March 19th, 2018

Reloading Rooms and Fire Hazards — True Story

Electrical Fire Tumbler ExtinguisherA fire in the home is always to be feared. And a fire in your reloading room can be disastrous. Near your reloading bench you probably have flammable solvents, and maybe gunpowder. What would happen if an electrical fire started in your reloading room? Would you be alerted? Do you have a proper fire extinguisher at hand?

Here’s a true story from Forum Member Joe O. (aka “Joecob”) that provides a valuable safety lesson. After Joe started up his old tumbler, an internal connector worked loose, causing an arc which started a fire in his basement reloading area. Luckily Joe had a functioning smoke detector, and a fire extinguisher.

Very few of us would worry about fire when we plug in a tumbler or other AC-powered reloading tool. But there is always the possibility of a malfunction and a fire. Quick thinking (and a handy extinguisher) prevented serious damage to Joe’s reloading room and house — but things could have been worse (much worse), had Joe not responded quickly.

Fire in the Reloading RoomReport by Joecob
The day before ‘Sandy’ hit I was cleaning brass the way I always have. I set the vibratory tumbler on the back of my reloading bench in the basement. I loaded the media hopper with 40 fired empty brass cases (and walnut media), plugged the cord in, turned the tumbler on and went back upstairs to watch TV. I could hear the tumbler running in the background.

About half an hour later I heard the basement smoke alarm go off. I ran downstairs. Flames were licking from the melting plastic of the tumbler.

ABC fire extinguisherI grabbed the nearby ABC cannister extinguisher and squirted out the fire and soaked the charred bench areas with water. Good thing I had the extinguisher! And I was glad I religiously store powder and primers properly — away from the bench (and everything else).

What caused the fire? It looks like an internal AC connector finally vibrated loose enough to arc and ignite the plastic. WHEH! I had been using that thing for 25 years the same way without mishap. Guess I should have known to periodically check the guts of a thing that plugs in and vibrates for a living?

Today I went out and bought a new even bigger ‘Pro’ ABC extinguisher, plus a dual-detector smoke alarm, and an ultrasonic cleaner. That experience was scarier than the storm. I hope this true account might help someone else to avoid a bad experience.

In his account, Joe refers to an “ABC” cannister fire extinguisher. The “ABC” refers to the fire classification rating: Class A (trash, wood, and paper), Class B (liquids and gases), and Class C (energized electrical equipment) fires. There are many brands of ABC-rated extinguishers.

The rechargeable Kidde 210 unit (sku 21005779) contains four pounds of a multipurpose monoammonium phosphate dry chemical extinguishing agent. It has a discharge time of 13 to 15 seconds, a discharge range of 10 to 15 feet, and an operating pressure of 100 PSI. The seamless aluminum cylinder measures 4.5 inches in diameter and 15.7 inches tall. The Kidde 210 has a 6-year limited warranty. This is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller among Fire Extinguishers.

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March 18th, 2018

PacNor Barrels Can Shoot — 1.240″ Group at 500 Yards Is Proof

6BR 6mmBR Preacher PacNor

You don’t hear much about PacNor barrels in long-range competition, but FORUM member Wes J (aka P1ZombieKiller), proved that they can shoot “lights-out” in a rig assembled by a talented gunsmith. A few seasons back, Wes decided to upgrade a 6mmBR for mid-range benchrest and varmint matches. Wes tells us: “Since I restocked my 6BR … I have not had a chance to shoot it much since I have been playing the 100-200 game. I decided to take it out and do some playing at 500 yards. I have to give some serious props to my buddy (and fellow FORUM member) ‘PREACHER’ who did the chambering and barrel work for me. He can certainly make a gun shoot good. The barrel is a PacNor 1:8″ twist. My load was 105gr Berger VLDs pushed by 29.6 grains of Varget.” The five-round, 500-yard group shot by Wes J with his 6BR, measured just 1.240″, as measured by OnTarget software. Now that’s one accurate rig!

Five by Five — 5-Shot Group at 500 Yards, 1.240″, 0.237 MOA
6BR 6mmBR Preacher PacNor

This Editor knows something about the potential of a PacNor barrel. I have a 3-groove stainless PacNor SuperMatch on a Savage-actioned 6BR. This barrel shoots honest quarter-MOA in calm conditions, and it cleans up super-easy. The interior finish is so good, I’ve never had to brush the bore or use abrasives, and after 750 rounds it shoots as well as ever. I attribute the easy cleaning to the fact the lands in a PacNor 3-groove are wide and flat, so they are gentle on bullet jackets. I think accuracy is helped by the fact that my PacNor runs on the tight side (0.236 land dimension) with a good amount of choke. That works well with the 105gr Lapua Scenars and 103gr Spencers I like to shoot. You can read more about my rifle, nick-named the “Poor Man’s Hammer”, in this Feature Article from our archives. On one particularly calm day, in the hands of my friend (and ace trigger-puller) Joe Friedrich, the Poor Mans’ Hammer put 3 shots in under 0.200″ (measured center to center) at TWO Hundred yards. If you get a good one, PacNor three-grooves can definitely shoot.

OnTarget SoftwareTarget Measurement with OnTarget Software
We used OnTarget software to measure the 5-shot group in the target above. This easy-to-use software is very repeatable, once you get a feel for plotting the shots. The latest On Target v2.25 Precision Calculator is FREE for a 15-day evaluation period. If you like it (and you will, trust us) there’s a modest $11.99 registration fee to activate the program. In addition to group size (in inches), OnTarget plots distance to aiming point, and the software automatically calculates the group’s vertical height, horizontal dispersion, average to center (ATC), and group size in MOA.

You can run a measurement on a scanned target or a photo of a target. You’ll need some known reference to set the scale correctly. The target above had a one-inch grid so it was easy to set the scale. Once you’ve set the scale and selected bullet diameter and target distance, you simply position the small circles over each bullet hole and the OnTarget software calculates everything automatically, displaying the data in a data box superimposed over the target image. To learn more about OnTarget Software, read’s OnTarget Product Review. This article covers all the basics as well as some advanced “power user” tips. NOTE: Since the review was written, On Target has updated the software, and the free version now has a time limit.

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March 16th, 2018

Enhance Mental Function to Shoot Better Scores

Shooting Sports USA Brain mental game psychology cerebellum

Looking to improve your competition skills? The Shooting Sports USA website has scores of informative articles that can help your score higher at your next shooting tournament. You’ll find articles on wind reading, position shooting, match strategies, and much more.

One great Shooting Sports USA article, Shooting is 90% Mental, was penned by Chip Lohman (SSUSA’s former Editor). With the help of two very smart Ph.D types, Judy Tant and Mike Keyes, Lohman examines the mental processes involved in the shooting sports. Chip’s co-authors have impressive credentials. Dr. Judy Tant is a Clinical Psychologist and National Bullseye Pistol Champion. Dr. Michael J. Keyes, is a licensed Psychiatrist and former physician for the U.S. Shooting Team.

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article in Shooting Sports USA Online Magazine.

Visualization, Brain Function, and Muscle Memory
If you shoot competitively, this is definitely a “must-read” article. The authors examine how the brain functions under stress, how “visualization” can be used to improved performance, how “brain speed” can be enhanced through proper training, and how the brain stores learned routines into “muscle memory.” And that’s just for starters — the article gives many concrete examples of techniques top shooters have employed to improve their “mental game” and shoot higher scores.

Brain Speed and Trigger Control:
Shooting Sports USA Brain mental game psychology cerebellumResearch: Scientists believe that the newer frontal lobe may not be able to keep up with “deep” brain signals that transmit at nearly 300 mph. This is explained when athletes talk about “letting go,” rather than over-thinking the shot. This conscious signal can take up to 0.3 seconds from recognizing the desired sight picture to moving the trigger finger — too long to capture the opportunity for a perfect shot. However, if the signal is initiated spontaneously in the cerebellum where such procedures are thought to be stored through repetition, the reaction speed is much quicker. Signals are processed by the “deep brain” almost twice as fast as the problem-solving frontal lobes.

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March 8th, 2018

eBook Edition of Zeglin’s ‘Wildcat Cartridges’ Now Available

Zegline Wildcat Cartridges ManualFred Zeglin has released a Kindle eBook edition of his popular book Wildcat Cartridges — Reloader’s Handbook of Wildcat Cartridge Design. Gunsmith/author Zeglin explains: “The print edition of Wildcat Cartridges has gone out of print. We have plans to produce a second edition, but that is currently on the back burner. Demand of this book has remained strong so the decision to offer the first edition in a e-book format was made.” The Kindle eBook edition retails for $9.99 on You can preview a FREE SAMPLE of the book to “try before you buy”.

CLICK HERE to Read FREE eBook Sample from Zeglin’s Wildcat Cartridges

This is more than just a history of cartridges. Dimensional drawings and loading data accompany many of the cartridge descriptions. More recent and popular designs are included as well as the “classic” older wildcats. There are chapters about important cartridge designers like P.O. Ackley, Jerry Gebby, Rocky Gibbs, and Charles Newton. (The hardback edition of the book contains 288 pages of stories, illustrations, instructions, and data.)

Gunwriter Wayne Van Zwoll says Zeglin’s book is a valuable resource: “Fred has illustrated his book well, with neat line drawings and photos you probably won’t find anywhere else. It’s a rare technical treatise that draws you in with illustration, or that keeps you with an easy flow of chat that, were it lifted from print, might pop up at any gun counter or handloading bench. Fred Zeglin has done well with this book, giving wildcatters – indeed, all rifle enthusiasts – an overview of a culture often mentioned but little explored on the page.”

Writing about the 2005 Print Edition of Wildcat Cartridges, Big Bore Journal declared: “This is a fantastic book on American wildcats, US loads and much more. A must have for wildcatters and gunsmiths.”

About the Author
An award-winning writer, Fred Zeglin operates Z-Hat Custom, and Hawk Cartridges. Fred has taught classes for the NRA Gunsmithing Schools in Colorado and Oklahoma. He served as production manager for McGowen Precision Barrels for a time, and was a tech advisor for 4D Reamer Rentals. To learn more about Z-Hat and Fred’s Wildcat Cartridges eBook, contact:

Z-Hat Custom Inc.
Fred Zeglin
432 E. Idaho St., Suite C420
Kalispell, MT 59901

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March 6th, 2018

Get Gun Law Info for All 50 States on NRA-ILA Website

NRA-ILA state law gun Arizona reciprocity

Got questions about gun laws in your home state? Are you curious if other states recognize your carry permit? You can get quick answers to state gun law questions on the NRA-ILA website. The NRA-ILA has compiled gun law information for all 50 states. From the NRA-ILA home page, scroll down, to a box titled “Know Your State’s Gun Laws”. Use the simple pull-down menu to select your state. Then a page will open with key legal information.

For example, shown below are the NRA-ILA’s gun law highlights for Arizona. (The NRA-ILA website has more detailed information on purchase, possession, and carrying of firearms). You will find useful law summaries like this for all 50 states. This can help you understand the laws of other states when traveling — to stay out of trouble. NOTE: While you can use these NRA-ILA law summaries as a starting point, if you have complex questions about gun transfers, we recommend you consult an attorney in your state.

NRA-ILA state law gun Arizona reciprocity

NRA-ILA state law gun Arizona reciprocity

Remember that State Laws Can Change — And Read the Fine Print
Note: For all the state legal summaries (including Arizona above), the NRA-ILA includes an important disclaimer, noting that states laws change frequently: “We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change. The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include: restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition. For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.”

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March 4th, 2018

Top Ten Reasons Why Shooting is Tougher than Basketball

hap rocketto march madness basketball Top 10 hoops tournament

“March Madness”, the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, is just nine days away. (2018 Dates are March 13 through April 2). Here’s a clever piece by Hap Rocketto that examines the game of B-Ball and explains why shooting targets is actually more difficult than shooting hoops. This story originally appeared in the Hap’s Corner section of Hap is a rare talent in the gun world — a serious shooter who also has unique insights, and a great sense of humor. We recommend you visit to enjoy the many other interesting Hap’s Corner postings.

by Hap Rocketto
I know shooting is tougher than basketball…. Come on, just how difficult is it for five tall guys to help each other toss a big ball into a basket? Granted basketball is more physically demanding than shooting a rifle, but I think that blasting a quarter-size group into the center of the target at 100 yards all by yourself is a far more difficult task than working as a team to dunk a ball.

Therefore, in the style of Late Night talk show host David Letterman, I have constructed a list of ten reasons why rifle shooting is tougher than basketball.

TOP TEN REASONS Why Rifle Shooting is Tougher Than Basketball

10. When you get tired in basketball the coach just calls time out and replaces you with someone fresh. Not so in shooting.

9. When’s the last time a basketball player had to make a shot with the sun in his eyes?

8. How often does a basketball player have a perfectly good shot blown out by the wind?

7. If a basketball player places a shot a little higher than intended, no problem. The backboard causes the ball to bounce into the basket. No such luck in shooting.

6. Rifle matches commonly run all day. When was the last time you saw a basketball game run more than an hour or so?

5. If you’re not making your shots in basketball, you can just pass the ball to someone who is hot. No such convenience in shooting.

4. Rifle bullets travel faster than the speed of sound (roughly 300 meters per second). Basketballs top out at around 15 meters per second.

3. A basketball player can shoot from anywhere on the court that is convenient and comfortable. All riflemen shoot from the same distance.

2. A basketball player may shoot as often as the opportunity arises and is not limited to the number of shots taken. A rifle match requires that each rifleman shoot the same number of record shots. If they shoot more than allowed, then a penalty follows.

1. And the Number One reason why shooting is tougher than basketball is that, if you miss a shot in basketball you, or a team mate, can just jump up, grab the ball, and try again. Try that in shooting.

The only real similarity between the two sports is that a competitor attempts to score points by shooting. In rifle it is through a hard-hold and easy squeeze in prone, sitting, kneeling and standing; while in basketball it is via hook shots, jump shots, lay-ups, or the dramatic, ever crowd-pleasing, slam dunk.

About the Author: Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the CMP website, and

Credit John Puol for finding this article and communicating with Hap Rocketto.

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March 2nd, 2018

F-Class Team USA Invites Shooters to Championship Quest

Team USA U.S. U.S.A. f-class f-open Raton Ben Avery F-TR Under 25 Dan Bramley Phil Kelley Rick Jensen

How would you like to represent the United States in top-level International Shooting competitions? Well, if F-Class is your game, here is your opportunity. F-Class Team USA will be conducting try-outs for the United States squads who will represent our country in F-TR and F-Open divisions (plus Under-25) at the 2021 World Championships. The try-outs are open to any competitive shooter with a class-compliant rifle and the will to win. Team leadership expressly welcomes newcomers.

Team USA U.S. U.S.A. f-class f-open Raton Ben Avery F-TR Under 25 Dan Bramley Phil Kelley Rick Jensen

Initial and primary tryouts are planned during the 2018 U.S. National Championships in Raton, NM, and the 2019 SW Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. There may also be an early 2019 tryout date at Butner, NC.

Dan Bramley Invites Shooters to Team USA F-Class Try-Outs

Official Invitation to Team USA F-Class Try-Outs
To the F-Class Community–

On behalf of Team USA 2021, we are pleased to invite the best of USA F-class to consider joining our effort for the 2021 World Championships in Bloemfontein, South Africa. We are reaching out with this invitation to provide some general information on our plans for 2021 and for upcoming try-out dates for the unified Team USA: F-TR, F-Open, and Under 25.

We are moving forward with F-Open, F-TR, and Under 25 unified as one USA F-class 2021 Team. This will allow us to take advantage of each team’s strengths and provide needed purchasing power and coordination for event and logistic costs. We also believe this will help encourage and grow our sport. We will share ideas, event/facility dates and best practices within this unified team, however, individual team segments will make their own decisions. Therefore, please direct your responses and inquiries to the appropriate team leadership.

Team USA U.S. U.S.A. f-class f-open Raton Ben Avery F-TR Under 25 Dan Bramley Phil Kelley Rick JensenBeing part of Team USA is a major commitment of time and resources. We do have wonderful and sizable sponsorship partners who we thank and rely on for moderating individual team member costs. However, due to the location of this World Championship effort, one can expect to help cover a commensurate level of the costs.

We are now moving into the USA “development team” stage of the process. This team is open to newcomers… there are many newer names showing up on the top of leader-boards and many new teams that are making positive impacts. If you are interested in being part of Team USA, please consider making that commitment. We would like to hear from you by March 23, 2018.

Team Time Expectations
Attendance at SWN and US Nationals will be expected for 2019 and 2020. We will also likely expect the final team to attend the Berger SWN in 2021 or have an alternative site for a final practice prior to our trip. We will try to have afternoon or evening team sessions during these events however we may have team days just prior or after these events to maximize the use of individual travel dollars and time. We will also likely have additional team training dates in 2019 and 2020, likely on east coast ranges to facilitate best availability for all.

Shooting/Coaching Position Opportunities
We are equally passionate about developing coaching/shooting teams for winning gold medal efforts in both the Richardson Cup (8-man) and Rutland Cup (4-man) World Championship Events. Obtaining a shooting or coaching spot on one of these teams is an absolute gauntlet of a commitment and consistent strong results will be required as the USA is blessed with wonderful depth. We encourage all, with proven success in our sport, to test themselves at this highest of levels.

Team Try-Out Dates and Locations
Initial and primary tryouts are planned during the 2018 US National Championships in Raton, NM and the 2019 SW Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. There may also be an early 2019 tryout date at Butner, NC.

If you are interested in further information, please contact our Team USA leadership:

Dan Bramley, Captain USA F-Open
usrifleteam2021fopen [at]
Phil Kelley, Jr., Captain USA F-TR
usarifle2021 [at]
Rick Jensen, Captain USA U25
U25USAFclass [at]

Team USA U.S. U.S.A. f-class f-open Raton Ben Avery F-TR Under 25 Dan Bramley Phil Kelley Rick Jensen

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March 1st, 2018

“Mirage Is Your Friend” — How Mirage Can Reveal the Wind

wind mirage spotter spotting scope
David Tubb sets up his spotting scope so he can easily see through it with his LEFT eye, without shifting his head and body position.

Mirage as a Wind Indicator

Read FULL ARTICLE in Midsouth Shooters Blog
wind mirage spotter spotting scopeby Glen Zediker
Most good shooters use mirage as their leading indicator to spot changes in the wind. With well-designed stand, the scope can be set it up where you can see the wind with the left eye and see the sight with the right without anything more than a visual focus shift. That gets the shooter back on the trigger with the least chance of missing another change. In the photo above you can see 11-time National High Power Champion David Tubb using a spotting scope set up for his left eye.

There are resources that give clues or evidence of wind direction and strength: wind flags, observation of grass and trees, and mirage.

Almost always I use mirage as my leading indicator. Mirage (heat waves) is always present but you’ll need a scope to read it. For 600 yards I focus my scope about halfway to the target. Mirage flows just like water and the currents can be read with respect to wind speed as well, but it’s not clearly accurate beyond maybe a 15 mph speed. The thing is that mirage shows changes, increases or decreases, and also direction shifts, really well.

A couple more things about mirage flow: when mirage “boils,” that is appears to rise straight up, either there’s no wind or the scope is dead in-line with wind direction. And that’s a quick and accurate means to determine wind direction, by the way, move the scope until you see the boil and note the scope body angle. Here’s another tip — the boil can predict when a “fishtail” wind is about to change, a boil precedes a shift.

wind mirage spotter spotting scope

You don’t need to spend big bucks for an effective spotting scope to view mirage. You can get the Vortex 20-60x60mm Diamondback angled spotting scope for just $395.00 from Amazon. That’s complete with 20-60X zoom eyepiece. Though inexpensive, the Vortex Diamondback is popular with many competitive shooters and hunters. No, it doesn’t offer the sharpness of an 80mm Kowa Prominar or Swarovski spotting scope, but you’ll pay $2400+ just for the body of those high-end optics.

Choice of EyePiece — Wide-Angle LERs Work Well
I use a long-eye-relief 20X to 25X wide-angle eyepiece. That setup shows the flow best. And pay attention to where the wind is coming from! See what’s headed your way, because what’s passed no longer matters. That’s true for any indicator. Right to left wind? Read off the right side of the range.

Once I get on target then all I am doing is watching for changes. It’s really uncommon to make a big adjustment between shots. The fewer condition changes you are enduring, the easier it is to keep everything on center. That’s why I shoot fast, and why I start at the low point in a wind cycle.

sighters spotting scope mirageMaking Corrections with Limited Sighters
Here’s a Tip for NRA High Power matches where only two sighters are allowed: “Make a full correction off the first sighting shot location! Even if there are minor changes afoot, that’s how to know how well you assessed condition influence pre-shot. Don’t second-guess. After the second sighter you should be on target and then simply watching for changes. Pay attention, correlate visible cues to the results of prior shots, and if in doubt, click into the wind.”

Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Glen Zediker and Zediker Publishing. Glen is an NRA High Master who earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information and articles visit

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February 23rd, 2018

Download Classic Shooting and Marksmanship Books for Free

download free gun books

Free Classic Shooting BooksIn today’s economy, Free is good. Here’s a list of classic, older shooting books that can be downloaded for FREE from Google Books. This list includes many classic treatises on marksmanship that still have value for today’s competitive shooters. In addition, we’ve included illustrated firearm histories, such as Townsend Whelen’s fascinating book, The American Rifle, and The Gun and its Development (9th Ed.), by William Wellington Greener.

In the list below, the title link will take you to the Google Books page for each book. You can read the entire book online, or you can download it to your computer as a PDF file* and save it (or print it). You can also create your own Google Library and save the books there for access from any computer.

The Bullet’s Flight From Powder to Target, Franklin W. Mann, 1909, 384 pages.

Irish Riflemen in America, Sir Arthur Blennerhassett Leech, 1875, 216 pages.

The American Rifle, Townsend Whelen, 1918, 637 pages.

Suggestions to Military Riflemen, Townsend Whelen, 1909, 243 pages.

Modern Rifle Shooting From the American Standpoint, W. G. Hudson, 1903, 155 pages.

The Gun and its Development, William Wellington Greener, 1907 (9th Ed.) 846 pages.

Manual for Rifle Practice: Including Suggestions for Practice at Long Range, George Wood Wingate, 1879, 303 pages.

How I Became a Crack Shot — With Hints to Beginners, W. Milton Farrow, 1882, 204 pages.

Cartridge Manufacture, Douglas Thomas Hamilton, 1916, 167 pages.

Description and Rules for the Management of the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903, United States Army Ordnance Dept., 1904 (5th rev. 1914), 72 pages.

Springfield 1903 rifle U.S. Army

*To download a book, first click the title from the list above. Then, once you’re at the Google book site, look for the icon that looks like a gear in the upper right-hand corner. Click that and a pull-down menu will appear. Select “Download PDF” from the menu — this will bring up a security question to make sure you are a human. Respond to the security question correctly and your normal download prompt will appear. Choose a location to hold your new e-book, and click “save”.
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February 22nd, 2018

How Bullets Fly — Mysteries Revealed by German Ballistician

Bullet External Ballistics
“The overturning moment MW tends to rotate the bullet about an axis, which goes through the CG (center of gravity) and which is perpendicular to the plane of drag….

Ruprecht Nennstiel, a forensic ballistics expert from Wiesbaden, Germany, has authored a great resource about bullet behavior in flight. Nennstiel’s comprehensive article, How Do Bullets Fly, explains all the forces which affect bullet flight including gravity, wind, gyroscopic effects, aerodynamic drag, and lift. Nennstiel even explains the rather arcane Magnus Force and Coriolis Effect which come into play at long ranges. Nennstiel’s remarkable resource contains many useful illustrations plus new experimental observations of bullets fired from small arms, both at short and at long ranges.

Shadowgraph of .308 Winchester Bullet

Bullet External Ballistics

A convenient index is provided so you can study each particular force in sequence. Writing with clear, precise prose, Nennstiel explains each key factor that affects external ballistics. For starters, we all know that bullets spin when launched from a rifled barrel. But Nennstiel explains in greater detail how this spinning creates gyroscopic stability:

“The overturning moment MW tends to rotate the bullet about an axis, which goes through the CG (center of gravity) and which is perpendicular to the plane of drag, the plane, formed by the velocity vector ‘v’ and the longitudinal axis of the bullet. In the absence of spin, the yaw angle ‘δ’ would grow and the bullet would tumble.

If the bullet has sufficient spin, saying if it rotates fast enough about its axis of form, the gyroscopic effect takes place: the bullet’s longitudinal axis moves into the direction of the overturning moment, perpendicular to the plane of drag. This axis shift however alters the plane of drag, which then rotates about the velocity vector. This movement is called precession or slow mode oscillation.”

Raise Your Ballistic IQ
Though comprehensible to the average reader with some grounding in basic physics, Nennstiel’s work is really the equivalent of a Ph.D thesis in external ballistics. You could easily spend hours reading (and re-reading) all the primary material as well as the detailed FAQ section. But we think it’s worth plowing into How Do Bullets Fly from start to finish. We suggest you bookmark the page for future reference. You can also download the complete article for future reference and offline reading.

CLICK HERE to download “How Do Bullets Fly” complete text. (1.2 MB .zip file)

Photo and diagram © 2005-2009 Ruprecht Nennstiel, All Rights Reserved.

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February 18th, 2018

The Varminters’ Great Debate — Hold-Over vs. Crank Elevation

varmint scope IOR elevation hold-over prairie dog accuracy

Leuopold Varmint Hunters' ReticleA varmint shooter’s target is not conveniently placed at a fixed, known distance as it is for a benchrester. The varminter must repeatedly make corrections for bullet drop as he moves from closer targets to more distant targets and back again. Click HERE to read an interesting AccurateShooter Varrmint Forum discussion regarding the best method to adjust for elevation. Some shooters advocate using the scope’s elevation adjustments. Other varminters prefer to hold-over, perhaps with the assistance of vertical markers on their reticles. Still others combine both methods–holding off to a given yardage, then cranking elevation after that.

Majority View — Click Your Elevation Knob
“I zero at 100 yards — I mean really zero as in check the ballistics at 200 and 300 and adjust zero accordingly — and then set the scope zero. For each of my groundhog guns I have a click chart taped into the inside of the lid of the ammo box. Then use the knobs. That’s why they’re there. With a good scope they’re a whole lot more accurate than hold-over, with or without hash marks. This all assumes you have a good range finder and use it properly. If not, and you’re holding over you’re really just spraying and praying. Try twisting them knobs and you’ll most likely find that a 500- or 600- or 700-yard groundhog is a whole lot easier than some people think.”
– Gunamonth

“I have my elevation knob calibrated in 100-yard increments out to 550. Range-find the critter, move elevation knob up…dead critter. The problem with hold-over is that it is so imprecise. It’s not repeatable because you are holding over for elevation and for wind also. Every time you change targets 50 yards, it seems as if you are starting over. As soon as I got completely away from the hold over method (I used to zero for 200), my hit ratios went way up.” — K. Candler

“When I first started p-dog shooting, I attempted to use the hold-over method with a 200-yard zero with my 6mm Rem. Any dog much past 325-350 yards was fairly safe. I started using a comeups table for all three of my p-dog rifles (.223 Rems and 6mm Rem). 450-yard hits with the .223s are fairly routine and a 650-yard dog better beware of the 6mm nowadays. An added benefit (one I didn’t think of beforehand) with the comeups table (elevation only), is that when the wind is blowing, it takes half of the variables out of the equation. I can concentrate on wind, and not have to worry about elevation. It makes things much more simple.” — Mike (Linefinder).

“I dial for elevation and hold for wind. Also use a mil-dot reticle to make the windage holds easier. For windage corrections, I watch for the bullet strike measure the distance it was “off” with the mil-dot reticle, then hold that much more the other way. Very fast once you get used to it.” — PepeLP

Varmint Hunting ScopeMinority View–Hold-Over is Better
“I try to not touch my knobs once I’m zeroed at 200 meters. Most of my varmint scopes have duplex reticles and I use the bottom post to put me on at 300 meters versus turning knobs. The reason I try to leave my knobs alone is that I have gone one complete revolution up or down [too far] many times and have missed the varmint. This has happened more than once and that is why I try not to change my knobs if at all possible.” — Chino69

“I have been using the hold over method and it works for me most of the time but the 450 yards and over shots get kinda hard. I moved to a 300 yard zero this year and it’s working well. I do want to get into the click-up method though; it seems to be more fool-proof.” — 500YardHog

Compromise View–Use Both Methods
“I use both [methods] as well — hold over out to 250, and click up past that.” — Jack (Wolf)

“I use the target knobs and crank-in elevation. I also use a rangefinder and know how far away they are before I crank in the clicks. I have a scope with drop dots from Premier Recticle and like it. No cranking [knobs] out to 600.” –Vmthtr

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting, Optics 4 Comments »
February 9th, 2018

When and How Scopes Fail — How to Diagnose Optics Problems

Riflescope Repairs

Riflescopes are mechanical contraptions. One of the sad realities about precision shooting is that, sooner or later, you will experience a scope failure. If you’re lucky it won’t happen in the middle of a National-level competition. And hopefully the failure will be dramatic and unmistakable so you won’t spend months trying to isolate the issue. Unfortunately, scope problems can be erratic or hard to diagnose. You may find yourself with unexplained flyers or a slight degradation of accuracy and you won’t know how to diagnose the problem. And when a 1/8th-MOA-click scope starts failing, it may be hard to recognize the fault immediately, because the POI change may be slight.

When An Expensive Scope Goes Bad
A few seasons back, this editor had a major-brand 8-25x50mm scope go bad. How did I know I had a problem? Well the first sign was a wild “drop-down” flyer at a 600-yard match. After shooting a two-target relay, I took a look at my targets. My first 5-shot group had five shots, fairly well centered, in about 2.2″. Pretty good. Everything was operating fine. Then I looked at the second target. My eye was drawn to four shots, all centered in the 10 Ring, measuring about 2.4″. But then I saw the fifth shot. It was a good 18″ low, straight down from the X. And I really mean straight down — if you drew a plumb line down from the center of the X, it would pass almost through the fifth shot.

Is My Scope Actually Malfunctioning or Is This Driver Error?
That was disconcerting, but since I had never had any trouble with this scope before, I assumed it was a load problem (too little powder?), or simple driver error (maybe I flinched or yanked the trigger?). Accordingly, I didn’t do anything about the scope, figuring the problem was me or the load.

Scope Failure mechanical Point of Impact

Even expensive scopes can fail, or start to perform erratically — and that can happen without warning, or for no apparent reason. Here are some signs that you may be having scope issues.

1. Click count has changed signficantly from established zero at known range.
2. Noticeably different click “feel” as you rotate turrets, or turrets feel wobbly.
3. Inability to set Adjustable Objective or side focus to get sharp target image.
4. Shot Point of Impact is completely different than click value after elevation/windage change. For example, when you dial 2 MOA “up” but you observe a 6 MOA rise in POI.

Problems Reappear — Huge POI Swings Affirm This Scope is Toast
But, at the next range session, things went downhill fast. In three shots, I did manage to get on steel at 600, with my normal come-up for that distance. Everything seemed fine. So then I switched to paper. We had a buddy in the pits with a walkie-talkie and he radioed that he couldn’t see any bullet holes in the paper after five shots. My spotter said he thought the bullets were impacting in the dirt, just below the paper. OK, I thought, we’ll add 3 MOA up (12 clicks), and that should raise POI 18″ and I should be on paper, near center. That didn’t work — now the bullets were impacting in the berm ABOVE the target frame. The POI had changed over 48″ (8 MOA). (And no I didn’t click too far — I clicked slowly, counting each click out loud as I adjusted the elevation.) OK, to compensate now I took off 8 clicks which should be 2 MOA or 12″. No joy. The POI dropped about 24″ (4 MOA) and the POI also moved moved 18″ right, to the edge of the target.

Riflescope RepairsFor the next 20 shots, we kept “chasing center” trying to get the gun zeroed at 600 yards. We never did. After burning a lot of ammo, we gave up. Before stowing the gun for the trip home, I dialed back to my 100-yard zero, which is my normal practice (it’s 47 clicks down from 600-yard zero). I immediately noticed that the “feel” of the elevation knob didn’t seem right. Even though I was pretty much in the center of my elevation (I have a +20 MOA scope mount), the clicks felt really tight — as they do when you’re at the very limit of travel. There was a lot of resistance in the clicks and they didn’t seem to move the right amount. And it seemed that I’d have four or five clicks that were “bunched up” with a lot of resistance, and then the next click would have almost no resistance and seem to jump. It’s hard to describe, but it was like winding a spring that erratically moved from tight to very loose.

At this point I announced to my shooting buddies: “I think the scope has taken a dump.” I let one buddy work the elevation knob a bit. “That feels weird,” he said: “the clicks aren’t consistent… first it doesn’t want to move, then the clicks jump too easily.”

Convinced that I had a real problem, the scope was packed up and shipped to the manufacturer. So, was I hallucinating? Was my problem really just driver error? I’ve heard plenty of stories about guys who sent scopes in for repair, only to receive their optics back with a terse note saying: “Scope passed inspection and function test 100%. No repairs needed”. So, was my scope really FUBAR? You bet it was. When the scope came back from the factory, the Repair Record stated that nearly all the internal mechanicals had been replaced or fixed: “Replaced Adjustment Elevation; Replaced Adjustment Windage; Reworked Erector System; Reworked Selector; Reworked Parallax Control.”

How to Diagnose Scope Problems
When you see your groups open up, there’s a very good chance this is due to poor wind-reading, or other “driver error”. But my experience showed me that sometimes scopes do go bad. When your accuracy degrades without any other reasonable explanation, the cause of the problem may well be your optics. Here are some of the “symptoms” of scope troubles:

1. Large shot-to-shot variance in Point of Impact with known accurate loads.
2. Uneven tracking (either vertical or horizontal).
3. Change of Point of Impact does not correspond to click inputs.
4. Inability to zero in reasonable number of shots.
5. Unexpected changes in needed click values (compared to previous come-ups).
6. Visible shift in reticle from center of view.
7. Changed “feel” or resistance when clicking; or uneven click-to-click “feel”.
8. Inability to set parallax to achieve sharpness.
9. Turrets or other controls feel wobbly or loose.
10. Internal scope components rattle when gun is moved.

Source of Problem Unknown, but I Have a Theory
Although my scope came with a slightly canted reticle from the factory, it had otherwise functioned without a hitch for many years. I was able to go back and forth between 100-yard zero and 600-yard zero with perfect repeatability for over five years. I had confidence in that scope. Why did it fail when it did? My theory is side-loading on the turrets. I used to carry the gun in a thick soft case. I recently switched to an aluminum-sided hard case that has pretty dense egg-crate foam inside. I noticed it took some effort to close the case, though it was more than big enough, width-wise, to hold the gun. My thinking is that the foam wasn’t compressing enough, resulting in a side-load on the windage turret when the case was clamped shut. This is just my best guess; it may not be the real source of the problem. Remember, as I explained in the beginning of this story, sometimes scopes — just like any mechanical system — simply stop working for no apparent reason.

Permalink - Articles, Optics, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
February 1st, 2018

Traveling with Firearms — Tips for Road Warriors

Shooting Wire law Travel Shooters

If you plan to travel far from home this year with firearms, then you should research legal requirements before you head to the airport or hit the road in your car or truck. To help Road Warriors, The Shooting Wire website recently published an excellent article concerning Travel with Firearms. This helpful article by Joe Balog features smart advice from 3-Gun competitor Rich Yoder.

Here are Highlights from the Travel with Firearms Article…

Traveling by Road:
Regulations for transporting firearms in a vehicle vary from state to state. Some are quite lenient, while others are much stricter. Within many states, gun transportation laws also vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If possible, keep your gun cases locked in your vehicle’s trunk or truck bed, as long as your bed has weather-tight and lockable security. If your guns are outside the passenger compartment, in a case, unloaded, and kept separate from ammunition, you’ll be in compliance with all but the strictest of local and state gun laws.

Traveling by Air:
When checking in at the airport, travelers need to declare that they are traveling with a gun. At that point, airline personnel will quickly advise the traveler of the need to open his or her case and inspect the firearm. Always wait for the TSA inspector before unlocking or opening the case, and only do so when clearly directed to do so by TSA personnel. Never take a firearm out of its case in an airport.

Shooting Wire law Travel Shooters
You have the right to remain with your firearm at all times during the inspection process. Never leave your firearm until the inspection is complete, the case has been re-locked, and you are in possession of the key or combination.

Traveling Overseas:
There are additional steps during international travel. Specifically, guns must clear customs in the destination country, and once again when entering back into the United States. Multiple government forms may need to be completed and carried with the firearm, like U.S. Customs Form 4457. Be sure to check into all required paperwork well before traveling.

READ Travel with Firearms Article on The Shooting Wire

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January 27th, 2018

How to Shoot Standing — HP Champion Carl Bernosky Explains

Some folks say you haven’t really mastered marksmanship unless you can hit a target when standing tall ‘on your own hind legs’. Of all the shooting positions, standing can be the most challenging because you have no horizontally-solid resting point for your forward arm/elbow. Here 10-time National High Power Champ Carl Bernosky explains how to make the standing shot.

Carl Bernosky is one of the greatest marksmen in history. A multi-time National High Power Champion, Carl has won ten (10) National High Power Championships in his storied shooting career, most recently in 2012. In this article, Carl provides step-by-step strategies to help High Power shooters improve their standing scores. When Carl talks about standing techniques, shooters should listen. Among his peers, Carl is regard as one of the best, if not the best standing shooter in the game today. Carl rarely puts pen to paper, but he was kind enough to share his techniques with’s readers.

If you are position shooter, or aspire to be one some day, read this article word for word, and then read it again. We guarantee you’ll learn some techniques (and strategies) that can improve your shooting and boost your scores. This stuff is gold folks, read and learn…

Carl Bernosky High PowerHow to Shoot Standing
by Carl Bernosky

Shooting consistently good standing stages is a matter of getting rounds down range, with thoughtfully-executed goals. But first, your hold will determine the success you will have.

1. Your hold has to be 10 Ring to shoot 10s. This means that there should be a reasonable amount of time (enough to get a shot off) that your sights are within your best hold. No attention should be paid to the sights when they are not in the middle — that’s wasted energy. My best hold is within 5 seconds after I first look though my sights. I’m ready to shoot the shot at that time. If the gun doesn’t stop, I don’t shoot. I start over.

2. The shot has to be executed with the gun sitting still within your hold. If the gun is moving, it’s most likely moving out, and you’ve missed the best part of your hold.

3. Recognizing that the gun is sitting still and within your hold will initiate you firing the shot. Lots of dry fire or live fire training will help you acquire awareness of the gun sitting still. It’s not subconscious to me, but it’s close.

4. Don’t disturb the gun when you shoot the shot. That being said, I don’t believe in using ball or dummy rounds with the object of being surprised when the shot goes off. I consciously shoot every shot. Sometimes there is a mistake and I over-hold. But the more I train the less of these I get. If I get a dud round my gun will dip.* I don’t believe you can learn to ignore recoil. You must be consistent in your reaction to it.

Carl Bernosky High Power5. Know your hold and shoot within it. The best part of my hold is about 4 inches. When I get things rolling, I recognize a still gun within my hold and execute the shot. I train to do this every shot. Close 10s are acceptable. Mid-ring 10s are not. If my hold was 8 inches I would train the same way. Shoot the shot when it is still within the hold, and accept the occasional 9. But don’t accept the shots out of the hold.

6. Practice makes perfect. The number of rounds you put down range matter. I shudder to think the amount of rounds I’ve fired standing in my life, and it still takes a month of shooting standing before Perry to be in my comfort zone. That month before Perry I shoot about 2000 rounds standing, 22 shots at a time. It peaks me at just about the right time.

This summarizes what I believe it takes to shoot good standing stages. I hope it provides some insight, understanding, and a roadmap to your own success shooting standing.

Good Shooting, Carl

* This is very noticeable to me when shooting pistol. I can shoot bullet holes at 25 yards, but if I’ve miscounted the rounds I’ve fired out of my magazine, my pistol will dip noticeably. So do the pistols of the best pistol shooters I’ve watched and shot with. One might call this a “jerk”, I call it “controlled aggressive execution”, executed consistently.

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January 26th, 2018

SHOT Show DAILY eZine and Videos from SHOT Show

Shot Daily eZine magazine

Digital editions of SHOT Daily, the magazine distributed each day of SHOT Show, are available free in Web eZine formats. Two digital editions are available right now, and others should be released soon. You’ll find many product features plus articles that can benefit shooting club directors and range managers. Definitely check out the Day One issue’s extensive coverage of new-for-2018 firearms. SHOT Daily is produced for NSSF by Bonnier Corp., publishers of Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, and many other magazines.

SHOT Daily Day One — CLICK HERE to Read Magazine

SHOT DAILY ezine magazine

Highlights Day 1: New Firearm Round-up, Polycase Ammunition, Women’s Outdoor Gear, Crimson Trace Lasers, Footwear.

SHOT Daily Day TWO — CLICK HERE to Read Magazine

SHOT DAILY ezine magazine

Highlights Day 2: New Optics, New Ammunition, Starline Brass, Outerwear, Cerakote Mossbergs.

SHOT SHOW TV Day 2 Headlines

SHOT Show Product Spotlights

SafeShoot — Downrange Risk Detection Technology

safeshoot downrange detection sensor

The SafeShoot system is advanced technology that can detect the presence of humans downrange, even in darkness. A sensor attached to a rifle, shotgun, or spotting scope “scans” downrange looking for human profiles. If it “sees” a human in the direction the firearm/spotting scope is pointed, a light in the front sensor unit flashes red. We checked out the system, and the technology really works. This could be very beneficial for anyone shooting on undeveloped land or unsupervised ranges, particularly during hunting season. This SafeShoot technology was developed by experts who have worked with the Israeli military. We think this technology holds much promise.

.224 Valkyrie from Barrett Firearms

.224 Valkyrie Barrett

The SHOT Show TV crew visits Barrett to check out the Barrett Fieldcraft and REC7 rifles chambered in .224 Valkyrie. This video also previews Barrett’s law enforcement and military products. The .224 Valkyrie is a new cartridge from Federal based on a 6.8 SPC necked down to .224 caliber. It offers excellent long-range performance with the new high-BC .22-caliber bullets (such as Sierra 90gr and 95gr SMK), while still fitting and functioning in a standard AR-15 magazine. We’ve shot the .224 Valkyrie and like it. The round looks like a scaled down 6.5 Creedmoor.

CLICK HERE for more 2018 SHOT Show Product Videos.

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January 26th, 2018

Toast in Six Seconds — The Brutal Truth of Short Barrel Life

Stopwatch barrel life

This thought-provoking article is one of the 15 most popular Daily Bulletin features over the last 12 months. We are republishing this story today for readers who may have missed it the first time around…

Here’s a little known fact that may startle most readers, even experienced gunsmiths: your barrel wears out in a matter of seconds. The useful life of a typical match barrel, in terms of actual bullet-in-barrel time, is only a few seconds. How can that be, you ask? Well you need to look at the actual time that bullets spend traveling through the bore during the barrel’s useful life. (Hint: it’s not very long).

Bullet-Time-in-Barrel Calculations
If a bullet flies at 3000 fps, it will pass through a 24″ (two-foot) barrel in 1/1500th of a second. If you have a useful barrel life of 3000 rounds, that would translate to just two seconds of actual bullet-in-barrel operating time.

Ah, but it’s not that simple. Your bullet starts at zero velocity and then accelerates as it passes through the bore, so the projectile’s average velocity is not the same as the 3000 fps muzzle velocity. So how long does a centerfire bullet (with 3000 fps MV) typically stay in the bore? The answer is about .002 seconds. This number was calculated by Varmint Al, who is a really smart engineer dude who worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, a government think tank that develops neutron bombs, fusion reactors and other simple stuff.

On his Barrel Tuner page, Varmint Al figured out that the amount of time a bullet spends in a barrel during firing is under .002 seconds. Al writes: “The approximate time that it takes a 3300 fps muzzle velocity bullet to exit the barrel, assuming a constant acceleration, is 0.0011 seconds. Actual exit times would be longer since the bullet is not under constant acceleration.”

We’ll use the .002 number for our calculations here, knowing that the exact number depends on barrel length and muzzle velocity. But .002 is a good average that errs, if anything, on the side of more barrel operating life rather than less.

So, if a bullet spends .002 seconds in the barrel during each shot, and you get 3000 rounds of accurate barrel life, how much actual firing time does the barrel deliver before it loses accuracy? That’s simple math: 3000 x .002 seconds = 6 seconds.

Stopwatch barrel lifeGone in Six Seconds. Want to Cry Now?
Six seconds. That’s how long your barrel actually functions (in terms of bullet-in-barrel shot time) before it “goes south”. Yes, we know some barrels last longer than 3000 rounds. On the other hand, plenty of .243 Win and 6.5-284 barrels lose accuracy in 1500 rounds or less. If your barrel loses accuracy at the 1500-round mark, then it only worked for three seconds! Of course, if you are shooting a “long-lived” .308 Win that goes 5000 rounds before losing accuracy, then you get a whopping TEN seconds of barrel life. Anyway you look at it, a rifle barrel has very little longevity, when you consider actual firing time.

People already lament the high cost of replacing barrels. Now that you know how short-lived barrels really are, you can complain even louder. Of course our analysis does give you even more of an excuse to buy a nice new Bartlein, Krieger, Shilen etc. barrel for that fine rifle of yours.

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January 23rd, 2018

How To Read Mirage — Expert Advice with Diagrams

South Texas Mirage Reading article

This was one of our 25 Most Popular Articles in 2017. We’re repeating it for those of you who may have missed it the first time around. Diagrams from

South Texas marksmanship trainingThere is an excellent article about Mirage on the South Texas Marksmanship Training Center (STMTC) website. This article explains what causes mirage and how mirage can move the perceived aiming point on your target. Most importantly, the article explains, in considerable detail, how you can “read” mirage to discern wind speeds and wind directions.

Mirage Is Your Friend
While hot days with lots of mirage can be frustrating, mirage can reveal how the wind is flowing (and changing). If you learn how to recognize and read mirage patterns, you can use that information to shoot higher scores. That’s why many leading long-range shooters tell us: “Mirage is your friend.” As the STMTC article explains: “A mirage condition is not a handicap, since it offers a very accurate method of perceiving small wind changes[.]”

CLICK HERE to Read Complete Mirage Article

Mirage Illustrated with Diagrams
With simple but effective graphic illustrations, this is one of the best explanations of mirage (and mirage reading) we have found on the internet. This is a “must-read” for any serious competitive shooter. Here is a brief sample from the article, along with an illustration. NOTE: the full article is six times longer and has 8 diagrams.

South Texas Mirage Wind Diagram displacement

The term “mirage” as used by the shooter does not refer to a true mirage, but to heat waves and the refraction of light as it is bent passing through air layers of different density. Light which passes obliquely from one wind medium to another it undergoes an abrupt change in direction, whenever its velocity in the second medium is different from the velocity in the first wind medium; the shooter will see a “mirage”.

The density of air, and therefore its refraction, varies with its temperature. A condition of cool air overlaying warm air next to the ground is the cause of heat waves or “mirage”. The warm air, having a lower index of refraction, is mixed with the cooler air above by convection, irregularly bending the light transmitting the target image to the shooter’s eye. Figure 1 shows (greatly exaggerated) the vertical displacement of the target image by heat waves.

South Texas Mirage Reading article

Heat waves are easily seen with the unaided eye on a hot, bright day and can be seen with spotting scope on all but the coldest days. To observe heat waves, the scope should be focused on a point about midway to the target. This will cause the target to appear slightly out of focus, but since the high power rifle shooter generally does not try to spot bullet holes, the lack in target clarity is more than compensated by clarity of the heat waves.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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January 21st, 2018

The Clean AR-15 — How to Maintain Your Modern Sporting Rifle

Barrel cleaning AR15 bolt carrier carbon Jerry Miculek gas key direct impingement

Let’s face it, AR-platform rifles run dirty, at least compared to typical bolt-action rifles. The AR15 works by piping gas from the barrel back into the bolt carrier, causing the bolt to unlock and the carrier to move the bolt backward. The “exhaust gas” from the barrel contains soot and carbon. The carbon will form hard deposits on the bolt. In addition, the carbon can combine with lube on the bolt carrier to make a nasty, paste-like sludge. This can be particularly problematic when the black paste pollutes the ejector and extractor recess.

This Editor has inspected dozens of ARs over the years. Other than mag-related malfunctions, the most common cause of AR cycling problems I found was oily gunk in the extractor and ejector areas. Many AR owners overlook these critical areas. Look at an AR that hasn’t been cleaned properly and you’ll probably find black gunk (and small brass shavings) in the ejector and extractor recesses.

If you want to keep your black rifle running smoothly and reliably, you must clean it regularly and follow the correct maintenance procedures. Here are three videos that explain how to properly disassemble and clean AR-platform rifles.

Take-Down and Full Cleaning of AR15 by Jerry Miculek

Here ace shooter Jerry Miculek takes down and cleans an AR-platform rifle belonging to his daughter Lena. This is a good video because Lena’s rifle was “run hard and packed up dirty” so you can see where carbon and grease build up. This 35-minute video is very thorough. Jerry is one of the nation’s top action carbine shooters, so listen carefully to his advice on cleaning and lubrication.

How to Clean Your AR-Platform Rifle

This is a good basic video that shows the take-down and cleaning procedure for a typical AR15. It uses some fast-motion sequences to speed up the story. Check out this video if you don’t have the time to sit through the Miculek video above.

Cleaning and Lubricating AR15 Bolt Carrier Group

This video offers very specific advice on the bolt carrier group, which receives the dirty gas directly from the barrel. Be sure to check the extractor and ejector recesses. That’s where old lube, brass shavings, and carbon accumulate. Follow the directions in this video for lubrication, and don’t over-lubricate the bolt carrier — that will only capture more carbon.

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January 20th, 2018

Five Great Tech Articles: Bedding, Target Software, Case Prep, Action Torque, Stock Painting

Technical Article AccurateShooter OnTarget, Stock painting, Pillar Bedding

AccurateShooter.comReaders who have just recently discovered the Daily Bulletin may not realize that has hundreds of reference articles in our archives. These authoritative articles are divided into mutiple categories, so you can easily view stories by topic (such as competition, tactical, rimfire, optics, shooting skills etc.). One of the most popular categories is our Technical Articles Collection. On a handy index page (with thumbnails for every story), you’ll find over 100 articles covering technical and gunsmithing topics. These articles can help you with major projects (such as stock painting), and they can also help you build more accurate ammo. Here are five popular selections from our Technical Articles archive.

pillar Bedding

Stress-Free Pillar Bedding.
Richard Franklin explains how to do a top-quality bedding job, start to finish.

On Target Software Review

OnTarget Software Review.
Our Editors test free software that measures shot groups with great precision. We explain how to use the program and configure advanced features.

Savage Action Tuning Torque Settings

Savage Action Tuning.
Top F-TR shooter Stan Pate explains how to enhance the performance of your Savage rifle by optimizing the torque settings of the action screws.

Precision Case Prep for Reloading

Complete Precision Case Prep.
Jake Gottfredson covers the complete case prep process, including brass weight sorting, case trimming, primer pocket uniforming, neck-sizing, and, case-neck turning.

rifle stock painting and spraying

Stock Painting Instructions.
Step-by-step guide for stock painting by expert Mike Ricklefs. Mike shows both simple coverage and fancy effects.

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January 15th, 2018

Primer Pocket and Flash Hole Uniforming Basics

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has published a series of reloading “how-to” articles on its Facebook Page. This post explains how to uniform primer pockets and remove burrs in flash holes. These brass prep operations can help ensure greater consistency, shot after shot. Visit the USAMU Facebook Page each Wednesday for other, helpful “Handloading Hump-Day” tips.

Primer Pocket and Flash-Hole Conditioning

This week, we’ll address a question that frequently arises: “Do you uniform primer pockets and deburr flash-holes?”

As we tailor our handloading methods to the specific needs of each instance, the answer, not surprisingly, is “occasionally!” Generally, the USAMU Handloading Shop does not uniform primer pockets (PP) or deburr flash holes (FH) of our rifle brass. That’s not to say we’re against it — rather, it reflects the very high volume of ammunition loaded, the fact that very few cases are ever re-loaded for a second firing, and the types of brass we use. However, as a need is perceived, we DO deburr flash holes (of which, more later.)

As to the type cases we use, many thousands of our long-range 5.56x45mm cases come to us from the arsenal with the primer of our choice pre-installed and staked in per their usual practice. Obviously, we could not uniform either FHs or PPs on this live-primed brass. However, after careful sorting, inspection and preparation, we do obtain match-winning results with it. Regular readers have seen photos of some of the tiny 1000-yard test groups we’ve fired with weight-selected domestic brass which had neither Primer Pockets uniformed nor flash holes deburred.

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket
Figure 1 shows a fired, deprimed 7.62×51 case with primer residue intact. In Figure 2, the primer pocket has been uniformed to SAAMI specs. Note the shiny finish — evidence of the metal removed to uniform and square the primer pocket.

Shooters who reload their brass several times may decide to uniform PPs and deburr FHs, especially on their “300-yard and beyond” brass. Unlike us, they will be using their cases many times, while the operations are only needed once. Also, most handloaders only process a relatively moderate amount of brass compared to our 20-thousand round lots. Having high quality Long Range (LR) brass helps. Many of the better brass manufacturers form their flash holes so that no burrs are created.

Still, it does pay to inspect even THESE manufacturer’s products, as occasional slips are inevitable. Very rarely, some of these makers will have a significant burr in, say, 1 per 1000 or 2000 cases, and it’s worth catching those. Recently, we began processing a large lot of match brass from a premier manufacturer, and were startled to find that every case had a burr in the FH — something we’d never before seen from this maker. We then broke out the FH deburring tool and went to work.

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket

For those who do opt for these procedures, note that various tool models may have adjustable depth-stops. Pay attention to the instructions. Some flash hole deburring tools which enter the case mouth, not the primer pocket, depend on uniform case length for best results.

Does It Really Make a Difference?
It can be difficult to truly verify the contribution to accuracy of these procedures, particularly when firing from the shoulder, in conditions. Members of this staff, as individual rifle competitors, do often perform these operations on their privately-owned LR rifle brass.

One could ascribe this to the old High Power Rifle maxim that “if you think it helps, then it helps”. Another thought is to “leave no stone unturned” in the search for accuracy.

However, an extremely talented World Champion and Olympic Gold/Silver medalist commented on his own handloading (for International competition, which demands VERY fine accuracy). He noted that he did seem to see a decline in accuracy whenever he did not uniform FH’s, deburr FH’s and clean primer pockets before each reloading; however, with the wisdom of decades’ experience, he also remarked that “It could have been that I just wasn’t shooting as well that day.”

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