April 22nd, 2014
Our IT guy, Jay (aka JayChris in the Forum), was having some issues with his .260 AI. A load with known accuracy had suddenly and mysteriously stopped shooting well. Jay couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. Then he remembered he had cleaned his brass using a powerful ultrasonic machine.
He inspected his brass carefully and saw that the ultrasonically-cleaned necks were so “squeaky clean” that he was actually scratching the jackets on his bullets when seating them. As well, Jay noticed that it took more force to seat the bullets and the seating force became less uniform case to case. Jay solved the problem by applying NECO Moly dry-lube inside the necks of his brass before seating the bullets.
The Perils of Ultrasonic Brass Cleaning by JayChris
I rotate my brass so that I can keep track of each firing, so I keep a “clean/ready to load” bin and a “fired” bin. I have 400 pieces of .260 AI brass. So, all of it was on its first firing (after doing a Cream of Wheat fire-forming) until I hit the 400-round mark. To my surprise, things went south at the 500-round mark. The first time I noticed it (according to my range log) was at a match last year, when I dropped several points and had some vertical stringing issues. After that match, I had 400 rounds through the barrel and all of my brass had a single firing on it. So, it was time to clean.
I have used an ultrasonic cleaner for a while now. I recently got a more powerful Ultrasonic cleaner, although I don’t know if that makes a difference. My brass comes out dry and squeaky. Emphasis on the “squeaky”.
I found that my new US machine may have been getting the necks TOO clean. After ultrasonically cleaning my brass, I had noticed that it required a little more force to seat the bullets, but I didn’t really think too much about it. But then, after going over my ordeal with a shooting buddy and going over my process in minutiae, we had an “AH HA” moment when it came to cleaning (he uses good ol’ vibratory cleaning).
So, I used some moly dry-lube to pre-lube the case necks and took some rounds out to test at 200 yards. I used my last known good load and sure enough, the vertical flyers disappeared! I shot two, 10-rounds groups with .335 and .353 MOA vertical dispersion, which is consistent with the results I was originally getting.
Other folks have suggested necks may get “too clean” after ultrasonic cleaning. It was pretty sobering to actually witness, first hand, what can happen when brass is “too clean”. I had read some discussions of issues with neck friction/bullet seating after ultrasonic cleaning, but, frankly, I dismissed the idea. Now I understand. The “too clean” effect doesn’t seem to affect my Dasher at all (perhaps because Dasher necks are very short), but on the bigger .260 AI, it definitely does.
Close-Up Photos of Case-Necks
Here are photos Jay took with a microscope. You can see the difference between tumbled brass and ultrasonically-cleaned brass. Jay says: “Here, in sequence, are the Ultrasound-squeaky-clean case neck, a case neck after treatment with NECO moly dry-lube (you can see the particles that will help coat the neck during seating), and, finally, the neck from a case cleaned with corncob media in a vibratory tumbler. You can clearly see how much smoother the inside of the tumbled neck is. Yes, it’s dirty, but it’s also very, very smooth.
Close-Up of Scratched Bullet
Here is a close-up of a bullet that was seated in an ultrasonically-cleaned (“squeaky clean”) neck, with no lubrication. You can clearly see the damage done to the jacket — in fact, in a couple spots you can see the lead core through the scratches! Jay also observed that quite a bit more seating force was required to seat the bullet in a “squeaky clean” neck.
NOTE: The bullet jacket is naked — NOT coated in any way. It looks a little dark because of the shadow from the microscope lens, and the high contrast.
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April 17th, 2014
Gun, guns, and more guns — that’s what you’ll find in the May issue of Shooting Illustrated. This special edition, Shooting Illustrated’s largest-ever issue, features more than 100 new firearms. Novel features, technical specifications, and MSRP are included for all 100+ new firearms in the spotlight. From Alexander Arms to Yankee Hill Machine Company, if it’s a new handgun, rifle or shotgun introduced in 2014, chances are Shooting Illustrated has it covered this month.
In addition to covering 100+ new guns for 2014, this issue also includes Shooting Illustrated’s “best of the best” selections from 2013. The Golden Bullseye Award is given to the most innovative, practical and affordable products introduced last year. Also in the May issue is a detailed review of Ruger’s new SR-762 semi-automatic rifle, a piston-driven .308 Win, AR-platform rifle. Look for these articles and more in the May issue of Shooting Illustrated. For more information, visit Shooting Illustrated.com.
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April 16th, 2014
In the above video, a spokesman for Horus Vision explains how and why scopes can experience zero shift. First, just cleaning the gun can cause a small shift in point of impact. Second, when you re-tighten rings and ring bases, this can cause a change in zero. Horus recommends that you use a torque wrench to confirm that you maintain the same torque settings each time. The same goes for action screw tension — tensioning your action screws can shift the point of impact.
Other factors that can cause a change in zero:
Dramatic ranges of temperature will change your zero, because the air density affects the velocity of the bullet. With increased temperature, there may be a higher velocity (depending on your powder).
Gun Handling and Body Position
You rifle’s point of impact will be affected by the way you hold the gun. A “hard hold” with firm grip and heavy cheek weld can give you a different POI than if you lightly address the gun. Even when shooting a benchrest gun, the amount of shoulder you put into the rifle can affect where it prints on paper.
Type of Rifle Support — Bench vs. Field
Whenever you change the type of rifle support you use, the point of impact can shift slightly. Moving from a bipod to a pedestal rest can cause a change. Similar, if you switch from a mechanical rest to sandbags, the gun can perform differently. That’s why, before a hunt, you should zero the gun with a set-up similar to what you would actually use in the field — such as a rucksack or shooting sticks.
Transportation of Firearms
Even if you don’t mishandle your weapon, it is possible that a shift of zero could occur during transport. We’ve seen zero settings change when a tight plastic gun case put a side load on the turrets. And in the field, if the turret knobs are not covered, they can rub against clothing, gear, storage bags, scabbard, etc. If the knobs turn, it will definitely move your reticle slightly and cause your point of impact to be off.
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April 13th, 2014
On LongRangeHunting.com, you’ll find a good article by Shawn Carlock about wind reading. Shawn is a veteran law enforcement marksman and a past USPSA national precision rifle champion. Shawn offers good advice on how to estimate wind speeds and directions using a multitude of available indicators — not just your wind gauge: “Use anything at your disposal to accurately estimate the wind’s velocity. I keep and use a Kestrel for reading conditions….The Kestrel is very accurate but will only tell you what the conditions are where you are standing. I practice by looking at grass, brush, trees, dust, wind flags, mirage, rain, fog and anything else that will give me info on velocity and then estimate the speed.”
Shawn also explains how terrain features can cause vertical wind effects. A hunter on a hilltop must account for bullet rise if there is a headwind blowing up the slope. Many shooters consider wind in only one plane — the horizontal. In fact wind has vertical components, both up and down. If you have piloted a small aircraft you know how important vertical wind vectors can be. Match shooters will also experience vertical rise when there is a strong tailwind blowing over an up-sloping berm ahead of the target emplacements. Overall, Shawn concludes: “The more time you spend studying the wind and its effect over varying terrain the more successful you will be as a long-range shooter and hunter.”
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April 5th, 2014
On the Norma website, in the products area, you’ll find dozens of illustrated cartridge profiles. Many of these have been augmented with “Caliber Histories” providing background information, both historical and practical. These entries will benefit those interested in the origins and development of popular hunting and match cartridges. Many of the “Caliber Histories” also include information on bullets and twist rates.
CLICK HERE to access the Hunting Products page on Norma’s website. There, on the left, you’ll see a vertical list of 58 different cartridges. Click on any cartridge name and you’ll see an illustrated “overview”. For most (but not all) listed cartridges, there is also a gray tab labeled “Caliber History”. Click that tab to see a cartridge diagram and a few paragraphs explaining the cartridge’s lineage and design features. For example, the .280 Remington Caliber History explains: “This cartridge was constructed in 1957 for Remington’s model 740 Autoloader. It is basically a .30-06 necked down to accept 7mm bullets, but the shoulder was moved forward a little in order to prevent the cartridge from being loaded into .270 Win. rifles by mistake.” Many of the Caliber History entries offer recommended bullet weights and barrel twist rates. Shown below is the 6.5×55 Swede’s Caliber History:
Article tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 1st, 2014
Here’s big (and small) news for reloaders — get ready for smaller powder containers. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently approved new smaller containers for shipment of smokeless powder. The new containers are designed to hold 1000 grains, exactly one-seventh of a pound. That works out to 2.29 ounces of powder — quite a bit less than you are getting currently with one-pound (16 oz.) containers.
Here how it works out:
7000 grains = 1 pound = 16 ounces
1000 grains = 0.143 pounds = 2.29 ounces
Many products — from cereal boxes to Snickers bars — have been down-sized in recent years. Now downsizing has come to the powder marketplace. The strategy behind the smaller containers is simple. In a market where demand vastly outstrips available supply, the smaller containers allow powder-makers to generate more revenue with a given amount of powder inventory. Will consumers accept the smaller powder containers? Probably so — 1000 grains is enough to load 20-22 rounds of .308 Winchester. In the current marketplace (with many powders virtually impossible to find), most consumers would probably prefer to get 2.3 ounces of their favorite powder, rather than nothing at all. (NOTE: The major powder suppliers will continue to offer popular powders in 1-lb, and 8-lb containers. The new 1000-grain containers will be phased-in over time, as an alternative to the larger containers).
Why the small bottles? One industry spokesman (who asked not to be named) explained: “We’ve had a severe shortage of smokeless powder for nearly two years. The powder production plants are running at full capacity, but there’s only so much finished product to go around. By moving to smaller containers, we can ensure that our customers at least get some powder, even if it’s not as much as they want.”
Why are the new containers 2.3 ounces rather than 8 ounces (half a pound) or 4 ounces (one-quarter pound)? One of the engineers who helped develop the new DOT-approved container explained: “We looked at various sizes. We knew we had to reduce the volume significantly to achieve our unit quantity sales goals. Some of our marketing guys liked the four-ounce option — the ‘Quarter-Pounder’. That had a nice ring to it, but ultimately we decided on the 1000 grain capacity. To the average consumer, one thousand grains sounds like a large amount of powder, even if it’s really only 2.3 ounces. This size also made it much easier to bundle the powder in six-packs. We think the six-packs will be a big hit. You get nearly a pound of powder, but you can mix and match with a variety of different propellants.”
Less Bang for Your Buck?
We’re told the new 2.3-ounce powder bottles will retail for around $8.50, i.e. about $3.70 per ounce. At that price, it may seem like you’re getting less bang for your buck. Currently, when you can find it, high-quality reloading powder typically sells for $25-$30 per pound (in 1-lb containers). At $30 per pound, you’re paying $1.88 per ounce. That means that the new mini-containers will be roughly twice as expensive, ounce-for-ounce, as current one-pounders ($3.70 per ounce vs. $1.88 per ounce).
Why is the DOT getting involved in powder packaging? Well, powders are considered hazardous materials, subject to many rules and regulations. Before a powder manufacturer or distributor can ship any propellant, all the hazmat packaging has to be first approved by the DOT to ensure safe shipping.
Along with the 2.3-ounce containers, the DOT has approved “six-pack” consolidated delivery units that will hold six, 1000-grain containers. Some manufacturers plan to offer “variety packs” with a selection of various powders in the 1000-grain bottles. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a six-pack with H322, H4895, Varget, H4350, H4831sc, and Retumbo?
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March 31st, 2014
In the archives of The First Shot (the CMP’s Online Magazine), SGT Walter E. Craig of the USAMU discusses physical conditioning for competitive shooters, particularly High Power competitors. Fitness training is an important subject that, curiously, is rarely featured in the shooting sports media. We seem to focus on hardware, or esoteric details of cartridge reloading. Yet physical fitness also matters, particularly for High Power shooters. In his article, Craig advocates: 1) weight training to strengthen the Skeletal Muscle System; 2) exercises to build endurance and stamina; and 3) cardiovascular conditioning programs to allow the shooter to remain relaxed with a controlled heart beat.
SGT Craig explains: “An individual would not enter a long distance race without first spending many hours conditioning his/her body. One should apply the same conditioning philosophy to [shooting]. Physical conditioning to improve shooting skills will result in better shooting performance…. The objective of an individual physical training program is to condition the muscles, heart, and lungs thereby increasing the shooter’s capability of controlling the body and rifle for sustained periods.”
CLICK HERE to READ FULL FITNESS ARTICLE
In addition to weight training and cardio workouts (which can be done in a gym), SGT Craig advocates “some kind of holding drill… to develop the muscles necessary for holding a rifle for extended periods.” For those with range access, Craig recommends a blind standing exercise: “This exercise consists of dry-firing one round, then live-firing one round, at a 200-yard standard SR target. For those who have access only to a 100-yard range, reduced targets will work as well. Begin the exercise with a timer set for 50 minutes. Dry-fire one round, then fire one live round and without looking at the actual impact, plot a call in a data book. Continue the dry fire/live fire sequence for 20 rounds, plotting after each round. After firing is complete, compare the data book to the target. If your zero and position are solid, the plots should resemble the target. As the training days add up and your zero is refined, the groups will shrink and move to the center.”
Fitness training and holding drills help position shooters reach their full potential.
Training for Older Shooters
Tom Alves has written an excellent article A Suggested Training Approach for Older Shooters. This article discusses appropriate low-impact training methods for older shooters. Tom explains: “Many of the articles you will read in books about position shooting and the one mentioned above are directed more toward the younger generation of shooters in their 20s. If you look down the line at a typical high power match these days you are likely to see quite a few folks who are in their middle 30s and up. Many people in that age range have had broken bones and wear and tear on their joints so a training program needs to take that into account. For instance, while jogging for an extended period for heart and lung conditioning may be the recommended approach for younger folks, it may be totally inappropriate for older people.”
READ FULL ARTICLE by Tom Alves
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March 28th, 2014
Serious shooters spend lots of time in the reloading room. If you want to produce great ammo, start with a good, solid bench with a very rigid working surface and plenty of storage space. Here we present three sets of FREE workbench plans. Any one of these bench designs can be a good summer do-it-yourself project for those with basic word-working skills.
Easy-to-Build Basic Bench
Simpson, maker of Strong-Tie fasteners, offers FREE Workbench Plans for a sturdy, 48″-wide bench with a pegboard backing and both upper and lower shelves. A complete list of fasteners and cut lengths is provided. For use as a loading bench with mounted presses, double-up the bench-top for extra ridigity. Without much difficulty, the plans can be adapted to build a wider bench if you prefer. The same downloadable document also contains plans for an 80″-high 6-shelf unit, a 72″-high heavy-duty shelving unit (with 4 shelves), and a 48″-wide heavy-duty table.
FREE Strongtie Bench Plans (.pdf file).
Corner Bench with Swinging Doors
The next design is rather unique — a corner bench with swing-out cabinets. This reloading bench is based on plans by M. L. McPherson as published in the October 1993 American Rifleman. The compact footprint that makes good use of corner space that is usually poorly utilized. This set of plans originally came from Ray-Vin.com. The folks who started Ray-Vin have retired, but you can still purchase many Ray-Vin products at SB Sales & Distributing.
FREE Corner Bench Plans (330kb .pdf file)
Classic NRMA Bench with Cabinets
The last bench design is a large, versatile bench with a full set of enclosed overhead cabinets. A National Reloading Manufacturers Association (NRMA) design, this bench requires many hours to build, but it will house all your reloading gear and provide a very stable platform for your presses.This bench was designed to be as versatile as possible to meet the needs of most reloaders. However, the bench design can easily be customized. For instance, it can be made larger or smaller to meet space requirements or quantities of equipment and components. As it is currently designed, the work area is about waist-high for a 6’2″ person. This can be adjusted to fit your height simply by making the legs longer or shorter.
FREE NRMA Reloading Bench Plans (2.42 megabyte .pdf file).
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March 14th, 2014
If you have always dreamed about making a living writing about guns, here’s your chance. The NRA’s flagship publication, American Rifleman, is looking for an Assistant Editor. This is a full-time gig. You get to test guns, write, edit, and even travel around the country a bit. What’s the catch? Well you may have to pull up stakes and move. This position is based at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. You can’t work remotely or tele-commute.
American Rifleman Seeks Assistant Editor
American Rifleman, the National Rifle Association’s original Official Journal, is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Assistant Editor.
Job Duties: Provides editorial support essential to produce American Rifleman magazine, the American Rifleman Television Show and American Rifleman digital edition accurately, punctually, and in accordance with established standards and policies. Handles editorial preparation and production of monthly departments and daily web content as assigned, including: reviewing manuscripts, fact-checking, copy editing, assembling photo packages, writing captions and headlines, and proofreading. Proofreads departments, features and web content during each stage of editorial production, including checking links and page proofs of digital version of American Rifleman. Assists in compilation and production of monthly “Lock, Stock & Barrel”, “Opening Shot,” “Product Reviews”, and other monthly features. Coordinates “Official Journal” sections in multiple magazines. Sources photographs to be used in various media; writes photo captions; and may do assignment photography.
The Position requires a BA in English, Journalism or Communications and 1-2 years experience on newspaper or magazine editorial staff. Shooting experience and knowledge are required, as is a broad interest in firearms and Second Amendment issues. The selected candidate must be eligible under Federal law to have access to firearms and ammunition. Working knowledge of electronic publishing is required. Basic photography skills are necessary. Extended hours and business travel are required.
CLICK Here for Full Job Requirements and to Submit a Resume.
Note, if you have production experience in the publishing industry, the NRA is also seeking a Managing Editor for Shooting Illustrated magazine. This job is also based at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.
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March 11th, 2014
If you like sweet-shooting .17 HMR rimfire rifles, and appreciate fine German engineering, then you’ll love the Anschutz model 1727. Rarely seen on American shores, this is the only varmint rifle in the world using the super-fast, straight-pull Fortner action. Developed for Olympic Biathlon competitions, the Fortner action can be cycled in the blink of an eye. Just pull back the side-lever with your forefinger and then snick the bolt back with your thumb. This slick-cycling action has been used for many years in biathlon rifles, but the model 1727 is the first example of a Fortner varminter.
Our friend Steven Boelter, author of the Rifleman’s Guide to Rimfire Ammunition, has been able to test the Anschutz model 1727 extensively, both from the bench and in the field. Steven has published an outstanding online review of the model 1727, lavishly illustrated with great photos that show all the details of this unique firearm. We strongly recommend you visit Boelter’s Rimfire Research & Development Website (RRDVegas.com) and read his Anschutz 1727 Review.
Click Photo to Read Anschutz 1727 Review by Steven Boelter
After bench-testing the model 1727 for accuracy, and then using it on a ground squirrel safari, Boelter came away hugely impressed with this unique .17 HMR rifle:
The 1727 is truly a masterpiece; there really is no other way to look at it. I can’t think of any other rimfire action which remotely comes close in design or function, and executed at this level of precision.
The 1727 combines the accuracy of a single-shot match rifle, provides the convenience of a four-shot repeater, and cycles with nearly the speed of a semi-auto without fear of a dreaded case failure or “Ka-boom”. There’s really nothing else to say about the rifle. With virtually no short-comings in design or function, superb field performance and overall accuracy, it’s to be considered a 10 out of 10.
The only downside, Boelter explains, is the price: “The rifle alone has a suggested retail price of $3,500. When you add a nice set of Talley rings and bases along with a sharp Leupold scope, you’re approaching $5,000 USD. It’s completely out of reach for the majority of varmint hunters, and that is a shame.”
Anschutz 1727 Video Review from Australia. Amazing 50-yd accuracy at 12:00 time-mark.
Story tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 11th, 2014
The March edition of Target Shooter Magazine is now available. Content is free — you don’t have to purchase a subscription. This month there are many interesting featured articles, including a lengthy report from SHOT Show, and an article on tuning the 6 PPC by noted gun writer James Mock.
Here’s one of the many new products featured in Target Shooter’s SHOT Show Report — a new kind of chronograph. You haven’t seen anything like it before, because it is the first Doppler Radar chronograph for general (civilian) use. Produced in Canada, the new MyLabradar chronograph can be positioned off to the side — the bullet does NOT have to be fired directly over a set of sensors. That’s a big deal — no more risk of killing your chrono when testing ammo. You just aim at the target, with the chrono placed a few yards to the left or right.
IWA Report Coming Soon from Target Shooter
The editors of Target Shooter note that new articles are added throughout the month, so visit www.TargetShooter.co.uk frequently to see new content. The big IWA trade show (the European version of SHOT Show) took place March 7-10 in Nuremberg, Germany. Target Shooter will provide a report: “Coming soon will be all the latest news from IWA — where our Editor spent four days searching around the exhibition for new and exciting products.”
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