Gunsafes can be fitted with either an electronic keypad-style lock, or a conventional dial lock. In our Gunsafe Buyer’s Guide, we explain the important features of both dial and electronic lock systems. Many safe-makers will tell you that consumers prefer electronic locks for convenience. On the other hand, most of the locksmiths we’ve polled believe that the “old-fashioned” dial locks, such as the Sargent & Greenleaf model 6730, will be more reliable in the long run.
Here is the opinion of RFB from Michigan. He is a professional locksmith with over two decades of experience servicing locks and safes of all brands and types:
What a Professional Locksmith Says:
For the convenience of quick opening, the electronic locks can’t be beat. However, for endurance and years of trouble-free use, the electronics can’t compare with the dial lock.
I’ve earned my living, the past 22 years, servicing locks of all types. This includes opening safes that can’t otherwise be opened. I do warranty work for several safe manufacturers (including Liberty). What I’ve learned in all those years is that manual dial locks have very few problems. The most common is a loose dial ring which can shift either left or right, which will result in the index point being in the wrong place for proper tumbler alignment. This is simple to fix.
Electronic locks, however, can have all kinds of issues, and none (except bad key-pad) are easy to fix, and when one goes bad, it must be drilled into to open it. IMO, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ an electronic lock will ultimately fail, but a matter of ‘when’ it will fail. Over the past 10 years or so, since electronics have become more and more prevalent, I’ve had to drill open bad electronic locks vs. bad manual dial locks on a ratio of about 20-1.
My professional opinion is to get the manual dial lock, unless you’ve got a good friend who is a locksmith/safecracker.
How Secure is Your Lock?
RFB tells us that both dial and electronic locks offer good security, provided it’s a good quality lock made by LaGard, Sargent & Greenleaf, Amsec, or Kaba/Ilco. However, RFB warns that “Some of the ‘cheaper’ locks (both manual and electronic) however, are very simple to bypass.
An electronic lock that’s glued or ‘stuck’ to the door with double-sided tape, and has its ‘brain’ on the outside of the lock in the same housing as the keypad, and merely sends power to an inner solenoid via a pair of wires through the door, is a thief’s best friend. The good ones have the brain inside the safe, inaccessible from the outside.
No amateur can ‘manipulate’ either a good manual or electronic lock. Both give you a theoretical one million possible combinations. I say ‘theoretical’ because there are many combinations that cannot, or should not, be used. You wouldn’t set your combo on a dial lock to 01-01-01 etc., nor would you set an electronic to 1-1-1-1-1-1, or 1-2-3-4-5-6.”
Tips for Dial Locks
RFB notes that “The speed, and ease of use, of a manual dial lock can be improved upon, simply by having your combo reset using certain guidelines. Avoid high numbers above 50. Having a 1st number in the 40s, 2nd number anywhere from 0-25, and 3rd number between 25 and 35 will cut dialing time in half, without compromisuing security. (For mechanical reasons I won’t get into here, the 3rd number of a good manual dial lock cannot — or should not — be set to any number between 95 & 20).”
Tips for Electronic Locks
Electronic locks can have the combination changed by the user much more easily than dial locks. But, RFB explains: “That can be a double-edged sword. More than a few times I’ve had to drill open a safe with an electronic lock that has had the combo changed incorrectly by the user, resulting in an unknown number that nobody can determine. Also, don’t forget that electronic locks have a ‘wrong-number lock-out’. I would NOT rely on the normal quickness of an electronic 6-number combo in an emergency situation. If for any reason (panic etc.) you punch in the wrong number several times, the lock will shut down for a 5-minute ‘penalty’.
LaGard electronic locks all come from the assembly line set to 1-2-3-4-5-6. Most safe companies (Granite-Winchester is one) leave it at that, and either the retailer or the end user must reset it. My local Walmart store had those same Winchester safes on display, and one day I was in the sporting goods section near the safe display, and another customer asked the Walmart employee if she could open the safe so he could look inside. She said “no, sorry, I don’t have the combination handy”. I walked over, never said a word… just punched in 1-2-3-4-5-6, turned the handle opening the door, and walked away… again not saying a word. They both just looked at me… dumbfounded that I could open it like that.
To get the most life out of that LaGard [or other electronic lock], you should change the battery at least once a year, whether it needs it or not. Low voltage won’t necessarily shut down the lock, but using it in a low voltage situation is bad for the electronics, and eventually will cause lock failure. C’mon, how much does a 9-volt Duracell cost? A few bucks is a good investment.”
IMPORTANT: If you do nothing else to maintain your digital-lock safe, replace the battery every year. And get a fresh battery (with a release date) from the store — don’t just pull a battery out of a storage bin, even if it’s never been used. Old batteries can degrade, even when in storage.
Safe Warranties — What is NOT Covered
RFB cautions that “With most gunsafes the ‘free repair/replacement’ warranty covers the lock only… not the door of the safe, which will have some holes drilled through it to remove that bad lock. The only proper way to repair those holes is to weld them. I don’t know about you, but most of my customers don’t like welding done inside their home, and the safe must be moved outside. Warranties typically won’t cover that moving cost if your safe is in a difficult to move outside location. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that.”
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By Bill Brassard for NSSF
The holidays are just around the corner. As hunters, shooters, collectors or just plain plinkers, it’s a natural instinct to want to share our enjoyment of firearms with others. What better way to do that than to make a gift of a firearm to a family member, close friend or relative?
The first thing to remember if you’re thinking about giving someone a gun is that … it’s a gun! You already know that ownership of a firearm brings with it some serious legal and ethical obligations that other consumer products don’t. So let’s look at some questions you may have about giving a firearm as a gift.
The first question you have to ask is whether the intended recipient can legally own the firearm where he or she lives. More than 20,000 different gun laws on the books, even the kinds of firearms that law-abiding citizens can own vary from place to place; for example, juveniles (under age 18) generally speaking are precluded by law from possessing a handgun. Check out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) website for an overview of local laws and, whatever you do, don’t forget that you can never under any circumstances transfer a firearm to someone you know — or have reasonable cause to believe — legally can’t own one. That’s a federal felony, so be careful.
Though there’s no federal law that prohibits a gift of a firearm to a relative or friend that lives in your home state, some states — California for example –require you to transfer the gun through a local firearms dealer so an instant background check will be performed to make sure the recipient is not legally prohibited from owning the gun.
The ATF recommends that if you want to give someone a new firearm, rather than going to a gun store, buying it on your own and giving it to, say your father, consider instead purchasing a gift certificate from that retailer and giving it to Dad as his present. That way he’ll get the exact gun he wants, and there’s no question about who is “the actual buyer of the firearm,” which is a question any purchaser must certify on the Federal Form 4473 at the time of purchase.
You can only ship a handgun by common carrier (but not U.S. Mail) and a long gun by U.S. Mail or common carrier to a federally licensed dealer, but not to a non-licensed individual. With all carriers, federal law requires you to declare that your package contains an unloaded firearm. To be safe, always consult your carrier in advance about its regulations for shipping firearms.
What if you want to give “Old Betsy,” your favorite old deer rifle, to your son or daughter as a college graduation gift? Again, in most states, there’s no law that says you can’t, but some states require even inter-family transfers to go through a licensed dealer. Remember, you can never transfer a firearm directly to another person who is a resident of a different state. In that case, you must transfer the firearm through a licensed dealer in the state where the person receiving the gift resides. Using a gift certificate from a firearms retailer near where the recipient lives might be a good solution. Pre-1898 antique firearms are generally exempt from the dealer requirement. [But check with the laws in your jurisdiction]. Be safe and check with your dealer or local law enforcement before you hand over your prized possession.
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by Dennis Santiago
Tricked-out match guns are fun but, if you want to prove that you’ve got an eagle eye and steady hands, a true test of skill is the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s As-Issued Four Gun Aggregate.
The Four Gun Aggregate encompasses a series of CMP John C. Garand 30-shot matches (200-yard As-Issued Military Rifle Match Course A) on NRA SR targets at one of the CMP Regional Games or the Nationals officiated by the CMP. These are the only places you can earn the coveted neck-ribbon CMP achievement medals.
You will need four as-issued rifles. The first is the M-1 Garand. (The course of fire is named after this rifle’s inventor.) This remarkable battle rifle will test your prowess at slow prone, rapid prone, and offhand. The match winner will put almost all bullets into a saucer.
You do get to hear that classic “ping” when the en bloc clip ejects with this gun. It’s a good idea to write your firing point number on your hand for each match because you will move around over the course of the tournament.
Next comes the hyper-accurate 1903 Springfield. You can use either the WW I M1903 or the later WW II M1903A3 model with peep sights. A Springfield will typically shoot groups half the size of a Garand with the same ammunition. Think potential in terms of tea cups instead of saucers.
The drawback with the Springfield is that the sight adjustments are cruder so you need to know how to favor that last bit of hold off in your sight picture to nail that pinwheel X. It also introduces bolt manipulation skill and stripper clip reloading into the rapid fire stage. Lastly, you are doing your trigger control through what is essentially a Mauser pattern military field trigger.
Next, up the degree of difficulty by removing the ability to adjust windage. This gets you to Vintage Military Rifle with WW II and earlier firearms designed to bombard enemy formations and trenches en masse; a form of warfare that predates the age of gunpowder. You’ll see all manner of as-issued rifles from all over the world here. The big favorites are the M1917 Enfield and the Swedish 6.5×55 Mauser. The British SMLE and greater Mauser families are also present as are the very accurate Russian Mosin-Nagants and Swiss K-31s. One will even see the occasional Krag come to the line.
The yellow tape means the gun was tested and passed minimum trigger pull weight. Triggers are always weighed. The match winner’s gun is inspected one more time. Honor is paramount.
Last of the four is the newcomer. The CMP used to run a 3-gun Aggregate. CMP added the As-Issued Modern Military Rifle to the series. The rule book provides for many models but the gun of guns for this phase is the 1960s Vietnam-era pencil barrel, triangle hand guard, 1:12″ twist, A1 carry handle sights, Eugene Stoner AR-15 pattern rifle. Slick side is even better. Feed it 52gr BTHPs and try your best to shoot cleans. Do not crank on the sling like a modern free-floated, lead weight-laden Service Rifle. It won’t work. You have to be even more careful with most other foreign military rifle models.
Can it shoot? You betcha! See the 97-3X rapid viewed through a spotting scope. Note the happy face from the guys in the pits. My slow prone stage was a 99-4X. Those Mattel specials can hammer.
These regional CMP Games matches are a gathering of the shooting family from far and wide. It’s a level playing field for all using essentially the same stock guns. The winner truly is the marksman who makes the fewest mistakes over the next 72 hours.
But far more important, it’s a learning experience and a connection to the kind of arms training the “well regulated” clause in the Second Amendment really envisions. As in skating, before one competes in freestyle, one must qualify in the compulsories. This is it.
The 2013 Haul:
M-1 Garand – Silver Achievement
Springfield – Bronze Achievement
Vintage – none
Modern – Silver Achievement
Note: I didn’t get my fourth trinket in four gun in 2013. My SMLE – well its ammo maker (me) – made a mistake, the subject of another blog entry of its own. The fourth medal in the above photo is from a separate CMP M-1 Carbine match.
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A poll conducted for the National Shooting Sports Foundation has found Americans are highly skeptical of the reliability of user authorized technology for firearms. They also say overwhelmingly that they would not be likely to buy a so-called “smart gun” and overwhelmingly oppose any government mandate requiring the use of this technology should it become available.
Asked “How familiar are you with efforts to develop a firearm that will only fire for a specific authorized person(s)?”, only 20 percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat familiar with the concept of “smart gun” technology. When told that such firearms would incorporate biometric or radio frequency identification (RFID) with an activation system that would rely on battery power, 74 percent of respondents said that these firearms would not be reliable at all or very reliable. Gun owners overwhelmingly (84%) believed a smart gun would not be reliable, while a clear majority (60%) of non-gun owners also believed they would not be reliable.
An overwhelming 74 percent of respondents overall said that they would not buy or would not very likely buy such a smart gun. Some 70 percent of the survey sample said that they did not believe that government should mandate that all firearms produced incorporate smart gun technology should it become commercially available.
Can Technology Be Trusted? Watch this Video for a Chilling Vision of Future Gun Control:
These findings were among the results of a national scientific poll of more than 1,200 Americans conducted in October by McKeon & Associates and released by the NSSF. Although attempts to develop and market firearms equipped with authorized user recognition technology have been discussed for many years, the topic has been revived in recent months by some gun control advocates, remarks by President Obama and by the depiction of a smart gun in the latest James Bond movie. Read the NSSF press release for more details.
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Frank Galli, aka “Lowlight”, runs the popular SnipersHide.com website. A while back, Frank completed a gunsmithing course with Robert Gradous. Frank recounts the learning process in an informative, nicely-illustrated article on the ‘Hide. Frank explains how he put together a new 6.5 Creedmoor tactical rifle using a Bartlein barrel, Bighorn Action (Rem clone with floating bolt-head), and a “lightly used” Accuracy International 1.5 chassis. The HD video below shows the process start-to-finish. READ Full Article.
During Frank’s “hands-on” training sessions with Gradous, Frank learned to thread and chamber a barrel, fit a recoil lug, and install the barreled action in the AI chassis. Chambering was done with great care: “We spent the better part of the day working the barrel. I feel this is a critical component and seeing the attention to detail in Robert’s approach confirmed it for me. When it came time to chamber Robert had a custom tight chamber reamer there for a 6.5CM but I’m shooting a tactical rifle, tight chambers aren’t for me, and this was clear, as out came the standard SAAMI reamer.”
Frank also learned how to modify an aluminum chassis: “the AI chassis had the recoil lug opened up, but it was opened in the wrong direction. This was going to require milling increasing the gap to at least a 1/2″ in size. Robert was really leery of this, but my attitude was, ‘it’s just a chassis and nothing a little Marine Tex can’t handle’.” Thankfully the chassis mod came out OK.
Once the barreled action was complete and the AI chassis was successfully milled, Frank applied a tan Cerakote finish to the barreled action. This would give a proper tactical look to the rifle, while providing superior corrosion resistance for the metal parts. To learn more about Cerakote finishing, check out the Cerakote Application Video, published last week in the Daily Bulletin.
When the rifle was complete, Frank took it out for testing with a variety of ammo, both factory fodder and handloads. There were some initial worries about accuracy as it took a while for the barrel to break in. A few sessions of bore cleaning were required before the barrel stopped fouling and then — like magic — the rifle started printing really small groups.
By the end of his load testing session, Frank was getting good groups with Hornady 120gr GMX factory 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, and really superb groups with handloads. The 120gr GMX ammo “was going 3100 fps with no ill effects”. The best handloads were approaching 1/4 MOA for three shots, and Frank’s load with Berger 130 VLDs shot even smaller than that: “In my opinion the load development we did was worth its weight in gold. Where else can you build in a rifle in two days, then go out and develop a baseline load using everything from 120gr ammo to 140gr ammo with a few in between? My favorite load and clearly the rifle’s too, was the [Berger] 130gr VLD. This gave us great velocity, awesome groups [with some one-holers] and really nice results at distance.”
Lowlight’s Gunsmithing Story is a ‘Must-Read’
We recommend you read Frank’s story. It shows that, with the right tools, and the supervision of a master smith, even a novice can produce an ultra-accurate rifle. For those of you who have considered taking a gunsmithing class, Frank’s successful experience with gunsmith Robert Gradous should give you plenty of motivation.
Here’s a feel-good story about a talented young shooter.
Article based on report by Lars Dalseide, forNRA Blog.
Finding the X-Ring while taking part in NRA’s National Rifle and Pistol Championships can be challenging enough. Finding the X-Ring from three positions during the smallbore rifle phase of the championships can be even more trying. But Amy Fister, winner of this year’s NRA 3-Position Rifle High Woman title, found it with no trouble at all. A surprising result given her wry self-description.
“I’m a nerd,” she said with a laugh. “I’m very dedicated to my studies.”
Based out of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Fister walked away from the 3-Position Awards Ceremony with three titles: High Woman with Metallic Sights, High Civilian with Metallic Sights, and High Woman Overall. Fister finished with a score of 2374 – 140X (good for 7th overall). “Last year I was close but not close enough,” said Fister. “I guess this year it was my time.” Seeing her on stage, winning award after award, it’s hard to believe that it almost didn’t happen — she nearly fell victim to the summer heat at Camp Perry.
Fighting Dehydration at Camp Perry
About halfway through the National Championship match, Fister was setting up targets when she realized something was wrong: “I was delusional, seeing things,” Fister explained. “After setting up my target, it wasn’t there. I started chasing down the target guy for another one. It was an interesting and a little bit scary of an experience.”
She was dehydrated. Heartbeat rapid, extremely lethargic, unsteady on her feet — she recognized the signs and started back for the line. Pulling a bottle of Gatorade out of her bag, she gulped until it emptied. Feeling a touch steadier, she made for the water coolers behind the line. A few cups later and she was ready to proceed. “Luckily it happened during prone,” she said with a laugh. “Standing would have been a different story.”
How a Nerd Became a World-Class Rifle Shooter
Starting as far back as she can remember, Fister was out shooting with her dad. First as the official gear porter, then as a huntress. “Deer and goose, that’s what we went for,” she said. “I go out deer hunting whenever I can, but it cuts into my shooting time. You’ve got to find a happy medium.”
Though it was dad who first put a rifle in her hand, it was her sister Valerie who started her down the competitive trail. Like most stories of sibling rivalry, big sister joined the rifle team so little sister (Amy) wanted to also. A little practice, a little patience, and it all came together — so well in fact that Amy has earned a shooting scholarship to the University of Memphis. But her ambitions don’t stop there. They reach as far as Rio de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Olympics.
“I missed a spot on the U.S. Team by two points. Now the goal is to be part of the Olympic Rifle Team in 2016. Problem is that I don’t want my scores to drop and I don’t want my grades to drop.
“My goal is to become a pediatrician and an Olympian. Guess I’ll just find a way.”
To learn more about the NRA’s Competitive Shooting Programs, visit compete.nra.org.
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On the NRA’s American Rifleman website you’ll find a helpful article that provides basic tips on avoiding legal entanglements when traveling from state to state with firearms in your vehicle. The basic advice is to plan out your trip in advance, researching all state and local laws that will apply. This can be a daunting task, but a Federal law, the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) does provide some protection for travelers.
According to the NRA: “FOPA shields you from local restrictions if you’re transporting firearms for lawful purposes. Under FOPA, notwithstanding any state or local law, a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it, if the firearm is unloaded and locked out of reach. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.”
The NRA cautions that: “Laws vary place-to-place, and if you do anything other than pass through a state, you must obey all local laws. This is especially true when you are carrying a loaded firearm in your vehicle or on your person. There’s no shortcut here. You need to map out your trip state-by-state to be sure you stay legal during your trip.”
Resources for Travelers
The American Rifleman article also lists useful print and online resources you can consult to learn more about laws that apply when traveling with firearms:
Need reading material on the cheap? How about sixty-nine (69) YEARS of Gun Digest articles for just $59.99. That’s not a misprint. Gun Digest is now offering a 3-disc DVD set containing sixty-nine years of Gun Digest archives — over 3000 articles in all. This massive Gun Digest digital collection includes all 69 Annual Editions of Gun Digest, complete with gun values, firearm reviews, collecting tips, and buying guides. You get 69 years of gun history in one spot. As one buyer notes: “You could never find these old issues anywhere else and you get the 2012 and 2013 digest in the set as an additional incentive.”
The Gun Digest 3-DVD set includes each Annual Edition of Gun Digest by Year (1944-2013) in PDF Format. This collection includes Test Fire gun reviews, articles on shooting, hunting, gun collecting, gunsmithing, optics and more. Here’s a sample: Elmer Keith’s classic article on the .44 Magnum
Three Discs VS. Sixteen Feet of Shelf Space
This DVD collection is a treasure trove, as another purchaser of the 3-DVD set explains: “You can occasionally find older editions of this iconic tome, used of course, but nowhere will you get all 69 issues from the start of publication through the 2013 edition in digital form. They are all here… for your reference and enjoyment.” By contrast, 69 years worth of “the print version would require 16 feet or so of shelving.”
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Gunsmith Mike Sosenko and long-time AccurateShooter Forum member John Adams have been using a modified .243 Winchester case with great success in Varmint Silhouette matches at the Pala Range in Southern California. Officially called the “.243 BR-K” (and informally dubbed the “6BR Long”), the wildcat is basically a .243 Winchester with less body taper and a 30-degree shoulder. The design essentially grafts a 6mmBR Norma “top end” to the .243 Winchester case. After fire-forming, Mike and John can reload this case using normal, unmodified 6BR neck-sizing and seater dies.
Compared to a .243 Winchester, the .243 BR-K’s body length is about .006″ longer, and the shoulder is about .0055″ wider. The main difference is the shoulder angle (30° vs. 20°), and the location of the neck-shoulder junction (“NSJ”). Based on reamer prints, the base to NSJ dimension is 1.718″ on the 6BR Long, compared to 1.804″ for the .243 Winchester. Neck length is a bit shorter because “the neck shrinks a little when the shoulder blows out” according to Sosenko. We’ve provided a mock-up diagram of the .243 BR-K, but you should check with Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge for exact dimensions. Dave created the reamers for both the 6mm and 22-caliber versions of this wildcat. Ask for the “22 BR-K” or “.243 BR-K” reamer designs.
Wicked Velocity with Stable Brass
The main advantage of the .243 BR-K is serious velocity in a case that is very stable. Mike’s favorite load is the 95gr Berger VLD pushed by Reloader 22. With a stout load of RL22 and Federal 210m Primers, Sosenko is getting 3450 fps with the 95-grainer, with no bullet blow-ups. This is with a 1:8.5″ twist Broughton 5R barrel finished at 28.5″. The cases are holding up very well. Mike has a half-dozen loads on his brass and he hasn’t had to full-length size yet. Mike runs a .262″ tight neck, but there is also a no-turn version of the case (see illustration). Accuracy is excellent. Mike says the round delivers repeatable 1/4 MOA groups at 100 yards in testing. He has also experimented with N160, but, thus far, Reloader 22 has delivered smaller groups with better ES and SD.
John Adams shoots a no-turn (.274″) neck .243 BR-K with 105gr Berger VLDs. He’s getting about 3230 fps using Reloader 22. John says he can push the 105s faster, but 3220-3240 fps “seems to be the sweet spot.” John notes that “after about five reloadings on a case, it gets a little tight”. John then full-length sizes with a custom Hornady FL bushing die. “The Hornady custom shop dies work great” according to John. Adams also shoots a version of this wildcat necked down to 22-caliber. It has demonstrated outstanding velocity and good accuracy in initial testing with a 9-twist barrel. Using the 80gr Amax bullets, John is getting 3570+ fps speeds. John feels that his 22 BR-K needs some more development work. “The .243 BR-K is proven. We know what works. With the 22 I want to try different seating depths, experiment with a few different bullets, and fine-tune the velocity.”
Whitley’s 6mm Super X
Robert Whitley shoots a variant of the .243 Winchester he calls the 6mm Super X. This features a 30° shoulder, and slightly less body taper. He gains a little case capacity over the standard .243 Win, and he says the cartridge is extremely accurate with both 105-108 grain pills and the heavier 115s: “Here’s a picture of a .243 Win (left), a 6mm Super X (center), and a 6XC (right). All I can say is the 6mm Super X has been good to me and I have shot many a clean in 600-yard High Power matches with it with either DTAC 115s or Berger 115s.”
While Mike Sosenko and John Adams use their BR-Ks to push 95s and 105s at high velocities, Robert takes a different approach with his Super X. He shoots the high-BC 115s and keeps velocities under 3000 fps. A long-range High Power shooter, Robert demands consistency during long shot strings. That means backing off from max attainable speeds, at least with the 115s. Robert writes:
“You can get 3050 fps with H4831SC and the 115s with no problem, I did it in testing multiple times, but to me that also does not mean anything because I shoot loads where they are the most consistent and accurate over a 22+ shot string. I have never found that any of the 6mm cartridges I have used with 115s will stay consistent, tight and accurate the whole way at 3050 fps for 22+ shots straight. I have tried 115s in the .243 Win, the 6CM, the 6mm Super X, the 6XC, the 6-6.5 x 47 Lapua and none of them ever stayed consistent and tight for 22 shots straight with the 115s at that speed. Most of the time with all the 6mm cartridges, if you get the 115s much over 2975 fps, they won’t hold tight for 22+ shots straight. Now if you’re a bench rest shooter and you only need to do a few sighters then 5 or 10 shots for record, you can run 3050 fps or more and the groups will likely hold tight during your string, but not when you need to go 22+ shots straight with no break. I have shot many different 6mm cartridges and done a lot of testing with many different powders, moly and non-moly bullets. I don’t find the ‘consistent accuracy’ (for 22+ shots straight) at those higher velocities.”
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This story is not (directly) about guns and ammo, or reloading gear, or any of the little details of our sport. It, instead, is about life… and, sadly, about death. As you may know by now, Tom Clancy died this week at age 66. Clancy created a new fiction genre that entertained millions — the “military techno-thriller”. Tom was a damn fine writer, and like you and me, he was also a true “gun guy”. He will be missed.
Tom Clancy’s unexpected passing was a “wake-up call” for your Editor. I turn 58 this month. That number is not much less than 66, the number of years Clancy got to spend on our blue planet. This got me to thinking, “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 76 years*. Using that number as a benchmark, I personally may have another 18 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 216 more months to do fun and rewarding stuff. Just 216 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 939 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. Here’s a chart that shows how many more weekends you may have, based on your current age:
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.
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This article is part of Sinclair Int’l Step-By-Step Reloading Series. Most of the products mentioned in this article are sold through Sinclair’s webstore.
by Roy Hill, Brownells/Sinclair Copywriter
Making your own precision handloads is a meticulous journey with many steps, many important matters to consider, and many sets of measurements to calculate. For those who pursue the perfect group, the highest score, the really long accurate shot, the rewards more than outweigh the effort. Choosing the right cases, deburring the flash holes, making the primer pockets uniform, trimming the cases, and lubricating them are all familiar – and critical – steps along the journey. And now that your brass preparation is complete, you are at last ready to start running the cases through your press and fill them with primers, powder, and bullets. The very first die the brass encounters is the sizing die. You insert the case, work the press’s lever to return the case to its correct pre-fired dimensions – and the journey continues.
There are three types of sizing dies to think about: neck, full-length, and small base. All three have specific benefits and potential drawbacks, and you should choose the type of die you use by thinking very carefully about what kind of shooting you plan to do with your handloads. No matter which type you select, most sizing dies will also punch out the old spent primer with some sort of decapper assembly that uses a hardened steel rod. Many types of sizing dies use an expander ball inside the die to make sure the neck of the case will accommodate a bullet after being sized. With some size dies, the expanders are easily removable and interchangeable, letting you get exactly the neck tension you want. If you are reloading for pistol calibers, carbide sizing dies allow you to quickly resize without applying any lube to the case. But rifle cases always need lube.
Neck-Sizing Dies Neck-sizing dies resize only the neck of the case. The benefit of sizing only the neck is that the brass is “worked” very little, letting you reuse the same cases many times over. Also, cases that have already been fired in your rifle are perfectly fireformed to fit that rifle’s chamber, which can help accuracy. However, neck-sized cases will fit only the specific rifle they were originally fired in, and may still require a little extra force to chamber or extract.
Sinclair recommends that neck-sized-only cartridges should not be used any in other rifle besides the one they were originally fired from [unless they are also FL-sized], or in any action other than a bolt-action. Neck-sized-only rounds are great for the target range or the benchrest but should not be used in critical situations like military or police operations, or hunting. And if you fire them enough times, neck-sized cases will still need to be full-length sized periodically for you to keep using them.
Full-Length Sizing Dies Full-length sizing dies do exactly what their name says: resize the full length of the case, not just the neck. Full-length sizing helps create handloads that will function in any rifle, not just the one from which the cases were originally fired. The potential downside of full-length sizing is that it may shorten case life because it works the brass more than neck sizing. But it’s possible to “tune” today’s full-length sizing dies so they barely work the brass at all, as this article by Sinclair Reloading Tech Ron Dague shows.
Illustration Shows How a Full-Length Sizing Die Works
Another way to reap the benefits of full-length sizing is to use Redding’s full-length bushing dies, which size the full length of the case but use a system of interchangeable bushings that enable you give the case neck the bare minimum of resizing needed. To see how finely adjustable bushing dies are, and how they resize the case while fully supported, CLICK HERE for Video. The neck bushing helps you precisely control the neck tension to help increase the consistency and accuracy of your handloads.
Small Base Dies
A Small Base Die is just another type of full-length sizing die, but one that is typically used when reloading for semi-automatic rifles, like the AR-15, M14, or AR-style .308 rifles. (It may also work well for bolt guns that need extra sizing on the lower section of the case.) A small base die works exactly like a full-length sizing die, only it compresses the brass just a bit more, usually about .001″ more, and may even push the case shoulder back just a hair. Small base dies give that extra bit of compression to the brass to help make sure the case will properly extract from a semi-automatic firearm. The upside is that you get precision handloads that should work flawlessly in your semi-automatic. The downside is case life is really shortened, especially compared to brass used only in one bolt-action rifle, because the brass is worked more.
Shoulder Bump Gauges
A handy tool for setting up your full-length sizing dies as close as possible to your rifle’s chamber is the Sinclair bump gauge. The bump gauge lets you resize the case as little as possible, to extend case life and help your handloads fit your rifle almost like a neck-sized only die. You use deprimed cases fired in your rifle and bump gauge inserts to help you set up the die so it resizes the case only about .001″ to .004″, depending on what type of rifle you’re shooting.
Video shows how to use a shoulder bump gauge to set up your full-length dies
Article Find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions
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Months ago, we reported on the new, .17 Winchester Super Magnum (Win Super Mag or WSM) rimfire cartridge. Able to drive a 20gr bullet over 3000 fps, this new .17 Win Super Mag raises the bar for rimfire cartridges. The .17 WSM shoots faster, flies flatter, and bucks the wind better than a .17 HMR.
Sounds good right? Well the only problem is that .17 Win Super Mag cartridges (and a rifle that could shoot them) have been virtually impossible to obtain. In January, Savage unveiled its new B-Mag rifle chambered for the .17 Win Super Mag, but there were delays getting the gun into production.
GunsAmerica Tests .17 Win Super Mag
At last, after many months, the B-mag rifle is ready, and .17 Win Super Mag rimfire ammo is starting to hit dealer’s shelves. GunsAmerica managed to score some .17 WSM rimfire ammo, borrow a B-Mag rifle, and test the new cartridge at the range. GunsAmerica has published its findings in a detailed review on the GunsAmerica Blog.
GunsAmerica Says New 17-Cal Rimfire Cartridge Is Promising:
“Savage sent us this test rifle over two months ago, but we had no ammo, so like everyone else, we waited. Finally, as you can see from these tests, the ammo has started to trickle out. Several of our dealers have reported that they have gotten 40 box orders in (and quickly out) the door, and this ammo you see here was purchased retail at Bass Pro in Hollywood, Florida. We were only able to get the 2600 fps 25 grain load, but it is still a rip-roaring monster for a rimfire, and the accuracy is acceptable, (though not fabulous for a Savage).
The Savage “B-Mag” rifle is currently the only gun for the cartridge, and it carries an MSRP of $349.00. As a first effort on a new and revolutionary rimfire, the B-Mag performed well, and the cartridge looks to have great potential.
The .17WSM is not just a hotter .17HMR. It is a different, and much larger case entirely. Winchester based it on a .27 caliber blank made for industrial nail guns used for cement nails…. They beefed up the case by doubling the wall thickness and added extra meat to the top.”