July 14th, 2020

In Memoriam — Donald “Stick” Starks, Rest in Peace

Donald Stick starks gunsmith texas memorial RIP

We’re saddened to announce that noted gunsmith Donald “Stick” Starks passed away last Wednesday. He succumbed to COPD, a disease he’d struggled with for many years. Stick Starks was respected as a knowledgeable gunsmith who built very successful competition rifles, and help popularize many innovative smithing techniques. As proprietor of S&S Precision Rifle in Texas, Stick built great rifles, and helped many folks get their start in competitive rifle shooting. In this Forum Thread, many folks recounted memories of Stick and expressed their sadness at his passing…

“Stick was a great friend and gunsmith. He will be missed.” — Chris Covell

Donald Stick starks gunsmith texas memorial RIPOnline Memorial for Donald “Stick” Starks
There will be an online memorial service for Stick Starks on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. This will work via the Zoom video meeting service. This may require you to install some software.

Memorial Service for Don “Stick” Starks

Time: July 15, 2020 at 10:00 AM Central Time

Zoom Meeting LINK:
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77118997881?pwd=R0pwWG9ZTFJjVEJXYlF2TGhIQnJjQT09

Zoom Meeting ID: 771 1899 7881

Zoom Meeting Passcode: stickman

This video shows Stick Starks at his very best, building a rifle with great attention to detail. He did superb chambering and metal work and his bedding jobs were as good as it gets.

Remembering Donald “Stick” Starks…

Eric Kennard posted: “I learned my good friend Don “Stick” Starks died … after a several year battle with COPD. Stick was an amazing and innovative gunsmith. He was a Master Machinist who built engines for dragsters and race boats in his past years. Stick was ornery as all get out. I will truly miss him. He built all of Kenny Adams’ rifles that led Kenny to becoming the 2013 World F-Class Champion. God Speed Stick.”

Donald Stick starks gunsmith texas memorial RIP

Forum member Thud added: “My best recollections of Stick is his helping both new and seasoned shooters. They would see him at the range or a match and make a bee line to talk to him. He would listen to their problems or ideas and comment on them. There were customers that would call several times a day just to talk, He always made a few minutes available to them so they flounder. For anyone who had a problem with their rifle — he was always will to help both at the range or in the shop. He was a easy-going guy yet a serious guy who would help anyone if you needed it.”

Forum member Bill (Boiler_House 7) praised Starks’ skills: “Don was such a nice guy and a super good friend. Some may not know this but he was a super talented automotive machinist back in the day as well. He turned out a lot of quality work on race motors at ABC performance in Odessa, Texas. Don is going to be missed by a lot of people he influenced with his knowledge through the years. RIP my friend.”

“Stick was the one who shoved me off the bank into the deep water of accurate rifles, and competitive shooting. The stainless steel Stiller Viper and red Robertson-stocked gun he built [for me] is truly a prized possession. I am really sad to see him go. May his breathing be easy now.” — D. Martin

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July 14th, 2020

What is Your #1 Favorite Reloading Equipment Item?

Wilson hand die arbor press Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets asked a few hand-loaders to reveal their favorite reloading tool or accessory: “What is your favorite ‘don’t know how you ever lived without it’ piece of reloading equipment?” Some of the answers are listed below. We were interested to see some high-tech, micro-processor items mentioned, such as the AMP Annealer, and the AutoTrickler powder dispenser. Old standbys, such as the rugged RCBS Rockchucker and Dillon 650, also made the favorites list. You can nominate your own favorite reloading hardware in the comments section of the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin answered: “A comparator gauge to measure from the base of a case to the ogive of the bullet. This bypasses the tip of the bullet, so I can repeat the same seating depth the next time I visit a specific combination.”

Forster Co-ax press

Bill, Editor of Rifleshooter.com, answered: “I have so many favorite reloading tools, it’s hard to pick one. But if I had to, it would be my Forster Co-Ax press. I like the ease [with which] you can change dies and that it doesn’t require traditional shell holders. It’s a great tool to have!”

Forster Co-Ax Press

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks answered: “I don’t know that you would actually call this equipment, but the item that comes to mind would be my reloading room/shoot house. I had always had to squeeze everything into a corner or even an unheated shed. After we bought our current house, I built a garage and placed it so that I had a window looking down a 250-yard range. I built a dedicated room with heat and A/C. It contains my reloading bench and a shooting bench. The shooting bench lets me slide open the window and shoot down the range. It is very handy to not have to load everything up to go to the range. It also makes load development a lot simpler and efficient. I don’t know how I ever got along without it.

I also wonder what I did before I acquired the Lyman 1200 DPS Powder Dispenser. This has made the process so much simpler and much easier. I also have a Lee Precison Universal Decapping Die that I would gladly spend the money on again. This may be a small thing, but it certainly is handy. The Lee would accommodate some very large cases that some of the others were too small for.”

Jon Addis answered: “Putting an A&D FX-120i scale with AutoTrickler and Auto-Throw on the bench has changed the way I reload. It’s kernel accurate in about 15 seconds. Saves time and reduces a variable. And of course, the system is made better by the Area 419 Billet Adjustable base for the trickler and Billet Powder Cup.”

This video shows the AutoTrickler V2 and Auto-Throw Combo:

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Carroll Pilant answered: “Dillon 550 and 650 presses.”

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box answered: “The Lee Precison hand priming tool.”

Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd answered: “A brass annealing machine and a RCBS Chargemaster complimented with a Sartorious scale.”

RCBS RockchuckerSierra Bullets Ballistician Gary Prisendorf answered: “RCBS Rock Chucker Press, it’s built like a tank, and it will last me a lifetime.”

Sierra Bullets Production Manager Chris Hatfield also answered: “RCBS Rock Chucker single-stage reloading press.”

Jeremy Kisner answered: “My Giraud trimmer has taken [three operations] and combined them into one easy task. I can now size my brass and then sit down and trim, chamfer, and debur to a 0.001″ tolerance in one motion.”

Dan Blake answered: “My Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) annealer. With consistent neck tension being one of the largest contributions to small Extreme Spread on muzzle velocities, I believe this induction annealer is truly the best on the market.”

This manufacturer-produced video shows how the AMP annealing machine operates:

Trevor Aldinger answered: “Area 419 Master Funnel Kit. In the past I’ve used plastic funnels and even other metal ones. This system fits case necks and flows much better than any others I’ve used, and there is no static since it’s metal. We spend a lot of time and money to get precise charges, I don’t want to lose or miss a kernel because of a cheap funnel.”

Area 419 Master Funnel kit

Tyler Riley answered: “My RCBS bench primer (priming tool). It has a lot more leverage than a hand primer and still has a good feel to how tight primer pockets are. Makes it much easier on my hands to prime large runs, especially new brass with tight pockets.”

Craig Arnzen answered: “My Annealeez [annealing machine] is one of the best tools in my reloading room. Neck tension is SO important, and annealing every firing really helps with that. This is an inexpensive tool that can anneal a lot of cases at once, and help me produce more consistent ammo.”

Josh Temmen answered: “Time is critical for me so my RCBS Chargemasters are indispensable (pun intended.) They cut down on time at my reloading bench while maintaining the weight tolerances required for long range shooting.”

Josh Bartlett answered: “I have my Dillon 650 set up with Whidden floating tool heads to do decapping and sizing on my match ammo. The case feeder and progressive function of the press save me a TON of time when doing lots of several hundred rounds.”

Ryan Brandt answered: “… A quality set of calipers. My reloading room is full of very nice equipment but little does more to satisfy my perfectionism than a good check with the calipers.”

Sierra Bullets

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July 14th, 2020

Tikka T3 Upgrades with Criterion Pre-Fit Barrels

Tikka T3 T-2 prefit chambered barrel 6.5 Creedmoor Solid Accuracy Criterion Barrels

We have always liked Tikka actions, and now there is a great re-barreling option for Tikka T3 owners. Criterion Barrels Inc. (CBI), makers of “pre-fit” barrels for Savage, Remington, and Rem-clone actions, also produces Tikka pre-fits. These pre-chambered barrels for Tikka T3 actions will be headspaced with a barrel nut, just like a Savage.

Tikka T3 T-2 prefit chambered barrel 6.5 Creedmoor Solid Accuracy Criterion Barrels
Click image for full-screen version

Criterion’s Tikka T3 pre-fit barrels are currently sold through Solid Accuracy, a respected Texas-based outfit that sells high-end scopes, stocks, barrels and other rifle components. Solid Accuracy states: “Each Solid Accuracy/Criterion pre-fit barrel features a hand-lapped bore and meets extreme quality control standards. Utilizing a proven barrel nut design, these barrels can be swapped in just a few minutes using only a barrel nut wrench and the appropriate headspace gauge set. Solid Accuracy offers finished lengths up to 30″ with multiple contour options.”

These Tikka pre-fits were introduced in 2017, and the accuracy results were impressive. Solid Accuracy’s initial test rifle featured a Tikka T3 action mounted in a KRG X-Ray chassis, with Criterion barrel chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. The group below was shot with a stout load of H4350 and Sierra 140 grain MatchKings seated .009″ in the lands.

Tikka T3 T-2 prefit chambered barrel 6.5 Creedmoor Solid Accuracy Criterion Barrels

Criterion is proud of how well the Tikka pre-fit project turned out. These barrels work great in the Tikka platform. One of Criterion’s staffers was so impressed with the initial test results that he is built his own Tikka T3 rifle, with a Criterion pre-fit of course…

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July 14th, 2020

Lake City Ammunition Production Start to Finish Video

lake city army ammunition plant

Lake City Ammunition PlantWhat’s the next best thing to a stockpile of gleaming, freshly-loaded ammo? How about a movie showing gleaming, freshly-loaded ammo being made — from start to finish? The five-minute video below shows the ammunition production process at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri. Lake City is the largest producer of small arms ammunition for the U.S. military, producing roughly four MILLION small-caliber rounds every day.

This promotional video does go overboard at times (too many smiling employees gushing about quality control). Still, it is fascinating to watch the process of creating cartridges — from the drawing (or extrusion) of raw brass into casings to the placement of projectiles and primers.

Lake City Ammunition Plant

Quick History of Lake City Ammunition Plant
Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP) is a 3,935-acre government-owned, contractor-operated facility in Independence, Missouri that was established by Remington Arms in 1941 to manufacture and test small caliber ammunition for the U.S. Army. The facility has remained in continuous operation except for one 5-year period following World War II. Remington Arms operated the plant from its inception until 1985. Then Winchester took over the facility from 1985-2000.

Prior to its acquisition by Northrup Grumman in 2018, Orbital-ATK ran the plant since late 2000, initially as Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Recently Olin Corporation announced that its ammunition division, Olin Winchester, LLC, has been selected by the U.S. Army to operate and manage the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant for the next seven years — Winchester will assume full operational control of the Lake City plant on October 1, 2020.

Credit GunsForSale.com for finding this YouTube Video.

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