July 14th, 2014

Applied Ballistics Mobile App for Apple iOS Released

Applied Ballistics apple iphone ipad iOS appiPhone and iPad users rejoice. The Apple iOS version of the Applied Ballistics Mobile App is now available. It has all the features of the much-loved Applied Ballistics Android App with full Apple functionality. This mobile App will run on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

Price is $29.99. Click here to view details or order the App: Applied Ballistics iOS App.

CLICK HERE for Detailed Summary of App Features (Applied Ballistics Website)

The new iOS mobile App accounts for all major and minor trajectory variables that a shooter could encounter. Conveniently, the App displays single-shot solutions in HUD View or Reticle View.

Real-World Calibration — Shooters can enter their observed drops and the program will calibrate and “true” the predictions based on actual bullet impact. This is done by incorporating muzzle velocity and drop-scaling over various segments of the trajectory.

Sync to Web — A web-sync feature allows you to store your rifle and ammunition libraries online. And you can backup all the profiles online or restore them to a device.

Forum member Snuggie308, who acquired the new iOS App, gives it a thumbs up: “I bought it last night. It is a great tool. There’s a massive data base … built into it. You can’t find a better [mobile ballistics app] in my opinion.” Snuggie308 also reports that the new iOS is iPad friendly, and fills the iPad screen so it is easy to use all the features.

Applied Ballistics apple iphone ipad iOS app Applied Ballistics apple iphone ipad iOS app

The Applied Ballistics iOS Mobile App runs the state-of-the-art Point Mass ballistic solver. This solver, along with the built-in library of ballistic coefficients, makes this the most accurate, precise, and complete mobile ballistics app available for iOS devices.

Ballistician (and former missile design engineer) Bryan Litz wrote this solver. The program integrates the equations of ballistic motion numerically, using a 4th-order Runge-Kutta method, the preferred method of solving dynamic equations for aircraft and missiles. The application also comes with G1 and G7 BCs for over 1,300 bullet types.

Bryan Litz tells us: “We have worked extensively on this product. With the success of the Android version of the application, released two years ago, the demand for the iOS version has been high. We are excited to now offer a full-featured iOS version that runs on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.”

Applied Ballistics apple iphone ipad iOS app Applied Ballistics apple iphone ipad iOS app

Available now through iTunes, the Applied Ballistics Mobile App costs $29.99, and requires iOS 7.0 or later for proper functionality. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices, this App is optimized for the iPhone 5 series of smart phones.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 2 Comments »
July 13th, 2014

Tempilaq and Green Label Thinner

Tempilaq is a temp-sensitive “paint-on” liquid coating which can be used to gauge case temperatures during the annealing process. Tempilaq is offered in 43 different temperature ratings from 175°F to 1900°F (79°C to 1038°C).

Tempilaq quickly dries, forming a dull, opaque film. Then, when heat is applied to that surface and the rated temperature is reached, the film liquefies, letting you know that you’ve reached the target annealing temp. Because you can ruin brass by over-annealing, we recommend using Tempilaq when annealing, at least when you are setting up your torch position and calculating the amount of time your cases should be exposed to the flame. To prevent premature “burn-off” you can apply the Tempilaq to the inside of the necks.

Thinner for Tempilaq
One of our Forum members from Australia was concerned about some 700° F Tempilaq he had recently obtained. He explained that it was thick and glue-like, making it hard to apply. He wondered if there was a thinner he could use with the 700° Tempilaq.

Yes there is such a product: Green Label Thinner from Tempil (the manufacturer of Tempilaq). Forum member Gary M. (aka gmorganal) tells us: “You can buy Temiplaq thinner from McMaster Carr, and they will have it on your doorstep about the time you hang up the phone. I just ordered from them this week, and [the thinner] was delivered the next day. The thinner is about half the price of the [Tempilaq] paints — roughly $5.00 or so per bottle.” Tempil explains: “Use Green Label Thinner to dilute Tempilaq G® or to replace evaporated solvent. For use only with Tempilaq G® temperature indicating liquid.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 26th, 2014

Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting — By Bryan Litz

Litz Applied Ballistics Book Modern Advancements Long Range ShootingApplied Ballistics, LLC is offering an all-new book by Bryan Litz, the first in a series. The new 339-page, hard-cover book, Modern Advancements for Long Range Shooting, Volume I, documents the ongoing R & D being done at the Applied Ballistics laboratory, the “Area 51″ of the shooting world.

“This new series is heavily based in experimental ballistics, and takes a ‘Myth Busters’-type approach to many of the questions and problems faced by modern long range shooters,” stated Litz. Volume I of the series is scheduled for release in late July, 2014. The book will cost $39.95, but you can pre-order now for $35.95, a 10% savings.

Bryan adds: “Anyone interested in the underlying science behind shooting can benefit from this book. We address the important questions… How much does faster twist affect MV? How does stability affect BC from the muzzle and downrange? What chronographs are capable of high accuracy and precision? What characteristics should you look for in your long range rifle and optic set up? What new gadgets are being developed to enhance long range shooting?

New Book Features Extensive Live-Fire Test Results
Bryan tells us: “The book spotlights state-of-the-art technologies (and methodologies) in long range shooting. New equipment and old ideas are explored using experimental, live-fire testing. Extensive test results are reported in an easy-to-understand way. Among other things, our tests explore the effects of twist rate on muzzle velocity, BC (supersonic and transonic), precision, even spin rate decay for various rifling profiles as they are tested experimentally.

Chronographs and Optics Are Tested and Compared
Litz’s new book traces the evolution of modern rifle, bullet, and optic design. Results from chronograph comparison tests are presented, showing the strengths and weaknesses of available commercial chronographs. High-tech instrumentation such as laser rangefinders and wind measurement devices are explained in detail by contributing author Nick Vitalbo.

The New Book Puts Theory into Practice
We asked Bryan Litz how this new book differs from his previous treatises. Bryan replied: “My original Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting book explains the fundamental elements of external ballistics. It’s the academic background which all future work relies on. The new book, Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting, covers the ongoing development of equipment and ideas. We explore things like twist rate effects, modern rifle and optic design, and some of the high tech instruments which are being used to enhance the effectiveness of long range shooting.

Litz Applied Ballistics Book Modern Advancements Long Range Shooting

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 1 Comment »
June 22nd, 2014

Now That’s Accuracy — Mike Ezell’s Tack-Driving 30 Major

Sometimes everything comes together — a great barrel, the right load, good bullets, and, of course, a gifted trigger-puller. Check out this target from Forum member Mike Ezell. That’s five (5) shots at 100 yards from Mike’s 30 Major benchrest rifle. When this was shot a while back, Mike reported: “I fired a few groups in the great weather. No surprises — it did VERY well! My little wildcat, the 30 Major, has always been a shooter. That target was not a fluke — I shot a few groups today and Agg’d a high One.” Mike is a Kentucky gunsmith who builds his own rifles.

30 Major 6.5 Grendel 30 caliber PPC

30 Major is Based on 6.5 Grendel
What’s a “30 Major” you ask? This is Mike’s own wildcat, a 6.5 Grendel necked up to .30 caliber. Mike writes: “The 30 Major is essentially a .070″-long 30 PPC. With the great 6.5 Grendel brass available from Lapua, all you need to do is neck-up and turn the necks to prep the brass.” Mike says it is very much like a 30 BR, but you just start with 6.5 Grendel brass instead of 6mmBR brass.

The cartridge has one major benefit — it utilizes a PPC-diameter bolt face. That makes it easy to convert your group-shooting 6 PPC to shoot score with .30-cal bullets. Mike explains: “If you have a PPC, to shoot score, all you have to do is chamber up a [.30 caliber] barrel and screw it on your PPC.”

From 7.62×39 to 30 Major — Full Circle
Arms expert Neil Gibson has an interesting perspective on the lineage of the 30 Major. He reminds us that this wildcat has returned to its roots: “Start off with the 7.62×39 Russian [cartridge]. The Russians then modify it, necking it down to .223 for deer hunting. The U.S. bench rest guys then modify that, necking it up to 6 mm and blowing the case out making the 6mm PPC. Someone takes that case, necks it out to 6.5 mm, making the 6.5 PPC. Alexander Arms takes that and makes the 6.5 Grendel. Then finally Mike Ezell takes the Grendel and necks it up to 30 caliber, making the 30 Major. From 30 caliber, back to 30 caliber. OK, the original uses .31 caliber bullets, but the bore is still .300. Talk about almost coming round full circle!”

Great Accuracy Restored after Solving Mystery Problem
To get his 30 Major rig shooting this well, Mike had to solve a mysterious problem that cropped up last year. Mike explains: “Two years running, I have finished in the top 15 in IBS points shooting [the 30 Major], but last year’s benchrest season was tough.” Mike was having some accuracy issues that defied explanation. But he figured it out: “The front action screw was bottoming out against the barrel extension – just barely. A simple fix brought the gun back to life. It’s a Stiller Viper Drop Port. The action is screwed and glued into the stock, so I was a bit surprised … especially after having checked for [that issue] while looking for the problem. I’m just glad to have found the trouble so I can begin to re-instill some confidence in the gun and myself, after last year.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 11 Comments »
June 19th, 2014

Primers Available at Midsouth Shooters Supply

primers CCI Midsouth Shooters SupplyNeed Primers? Midsouth Shooters Supply (Midsouth) has a large selection of primers in stock right now. Yes Midsouth has the hard-to-find CCI BR-4 primers, as well CCI 450s (small rifle magnum), CCI 200s (large rifle), and CCI 250s (large rifle magnum). Midsouth also has large quantities of Rem 6.5s and Winchester rifle primers. If you need pistol or shotshell primers, Midsouth has plenty of those right now as well.

primers CCI Midsouth Shooters Supply

Get ‘Em While They’re Hot — These are In-Stock Today at 11:00 am ET
Here is a screenshot of some of the more popular rifle primers that were in-stock today (6/19/2014) at Midsouth. If you need ‘em, don’t hesitate to place your orders. You snooze, you loose.

primers CCI Midsouth Shooters Supply

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June 16th, 2014

How Barnes Bullets Are Made — Views from Inside the Factory

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.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 10 Comments »
June 13th, 2014

"How Do Bullets Fly?" — Great Online Resource

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.

Bullet External Ballistics

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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June 12th, 2014

The Great Debate: .260 Rem vs. 6.5×55 — Which Is Better?

One of our Shooters’ Forum readers, Trent from Louisiana, asked for help deciding between a .260 Remington and a 6.5×55 for his latest gun project. In the Forum thread, respected UK gun writer Laurie Holland provided a good summary of the differences between the two chamberings. Laurie writes:

Remington 260 Cartridge“The 6.5×55 case has 6 or 7% more capacity than the .260s, even more in practice when both are loaded to standard COALs with heavy bullets, which sees them having to seated very deep in the .260 Rem using up quite a lot of powder capacity. So loaded up for reasonable pressures in modern actions, the 6.5×55 will give a bit more performance.

The issue for many is what action length is available or wanted, the 6.5 requiring a long action. So sniper rifle / tactical rifle competitors will go for the .260 Rem with the option of the many good short-bolt-throw designs around with detachable box magazines. If a bit more performance is needed, the .260AI gives another 100-150 fps depending on bullet weight.

Brass-wise, you’ve got really good Lapua 6.5×55 off the shelf that needs minimum preparation, and it’s strong and long-lived. There is an Ackley version too that was popular in F-Class in Europe for a while that isn’t too far short of 6.5-284 performance. If you go for .260 Rem, the American brass isn’t as good but you can neck-up Lapua or Norma .243 Win and trim them (or neck-down .308 Win or 7mm-08). This has the downside that doing so usually creates a noticeable ‘doughnut’ at the case-shoulder junction, that may cause problems depending on how deep bullets are seated. [Editor's Note: After Laurie wrote this, Lapua began producing high-quality .260 Remington brass.]

Laurie HollandFor purely target shooting, I think I’d go with 6.5×55 if I was making the choice again today for performance and brass-preparation reasons. In fact, I’ve considered going back to the gunsmith to have the barrel rechambered.

You want a multi-purpose rifle though and that makes things trickier depending on the bullet weight(s) you want to use. The [typical] 6.5×55 and 6.5-08 throats are really designed for 140s, so 90-120s make a long jump into the rifling. If you’re always going to use 130s and up, it’s less of an issue. If you want to use the lighter stuff, I’d say go for .260 Rem and discuss the reamer with the gunsmith to come up with as good a compromise as you can depending on the mix of shooting. 1:8.5″ twist is the norm and handles all the usual sporting and match bullets; you can go for a little slower twist if you won’t use the heavies.

Over here in the UK, in Scotland to be precise, we have a top sporting rifle builder (Callum Ferguson of Precision Rifle Services) who almost specializes in .260 Rem usually built on Borden actions. He throats the barrel ‘short’ so it’s suited to varmint bullets, but will still handle the 100gr Nosler Partition which he says is more than adequate for any British deer species including Scottish red stags.

Accuracy-wise, I don’t think there’s anything between them if everything else is equal. The 6.5 has a reputation for superlative accuracy, but that was high-quality Swedish military rifles and ammunition matched against often not-so-high-quality military stuff from elsewhere. Put the pair in custom rifles and use equally good brass and bullets and you’ll be hard pressed to tell them apart.” – Laurie Holland

Remington 260 CartridgeAfter Laurie’s helpful comments, some other Forum members added their insights on the .260 Rem vs. 6.5×55 question:

“To me, the .260 Remington has no advantage over the 6.5×55 if one is going to use a long action. Likewise, the only advantage the .260 has in a modern rifle is it can be used in a short-action. There is more powder capacity in the 6.5×55 so you have the potential to get more velocity plus there is a lot of reloading data available to you for loading at lower velocity/pressure if you choose. The Lapua brass is great and Winchester brass is pretty good at low pressures. Having loaded a good bit for both, the 6.5×55 would always get the nod from me. To me, if someone wants to use a short-action, the 6.5×47 Lapua is even a better option than the .260 for a target rifle.” — Olympian

“There is just one small item that has been missing from this conversation — the 6.5×55 has a non-standard rim diameter of .479″ vs. the standard .473″ of a .308 and all of its variants. Depending on your bolt this may be an issue, or it may not.” — Neil L.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 14 Comments »
June 9th, 2014

NEW eBook Version of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting

eBook Applied Ballistics long range shooting bryan litzBallistics books have gone digital. Bryan Litz’s Applied Ballistics For Long-Range Shooting (2nd Edition), the leading treatise on the subject, is now available in digital eBook format. This new eBook version contains all the text of the print version, all the charts, all the diagrams, and all the photos. You get all this in an easy-to-read, easy-to-search format that can be viewed on a variety of devices*. You can access the book on your home computer, on your laptop, on a tablet, on a smartphone, or on a lightweight, portable Kindle e-Reader. And yes, iPad users can use the Kindle app to read the book on an iPad.

CLICK for FREE Sample of Applied Ballistics
for Long-Range Shooting (2d Ed.) eBook

NOTE: After clicking this link to go to Amazon.com, click on the blue book image labeled “Look Inside”. This will launch a preview window. Alternatively, Kindle users can click the “Send Sample Now” button.

Advantages of the eBook Edition
The eBook release of Bryan Litz’s most popular and comprehensive ballistics book is a big deal, in our opinion. There are many advantages to the digital format. First you can quickly search for any term or reference, or click from table of content entries to desired chapters. Second, you can highlight text and bookmark pages for future review. Third, you can easily change the font size to enhance reading for older eyes. Fourth, you can zoom in the charts, diagrams, and photos for a better view. Last but not least, you can easily carry the entire text in the field on the same digital device that holds your ballistics solver software.

The new eBook version of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting (2d. Ed.) is available now on Amazon.com for $39.95.

Highlights of eBook Edition
The eBook version of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting (2d Ed.) is available now on Amazon.com. Since its release in 2011, the second edition (hardcopy) of Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting has sold over 10,000 copies. It’s the modern ‘go to’ book on the subject of ballistics for long range shooters. The Second Edition of the book includes two additional chapters covering extended long-range shooting and monolithic bullets.

200 Bullet Types Tested. In this eBook edition, Bryan Litz includes data from his own personal field tests with over 200 bullet types. Performance data (G1 and G7 BCs confirmed by live-fire testing) is presented along with 2-D drawings for hundreds of long range bullets.

Ballistic Program Included. eBook buyers can receive the Point Mass Ballistics Solver 2.0 for no extra charge. The software comes on a CD with the hardcopy. With the eBook, there are two ways to access the ballistics program. First, you can access the free AB online ballistics solver through embedded links in the eBook and run directly from your eReader. Alternatively, you can request the PM Solver program to be emailed to you for running on a PC.

“Our mission at Applied Ballistics is to be the complete and unbiased source of external ballistics information for long range shooters,” stated Bryan Litz, author and owner of Applied Ballistics, LLC. “We’re constantly testing new claims, products and ideas and dispensing the marketing hype which can make it difficult for shooters to master the challenging discipline of long range shooting. We developed the original hard copy of the book in order to provide shooters of all capabilities with this knowledge. The release of the eBook will not only provide readers with the same knowledge, but do so in a more accessible and mobile way.”

Sample Page from eBook
eBook Applied Ballistics long range shooting bryan litz

* Installation of FREE eReader software may be required for viewing on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This only takes a minute or so.

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June 8th, 2014

Clay Spencer Sells Bullet-Making Business To Vapor Trail Bullets

Vapor Trail Bullets Clay SpencerAlong with his gunsmithing and barrel-making enterprises, Clay Spencer of Spencer Rifle Barrels operated a very successful bullet-making business. Clay’s bullets are in high demand by top competitors. Clay has made a variety of bullet types, from a 52gr .22 caliber up to a 118gr .30 caliber, with four different 6mm bullet types (65gr, 68gr, 95gr VLD, 103gr VLD). All his designs have proven themselves in competition. In particular, the 103-grainer has won many matches and set a few world records in the process.

If you have ever shot Spencer bullets you know how good they are. Unfortunately, the era of Spencer-branded bullets is coming to a close. Clay has decided to sell his bullet-making operation. The good news for shooters is that Clay’s bullet-making expertise will be passed on to a new owner/operator, Tom Jacobs, who will employ Clay’s bullet dies and presses to carry on the tradition of Spencer bullets. Clay’s bullet designs will now be produced in Missouri by Vapor Trail Bullets. Here’s the official announcement:

Vapor Trail Bullets is pleased to announce the acquisition of Spencer Bullets. Clay Spencer, long known for his world record-setting, hand-made bullets, has sold his bullet-making equipment and personally trained Vapor Trail Bullets owner Tom Jacobs in the manner and methods to continue this successful tradition. The bullet making operation has been moved to Spickard, Missouri. Vapor Trail Bullets looks to expand the product line while continuing to produce the bullets Clay Spencer is known for. For bullet orders please contact Tom Jacobs at 660-748-8111.

How Custom Bullets Are Made on Hand Presses
If you’ve ever wondered how custom, match-grade bullets are made, here are images of bullets being made in Clay Spencer’s shop. The images show bullet cores being seated and bullets being “pointed up”. These same presses (modified RCBS Rockchuckers), dies, and other tools have been moved to Missouri to be used by Vapor Trail Bullets.

Vapor Trail Bullets Clay Spencer

Vapor Trail Bullets Clay Spencer

Vapor Trail Bullets Clay Spencer

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 6 Comments »
June 1st, 2014

How Cartridge Brass is Made — The Inside Scoop

When we first ran this story a while back, it generated great interest among readers. By popular request, we’re reprinting this story, in case you missed it the first time around. — Editor

Rifle cartridge brass manufacturingPrecision shooters favor premium brass from Lapua, Norma, or RWS. (Lake City also makes quality brass in military calibers.) Premium brass delivers better accuracy, more consistent velocities, and longer life. Shooters understand the importance of good brass, but many of us have no idea how cartridge cases are actually made. Here’s how it’s done.

The process starts with a brass disk stamped from strips of metal. Then, through a series of stages, the brass is extruded or drawn into a cylindrical shape. In the extrusion process the brass is squeezed through a die under tremendous pressure. This is repeated two or three times typically. In the more traditional “draw” process, the case is progressively stretched longer, in 3 to 5 stages, using a series of high-pressure rams forcing the brass into a form die. While extrusion may be more common today, RWS, which makes some of the most uniform brass in the world, still uses the draw process: “It starts with cup drawing after the bands have been punched out. RWS cases are drawn in three ‘stages’ and after each draw they are annealed, pickled, rinsed and subjected to further quality improvement measures. This achieves specific hardening of the brass cases and increases their resistance to extraordinary stresses.” FYI, Lapua also uses a traditional draw process to manufacture most of its cartridge brass (although Lapua employs some proprietary steps that are different from RWS’s methods).

RWS Brass Cartridge Draw process

Deep-Draw Ram Illustration from Demsey Mfg.
deep draw cartridge brass animated gif

After the cases are extruded or drawn to max length, the cases are trimmed and the neck/shoulder are formed. Then the extractor groove (on rimless cases) is formed or machined, and the primer pocket is created in the base. One way to form the primer pocket is to use a hardened steel plug called a “bunter”. In the photos below you see the stages for forming a 20mm cannon case (courtesy OldAmmo.com), along with bunters used for Lake City rifle brass. This illustrates the draw process (as opposed to extrusion). The process of draw-forming rifle brass is that same as for this 20mm shell, just on a smaller scale.

20mm cartridge brass forming

20mm Draw Set Oldammo.com

River Valley Ordnance explains: “When a case is being made, it is drawn to its final draw length, with the diameter being slightly smaller than needed. At this point in its life, the head of the draw is slightly rounded, and there are no provisions for a primer. So the final drawn cases are trimmed to length, then run into the head bunter. A punch, ground to the intended contours for the inside of the case, pushes the draw into a cylindrical die and holds it in place while another punch rams into the case from the other end, mashing the bottom flat. That secondary ram holds the headstamp bunter punch.

Lake City Brass bunter

The headstamp bunter punch has a protrusion on the end to make the primer pocket, and has raised lettering around the face to form the headstamp writing. This is, of course, all a mirror image of the finished case head. Small cases, such as 5.56×45, can be headed with a single strike. Larger cases, like 7.62×51 and 50 BMG, need to be struck once to form a dent for the primer pocket, then a second strike to finish the pocket, flatten the head, and imprint the writing. This second strike works the brass to harden it so it will support the pressure of firing.”

Thanks to Guy Hildebrand, of the Cartridge Collectors’ Exchange, OldAmmo.com, for providing this 20mm Draw Set photo. Bunter photo from River Valley Ordnance.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
May 31st, 2014

Monster .950 JDJ Cartridge with 3600gr Bullet Dwarfs a .50 BMG

Are you bored with your “whimpy” .50 BMG? Looking for something with a little more punch? Well J.D. Jones and his team at SSK Iindustries have created a truly big boomer — the .950 JDJ. As its name implies, rifles chambered for the cartridge have a bore diameter of 0.950″ (24.13 mm). This would normally make such rifles “destructive devices” under the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA). However, SSK obtained a “Sporting Use” exemption allowing the rifles to be sold without special restrictions as destructive devices. CLICK HERE to watch .950 JDJ being fired.

.950 JDJ Specifications
Rifle Cost: $8000.00
Ammunition Cost: $40.00 per round
Projectile Weight: 3,600 grains (more than half a pound)
Rifle Weight: Between 80 and 120 pounds
Muzzle Energy: 38,685 ft/lbs (52,450 Joules)
Momentum: 154.1 Newton-seconds

As crafted by SSK Industries, .950 JDJ rifles use McMillan stocks and very large-diameter Krieger barrels fitted with a massive 18.2-lb muzzle brakes. The ammo produced by SSK features solid 3,600 grain bullets and CNC-machined cartridge brass. It is also possible (through a lot of work), to use a 20mm cannon casing shortened and necked-down.The primer pocket is swaged out to accept a .50 cal machine gun primer. That 3,600 grain bullet is just massive — it weighs more than half a pound. The cartridge propels its 3,600 grain bullet at approximately 2,200 fps. This yields a muzzle energy of 38,685 ft-lbs and a momentum of 154.1 Newton-seconds. The energy on target (knock-down power) is comparable to WWI-era tank rounds.

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