May 1st, 2016

How to Make a Modified Case to Measure Length to Lands

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

In this video, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to create a custom modified case for use with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Overall Length Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). While Hornady sells modified cases for many standard cartridges, if you shoot a wildcat such as the 6mm Dasher or .284 Shehane, you’ll need to create a custom modified case*. And even if you shoot a standard cartridge such as the .308 Winchester you can get more consistent measurements if you make a custom modified case from a piece of brass fired in your chamber.

The process is straight-forward. Take a piece of brass fired in your chamber and full-length size it (with about .002″ shoulder bump). Then you need to drill out the primer pocket. Erik uses a mini-lathe for the operation, but this general process can be done with a drill press or other tools. Erik shows how to do this with a 0.290″ HSS (High Speed Steel) drill bit on a mini-lathe. After drilling the hole comes the tricky part — you need to tap the case with the precise 5/16″ x 36 threads per inch (tpi) right-hand thread that matches the male thread on the O.A.L. Gauge. This 5/16″ x 36 tpi tap is pretty uncommon, but you can order it from Amazon.com if you can’t source it locally.

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

If you use a mini-lathe, Erik suggests loosening the tailstock slightly, so it can float while cutting the threads. Erik also says: “Make sure you get the tap on pretty tight — it’s going to want to spin.” Erik turns the case at about 100 rpm when tapping the threads. Once the case and tap are rigged, the actual tapping process (see video at 6:00) takes only a few seconds. While the mini-lathe makes the tapping process go more quickly, the threading can also be done with other systems.

TIP: Don’t just make one modified case, make three. That gives you one for your range kit, one for your home reloading bench, plus a spare (since you WILL eventually lose or misplace one).


Here’s the Stuff You Need

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

5/16″-36 TPI Threading Tap
The required thread is somewhat uncommon. You need a 5/16″ – 36 tpi Right Hand Thread Tap. If you can’t find it locally, Amazon.com carries the correct tap. Erik notes: “The 5/16-36 tpi tap is not a common size. I think Hornady did this on purpose to make it more difficult for the average guy to make his own modified cases.”

0.290″ Drill Bit
Erik uses an 0.290″ HSS “L” drill bit. (This “L” Letter Gauge code designates a 0.290″ diameter bit). A close metric equivalent would be 7.3 mm (0.286″). Erik says: “A 9/32″ drill will also work but it will be harder to run the tap in since the hole will be .281″ instead of .290″ with the Letter Gauge L bit.”

Tips for Using O.A.L. Gauge with Modified Case
We’ve noticed that many folks have trouble getting reliable, consistent results when they first start using the Hornady O.A.L. Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). We’ve found this is usually because they don’t seat the modified case properly and because they don’t use a gentle, consistent method of advancing the bullet until it just kisses the lands.

Here is our suggested procedure for use the O.A.L. Gauge. Following this method we can typically make three of four measurements (with the same bullet), all within .001″ to .0015″. (Yes, we always measure multiple times.)

1. Clean your chamber so there is no build-up of carbon, debris, or lube. Pay particular attention to the shoulder area.

2. Screw the modified case on to the O.A.L. Gauge. Make sure it is seated firmly (and doesn’t spin loose). Note, you may have to re-tighten the modified case after insertion in the chamber.

3. Place your selected bullet so that the ogive (max bullet diameter) is behind the case mouth. This prevents the bullet from “snagging” as you insert the tool in the action.

4. Insert the O.A.L. Gauge into your chamber smoothly. Push a little until you feel resistance. IMPORTANT — You need to ensure that the shoulder of the modified case is seated firmly against the front of your chamber. You may have to wiggle and twist the tool slightly. If you do not have the modified case seated all the way in, you will NOT get a valid measurement.

5. Advance the bullet slowly. (NOTE: This is the most important aspect for consistency!). Push the rod of the O.A.L. tool gently towards the chamber. DON’T shove it hard! Easy does it. Stop when you feel resistance.

6. IMPORTANT. After gently pushing on the rod, give the end of the rod a couple forward taps with your finger. If your bullet was slightly skewed, it may have stopped too far back. Adding a couple extra taps will fix that. If the bullet moves after the taps, then again push gently on the rod. NOT too much! You just want to push the bullet until it just “kisses” the lands and then stops. Do NOT jam the bullet into the rifling. If you do that you will never get consistent results from one measurement to the next.

* For a $15.00 fee, Hornady will make a custom modified case for you if you send two fired pieces of brass. Send fired cases and $15.00 check to: Hornady Manufacturing, Attn: Modified Cases, 108 S. Apollo St., Alda, NE 68810. More Info HERE.

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May 1st, 2016

Bullet Bell Curve — Sorting by OAL vs. Base to Ogive

Bullet, Sort, Jacket, Sierra, USAMU, Sort, Bell Curve, Distribution, OAL

The USAMU recently published a “how-to” article about bullet sorting. While many of us may sort bullets by base-to-ogive length (and/or weight), the USAMU story explores the “how and why” of sorting bullets by Overall Length (OAL). Read the article highlights below, and make your own decision as to whether OAL sorting is worth the time and effort. Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics says that sorting by OAL is not a bad idea, but base-to-ogive bullet sorting probably represents a better investment of your time.

USAMU

Bullet Sorting by Overall Length

We’d like to share a specialized handloading technique which we’ve long found beneficial to our long-range (600 yards and beyond) accuracy. Sorting of bullets for extreme long range (LR) accuracy is not difficult to do, but some background in theory is needed.

Here at USAMU’s Handloading Shop, we only sort individual bullets for the most demanding Long-Range applications and important competitions. Only the most accurate rifles and shooters can fully exploit the benefits of this technique. The basic sorting process involves measuring the Overall Length (OAL) of the bullets, and grouping them in 0.001″ increments. It’s not unusual to find lots of match bullets that vary as much as 0.015″-0.020″ in length throughout the lot, although lots with much less variation are seen as well. Even in bullet lots with 0.015″ OAL variation, the bullet base-to-ogive length will show much less variation. Hence, our basic sort is by bullet OAL. One obvious benefit of sorting is easily seen in the attached photo. The few bullets that are VERY different from the average are culled out, reducing probable fliers.

How does one know what OAL increments to use when sorting? The answer is simple. As each lot of bullets is unique in its OAL distribution, it’s best to sample your bullet lot and see how they are distributed. In the attached photo, you will see a set of loading trays with a strip of masking tape running along the bottom. Each vertical row of holes is numbered in 0.001″ increments corresponding to the bullets’ OAL. A digital caliper makes this task much easier. As each bullet is measured, it is placed in the line of holes for its’ OAL, and gradually, a roughly bell-shaped curve begins to form.

Note that near the center, bullets are much more plentiful than near the edges. At the extreme edges, there are a few that differ markedly from the average, and these make great chronograph or sighting-in fodder. We recommend using a sample of 200 bullets from your lot, and 300 is even better. Some bullet lots are very consistent, with a tall, narrow band of highly-uniform bullets clustered together over just a few thousandths spread. Other lots will show a long, relatively flat curve (less uniform), and you may also see curves with 2 or more “spikes” separated by several 0.001″ OAL increments.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Bullet Sorting AccurateShooter.com

Bullet Sorting (OAL vs. Base-to-Ogive vs. Weight) — Litz Talks

I’m often asked what is a the best measure to sort bullets by, and the answer (to this and many other questions in ballistics) is: it depends.

Choosing to sort by overall length (OAL), base to ogive (BTO), bearing surface, weight, etc. can get overwhelming. Shooters typically look for something they can measure, which shows a variation and sort by that. It’s common for dimensional variations to correlate. For example, bullets which are longer in OAL are typically also shorter in BTO, and have longer noses. All these are symptoms of a bullet that was pushed a little further into the pointing die, or possibly had more than average lube while being swaged. So in essence, if you sort by BTO, you’re measuring one symptom which can indicate a pattern in the bullets shape.

So, the question still stands — what should you measure? You’ll always see more variation in OAL than BTO, so it’s easier to sort by OAL. But sometimes the bullet tips can be jagged and have small burrs which can be misleading. Measuring BTO will result in a lower spread, but is a more direct measure of bullet uniformity.

Then there’s the question of; how much variation is too much, or, how many bins should you sort into? Shooters who see 0.025” variation in BTO may choose to sort into 5 bins of 0.005”. But if you have only 0.005” variation in the box, you’ll still sort into 5 bins of 0.001”. What’s correct? You have to shoot to know. Live fire testing will answer more questions, and answer them more decisively than any amount of discussion on the subject. The test I recommend is to identify bullets on the extreme short end of the spectrum, and some on the extreme long end. Load at least 10 rounds of each, and take turns shooting 5-shot groups with them. If there is a difference, it will be evident. The results of the testing will answer your question of: should I sort based on X, Y, or Z?”

You can read more discussion on this and other similar subjects in the new Ballistics & Bullets board in the Accurateshooter.com forum. Heres a link to the thread which is discussing bullet sorting: Bullet Sorting Thread

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April 28th, 2016

How Do Bullets Fly — Mysteries Revealed by German Ballistician

Bullet External Ballistics
“The overturning moment MW tends to rotate the bullet about an axis, which goes through the CG (center of gravity) and which is perpendicular to the plane of drag….

Ruprecht Nennstiel, a forensic ballistics expert from Wiesbaden, Germany, has authored a great resource about bullet behavior in flight. Nennstiel’s comprehensive article, How Do Bullets Fly, explains all the forces which affect bullet flight including gravity, wind, gyroscopic effects, aerodynamic drag, and lift. Nennstiel even explains the rather arcane Magnus Force and Coriolis Effect which come into play at long ranges. Nennstiel’s remarkable resource contains many useful illustrations plus new experimental observations of bullets fired from small arms, both at short and at long ranges.

Shadowgraph of .308 Winchester Bullet

Bullet External Ballistics

A convenient index is provided so you can study each particular force in sequence. Writing with clear, precise prose, Nennstiel explains each key factor that affects external ballistics. For starters, we all know that bullets spin when launched from a rifled barrel. But Nennstiel explains in greater detail how this spinning creates gyroscopic stability:

“The overturning moment MW tends to rotate the bullet about an axis, which goes through the CG (center of gravity) and which is perpendicular to the plane of drag, the plane, formed by the velocity vector ‘v’ and the longitudinal axis of the bullet. In the absence of spin, the yaw angle ‘δ’ would grow and the bullet would tumble.

If the bullet has sufficient spin, saying if it rotates fast enough about its axis of form, the gyroscopic effect takes place: the bullet’s longitudinal axis moves into the direction of the overturning moment, perpendicular to the plane of drag. This axis shift however alters the plane of drag, which then rotates about the velocity vector. This movement is called precession or slow mode oscillation.”

Raise Your Ballistic IQ
Though comprehensible to the average reader with some grounding in basic physics, Nennstiel’s work is really the equivalent of a Ph.D thesis in external ballistics. You could easily spend hours reading (and re-reading) all the primary material as well as the detailed FAQ section. But we think it’s worth plowing into How Do Bullets Fly from start to finish. We suggest you bookmark the page for future reference. You can also download the complete article for future reference and offline reading.

CLICK HERE to download “How Do Bullets Fly” complete text. (1.2 MB .zip file)

Photo and diagram © 2005-2009 Ruprecht Nennstiel, All Rights Reserved.

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April 27th, 2016

Press-Mounted Bullet Pullers — How to Use Them

Collet Bullet Puller Hornady RCBS Press Mount Reloading

In our Shooters’ Forum, a member recently noted that he needed to pull down (disassemble) some ammunition that was loaded incorrectly by one of his shooting buddies. You can use an impact puller to do this task, but if you have more than a dozen rounds or so, you may prefer to use a collet-style bullet puller. These work very quickly and positively, making quick work of big jobs. The efficiency of the collet-style puller is worth the investment if you frequently disassemble ammo. These devices retail for under $25.00 (collets sold separately). Normally, you’ll need a specific collet for each bullet diameter. But collets are not that costly, so this isn’t a big deal, particularly if you only load a few calibers, such as .223, 6mm, and .308.

Hornady and RCBS use different mechanisms to tighten the collet around the bullet. On Hornady’s Cam-Lock Bullet Puller, a lever-arm on the top of the bullet puller serves to tighten the collet around the bullet. Simply rotate the lever from the vertical to the horizontal position to grab the bullet. Lower the ram to remove the case. The bullet will drop out when you return the lever arm to the vertical position. This is demonstrated in the video below:

Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet Puller Demonstrated

Collet bullet-pullers resemble a loading die with a lever or handle on the top. They screw into a standard reloading press. Hornady and RCBS both make collet-style bullet pullers. They use the same basic principle — the device tightens a collet around the bullet, and then the bullet is separated from the case by lowering the press ram. NOTE: Collet pullers may leave small marks on your bullets, unlike impact (kinetic) pullers.*

Hornady collet bullet pullerLike the Hornady tool, the RCBS Bullet Puller employs a collet to grab the bullet. However, the RCBS tool tightens the collet in a different way. The head of the RCBS tool is threaded internally. By rotating the lever arm clockwise in a horizontal circle you squeeze the collet around the bullet. To remove the bullet, after lowering the press ram, simply spin the lever arm back in the opposite direction. The use of the RCBS tool is demonstrated in this video:

RCBS Collet Bullet Puller Demonstrated:

WARNING: When removing bullets from loaded cartridges, always make sure there are no obsructions or debris in your shell-holder or under the loaded round. NEVER engage a primer seating accessory on your press when working with loaded rounds. You can cause a round to discharge by contacting the primer! Also, we recommend you keep your head and torso away from the bullet puller tool at all times.

*By contrast, impact pullers rarely mark bullets, particularly if you put a little bit of foam or paper wadding in the closed end of your impact puller. When dismantling loaded rounds, powder kernels can get trapped in the wadding, so you should remove and replace the wadding before changing to cartridges loaded with a different powder type (assuming you intend to save the powder).

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April 26th, 2016

How NOT to Ventilate Your Chronograph — Set-Up Tips

chronograph placement, shooting chrony, chrono, advisory, tech tip

There is nothing more frustrating (or embarassing) than sending a live round into your expensive new chronograph. As the photo below demonstrates, with most types of chronographs (other than the barrel-hung Magnetospeed), you can fatally injure your expensive chrono if it is not positioned precisely.

When setting up a chrono, we always unload the rifle, remove the bolt and bore-sight to ensure that the path of the bullet is not too low. When bore-sighting visually, set up the rifle securely on the sandbags and look through the bore, breech to muzzle, lining up the barrel with your aim point on the target. Then (during an appropriate cease-fire), walk behind the chronograph. Looking straight back through the “V” formed by the sky-screens, you should be able to see light at the end of the barrel if the gun is positioned correctly. You can also use an in-chamber, laser bore-sighter to confirm the visual boresighting (see photo).

Laser boresighter chronograph

Adjust the height, angle and horizontal position of the chronograph so the bullet will pass through the middle of the “V” below the plastic diffusers, no less than 5″ above the light sensors. We put tape on the front sky-screen supports to make it easier to determine the right height over the light sensors.

Use a Test Backer to Confirm Your Bullet Trajectory
You can put tape on the support rods about 6″ up from the unit. This helps you judge the correct vertical height when setting up your rifle on the bags. Another trick is to hang a sheet of paper from the rear skyscreen and then use a laser boresighter to shine a dot on the paper (with the gun planted steady front and rear). This should give you a good idea (within an inch or so) of the bullet’s actual flight path through the “V” over the light sensors. Of course, when using a laser, never look directly at the laser! Instead shine the laser away from you and see where it appears on the paper.

chronograph set-up

Alignment of Chronograph Housing
Make sure the chrono housing is parallel to the path of the bullet. Don’t worry if the unit is not parallel to the ground surface. What you want is the bullet to pass over both front and rear sensors at the same height. Don’t try to set the chrono height in reference to the lens of your scope–as it sits 1″ to 2″ above your bore axis. To avoid muzzle blast interference, set your chronograph at least 10 feet from the end of the muzzle (or the distance recommended by the manufacturer).

chronograph laser sky screens

Rifles with Elevated Iron Sights
All too often rookie AR15 shooters forget that AR sights are positioned roughly 2.4″ above the bore axis (at the top of the front sight blade). If you set your bullet pass-through point using your AR’s front sight, the bullet will actually be traveling 2.4″ lower as it goes through the chrono. That’s why we recommend bore-sighting and setting the bullet travel point about 5-8″ above the base of the sky-screen support shafts. (Or the vertical distance the chronograph maker otherwise recommends). NOTE: You can make the same mistake on a scoped rifle if the scope is set on very tall rings, so the center of the cross-hairs is much higher than the bore axis line.

Laser boresighter chronograph

TARGET AIM POINT: When doing chrono work, we suggest you shoot at a single aiming point no more than 2″ in diameter (on your target paper). Use that aiming point when aligning your chrono with your rifle’s bore. If you use a 2″ bright orange dot, you should be able to see that through the bore at 100 yards. Using a single 2″ target reduces the chance of a screen hit as you shift points of aim. If you shoot at multiple target dots, place them in a vertical line, and bore sight on the lowest dot. Always set your chron height to set safe clearance for the LOWEST target dot, and then work upwards only.

Other Chronograph Tips from Forum Members:

When using a chronograph, I put a strip of masking tape across the far end of the skyscreens about two-thirds of the way up. This gives me a good aiming or bore-sighting reference that’s well away from the pricey bits. I learned that one the hard way. — German Salazar

A very easy and simple tool to help you set up the chronograph is a simple piece of string! Set your gun (unloaded of course) on the rest and sight your target. Tie one end of the string to the rear scope ring or mount, then pull the string along the barrel to simulate the bullet path. With the string showing the bullet’s path, you can then easily set the chronograph’s placement left/right, and up/down. This will also let you set the chrono’s tilt angle and orientation so the sensors are correctly aligned with the bullet path. — Wayne Shaw

If shooting over a chrono from the prone position off a bipod or similar, beware of the muzzle sinking as recoil causes the front of the rifle to drop. I “killed” my first chronograph shooting off a gravel covered firing point where I’d not given enough clearance to start with and an inch or two drop in the muzzle caused a bullet to clip the housing. — Laurie Holland

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April 26th, 2016

Accurate Cartridges — The .284 Shehane, an Improved .284 Win

F-Class Reloading .284 Winchester Win Shehane Accuracy

If you look at that 5-round group you might think it was shot with a 6 PPC or maybe a 6mmBR. But no, this was done with heavy 180gr Berger Hybrid bullets and the .284 Shehane, an improved version of the .284 Winchester. In fact, this impressive sub-quarter MOA group was shot while fire-forming with a very well-worn barrel!

Gun builder Ryan Pierce of Piercision Rifles explains:

Here’s a 5-shot 0.191″ group at 100 yards with my .284 Shehane fireforming loads. This barrel has 2200 rounds through it. It had 2000 as a straight .284 Win and then I set it back to .284 Shehane to form brass with. This was the first five rounds through it after I cleaned it after the last match. [The load was] 180 Hybrids with 54.0 grains of H4831 SC.

Ya, I figured why not I had some old barrels laying around so I just chopped 2″ off the back and 1″ off the front and chambered it up as a Shehane. Had 1000 pieces to fireform and didn’t want to do all that on a brand new barrel.

My fireform loads are going 2765 FPS. I have a 29″ barrel also though since it’s a setback. Once you get it formed I would push it faster than that or I wouldn’t even bother with the Shehane. My old straight .284 load at 2890 fps had ES spread in single digits for 10 shots. I figured if I get it up to 2935-2950 fps that will be a point or two saved in a several day match.

.284 Winchester Shehane Reamer Print PT&G

Fellow .284 Shehane shooter Erik Cortina notes that the .284 Shehane has a velocity edge over the straight .284 Win because it holds more powder: “The Shehane has more capacity than the .284 Winchester. Ryan is using 54.0 grains simply as a fire-forming load. Typical load for a Shehane is around 57.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831 SC.” By blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc, with long barrels.

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April 25th, 2016

Bargain Finder 32: 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 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. Stocky’s Stocks — Composite Stock with Bedding Block

Stocky's Stocks Composite V-block stock

Here’s a killer deal on a versatile Stocky’s Long Range Stock with aluminum V-block bedding system. For just $199.99, order this for Rem/Rem Clone long actions or short actions, with either narrow or wide (varmint/tactical) barrel channel. This would be a good choice for a varmint rifle. This is also offered with a matte black, tan, or olive baked-on textured finish for $229.97.

2. RCBS — Buy Green, Get Green Rebate

RCBS Reloading Press Rebate Green

RCBS is running a very attractive Rebate Program currently. If you spend $300.00 on qualifying products you get a $75.00 rebate. Spend $50 and get a $10.00 Rebate. This program is limited to one (1) rebate redemption per calendar year, with a maximum of $75.00. CLICK HERE for more information. NOTE: To qualify, you must supply completed RCBS rebate coupon, original UPC barcodes from package, and original cash register receipt and/or dated, itemized sales invoice.

3. Midsouth — Nosler .308 Match Monster Bullets, $119.99 for 500

AccurateShooter Deals of Week Midsouth Shooters Nosler Monster Match Bullets .308 Sale

Looking for high-quality, name-brand .308-caliber bullets? You won’t beat the price on these Nosler bullets from Midsouth Shooters Supply. Five options are offered: 155 grain, 168 grain, 168 grain (with cannelure), 170 grain, and 190 grain. The 155s and 168s are just $119.99 for FIVE HUNDRED bullets. The 170s cost $131.28/500 while the big 190s cost $137.74/500. Those are insanely good prices, any way you cut it. The price on the 168s works out to just $23.99 per hundred. You could easily pay $40.00 per hundred for bullets of this quality. These are not seconds or blems — the are quality Nosler-made bullets produced for Midsouth’s Match Monster bulk sales program.

4. Sportsman’s Guide — Frankford Arsenal Case Tumbler Kit

AccurateShooter Deals of week bargain discount savings Frankford Arsenal Case Tumbler Kit Media Separator bargain sportmans Guide

For just $69.99, this Frankford Arsenal Kit provides everything you need to clean brass: Vibratory Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, Bucket, Corn Cob Media (3 lbs.), and Brass Polish. The Case Tumbler holds up to 600 9mm cases or 350 .223 Rem cases. The separator system is generous, with a 3.5-gallon bucket. NOTE: Sportsman’s Guide Buyers Club members can purchase for $62.99.

5. CDNN Sports — Ruger American Ranch Rifle (Tan), $389.99

Ruger American Ranch Rifle 5.56 .223 223 Remington Varmint Bolt Action

Here’s a nice little varmint rifle from Ruger with some nice features at a very attractive price, $389.99. This .223 Rem rifle features a 16.5″ hammer-forged barrel barrel threaded 1/2″-28 at the muzzle for brake or suppressor. The action, which features a 70° three-lug bolt, and Picatinny-style scope rail, sits in an aluminum bedding block. The crisp trigger adjusts down to 3 pounds. With a weight (before optics) of 6.1 pounds, this is a handy carry-around varminter.

6. MidwayUSA — Padded Scoped Rifle Case, $24.99

MidwayUSA Padded Rifle Case Sale Scoped

This 48″-long, thickly-padded gun case will hold most tactical-style rifles and hunting rifles. At a fraction of the cost of a big, cumbersome drag bag, this case may be all you need. The heavy duty padding is over 1″ thick on both sides to protect your rifle and optics investment from rough handling. A large pocket will hold a couple boxes of ammo and other accessories. We like this bag much better than the typical gun-store soft cases. It offers much better padding and more room for large scopes. It is on sale this week at MidwayUSA for just $24.99 in four colors: black, tan, OD green, and gray. In addition to the 48″ case shown, 40″ and 44″ versions are available.

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April 25th, 2016

Reloading Tip: Set Your Decapping Rod Insertion Depth Correctly

One of our Forum members complained that he wasn’t able to set his primers flush to the rim. He tried a variety of primer tools, yet no matter what he used, the primers still didn’t seat deep enough. He measured his primers, and they were the right thickness, but it seemed like his primer pockets just weren’t deep enough. He was mystified as to the cause of the problem.

Well, our friend Boyd Allen diagnosed the problem. It was the decapping rod. If the rod is adjusted too low (screwed in too far), the base of the full-diameter rod shaft (just above the pin) will contact the inside of the case. That shaft is steel whereas your case is brass, a softer, weaker metal. So, when you run the case up into the die, the shaft can actually stretch the base of the primer pocket outward. Most presses have enough leverage to do this. If you bell the base of the primer pocket outwards, you’ve essentially ruined your case, and there is no way a primer can seat correctly.

The fix is simple. Just make sure to adjust the decapping rod so that the base of the rod shaft does NOT bottom out on the inside of the case. The pin only needs to extend through the flash hole far enough to knock the primer out. The photo shows a Lyman Universal decapping die. But the same thing can happen with any die that has a decapping rod, such as bushing neck-sizing dies, and full-length sizing dies.

Universal decapping die

Whenever you use a die with a decapping pin for the first time, OR when you move the die to a different press, make sure to check the decapping rod length. And it’s a good idea, with full-length sizing dies, to always re-check the height setting when changing presses.

Lee Universal Decapping Die on SALE for $9.89
Speaking of decapping tools, MidwayUSA has the Lee Universal Decapping Die on sale this month (June, 2010), for just $9.89 (item 136543). There are many situations when you may want to remove primers from fired brass as a separate operation (prior to case sizing). For example, if your rifle brass is dirty, you may want to de-cap before sizing. Or, if you load on a progressive press, things will run much more smoothly if you decap you brass first, in a separate operation. The Lee Universal Decapping Die will work with cartridges from 17 Fireball all the way up to 45-70. However, NOTE that the decapping pin supplied with this Lee die is TOO LARGE for LAPUA 6.5×47, 6BR, 220 Russian, and Norma 6 PPC flash holes. Because the pin diameter is too large for these brass types, you must either turn down the pin, or decap with a different tool for cases with .059″ flash-holes. Otherwise, the Lee Decapping Die works well and it’s a bargain.

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April 21st, 2016

Navy’s BAE Railgun Shoots Projectile 203 Kilometers at Mach 7

Navy BAE Railgun

How would you like to “reach out and touch” someone 203 kilometers away (about 110 nautical miles)? Well America’s Navy may soon be able to do exactly that with an amazing new, high-tech weapon system. BAE Systems has developed (and successfully test-fired) an electro-magnetic rail gun that fires a 23-lb projectile at Mach 7 — (about 5300 mph or 7800 fps). This futuristic weapon can send its projectile 110 nautical miles (126 mi / 203 km), five times the range of the big 16″ guns on WWII-era battleships. This railgun has serious “knock-down” power — at Mach 7, that projectile carries a whopping 32 megajoules of energy. BreakingDefense.com says: “23 pounds ain’t heavy. But it sure hurts when it hits you going at seven times the speed of sound.”

Watch Video to See Navy Rail-Gun in Action:

The latest prototype of the railgun developed by defense contractor BAE, in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research, can accelerate a projectile up to Mach 7 within 10 milliseconds. The gun uses no gunpowder to generate propelling force. Compared to an item on a smaller scale, the railgun projectiles resemble crossbow darts, except they deliver such massive Kinetic Energy they don’t need to carry explosive ordnance. The railgun can strike targets 110 nautical miles away.

To prepare a charge, the ship stores electricity in the pulsed power system. Next, an electric pulse is sent to the railgun, creating an electromagnetic force accelerating the projectile. Because of its extreme speed, the projectile eliminates the hazards of storing high explosives in the ship. Each shot costs about $25,000 — but that’s cheap compared to the price of a missile.

“It’s like a flux capacitor,” chief of Naval research Rear Admiral Mathias Winter said in a video posted by Reuters Friday. “You’re sitting here thinking about these next generation and futuristic ideas, and we’ve got scientists who have designed these, and it’s coming to life.”

The Electromagnetic Railgun Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) was initiated in 2005. The goal during Phase I was to produce a proof-of-concept demonstration at 32 mega-joule muzzle energy, develop launcher technology with adequate service life, develop reliable pulsed power technology, and assess component risk reduction for the projectile.

Navy BAE Railgun

Phase II, which started in 2012, advanced the technology to demonstrate a repeatable-rate fire capability. Thermal-management techniques required for sustained firing rates will be developed for both the launcher system and the pulsed power system. The railgun will begin testing at sea in 2016.

Story concept from CTD Shooter’s Log.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 9 Comments »
April 21st, 2016

Why Does Load Data Vary Between Reloading Manuals?

load manual sierra reloading hornady data

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks
One of the first things new reloaders notice is that load data varies between reloading manuals. The Sierra Bullets Technicians frequently get inquiries asking us to explain why the load data appears to be inconsistent. This article explains five key factors that can influence published load data.

Example of load data variances for two 168 grain bullets:

Sierra Reloading Manual Hornady Load Reloading

Here are five reasons why the load data varies:

The Bullet
Basically, the similarities in the .30 caliber 168 grain Match bullets (for example) end with weight and diameter. The bullets likely have dimensional differences such as bearing surface length. Bearing surface has a large effect on pressure and velocity. There are also differences in boat tail, flat base, ogive and over-all lengths, which each help determine the cartridge over-all-length (COAL). With different COAL’s, we can expect changes in pressure and velocity also. In some calibers there are differences in bullet diameter with different bullet manufacturers.

It is also worth noting that bullet manufacturers do not all use the same copper alloy for their jackets. This produces more or less friction that results in load pressures and velocities. The solid copper bullets also vary quite a bit in comparison to a lead core and copper jacketed bullet.

The Gun
Each gun is unique, even if you are using the same make, model, and caliber. Special consideration should be used to consider that not all firearm chambers are the same either, creating more variables that need consideration. There can be drastic differences in the throat length. This controls the amount of “jump” that a bullet experiences when the cartridge is fired.

The Powder
Within normal manufacturing tolerances, you can see some variation in a given powders burn rate between different lots of the same powder. So naturally when two different Manuals are produced, it would be doubtful that the same lots would be tested.

The Cartridge Cases
New cases are almost always near minimum specs in dimension. A load fired in a new case would likely have slightly more pressure that when fired in a re-sized case. This would certainly be true if we were loading into fire-formed cases that have had minimal re-sizing done. Fired cases that are full length resized most of the time be slightly larger than the new unfired cases. This gives you differences in case capacity. The same powder charge placed within a new case and a full length resized case will produce different pressure levels and probably different velocities.

Conditions
Temperature can cause pressure increases or decreases. Hot temperatures tend to cause pressures to increase, while cold temperatures will usually do the opposite. Humidity and altitude can impact pressures and velocities likewise.

Conclusion
As you can see, an amazing number of variables effect any load combination. With the differences in the manuals, you’re just seeing firsthand examples of what took place when the data was collected with that particular set of components and firearm. Think of a reloading manual as a report. In essence, a reloading manual says, “We tried this particular component combination, and these are the results we obtained.”

Remember that you may or may not reach the same maximum load safely. There is no “one load fits all bullets.” The minimum load data offers a safe place to start. The maximum load data listed should always be regarded as a safety guideline and not necessarily a goal! Your gun should shoot accurately without breaching the maximum load data. The best advice is: always start low and work your load up!

If you have questions about variances in load data or other reloading questions, please call our ballistic technicians at 1-800-223-8799 or send us an email at sierra [at] sierrabullets.com.

Sierra Bullets Blog reloading information

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
April 19th, 2016

How to Remove the Primer Crimp in Military Cartridge Brass

Primer Crimp Milsurp Brass

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. On older “Handloading Hump Day” post covers removal of military primer pocket crimps. If you ever use surplus military brass, you really should this article. It contains vital information “learned the hard way”. The writer has tried many different options for removing/swaging out crimps. He weighs the pros and cons of various methods and provides some advice that will save you time and headaches. Visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for more informative articles for handloaders.

A common question, and important issue with US GI surplus 5.56 brass is “what to do with the primer crimp?” Our Handloading Shop does not prime/re-prime GI 5.56 brass, as we receive it in virgin state (primed) and don’t reload it. However, our staff has extensive private experience handloading GI brass in our own competitive shooting careers, and have several tips to offer.

Once the brass is full-length sized and decapped, the staked-in ring of displaced metal from the primer crimp remains, and hinders re-priming. Some swaging tools exist to swage out this ring, allowing free access to the primer pocket. Some are stand-alone products, and some are reloading-press mounted. Early in this writer’s High Power career, he used the common press-mounted kit several times, with less than stellar results.

Setting Up Swaging Tools
Surplus brass tends to come from mixed lots, and primer crimp varies from very mild to strong. Also, primer pocket dimensions vary. So, setting up this “one size fits most” tool involves trying to find a happy medium for a selection of different types of brass in your particular lot. Some are over-swaged, some under-swaged, and some are “Just Right.” Overall, it was a time-consuming and sub-optimal process, in this writer’s experience.

Cutting Out the Crimp Ring with a Chamfer Tool
[After trying swaging tools] this writer evolved to using the ubiquitous Wilson/RCBS/Other brands chamfer and deburring tool to cut out only the displaced crimp ring at the top of the primer pocket. One caution: DON’T OVER-DO IT! Just a little practice will let the handloader develop a “feel” for the right degree of chamfer that permits easy re-priming without removing so much metal that primer edges start to flow under pressure. For this writer, it was three half-turns of the tool in the primer pocket, with medium pressure.

Here, as with all bulk reloading operations, mechanization is our friend. A popular reloading supply house has developed an inexpensive adaptor that houses the chamfer/deburr tool (retained by an allen screw) and allows mounting in a hand drill or drill press. This speeds the operation significantly, as does use of one of the popular Case Preparation Stations that feature multiple powered operations. (Say good-bye to carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis!)

military crimp removal USAMU

One advantage of chamfering the primer pockets lightly to remove remnants of primer crimp, vs. swaging, is that primer pockets are not loosened in this process. US GI (usually LC) NATO 5.56 brass has a great reputation for longevity due to the superior hardness of the case head vs. some softer brands of commercial brass. This means the brass will stand up well to multiple full-pressure loads without loosening primer pockets, and the chamfering method helps support this benefit.

Powered Case Prep Centers — What to Look For
A word of advice (often learned the hard way) — think carefully before jumping on the “latest/greatest” case prep center. One with a proven, long-time track record of durability and excellent customer support has a lot going for it, vs. the flashy “new kid on the block.” Analyze the functions each case prep center can support simultaneously — i.e., can it chamfer, deburr and clean primer pockets all at the same time, without having to re-configure?

Do the tool-heads that come with it look truly functional and durable? If not, can they be easily replaced with proven or more-needed versions, such as a VLD chamfer tool, or a solid/textured primer pocket cleaner rather than a less-durable wire-brush type?

military crimp removal USAMUTips for Priming with Progressive Presses
When re-priming, a couple of factors are worth noting. When re-priming using either single-stage presses, hand tools, or bench-mounted tools (such as the RCBS bench-mounted priming tool), precise alignment of the primer pocket entrance with the primer is easily achieved, and priming goes very smoothly. When using certain progressive presses, due to the tolerances involved in shell-heads, etc., one may occasionally encounter a primer that isn’t quite perfectly aligned with the primer pocket.

If resistance is felt when attempting to re-prime, DO NOT attempt to force the primer in — doing so can be dangerous! Rather, just exert SLIGHT upward pressure to keep the primer in contact with the case-head, and with the support hand, move the case back/forth a trifle. The primer will drop into alignment with the primer pocket, and then prime as usual. After priming, check each seated primer by feel. Ensure it is below flush with the case head (cleaning primer pockets helps here), and that there are no snags, burrs or deformed primers.


More Info on Primer Pocket Swaging
For more information about removing military crimps in primer pockets, we recommend you read Get the Crimp Out on the Squibloads Gun Thoughts Blog. This is a detailed, well-illustrated article that shows how to use various primer pocket reamers/cutters. It also has a very extensive discussion of swaging using CH4D, RCBS, and Dillon tools. The Squibloads author had much better luck with swaging tools than did the USAMU’s writer — so if you are considering swaging, definitely read the Squibloads article.

The illustration of primer pocket types is from the Squibloads Blog Article, Get the Crimp Out.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
April 13th, 2016

Anatomy of a High-BC Bullet — The New 183gr 7mm MatchKing

Sierra MatchKing 183gr 183 Grain Bullet BC Long Range F-Class

In case you haven’t heard, Sierra has a great new 7mm match bullet, the 183 grain MatchKing (item #1983). This bullet boasts an impressive 0.707 G1 Ballistic Coefficient (BC) at 2300+ fps. These bullets also have very consistent bullet-to-bullet BC, thanks to the tips being “pointed” at the factory. Sierra explains: “A final meplat-reducing operation (pointing) provides an increased ballistic coefficient for optimal wind resistance and velocity retention.” Top F-Open shooters have told us that these bullets shoot exceptionally well, with minimal vertical dispersion at 1000. “Holding waterline” at long range is a reliable indicator that the BC is very uniform from bullet to bullet.

The design of this bullet represents a radical departure for Sierra. The 7mm 183gr MK employs a new bullet shape with a special geometry: “To ensure precise bullet-to-bore alignment, a unique bearing surface to ogive junction uses the same 1.5 degree angle commonly found in match rifle chamber throats.” Mark Walker, Sierra Product Manager, explains: “We thought instead of using the typical ogive radius that can allow slight misalignment, why not use the same straight angle that is used in the chamber leade on the bullet ogive to force itself to always align with the bore? Once past that area, we use a traditional high caliber ogive radius[.]”.

Insight Into Sierra’s New 7mm MatchKing®
by Sierra Product Development Manager Mark Walker

In late 2015, Sierra introduced a new 7mm MatchKing® bullet with a different type of ogive. As part of the introduction, I had the opportunity to use them at the F-Class Nationals held in Phoenix with very good results. While at the match, several people had questions about what exactly was different about the ogive on this bullet as opposed to our tried and true blended tangent ogive. So with that in mind, hopefully this blog will answer those questions.

In the past, Sierra has typically used a tangent radius ogive design on our MatchKing® bullets. This is one of the most forgiving ogive designs due to its ability to shoot extremely accurately when jumped, as well as, jammed into the rifling. On rare occasions, some of our MatchKing® bullets have used a secant ogive due to design constraints. However, this ogive is much more sensitive to changes in seating depth than the tangent ogive so we tend to shy away from it. When we decided to work on this new bullet, we wanted to see if we could improve on the accuracy of even our best shooting tangent ogive bullets.

Sierra MatchKing 183gr 183 Grain Bullet BC Long Range F-Class

One of the main factors of what makes an accurate shooting bullet is how it aligns itself with the bore when fired. If a bullet is slightly crooked when entering the bore, it will cause inaccuracy on the target. We set out trying to think of ways to make sure that the bullet has no choice but to align itself with the bore perfectly.

The first part of the barrel to encounter the bullet is the leade in the chamber. The leade is an angle that is cut into the leading edge of the rifling which helps to guide the bullet into the bore. To illustrate how current bullets fit into the leade, picture a cone (leade) with a ball (bullet) sitting inside it. The ball can be rotated in all directions and the cone cannot force the ball to orientate itself in any particular direction. When a bullet with a radius encounters the leade, it behaves in a similar way. Now this of course is a very simple example and of course advanced shooters use tight necks and brass that is perfectly formed to the chamber to make sure the bullet is aligned as perfect as possible. However, there is always a small element of misalignment that is possible even with all this precise preparation.

This brings us to the ogive on the new 7mm MatchKing®. We thought instead of using the typical ogive radius that can allow slight misalignment, why not use the same straight angle that is used in the chamber leade on the bullet ogive to force itself to always align with the bore? Imagine the same cone as above (leade) with an identical cone (bullet) sitting inside of it. The cone inside has no choice but to align itself perfectly with the cone that it is sitting in every time. With that in mind, we designed the area of the bullet which contacts the leade in front of the bearing surface using a straight 1 1/2 degree angle instead of the typical radius. Once past that area, we use a traditional high caliber ogive radius to provide a very sleek, high BC bullet.

I hope that explains our thought process behind this new bullet. In our testing, it is one of the most forgiving high-BC bullets we have ever made.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 10 Comments »
April 12th, 2016

Tuner Basics: Guide to Selection and Use of Barrel Tuners

Barrel Tuner Gene Bukys Shadetree Engineering

We’re starting to see barrel tuners employed in more competitive disciplines than ever — from 100 yards to 1000 yards. And even some varmint hunters are employing tuners or tuner/brakes now. This allows them to dial in accuracy with different loads (when shooting hundreds of rounds in a weekend). Here’s a quick over-view of the potential benefits of tuners.

Commentary by Mark Walker, Sierra Bullets Product Development Manager
This story originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog. Visit SierraBullets.com.

Some people love tuners and others hate them. I use them on my rifles and I’ve had more than one person ask me why on earth I would put one of those things on my barrel. I’ve even had a national long range champion tell me to unscrew it and throw it into Lake Erie on my next trip to the pits at Camp Perry. However, there are other shooters that swear by them and have many match wins to back it up.

It’s an indisputable fact that tuners do have an effect on a rifle’s accuracy, however how much is somewhat open for debate. The large heavy target barrels that we use for benchrest or F-class may not be affected as much by a tuner as a lighter weight sporter type barrel. Each barrel that I’ve installed a tuner on not only showed improvement in accuracy but also displayed a wider load window. The increased accuracy is because of the ability to adjust the tuner to the load, however I believe the wider load window is due to the added weight of the tuner slowing down the barrel vibrations. These are both very important aspects of having a very accurate rifle.

Barrel Tuner Gene Bukys Shadetree Engineering

While better accuracy and a wider load window are two areas of improvement, I believe the most important feature of a tuner is the ability to adjust the tune during the middle of a match. This is especially important during matches where you must load all your ammo earlier and cannot make adjustments to the load during the match. If you happen to miss the load, instead of having to deal with a gun that isn’t shooting you can make an adjustment to the tuner and hopefully improve the accuracy of the rifle.

While I’ve laid out several ways that a tuner can help, there are also a few ways that tuners can cause problems. They add weight so if you are shooting a discipline that has weight limits on the rifle, you may not be able to install a tuner and still make weight. Sometimes, a barrel just doesn’t show improvement with a tuner installed. These are few and far between, but it is something to consider. If you make an adjustment to the tuner in a match, you need to make sure you move it in the right direction. Adjusting a tuner in the wrong direction can cause very large groups. And finally, if they aren’t tightened properly, tuners can come loose during firing which will cause a lot of problems as well.

As you can see, tuners have both positive and negative aspects. In my personal experience, the positives far outweigh the negatives so I will continue to use them on all of my competitive rifles. If you’ve been thinking about installing a tuner, hopefully some of the information that I’ve presented will help you make an informed decision.

Barrel Tuner

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing No Comments »
April 8th, 2016

Big-Bore Blast: .338 Lapua Magnum Cleaning Rod Kaboom

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

We first ran this eye-opening story two years ago. We’re republishing it today as a reminder that safety should always be a shooter’s #1 concern at the range. Avoid distractions and always check your barrel for obstructions before you chamber a round or pull the trigger. A moment of inattention can result in a catastrophic kaboom …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
April 6th, 2016

How to Coat Bullets Using a Vibratory Tumbler

While “naked” bullets are just fine for most applications, some shooters like to put a friction-reducing coating on their projectiles. Coating bullets can benefit guys who run very high round counts between barrel cleanings. Reader Mike Etzel has come up with a simple, cost-effective way to apply HBN, Moly, or Danzac (WS2) coatings to your bullets. And you won’t need any expensive gear other than your regular vibratory tumbler and some small plastic containers.

Mike explains: “For a number of years I have been using a very convenient way of coating my projectiles with DANZAC in a tumbler. Instead of using a separate tumbler filled with DANZAC and stainless steel balls for coating applications, use small resealable plastic cake or pudding cups filled with stainless balls and DANZAC. Each cup will accommodate between 20 to 70 projectiles depending on caliber once the polishing balls and DANZAC are added. When I need to polish some cases, I insert the sealable plastic container(s) into the polishing material in the tumbler, add cases to the media, and in the process clean cases and coat the projectiles simultaneously in one tumbler. This does two operations in one session, saving on time and resources.”

While Mike uses DANZAC (Tungsten DiSulfide or WS2), you can use the same impact-tumbling method to moly-coat your bullets, or to apply HBN (Hexagonal Boron Nitride).

bullet coatings source hbn moly danzac

TIPS for COATING your BULLETS, by GS Arizona

1. Start with Clean Bullets. This is simple enough, but some people overlook it and others overdo it. Get the bullets out of the box, wash them with warm water and dish soap and dry them. No need for harsh chemicals, after all, we’re only removing some surface dirt from shipping and maybe some left over lanolin from the forming process. Don’t handle them with bare hands once they’re clean, your skin oils will contaminate them.

2. Get Everything Hot — Real Hot. This is probably the single most important element in producing good-looking moly-coated bullets. I put the tumbler, the drum and the bullets out in the sun for at least 30 minutes before starting and then do all the tumbling in direct sunlight. On a summer day in Arizona, everything gets to the point that its uncomfortably hot to handle. If you are tumbling in the winter, you should heat the bullets in some form, a hair dryer can be useful, but they will cool off in the drum if you’re tumbling in cold temperatures. Your best bet is to plan ahead and do your coating in the summer. I coated about 3000 bullets in a couple of days recently to see me through our winter season (we’re a bit reversed from the rest of the country in terms of shooting season).

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
April 6th, 2016

Make Your Own Ammo Caddy for under Ten Bucks

Flex Arm Flexible Port Level gooseneck Ammo Block caddy

Whether you should from the bench, or from prone, it’s great to have your cartridges in a convenient, easy-to-reach position. This article explains how you can build your own height-adjustable ammo caddy for under ten bucks. Credit Martin Tardif for this great Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project. Martin’s flex-arm caddy design works great for F-Open competitors as well as anyone who shoots with a pedestal front rest, either on the ground or from a bench. The ammo caddy attaches, via a flexible arm, to your front rest. The flexy arm allows you to position your ammunition close to your rifle’s feeding port. That makes it easy to grab cartridges and load them into the chamber without shifting your shooting position.

Kudos to Martin Tardif for his clever use of inexpensive materials. The total cost of the whole project, according to Martin, was just $8.00!

Martin Explains How to Build the Ammo Caddy
Here are some pics of my DIY P.L.A.B. (Port Level Ammo Block). I cannibalized the goose neck from a Craftsman bendy-style utility light and bought a 3.5″x 1″ Acetal disk on eBay. I then drilled out the disk to accept twenty .284 Winchester rounds and screwed the disk to the bendy arm. The arm, by itself, wasn’t sturdy enough to support my fully loaded ammo block, so I inserted a 1/8″-diameter steel rod cut to length into the arm before I screwed it to the disk. On this Bald Eagle rest, I wasn’t using the windage adjustment cable. That allowed me to secure the bottom end of the arm to the unused 5/16″ x 18 bolt hole for the cable. [Editor’s Note: For other pedestal rest types/brands you may need to drill a hole for the base of the flexy arm.]

Flex Arm Flexible Port Level gooseneck Ammo Block caddy

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April 4th, 2016

Bargain Finder 29: AccurateShooter 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 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 — Lyman BoreCam Digital Borescope, $222.46

Bargain Deal Lyman Borecam Midsouth Shooters

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 — so hot that it has been back-ordered at most vencdore. But we found some in stock at a great price. Midsouth Shooters Supply now has the BoreCam for $222.46. Grab it while you can at that price. Other online vendors are charging a LOT more (e.g. MidwayUSA price is $259.99).

The system really works. A few of our Forum members have the system and they say it functions very well and is “very easy to set up and use”. Here’s what an Optics Planet BoreCam buyer wrote: “I have used Hawkeye borescopes and know their quality. The Lyman worked as advertised and is a great tool for checking for leading, cleanliness of bore, and bore wear. The compact size, ability to take pictures, and store them are a big plus.”

2. Grafs.com — NEW Nikon Wind Meter for SmartPhones, $28.99

Nikon spot on smart phone wind meter Ballistics App

Here’s a great new gadget for under $30.00. Nikon’s new Spot On™ Ballistic Wind Meter plugs directly into the headphone port on most popular smart phones. The Spot On Wind Meter reads both wind speed and direction and inputs the data directly into Nikon’s free Spot On Ballistics Mobile App (available for iOS and Android). This allows you to quickly determine and calculate wind drift corrections without needing a separate, dedicated wind meter. When not in use, the Nikon device easily fits in a pocket.

Video shows use of Nikon Spot On Wind Meter starting at 2:35 time mark:

3. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, which is on sale for $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supply. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you many want to add an additional large heavy press, but this will get the job done. This kit includes an RCBS Powder Measure, Digital Scale, Powder Trickler, Hand Priming Tool, Load Manual, Loading Tray, and more. It’s hard to beat this combination of tools for under $200.00.

4. CDNN Sports — Remington 597 for $149.99

CDNN Sports Remington 597 Sale

Looking for a “first rifle” for a family member? Consider this semi-auto Remington 597. It currently retails for just $149.99. That’s right, for under $150 you can get a reliable, self-feeding rimfire rifle that will provide years of fun for a young shooter. The 597 has a stock that’s sized right for both youngsters and adults. Receivers are dovetailed for standard rimfire rings and are also drilled and tapped to allow mounting of Weaver-style bases.

5. Walmart — 14-gun Stack-on Gun Safe

Deal of Week Walmart Stack-on Gun Safe 14 Gun Fire Safe

If you need a smaller, secondary safe that can fit in a closet, here’s a 14-gun Stack-On Safe that is a great bargain right now. The safe is on sale at Walmart for $399.00 — nearly $200 off the regular price. And Walmart offers FREE shipping or FREE Pickup. Don’t expect this to hold anywhere near 14 scoped rifles — 8 or so long-guns will probably be the most you can fit comfortably. But that’s fine for a secondary “closet” safe that will also articles such as cameras, jewelry, and important documents. One verified safe purchaser states: “This safe is 300 pounds, not too hard to move around, took it home in my truck.”

6. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $17.16

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 over 1500 customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $17.16, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.

7. Amazon — 34 NRR Top-Selling Ear Muffs

hearing protection amazon cleararmor nrr 34 earmuff muffs safety

If you want serious hearing protection, and can tolerate large muffs, these Clear Armor earmuffs are hard to beat for the price. They seal very well and carry an unsurpassed 34db Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). These are the #1 Best Selling Safety Muffs on Amazon. Yes they are big and bulky — but you only have one set of ears. These are a good choice for loud magnum rifles and noisy indoor ranges.

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April 4th, 2016

How Bullets Are Made — Videos Reveal Process at Barnes Bullets

Barnes Bullets FactoryMany of our readers have been interested in learning how modern bullets are made. While a “boutique” bullet-maker, supplied with appropriate cores and jackets, can craft bullets using relatively simple hand dies and manual presses, factory production is different. The major bullet-makers, such as Barnes, employ huge, complex machines to craft their projectiles on an assembly line.

Modern hunting bullets are made with a variety of sophisticated (and expensive) machines, such as Computer Numerical Control (CNC) lathes, giant multi-stage presses, and hydraulic extruding machines that draw lead ingots into lead wire. Barnes offers an “inside look” at the bullet production process in a series of videos filmed at its Mona, UT factory. We’ve embedded four videos from the series here. These videos can also be viewed on the Barnes Bullets YouTube Channel.

Milling Slots in TSX All-Copper Bullet
This video shows how the slots (between the drive bands) in the TSX all-copper bullet are cut. The slots reduce the bearing surface that contacts the rifling. This helps reduce friction and heat, extending the life of barrels used with all-metal, drive-band bullets:

Varminator Bullets Produced in Jumbo Transfer Press
Here is the transfer press used in the production of Varminator and MPG Bullets. The process begins with a giant spool of flat copper material. The copper is stamped into jackets and eventually the formed Varminator bullets are ejected one by one into a bucket.

CNC Lathe Turns Bullets Automatically
In the video below, a Bar-Feed CNC crafts mono-bloc bullets from metal bar stock. Barnes uses a small CNC lathe to turn .50-caliber bullets from brass bar stock. We’re not sure which bullet is being made in this video. The material looks to be sintered metal. In the close-ups you can gold-colored shavings from when the machine was previously used for CNC-turned brass bullets.

Accuracy Testing in 100-yard Tunnel
Barnes regularly tests bullet samples for accuracy. In the video below, a Barnes technician loads sample rounds and tests them for accuracy in a 100-yard tunnel. The rounds are shot through a special fixture — basically a barreled action connected to parallel rods on either side. This allows the testing fixture to slide straight back on recoil (see it move back at 1:07-08 minute mark). Note how the tester actuates the trigger, which is oriented upwards, just the opposite of a normal rifle. The technician taps the upward-pointing trigger shoe lightly with a metal rod. Could this upside-down trigger orientation be useful in benchrest shooting — perhaps with railguns? It could make for an interesting experiment.

Story suggestion by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 3rd, 2016

Loading for the AR10 Using a Progressive Press

Lock and Load Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader AR-10
Gavin Gear tests .308 Win ammo with his DPMS LR-308B, AR10-type rifle.

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com owns a DPMS LR-308B, an AR10-type semi-auto rifle. Gavin finds that his DPMS has a healthy appetite for ammunition. So, he set up his Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive press to produce .308 Win ammo. This video shows the process of press set-up and operation, complete with Hornady’s automated Case Feeder and Bullet Feeder. Employing elevated rotary hoppers, the case feed and bullet feed systems really speed up production. The automated feeders allow the operator to produce cartridges without ever touching case or bullet with his hands.

If you need large quantities of .308 Win ammo for 3-Gun matches or tactical games, and if you value your time, a progressive press may be a wise investment. The progressive can load a complete round with every cycle of the press handle. With Case Feeder and Bullet Feeder in place, the Hornady L-N-L can easily crank out a new .308 round every 3-4 seconds (watch video at 5:25). Conservatively speaking, that’s 15 rounds per minute sustained production (and some guys can go even faster).

Get updates from UltimateReloader.com via Gavin’s twitter feed: @UReloader. To learn more about the Hornady Lock-N-Load Progressive Press (with case/bullet feed options), and to see a list of the dies and accessories Gavin uses, click the link below:

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder Part 5: Loading .308 for the AR-10

Lock and Load Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader AR-10

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March 30th, 2016

6.5mm Cartridge Overview — Laurie Holland’s Opus

Laurie Holland 6.5mm Cartridge Target Shooter UK Magazine

Are you a fan of 6.5mm rifle cartridges? Then you should visit TargetShooter Magazine and read Laurie Holland’s latest “magnum opus”. Laurie recounts the development of 6.5mm rifle cartridges and examines a host of “six-fives” including the well-known 6.5×55 Swede and more esoteric cartridges such as the 6.5×58 Vergueiro. Laurie looks at a variety of military 6.5mm cartridges, including Japan’s 6.5×50 Arisaka, as well as some big 6.5mm Magnums. This Editor shot a .260 Remington (essentially a necked down .308 Win) for quite a while. I was pleased to see that Laurie discusses the .260 Rem, along with its bigger brother, the 6.5-06.

READ Laurie Holland 6.5mm Cartridge Overview

Part One of a four-part series, this is a LONG article, which runs over 4000 words. There are more than a dozen photographs, showing both cartridge types and bullet types. In addition, cartridge specs are presented in two detailed tables. Here is a list of the notable 6.5mm cartridges Laurie references (and we may have missed a few):

6.5×47 Lapua
.260 Remington (6.5-08)
6.5×50 (Arisaka)
6.5×52 Carcano
6.5x53R Mannlicher
6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer
6.5×55 Swedish
6.5×57 Mauser
6.5×58 Vergueiro
6.5×68 RWS
6.5-284 Norma
6.5-06 (6.5/.30-06)
6.5mm Remington Magnum
.264 Winchester Magnum

Laurie Holland 6.5mm Cartridge Target Shooter UK Magazine
In early 20th century the 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer was a highly-regarded hunting cartridge.

Here is a sample from Laurie’s 6.5mm Cartridge History:

The 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser and Other Early Designs
Thanks to the 6.5X55mm and its common name of ‘Swedish Mauser’ (it was a joint Swedish / Norwegian military development truth to tell), not forgetting first rate Lapua, Norma, and Sako ammunition and components, many associate the 6.5s with Scandinavian countries. However, the two Nordic nations weren’t alone in adopting 6.5mm designs during the back end of the 19th century, moreover Germany and Austria did as much to popularize the caliber. The Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Romania, Portugal and Greece took the small caliber military route too, although some later decided to convert at least partially to larger bores.

However, once armies started to adopt lighter, pointed bullets at improved velocities in the .30-class designs starting with the German 7.92mm 153gr bulleted S-Patrone of 1905 which produced the then astonishing MV of 2900 fps in the G98 rifle, the 6.5s lost out as contemporary propellants couldn’t handle smaller calibers as efficiently. It’s significant that while some early users moved to larger caliber service rifles, no country [other than Japan] has adopted 6.5mm in the last 110 years although there have been some unsuccessful initiatives recently.

Prior to WW2, there had only been a single American attempt to produce a 6.5, the brilliant cartridge designer and riflemaker Charles Newton with his eponymous 256 design of 1913 which used a shortened and necked-down 30-06 case. The Western Cartridge Company loaded ammunition for Newton, a 129gr expanding bullet at a claimed 2760 fps MV and obtained in a longer barrel than those fitted to production rifles.

Laurie Holland 6.5mm Cartridge Target Shooter UK Magazine
RWS introduced the powerful 6.5X68mm in 1939 and it is still in use in Europe.

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