November 13th, 2019

TECH TIP: Turn Case-Necks Better with Optimal Cutter Angle

neck turning lathe cutter tip sinclair pma 21st Century

When neck-turning cases, it’s a good idea to extend the cut slightly below the neck-shoulder junction. This helps keep neck tension more uniform after repeated firings, by preventing a build-up of brass where the neck meets the shoulder. One of our Forum members, Craig from Ireland, a self-declared “neck-turning novice”, was having some problems turning brass for his 20 Tactical cases. He was correctly attempting to continue the cut slightly past the neck-shoulder junction, but he was concerned that brass was being removed too far down the shoulder.

Craig writes: “Everywhere I have read about neck turning, [it says] you need to cut slightly into the neck/shoulder junction to stop doughnutting. I completely understand this but I cant seem to get my neck-turning tool set-up to just touch the neck/shoulder junction. It either just doesn’t touch [the shoulder] or cuts nearly the whole shoulder and that just looks very messy. No matter how I adjust the mandrel to set how far down the neck it cuts, it either doesn’t touch it or it cuts far too much. I think it may relate to the bevel on the cutter in my neck-turning tool…”

Looking at Craig’s pictures, we’d agree that he didn’t need to cut so far down into the shoulder. There is a simple solution for this situation. Craig is using a neck-turning tool with a rather shallow cutter bevel angle. This 20-degree angle is set up as “universal geometry” that will work with any shoulder angle. Unfortunately, as you work the cutter down the neck, a shallow angled-cutter tip such as this will remove brass fairly far down. You only want to extend the cut about 1/32 of an inch past the neck-shoulder junction. This is enough to eliminate brass build-up at the base of the neck that can cause doughnuts to form.

K&M neck-turning tool

The answer here is simply to use a cutter tip with a wider angle — 30 to 40 degrees. The cutter for the K&M neck-turning tool (above) has a shorter bevel that better matches a 30° shoulder. There is also a 40° tip available. PMA Tool and 21st Century Shooting also offer carbide cutters with a variety of bevel angles to exactly match your case shoulder angle*. WalkerTexasRanger reports: “I went to a 40-degree cutter head just to address this same issue, and I have been much happier with the results. The 40-degree heads are available from Sinclair Int’l for $15 or so.” Forum Member CBonner concurs: “I had the same problem with my 7WSM… The 40-degree cutter was the answer.” Below is Sinclair’s 40° Cutter for its NT-series neck-turning tools. Item NT3140, this 40° Cutter sells for $14.99. For the same price, Sinclair also sells the conventional 30° Cutter, item NT3100.

Al Nyhus has another clever solution: “The best way I’ve found to get around this problem is to get an extra shell holder and face it off .020-.025 and then run the cases into the sizing die. This will push the shoulder back .020-.025. Then you neck turn down to the ‘new’ neck/shoulder junction and simply stop there. Fireforming the cases by seating the bullets hard into the lands will blow the shoulder forward and the extra neck length you turned by having the shoulder set back will now be blended perfectly into the shoulder. The results are a case that perfectly fits the chamber and zero donuts.”

* 21st Century sells carbide cutters in: 15, 17, 20, 21.5, 23, 25, 28, 30, 35, 40, and 46 degrees. PMA Tool sells carbide cutters in: 17.5, 20, 21.5, 23, 25, 28, 30, and 40 degrees, plus special short-neck cutters.

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November 13th, 2019

Home Defense: Shotgun vs. Pistol — What’s Your Best Option?

Home defense shotgun NSSF Clint Thunder Ranch
Shotgun Photo from Superior Security Concepts.

Shotgun vs. Handgun — which is better for home defense? That’s a question that inspires strong opinions on both sides. We think the best answer may be “both”. There are some situations where a pistol is most handy, while there are other situations where the power (and lethality) of the shotgun clearly wins out. Some would argue that the shotgun offers an “intimidation” factor that may better resolve a threat without a shot being fired.

The NSSF, in cooperation with Thunder Ranch Training Center, has created an interesting video that examines the Shotgun vs. Handgun debate. As the Cheaper Than Dirt Blog notes: “The primary argument against the shotgun is a longer length leading to less maneuverability. On the other hand, the pistol offers better maneuverability, but lacks the stopping power of a shotgun”. Moreover, the pistol may be less accurate, according to some critics. This NSSF video looks at the question from a logical standpoint — making some surprising points.

As you can see in this still frame from the video, the shooting stance of the pistol shooter (Clint) is NOT much more compact than that of the two shotgunners (compare actual muzzle positions). So a shotgun may actually be more handy inside a home than some people realize. Clint concludes that the gun selection debate “is all very easily solved by only one question: ‘If someone was going to run across a bedroom at you and they had a big knife, would you rather shoot him one time with a pistol or one time with a shotgun?’ When you answer the question you figure out why this [shotgun length] doesn’t really bother us. We simply take these [shotguns] and use them in a slightly different manner…”

Home defense shotgun NSSF Clint Thunder Ranch

In this video, Thunder Ranch Director Clint Smith explains why the overall length of a shotgun, as held in firing position against the shoulder, is not really that much greater than the “shooting stance length” of a handgun held in a proper firing position (with arms extended). Accordingly gun length/size should not be the deciding factor when choosing a firearm for home defense.

Whatever Weapon You Choose — Train with It
Fundamentally, you should use the firearm that is 100% reliable, and with which you have trained regularly. Mastery of a defensive firearm — whether shotgun or handgun — needs to be second-nature. You should be able to operate all the controls (safety, pump, decocker, slide, bolt handle etc.) by “instinct” based on hours of training. Likewise you should know how to operate the light/laser if your defensive firearm is so equipped. Importantly, you should be able to reload in darkness, and clear malfunctions without panicking.

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November 13th, 2019

Shooting 101 — Understanding Terminal Ballistics

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity

You’ve probably heard the term “Terminal Ballistics”. But do you really know what this refers to? Fundamentally, “Terminal Ballistics” describes the behavior of a projectile as it strikes, enters, and penetrates a target. Terminal Ballistics, then, can be said to describe projectile behavior in a target including the transfer of kinetic energy. Contrast this with “External Ballistics” which, generally speaking, describes and predicts how projectiles travel in flight. One way to look at this is that External Ballistics covers bullet behavior before impact, while terminal ballistics covers bullet behavior after impact.

The study of Terminal Ballistics is important for hunters, because it can predict how pellets, bullets, and slugs can perform on game. This NRA Firearm Science video illustrates Terminal Ballistics basics, defining key terms such as Impact Crater, Temporary Cavity, and Primary Cavity.

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity

External Ballistics, also called “exterior ballistics”, is the part of ballistics that deals with the behavior of a non-powered projectile in flight.

Terminal Ballistics, a sub-field of ballistics, is the study of the behavior and effects of a projectile when it hits its target.

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity

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