February 10th, 2017

For the .45 ACP — Try Vihtavuori N320 Pistol Powder

VV N320 for .45 ACP

VV N320 for .45 ACPMan does not live by long-guns alone. We know that many of our readers own .45 ACP handguns and load for this extremely accurate “classic” cartridge. When selecting a powder for the .45 ACP, there are many good options. All the major powder manufacturers make propellants with appropriate density and burn rate characteristics for the .45 ACP. Popular powder choices include: AA #5 (Accurate Powder); Bullseye (Alliant); Clays, HP-38, and Titegroup (Hodgdon); VV N310, N320, N340 (Vihtavuori); and WW 231 and WST (Winchester). We’ve tried these powders in a variety of .45 ACP handguns. When we consider the factors that make for a good pistol powder, we think N320 is one of the best available propellants for the .45 ACP. Vihtavuori N320 is very accurate, it meters well, and it burns clean, with minimal smoke and flash. If you haven’t tried VV N320 yet, you should.

Pros/Cons of Different Powders for .45 ACP
This Editor has personally tried out eight or more different powders for the .45 ACP. Bullseye works but it is very dirty (both smoke out the barrel and sooty powder fouling on case). Though it otherwise burns clean, Titegroup leaves a singular (and nasty) high-temp flame streak on your brass that is hard to remove. AA #5 is a good choice for progressive press newbies as you use more powder so a double charge will (usually) be obvious. I like AA #5 but N320 was more accurate. Clays burns clean but some powder measures struggle with flake powders like this. WW 231 offered excellent accuracy and metered well, but it kicked out sparks with little pieces of debris that would hit me in the face. Who wants that?

I personally tried all the powders listed above with lead, plated, and jacketed bullets. After testing for accuracy, consistency, and ease of metering, I selected VV N320 as the best overall performer.

Vihtavuori N320

  • No powder tested was more accurate (WW 231 was equally accurate).
  • Meters very well in all kinds of powder measures.
  • Produces very little smoke from muzzle.
  • Does not put nasty burn streak on brass like Tite-Group does.
  • Low Flash — you don’t get particles and sparks flying out like WW 231.
  • Cases come out from gun very clean — so you can tumble less often.

Forum member and gunsmith Michael Ezell agrees that N320 is a good choice for the .45 ACP. Mike has also found that WW 231, while accurate, produces sparks and a large flash. Mike writes: “I first started using N320 after my first night shoot, while shooting IDPA/IPSC matches. It was astonishing how much of a fireball the WW 231 created. I was literally blinded by the flash while trying to shoot a match. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out very well. I went from WW 231 to N320 and never looked back…and the flash from it was a fraction of what a kid’s sparkler would give off. I have nothing but good things to say about [N320] after using both. Night shoots are a real eye-opener! When it comes to a personal protection… there is, statistically, a very high chance that if you ever have to use a gun to protect yourself or your family, it’ll be in the darkness[.] Being blinded by muzzle flash (and deafened by the noise) are things that should be considered, IMO.”

This Editor owns a full-size, all-stainless S&W 1911. After trying numerous powders, I found VV N320 delivered the best combination of accuracy, easy metering, consistency, clean burning qualities, and low muzzle flash. My gun has proven exceptionally accurate using N320 with bullets from 180 grains to 230 grains — it will shoot as accurately as some expensive customs I’ve tried. At right is 5-round group I shot offhand at 10 yards with my 5″ S&W 1911. The bullet hole edges are sharp because I was using semi-wad-cutters. Rounds were loaded with Vihtavuori N320 and 200-grain SWCs from Precision Bullets in Texas.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Handguns 2 Comments »
February 9th, 2017

Ballistics Brain Power — Take Our Ballistics Quiz

Ballistics Quiz Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

At the Berger SW Nationals this week in Phoenix, the nation’s top long-range shooters will try to put all their shots in the 10-Ring at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. A good foundation in ballistics is vital if you want to succeed in the long-range game.

How much do you know about BCs, Bullet Shapes, Trajectories, Wind Drift, and other things in the realm of External Ballistics? You can test your knowledge of basic Ballistics principles with this interactive quiz. The questions and answers were provided by Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC. Bryan is the author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting and other popular resources in print, DVD, and eBook format. Have fun with our Quiz.

The Quiz contains ten (10) questions. When you complete all ten questions, you can see your results, along with the correct answers.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
February 8th, 2017

Cartridge “Efficiency” — Factors to Consider from the USAMU

USAMU Handloading Guide Facebook cartridge efficiency

Efficient cartridges make excellent use of their available powder and case/bore capacity. They yield good ballistic performance with relatively little recoil and throat erosion.

USAMU Handloading Guide Facebook cartridge efficiency

Cartridge Efficiency: A Primer (pun intended!) by USAMU Staff

Each week, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) publishes a reloading article on its Facebook Page. In this week’s article, the USAMU discusses cartridge case efficiency and its benefits. While this is oriented primarily toward NRA High Power Rifle and Long Range (1000-yard) competition, these factors also apply to medium/big game hunters. Assuming one’s rifle and ammunition are accurate, key considerations include ballistic performance (i.e., resistance to wind effects, plus trajectory), recoil, and throat erosion/barrel life.

Efficient cartridges make excellent use of their available powder and case/bore capacity. They yield good ballistic performance with relatively little recoil and throat erosion. A classic example in the author’s experience involved a featherweight 7x57mm hunting/silhouette rifle. When loaded to modern-rifle pressures, just 43-44 grains of powder pushed a 139gr bullet at 2900 fps from its 22” barrel. Recoil in this light rifle was mild; it was very easy to shoot well, and its performance was superb.

An acquaintance chose a “do everything” 7mm Remington Magnum for use on medium game at short ranges. A larger, heavier rifle, it used ~65 grains of powder to achieve ~3200 fps with similar bullets — from its 26″ barrel. Recoil was higher, and he was sensitive to it, which hampered his shooting ability.

Similarly efficient calibers include the 6mm BR [Norma], and others. Today’s highly-efficient calibers, such as 6mm BR and a host of newer developments might use 28-30 grains of powder to launch a 105-107gr match bullet at speeds approaching the .243 Winchester. The .243 Win needs 40-45 grain charges at the same velocity.

Champion-level Long Range shooters need every ballistic edge feasible. They compete at a level where 1″ more or less drift in a wind change could make the difference between winning and losing. Shooters recognized this early on — the then-new .300 H&H Magnum quickly supplanted the .30-06 at the Wimbledon winner’s circle in the early days.

The .300 Winchester Magnum became popular, but its 190-220gr bullets had their work cut out for them once the 6.5-284 and its streamlined 140-142gr bullets arrived on the scene. The 6.5-284 gives superb accuracy and wind performance with about half the recoil of the big .30 magnums – albeit it is a known barrel-burner.

Currently, the 7mm Remington Short Action Ultra-Magnum (aka 7mm RSAUM), is giving stellar accuracy with cutting-edge, ~180 grain bullets, powder charges in the mid-50 grain range and velocities about 2800+ fps in long barrels. Beyond pure efficiency, the RSAUM’s modern, “short and fat” design helps ensure fine accuracy relative to older, longer cartridge designs of similar performance.

Recent design advances are yielding bullets with here-to-fore unheard-of ballistic efficiency; depending on the cartridge, they can make or break ones decision. Ballistic coefficients (“BC” — a numerical expression of a bullet’s ballistic efficiency) are soaring to new heights, and there are many exciting new avenues to explore.

The ideal choice [involves a careful] balancing act between bullet BCs, case capacity, velocity, barrel life, and recoil. But, as with new-car decisions, choosing can be half the fun!

Factors to Consider When Evaluating Cartridges
For competitive shooters… pristine accuracy and ballistic performance in the wind are critical. Flat trajectory benefits the hunter who may shoot at long, unknown distances (nowadays, range-finders help). However, this is of much less importance to competitors firing at known distances.

Recoil is an issue, particularly when one fires long strings during competition, and/or multiple strings in a day. Its effects are cumulative; cartridges with medium/heavy recoil can lead to shooter fatigue, disturbance of the shooting position and lower scores.

For hunters, who may only fire a few shots a year, recoil that does not induce flinching during sight-in, practice and hunting is a deciding factor. Depending on their game and ranges, etc., they may accept more recoil than the high-volume High Power or Long Range competitor.

Likewise, throat erosion/barrel life is important to competitive shooters, who fire thousands of rounds in practice and matches, vs. the medium/big game hunter. A cartridge that performs well ballistically with great accuracy, has long barrel life and low recoil is the competitive shooter’s ideal. For the hunter, other factors may weigh more heavily.

Cartridge Efficiency and Energy — Another Perspective
Lapua staffer Kevin Thomas explains that efficiency can be evaluated in terms of energy:

“Cartridge efficiency is pretty straight forward — energy in vs. energy out. Most modern single-based propellants run around 178-215 ft/lbs of energy per grain. These figures give the energy potential that you’re loading into the rifle. The resulting kinetic energy transferred to the bullet will give you the efficiency of the round. Most cases operate at around 20-25% efficiency. This is just another way to evaluate the potential of a given cartridge. There’s a big difference between this and simply looking at max velocities produced by various cartridges.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
February 6th, 2017

Bargain Finder 73 — AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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. Amazon — Lyman BoreCam (Digital Borescope), $200.48

Bargain Deal Lyman Borecam Midsouth Shooters

Here’s the best deal we’ve found on an excellent product in high demand. The Lyman BoreCam is an electro-optical borescope with a digital display. You can record “stills” on a SD card. This is one of the hottest products on the market right now — and users really like the BoreCam (although some wish the digital view-screen was larger). Amazon.com now has the Lyman BoreCam for $200.48. Grab it while you can at that price. Other online vendors are charging a LOT more (e.g. MidwayUSA price is $259.99).

2. Anschutz MSR RX22 .22 LR Semi-Auto (Desert Tan), $329.99

Anschutz MSR Rimfire Tactical CDNN semi-auto

Looking for a rifle for the new Practical Rimfire Challenge series (aka “PeeWee PRS”). Here’s a great deal on a semi-auto Anschutz. This semi-auto rifle features modern ergonomics, an AR-type detachable magazine, and a full rail on top (allowing a wide selection of optics). The MSR RX22 features a button-rifled barrel crafted to the same exacting tolerances as Anschütz’s target barrels. The single-stage trigger can be adjusted from 3.3 to 5.5 pounds. The stock adjusts for length of pull and also folds. A front, lower rail allows many options for mounting bipods, barricade stops, and other accessories.

3. Amazon — RCBS Partner Press, $65.99

RCBS Partner Portable compact reloading press

We own and use the compact RCBS Partner press. Small and easy to transport, the RCBS Partner press is great for loading at the range. It also makes a good secondary press in your loading room for depriming cases or seating bullets. That lets you dedicate your bigger, full-size press for heavy-duty chores such as case sizing. At most vendors, the RCBS Partner Press sells for $80.00 or more. Right now it’s on sale at Amazon.com for just $65.99.

4. Precision Reloading — Berger Bullets Sale

Berger Bullets Sale Precision Reloading Hybrid Hunting

Now through February 8, 2017, Berger Bullets are on sale at Precision Reloading. Score substantial savings on Match, Hunting, and Varmint bullets, including the popular Berger Hybrids. For example, the excellent 7mm 180gr Hybrid is marked down from $51.99 to $45.84, while the .30-Cal 185gr Hybrid is marked down from $52.99/box to $46.75/box, and the 6mm 105gr Hybrid is marked down from $37.49/box to $33.18/box. NOTE: Berger Bullet Sale is limited to current inventory.

5. Grafs.com — Magnetospeed Sporter $179.99

Deals of Week RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Kit

If you have been waiting to get a Magnetospeed… wait no longer. Priced at just $179.99 at Grafs.com, the Magnetospeed Sporter model costs less than half as much as Magnetospeed’s V3 models. This chronograph attaches directly to your barrel so you don’t have to go downrange to position tripods and set up skyscreens. For most people the Sporter Model contains all the features they need. Using Magnetospeed’s XFR adapter (sold separately), data can be transferred easily from the display module to your mobile device. READ Magnetospeed Sporter Review.

6. Amazon — EC Technology 22400mAh Battery Pack, $32.99

USB Battery pack EC Techonolgies Amazon 22400 mAh

This EC Technology 22400 mAh Power Pack is what AccurateShooter’s Editor uses to run a LabRadar Chronograph and recharge smartphones and his iPad on the road. This unit charges cell phones very rapidly, and will give an iPad three charges. One nice feature is an LED light near the three (3) ports. NOTE: This unit can recharge itself faster than most battery packs since it has a 2 Amp-capable input port. The $32.99 price is very good — we’ve seen this 22400 mAh Power Pack sell for $45.00 elsewhere.

7. Cabela’s — Federal .22 LR Ammo, 325 Rounds $19.99

Federal Bulk Pack .22 LR Rimfire ammo sale Cabelas.com

Good news — .22 LR rimfire ammo supply is catching up with demand so prices are starting to return to pre-hoarding levels. Here’s a great deal on good basic fodder for fun plinking and plate shooting. We’ve tried this copper-nosed .22LR rimfire ammo in pistols, boat-action rifles, and semi-auto rifles and it functioned fine. Hard to beat this price — $19.99 for 325 rounds with no limit on the amount you can purchase. This 325-round Federal Value Pack is loaded with 36-grain hollow-point bullets.

8. Amazon — AR500 Steel 8″-Diameter Gong, $19.95 Delivered

Reactive Target AR500 Steel Gong Free Shipping 8 inch 8

We like reactive targets. It’s fun to “ring steel” and see a target move instantly when hit. For just twenty bucks (including shipping), it’s hard to go wrong with this 8″ AR500 Steel Gong. The 8″-diameter size is big enough for zeroing at 200 yards, yet offers a nice challenge at 500 yards and beyond. There is also a 6″-diameter model for $16.00.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Reloading, Tactical 1 Comment »
February 5th, 2017

AR-15 Kaboom — “The Worst … I Have Ever Seen”

AR15 AR-15 Kaboom explosion pistol powder accident catastrophic destroyed
AR15 Kaboom big photo

This shocking photo of destroyed AR-15 bits and pieces was posted on Facebook by William Walter, a firearms instructor. William said this was “The worst AR-15 blow-up I have ever seen. Has anyone else seen one this bad?” It is indeed catastrophic. Seeing the above image, our friend Grant Ubl wrote: “that is most definitely THE most FUBAR’d AR15 that I have ever seen”.

Luckily the shooter sustained only minor injuries — nothing worse than a broken finger tip. But his AR-15 is certainly toast. The lower was polymer. Note the past tense. According to Walter: “It was a polymer lower and polymer magazine. Pieces of both were distributed up to 25 feet from the bench he was firing from.”

The cause of the Kaboom is somewhat mysterious. The Kaboom occurred on the 4th round fired — the first three went OK, and there is NO evidence of a squib load (i.e. no bulge in barrel). This was definitely NOT a .300 BLK round in a .223 Rem Chamber. William Walter suspects that pistol powder may be involved, but that has not been confirmed.

First thing I suspected was bore obstruction, but there wasn’t any sign of it. The case head literally atomized…you can see the brass residue on the parts. The bolt was split in two also. This was number four fired during load testing. The previous three were fine…no high pressure signs on the primer. — William Walter

One Facebook poster noted: “We had one similar here in PA about 14 years ago. The guy used Winchester 231 instead of Winchester 748 and ended up with a pile of parts very similar looking. The rifle went Kaboom on his first sighter in offhand and no one was injured surprisingly. The carrier looked like someone cut it down the middle with a torch very similarly to this picture. It also cut the bottom of the carrier and all three pieces look like a peeled banana.”

Walter stated that here: “[The shooter] had fired four rounds of the same load. He was shooting Win 748…24 grains with a 77 Sierra. I will reserve my theory until after we discuss as to not steer the conversation.

On reading that, Dennis Santiago posted: “Did you mean WW 748? That’s on the fast side powder for a .223 meant for lighter bullets. 24 grains with a long bullet like a Sierra 77 would be way too much.”

Walter noted that there was a possibility of some pistol powder getting into the catridge that detonated: “[The shooter] said he does load pistol and this was first time loading rifle. He said he used his 650 powder measure, but also a funnel and trickler.” Considering that, one poster suggested that maybe pistol powder was still left in the bottom of the powder measure.

It will be interesting to determine what exactly happened here. The remaining rounds from the same loading session will be pulled down and analyzed. A discussion of this incident appears on the Precision Shooting Journal Facebook Page.

Question to our readers: What do you think was the probable cause of this catastrophic Kaboom?

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 9 Comments »
February 4th, 2017

How to Fire-Form Brass without Bullets

Fire-Form Brass Cream of Wheat Dasher BRDX

Many of our Forum members shoot an “improved” 6mmBR cartridge. This might be a 30°-shoulder 6mm BRX, or a 40°-shoulder 6mm Dasher, or the 6mm BRDX, which is very similar to the Dasher, but with a slightly longer neck. This Editor shoots a 6mm BRDX and has found it very accurate, and maybe a bit easier to fire-form than a standard Dasher. Speaking of fire-forming, in our Shooters’ Forum, we often see questions about fire-forming BRX/Dasher brass. For those who need a large number of BRX or Dasher cases, one option to consider is using pistol powder in a dedicated fire-forming barrel. Here’s an explanation of how this process can work.

Forum member Skeeter has a 6mm Dasher falling block varmint rifle. The Dasher case is based on the 6mmBR Norma cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and out to 40°. This gives the Dasher roughly 3.5 grains added capacity compared to the standard 6BR.

A few seasons back, Skeeter needed to form 300 cases for varmint holiday. Skeeter decided to fire-form his brass without bullets. This method avoids barrel wear and saves on components. There are various ways to do this, but Skeeter chose a method using pistol/shotgun powder, some tissue to hold the powder in place, Cream of Wheat filled to within an 1/8″ of top of the neck, and a “plug” of tissue paper to hold it all in place. Shown below are cases filled with a pistol/shotgun powder charge topped with Cream of Wheat and then a tissue paper plug.

To ensure the case headspaced firmly in his Dasher chamber, Skeeter created a “false shoulder” where the new neck-shoulder junction would be after fire-forming. After chamfering his case mouths, Skeeter necked up all his cases with a 0.257″ mandrel (one caliber oversized). Then he used a bushing neck-sizing die to bring the top half of the neck back down to 0.267″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. The photo below shows how the false shoulder is created.

After creating the false shoulder, Skeeter chambered the cases in his rifle to ensure he could close the bolt and that he had a good “crush fit” on the false shoulder, ensuring proper headspace. All went well.

The next step was determining the optimal load of pistol powder. Among a variety of powders available, Skeeter chose Hodgdon Titewad as it is relatively inexpensive and burns clean. The goal was to find just the right amount of Titewad that would blow the shoulder forward sufficiently. Skeeter wanted to minimize the amount of powder used and work at a pressure that was safe for his falling block action.

Working incrementally, Skeeter started at 5.0 grains of Titewad, working up in 0.5 grain increments. As you can see, the 5.0 grain charge blew the shoulder forward, but left it a hemispherical shape. At about 7.0 grains of Titewad, the edge of the shoulder and case body was shaping up. Skeeter decided that 8.5 grains of Titewad was the “sweet spot”. He tried higher charges, but the shoulder didn’t really form up any better. It will take another firing or two, with a normal match load of rifle powder and a bullet seated, to really sharpen up the shoulders. Be sure to click on the “View Larger Image” link to get a good view of the cases.


The process proved to be a success. Skeeter now has hundreds of fire-formed Dasher cases and he hasn’t had to put one bullet through his nice, new match-grade barrel. The “bulletless” Cream of Wheat method allowed him to fire-form in a tight-necked barrel without neck-turning the brass first. The only step now remaining is to turn the newly Dasher-length necks down about .0025″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. (To have no-turn necks he would need an 0.271″ or 0.272″ chamber).

Skeeter didn’t lose a single case: “As for the fire-forming loads, I had zero split cases and no signs of pressure in 325 cases fire-formed. Nor did I have any misfires or any that disbursed COW into the action of the firearm. So the COW method really worked out great for me and saved me a lot of money in powder and bullets.”

Skeeter did have a fire-forming barrel, but it was reamed with a .269 chamber like his 10-twist Krieger “good” barrel. If he fire-formed with bullets, he would have to turn all 300 necks to .267″ BEFORE fire-forming so that loaded rounds would fit in the chamber. Judging just how far to turn is problematic. There’s no need to turn the lower part of the neck that will eventually become shoulder–but how far down the neck to turn is the issue. By fire-forming without bullets now he only has to turn about half the original neck length, and he knows exactly how far to go.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
February 3rd, 2017

New Video Series from Applied Ballistics

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Video Youtube elevation transonic supersonic

Applied Ballistics has created a series of YouTube videos about precision long range shooting. Featuring ace long-range shooter and professional ballistician Bryan Litz, these videos will address various topics of interest to long-range marksmen. In this video, the first in the series, Bryan Litz answers the question, “Just What Is Long Range Shooting?” Bryan discusses how we define “long range” and the key factors shooters need to consider.

Applied Ballistics Video — What Is Long Range Shooting?

Bryan states: “I don’t think there is a clear definition of where Long Range starts.” But he offers this practical guideline: “The way I think of it, any time you’re making major adjustments to your zero in order to hit a target, due to gravity drop and wind deflection, THEN you’re getting into ‘Long Range’. For example, if you are zeroed at 100 yards and need to shoot to 600 yards, you have many feet of elevation [drop] to account for, and to me, that’s where it becomes Long Range.”

Extended Long Range and the Transonic Zone
Bryan adds a second concept, namely “Extended Long Range”. Litz says that: “Extended Long Range starts whenever the bullet slows to its transonic range. As the bullet slows down to approach Mach 1, it starts to encounter transonic effects, which are more complex and difficult to account for, compared to the supersonic range where the bullet is relatively well-behaved.” Bryan notes that bullets start to encounter transonic effects at about 1340 fps, quite a bit faster than the speed of sound, which is about 1116 fps at sea level in normal conditions (59° F).

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Video Youtube elevation transonic supersonic

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo No Comments »
February 2nd, 2017

In-Chamber Laser Boresighters — Very Useful Tools

In-Chamber Laser

Boresighting the old-fashioned way — by looking down the bore of a rifle at a target — is not difficult. With a conventional bolt-action rifle, visual bore-sighting can be done quickly and easily: rest your gun securely on bags, remove your bolt and set up a 50-yard target with a large bright orange or black center circle. Look through the back of the action and you should be able to sight down the bore with your own eyes just fine. There’s no need for expensive hardware. In fact it may be easier to bore-sight the “old-fashioned way” rather than try to see a laser in bright sunlight at 50 yards (or even 25).

However, with lever guns and semi-auto rifles, including the popular AR15, M1 Garand, and M1A service rifles, the design of the receiver may make it virtually impossible to sight down the bore with the naked eye. That’s where a modern laser bore-sighting device comes in handy. For those situations where a bore-sighting tool is actually needed, we recommend a laser bore-sighter that fits inside your chamber. The in-chamber configuration is more fool-proof, and is inherently safer.

In-Chamber Laser Should Be Safer
Among the laser bore-sighters available on the market, we strongly favor those that fit in the chamber, rather than in the bore. With muzzle-entry laser bore-sighters, you could have a nasty accident if you forget to remove the device. There is always the chance you could chamber and fire a round with the muzzle-entry bore-sighter still in place. Instant Kaboom. That has happened more than once. With an in-chamber bore-sighter, there is no possibility you could chamber a loaded round with the bore-sighter in place. That’s an important safety advantage. Sightmark in-chamber bore-sights are shown in the video below. You can see that, with the bore-sighter in place, you cannot chamber a live round.

In-Chamber Bore-Sighters for Rifles
Sightmark offers compact laser bore-sighters that fit inside your firearm’s chamber. The laser is housed in a brass assembly machined to duplicate a cartridge. These are easy to use — simply twist the end-cap to activate the laser, then place the bore-sighter in the rifle’s chamber. The affordable ($29.99 – $35.77) Sightmark boresighters are offered in a wide variety of pistol, shotgun, and rifle “chamberings”. Rifle options include: 17 HMR, .223 Rem, 22-250 30/30, .308 Win Family, .25-06/.270/.30-06, 6.5×55, .270/.300 WSM, .300 Win Mag, 50 BMG, and many other large hunting calibers. SEE Full Product Line.

Cabela’s also offers a Professional .223 Laser Chamber Boresighter that fits in a .223 Rem rifle chamber. This $59.99 unit, shown below, can be adapted to other chamberings by adding a caliber-specific sleeve over the .223 core unit.

Laserlyte Cabela's
Laserlyte Cabela's

Adapt Basic Unit to other Calibers with Sleeves
Cabela’s Professional .223 Laser Chamber Boresighter unit can be used for a variety of chamberings by fitting additional $19.99 caliber-specific sleeves (sold separately). Each sleeve is precision-machined from brass to SAAMI specs. One purchaser notes: “Extremely well made, the fit is so precise that I would recommend using a drop or two of light oil on the 223 laser insert before fitting it into the sleeve.” Available chamber sleeve calibers include:

Laser Boresighter laserlyte

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
February 2nd, 2017

Cartridge History: Ever Heard of the .244 Remington?

6mm Remington .244 Rem .243 Winchester .308 Cartridge AccurateShooter Chuck Hawks Sierra Bullets

What we now know as the “6mm Remington” was originally called the .244 Remington. The cartridge was renamed because it was not a commercial success initially, being eclipsed by the .243 Winchester. The .244 Remington and the 6mm Remington are identical — only the name was changed. Why was the .244 Remington an “also-ran” to the .243 Win? Sierra Bullets Ballistics Technician Paul Box provides some answers…

Was Anything Wrong With The .244 Remington?

by Ballistic Technician Paul Box for Sierra Bullets Blog

The year was 1955. A time of carhops, drive-in movies, and Buffalo Bob. It was also the year that Winchester introduced the .243 Win and Remington counter-punched with the .244 Remington (now more commonly known as the 6mm Remington). The .243 Win was based off the time-proven .308 Win case while Remington chose the old war horse, the 7×57.

We’ve all read countless times how Winchester chose the 1:10″ twist, while Remington adopted the 1:12″ twist for their .244 Rem rifles. The first complaint in the gun magazines of that era was how the faster twist Winchester could handle 100 grain bullets, while Remington’s [12-twist factory rifles were supposedly limited to 90 grain bullets].

The first complaint I remember reading was that the 100-grainer was better suited for deer-sized game and the 1:12″-twist wouldn’t stabilize bullets in this weight range. Now, let’s look at this a little closer. Anybody that thinks a 100-grainer is a deer bullet and a 95-grainer isn’t, has been drinking too much Kool-aid. In all honesty, it’s all about bullet construction and Remington had constructed the [90s] with light game in mind. In other words, Remington got it right, but due to a lack of knowledge at the time on both bullet construction and stability, the .244 never gained the popularity it deserved. At that time, Sierra had the 100gr SMP and Hornady offered a 100gr RN that would both stabilize in the slower 1-12″ twist. The .244 Remington provides another classic example of how the popularity of a cartridge suffered due to a lack of knowledge.

.244 Rem vs. .243 Win — What the Experts Say
Respected gun writer Chuck Hawks says the .244 Remington deserved greater acceptance: “The superb 6mm Remington started life in 1955, the same year as the .243 Winchester. It was originally named the .244 Remington. Although the 6mm lost the popularity contest to the .243, it is one of my favorite rifle cartridges, and much appreciated by reloaders generally. The .244 Rem and 6mm Rem cartridges are completely interchangable, and anyone with a .244 Rem rifle can shoot [6mm Rem] ammunition in complete safety (or vice-versa). Remington .244 rifles made from 1958 on can stabilize all 6mm bullets, while those made in 1955 through 1957 are limited to loads using spitzer bullets not heavier than 90 grains for best accuracy.”

Nathan Foster, author of The Practical Guide to Long Range Hunting Cartridges, states: “In 1963 Remington attempted to regain ground by releasing .244 rifles with a new 1:9″ twist to handle heavier bullets. The cartridge was renamed the 6mm Remington and new ammunition was loaded giving the hunter the choice of either an 80gr bullet for varmints or a 100gr bullet for deer. In comparison to the .243 Win, factory loads for the .244/6mm Remington are slightly more powerful while hand loads increase this margin further.”

6mm Remington .244 Rem .243 Winchester .308 Cartridge AccurateShooter Chuck Hawks Sierra Bullets

Was the .244 Remington Actually Better than the .243 Winchester?
The .244 Remington (aka “6mm Remington”) has a velocity advantage over the .243 Winchester due to a slightly larger case capacity. The longer case neck of the .244 Remington is considered desirable by handloaders. We like the added capacity and long neck of the original .244 Remington. As renamed the “6mm Remington”, the cartridge HAS developed a following, particularly with varmint hunters looking for a high-velocity 6mm option. But it never achieved the success of the .243 Winchester for many reasons. As a member of the .308 family of cartridges, the .243 Winchester has certain obvious advantages. First, you can simply neck down .308 Win brass, which was available at low cost from many sources. Moreover, a .308 Win or 7mm-08 full-length sizing die could be used for body sizing. Still the .244 Remington (6mm Remington) presents an interesting “what if?” story…

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January 31st, 2017

Plinker’s Plenitude — 325 Rimfire Rounds for $19.99

Federal Bulk Pack .22 LR Rimfire ammo sale Cabelas.com

In the recent past, it was hard to find .22 LR rimfire ammo for plinking and fun shooting at affordable prices. Now that’s changing. Supply is catching up with demand so prices are starting to return to pre-hoarding levels. Here’s a great deal if you need good basic fodder for fun plinking and plate shooting. We’ve tried this copper-nosed .22LR rimfire ammo in pistols, boat-action rifles, and semi-auto rifles and it functioned fine. Hard to beat this price — $19.99 for 325 rounds with no limit on the amount you can purchase. Buy some and have a plinkin’ party for the who family next time you head to the range.

This Federal Value Pack contains 325 rounds of reliable .22 LR rimfire ammo loaded with 36-grain hollow-point bullets, suitable for target shooting and plinking. Item: IK-217964

Save more at Cabelas.com with Coupon “17WINTER” for 10% OFF + Free S/H over $49 on Select Winter Clothing, Hunting Clothing, Footwear and Accessories or Coupon “27FLAT” for $5 S/H over $99.00.

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January 30th, 2017

Bargain Finder 72: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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. Midsouth — Earmuffs (26 NRR) and Safety Eyewear, $14.20

Midsouth Shooting Glasses Muffs earmuff sale combo

We can all use an extra set of muffs and safety glasses. Here’s an inexpensive combo that’s ideal as a spare set stashed in your vehicle or range kit. The muffs are surprisingly comfortable and carry a 26 dB Noise Reduction Rating. The adjustable, clear Radians safety glasses are comfortable and ANSI Z87.1-rated. We actually use Radians safety glasses and they work just fine. This muffs/eyewear combo is nice to have on hand when you invite friends or family members to the range.

2. Grafs.com — Hornady Tumbler and Ultrasonic Combo, $99.99

Graf's Grafs.com Hornady cleaner tumbler Vibratory Ultrasound Ultrasonic Cleaner sale free shipping

Save big bucks on this combination of Hornady Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine AND Hornady Vibratory Tumbler (media sold separately). We generally tumble pistol brass, while using an ultrasonic machine for dirty rifle brass. The L-N-L Sonic machine can clean metal tools/components as well as brass. With this special Graf’s promotion, you can get both units for just $99.99. In addition, you can get FREE Shipping. Right now Grafs.com is offering FREE Shipping on all orders over $75.00 (some exclusions apply). NOTE: With our best match brass we generally just wipe the outside of the cases and lightly brush the necks (leaving a little carbon inside the necks helps bullet seating).

3. CDNN Sports — Walther CCP 9mm, $379.99

CCP Walther Carry Pistol 9mm CDNN sale

We like the compact Walther pistols. This 9mm CCP has a better trigger than the S&W M&P compact, and a more ergonomic grip than the Glock 19. Walther’s CCP features a special gas-delayed blowback system that reduces felt recoil. The 1.4-lb CCP is thin (1.18″), making this an excellent choice for concealed carry. This model features a thumb safety and 5.5-lb trigger pull. The CCP ships from CDNN for $379.99 with two (2) 8-rd magazines. That’s a good deal for a quality carry gun.

4. Amazon.com — RCBS Rockchucker Supreme Press, $126.99

Amazon.com Amazon RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Single Stage Reloading Press Sale

The RCBS Rock Chucker remains a classic — a big, strong, versatile press that can handle most reloading chores with ease. And now you can get a genuine Rock Chucker Supreme for $126.99 — a very good deal. The Rock Chucker offers plenty of leverage for case-sizing and the “O” is tall enough for long cartridges. The Rock Chucker has a very strong base and should last a lifetime. We’re not fans of the Rock Chucker’s priming system but most serious reloaders use a separate priming tool.

5. Grafs.com — Hornady Reloading Kit with Sonic Cleaner, $299.99

Hornady Reloading Kit Press Sonic Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine

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, which costs $59.99 by itself on sale at Graf’s. NOTE: This reloading Kit also qualifies for Hornady’s Get Loaded Free Bullets promotion.

6. Amazon — Bushnell 3-9x40mm Bushnell for $115.46

Bushnell 3-9x40mm Scope Amazon.com

No, that’s not a misprint. This 3-9x40mm Bushnell scope, optimized for .223 Rem rifles, is just $112.00 right now at Amazon.com. The price on this scope was slashed more than $140.00. Now it’s priced 56% below the regular price. Act soon as this offer won’t last long. Note: This super low $115.46 price may not come up using Amazon’s internal search. You need to click the Amazon Private Sale Link which give you a list of all pricing options.

7. MidwayUSA — Pro Series Shooting Mat, $29.99

$29.99 Pro Series Shooting Mat Midway USA Hot deal

Here’s a heck of a deal on a very good shooting mat. MidwayUSA has slashed the price on its Pro Series Shooting Mat (in Olive Drab). You can get this 73.5″ x 35.5″ padded mat for just $29.99. This Mat has some very nice features, such as a Bipod Pre-load Web, 0.35″ thick padding, and multiple pockets. It’s easy to transport, rolling up to about nine inches in diameter and fitted with a nice carry strap. Midway normally sells this Pro Series Mat for about $60.00, so the $29.99 price is a total steal. If you need a good basic shooting mat check out this deal.

8. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $16.45

Amazon Neiko Digital Caliper

Even if you have a good set of calipers, you may want to get one of these Neiko 01407A Digital Calipers. The #1 best-selling digital caliper on Amazon.com, this Neiko tool features a large LCD Screen and measures up to 6.0 inches. With nearly 2600 customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $16.45, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.

9. Walmart — 16-Gun Security Safe, $353.77

Walmart Stackon Gun Safe 16-gun

Could you use a secondary safe for reloading room, workshop, or bedroom? This Stack-on 16-Gun Safe fills the bill. Rated for 16 long guns, this smaller safe can realistically hold 8 or so scoped rifles. But it can also hold your handguns, rangefinders, cameras, jewelry and other valuables. Let’s face it, your primary gun safe is probably full so you could use a second safe to hold smaller items. Walmart’s current “Roll-Back” price is just $353.77. And right now the home delivery charge is a mere $9.99.

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January 25th, 2017

22 Nosler — More Details, Load Data — And a Bit of History

22 Nolser .220 Thunderbolt 224 winchester E5 experimental 22-250

At SHOT Show 2017, Nosler showcased a new .22-caliber cartridge designed for AR-platform rifles. Called the 22 Nosler, the new cartridge resembles a 6.8 SPC necked down to .22 caliber. Comparing Nosler’s ammo specs with Hodgdon load data, it looks like the 22 Nosler can deliver about 250-300 fps more velocity than the standard .223 Rem cartridge. That’s significant for varminters looking for higher performance from an AR15-type rifle. With a 55-grain bullet, highest possible velocity is 3500+ fps with a max load of Hodgdon CFE 223 powder, based on this Nosler Load Chart:

22 Nolser .220 Thunderbolt 224 winchester E5 experimental 22-250

MORE LOAD DATA for 22 Nosler (Click tabs after jump)

22 Nosler LOAD PDFs:
https://load-data.nosler.com/nosler-load-data/pdf/22-nosler/22-nosler-55gr.pdf
https://load-data.nosler.com/nosler-load-data/pdf/22-nosler/22-nosler-64gr.pdf
https://load-data.nosler.com/nosler-load-data/pdf/22-nosler/22-nosler-69gr-70gr.pdf
https://load-data.nosler.com/nosler-load-data/pdf/22-nosler/22-nosler-77gr.pdf

Nosler will produce 22 Nosler ammunition in various bullet weights, starting with 55 grain and 77 grain. To run the 22 Nosler, an AR owner will need a new upper and 6.8 SPC type magazines. This video explains how to convert your AR-platform rifle to run the 22 Nosler.

“Everything Old Is New Again…”

Examining the 22 Nosler cartridge, our friend Grant Ubl had a case of “deja vu”. He thinks the new 22 Nosler bears a striking resemblance to a wildcat from the 1960s: “The .22 Nosler looks like a throwback to the 1963-vintage .224 Winchester E5 experimental cartridge, right down to the rebated rim.” Here is an old Winchester print:

Another poster said this cartridge resembles the “.220 Thunderbolt” a wildcat devised by John Scandale in 2004. Posting on Facebook, Mr. Scandale said the designs were very similar. According to Keystone Accuracy, the .220 Thunderbolt’s “design origin came from the now largely popular 6mm Hagar in its infancy stage back in 2003.” While it looks very similar to a 6.8 SPC necked to .224, the .220 Thunderbolt is different because the 6mm Hagar brass is 0.100″ longer than 6.8 SPC. Read History of .220 Thunderbolt.

Neck-up the 22 Nosler to .25 Caliber?

Dan Z. has inspected in the 22 Nosler ammunition and he’d like to see a .25 Caliber version. On Facebook, Dan posted: “I got my hands on some of the ammo a couple weeks ago. It does look like a .223 that has its body diameter expanded to that of a 6.8. Consequently, it is longer than the 6.8 overall and in the body. I necked a piece of fired brass to 6.8 and it looked like it would provide some improvement in velocity. A more interesting idea might be to neck it to .25 as a .250 Savage performance clone in an AR-15 platform.”

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January 23rd, 2017

Bargain Finder 71: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.

2. Powder Valley — Reloder 16 Powder, 1-pound and 8-pound

Powder Valley H4350 RL16 Reloder 16 powder PRS 6.5 Creedmoor

Powder Valley now has Alliant Reloder 16 (RL16) in stock in both 1-lb ($23.95) and 8-lb ($178.95) containers. If you’re not familiar with this relatively new propellant, we can tell you that RL16 may be the best replacement yet for hard-to-find Hodgdon H4350. Burn rate is very similar to H4350, and RL16 is extremely temp-stable. Most importantly, our Forum members are reporting outstanding accuracy with Reloder 16. It is well suited for mid-sized cartridges such as 6XC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and .260 Remington. If you like H4350, we recommend you try a pound of Alliant’s impressive Reloder 16.

3. EuroOptic.com — Tikka T3 Liquidation Sale, Huge Discounts

Tikka T3 sale inventory closeout reduction discount truckload

Looking for a great price on an excellent hunting rifle? Here is the Tikka Deal of the Decade. EuroOptic.com has received nearly 3,500 Tikka T3 rifles, which will be sold at deep discounts as part of an inventory clearance program by Beretta, Tikka’s parent company. The Tikka T3 is a good, stout rifle with a smooth action, crisp trigger, and quality barrel. Accuracy is typically well under 1 MOA (for three shots). T3 barreled actions also are a good “core” for a tactical build. The strong T3 action handles detachable magazines, and fits a variety of third-party stocks.

4. Amazon — Discovery Scope Level $13-$16 (1″, 30mm, 34mm)

Optical Rifle Scope bubble level Discovery 30mm 1 inch 34mm Amazon

If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This Discovery scope level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It is available with three inner diameters to fit scopes with 1″, 30mm, or 34mm main tubes. The 1″ version is just $12.95 while the 30mm model is $13.95 and the large 34mm version is $15.95. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product: 89% of verified buyers rated this five stars.

5. CDNN Sports — Savage 17 WSM B.MAG Sporter, $289.99

CDNN Savage B.MAG rimfire 17 WSM Varmint

Our friend Eric, Editor of Varminter.com, says the 17 WSM is probably his favorite rimfire option for small varmints. The modern Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire (WSM) cartridge is accurate, and it flies faster and hits harder than the 17 HMR. Right now you can get a nice Savage B.MAG rifle chambered in 17 WSM for just $289.99 at CDNN Sports. This rimfire rifle boasts features typically reserved for centerfire rifles. In order to maximize acuracy, Savage offers a thread-in barrel headspacing system, rear-locking lugs, and cock-on-close bolt.

6. Midsouth — Complete Case Tumbling Kit, $73.70

Midsouth Vibratory Tumbler Brass Cleaning Kit

This brass tumbling system contains everything you need to clean your cartridge brass: Vibratory Case Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, 6 lbs. of Corn Cob Media, and 8 oz. of Brass Polish. Right now this whole system is on sale at Midsouth for just $73.70. The case tumbler, which holds 450 .223 Rem cases or 1000 9mm cases, has a three-year motor warranty. This is a good deal for the package. You could pay $65.00 for a good vibratory Tumbler by itself.

7. Bullets.com — Norma .22LR Ammo (Match 22 & Tac 22)

Norma Match 22 Tac .22 LR Ammo rimfire ammunition bullets.com

Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. Bullets.com has Norma Tac-22 ammo in stock at $5.25 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL7819). In addition, Bullets.com offers Norma Match-22 ammunition at $7.50 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL11887).

8. Midsouth — Lyman Bleacher Loading Blocks

Max NRR 33 db ear plugs

Lyman’s new Bleacher Block stepped cartridge holders are great. Use the different levels for sorting brass. Or, migrate the brass from top to bottom as you proceed through case prep stages. Made of durable polymer, Bleacher Blocks are molded in three sizes. The smallest size (with 0.388″-diam holes) fits .223 Rem-size case heads. The middle size (with 0.485″-diam holes) fits .308 Win-size case heads. The biggest Bleacher Block has 0.565″-diameter recesses for magnum-size cases. All three cartridge block sizes hold fifty (50) rounds. Purchase any size for just $5.90 per Block at Midsouth.

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January 23rd, 2017

Shiloh Sharps at SHOT Show — Blast from the Past

Shiloh Sharps 45-70 vintage Quigley rifle

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.
Shiloh Sharps 45-70 vintage Quigley rifle

This video shows how Shiloh Sharps crafts its rifles, from “Foundry to Finish”:

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January 22nd, 2017

Case Prep Tips from Western Powders

Western Powders Case Preparation prep inspection flash holes primer pockets reloading

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.

Western Powders Case Preparation prep inspection flash holes primer pockets reloading

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
Western Powders Case Preparation inspection flash holes primer pockets reloadingLike 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.

READ Full Case Prep Article in Western Powders Blog.

Western Powders Blog Case Prep Neck turning

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January 21st, 2017

Six by Litz — Tips for Shooting Long-Range

Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals Ben Avery Bryan Litz

Berger SW Nationals Bryan LitzWith 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:
Bryan Litz F-TR Ben Avery Berger SW Nationals

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.

Bryan Litz Tips

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

Bryan Litz Tips

Photos by Steve Fiorenzo

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January 21st, 2017

New Hodgdon Reloading Guide Available

Hodgdon Reloading guide 2017 Midsouth

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.”

Hodgdon Reloading guide 2017 Midsouth

Hodgdon IMR Varget XBR 8208 SHOT Show Chris Reloading GuideWe 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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January 19th, 2017

SHOT Show — Day Two Quick Picks

rcbs redding shot show reloading

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

reloder 16 powder 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

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

shot 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

22 Nosler .223 remington ar15 6.8 spc

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.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
January 16th, 2017

Sierra Offers New Ultra-High-BC 197gr 7mm (.284) MatchKing

Sierra 197gr MatchKing High BC F-Open Closed Meplat

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.

Sierra 197gr MatchKing

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.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 11 Comments »
January 13th, 2017

Perfection at the Core — Bullet Making Tips from BIB Bullets

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.

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

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.

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

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.

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

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!

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

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.

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

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