June 20th, 2017

Tangent vs. Secant vs. Hybrid — Bullet Ogive Geometry Explained

Secant and Tangent Ogive Bryan LitzWe know many of our readers aren’t 100% clear on the difference between a secant ogive bullet and a tangent ogive bullet. Add the “blended” or “hybrid” ogive into the design equation and you add to the confusion. In this article, Berger Ballistician Bryan Litz, explains the characteristics of the three popular ogive types: tangent, secant, and hybrid.

In discussions of ballistics, you’ll see references to “tangent” and “secant” bullet shapes. For many readers, these terms can be confusing. To add to the confusion, bullet makers don’t always identify their projectiles as secant or tangent designs. This article provides a basic explanation of tangent and secant designs, to help you understand the characteristics of both bullet shapes.

Tangent vs. Secant vs. Hybrid
Most match bullets produced today use a tangent ogive profile, but the modern VLD-style bullets employ a secant profile. To further complicate matters, the latest generation of “Hybrid” projectiles from Berger Bullets feature a blended secant + tangent profile to combine the best qualities of both nose shapes. The secant section provides reduced drag, while the tangent section makes the bullet easier to tune, i.e. less sensitive to bullet seating depth position.

Berger Bullets ballistician Bryan Litz explains tangent and secant bullet ogive designs in a glossary section of his Applied Ballistics website, which we reprint below. Bryan then explains how tangent and secant profiles can be combined in a “hybrid” design.

How Bullet Ogive Curves are Defined
While the term “ogive” is often used to describe the particular point on the bullet where the curve reaches full bullet diameter, in fact the “ogive” properly refers to the entire curve of the bullet from the tip to the full-diameter straight section — the shank. Understanding then, that the ogive is a curve, how is that curve described?

LITZ: The ogive of a bullet is usually characterized by the length of its radius. This radius is often given in calibers instead of inches. For example, an 8 ogive 6mm bullet has an ogive that is a segment of a circular arc with a radius of 8*.243 = 1.952”. A .30-caliber bullet with an 8 ogive will be proportionally the same as the 8 ogive 6mm bullet, but the actual radius will be 2.464” for the .30 caliber bullet.

For a given nose length, if an ogive is perfectly tangent, it will have a very specific radius. Any radius longer than that will cause the ogive to be secant. Secant ogives can range from very mild (short radius) to very aggressive (long radius). The drag of a secant ogive is minimized when its radius is twice as long as a tangent ogive radius. In other words, if a tangent ogive has an 8 caliber radius, then the longest practical secant ogive radius is 16 calibers long for a given nose length.”

hybrid bullet

Ogive Metrics and Rt/R Ratio
LITZ: There is a number that’s used to quantify how secant an ogive is. The metric is known as the Rt/R ratio and it’s the ratio of the tangent ogive radius to the actual ogive radius for a given bullet. In the above example, the 16 caliber ogive would have an Rt/R ratio of 0.5. The number 0.5 is therefore the lowest practical value for the Rt/R ratio, and represents the minimum drag ogive for a given length. An ogive that’s perfectly tangent will have an Rt/R ratio of 1.0. Most ogives are in between an Rt/R of 1.0 and 0.5. The dimensioned drawings at the end of my Applied Ballistics book provide the bullets ogive radius in calibers, as well as the Rt/R ratio. In short, the Rt/R ratio is simply a measure of how secant an ogive is. 1.0 is not secant at all, 0.5 is as secant as it gets.

Berger Hybrid bullet, .308 30 CaliberHybrid Bullet Design — Best of Both Worlds?
Bryan Litz has developed a number of modern “Hybrid” design bullets for Berger. The objective of Bryan’s design work has been to achieve a very low drag design that is also “not finicky”. Normal (non-hybrid) secant designs, such as the Berger 105gr VLD, deliver very impressive BC values, but the bullets can be sensitive to seating depth. Montana’s Tom Mousel has set world records with the Berger 105gr VLD in his 6mm Dasher, but he tells us “seating depth is critical to the best accuracy”. Tom says a mere .003″ seating depth change “makes a difference”. In an effort to produce more forgiving high-BC bullets, Bryan Litz developed the hybrid tangent/secant bullet shape.

Bryan Litz Explains Hybrid Design and Optimal Hybrid Seating Depths

Story sourced by Edlongrange.
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June 19th, 2017

“This is My Rifle” — 74-Year-Old Marine Reunited with M1 Garand

Pat Farmer USMC Marine Corps M1 Garand CMP Camp Matthews
After 56 years Pat Farmer was reunited with the M1 Garand he used while serving his country.

By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
Pat Farmer hadn’t felt the weight in his hands in 56 years. After five decades, the memories flooded back as his fingertips grazed the wood of the stock and gripped it tightly. It was a piece of his personal history, and the history of his country… and now, it’s a relic he’ll be able to keep for the rest of his life.

“I had never dreamed it would be in the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) warehouse,” he said. “I had just hoped to possibly start a search beginning with the CMP.”

The 74-year-old from Jacksonville, NC, is a retired veteran who served 26 years in the armed forces. He was raised on a farm in Nebraska where he became familiar with guns at an early age. As a teen, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during his senior year in high school through a delay program. On August 30, 1960, he left for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, to attend boot camp — where he celebrated his 18th birthday.

Pat Farmer USMC Marine Corps M1 Garand CMP Camp Matthews

Upon arrival he was issued M1 Garand #4305638. The firearm soon became a close companion as he spent countless hours with it on the “Grinder” — a Marine Corps term for a deck or parade ground used for drill and formations.

Reunited with M1 Garand after 56 Years
On May 8, 2017, Pat Farmer was reunited with M1 Garand #4305638 thanks to the CMP. Bringing it back to life, Pat began to fieldstrip the rifle. As he got to the trigger housing of the gun, he found something that he couldn’t believe – tape with his name and markings on it. It read, “Farmer 20/8L.” Pat believes it was his 500-yard “dope” – twenty clicks elevation, eight clicks left windage.

Pat Farmer USMC Marine Corps M1 Garand CMP Camp Matthews

“Fifty-six years ago, we drilled and did the manual of arms with M1s as if they were matchsticks. It seems much heavier now!” Farmer added with a laugh.

Pat was eventually selected for aviation school after infantry training and shot on the rifle team while attached to a Reserve unit. He went on to shoot expert rifle at the Camp Mathews rifle range*. “It was some of the best and most rewarding years of my life,” he said.

Many years later, Pat one day went through an old locker box and found his custody receipt from Jan. 27, 1961, when he turned in his boot camp rifle before transferring to aviation school. Curiosity set in as he wondered whatever became of M1 Garand #4305638 – and the idea of finding it overcame him.

“I had purchased a few rifles from the old DCM and also CMP, so on a whim I decided to contact CMP to see if my old M1 had ever passed through their system,” he explained. Here’s the story of what happened and the years of waiting…

(more…)

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June 13th, 2017

Best F-Class Cartridge Choices For Mid-Range and Long-Range

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Cartridge Choices for F-Class Competition

By Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

There are hundreds of cartridge types capable of winning in F-Open. For F-TR you can shoot either the .223 Rem or .308 Win, but you have many load options. This article will focus on proven choices, currently used by the top F-Class shooters in the world. Our discussion will analyze cartridge selection based on the four different F-Class sub-disciplines: Open Mid-Range, Open Long-Range, F-TR Mid-Range, and F-TR Long Range.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Kovan
Click image to view full-screen photo.

Mid-Range F-Open Cartridges

For starters, a .300 WSM is certainly capable of winning mid-range matches but it is not ideal. So what is ideal, and why? F-Class Mid-Range matches usually are usually shot at 300, 500, or 600 yards — or all three. At those distances the 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges rule. In moderate conditions, the 6mm Dasher is unbeatable. Its low recoil along with its super grouping ability and good ballistics make it my number one choice for Mid-Range.

Best bullets for the 6mm Dasher are: Vapor Trail 103gr, Berger 105 Hybrid, 108 BT, and 105 VLD (hunting). Best powders are: Varget, H4895, and Reloder 15.

Choices for Mid-Range in Tougher Conditions:
We all know that conditions are not always “moderate” that’s why something a little bit bigger will save you a “Nine” or two. The 6.5X47 Lapua was designed for 300-meter competition, but as soon as it was released, it was adopted by F-Class, benchrest, and tactical shooters. It offers great ballistics with very low recoil and big “accuracy window”. Lapua makes great brass for it (no surprise there) and Berger makes great bullets: 130gr VLD, 140gr VLD, 140gr Hybrids. Best powders in most barrels are Varget and H4350, I don’t use double-based powders such as Reloder 17 and the Vihtavuori N500 series because of their unpredictable performance day to day (greater temp sensitivity).

The 6.5X47 Lapua necked down to 6mm is also a great option for mid range matches. I was able to easily get 3200 fps with 105 hybrids and H4350.

Choice for Long-Range F-Open Competition

In Long-Range F-Open Class (out to 1000 yards), the big, high-BC bullets rule. If I had to pick one cartridge for F-Class (both mid- and long-range) I would pick the .284 Winchester or one of its variants. The .284 Win is currently dominating in F-Open competition. It offers great barrel life, it is super-easy to tune and its recoil is very manageable. The best bullets for it by far (in my opinion), are the Berger 180 Hybrids. But Sierra’s new 183gr MK bullet (with factory-uniformed meplats) seems to perform very well as does the Berger 180 VLD. Best powders for the .284 Win are H4350 and H4831SC.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Long-Range Only F-Open Cartridge
As much as I like the .284 Win, for long-range competitions I like the .300 WSM even more. If you look at a .300 WSM and a 6mm Dasher side by side, they appear almost identical in geometry — the .300 WSM looks like an “super-sized” Dasher. Both cartridges are currently the “darlings” of long-range benchrest due to their extraordinary grouping ability and huge “node’’ windows. Big accuracy windows allow loads to perform well in different conditions and geographical locations. That’s obviously very important if you travel to compete. The .300 WSM loaded with Berger 215gr or 230gr Hybrids is very tough to beat at long range, and it is currently my number one choice.

The 7mm RSAUM is another outstanding long-range round. It resembles a 6BR on steroids and it is almost as easy to tune. Best bullets for it are Berger 180gr Hybrids, 195gr EOLs, and Sierra’s 183gr MatchKing. Best powders for the 7mm RSAUM are: H4350, H4831SC, and VV N160.

Top Caliber/Bullet Combos for F-TR

In F-TR competition, the choice is clear — a .308 Win throated for Berger 185gr BTLRs and 200gr Hybrids will win in mid-range AND long-range comps. Many championships have been won, and many records set with those two bullets in the .308 Win. To quote Danny Biggs (a two times FTR National Champion) “The 185 BTLR is the best bullet for .308 Win ever made”.

The Berger 215gr Hybrids have been used to win many competitions including recently the 2015 F-Class Nationals. Bryan Litz won both the Mid-Range and Long-Range 2015 Championships using 215s. Bryan’s rifle is shown below:

Bryan Litz F-TR 2015 National Championship rifle

I recommend chambers throated for the 185/200 grain projectiles over the 215/230 grain bullets. The reason is that if you have your barrel throated out for the 215s or the 230s, you could have a “slow” barrel and max out on pressure before the desired velocity is reached. Optimum freebore for the 230s is too long for the 185/200s, so you would be limited to using only 215/230gr bullets in that barrel.Furthermore, the recoil increase with heavier bullets is substantial, causing the rifle to be more difficult to shoot.

.223 Remington Cartridge Diagram.223 Rem — Not A Competitive Option
I would stay away from the .223 Remington. On paper the 90gr VLD will shoot inside most .308 Win loads even at a 1000 yards. But in reality, on average, the .223 Rem, regardless of what powder/bullet combo is used, cannot compete with the .308 Win. [Editor: The equipment lists at major F-TR matches will confirm Kovan’s conclusion here.]

Conclusion (and Other Options)
This article covers only the (currently) most popular cartridge/bullet combos for F-Class (F-Open and F-TR). As I said in the beginning, many cartridge types are capable of winning but are not listed due to their low popularity, case design, or lack of quality components. All of the above information is based on my personal experience and it is meant to help new shooters choose the right cartridges for F-Class matches. Thanks for reading and good luck — Emil Kovan

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

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June 9th, 2017

Humidity and Powder Burn Rates — What You Need to Know

Tech Tip Norma Powder gunpowder moisture temperature humidity

Most shooters realize that significant changes in temperature will alter how powders perform. That’s why you want to keep your loaded ammo out of the hot sun, and keep rounds out of a hot chamber until you’re ready to fire. But there are other factors to be considered — HUMIDITY for one. This article explains why and how humidity can affect powder burn rates and performance.

We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry”. Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.

Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).

Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”

Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”

What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.

Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from Amazon.com.

Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter

Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”

If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.

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June 8th, 2017

Get Creative — Design Your Own Custom PDF Targets

Custom AccurateShooter Bullseye target Printtargets.net
We created this custom target in 5 minutes using PrintTargets.net. If you like it, DOWNLOAD HERE.

AccurateShooter.com has a HUGE collection of FREE downloadable PDF targets. We offer a very wide range of target designs: Load Development Grids, NRA Bullseye targets, Official-Size BR targets, Realistic Varmint Targets, Silhouette Shapes, Fun Plinking Targets, and even specialized tactical training targets. If our collection of free targets isn’t enough, or if you want to create a new kind of target — you’re in luck. There’s an Australian-based interactive website, PrintTargets.net, that allows you to create your own customized, printable PDF targets. Shown below are just a few of the target designs you can create in minutes:

Free downloadable targets

Just follow the step-by-step instructions to set paper size, layout, bullseye color, line thickness, number of rings and diameter. You can even add Score Numbers to your target rings. PrintTargets.net is easy and fun to use. It’s much faster to create targets this way than to try to draw a series of circles with PowerPoint or MS Paint.

CLICK HERE to Design Your Own Downloadable Targets

Power-User Tip: PrintTargets.net even offers a handy diamond-grid calibration diagram that you can add to your custom target designs. You’ll find the calibration grid as option #15 when you design your target — just scroll all the way down the PrintTargets.net home page.

CLICK Graphic to Create Your Own Targets.
Free downloadable targets

NOTE: As of June 17, 2017, the PrintTargets.Net Host is not resolving on the internet. This is probably a temporary glitch. It has been working fine for the past three years, and hopefully will be restored again soon.

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May 26th, 2017

Novice Shooters Deserve Accurate Rifles Too…

6-6.5x47 Benchrest

On some internet shooting forums, self-declared “experts” advise new rifle shooters to stick to low-end factory rifles. These “experts” (many of whom don’t own a single really accurate rifle), claim that it will take years for a new shooter to learn how to shoot a rifle accurately. So, the argument goes, the accuracy offered by a precision-chambered rifle, with a custom barrel, is “wasted” on a new shooter.

We disagree with that viewpoint, at least when it comes to rifles shot from a rest. We’ve seen relatively new shooters, with help from a skilled mentor, do remarkably well with precision rifles right from the start. With a good bench gun, many new shooters can shoot well under 1 MOA on the first day. Certainly it takes time for a complete novice to learn how to handle the gun and to work the trigger smoothly. However, this editor has personally seen some inexperienced shooters try their hand at benchrest shooting, and within few month they are doing very well indeed at club shoots.

Accurate Rifles Reward Progress As Novices Build Skills

For bench shooting, we think a highly accurate rifle is a much better training device for a new shooter than a typical, cheap factory sporter. With a gun capable of 1.5-2.0 MOA at best, you can never really determine if a “flyer” is you or the gun. Conversely, when a novice shoots a gun that can put 5 shots through one ragged hole, if a shot goes way high or low, the shooter knows his aim, trigger control, or gun-handling is to blame. He (or she) can then correct the problem. And when the shooter does everything right, he or she will see a nice tight group on the target. The accurate rifle provides more meaningful feedback and it rewards progress. That helps the novice become a better shooter in a shorter period of time.

6-6.5x47 Benchrest

A while back, Forum Member Preacher and his “bunny hugger” niece from California proved this point. The young lady, with almost no shooting experience, took Preacher’s 6-6.5×47 and shot a sub-quarter-MOA, 3-shot group at 350 yards. Don’t tell her she needs to stick to a cheap factory rifle. Preacher reports: “My niece flew in from the west coast and came up to visit. When she saw a few of my full-blown varmint rifles, she wanted to shoot one. She did a super job even if she IS a ‘bunny hugger’. She pulled the 1.5 ounce Jewell on a few fired cases to check out the trigger pull and then got in behind the gun and put three shots into a 350-yard target with a one-inch circle.” We measured her group at 0.822″ (0.224 MOA). Don’t tell Preacher that accuracy is “wasted” on novices. He joked: “I sure don’t want her shooting at me ….”

Rifle Features BAT Action, Krieger Barrel, and Russo Laminated Stock:

6-6.5x47 Benchrest

For those who are interested, Preacher’s rifle features a BAT 3-lug action, 30″ Krieger 7.5-twist heavy contour barrel, and Russo stock (with clear coat by Preacher). Chambered in 6-6.5×47 Lapua, this gun “shoots the 108gr Bergers very well” according to Preacher. Yep, we agree with that — even when a novice “bunny-hugger” does the trigger-pulling.

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May 25th, 2017

Protective Eyewear for Shooters — What You Need to Know

Eyewear Safety ANSI Z97 Lucky Gunner Test Impact Pellet Glasses

If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t wear eye protection, you need to check out the LuckyGunner Labs Eye Protection Test. For those who DO wear safety glasses — don’t assume that everything is OK. Just because you purchased name-brand “safety glasses” doesn’t mean that you are getting truly effective protection. In fact, many forms of protective eyewear sold today are flimsy, or poorly made. Consequently, they won’t stop even low-energy, slow-velocity fragments.

CLICK HERE to Read Complete Eyewear Test Report by LuckyGunner Labs.

Lucky gunner eyewear testTwo years ago, LuckyGunner Labs conducted very extensive field tests of 28 types of eyewear, ranging in price from $7 to $220. Remarkably, some of the most expensive safety eyewear performed no better than $10 items. Many of the products failed shockingly — with the lenses coming right out of the frames when hit with pellets. LuckyGunner recorded these kind of failures even with ANSI Z87-“approved” eyewear. The reason is that the Z87 test is not tough enough: “The basic ANSI standard is referred to as Z87, and you’ll see this marked in a number of locations on most eye protection marketed to shooters. However, the Z87 impact standard involves a .25″ steel ball traveling at 150 fps — this is fine for protecting eyes from debris that might fall or be thrown, but is not extremely relevant to shooters, who are dealing with objects traveling at much higher velocities.”

Standard Impact speed Caliber/Size
ANSI Z87.1-2003
High Velocity
150 feet/second
45 meters/second
0.25″ diameter steel ball
(25 caliber)
Mil-PRF-31013
Vo ballistic test
640-660 feet/second
195 meters/second
0.15 inch diameter steel projectile (15 caliber)

The testers recommend you select eyewear that meets military specification (above and beyond ANSI Z87). The MIL-PRF-31013 Standard covers projectiles up to 650 feet per second. This is much more stringent. Additionally, you want to replace often-used protective eyewear every year or so. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can weaken polycarbonate and lessen its ability to withstand impacts.

SUMMARY — What to Look for in Protective Eyewear

THE GOOD — Eyewear Protects Against Direct Hit with .22 Short Bullet
APEL Revision Sawfly eyewear was shot with a .22 Short, pushing a 29 grain bullet at 710 fps. That’s not powerful by modern firearm standards, but this might be fairly representative of a ricochet bullet fragment. The Sawfly lens stopped this 29gr bullet with minimal damage to the cheek area.

Lucky gunner eyewear test
THE BAD — Remington Eyewear Lenses Separate. Right Lens Enters Eye Socket
The most gruesome example was the cheap Remington eyewear which shed both lenses back towards the eyes, one of which embedded itself into the eye socket. The real-world implications of this action are disturbing to say the least.

Lucky gunner eyewear test

THE UGLY — Prescription Glasses Failed Miserably
Many ranges don’t see any need for protective eyewear beyond prescription glasses. However, most prescription lenses offer little if any protection. If the prescription lenses are glass, this can create more problems. As shown below, these prescription glasses offered no ballistic protection, and, in fact, proved more dangerous to the eyes due to the flying glass shards.

Lucky gunner eyewear test

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Results Chart, Video Clips, and Photos copyright Luckygunner.com.

Summary and Conclusions:
For faster-moving projectiles such as ricochet fragments, you need high quality, tested eye protection. LuckyGunner recommends eyewear with a single (one-piece) lens for any activity where your face might be struck by small, fast-moving objects. Individual lenses detach from the frames once a certain level of force is reached, and they are driven back into the eye sockets, where considerable damage may be done. There are good examples of protective eyewear with two separate lenses, but a broad, one-piece lens distributes force much better.

Lucky gunner eyewear testA wide, comfortable, and preferably soft rubber nosepiece is critical. Along with good “arms”, this will serve to keep the eye protection in place and will also reduce the chances of the lens being driven down or back into the face with enough force to damage the orbital bones.

A frame that connects across the top of the lens, not individual arms which attach to the outside corners of the lens, is recommended. This will reduce the chances of the lens detaching from the frame under impact (it’s still possible, just less likely). Some types of eye protection actually use the frame to absorb impact and distribute force.

NOTE: Andrew, the author of the LuckyGunner Eyewear report, was a former Navy Corpsman. Accordingly, he is familiar with health and safety matters.

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May 22nd, 2017

Kevin Nevius — Smallbore Champion and Master Rifle-Builder

On the Shooting Sports USA website, there’s a great profile of Kevin Nevius, one of America’s leading competitive marksmen. Kevin is best known for his smallbore success but he has also an impressive record in long-range centerfire competition — In 2005 and 2006 he won the Sierra Trophy at Camp Perry in 1000-yard competition. This was followed by smallbore National Championships in 2008, 2010, and 2014. This story, penned by gunwriter Hap Rocketto, covers Kevin’s career, which has included multiple championships and many records.

“My brother got me into long range varmint hunting and I started building my own guns very early,” Nevius told Dan Holmes in a Pronematch.com interview. “I had a hunting friend who shot indoor smallbore who started me in three position and I was hooked.”

» READ Kevin Nevius Profile in Shooting Sports USA

Here are highlights from Hap Rocketto’s Profile of Kevin Nevius:

Shooting Sports USAChampion shooter Kevin Nevius grew up in a household that did not allow firearms, an unlikely beginning for one of the United States’ premier prone rifleman and gunsmiths. Once out on his own he fell in with his brother who enjoyed long-range varmint hunting. His natural bent for things mechanical (he is a professional structural engineer) soon had him tinkering with rifles, which eventually led him to building his own.

Everything fell into line for him in smallbore during the 2008 season. After shooting a series of training matches in which he was most successful, he arrived at Camp Perry at the peak of performance and won his first National Smallbore Rifle Conventional Prone Championship. Kevin came back strong in 2010, winning the inaugural individual National Smallbore Rifle Metric Prone Championship, as well as the team title at Bristol, IN. [Kevin then won the Smallbore Conventional Prone Championship in 2014 with a practically perfect score of 4799-390X (LINK).]

Along the way, Nevius has won some impressive national records. In conventional competition he co-holds the 1200-shot metallic sight aggregate record of 1200-102X. He was just one shot short of perfection in the 480 aggregate, where he holds the civilian record of 4799-412X, just one point behind, and 11 Xs ahead of, Joe Hein’s 4800-401X open record.

Kevin Nevius hopes to build a smallbore rig capable of 3/8-MOA at 100 yards.
Kevin Nevius smallbore gunsmith

Building the Ultimate Rimfire Prone Rifle
Kevin is not just a great trigger-puller. He also smiths his own rifles. His current goal as a gunsmith is to build a rimfire rifle that will shoot 3/8″ groups at 100 yards. That’s a big challenge — 3/8-MOA represents very good accuracy for a centerfire rifle with handloaded ammo. But if any rimfire smith can build a rifle that will shoot that well at 100, it’s probably Kevin.

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May 20th, 2017

Field Skills: Reading the Wind When Hunting

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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May 7th, 2017

Your Worst Nightmare: Catastrophic .338 Lapua Magnum Kaboom

Kaboom Manatee Savage .338 LM, Lapua Magnum, catastrophic, explosion, cleaning rod, obstruction
Click to zoom image

We first ran this story a couple years back. We’re republishing it today as a reminder to our readers that safety should be their paramount concern at the range. Avoid distractions and always check your barrel for obstructions before you chamber a round or pull the trigger. A moment of inattention can result in a catastrophic kaboom …

Discharging a .338 Lapua Magnum round with a cleaning rod in the barrel — that’s a recipe for disaster. What happens when a fired .338 caliber bullet and a cleaning rod try to occupy the same place at the same time? Well you get a catastrophic kaboom, with metal pieces flying all over the place, and a shooter very lucky to escape without serious injury. This incident occurred recently in Manatee, Florida, as reported by Sniper’s Hide member Queequeg. We thank SnipersHide.com for granting permission to publish these revealing images in the Daily Bulletin. CLICK HERE for more Kaboom info on the ‘Hide.

Kaboom Manatee Savage .338 LM, Lapua Magnum, catastrophic, explosion, cleaning rod, obstruction

This story should serve as a chilling reminder to follow proper safety practices whenever you are at the range. Always check to make sure there is no obstruction in the bore BEFORE loading a live round.

.338 Lapua Magnum + Cleaning Rod + Inattention = Kaboom!

Kaboom at Manatee!
Sniper’s Hide member Queequeg recently published shocking photos of a catastrophic kaboom involving a .338 Lapua Magnum (Savage action). The action was blown off the rifle, shrapnel went through the roof, and the barrel split at the tenon before taking an excursion downrange. The action did crack in the front but the lugs remained engaged so the bolt did not slam to the rear (luckily for the shooter).

Here’s the report: “This happened [January 20, 2014] at the Manatee Gun and Archery Club. Al, Ren and myself were there with a couple other folks. Ren was at bench 12, I was at 13. The fellow at 11 was running a Savage .338 Lapua. He had a very bad day! He damn sure could have killed himself and quite likely Ren as well.”

Kaboom Manatee Savage .338 LM, Lapua Magnum, catastrophic, explosion, cleaning rod, obstruction

Queeqeg added: “After the boom, I heard Ren ask ‘Are you alright’ and then turned to look in time to see the fellow reacting in total shock — literally stunned. Ren and I went over to him and could not see any major injuries. Ren was uninjured as well but had a lot of fiberglass splinters on him. The barrel nut is what I presume punched the two holes in the roof. The shooter is a regular there[.] He had been having a problem with sticky cases though he said he was certain the loads were mild. That’s why he was content to knock the sticky ones out with the rod. He simply forgot to remove the rod after knocking out the last stuck case. You can see what happened next.”

Kaboom Manatee Savage .338 LM, Lapua Magnum, catastrophic, explosion, cleaning rod, obstruction

Kaboom Manatee Savage .338 LM, Lapua Magnum, catastrophic, explosion, cleaning rod, obstruction

Kaboom Manatee Savage .338 LM, Lapua Magnum, catastrophic, explosion, cleaning rod, obstruction

Kaboom Manatee Savage .338 LM, Lapua Magnum, catastrophic, explosion, cleaning rod, obstruction

To learn more about this incident, go to the original Snipers Hide Forum Thread. There you’ll find more details and over four pages of related discussions.

The Important Lesson Here
What did the .338 LM shooter do wrong here? You will say — “Well that’s obvious, he left a cleaning rod in the barrel and then shot a round.” Yes, that was a potentially fatal error. But that was his second mistake — one that occurred only because he made a more fundamental judgment error first.

The FIRST mistake was not acknowledging the problem with his ammo. Had he heeded the warning signs, he would still have a rifle (and an unsoiled pair of trousers). When he first observed that he was having problems with extracting cases, a warning light should have gone off in his head. Presuming his extractor was not broken (and that the chamber was cut properly) he should have been able to extract his brass if he was running safe loads. The lesson here we all need to learn is that if you observe a serious ammo-related issue, it is time to stop shooting. Don’t try to invent work-arounds just to extend your range session, when there are clear signs that something is wrong, very wrong.

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May 5th, 2017

Bullet Concentricity Basics — What You Need to Know

Sinclair concentricity 101 eccentricity run-out reloading plans

Sinclair International reloading toolsSinclair International has released an interesting article about Case Concentricity* and bullet “run-out”. This instructional article by Bob Kohl explains the reasons brass can exhibit poor concentricity, and why high bullet run-out can be detrimental to accuracy.

Concentricity, Bullet Alignment, and Accuracy by Bob Kohl
The purpose of loading your own ammo is to minimize all the variables that can affect accuracy and can be controlled with proper and conscientious handloading. Concentricity and bullet run-out are important when you’re loading for accuracy. Ideally, it’s important to strive to make each round the same as the one before it and the one after it. It’s a simple issue of uniformity.

The reason shooters work with tools and gauges to measure and control concentricity is simple: to make sure the bullet starts down the bore consistently in line with the bore. If the case isn’t properly concentric and the bullet isn’t properly aligned down the center of the bore, the bullet will enter the rifling inconsistently. While the bore might force the bullet to align itself with the bore (but normally it doesn’t), the bullet may be damaged or overstressed in the process – if it even it corrects itself in transit. These are issues we strive to remedy by handloading, to maintain the best standard possible for accurate ammunition.

The term “concentricity” is derived from “concentric circle”. In simple terms it’s the issue of having the outside of the cartridge in a concentric circle around the center. That goes from case head and center of the flash hole, to the tip of the bullet.

Factors Affecting Concentricity

The point of using this term is to identify a series of issues that affect accurate ammunition. Ideally this would work best with a straight-walled case; but since most rifle cartridge cases are tapered, it equates to the smallest cross section that can be measured point by point to verify the concentric circle around the center. For the examples below, I’m working with .308 Winchester ammo.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 1: The cartridge.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 2: Centerline axis of the case, extending from flash hole to case mouth.

The case walls have to be in perfect alignment with the center, or axis, of that case, even if it’s measured at a thousandth of an inch per segment (in a tapered case).

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 3: Case body in alignment with its axis, or centerline, even in a tapered case.

The case neck must also be in alignment with its axis. By not doing so you can have erratic bullet entry into the bore. The case neck wall itself should be as uniform as possible in alignment and in thickness (see the M80 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge in Figure 5) and brass can change its alignment and shape. It’s why we expand the case neck or while some folks ream the inside of the neck and then turn the outside for consistent thickness, which affects the tension on the bullet when seated.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 4: Neck in alignment with center of the case axis.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 5: Variations in case neck wall thickness, especially on some military brass, can cause an offset of the bullet in its alignment. This is an M80 ball round. Note the distinct difference of the neck walls.

Having a ball micrometer on hand helps, especially with military brass like 7.62x51mm in a semi-auto rifle, where there are limits as to how thin you want the neck walls to be. In the case of 7.62 ball brass you want to keep the wall to .0145″.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 6: A ball micrometer like this RCBS tool (#100-010-268) can measure case neck thickness.

Turning the outside of the neck wall is important with .308 military cases regardless of whether you expand or ream the neck walls. There are several outside neck turning tools from Forster, Hornady, Sinclair, and others. I’ve been using classic Forster case trimming (#100-203-301) and neck turning (#749-012-890) tools for 40 years.

Bullet Run-Out
The cartridge, after being loaded, still needs to be in alignment with the center of the case axis. Figure 7 shows a bad example of this, a round of M80 ball. A tilted bullet is measured for what’s known as bullet “run-out”.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 7: An M80 round with the bullet tilted and not aligned with the axis. This will be a flyer!

Run-out can be affected by several things: (1) improperly indexing your case while sizing, which includes not using the proper shell holder, especially while using a normal expander ball on the sizing die (it also can stretch the brass). (2) The head of a turret press can flex; and (3) improper or sloppy bullet seating. This is also relevant when it comes to using a progressive press when trying to load accuracy ammo.

Mid Tompkins came up with a simple solution for better bullet seating years ago. Seat your bullet half way into the case, back off the seater die and rotate the case 180 degrees before you finish seating the bullet. It cuts down on run-out problems, especially with military brass. You also want to gently ream the inside of the neck mouth to keep from having any brass mar the surface of the bullet jacket and make proper seating easier. A tilted bullet often means a flyer.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 8: Proper alignment from the center of the case head to the tip of the bullet.

CLICK HERE to READ FULL ARTICLE With More Photos and Tips


*Actually some folks would say that if we are talking about things being off-center or out-of-round, we are actually talking about “eccentricity”. But the tools we use are called “Concentricity Gauges” and Concentricity is the term most commonly used when discussing this subject.

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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May 2nd, 2017

Interview with Bryan Litz — Insight into a Champion

Bryan Litz Interview Applied Ballistics Mia Lee Rhode Shooters wife

There’s a great interview with Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics on Mia Rhode’s Life Of A Shooter’s Wife Blog. We recommend you read the full interview. Bryan offers many important insights that can benefit any precision shooter. It’s fascinating to learn about Bryan’s background and how he progressed in competitive shooting, starting with very basic equipment. As a “broke high school kid”, he got started on the cheap, paying for gear with wages from McDonald’s. Now he’s a globally-recognized expert in Ballistics and Long Range precision. You’ll enjoy reading the Full Interview. Here are some highlights…

» Read Full Interview with Bryan Litz

Bryan Litz Interview Applied Ballistics Mia Lee Rhode Shooters wifeLOASW: When did you first become interested in shooting?

Bryan: My first memories of shooting were at the age of about 9 or 10. Pellet rifle in the back yard. My Dad taught me to shoot, stressing the importance of accuracy. I was driven to hit targets, mostly small targets at long distance. My grandfather was on the All-Army shooting team back in the ‘50s, and was distinguished in both rifle and pistol. Shooting is part of my family’s DNA and I benefited from that from a young age.

LOASW: What sparked your interest in Competitive Shooting and how old were you when you started competing?

Bryan: Hunting groundhogs in the farm-fields of Pennsylvania through high school is where I truly connected with long-range shooting. My Dad heard of a competition range (The Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club in Williamsport, PA). So we visited there one summer and I immediately found my trusty 22-250 inadequate for the job of 1000-yard benchrest shooting. So I saved my McDonald’s wages until I could afford a 7mm Remington Magnum and began competing in my first matches at the age of 15.

Learning with Limited Resources…
… It was a huge mis-match to my situation because benchrest is a highly gear-driven sport, and the winners typically have many $1000s of dollars wrapped up in equipment. I was a broke high school kid who needed my parents to drive me to the range my first year, and my second year, I had to rely on fellow competitors to jump start my old pick-up truck that was always breaking down. Nevertheless I enjoyed the hell out of shooting 1000 yards. I can honestly say that I don’t have any more FUN shooting these days with all the best equipment as compared to those bad ‘ol days when I had maybe $900 total wrapped up in all my gear. Those who remember me from those early days might recall the home-made shooting rest and McDonalds French fry box that I carried all my gear in. Later when I picked up prone/sling shooting, my shooting mat was a piece of carpet (pink, no less), and my shooting coat was a military field jacket with belts sewn in it.

Money was probably my biggest challenge when I started out. I had plenty of fun with my budget kit, but was certainly constrained by lack of access to quality gear. I overcame this with hard work and making the most of what I had. Learning how to mitigate the deficiencies of my equipment was an important stepping stone which has been highly valuable even now when I’ve got better stuff. It’s a good skill to have, to be able to spot something about to come unraveled.

Bryan Litz Interview Applied Ballistics Mia Lee Rhode Shooters wife

LOASW: What advice would you give to someone new to competitive shooting?

Bryan: Find a mentor, someone who lives near you who has experience and is willing to share it. You will cut years off your learning curve if you can get someone to share their experience with you who’s “been there done that”.

» CLICK HERE for REST of Interview with Bryan Litz

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April 26th, 2017

Ultimate Large Rifle Primer Shoot-Out — 16 Types Tested

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed
Click Photo to read full test results in Target Shooter Magazine.

Mother of All LR Primer Tests
If you shoot a .308 Win, or any cartridge that uses a Large Rifle (LR) primer, you should read an important article by Laurie Holland in Target Shooter Magazine. Holland, a talented shooter from the UK, tested no less than sixteen (16) different large primer types using a custom F-TR target rifle shot from the bench. Laurie loaded .308 Win ammo* with 16 LR primer varieties and then tested for average velocity, ES/SD, and group size. This may be the most comprehensive and thorough LR primer test ever done. Here are the primer types tested:

1. CBC Magtech 9½
2. CCI 200 LR
3. CCI BR2 Match
4. CCI 250 Magnum
5. Federal 210
6. Federal 210M Match
7. Federal 215M Magnum Match
8. Fiocchi Large Rifle
9. Kynoch Large Rifle
10. Murom KVB-7 (PMC LR)
11. Norma Superflash LR
12. PMC LR Magnum
13. Remington 9½ LR
14. Remington 9½ M Magnum
15. Sellier & Bellot LR
16. Winchester WLR

LINK: READ Large Rifle Primer Test Complete (16 Primer Types)

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed
Test Rig: Osprey Rifles-built F-TR rifle with Savage PTA action, 32″ Bartlein 1:12″-twist ‘Heavy Palma’ barrel, and Dolphin Gun Company modular stock with an F-Open/Benchrest fore-end.

Some of Laurie’s results may surprise you. For example, would you guess that Sellier & Bellot primers had the lowest ES, by a significant margin? And get this, among ALL the primers tested, Rem 9½M Magnum primers produced the lowest velocity, while Rem 9½ LR (non-magnum) primers yielded the highest velocity. (The total velocity spread for all primers was 35 fps). That’s counter-intuitive and it’s odd that Rems were at opposite ends of the speed spectrum among ALL primers tested.

“The rationale for doing side-by-side tests is to see what effect primer choice has on ballistics, i.e. average velocities and MV consistency. There are a great many views on the subject, a few based on tests (including primer flame photography) but most apparently hearsay.” — Laurie Holland

Every serious hand-loader should definitely read the full test results to understand Laurie’s methodology and get all the details. This is an important test, with significant findings. But if you can’t spare the time right now, here are some highlights below:

Primer with Lowest Velocity: Remington 9½ M Magnum (2780 fps)
Primer with Highest Velocity: Remington 9½ LR (2815 fps)
Primer with Lowest ES/SD: Sellier & Bellot LR (12/3.1 fps)
Primer with Highest ES/SD: Remington 9½ M Magnum (47/14.0 fps)
Primer with Smallest Group Size: Remington 9½ LR (0.43″ average, three 5-shot groups)
Primer with Biggest Group Size: CBC Magtech 9½ (0.7″ average, three 5-shot groups)

Editor’s Comment: Laurie shot three, 5-shot groups at 100 yards with each primer type. The average group size for the top six primers varied by only 0.10″ (0.43″ to 0.53″), so one can’t conclude that one type is much better than another. Total group size variance (from best to worst) was 0.27″.

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed

“The biggest surprise to me … came from an elderly (at least 10 years) lot of Czech Sellier & Bellot standard caps with an ES of 12 and SD of 3.1 fps, way below those of the nearest competitor. By contrast to the Fiocchis, they were an almost slack fit in the cases and this may have contributed to their consistent performance.” — Laurie Holland

NOTE: Values in chart are based on 15-Shot strings. The ES/SD numbers will therefore be higher than is typical with five-shot strings.

All ES/SD Values from 15-Shot Strings

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed

Testing 16 primer types was a huge task — we commend Laurie for his hard work and thoroughness. This extensive test is an important contribution to the “knowledge base” of precision shooting. Laurie’s findings will doubtless influence many hand-loaders who hope to produce more consistent ammunition, or achieve better accuracy. Credit should also be given to Target Shooter Magazine for publishing the results. Well done gentlemen…


*Reloading method for Test Ammo: “Test batches consisted of 16 or 17 rounds for each primer, charges thrown by an RCBS ChargeMaster and checked on lab-quality electronic scales, adjusted if necessary to within ± 0.04gn, so any charge weight variation would be under 0.1 grain which equates here to 5 fps.”
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April 22nd, 2017

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.

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April 21st, 2017

Reloading at the Range — Smart Option for Load Development

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

Glen Zediker Reloading at RangeThe February 2013 edition of Shooting Sports USA magazine has an interesting feature by Glen Zediker. In this Transporting Success, Part I article, Zediker explains the advantages of loading at the range when your are developing new loads or tuning existing loads. Glen, the author of the popular Handloading for Competition book, discusses the gear you’ll need to bring and he explains his load development procedure. In discussing reloading at the range, Glen focuses on throwing powder and seating bullets, because he normally brings enough sized-and-primed brass to the range with him, so he doesn’t need to de-prime, re-size, and then re-prime his cases.

Zediker writes: “Testing at the range provides the opportunity to be thorough and flexible. You also have the opportunity to do more testing under more similar conditions and, therefore, get results that are more telling. Once you are there, you can stay there until you get the results you want. No more waiting until next time.”

Zediker starts with three-shot groups: “I usually load and fire three samples [with] a new combination. I’ll then increase propellant charge… based on the results of those three rounds, and try three more. I know that three rounds is hardly a test, but if it looks bad on that few, it’s not going to get any better.”

Glen reminds readers to record their data: “Probably the most important piece of equipment is your notebook! No kidding. Write it down. Write it all down.

RCBS Partner PressThere’s More to the Story…

Editor’s Note: In Zediker’s discussion of loading at the range, he only talks about throwing powder and seating bullets. In fact, Glen opines that: “there is little or no need for sizing.” Well, maybe. Presumably, for each subsequent load series, Zediker uses fresh brass that he has previously sized and primed. Thus he doesn’t need to de-prime or resize anything.

That’s one way to develop loads, but it may be more efficient to de-prime, re-size, and load the same cases. That way you don’t need to bring 50, 80, or even 100 primed-and-sized cases to the range. If you plan to reload your fired cases, you’ll need a system for de-priming (and re-priming) the brass, and either neck-sizing or full-length sizing (as you prefer). An arbor press can handle neck-sizing. But if you plan to do full-length sizing, you’ll need to bring a press that can handle case-sizing chores. Such a press need not be large or heavy. Many benchresters use the small but sturdy RCBS Partner Press, on sale now at Amazon for $77.99. You may even get by with the more basic Lee Precision Compact Reloading Press, shown in Zediker’s article. This little Lee press, Lee product #90045, retails for under $35.00.

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

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April 20th, 2017

New Spin on BC — How Barrel Twist Rates Affect Bullet Drag

Bryan Litz bullet rpm BC Drag ballistics coefficient twist rate

You may not realize it… but to get the optimum BC from your bullets (i.e. the lowest aerodynamic drag), you must spin the bullets fast enough. Bullet drag increases (as expressed by lower BC) if the bullet spins too slowly. Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics explains how BC changes with twist rates…

More Spin, Less Drag
In this article, we look at how twist rate and stability affect the Ballistic Coefficient (BC) of a bullet. Again, this topic is covered in detail in the Modern Advancements book. Through our testing, we’ve learned that adequate spin-stabilization is important to achieving the best BC (and lowest drag). In other words, if you don’t spin your bullets fast enough (with sufficient twist rate), the BC of your bullets may be less than optimal. That means, in practical terms, that your bullets drop more quickly and deflect more in the wind (other factors being equal). Spin your bullets faster, and you can optimize your BC for best performance.

Any test that’s designed to study BC effects has to be carefully controlled in the sense that the variables are isolated. To this end, barrels were ordered from a single barrel smith, chambered and headspaced to the same rifle, with the only difference being the twist rate of the barrels. In this test, 3 pairs of barrels were used. In .224 caliber, 1:9” and 1:7” twist. In .243 caliber it was 1:10” and 1:8”, and in .30 caliber it was 1:12” and 1:10”. Other than the twist rates, each pair of barrels was identical in length, contour, and had similar round counts. Here is a barrel rack at the Applied Ballistics Lab:

Applied Ballistics used multiple barrels to study how twist rate affects BC.

stability gyroscopic ballistics coefficient drag twist rate

“The Modern Advancements series is basically a journal of the ongoing R&D efforts of the Applied Ballistics Laboratory. The goal of the series is to share what we’re learning about ballistics so others can benefit.” –Bryan Litz

Barrel twist rate along with velocity, atmospherics, and bullet design all combine to result in a Gyroscopic Stability Factor (SG). It’s the SG that actually correlates to BC. The testing revealed that if you get SG above 1.5, the BC may improve slightly with faster twist (higher SG), but it’s very difficult to see. However, BC drops off very quickly for SGs below 1.5. This can be seen in the figure below from Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting.

The chart shows that when the Gyroscopic Stability Factor (SG) is above 1.5, BC is mostly constant. But if SG falls below 1.5, BC drops off dramatically.
stability gyroscopic ballistics coefficient drag twist rate

Note that the BC drops by about 3% for every 0.1 that SG falls below 1.5. The data supports a correlation coefficient of 0.87 for this relationship. That means the 3% per 0.1 unit of SG is an accurate trend, but isn’t necessarily exact for every scenario.

It’s a common assumption that if a shooter is seeing great groups and round holes, that he’s seeing the full potential BC of the bullets. These tests did not support that assumption. It’s quite common to shoot very tight groups and have round bullet holes while your BC is compromised by as much as 10% or more. This is probably the most practical and important take-away from this test.

To calculate the SG of your bullets in your rifle, visit the Berger Bullets online stability calculator. This FREE calculator will show you the SG of your bullets, as well as indicate if your BC will be compromised (and by how much) if the SG is below 1.5. With the stated twist rate of your barrel, if your selected bullet shows an SG of 1.5 (or less), the calculator will suggest alternate bullets that will fully stabilize in your rifle. This valuable online resource is based directly on live fire testing. You can use the SG Calculator for free on the web — you don’t need to download software.


Learn More About SG and BC
Barrel Twist Rate Velocity Modern Advancements Book Bryan Litz Applied BallisticsThis article is just a brief overview of the interrelated subjects of twist rate, Gyroscopic Stability, and BC. The coverage of twist rates in Modern Advancements in Long-Range Shooting is more detailed, with multiple live fire tests.

Other chapters in the book’s twist rate section include:
· Stability and Drag – Supersonic
· Stability and Drag – Transonic
· Spin Rate Decay
· Effect of Twist rate on Precision

Other sections of the book include: Modern Rifles, Scopes, and Bullets as well as Advancements in Predictive Modeling. This book is sold through the Applied Ballistics online store. Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting is also available in eBook format in the Amazon Kindle store.

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April 19th, 2017

Time Waits for No Man… Use Your Remaining Days Wisely

Mortality life expectancy carpe diem
This photo is one of Nightforce’s series of picturesque “Gunscapes”. SEE MORE HERE.

This story is not (directly) about firearms, or reloading gear, or any of the little details of our sport. It, instead, is about life… and, sadly, about death. The recent passing of a friend (and fellow shooter) got me to thinking, “I’m sixty — what if I only had ten more years to live — how would I want to live my life? What really counts the most? What things would I do differently? What dreams would I pursue?”

From the demographics of this website, I know we have thousands of readers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Hopefully we will all live long, happy, and fruitful lives. But it’s not a bad idea to consider that we are all mortal, and the clock is ticking. Consider this — in the United States, the average male life expectancy is 77 years*. Using that number as a benchmark, I personally may have just 17 more years to enjoy life and to do the things I love — shooting, traveling, sailing, camping, listening to music, being with friends and family. Breaking that down into months, I have 204 more months to do fun and rewarding stuff. Just 204 months — that’s a real number my brain can comprehend all too well. If I live an average lifespan, that means I also only have 935 more weekends to do all that I want to do. With less than 1000 weekends remaining, I don’t want to waste a single one.

Living a Life with More Good Times, and Fewer Regrets

Recently, a group of men, very near the end of their lives, were surveyed. They were asked if they would do things differently if they could live their lives over again. The vast majority of these men gave surprisingly similar responses, which fit into five “Life Lessons”. These “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” were reported in a story by Bronnie Ware, writing for the AARP online magazine. Ware writes: “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced.” Here are the five regrets most often mentioned by older men:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. ”

Lesson: Don’t wait to follow your dreams. Be true to yourself.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
“This came from every male patient [surveyed]. All of the men… deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

Lesson: Don’t let your work crowd out other important aspects of life.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.”

Lesson: Express yourself truthfully. Don’t suppress your feelings for decades.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Many [were] so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years.”

Lesson: Take an interest your friends’ lives; keep bonds of friendship strong.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common [regret]. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.”

Lesson: Affirmatively pursue the things that bring you happiness. Don’t just stick to old habits.

Turn Off the Computer, and Do Something Memorable with Your Friends Today
How does this all apply to our shooting hobby? Well, if (like me) you are middle-aged (or older), go have some fun this weekend! Load up your rifle and get to the range. Don’t put off doing the things that make you happy. Call those old buddies you may not have seen in a long time. Renew friendships. Get out into nature. And start figuring out how you can live your dreams. As the saying goes, “Time waits for no man”.


*One of our readers pointed out that the numbers actually work out better than this, because once a man survives to later life, men of his surviving age cohort enjoy a projected lifespan longer than the average projected lifespan from birth. For example, using actuarial tables, a man born exactly 60 years ago (still alive today), has a calculated life expectancy of 23.4 years… meaning he would live to age 83.4 years, on average. CLICK HERE to see actuarial-predicted longevity based on your birthdate.

lifespan life expectancy weekends months years


Practicing What I Preach…
As you read this, your Editor will NOT be sitting in front of a computer. Instead he will be on a boat, taking him 30 miles offshore to this beautiful spot. Three days with no internet, no TV, no Schedule Cs, and no traffic. Just good friends and unspoiled nature. Living like a kid again.

island time gone fishing Editor on holiday

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April 16th, 2017

Winning Wheelgun — The Colt That Won 5 Olympic Gold Medals

A.P. Lane Pistol Wizard Colt Revolver Olympics

A.P. Lane Pistol Wizard Colt Revolver OlympicsA.P. Lane’s Gold Medal-Winning Colt Revolver
This Colt Officer’s Model revolver, factory-fitted with a skeletonized hammer, belonged to legendary Olympic shooter A. P. Lane, who was known as the “Pistol Wizard”. Lane used this Colt Revolver to win FIVE Olympic Gold Medals — three in 1912 and two in 1920.

A.P. Lane was one of the greatest pistol shooters of his generation. He shot scores that were typically 25-50 points higher than those of his competitors. And he exhibited true Corinthian spirit. At the 1912 Olympics, Lane shared his match ammunition with another competitor who used that ammo to capture the Silver Medal (Lane won the Gold).

This revolver, factory-fitted with a skeletonized hammer, was used by American A.P. Lane in winning five Olympic Gold Medals in the 1912 and 1920 Olympic Games. It’s a .38 caliber, Officer’s Model centerfire revolver from the early 20th century. Olympian A.P. Lane’s Gun can be found in Gallery 13, Firearm Traditions for Today, at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia. The Museum exhibit includes a panoply of Lane pieces – his revolver, his five Gold Medals, and the five Olympic certificates that went along with them.

Click Photo to See Full-Size Image
A.P. Lane Pistol Wizard Colt Revolver Olympics

Watch Video History of the A.P. Lane Revolver

A.P. Lane Pistol Wizard Colt Revolver Olympics

A.P. Lane Pistol Wizard Colt Revolver Olympics

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April 15th, 2017

Legends of Accuracy — The Secrets of the Houston Warehouse

From the late ’70s through 1983, a huge, concrete-walled warehouse in Houston was used for benchrest testing. Virgil King and Bob Fisher set up a bullet-catching backstop at the end of a 30-yard-wide, 325-yard-long fire lane that remained unobstructed even when the warehouse was in use. This allowed accuracy tests in virtually perfect “no wind” conditions. Over a six-year period, about 30 shooters were invited to test their rifles. The results were amazing, with numerous “zero groups” being shot in the facility. Many of the lessons learned in the legendary Houston Warehouse still help benchresters achieve better accuracy today.

Dave Scott wrote a superb article, the Secrets of the Houston Warehouse which appeared in a special issue of Precision Shooting Magazine. That issue has long been sold out, but, thankfully, Secrets of the Houston Warehouse is now on the web: CLICK HERE to READ Secrets of the Houston Warehouse.

Houston WarehouseDave Scott explains why the Warehouse was so unique:

“Over a period of six years, the levels of accuracy achieved in the Houston Warehouse went beyond what many precision shooters thought possible for lightweight rifles shot from sandbags and aimed shot-to-shot by human eye. For the first time, a handful of gifted, serious experimenters — armed with the very best performing rifles (with notable exceptions) — could boldly venture into the final frontiers of rifle accuracy, a journey made possible by eliminating the baffling uncertainties of conditions arising from wind and mirage. Under these steel skies, a shooter could, without question, confirm the absolute limits of accuracy of his rifle, or isolate the source of a problem. In the flawlessly stable containment of the Houston Warehouse … a very few exceptional rifles would display the real stuff, drilling repeated groups measuring well below the unbelievably tiny .100″ barrier. The bulk of rifles, however, embarrassed their owners.”

Scott’s article also reveals some interesting technical points: “One thing that IS important is that the bullet be precisely seated against the lands. T.J. Jackson reported this fact in the May 1987 issue of Precision Shooting. In a letter to the Editor, T.J. wrote, ‘…in all our testing in that Houston warehouse… and the dozens and dozens of groups that Virgil King shot in there ‘in the zeroes’… he NEVER fired a single official screamer group when he was ‘jumping’ bullets. All his best groups were always seated into the lands, or at the very least… touching the lands. Virgil said his practice was to seat the bullets so the engraving was half as long as the width of the lands. He noticed an interesting phenomenon with rifles that could really shoot: if the bullets were seated a little short and the powder charge was a bit on the light side, the groups formed vertically. As he seated the bullets farther out and increased the powder charge, the groups finally became horizontal. If he went still farther, the groups formed big globs. He said the trick is to find the midway point between vertical and horizontal. That point should be a small hole.”

You should definitely read the complete article, as it provides many more fascinating insights, including shooting technique, barrel cleaning, neck-turning, and case prep.

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April 11th, 2017

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

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