altered in flight, allowing the bullet to move left or right, or even fly in an arc around an obstacle.

A few years back, DARPA released a video showing EXACTO 50-caliber bullets in flight. Watch carefully and you will see the tracked trajectory appear to bend off in one direction in the last segment of the bullet’s flight. Here is the DARPA Video:

According to DARPA: “This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is initially aimed. EXACTO’s specially-designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement, and other factors that could impede successful aim.”

DARPA states: “For military snipers, acquiring moving targets in unfavorable conditions, such as high winds and dusty terrain commonly found in Afghanistan, is extremely challenging with current technology. It is critical that snipers be able to engage targets faster, and with better accuracy, since any shot that doesn’t hit a target also risks the safety of troops by indicating their presence and potentially exposing their location.”

The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) system seeks to improve sniper effectiveness and enhance troop safety by allowing greater shooter standoff range and reduction in target engagement timelines. The objective of the EXACTO program is to revolutionize rifle accuracy and range by developing the first ever guided small-caliber bullet. The EXACTO 50-caliber round and optical sighting technology expects to greatly extend the day and nighttime range over current state-of-the-art sniper systems. The system combines a maneuverable bullet and a real-time guidance system to track and deliver the projectile to the target, allowing the bullet to change path during flight to compensate for any unexpected factors that may drive it off course.

Technology development in Phase II included the design, integration and demonstration of aero-actuation controls, power sources, optical guidance systems, and sensors. The program’s next phase includes a system-level live-fire test and technology refinement[.]

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