Count this as a small victory for gun owners — the ATF’s proposed ban on “Green Tip” M855 ammo has been taken off the table — for now at least. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives (ATF) announced that it will rethink its proposed ban on commonplace 5.56x45mm M855 “green tip” ammunition. ATF has shelved the M855 ban for the time being while it reviews the 80,000+ comments it has received on the issue. The Shooting Wire noted that: “In addition to those 80,000 comments from average citizens, letters from both houses of Congress warned the ATF [that its] proposal was…a violation of law as Congress had exempted M855 from armor piercing classification because of its widespread use for recreational and competition shooting.” Though the matter is “off the table” for now, ATF will continue to accept comments through March 16, 2015.
ATF Statement Regard Proposed M855 Ban
“Thank you for your interest in ATF’s proposed framework for determining whether certain projectiles are ‘primarily intended for sporting purposes’ within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C). The informal comment period will close on Monday, March 16, 2015. ATF has already received more than 80,000 comments, which will be made publicly available as soon as practicable. Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study. Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.”
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You may not have heard of Vista Outdoor (NYSE: VSTO), but you’ll know many of the brands under its corporate umbrella: Alliant Powder, Blackhawk, Bolle, Bushnell, CCI, Federal Premium, Outers, RCBS, Savage Arms, Simmons, Speer, Weaver. To learn more about Vista Outdoor’s operations and products, visit www.vistaoutdoor.com or Vista Outdoor’s Facebook Page.
So what is Vista Outdoor? This corporate giant used to be the sporting division of ATK (Alliant Techsystems*). In February of this year, ATK split into two separate companies. The outdoor sports/hunting/shooting brands (with annual revenues of $2.3 billion) were consolidated into Vista Outdoor. The aerospace/military contract operations of ATK were continued in a second company, Orbital ATK. Vista Outdoor, now head-quartered in Clearfield, Utah, is a standalone, publicly-traded outdoor sports and recreation company with approximately 5,800 employees worldwide.
In a recent interview with GearJunkie.com, Vista Outdoor’s Chairman/CEO Mark DeYoung revealed that Vista Outdoor will release scores of new products in 2015:
Q: Looking ahead for this year, what to-be-released products are you most excited about?
A: Bushnell has a rangefinder for golf that is innovative. We introduced it at the PGA Show. The A17 rifle from Savage is big news — we sold out of a whole year’s capacity at the SHOT Show. Overall, there are about 130 new products coming this year from our brands[.]
Vista Outdoor Started Trading as VSTO on February 10, 2015
Vista Outdoor “went live” as a separate, publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange on February 10, 2015. Here is the official press release:
Vista Outdoor Inc. (NYSE: VSTO), which previously operated as the Sporting Group of Alliant Techsystems Inc. (“ATK”), announced today the successful completion of its spin-off from ATK (NYSE: ATK) into a standalone, publicly traded outdoor sports and recreation company.
On February 9, 2015, ATK distributed to its stockholders two shares of Vista Outdoor common stock for every share of ATK common stock held as of record on February 2, 2015. Vista Outdoor common stock will begin “regular-way” trading under the symbol “VSTO” on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) today, February 10, 2015, when markets open.
“Today marks the creation of a new leading commercial and consumer-products company focused on innovative solutions, strategic customer partnerships, execution excellence and creating long-term shareholder value,” said Mark DeYoung, Vista Outdoor Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Our consumers depend on our products to deliver quality and performance in a variety of outdoor environments and activities. Our mission is to bring the world outside, and to support and facilitate the success of outdoor enthusiasts as they strive to achieve their own rugged independence.”
About Vista Outdoor Inc.
Vista Outdoor is a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer in the growing outdoor sports and recreation markets. The company operates in two segments, Outdoor Products and Shooting Sports, and has more than 30 well-recognized brands that provide consumers with a wide range products in the ammunition, firearms and outdoor accessories categories. Vista Outdoor is headquartered in Utah and has manufacturing operations and facilities in 10 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.
*Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) came into being as an independent company in 1990 when Honeywell spun off its defense businesses to shareholders. ATK got into the ammo business in 2001 when it acquired Blount International. ATK grew with later acquisitions of Weaver Optics (2008), Blackhawk (2010), Savage Arms (2013), and Bushnell (2013).
Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Story by Boyd Allen
While many top competitive shooters trickle their stick powder charges to a kernel or two, that would be impractical when loading charges for giant naval guns. You may be surprised, but the shells fired by the U.S. Navy’s massive 14″ and 16″ naval guns were also propelled by stick-type extruded powders. You couldn’t trickle these ‘kernels’ though — a single stick or ‘grain’ can be over 2″ long. Take a look…
In connection with a Benchrest Central discussion that drifted to the subject of powders used in large naval guns, I heard from Joe McNeil, whose father was involved in manufacturing those very propellants as a DuPont employee. Joe writes:
“My Dad worked for the DuPont company for over 40 years. Every time the nation went to war he was assigned to the gun powder plants which DuPont ran for the government for $1.00 per year! His last assignment was at the Indiana Ordnance Plant in Jefferson, Indiana from 1952 through 1958. He had a display case made of all of the different powders made at the plant and left it to me. That’s why I have a grain of 16″ gun powder. He took me out to the Jefferson proving grounds once when they tested the powder in a 16″ gun. We watched from a half-mile away but it left a lasting impression when they fired that gun. They actually had a set of rings they fired through to test the performance of the powder and shell. This was a truly fond memory of my Dad and his work.”
Here are some pictures of the gun powder “grains” made during the Korean War at the Indiana Ordnance Works where Joe McNeil’s father worked.
Above is the display case with the different powders manufactured at the DuPont plant. They include: 37 MM/AA, 75MM Pack Howitzer, 50 Cal. 5010, 20 MM 4831, 30 Cal. 4895, 76 MM, 3″, 5″, 90 MM, 4.7″, 240MM, 8″, 280 MM, 175 MM, 155 MM Howitzer, 155 MM Gun M.P., 8″ Gun M.P., 12″, 14, 16″. There are different-sized ‘grains’ for specific rounds.
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You have to love this — a shooting facility in Western Pennsylvania has its own ammo vending machine. This is the same kind of machine normally used to sell snack foods. But at the Beaver Valley Rifle & Pistol Club (BVRPC), you can get .38 Specials instead of Pretzels. The vending machine offers a wide assortment of pistol cartridges, packaged in 50-round bags. Fifty 9mm Luger rounds cost $21.00 and yes the machine takes credit cards.
The machine was installed by Sam Piccinini, owner of the Master Ammo Company. Sam says the machine is a convenience for club members, who had trouble finding ammo that complied with Club rules prohibiting jacketed bullets: “Most conventional commercial ammunition manufactured today is jacketed, and jackets can separate from the lead when it hits the backstops in gun ranges.” All the ammo in the vending machine features non-jacketed bullets. Piccinini states: “The machine sells pretty much everything — from .22 long rifle to .45 Long Colt and every standard caliber in between except .32 and .25 automatic. It’s got 380, 9, 38, 40, 45, .357 SIG.” (Source BeaverCountian.com)
Mainstream media reports of the ammo vending machine have spurred controversy. ATF rules prohibit an ammo-maker from selling handgun ammunition to persons under 21 years of age. The machine is located inside a locked, private facility restricted to persons over 18. On the machine is the warning: “You must be over 21 to purchase handgun ammunition from this machine.” BVRPC President Bill Fontana states: “It’s nobody’s business, it’s our club, we can do as our members allow us. Legally there’s nothing anybody can do about it.”
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You probably know by now that the ATF is seeking comments on a proposed regulation that would ban the importation and sale of M855 steel-core 5.56x45mm ammunition. The ATF has proposed banning this “green-tip” ammo (and similar products) on the grounds that it is “armor piercing”.
Nobody knows whether the proposed ban will actually go into effect. The ATF is solicting comments through March 16, 2015. The mere possibility of a ban has spurred a feeding frenzy of ammo sales. If you are looking for genuine M855-type Green Tip ammo, suitable for use in AR-platform rifles, Creedmoor Sports recently obtained a large supply. Creedmoor just located quantities of Lake City-produced, American Eagle-brand XM855 in cardboard boxes: “Our team found another source for 5.56 mm XM855F Federal Lake City Green Tip Ammo. This ammo is becoming almost impossible to source the closer we get to the [March 16th end] of the ATF comment period.”
Lake City M855 5.56 62gr Green Tip Ammunition (300 Rounds)
High-quality 5.56x45mm ammo made in the USA by Lake City. This is “XM855″ ball ammo with a steel penetrator in the core, surrounded by a copper jacket. The projectile is color-coded with a green-painted tip as is traditional with US-made M855.
* Manufacturer: Federal / Lake City
* Model: XM855
* Caliber: 5.56 NATO (5.56x45mm)
* Grain Weight: 62 Grains
* Type: Full Metal Jacket with Penetrator
* Units per Case: 300 (in two 150ct boxes)
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At the 2015 Berger Southwest Nationals, Forum member Erik Cortina cornered Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics. Erik, the F-Open winner in the 600-yard Mid-Range match, was curious about bullet sorting. Knowing that bullets can be sorted by many different criteria (e.g. weight, overall length, base to ogive length, actual bearing surface length etc.) Erik asked Bryan to specify the most important dimension to consider when sorting. Bryan recommended sorting by “Base to Ogive”. Litz noted that: “Sorting by overall length can be misleading because of the nature of the open-tip match bullet. You might get a bullet that measures longer because it has a jagged [tip], but that bullet might not fly any different. But measuring base to ogive might indicate that the bullet is formed differently — basically it’s a higher resolution measurement….”
Ever wonders what the bar code (and all those numbers) mean on the side of a box of Sierra bullets? Well here’s the answer, thanks to something we uncovered in the archives of the Sierra Bullets Blog.
How to Decipher Sierra Bullets Barcodes
The Lot Number (indicated in green below) identifies a specific batch of bullets. The lot number remains the same for bullets made at the same time from the same material.
The Packaging Code (indicated in blue below) is an internal number representing the number assigned to the persons who inspected and packed the box of bullets.
The Serial Number (indicated in yellow below) is a computer generated number sequentially added to each box of bullets made.
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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is seeking to ban commonly-used 5.56 M855 “green tip” ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition” and is seeking public comment on the proposal. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) urges target shooters and gun owners to contact ATF to oppose this proposed ban.
For decades, under the “sporting purposes” doctrine, commonly-available “green tip” M855 and SS109 rifle ammunition has been exempt from federal law banning armor-piercing ammunition. There is no question that this 5.56 ball ammo has been widely used by law-abiding American citizens for sporting purposes.
Winchester-brand 5.56X45 62gr NATO M855 FMJ Ammunition
The NSSF has an online form that makes it easy to voice your opinion on the proposed ban on 5.56 ball ammo. This form will direct your comments to Congress and/or the ATF. Click the button at right to navigate to the NSSF online form.
Commentary by Jim Shepherd, The Shooting Wire
Should the ATF reclassify surplus (and widely used) M855 and SS109 ammunition as armor-piercing, it would then be illegal for consumer consumption. This weekend, we received word that apparently many gun owners didn’t find this to be a compelling reason to record their objections with the federal government. With only a few days remaining in the ATF’s solicitation of comments, fewer than 6,000 shooters have registered their displeasure with the proposal.That, as one of my least-favorite instructors used to say, is simply unacceptable.”
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Here’s something you don’t see every day — pistol-caliber Lapua brass. We shoot superior Lapua brass in our rifles, and now you can get the “good stuff” for your 9mm pistols too. It’s nice to know that Lapua 9mm brass is available for those guys who accept “nothing but the best”. Grafs.com received a special order of 9mm Luger (aka 9x19mm or 9mm NATO) pistol brass made by Lapua. It is available right now for $19.99 per 100-count bag or $179.99 per 1000-count box. That’s 38% off the regular 1K box price.
When It Pays to Shoot Premium Pistol Brass
Is this Lapua 9mm brass worth the price compared to the cheaper alternatives (such as once-fired police range pickups)? We think the answer depends on your application. If you shoot a 9mm pistol in Bullseye competition, yes it makes sense to get the Lapua. Or, if you have a 9mm revolver that carries the shells in a moon clip, the Lapua brass may be worth getting. With a 9mm revolver, your brass is not marred by an extractor claw and then ejected on to the ground. If we had the impressive new 8-shot, Miculek Edition Smith & Wesson model 929 9mm revolver (below), we’d definitely shoot Lapua brass.
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Rick Jensen, Captain of the U.S. F-Open Rifle Team, recently tested some of the new IMR 4451 powder. Rick and other team members were looking for a good powder that could replace Hodgdon 4350 which is difficult to obtain currently. The makers of IMR 4451 claim that it is not sensitive to temperature and that it delivers competitive accuracy. So far, Rick’s tests, done with a .284 Winchester and 180gr Berger Hybrids, appear to confirm those claims. Rick posts:
“I did a little informal powder comparison of H4350 versus the new IMR 4451. Rifle used was a Kelbly Panda with a 30″, 1:8.75″ twist 5R Bartlein barrel [chambered in .284 Win]. All charge weights were 50.0 grains using CCI BR2 primers. I was very impressed with this new powder and I believe it to be equal to H4350 as far as temperature sensitivity.
I did not test for accuracy but I will tell you my groups were pretty much equal between the two and all were in the .2-.3 MOA range. I will defiantly be shooting more of this powder in the weeks to come, assuming the supply chain will allow. It looks very encouraging to finally have a alternative to H4350 that we might actually be able to buy.”
Chronograph Results with Temps from 23° F to 101°
Here are chronograph results of a comparison test between IMR 4451 and H4350. Rick’s rifle was cleaned and allowed to cool between each test. Five fouling shots were fired before each test. Important: Note that for both Test #1 and Test #2, the powder order is reversed in the mid-temp fields (IMR 4451 first, then H4350). For the low and high temp entries, H4350 is listed first.
Here are the IMR 4451 fired cases, displayed Left to right, coldest to the hottest (in terms of case temp when fired). All charge weights were the same: 50.0 grains.
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The Applied Ballistics team tested six (6) same-length/same-contour Bartlein barrels to observe how twist rate might affect muzzle velocity. This unique, multi-barrel test is featured in the book Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting. That book includes many other fascinating field tests, including a comprehensive chronograph comparison.
Barrel Twist Rate vs. Velocity — What Tests Reveal by Bryan Litz
When considering barrel twist rates, it’s a common belief that faster twist rates will reduce muzzle velocity. The thinking is that the faster twist rate will resist forward motion of the bullet and slow it down. There are anecdotal accounts of this, such as when someone replaces a barrel of one brand/twist with a different brand and twist and observes a different muzzle velocity. But how do you know the twist rate is what affected muzzle velocity and not the barrel finish, or bore/groove dimensions? Did you use the same chronograph to measure velocity from both barrels? Do you really trust your chronograph?
Savage Test Rifle with Six Bartlein Barrels
Most shooters don’t have access to the equipment required to fully explore questions like this. These are exactly the kinds of things we examine in the book Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting. In that book, we present experiments conducted in the Applied Ballistics lab. Some of those experiments took on a “Myth Buster” tone as we sought to confirm (or deny) popular pre-conceptions. For example, here’s how we approached the question of barrel twist and muzzle velocity.
Six .308 Win Barrels from Bartlein — All Shot from the Same Rifle
We acquired six (6) barrels from the same manufacturer (Bartlein), all the same length and contour, and all chambered with the same reamer (SAAMI spec .308 Winchester). All these barrels were fitted to the same Savage Precision Target action, and fired from the same stock, and bench set-up. Common ammo was fired from all six barrels having different twist rates and rifling configurations. In this way, we’re truly able to compare what effect the actual twist rate has on muzzle velocity with a reasonable degree of confidence.
Prior to live fire testing, we explored the theoretical basis of the project, doing the physics. In this case, an energy balance is presented which predicts how much velocity you should expect to lose for a bullet that’s got a little more rotational energy from the faster twist. In the case of the .30 caliber 175 grain bullets, the math predicts a loss of 1.25 fps per inch-unit of barrel twist (e.g. a 1:8″ twist is predicted to be 1.25 fps slower than a 1:9″ twist).
Above, data shows relationship between Twist Rate and Muzzle Velocity (MV) for various barrel twist rates and rifling types. From fast to slow, the three 1:10″ twist barrels are: 5R (canted land), 5 Groove, 5 Groove left-hand twist.
We proceeded with the testing in all 6 barrels from 1:8” to 1:12”. After all the smoke cleared, we found that muzzle velocity correlates to twist rate at the rate of approximately 1.33 fps per inch of twist. In other words, your velocity is reduced by about 5 fps if you go from a 1:12” twist to a 1:8” twist. [Editor: That’s a surprising number — much less than most folks would predict.] In this case the math prediction was pretty close, and we have to remember that there’s always uncertainty in the live fire results. Uncertainty is always considered in terms of what conclusions the results can actually support with confidence.
This is just a brief synopsis of a single test case. The coverage of twist rates in Modern Advancements in Long-Range Shooting is more detailed, with multiple live fire tests. Results are extrapolated for other calibers and bullet weights. Needless to say, the question of “how twist rate affects muzzle velocity” is fully answered.
Other chapters in the book’s twist rate section include: · Stability and Drag – Supersonic
· Stability and Drag – Transonic
· Spin Rate Decay
· Effect of Twist rate on Precision
Other sections of the book include: Modern Rifles, Scopes, and Bullets as well as Advancements in Predictive Modeling. This book is sold through the Applied Ballistics online store. Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting is also available in eBook format in the Amazon Kindle store.
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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. Watch video review below.
Summary by .22 Plinkster (see 4:30 time mark): “I’m pretty impressed with it … I think it’s a really good deal. For six dollars and fifty cents [per box] you can’t go wrong with a box of this ammo. Out of a good bolt gun, this ammo will drive tacks.”
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Here’s an important technology for ranges concerned with over-flight risks. Regular Bulletin readers will recall that we recently warned of the dangers of bullets launched with a high trajectory. (READ Article.) With a muzzle elevation of just 5°, a conventional bullet can fly over 3000 yards, retaining enough energy to kill. General Dynamics has come up with a solution for live-fire training programs that don’t require long-range target engagements. General Dynamics’ Short Stop® ammunition launches bullets that literally drop out of the air within 600 meters. What’s the secret to the short flight? Read on…
Short Stop 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm Ammunition Trajectory
This illustration shows the trajectories of 5.56 and 7.62 Short Stop bullets (yellow zone) compared to conventional rifle projectiles (black lines). You can see the “flight cycle” is completely different.
Short Stop ammunition employs advanced polymer/copper composite bullets with molded “fins”. The bullets sort of look like the end of a Phillips screwdriver (except the fins have a slight twist near their base). This “twisted fin” design causes the bullets to yaw, and that, in turn induces aerodynamic drag — a lot of drag. The molded bullets are also much lighter than conventional bullets (of the same caliber). The reduced weight/density gives them less momentum, so they lose velocity more readily than normal bullets. The combination of the low mass and high drag makes these bullets drop from the air within 600m or so, living up to their “Short Stop” designation.
In an interview with NRABlog.com, General Dynamics Bus. Dev. Manager Ruben Regalado explained how the Short Stop ammunition works. With this design, he says, “You can do a lot of the training you would do with a ball round with no fear of overflight. It’s the fin that does it. Due to the nature of its composition [the bullet] is lighter than the standard projectile, but the magic is in the fin.”
There are many potential applications for Short Stop rounds according to NRABlog Editor Lars Dalseide: “Where do these rounds come into play? Anywhere. Anywhere there’s military training, law enforcement training, or basic target shooting taking place. And with the encroachment of communities surrounding your favorite neighborhood range, [projectiles] that drop out of the air at 600 meters means the risk of overflight is significantly reduced.” The polymer-composite bullets are also frangible, so there is less penetration of objects and less chance of ricochet.
“Smurf” Bullets for .50 Caliber AA Rifles
Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics has seen ammo similar to Short Stops used in .50-caliber rifles for training purposes. Bryan tells us: “Similar rounds have been available for .50 cal for many years. We find [the spent bullets] on the range at Camp Grayling (a Michigan National Guard training facility where we hold 1000-yard matches). The .50 cal rounds use blunt plastic things (we call them ‘Smurf’ bullets) and they use them for practicing anti-aircraft shooting. Instructors put up an RC target drone and the Guardsmen shoot at it with the .50s using the short range ammunition.”
Bryan says these “short flight” bullets have an important purpose, though the applications remain limited. “These kind of projectiles are a good tool for applications where an adequate SDZ (Surface Danger Zone) cannot be secured for the range location. I just hope the application remains confined to only those places where it’s necessary, i.e. where the SDZ presents a problem. I would hate to see our bullet options be limited to something like this under the guise of ‘range safety’, where the SDZ is properly secured.”
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Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Today’s “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. This article is the second in a 3-part series. Last week the USAMU discussed cleaning of surplus brass. Visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.
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!)
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?
Tips 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.
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Our friend Anette Wachter, a member of the 2015 U.S. Palma Team, recently tested some .308 Win ammo from Eagle Eye Precision. We have heard good things about this ammunition, and Anette (aka 30 Cal Gal) confirms that it shoots great. Here is her impressive 200-yard test target. Anette posted: “Most amazing out of box ammo I have shot. First six rounds at 200 yards test [is shown at right].”
0.212 MOA at 200 yards
Using OnTarget group-measuring software, we measured Anette’s 6-shot group at 0.445″ (center-to-center). That’s 0.212 MOA. That’s right, Anette’s group measured under quarter-MOA at 200 yards. For reference, a dime is 0.705″ in diameter.
Anette’s Group was measured with On-Target Software.
Another U.S. Palma Team member, Top Shot competitor Kelly Bachand, has also tried Eagle Eye ammo. Kelly came away very impressed: “I’ve personally tested this ammunition and in my initial tests it was as consistent as anything I can hand-load myself. Eagle Eye Precision Ammunition is on the up and up, you’ll have to check it out.”
Eagle Eye Ammo is Verified to Shoot 1/2 Minute of Angle or Better
Remarkably, every lot of Eagle Eye ammunition is rifle-tested for accuracy. If it doesn’t shoot 1/2-MOA or better, it will not ship. Obviously Eagle Eye can’t guarantee its ammo will shoot this well in every customer’s rifle, but this is still an impressive standard. Eagle Eye states:
“At Eagle Eye Precision we guarantee every lot is tested to 1/2 minute of angle or better. One minute of angle equates to approximately 1 inch at 100 yards and 1/2 minute of angle is approximately 1/2 inch at 100 yards. For comparison, the diameter of a dime is approximately 0.7 inches. Therefore, Eagle Eye Precision 1/2 minute of angle (0.5 inch) groups are smaller than a dime at 100 yards. Eagle Eye Precision ammunition is test fired with real rifles (not accuracy barrels bolted to a bench) at 100 yards. If the group size from the test exceeds 1/2 inch we reject and scrap the lot. If we are not absolutely certain a lot of ammunition can shoot 1/2 minute of angle we do not ship it to customers.”
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What happens inside a rifle chamber and barrel when a cartridge fires can’t be seen by the naked eye (unless you are a Super-Hero with X-Ray vision). But now, with the help of 3D-style computer animation, you can see every stage in the process of a rifle round being fired.
In this amazing video, X-Ray-style 3D animation illustrates the primer igniting, the propellant burning, and the bullet moving through the barrel. The video then shows how the bullet spins as it flies along its trajectory. Finally, this animation shows the bullet impacting ballistic gelatin. Watch the bullet mushroom and deform as it creates a “wound channel” in the gelatin. This excellent video was commissioned by Czech ammo-maker Sellier & Bellot to demonstrate its hunting ammunition. The design, 3D rendering, and animation was done by Grafické studio VLADO.
Watch Video – Cartridge Ignition Sequence Starts at 1:45 Time-Mark
Video find by Seb Lambang. We welcome reader submissions.
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In her latest video, Kirsten Joy Weiss shows off the 300 AAC Blackout, a popular .30-caliber cartridge for AR-platform rifles. Kirsten explains the advantages for the 300 BLK for hunters as well as those using an AR for self-defense. The 300 BLK is popular with suppressor owners because it works well with heavy bullets launched at subsonic velocities.
Reasons to Shoot a 300 AAC Blackout:
— You can use your current AR Bolt, Bolt Carrier, Buffer, and Magazine. The only part you need to change is the barrel.
— 300 BLK conforms to state hunting regulations which may require a cartridge larger than .22 Caliber. The 300 BLK shoots .308 caliber bullets.
— Lapua now sells 300 AAC Blackout brass so no case-forming is required. Just load and shoot.
— You can shoot light bullets supersonic or heavier bullets subsonic. The subsonic capabilities of the 300 BLK make it ideal for use with a suppressed AR.
— With a .30-caliber bore and a modest powder charge, barrel life is outstanding with the 300 BLK.
— You can make 300 BLK cartridges from fired .223 Rem brass, which is plentiful and cheap.
— The .300 BLK performs well with some very accurate powders, such as Hodgdon H4198 and IMR 4227.
The 300 AAC Blackout was created by Advanced Armament Corp. and Remington primarily for the military as a way to shoot .30-caliber bullets from the M4/AR15 platform while using standard magazines. As explained by Robert Silvers, AAC’s R&D Director: “Now there is a way to shoot 30 caliber from your AR while still using normal magazines with full capacity. Even the bolt stays the same, and all that changes is the barrel.” For more information visit www.300aacblackout.com and download the 300 BLK Cartridge Information Guide (PDF).
SAAMI, the industry standards organization, adopted and standardized the AAC 300 Blackout in 2010. The SAAMI diagram for the 300 BLK is shown above. Lapua now makes 300 BLK cartridge brass.
300 BLK for 3-Gun Competition
The 300 AAC Blackout has been touted as an important new hunting round, but we see it more as a specialized “rule-beater” 30-cal option that lets 3-Gun competitors “make major” with a low-recoil cartridge that also offers long barrel life. For those who need to run a .30-caliber cartridge from a standard AR15 platform (as opposed to the AR10), the 300 AAC Blackout makes some sense. But for hunters using a bolt gun, there are any number of tried and true options, such as the 7.62×39, .30-30, and, of course, the .308 Winchester (7.62×51 NATO).
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Nosler has just introduced a new cartridge, the 28 Nosler. This new 7mm hunting round delivers magnum-class velocities in a cartridge that fits a standard action. The 28 Nosler is capable of launching a 160gr Accubond at 3300 fps. The 28 Nosler uses the same parent case as the 26 Nosler, introduced in 2014. Designed for a maximum COAL of 3.340″, the 28 Nosler will operate in a standard action that is lighter (and more compact) than a magnum action.
The 28 Nosler offers serious knock-down power for the long-range hunter. The factory 185gr Accubond load retains over 2000 ft/lbs. of energy at 600 yards, and remains supersonic well past 1000 yards. Nosler factory ammo will be offered with 160gr and 185gr bullet-weight options.
Previewing the 28 Nosler:
For hand-loaders, Nosler will also offer 28 Nosler cartridge brass. It will be interesting to see whether some F-Class competition shooters experiment with the 28 Nosler (and heavy match bullets) as an alternative to the .284 Winchester or short magnums (WSM or RSAUM).
28 Nosler Ballistics
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Bullets.com has contracted with Norma to produce 1,000,000 pieces of .284 Winchester and 6mm Dasher brass (500,000 of each type). This is big news for competitive shooters. The .284 Win cartridge is a proven winner in F-Class competition and the 6 Dasher is a record-setting mid-range benchrest cartridge. It’s tough to beat the Dasher at 300-600 yards, and the .284 Win is probably the most successful cartridge for F-Open shooters.
Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia (left) and Norma Managing Director Paul-Erik Toivo “ink the deal”.
Shooters should be excited about these new offerings. Bullets.com’s contract with Norma calls for advanced production methods to make sure the new brass is truly “match-grade” and long-lasting. To ensure that primer pockets stay tight for many firings, the caseheads on the new brass will be double-stamped for improved hardness and strength. Additionally the new brass will go through an additional draw stage to ensure ultra-uniform casewall thickness. With these extra manufacturing steps, this new 6mm Dasher and .284 Win brass should be the best brass Norma has ever produced, as Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia explains in the video below:
Shiraz Balolia Explains the Qualities of the New Brass
Shiraz reports: “Normally, Norma has about 25 steps of quality control (QC) during the production process of brass. They told us that our first shipments will have almost 30 steps to make sure that the brass is absolutely flawless when it leaves the factory.”
For illustration only — actual specifications may be slightly different.
6mm Dasher without Fire-Forming Hassles
Until now, if you wanted to shoot a Dasher, you had to go through the time-consuming and laborious process of forming brass from the parent 6mmBR Norma case. You had to blow the shoulder forward, either through fire-forming or hydro-forming. Now that’s all changed — you will soon be able to take perfect 6mm Dasher brass out of the box, and “load and shoot”.
The Deal is done. New Norma .284 Win brass will start arriving in the USA in March, 2015, while the new Dasher brass is expected in late summer 2015.
IMPORTANT — The above diagrams were made 4 years ago with QuickDESIGN. They are for illustration purposes ONLY. These are NOT reamer prints, and there may be small differences compared to the Norma .284 Win and 6mm Dasher brass ordered by Bullets.com. Do NOT spec reamers based on the above illustrations. Wait ’til we have the actual Norma brass to measure.
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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.
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.
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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