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June 9th, 2022

Gas Gun Reloading Rules — USAMU Tips for ARs, Garands, M1As

Reloading for Service Rifles
SFC Lance Dement as featured in CMP’s First Shot Online.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has published a great series of reloading “how-to” articles on its Facebook Page. This post covers key factors to consider when loading ammunition for Match Rifles and Service Rifles, with a particular focus on self-loading “gas guns”. Visit the USAMU Facebook Page regularly for other, helpful reloading and marksmanship tips.

We offer some “cardinal rules” to help new gas-gun handloaders with safety and efficiency. These address both Match Rifle and Service Rifle versions of the AR15, M1 Garand, M1A, and M110. However, they can also improve safe reloading for many other auto-loaders such as M1 Carbines, FALs, SIGs, etc. The author distilled these principles many years ago to help focus on the essential aspects of these rifles.

RULE ONE: Service Rifles Are Not Benchrest Rifles
Gas-guns require a relatively loose fit between ammunition and chamber (vs. bolt actions) for safe, smooth operation. Many techniques, such as neck sizing and keeping cartridge headspace quite tight, are popular in the extreme bolt gun accuracy realm. However, they are of little value with Service Rifles, and some could even be hazardous. Before adopting a specialized technique, seriously consider whether it is appropriate and beneficial in a gas-gun.

RULE TWO: Never Compromise Safety to Obtain Accuracy
Example: If choosing a brand of great, but ultra-sensitive match primers offers possibly better accuracy at the risk of slam-fires in your design of rifle, don’t do it! You are issued exactly two eyes and ten fingers (best-case scenario). Risking them trying to squeeze 0.25 MOA better accuracy out of an M1A, etc. simply isn’t worth it.

Reloading for Service Rifles

RULE THREE: Tailor the Precision to Your Individual Skill and Your Rifle’s Potential
This has been addressed here before, but bears repeating for newcomers. If you are struggling to break out of the Marksman Class, or using a CMP M1 “As-Issued,” then laboriously turning the necks of your 600-yard brass is a waste of time. Your scores will improve much faster by practicing or dry-firing. On the other hand, if the reigning champions anxiously check your scores each time you fire an event, a little neck-turning might not be so far-fetched.

Verifying Load Improvements — Accuracy hand-loading involves a wide variety of techniques, ranging from basic to rather precise. Carefully select those which offer a good return on investment for your time and labor. In doubt? Do a classic pilot study. Prepare ammo for at least three or four ten-shot groups with your new technique, vs. the same with your standard ammo. Then, pick a calm day and test the ammo as carefully as possible at its full distance (e.g. 200, 300, or 600 yards) to verify a significant improvement. A little testing can save much labor!


This video explains the procedure for ordering an M1 Garand from the CMP.

RULE FOUR: Be Your Own Efficiency Expert
Serious Service Rifle shooters generally think of ammunition in terms of thousands of rounds, not “boxes”, or even “hundreds”. Analyze, and WRITE DOWN each step in your reloading process. Count the number of times each case is handled. Then, see if any operations can be dropped or changed without reducing safety or accuracy. Eliminating just two operations saves 2000 steps per 1000 rounds loaded. Conversely, carefully consider any measurable benefits before adding a step to your routine.

RULE FIVE: In Searching for Greater Accuracy with Efficiency, Look for System Changes
For example, instead of marking your 300-yard rounds individually to differentiate them from your 200-yard ammo, would a simple change in primers work? If accuracy is maintained, using brass-colored primers for 200 and silver for 300 provides an indelible indicator and eliminates a step! Similarly, rather than spending hours selecting GI surplus brass for weight and neck uniformity, consider splurging on some known, high-quality imported match brass for your 600-yard loads. Results should be excellent, time is saved, and given limited shooting at 600 yards, brass life should be long.

RULE SIX: Check All Your Primers Before Packaging Your Loaded Ammo
This seems simple and even intuitive. However, many slam-fires (which were much more common when M1s and M1As were the standard) are due, at least in part, to “high” primers. Primers should be seated below flush with the case head. The USAMU has addressed this at length in a previous column, but each round should be checked for properly-seated primers before they are packaged for use.

Reloading for Service Rifles

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June 9th, 2022

Rebate Programs for Guns and Reloading Gear

summer Factory rebate programs

Here are three current discount/rebate programs that can save you serious money on a new firearm. For example you can save $250 on a Christensen Arms Ranger 22. Or save $25-$75 on Browning rifles and shotguns. There are deals on pistols too — get $100 off a Beretta APX A1 Carry pistol.

Along with these gun discounts, RCBS is offering a $35 mail-in rebate on all its reloading presses and combo press kits. This $35 RCBS rebate works even on the lower-priced compact presses, such as the Partner Press.

Browning Firearms Summer Rebates

Receive a rebate of up to $75 when you purchase a new Browning firearm between May 27 and July 4, 2022. You get $50 off all X-Bolt Rifles, Citori CX and Hunter shotguns, and A5 and Maxus II shotguns. You can also get $25 back on all AB3 and Rimfire rifles, BPS shotguns, and pistols. The full $75 rebate is for the higher-end Citori shotguns (not CX or Hunter). CLICK HERE for Details.

Start Date: 5/27/2022
End Date: 7/4/2022

Christensen Arms Ranger $250 Rebate

Remington Rifle Shotgun $75 Off rebate gun

Save $250 when you purchase a Christensen Arms Ranger 22 rifle. The Ranger 22 features an aluminum receiver, carbon fiber tension-wrapped barrel, carbon fiber composite rimfire stock, and a match grade Rem 700-style trigger. You can purchase from KYGUNCO for $570.37 after Rebate. CLICK HERE for Details.

Start Date: 6/3/2022
End Date: 6/26/2022

Beretta APX A1 Carry $100 Rebate

beretta apx a1 pistol rebate 9mm

The Beretta APX A1 Carry pistol retails for $399.00, and a $100 Factory Rebate lowers your net cost to just $299.00. The 9mm Luger APX A1 Carry has 4 frame color options: Black, Gray, Brown (FDE), and OD Green. This is an extremely compact pistol. OAL is just 5.63″, and it weighs a mere 19.8 oz. unloaded. CLICK HERE for Details.

Start Date: 5/3/2022
End Date: 8/15/2022

RCBS Reloading Press and Press Kit $35 Rebate

rcbs reloading press rebate

If you buy any RCBS Reloading Press or multi-product Press Kit, RCBS will give you a $35 Rebate. While that’s great on a $350+ press kit, the rebate is a bigger percentage on a lower-cost press. Submit your Rebate Request ONLINE or with Mail-In Form. Here are products that qualify for the RCBS Rebate:

rcbs reloading press rebate

Start Date: 6/9/2022
End Date: 6/24/2022

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June 9th, 2022

Big Presses for Jumbo-Sized Cartridges Used in the ELR Game

Ko2m king two miles ELR .416 Barrett cheytac .50 BMG Extreme long range press

In the ELR game, particularly the King of 2 Miles (KO2M), it’s “go big or go home”. The top shooters run large-capacity cartridges that push large-caliber, ultra-high BC bullets at very high velocities. Bullets launched by cartridges such as the .416 Barrett can sustain supersonic velocities at Extreme Long Ranges — and that’s what it takes to win. The .416 Barrett can launch a 550-grain solid bullet at 3000+ FPS.

.416 Barrett cartridge ELR .50 BMG RCBS press
Photo from ELR Competitor Corbin Shell.

2018 and 2019 Kings of 2 Miles Loaded on RCBS Presses
So how do you load jumbo cartridges such as the .416 Barrett? It takes a big, heavy, super-strong reloading press. We’ve learned that two recent King of 2 Miles champions, Paul Phillips (2019) and Robert Brantley (2018) both loaded their KO2M ammo on RCBS AmmoMaster .50 BMG presses. Phillips loaded .416 Barrett ammo, while Brantley loaded a similar .416 MCS cartridge.

In 2018, Robert Brantley topped the field using his custom .416 MCS cartridge. Then in 2019, Paul Phillips won the K02M competition shooting a .416 Barrett, with Brantley a close second. Both Phillips and Brantley use the RCBS AmmoMaster .50 BMG single stage press kit and RCBS .416 Barrett dies to hand-load for extreme long-range. “My ammo has been much more consistent after switching to the RCBS press and dies,” remarked Phillips, who runs the Global Precision Group. Brantley said he uses RCBS products for most of his reloading needs — from the dies and AmmoMaster, to the ChargeMaster and Brass Boss. His custom .416 MCS loads launch a 550-grain bullet more than 3,100 fps.

Ko2m king two miles ELR .416 Barrett cheytac .50 BMG Extreme long range press

Loading with RCBS AmmoMaster .50 BMG Press
This video shows reloading with the RCBS AmmoMaster .50 BMG press. While this video shows .50 BMG cases being loaded, the principles are the same for loading the .416 Barrett cartridge or other big rounds. Big cases need big presses!

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