With all the blacktical rifles and tacticool camo gear on display at SHOT Show, it was nice to see some old style craftsmanship — hand-built rifles with colored case-hardened receivers, fine engraving, and beautiful wood. We found just that at the Shiloh Sharps booth. The heritage style of the Shiloh Sharps rifles harkens back to another era, when the West was still wild, and gifted smiths crafted rifles with pride, skill, and true artistry.
The cartridges shown in the photo (left to right above rifle) are: 45-110, 50-100, 45-90, and 40-70.
This video shows how Shiloh Sharps crafts its rifles, from “Foundry to Finish”:
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Western Powders (which sells Accurate, Ramshot, and Norma powders) has published an article on case inspection and preparation. There are many tips in this article that can be useful to precision hand-loaders. For example, every time you open a new box of cartridge brass (particularly from domestic makers), you should inspect each case for flaws.
TIP ONE: Visual Inspection — Finding Flaws
Cases are mass-produced items and malformed ones are relatively common. Inspect each case carefully looking for obvious defects. A bench-mounted magnifying glass with light is a real help for the over-40 crowd. The main defects will be cracks in the neck or case body, crushed shoulders or deep creases in the neck. Next check the primer pocket. It is also fairly common to find flash holes that are damaged or, more rarely, not concentric to the primer pocket.
Imperfections like small dings in the case body, or necks that are not completely symmetrical do not have to be eliminated at this step. Damage of this sort is usually from loose packaging and usually has not seriously damaged the brass. [Running an expander mandrel in the neck] and fire-forming will iron out these largely cosmetic issues.
The Western Powder article also talks about primer pocket uniforming. We do NOT normally uniform the pockets for Lapua or RWS brass from the start. However, pocket uniforming can be beneficial with some other brands of brass, including Lake City, Remington, and Winchester. If you shoot milsurp brass, set time aside for pocket uniforming.
TIP TWO: Primer Pocket Uniforming
Like flash holes, primer pockets are mass-produced and prone to small dimensional changes. A uniforming tool is used to make the depth of each primer pocket consistent. In turn this allows similar firing pin strike depths on the primer which creates more consistent ignition characteristics.
A good uniforming tool should have a shoulder, or another positive stop, that sets the cutter’s depth. Its use is pretty straightforward. The cutter is inserted into the pocket and turned clockwise several times until the stop in flush with the case head and no more brass is removed from the juncture of the pocket’s base and sidewall. This a job best done by hand. You will feel when the cutting is finished by a change in how smoothly the cutter turns in the pocket. Very little material is actually removed; usually just enough to square the radius at the bottom of the pocket.
With the Berger Southwest Nationals coming up soon (Feb. 6-12), we thought we would share some tips from a past Champion who really knows the Ben Avery range in Phoenix. In 2015, Bryan won the F-TR Mid-Range AND Long-Range National Championships hosted at Ben Avery. And at the 2014 Berger SW Nationals (SWN), Bryan took top honors among all sling shooters. If you only know Bryan Litz from his Applied Ballistics Books and DVDs, you may not realize that this guy is a great marksman (along with being an actual rocket scientist). This guy can shoot.
Given his impressive track record at Ben Avery, we asked Bryan if he had any advice for other long-range competitors. First Bryan provided three tips concerning Ballistics, his special area of expertise. Next Bryan offered three more general tips about long-range competition — how to analyze your shooting, how to choose your ‘wind strategy’, and how to avoid the most costly mistakes, i.e. how to avoid the “train-wrecks”.
Here is the sleek F-TR Rig Bryan Litz used to win the 2015 F-TR Mid-Range and Long-Range Championships at Ben Avery:
Litz Ballistics Tips
Ballistics TIP ONE. If you’re having trouble getting your ballistic software to match actual drops, you need to look at a number of possible reasons. Here are some common issues that can cause problems.
Click Values Are Not Exact. Scopes and iron sights don’t always produce accurate adjustments. In other words, if your ballistics program predicts 30 MOA of drop, and you dial 30 MOA but hit low, it might be that your sight actually only moved 28 MOA (for example). To see if your sight is adjusting accurately, shoot a tall target at 100 yards and measure group separation when dialing your sight.
Barometric vs. Station Pressure. This is a commonly misunderstood input to ballistics programs. You can avoid this pitfall by remembering the following: station pressure is the actual measured pressure at your location, and you don’t need to tell the program your altitude when using station pressure. Barometric pressure is corrected for sea level. If you’re using barometric pressure, you also have to input your altitude.
Muzzle Velocity. Chronographs are not always as accurate as shooters think they are — your true MV may be off by 10-20 fps (or more). If your drop is different than predicted at long range, it might be because your muzzle velocity input is wrong.
Mixing Up BC (G1 vs. G7). Knowledgeable long range shooters know that the G7 standard is a more representative standard for modern LR bullets. However, using G7 BCs isn’t just a matter of clicking the ‘G7′ option in the program. The numeric value of the BC is different for G1 and G7. For example, the G1 BC of the Berger 155.5 grain Fullbore bullet is .464 but the G7 BC is .237. If you were to enter .464 but click on G7, the results would be way off.
Ballistics TIP TWO. A properly installed level is absolutely essential for long range shooting. Without a good level reference, your long range wind zero will be off due to minor canting of the rifle from side to side. You can verify that your level is installed correctly on a 100-yard ‘tall target’. Draw a plumb line straight up the target and verify that your groups track straight up this line as you go up in elevation.
Ballistics TIP THREE. If your long range ballistic predictions aren’t tracking, always come back and verify your 100-yard zero. Sometimes a simple zero shift can be misconstrued as errors in long range ballistics predictions.
Litz Competition Shooting Tips
Competition TIP ONE. Improving your scores in long range competition is a constant process of self-assessment. After each match, carefully analyze how you lost points and make a plan to improve. Beginning shooters will lose a lot of points to fundamental things like sight alignment and trigger control. Veteran shooters will lose far fewer points to a smaller list of mistakes. At every step along the way, always ask yourself why you’re losing points and address the issues. Sometimes the weak links that you need to work on aren’t your favorite thing to do, and success will take work in these areas as well.
Competition TIP TWO. Select your wind shooting strategy carefully. For beginners and veterans, most points are typically lost to wind. Successful shooters put a lot of thought into their approach to wind shooting. Sometimes it’s best to shoot fast and minimize the changes you’ll have to navigate. Other times it’s best to wait out a condition which may take several minutes. Develop a comfortable rest position so you have an easier time waiting when you should be waiting.
Competition TIP THREE. Actively avoid major train wrecks. Sounds obvious but it happens a lot. Select equipment that is reliable, get comfortable with it and have back-ups for important things. Don’t load on the verge of max pressure, don’t go to an important match with a barrel that’s near shot out, physically check tightness of all important screws prior to shooting each string. Observe what train wrecks you and others experience, and put measures in place to avoid them.
“Must-Watch” SWN Video has aerial view of Ben Avery plus highlights from Saturday
Photos by Steve Fiorenzo
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If you spend money on any gun-related print publication this spring, we recommend you pick up the Hodgdon 2017 Reloading Manual. Available for just $6.99 at Midsouth, the 2017 Reloading Guide contains new load data for Hodgdon’s latest powder offerings, including new CFE BLK rifle propellant. This guide also contains important load updates for 32 rifle and pistol cartridges. Along with over 5000 load recipes, the 2017 Hodgdon Reloading Guide features many informative “how-to” articles that can help you achieve the best results with your hand-loads.
70 Years of Hodgdon Powder
This year Hodgdon celebrates its 70th Anniversary. At SHOT Show 2017 we had a chance to talk with Chris Hodgdon. Chris was proud to note that his family-owned company is now marking its 70th year in business. The company has been very successful, but sometimes that means supply can’t catch up with demand. Our Forum members often ask about the availability of Hodgdon H4350 powder, which is extremely accurate and also temp-stable. Chris said: “Getting more H4350 to our customers is one of our top priorities. With the booming popularity of the 6.5 Creedmoor and other similar cartridges, there is a lot of demand for that powder.”
We also discussed the continued popularity of Varget, which has become more readily available in recent months. You can find even find the Varget 8-lb jugs now at Midsouth. Chris said that Varget users may also want to try IMR 8208 XBR. Chris observed: “I think IMR 8208 XBR is one of the very best powders we make. It is accurate, temp-stable, and it meters very well because the kernels are very small. The guys who try 8208 have been very happy.”
We concur with Chris — we’ve used 8208 XBR in a .308 Win and it shot exceptionally well. It is definitely “match-ready” powder for cartridges that like a medium burn-rate powder, such as the .308 Winchester, 7mm-08, and 6mmBR Norma.
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SHOT Show is a cornucopia of products, with everything gun-related under the sun on display. The SHOW features a vast array of items for hand-loaders. Here are some of the most notable reloading and ammunition products we found at SHOT Show, Wednesday, January 18th.
Alliant Reloder 16 — Great Powder — Accurate and Temp-Stable
If you like Hodgdon H4350, you should like Alliant’s Reloder 16 powder. First revealed at SHOT Show 2016, the impressive Reloder 16 is now widely available at vendors nationwide. This advanced-formulation powder is extremely temp stable. We confirmed that during hot weather testing sessions last summer. In addition, in mid-sized match cartridges such as the 6XC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and 6.5 Creedmoor this powder has shown impressive accuracy. No hype — our Forum guys who’ve used Reloder 16 have told us this stuff can deliver match-winning results. This is definitely a viable rival to H4350. We recommend you buy a pound and test it.
Reloder 16 is NOT just a slower version of Alliant’s double-based Reloder 15 (which words great in the 6mmBR and Dasher cartridges). Reloder 16 is a completely new formulation, produced in Sweden by Bofors for Alliant. Reloder 16 utilizes TZ technology, which resists the natural tendency to generate more pressure at higher temperatures and less pressure at lower temperatures. Based on the test results we’ve seen, if you are using H4350 or IMR 4451 currently, you should definitely give Reloder 16 a try. The powder also boasts excellent lot-to-lot consistency and contains a proprietary de-coppering additive.
Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass
The 6.5 Creedmoor has been “all the rage” at SHOT Show 2017. This cartridge, a proven winner in PRS competition, is riding a huge wave of popularity right now. There are many great factory rifles now offered with this chambering. And now we have superb Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass. You read that right Lapua is now producing ultra-premium 6.5 Creedmoor brass that will “raise the bar” for this cartridge. Lapua’s new brass features a small primer pocket and small flash hole (just like Lapua’s superb .220 Russian, 6mmBR, and 6.5×47 Lapua brass). This small primer pocket design can deliver longer brass life, and (potentially) enhanced velocities. We predict serious 6.5 Creedmoor shooters will be switching to this brass as soon as it becomes available later this year. NOTE: The new Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass can also be easily necked down for the 6mm Creedmoor.
New RCBS ChargeMaster Lite
RCBS unveiled a new, more affordable electronic powder scale/dispenser system. Called the ChargeMaster Lite, this new-for-2017 unit has some features we really like. The touch screen is easy to use and the power tray cover slips off easily — no more hinges to fight. Most importantly the CM lite has a redesigned, fluted dispensing tube which delivers powder kernels is a smooth flow with no clumps. The RCBS Rep told us “No more McDonald’s straw required”. We tested the unit and it does seem like the newly-designed dispensing tube is better. In fact, this new design will be adapted to the next generation of larger ChargeMasters.
Here is the RCBS Press Release: “The new RCBS ChargeMaster Lite packs unparalleled powder-measuring accuracy in a compact package. The one-piece unit features an LCD touchscreen display that ensures accurate data input. The hopper holds nearly a pound of smokeless powder, and can dispense anywhere between 2 to 300 grains with a +/-0.1-grain accuracy. The ChargeMaster Lite is an effective, accurate powder-measuring tool. Featuring 120/240 switching power supply, the ChargeMaster Lite is EU/UK/AUS compliant, includes a cleaning brush and two calibration/check weights and has an MSRP of $299.99.”
22 Nosler Brass and Ammunition
Here’s a new higher-capacity cartridge designed for folks who want to step up from the .223 Remington in their AR-platform rifle. Nosler has created a new SAMMI-spec cartridge which is similar to a 6.8 SPC necked down to .224 caliber. Nosler says the .22 Nosler cartridge will deliver significantly more velocity* than a .223 Remington, when shooting the same weight/type of bullet. For varminters using AR-style rifles, that’s a significant performance gain. We hope to test the 22 Nosler this spring in the varmint fields. This little round should definitely out-perform the standard .223 Rem cartridge while still operating from a standard AR platform, using the same bolt carrier group but with different, 6.8 SPC magazines.
Nosler explains: “Retrofitting a standard AR-15 chambered in .223 Rem / 5.56 NATO to a 22 Nosler is simple. All that is required is a simple barrel swap to the new 22 Nosler chambering, run 6.8 Remington SPC magazines instead of 5.56 magazines and the swap out is complete. Approaching 22-250 velocities in a significantly smaller package, the 22 Nosler® yields nearly 25% more capacity than the 223 Rem/ 5.56 NATO making the round capable of pushing a 55gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet at 3,350 fps out of an AR-15 fitted with an 18″ barrel and a 77gr Custom Competition® bullet at 2,950 fps.”
*When Nosler’s listed 22 Nosler velocities for 55gr and 77gr bullets are compared with .223 Rem maximum loads from Hodgdon load manuals, it looks like the speed gains with the 22 Nosler are 250-300 FPS, or about ten percent.
Get ready for a revolution in the F-Open, ELR, and Long-Range Benchrest games. Sierra just introduced a new 7mm bullet with a stunning 0.780 G1 BC. This new 197-grain HPBT MatchKing is one of the highest-BC, jacketed .284-caliber projectiles ever offered to the public. By comparison, Sierra’s own advanced 183-grain 7mm Matchking has a .707 G1 BC. That means the new 197-grainer has a 10% higher BC than the already slippery 183-grainer. That’s an impressive achievement by Sierra.
We expect top F-Open and long-range shooters will be trying the new 197-grainer as soon as they can get their hands on this new projectile. They may need new barrels however, as Sierra states: “This bullet requires a barrel twist rate of 1:7.5″ or faster”. Sierra expects to start shipping these slippery 7mm 197s very soon. You can order directly from Sierra’s website, stock code #1997, $54.20 for 100 bullets.
Factory Uniformed Bullet Tips
Sierra has officially announced that the 197gr SMK will come “pointed” from the factory. These impressive new 197s will have a “final meplat reducing operation” (pointing). This creates a higher BC (for less drag) and also makes the BC more uniform (reducing vertical spread at long range). Our tests of other factory-pointed Sierra MKs have demonstrated that Sierra does a very good job with this pointing operation. The “pointed” MatchKings we’ve shot recently had very nice tips, and did hold extremely “tight waterline” at 1000 yards, indicating that the pointing process does seem to enhance BC uniformity. Morever, radar-derived “real-world” BCs have been impressively uniform with the latest generation of pointed Sierra MKs (such as the new 110gr 6mm MatchKing).
Here is the statement from Sierra about the new bullets:
Shooters around the world will appreciate the accuracy and extreme long range performance of our new 7mm 197 grain HPBT (#1997). A sleek 27-caliber elongated ogive and a final meplat reducing operation (pointing) provide an increased ballistic coefficient for optimal wind resistance and velocity retention. To ensure precise bullet to bore alignment, a unique bearing surface to ogive junction uses the same 1.5 degree angle commonly found in many match rifle chamber throats.
While they are recognized around the world for record-setting accuracy, MatchKing® and Tipped MatchKing® bullets are not recommended for most hunting applications. Although MatchKing® and Tipped MatchKing® bullets are commonly used for varmint hunting, their design will not provide the same reliable explosive expansion at equivalent velocities in varmints compared to their lightly jacketed Hornet, Blitz BlitzKing, or Varminter counterparts.
New product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Randy Robinett, founder of BIB Bullets, is a highly respected custom bullet-maker. In recent years, Randy’s 30-caliber projectiles have won countless benchrest-for-score matches, and captured many National titles. If you want to “run with the big dogs” in score competition, campaigning a 30BR with BIB bullets is a very smart way to go. In this article, Randy talks about the process of creating highly uniform cores for benchrest bullets.
This article originally started as an exchange of posts in Stan Ware’s Bench-Talk Forum. Stan, a gifted gunsmith, converted the Forum posts into an article, which first appeared on Stan’s Bench-Talk.com Website.
How to Make Benchrest-Quality Bullet Cores by Randy Robinett, BIB Bullets
OK, Stan “made me do it”! A while back, Stan Ware asked if I’d submit a ditty on bullet-making. Here is the “picture is worth a few words” version. Below is a photo of a spool of lead wire. This is the first step in making benchrest-quality bullets. This spool of .250″ diameter lead wire will be cut into approximately 130 pieces, each about thirty inches long.
The Core Cutter
Here’s a really neat machine built by my Uncle and BIG MIKE. This is the core cutter. We made it using scrap steel and borrowed the crank shaft out of a 1966 Yamaha motorcycle to get the desired reciprocating-motion slide. When properly “juiced”, this machine can cut more than 3000 cores per hour.
As you doubtless deduced, the “sticks” are inserted, then fed via gravity — straightness is a virtue here! The crank, for now, is powered by the human hand. The bucket contents are the result of loading the cutter and turning the crank wheel. This photo shows cores for 112 grain, .30-caliber bullets. There are about 2500 cores to the bucket.
Here’s a close-up of the business end of the core cutter. Using recorded micrometer settings, this clever design allows us to get very repeatable length when changing through the length/weight cycle.
The photo below provides a closer look at the just-cut cores. Note the relatively clean shanks and square, unflared ends. This bucket contains roughly 2500 cores. By contrast, a tour of the Hornady plant will reveal cores being cut and squirted via a single operation, and deposited into 50-100 gallon livestock watering tanks!
Upon my first tour of a commercial plant, I lost all feelings of guilt about the cost of custom, hand-made bullets. When one totals the amount of labor, “feel” and “culling” that goes into them, custom hand-made bullets represent one of the best bargains on the planet!
At Hornady, each press produces 50-55,000 finished bullets per 10-hour shift. By contrast, a maker of hand-crafted bullets, at best, may make 3% of that number during a 10-hour span! Yep, hand-made benchrest-quality bullets are a labor of love and should be purchased with these criteria in mind: 1) QUALITY; 2) availability; 3) price. There is no reason for a maker of hand-made benchrest-quality bullets to negotiate on price. His time is worth what one receives from the bargain!
Core-Making Q & A Randy’s original Bench-Talk Forum posts inspired some questions by Forum members. Here are Randy’s answers to spedific questions about core-making.
Question by Stan Ware: Randy, a post or two back you said the cores were cut into 30″ lengths first and straightened. Why do you cut to 30″ lengths? What is the reason for this?
Answer by Randy: Stan, the wire is cut into 30″ lengths (sticks) and then straightened, following which it is fed into the core cutter and cut into the individual individual “cores”. If you look at the core cutter photo above, you’ll see a stick of lead wire sticking up -it’s toward the right hand end of the contraption. The cut cores are also “ejected” by gravity — the white “tickler” brushes the cores as the slide moves forward and dislodges the core from the cutter bushing.
Q by GregP: Randy, How do you straighten the 30″ sticks? Roll them between metal plates?
Answer by Randy: Greg, BIG MIKE may kill me for letting out the secret. WE “roll” the wire between an aluminum plate, which is equipped with handles, and the “plate” which you can see in the pic of cutting the wire. The straightening is really a drag. Eventually, we will have the new cutter hooked up to a “feeder/straightener” and the wire will be cut into core slugs right off the roll! Well, that’s the Dream….
Question by Jim Saubier: How much of a nub do you use at the end of the 30″ section? I imagine that every section you will lose a little from the feed end. Your cutter looks real slick, we are using the manual deal and it isn’t quick by any means.
Answer by Randy: Jim, Since I cut all of the sticks using diagonal-cutting pliers, the ends are, indeed, waste. However, only about 1/8th inch on the beginning end — the final core may be too short. I have attached a pic of my old reliable CH cutter. I still use this cutter for .22-cal and 6mm cores and, occasionally, an odd lot of thirties. The CH cuts very square ends which are free of bulges and/or flaring.
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Here’a useful article by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant. This story, which originally appeared in the Sierra Blog, covers some of the more common ammo problems that afflict hand-loaders. Some of those issues are: excessive OAL, high primers, and improperly sized cases. Here Mr. Pilant explains how to avoid these common problems that lead to “headaches at the range.
I had some gentlemen at my house last fall getting rifle zeros for an upcoming elk hunt. One was using one of the .300 short mags and every 3rd or 4th round would not chamber. Examination of the case showed a bulge right at the body/shoulder junction. These were new cases he had loaded for this trip. The seating die had been screwed down until it just touched the shoulder and then backed up just slightly. Some of the cases were apparently slightly longer from the base to the datum line and the shoulder was hitting inside the seating die and putting the bulge on the shoulder. I got to thinking about all the gun malfunctions that I see each week at matches and the biggest percentage stem from improper handloading techniques.
One: Utilize a Chamber Gage
Since I shoot a lot of 3-gun matches, I see a lot of AR problems which result in the shooter banging the butt stock on the ground or nearest solid object while pulling on the charging handle at the same time. I like my rifles too well to treat them that way (I cringe every time I see someone doing that). When I ask them if they ran the ammo through a chamber gage, I usually get the answer, “No, but I need to get one” or “I didn’t have time to do it” or other excuses. The few minutes it takes to check your ammo can mean the difference between a nightmare and a smooth running firearm.
A Chamber Gauge Quickly Reveals Long or Short Cases
Size Your Cases Properly
Another problem is caused sizing the case itself. If you will lube the inside of the neck, the expander ball will come out a lot easier. If you hear a squeak as the expander ball comes out of a case neck, that expander ball is trying to pull the case neck/shoulder up (sometimes several thousandths). That is enough that if you don’t put a bulge on the shoulder when seating the bullet, like we talked about above, it can still jam into the chamber like a big cork. If the rifle is set up correctly, the gun will not go into battery and won’t fire but the round is jammed into the chamber where it won’t extract and they are back to banging it on the ground again (with a loaded round stuck in the chamber). A chamber gage would have caught this also.
Oversizing cases also causes problems because the firing pin doesn’t have the length to reach the primer solid enough to ignite it 100% of the time. When you have one that is oversized, you usually have a bunch, since you usually do several cases at a time on that die setting. If the die isn’t readjusted, the problem will continue on the next batch of cases also. They will either not fire at all or you will have a lot of misfires. In a bolt action, a lot of time the extractor will hold the case against the face of the breech enough that it will fire. The case gets driven forward and the thinner part of the brass expands, holding to the chamber wall and the thicker part of the case doesn’t expand as much and stretches back to the bolt face. If it doesn’t separate that time, it will the next time. When it does separate, it leaves the front portion of the case in the chamber and pulls the case head off. Then when it tries to chamber the next round, you have a nasty jam. Quite often range brass is the culprit of this because you never know how many times it has been fired/sized and in what firearm.’Back to beating it on the ground again till you figure out that you have to get the forward part of the case out.
Just a quick tip — To extract the partial case, an oversized brush on a cleaning rod [inserted] and then pulled backward will often remove the case. The bristles when pushed forward and then pulled back act like barbs inside the case. If you have a bunch of oversized case that have been fired, I would dispose of them to keep from having future problems. There are a few tricks you can use to salvage them if they haven’t been fired though. Once again, a case gage would have helped.
Two: Double Check Your Primers
Another thing I see fairly often is a high primer, backwards primer, or no primer at all. The high primers are bad because you can have either a slam fire or a misfire from the firing pin seating the primer but using up its energy doing so. So, as a precaution to make sure my rifle ammo will work 100% of the time, I check it in a case gage, then put it in an ammo box with the primer up and when the box is full, I run my finger across all the primers to make sure they are all seated to the correct depth and you can visually check to make sure none are in backwards or missing.
Three: Check Your Overall Cartridge Length
Trying to load the ammo as long as possible can cause problems also. Be sure to leave yourself enough clearance between the tip of the bullet and the front of the magazine where the rounds will feed up 100%. Several times over the years, I have heard of hunters getting their rifle ready for a hunt. When they would go to the range to sight in, they loaded each round single shot without putting any ammo in the magazine. On getting to elk or deer camp, they find out the ammo is to long to fit in the magazine. At least they have a single shot, it could be worse. I have had hunters that their buddies loaded the ammo for them and then met them in hunting camp only to find out the ammo wouldn’t chamber from either the bullet seated to long or the case sized improperly, then they just have a club.
Four: Confirm All Cases Contain Powder
No powder in the case doesn’t seem to happen as much in rifle cartridges as in handgun cartridges. This is probably due to more handgun ammo being loaded on progressive presses and usually in larger quantities. There are probably more rifle cartridges that don’t have powder in them than you realize though. Since the pistol case is so much smaller internal capacity, when you try to fire it without powder, it usually dislodges the bullet just enough to stick in the barrel. On a rifle, you have more internal capacity and usually a better grip on the bullet, since it is smaller diameter and longer bearing surface. Like on a .223, often a case without powder won’t dislodge the bullet out of the case and just gets ejected from the rifle, thinking it was a bad primer or some little quirk. For rifle cases loaded on a single stage press, I put them in a reloading block and always dump my powder in a certain order. Then I do a visual inspection and any case that the powder doesn’t look the same level as the rest, I pull it and the one I charged before and the one I charged after it. I inspect the one case to see if there is anything visual inside. Then I recharge all 3 cases. That way if a case had powder hang up and dump in the next case, you have corrected the problem.
On progressive presses, I try to use a powder that fills the case up to about the base of the bullet. That way you can usually see the powder as the shell rotates and if you might have dumped a partial or double charge, you will notice as you start to seat the bullet if not before. On a progressive, if I don’t load a cartridge in one smooth stroke (say a bullet tipped over sideways and I raised the ram slightly to reset it) Some presses actually back the charge back adding more powder if it has already dumped some so you have a full charge plus a partial charge. When I don’t complete the procedure with one stroke, I pull the case that just had powder dumped into it and check the powder charge or just dump the powder back into the measure and run the case thru later.
I could go on and on but hopefully this will help some of you that are having these problems cure them. A case gage really can do wonders. Stay tuned for Easy Easy Ways to Save Yourself Headaches at the Range Part 2!
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Editor’s Comment: This is not the only way to clean a rimfire barrel. There are other procedures. This is the method recommended by ELEY based on decades of experience with the top smallbore shooters in the world, including many Olympic Gold Medalists. Some shooters have been very successful cleaning less frequently, or using different types of solvents. The ELEY method is a good starting point.
Rimfire Barrel Cleaning
1. Clean the extension tube with a 12 gauge brush and felt or tissue moistened with solvent.
2. Smoothly insert a cleaning rod guide into the receiver.
3. Apply a dry felt to the cleaning rod adapter and push it through the barrel to the muzzle in one slow steady movement. As the felt is dry it may feel stiff.
4. Remove the soiled felt and pull back the cleaning rod.
Bullet Proof Samples offers 12-count packs of big-name bullets. This lets you try out many different bullet types without forking out big bucks for larger 50-ct or 100-ct boxes. Currently, Bullet Proof Samples offers projectiles from Barnes, Berger Bullets, and Nosler. The sample packs range in price from $5.99 (for 22-cal varmint bullets) to $17.49 (for a .30-Cal Barnes LRX). The Berger Bullets sample packs run $6.99 to $10.49, with the larger 7mm and 30-cal bullets at the upper end of the range. On a per-bullet cost basis, it’s still much cheaper to purchase a “normal” 100-ct box, but the sample packs let you “test before you invest.”
Berger’s Michelle Gallagher tells us: “We receive frequent feedback from shooters who are looking for bullets in small pack quantities so that they can test different bullets without the expense of buying full boxes. Bullet Proof Samples… has done an exceptional job of addressing that concern. Bullets are packaged in blister packs, so they can be clearly seen. Each pack contains 12 bullets. They offer Nosler, Barnes and Berger in a variety of weights and calibers. Bullet Proof Samples is not a Berger Bullets LLC company, but we are supportive of their efforts[.]”
Story idea by EdLongrange.
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At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Precision Reloading — Sierra Bullets Sale, Big Discounts
Right now Precision Reloading is running a BIG SALE on Sierra MatchKing (MK) and Tipped MatchKing (TMK) bullets. These projecticle are being offered at deep discounts, with very low prices (some close to wholesale). Here are a few examples of the dozens of types of Sierra Bullets on sale. In most cases you can choose either 100-ct or 500-ct packages.
Sierra 30 Cal, 195gr Tipped MK, 100 for $36.02 (marked down from $41.79)
Sierra 30 Cal, 155gr HPBT MK, 100 for $31.21 (marked down from $35.29)
Sierra 7mm, 183gr HPBT MK, 100 for $38.37 (marked down from $43.39) (Great new bullet)
Sierra 6.5mm, 142gr HPBT MK, 100 for $34.21 (marked down from $187.69)
Sierra 6.5mm, 130gr Tipped MK, 100 for $30.58 (marked down from $38.69)
Sierra 6mm, 107gr HPBT MK, 100 for $27.68 (marked down from $31.29)
Sierra 6mm, 95gr Tipped MK, 100 for $28.25 (marked down from $31.99)
Sierra 22 Cal, 80gr HPBT MK, 500 for $117.08 (marked down from $132.39)
Sierra 22 Cal 77gr TMK, 100 for $26.19 (marked down from $29.69)
Here’s an awesome deal from EuroOptic.com. Save $200 on a very popular Vortex Precision Shooting Tactical (PST) optic. On sale for just $499.99, this 4-16x50mm EBR-1 Scope offers tactical turrets with Milradian adjustments, an illuminated second focal plane EBR-1 reticle, 30mm main tube, side-focus parallax, plus a large, bright objective. What’s more, this scope weighs just 22 ounces — making it an ideal optic for a tactical or precision rifle, varmint blaster, or hunting rifle.
3. Amazon — Plano Double Rifle Case with Wheels, $106.37
This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case is an Amazon Best Seller for good reason. It offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is under $110.00, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00, so you can buy two Planos for the price of one SKB. The 51.5″ interior will fit most scoped competition rifles up to about 29″ barrels (measure your own rifle to make sure). The handles are convenient and beefy and the wheels make this case easy to move through airports and parking lots. This is a very tough, roomy case for the money.
4. Grafs.com — Hornady Reloading Kit with Sonic Cleaner, $299.99
This Hornady Reloading Kit is a great deal at $299.99 (30% off Graf’s regular price). This kit comes with everything you need: Lock-N-Load single stage press, L-N-L Powder Measure, Digital Scale, Powder Trickler, Funnel, 9th Ed. Handbook of Cartridge Reloading, 3 L-N-L die bushings, handheld priming tool, universal reloading block, chamfering and deburring tool, primer turning plate and One Shot Case Lube. Plus this Kit includes a bonus FREE Lock-N-Load Sonic Case Cleaner, a $90.00 value. NOTE: This reloading Kit also qualifies for Hornady’s Get Loaded Free Bullets promotion.
5. Amazon — Leight MAX NRR33 Earplugs, $7.45 for 50 Pairs.
These Howard Leight NRR33 Max plugs are your Editor’s favorite foam earplugs. They seal out noise better than any others I’ve tried. Between shooting, motorcycling and mowing lawns, I probably have Max plugs in my ears 2-3 days a week. This is a very good price for a bulk pack of 50 pairs (100 plugs). And if you act soon, you can get free shipping to boot.
6. Amazon — MTM Shooting Range Box, $32.99 Shipped
The versatile MTM Shooting Range Box includes cradles so you can do gun maintenance while at the range. A lift-out tray holds small items such as patches and jags. This durable, Made-in-USA product can hold ammo, windmeter, LRF, cleaning supplies, and other gear. The $32.99 Sale Price includes free shipping for Prime members.
7. Amazon — Tipton 12-pc Ultra-Jag Set, $16.99
Brass jags work well — with one hitch. Strong copper solvents can leech metal from the jag itself, leaving a tell-tale blue tint on your patches. This “false positive” can lead shooters to over-clean their barrels. No such problem with these nickel-plated Ultra Jags. For just $16.99 you can get 12 jags in a handy, clear-top fitted caddy. All Tipton nickel-plated jags have 8-32 thread, except for the .17 caliber jag which has a 5-40 thread.
8. Midsouth — 17 HMR V-Max Ammo, $10.45 for 50 rounds
Need 17 HMR ammo for your planned 2017 varmint safaris? Then grab this Hornady V-Max ammo while you can at $10.45 for a 50-round box. This is a great price. Other vendors are selling the same Hornady ammo for as much as $15.00 per box. We’ve used this ammo and it was very accurate out of both semi-auto (Savage A17) and bolt-action (CZ 455) 17 HMR rifles.
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When you make a reloading mistake, you may need to “pull down” assembled ammo. The embedded UltimateReloader.com video demonstrates how to use the Hornady Cam-Lock bullet pulling system.
When Reloading Goes Bad — The Danger of Over-Charging
Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com was recently reloading some 9mm pistol ammo with his Hornady progressive press. As part of his reloading procedure, he visually checks the cases — and he noticed that the charges seemed high. Sure enough, his most recently-produced rounds were about two grains over spec. He diagnosed the issue: “I was using a powder measure without a baffle. What happened was, over the course of the loading session, things settled in, and the charge level increased.”
Not knowing just when his powder measure started delivering too much powder, Gavin decided, for safety’s sake, to pull down all the ammo he had just reloaded. Yes that’s time-consuming, but it’s better than the alternative — having a dangerous Kaboom while shooting. With fast-burning pistol powders, a two-grain over-charge could cause a blown case, damaged firearm, and/or serious injury.
Watch Cam-Lock Bullet Puller Used to Remove Bullets from Loaded Ammo:
Use of Bullet Puller starts 4:00 minutes into video.
Gavin says it is vitally important to perform safety checks during the reloading process: “You’ve got to do it — check every single round to make sure there IS powder, and that there’s not too MUCH powder. Double, Triple, Quadruple check your components… and your powder charges. You can’t be too careful.”
To pull down a loaded round, first place the cartridge in the shellholder on your press ram. Then raise the round up into the bullet puller device installed where a die would go. The Hornady Cam-lock bullet puller works by clamping the bullet in a collet when you flip down the red-coated lever. Then, with the case held by the rim in the shell-holder, the bullet exits the cartridge as the press ram is lowered. It takes time, but it’s pretty fool-proof once you get the hang of it. This entire process is illustrated in Gavin’s video, starting near the four-minute mark.
The Hornady Cam Lock Bullet Puller has four (4) key components: 1. Cam-Lock die body; 2. Cam-Lock lever; 3. Stem; and 4. Collet (Caliber-specific).
NOTE: In order to use this tool, you’ll need the appropriate collet for each diameter range of bullets you intend to pull. For example use collet #3 for 6mm, collect #6 for 7mm, and collet #7 for .308 Caliber.
RCBS Lock-Out Die
A good safety option for users with progressive presses is the RCBS Lock-Out Die. This has a charge detection rod that dips into each case after powder has dropped. You adjust the die to the proper charge height for your desired load. If the actual dispensed charge is too high or too low, the Lock-Out Die senses the problem and stops the press from advancing to the next case (it does this by preventing the ram/shellplate from fully elevating). We’ve used the Lock-out die with great success for both pistol and rifle cartridges. It’s sensitive to about one-half grain with pistol powders. This Lock-Out Die can work with Hornady and Dillon progressives as well as with RCBS progressives. However, it does take up one die station on the press.
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Here is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out (as measured on the bullet). This procedure costs nothing and adds only a few seconds to the time needed to load a cartridge. Next time you’re loading ammo with a threaded (screw-in) seating die, try seating the bullet in two stages. Run the cartridge up in the seating die just enough to seat the bullet half way. Then lower the cartridge and rotate it 180° in the shell-holder. Now raise the cartridge up into the die again and finish seating the bullet.
Steve, aka “Short Range”, one of our Forum members, recently inquired about run-out apparently caused by his bullet-seating process. Steve’s 30BR cases were coming out of his neck-sizer with good concentricity, but the run-out nearly doubled after he seated the bullets. At the suggestion of other Forum members, Steve tried the process of rotating his cartridge while seating his bullet. Steve then measured run-out on his loaded rounds. To his surprise there was a noticeable reduction in run-out on the cases which had been rotated during seating. Steve explains: “For the rounds that I loaded yesterday, I seated the bullet half-way, and turned the round 180 degrees, and finished seating the bullet. That reduced the bullet runout by almost half on most rounds compared to the measurements from the first test.”
Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30BR brass using both the conventional (one-pass) seating procedure, as well as the two-stage (with 180° rotation) method. Steve’s measurements are collected in the two charts above. As you can see, the run-out was less for the rounds which were rotated during seating. Note, the change is pretty small (less than .001″ on average), but every little bit helps in the accuracy game. If you use a threaded (screw-in) seating die, you might try this two-stage bullet-seating method. Rotating your case in the middle of the seating process won’t cost you a penny, and it just might produce straighter ammo (nothing is guaranteed). If you do NOT see any improvement on the target, you can always go back to seating your bullets in one pass. READ Forum Thread..
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Berger Bullets is becoming part of the Nammo Group, joining Lapua, Vihtavuori, and SK Ammo. This is big news, as it combines one of America’s leading bullet-makers with a major global enterprise that produces superior loaded ammunition, powder, bullets, and brass. This is potentially a boon for shooters as Nammo’s resources will help Berger increase production capacity, expand its line of products (including loaded ammunition), develop new bullet types, and invest in new, advanced machinery that should increase output and efficiency. In addition, we do expect to see new lines of loaded ammo combining Lapua brass with Berger match bullets. That combo will be tough to beat. Overall, this is a very positive development for Berger which will be able to call upon Nammo’s engineering expertise and advanced production technologies. It’s also a great thing for shooters, who can expect improved availability of the most popular Berger projectiles.
Berger Will Be Leaving California
As part of the acquisition of Berger Bullets by the Nammo Group, Berger plans to relocate its operations, moving its factory from the current Fullerton, California location. Berger will definitely be leaving California in the future.
Eric Stecker, Berger’s President, says the exact timing of the move has not yet been set, nor has the location been chosen. Arizona is high on the list of potential sites, but Berger is considering other states as well. Once the new factory location is determined, Eric says he expects the move to be completed “by December 2018 at the latest”.
In this exclusive AccurateShooter.com interview, Berger President Eric Stecker talks about Nammo’s acquisition of Berger Bullets and explains how that will bring about important positive changes, including increased production capability.
Notice from Berger Bullets
We take great pride and tremendous pleasure in announcing that Berger Bullets has joined forces with the Nammo Group. This Norwegian/Finnish corporation control many premium brands including Lapua (Brass, Bullets, Ammo), Vihtavuori Powder, and SK Rimfire Ammunition.
The joining of Berger Bullets with these world renowned, premium brands ushers in a new era of quality, performance and product availability for the discerning shooter. Today, under the Nammo Group ownership, we join three other companies that share a strong passion and commitment to precision shooting performance. We are very excited to join forces with these premium quality brands, which are committed to precision and quality.
Nammo Resources Will Help Berger Grow
The Nammo Group brings to Berger Bullets a level of support that is rivaled by few and bested by none. Nammo will support us in many areas including production capability expansion, advanced engineering, innovative product development, and the opportunity to share technology between all of these top quality brands.
Our immediate goal is to significantly improve the availability of Berger products. Throughout our history the demand for Berger Bullets has exceeded our capacity even as we’ve grown our output capabilities numerous multiples over the last few decades. Our first obligation to our customers is to improve the availability while we remain committed to our highest level of quality in the industry. Much of what has made Berger Bullets successful will remain unchanged. Bryan Litz is developing more great bullets for Berger and our technicians will still be answering your emails and calls.
Our website will remain at www.BergerBullets.com and all methods of contacts will remain the same for now. As we run across any changes, we’ll make sure we keep you updated on our website and through emails. So please, keep your information current on your email subscription and we promise to keep you posted.
The Nammo Group, www.Nammo.com, supplies high performance products to the aerospace & defense industry. Its core businesses are military and commercial ammunition; shoulder-fired systems; rocket motors; and demilitarization services. Nammo has 2,100 employees located in 12 countries.
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From time to time, we all encounter a primer that doesn’t go off. It’s normal to attribute the problem to a bad primer. But sometimes there are other explanations. George S., one of our Forum members, experienced a couple failures to fire, but he learned that the issue was his priming TOOL, not his primers. Here’s what George told us. There’s a lesson to be learned:
“I had issues with CCI 450s when I had my first 6BR barreled. I had probably three or four out of 20 rounds that failed to fire. the primers were dented but didn’t fire. I called CCI since I had bought a case of them. The tech was decent enough but had the audacity to tell me I was not seating the primers all the way in the pocket. I proceeded to let him know I had been reloading longer than he had been alive and I knew how to seat a primer.
Turns out that I did and I didn’t! I was using the RCBS primer tool I had used for years and the primers felt just fine to me. I finally decided to check the tool and since I had a new one I took the seating pins out and measured them. The seating pin on the tool I had been using for years was shorter by a few thousandths! I then used the pin from the new primer tool and darned if the primers that didn’t seat down to the bottom of the cup.
I switched to a K&M primer tool for seating the CCI primers and have not had a problem since. It was the combination of harder cup and lack of proper seating. I did call the CCI tech back and apologized for being an idiot.”
Another Forum member witnessed a problem cause by misuse of a priming tool: “I did … see a failure to fire on a Rem 9 1/2 primer only a week ago. That was in the new Rem muzzleloader that uses a primed case to ignite the pellets. After watching the muzzleloader’s owner seat his primers, I believe that it was operator error not the primer. He was seating the primer and then squeezing the priming tool so hard that his hands hurt after a few. We got that corrected.”
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What do you get when you cut a 6.5 Creedmoor-chambered barrel down to just over 16 inches? A lot more velocity than you might think. Our friends at Rifleshooter.com recently did a barrel cut-down test with 6.5 Creedmoor test rifle, shortening the barrel from 27 to 16.1 inches in one-inch increments. Surprisingly, with a 142gr Sierra MK, the total velocity loss (as measured with a Magnetospeed) was just 158 FPS, an average of 14.4 FPS per inch of barrel length. With the lighter 120gr A-Max bullet, the total velocity loss was 233 FPS, or 21.8 FPS average loss per inch of barrel.
Five (5) rounds of each type of cartridge were fired at each barrel length and the velocity data was recorded with a MagnetoSpeed V3 barrel-mounted chronograph. The rifle was then cleared and the barrel was cut back one inch at a time from 27″ to just over 16″. NOTE: During this winter test, the air temperature was a very chilly 23° F. One would expect higher velocities across the board had the outside temperature been higher.
The photo below shows how the barrel was cut down, inch-by-inch, using a rotary saw. The barrel was pre-scored at inch intervals. As the main purpose of the test was to measure velocity (not accuracy) the testers did not attempt to create perfect crowns.
6.5 Creedmoor vs. Other Mid-Sized 6.5mm Cartridges
The 6.5 Creedmoor is a very popular cartridge with the tactical and PRS crowd. This mid-size cartridge offers good ballistics, with less recoil than a .308 Winchester. There’s an excellent selection of 6.5mm bullets, and many powder choices for this cartridge. When compared to the very accurate 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers similar performance with less expensive brass. For a tactical shooter who must sometimes leave brass on the ground, brass cost is a factor to consider. Here’s a selection of various 6.5 mm mid-sized cartridges. Left to right are: 6.5 Grendel, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor with 120gr A-Max, 6.5 Creedmoor with 142gr Sierra MK, and .260 Remington.
When asked to compare the 6.5 Creedmoor to the 6.5×47 Lapua, Rifleshooter.com’s editor stated: “If you don’t hand load, or are new to precision rifle shooting, get a 6.5 Creedmoor. If you shoot a lot, reload, have more disposable income, and like more esoteric cartridges, get a 6.5×47 Lapua. I am a big fan of the 6.5×47 Lapua. In my personal experience, the 6.5×47 Lapua seems to be slightly more accurate than the 6.5 Creedmoor. I attribute this to the quality of Lapua brass.”
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The NRA Blog has produced an interesting graphic guide to firearms function. This “How Guns Work” infographic shows the basics of bolt-action rifle operation and how a centerfire cartridge propels a bullet through a barrel during the “firing sequence”. There’s some good artistry here, with cutaway drawings letting you look inside an action and cartridge.
Enjoy this technical graphic. The NRA Blog says: “In celebration of cartridges big and small, we partnered with OutdoorHub to bring you a detailed look into how guns work. While the infographic will be most instructive to newcomers, we think avid shooters will find it interesting, too.”
Someone is going to snag a heck of a deal. As part of its End of Year Clearance Sale, Midsouth Shooters Supply is offering bulk quantities of quality Norma brass at a huge discount. Right now you can get 2000 pieces of Norma 6mm PPC or 6mmBR brass for just $798.26. You can also get twenty-five .22 PPC cases for just $11.06. There are similar discounts on other products at Midsouth, but we just had to bring this to our readers’ attention. That’s enough brass to last a lifetime. If you are thinking of building a PPC-based or BR-based varmint rifle, such as a 22BR, 2000 cases will see you through a week-long varmint safari. This brass would also make a great item for a youth program.
The Norma brass is outstanding — certainly capable of winning matches. It may not be quite as hard as Lapua brass, but it is nonetheless very high quality stuff. NOTE: This is the last day of Midsouth’s E.0.Y.C. sale, so don’t dawdle. You snooze you loose. You could pick up one of these 2000-count cartons and sell off some to your shooting buddies.
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This article, which originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog, provides a new terminology that helps describe the geometry of bullets. Once you understand the meaning of “Caliber(s) of Ogive”, you can quickly evaluate potential bullet performance by comparing listed Caliber of Ogive numeric values.
by Mark Walker, Sierra Bullets New Product Development Manager
During one of our recent product releases, we listed the “caliber of ogive” of the bullet in the product description. While some understood what that number meant, it appears that some are not aware of what the number is and why it is important. In a nutshell, the “caliber of ogive” number will tell you how sleek the front end of the bullet is. The higher the number is, the sleeker the bullet. It also makes it easy to compare the ogives of different caliber bullets. If you want to know if a certain .308 caliber bullet is sleeker than a 7mm bullet, simply compare their “caliber of ogive” numbers.
So exactly how do you figure “caliber of ogive”? If you look at the drawing of the .30 caliber 175 gr HPBT bullet #2275 (at top), you will see that the actual radius of the ogive is 2.240. If you take that 2.240 ogive radius and divide by the diameter (or caliber) of the bullet you would get 7.27 “calibers of ogive” (2.240 ÷ .308 = 7.27). (See top photo).
In a nutshell, the “caliber of ogive” number will tell you how sleek the front end of the bullet is. The higher the number is, the sleeker the bullet.
Some people would say why not just compare the actual ogive radius dimensions instead of using the “caliber of ogive” figure. If we were comparing only bullets of the exact same diameter, then that would be a reasonable thought process. However, that idea falls apart when you start trying to compare the ogives of bullets of different diameters. As you can see with the two bullets presented above, if we compare the actual ogive radius dimensions of both bullets the difference is not much at all.
However, once again, testing has shown that the 6.5mm 142 gr HPBT #1742 has a significantly higher BC. The only way that this significant increase shows up, other than when we fire the bullets in testing, is by comparing the “caliber of ogive” measurement from both bullets.
Hopefully this will help explain what we mean when we talk about “caliber of ogive” and why it’s a handy number to use when comparing bullets. This information will help you to make an informed decision the next time you are in the market to buy bullets.
Story tip from Grant Ubl. We welcome reader submissions.
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OK, you guys can now officially stop complaining about the price of rimfire ammunition. Right now Cabelas.com is offering “Holiday Packs” of 40gr CCI standard velocity LRN ammo. Price is $3.99 for 50 rounds, with no limits (until inventory is sold). If you need good, reliable plinking ammo… place your order soon. Here’s a review from a recent purchaser: “Good Deal! I ordered 40 boxes and got them all. I have already used a box and they work great! I may need to order more before they are all gone! Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes.”
NOTE to California-based readers — you may want to stock up on affordable .22 LR ammo before the ammo-buyer licensing requirements take effect on 1/1/2018. New laws will prohibit all mail-order ammo sales for California residents.
Terms of Sale: Online Only, Do Not Call, one coupon per order.
Item number#: IK-219647; SKU#: 931GFT ($4.99); Sale Price $3.99 per 50-round box.
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