SHOT Show 2016 kicks off in two weeks in Las Vegas. While at SHOT Show next month, we plan to get the “inside scoop” on new bullet designs from Berger, Hornady, Lapua, Nosler and Sierra.
A while back, at SHOT Show 2012 we chatted with Berger Ballistician Bryan Litz about Berger’s popular line of Hybrid bullets. Berger now offers a wide range of Hybrids in multiple calibers and weights. In fact, for .30-Caliber shooters, Berger now offers seven different Hybrid match bullets, with weights from 155 grains up to 230 grains. Two .338-caliber OTM Tactical Hybrids were introduced in 2012 (a 250-grainer and a 300-grainer).
Bryan tells us: “The hybrid design is Berger’s solution to the age old problem of precision vs. ease of use. This design is making life easier for handloaders as well as providing opportunities for commercial ammo loaders who need to offer a high performance round that also shoots precisely in many rifles with various chamber/throat configurations.”
For those not familiar with Hybrid bullets, the Hybrid design blends two common bullet nose shapes on the front section of the bullet (from the tip to the start of the bearing surface). Most of the curved section of the bullet has a Secant (VLD-style) ogive for low drag. This then blends in a Tangent-style ogive curve further back, where the bullet first contacts the rifling. The Tangent section makes seating depth less critical to accuracy, so the Hybrid bullet can shoot well through a range of seating depths, even though it has a very high Ballistic Coefficient (BC).
In the video we asked Bryan for recommended seating depths for 7mm and .30-Caliber Hybrid bullets. Bryan advises that, as a starting point, Hybrid bullets be seated .015″ (fifteen thousandths) off the lands in most barrels. Watch the video for more tips how to optimize your loads with Hybrid bullets.
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Looking for authentic U.S. Military Specification Standards (MIL-STD) for gun parts, safety products, or other hardware? Log on to EverySpec.com. This website provides FREE access to the complete archive of U.S. Government spec sheets and technical manuals. You can quickly access and download thousands of public domain U.S. Government documents. For example, we searched for “Picatinny” and came up with MIL-STD-1913 “Dimensioning of Accessory Mounting Rail for Small Arms Weapons”. With one click we downloaded the file as a PDF. Then a search for “M118″ yielded the engineering drawing for 7.62×51 M118 LR Match ammo. Pretty cool.
iPhone owners rejoice. The much-awaited iOS Ballistics App for the Kestrel LiNK Weather Meter is now available. Now you can sync your 5700 Series Kestrel wirelessly with your iPhone, iPod, or iPad. With Apple iOS devices being so popular among serious shooters, this is an important software release. Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics was proud to announce the new development: “Kestrel LiNK Ballistics is now available for iOS! It has been available for Android, and was also recently updated to fix some issues. Android users should be on version 1.67 by now. We say thank you to those who have been patiently waiting for the iOS version”. The software is a FREE download from the Apple App Store. For supporting info and Users’ Guides for both iOS and Android versions, visit the Applied Ballistics Resource Site.
Bryan Litz with his F-TR Nat’l Championship-winnning rifle, and the man who built it, John Pierce.
Bryan Litz knows something about bullet shapes and dimensions. He’s the chief designer of many of Berger’s projectiles, including the successful line of Hybrid bullets. Bryan also understands how bullets actually perform in “real world” competition. Bryan won BOTH the Mid-Range and Long-Range National F-TR Championships this year, a remarkable accomplishment. With Bryan’s technical expertise combined with his shooting skills, few people are better qualified to answer the question: “how should I sort bullets when loading for competition?”
Bullet Sorting Strategies — OAL vs. Base to Ogive
At the 2015 Berger Southwest Nationals, Forum member Erik Cortina cornered Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics. Erik 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….”
Rodney Wagner shot the smallest 5-shot, 600-yard group in the history of competitive rifle shooting. First measured at a mere 0.349″, then certified on the IBS Record books at 0.336″, Rodney’s group is mind-blowingly small — and it was centered for a 50 score. This amazing group shows what can be done with a great gun, a talented shooter, and superb hand-loaded ammunition. Today’s Tech Tip reveals some of Rodney’s reloading methods that helped him put five shots you could cover with a dime into a target 600 yards away.
Creating Ultra-Accurate Benchrest Ammunition
Rodney takes great care in loading his brass, and he employs a few tricks to get superior consistency.
Fire-Forming — To prepare his cases for fire-forming, Rodney starts by turning his Lapua brass to just past where the new neck-shoulder junction will be: “I just cut enough for the 6mm Dasher neck. A little bit of the cut shows on the shoulder after forming.” Then Rodney runs a .25-caliber K&M mandrel through the whole neck, expanding the neck diameter. After the entire neck is expanded, Rodney re-sizes the top section with a Wilson bushing, creating a false shoulder. Then, as further insurance that the case will be held firmly in place during fire-forming, Rodney seats his bullets long — hard into the lands. When fire-forming, Rodney uses a normal 6mmBR load of 29.8 grains of Varget: “I don’t like to stress my brass before it has been hardened. I load enough powder to form the shoulder 95%. Any more than that is just wasted.” Rodney adds: “When fire-forming, I don’t want to use a super-hard primer. I prefer to use a Federal 205, CCI 200, or Winchester — something soft.” Using a softer primer lessens the likelihood that the case will drive forward when hit by the firing pin, so this helps achieve more consistent “blow lengths”.
Ammo Loading — Rodney is fastidious with his brass and weighs his charges very precisely. Charges are first dispensed with an RFD manual powder measure, then Rodney trickles kernel by kernel using a highly-precise Sartorius GD-503 laboratory scale. He tries to maintain charge-weight consistency within half a tenth of a grain — about two kernels of Varget powder.
One important technique Rodney employs is sorting by bullet-seating force. Rodney batch-sorts his loaded rounds based on seating force indicated by the dial gauge on his K&M arbor press: “I use a K&M arbor press with dial indicator strain gauge. When I’m loading I pay lots of attention to seating effort and I try to batch five rounds that feel the same. For record rounds I try to make sure I get five of the same number (on the dial). When sorting based on the force-gauge readout, you need to go slow. If you go too fast the needle will spike up and down before you can see it.”
In practice, Rodney might select five rounds with a gauge value of 25, then another five with a gauge read-out of 30 and so on. He places the first five like-value rounds in one row of his ammo caddy. The next like-value set of five will go in the next row down. By this method, he ensures that all five cartridges in a five-round set for a record target will have bullets seated with very consistent seating force.
Unlike some top shooters, Rodney does not regularly anneal his cases. However, after every firing, he does tumble his Dasher brass in treated corncob media. After sizing his brass, before seating the bullets, he runs a nylon brush in the necks: “The last thing I do before firing is run a well-worn 30 caliber nylon brush in the necks, using a small 6-volt drill for power. This is a quick operation — just in and out the neck”. Sometimes, at the end of the season, he will anneal, but Rodney adds: “If I can get 10 firings out of the case I’ve done good.” He usually makes up new brass when he fits a new barrel: “If it is a good barrel (that I may shoot at the Nationals), I’ll usually go ahead and prepare 200 pieces of good brass.”
Tips for 600-Yard Shooters New to the Game
In the course of our interview with Rodney, we asked if he had any tips for shooters who are getting started in the 600-yard Benchrest Game. Rodney offered some sensible advice:
1. Don’t try to go it alone. Find an old-timer to mentor you. As a novice, go to matches, watch and ask questions.
2. Go with a proven cartridge. If you are shooting 600 yards stick with a 6mmBR or one of the 6BR improveds (BRX or Dasher). Keep it simple. I tried some of the larger cartridges, the 6XC and 6-6.5×47 Lapua. I was trying to be different, but I was not successful. It wasn’t a disaster — I learned something. But I found the larger cases were not as accurate as a 6BR or Dasher. Those bigger cartridges are competitive for score but not for group.
3. You don’t have to spend a fortune to be competitive. Buy a used rifle from somebody and find out if you like the sport. You can save a lot with a used rifle, but do plan on buying a new barrel immediately.
4. Don’t waste weeks or months struggling with a barrel that isn’t shooting. My best barrels, including this record-setting Brux, started shooting exceptionally well right from the start.
Rodney’s record group was measured at 0.349″ at the match, then IBS record-certified at 0.336″.
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It may seem obvious, but you need to be careful when changing primer types for a pet load. Testing with a .308 Win rifle and Varget powder has confirmed that a primer change alone can result in noteworthy changes in muzzle velocity. To get more MV, you’ll need a more energy at some point in the process — and that potentially means more pressure. So exercise caution when changing primer types
We are often asked “Can I get more velocity by switching primer types?” The answer is “maybe”. The important thing to know is that changing primer types can alter your load’s performance in many ways — velocity average, velocity variance (ES/SD), accuracy, and pressure. Because there are so many variables involved you can’t really predict whether one primer type is going to be better or worse than another. This will depend on your cartridge, your powder, your barrel, and even the mechanics of your firing pin system.
Interestingly, however, a shooter on another forum did a test with his .308 Win semi-auto. Using Hodgdon Varget powder and Sierra 155gr Palma MatchKing (item 2156) bullets, he found that Wolf Large Rifle primers gave slightly higher velocities than did CCI-BR2s. Interestingly, the amount of extra speed (provided by the Wolfs) increased as charge weight went up, though the middle value had the largest speed variance. The shooter observed: “The Wolf primers seemed to be obviously hotter and they had about the same or possibly better ES average.” See table:
Varget .308 load
CCI BR2 Primers
Wolf LR Primers
You can’t extrapolate too much from the table above. This describes just one gun, one powder, and one bullet. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) as they say. However, this illustration does show that by substituting one component you may see significant changes. Provided it can be repeated in multiple chrono runs, an increase of 19 fps (with the 46.0 grain powder load) is meaningful. An extra 20 fps or so may yield a more optimal accuracy node or “sweet spot” that produces better groups. (Though faster is certainly NOT always better for accuracy — you have to test to find out.)
WARNING: When switching primers, you should exercise caution. More speed may be attractive, but you have to consider that the “speedier” primer choice may also produce more pressure. Therefore, you must carefully monitor pressure signs whenever changing ANY component in a load.
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As precision hand-loaders, we normally assemble just one round at a time. That won’t cut it for an ammunition factory which needs to produce millions of rounds a month. To see how a modern factory achieves these kind of production levels, watch this video. It provides an inside look at the how ammunition is made with this step-by-step production guide from Hornady. The video begins by showing the stages in production of a lead-core jacketed bullet with exposed tip, such as the Hornady Interlock. Next, at the 1:38″ time-mark, the video shows how cartridge cases are made, starting with small brass cups (photo right). The brass is lengthened in a series of stages involving annealing, drawing, polishing, and the formation of the case head with primer pocket. Finally, at the 2:40″ time mark, the video shows how bullets and powder are seated into cartridge cases on the Hornady assembly line. In the final production stages, the completed ammunition is tested and packaged.
Watch Ammo Production Video
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Here’s good news for short-range benchrest shooters. The two most popular powders for the 6PPC, Vihtavuori N133 and Accurate LT-32, are now in-stock at Powder Valley Inc. (PVI). In fact, Powder Valley even has the hard-to-find 8-lb jugs of N133 and LT-32.
For you 30BR score shooters, PVI has both Hodgdon H4198 and Accurate LT-30 in stock, the two most popular powders for the 30BR. A slightly faster-burning version of LT-32, LT-30 is a very promising powder for the 30 BR, while H4198 has traditionally been the “go-to” choice for the 100/200-yard score shooting game. PVI has 1-lb and 8-lb containers of both these ultra-accurate powders in stock now. Visit PowderValleyinc.com, and click on the “Powders” link in the Menu.
30 BR Powders
– PVI has 1-pound LT-32 for $27.10
— PVI has 8-pound LT-32 for $204.30
— PVI has 1-pound N133 for $31.25
— PVI has 8-pound N133 for $202.00
– PVI has 1-lb LT-30 for $27.10
— PVI has 8-pound LT-32 for $204.30
— PVI has 1-pound H4198 for $23.25
— PVI has 8-pound H4198 for $165.00
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Chances are that many of you have packed away your ammo and shooting supplies for the winter. Maybe you put your brass in a storage bin that might also contain solvents, old rags, or used bore swabs. Well, if you use any ammonia-based solvents, we suggest you separate the brass and ammo and keep it away from potential ammonia vapors. This is because long-term exposure to ammonia fumes can cause cracks to form in your brass. This can lead to case ruptures and possible injury.
This case-cracking phenomenon has been called Season Cracking, a form of stress-corrosion cracking of brass cartridge cases. Season cracking is characterized by deep brittle cracks which penetrate into affected components. If the cracks reach a critical size, the component can suddenly fracture, sometimes with disastrous results. If the concentration of ammonia is very high, then corrosion is much more severe, and damage over all exposed surfaces occurs. The brass cracking is caused by a reaction between ammonia and copper that forms the cuprammonium ion, Cu(NH3)4, a chemical complex which is water-soluble. The problem of cracking can also occur in copper and copper alloys such as bronze.
Season Cracking was originally observed by the British forces in India a century ago. During the monsoon season, military activity was reduced, and ammunition was stored in stables until the dry weather returned. Many brass cartridges were subsequently found to be cracked, especially where the case was crimped to the bullet. In 1921, in the Journal of the Institute of Metals, the phenomenon was explained by Moor, Beckinsale, and Mallinson. Apparently ammonia from horse urine, combined with the residual stress in the cold-drawn metal of the cartridges, was responsible for the cracking.
Don’t store ammunition (or brass) for long periods in a box or container holding ammoniated solvents:
The Australia Department of Defense (AUSDOD) has also explored the problem of brass cracking caused, at least in part, by exposure to ammonia. A study was done to see whether the amount of cracking (from ammonia exposure) varied according to the duration and temperature of the annealing process used on the brass. CLICK HERE to read AUSDOD Research Report.
Story idea from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain Selections. Here are some of the best deals on 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. Optics Planet — Multiple Coupons Plus $15 Off $150+ Order
Right now Optics Planet is running numerous holiday specials, including 35 Seasonal Promotions, 21 Coupon Offers, 27 Mail-In Rebates, and 13 Instant Rebates. Plus you can get $15 off orders of $150.00 or more with Code A1DA0E7. Visit Optics Planet’s DEALS Page for all the offers.
CDNN Sports has some of the nicest modern Browning rifles we’ve seen. These X-Bolt Medallion Rifles feature figured Maple stocks with engraved receivers. The barrels, Octagon for the Limited models, are deep polished blue. The actions are glass-bedded and fit a detachable rotary magazine. The .30-06 Maple X-Bolt Medallion is marked down from $1069.99 to $899.99. The X-Bolt Limited Editions, available in a wide variety of chamberings, are on sale for $1199.99. These are very nice rifles that any shooter would be proud to own.
3. Amazon — Complete RCBS Rock Chucker Master Reloading Kit
This RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit contains everything one could need to produce accurate handloads. The Rock Chucker press will last a lifetime and the powder measure is durable and reliable — we know, we’ve used them for years. The RCBS hand-priming tool does the job effectively, and the balance scale can be quite accurate with some tweaking. Overall, at $299.99, this is a great value considering all that you get. RCBS also offers a rebate on this Kit.
4. Midsouth — 500 Rounds of Norma .22 LR for $49.99
If you need good, reliable ammo for plinking or rimfire cross-training, look no further. At ten cents per round, this Norma-brand Tac 22 ammo is very affordable. We’ve used this ammo for tactical rimfire matches and it has proven more than adequate. This is a limited time offer at Midsouth Shooters Supply, so don’t delay.
5. Sportsman’s Guide — Get 20% OFF First Order
Now through the end of Decenmber, Sportsman’s Guide is offering new customers 20% off their first order with a cap of $30.00. Use Coupon Code TAKEOFF20% at Checkout. This will knock 20% off a maximum of $150.00 in merchandise value so the total savings will not exceed $30.00. Still, that’s an attractive offer (as long as you understand the limitations). NOTE: This discount can not be used for firearms or Buyer’s Club Membership fees, and this offer may be only claimed once per customer.
6. Amazon — Lyman Case Prep Xpress $94.99
The Lyman Case Prep Xpress lets you chamfer inside and out, brush your necks, clean/uniform primer pockets, and ream military crimps. This unit sells elsewhere for $120.00 or more. Here is a review from a Verified Purchaser: “The unit is quiet, sturdy, and the attachments do what they are supposed to do. It already has made a difference in my reloading speed, and most importantly, my comfort. I highly recommend this unit.” (Strafer, 4/7/14)
7. Palmetto State Armory — AR-15 Days of Christmas Deals
Looking to assemble an AR platform rifle for gun games, varmint hunting, or other purposes? With its AR-15 Days of Christmas promotion, Palmetto State Armory is continuing some of its best Black Friday deals throughout December. Save on complete Lowers, complete Uppers, and other components. The PSA complete lower with Magpul stock shown above is a very good deal.
8. Widener’s — 1000 Rounds of 9mm HP Ammo for $219.00
If you are looking for first-quality, original production 9mm Luger ammo loaded with hollowpoints (as opposed to FMJ bullets), this deal is hard to beat. The ammo features a quality 115gr JHP (lead core) bullet and the same powder used by the Israeli military. With mil-spec velocity, this IMI 9mm JHP Ammo is hard-hitting, yet extremely accurate. Widener’s tells us that “This ammo has not been offered in the USA for several years”. If you need a stock of 9mm defense ammo, here you go.
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Who wouldn’t like to find a nice, wooden crate of rimfire ammo under the Christmas tree? Here’s a Limited Edition Winchester Ammo Special offered by Cabelas.com for the holidays. The crate contains 500 rounds of Winchester Super-X Hi-Vel .22 LR ammo, loaded with 36gr copper-plated, hollow-point bullets. This ammo is rated at 1,280 fps velocity, making it good for small varmints as well as plinking. The Winchester ammo comes packaged in a premium, limited-edition wooden box. We think this would make a great end-of-year gift for a 4H Club Team, or Boy Scouts youth shooting program.
With 500 rounds at $39.99, that works out to just 8 cents a rounds — the equivalent of four bucks for a 50-round box. Thats a very good deal when you consider what rimfire ammo cost just a year ago. Also if you add another item to raise your total order to at least $49.00, you can get FREE Shipping with Code 5JOLLY. The Winchester Ammo Special is limited to one crate per customer per day, but you can add a second, different product to qualify for free shipping.
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The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won’t be able to control, regulate, or ban ammunition thanks to provisions in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) recently signed into law. A clause in the 2016 NDAA amends the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) to preclude the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from asserting TSCA authority over ammunition and its component parts. This change is important because anti-hunting organizations have attempted, through legal actions, to force the EPA to to ban traditional ammunition made with lead components.
If the EPA had asserted authority under the TSCA to regulate ammunition, this could have severely impacted the production and distribution of all types of hunting and target ammunition, including pistol ammo, rifle ammo, and even shotshells. The EPA-limiting TSCA amendment contained in the 2016 NDAA was supported by Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry.
According to Rep. Jeff Miller (R. Florida): “[T]his common-sense language in the Defense Bill … will clarify, once and for all, that the EPA does not, and should not, have the jurisdiction to regulate traditional ammunition or its components. Enactment of this legislation closes one more window of opportunity for the EPA to overreach its authority while also averting unnecessary and significant cost increases for our military.”
Here’s a valuable web resource our readers should bookmark for easy access in the future. ShootForum.com offers a vast Bullet Database, which includes roughly 3900 bullet designs in all. We counted nearly 200 different 6mm bullets! The bullet info comes from the makers of QuickLOAD Software. Access to the online database is FREE. Most database entries include Caliber, Manufacturer, Stated Bullet Weight, True Bullet Weight, Length, Sectional Density (SD), and Ballistic Coefficient.* In many cases multiple BCs are provided for different velocity ranges.
The database is great if you’re looking for an unusual caliber, or you want a non-standard bullet diameter to fit a barrel that is tighter or looser than spec. You’ll find the popular jacketed bullets from major makers, plus solids, plated bullets, and even cast bullets. For those who don’t already own QuickLOAD software, this is a great resource, providing access to a wealth of bullet information.
Values for Changed Bullet Designs
Some of our readers have noted some variances with BCs and OALs with recently changed bullet designs. In general the database is very useful and accurate. However, as with any data resource this extensive, there will be a few items that need to be updated. Manufacturers can and do modify bullet shapes. Kevin Adams, one of the creators of the database, explains: “Thanks for mentioning this database. It took us a long time to collate this information and have agreement to publish it. Please keep in mind that individual batches of bullets will differ from the manufacturers’ stated standards. This is more a reflection on the manufacturers’ tolerances than the database ‘accuracy’. We will continue to add to the database as more manufacturers’ figures come available.”
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Six bucks — that’s less than the price of a burger and fries these days. But for the same small sum you can get something that will last a lot longer — a Sierra Counter Mat that displays the entire line of Sierra Bullets from .20 caliber up to .458 caliber. Right now Sierra is offering its foam-backed 16 ¼” x 21 ½” counter mat for just $6.00 (plus S&H). This displays over 160 bullet types (including 10 new bullets), complete with specifications, BCs and product codes. You can order online from the Sierra website or call 1-888-223-3006. Note, the last shipping day for 2015 will be Friday, December 18th.
This is a handy item for your reloading room or workshop. The mat provides a comfortable, non-marring surface for working on your rifles and pistols. It will also, to some degree, provide a barrier to oils and solvents, protecting your bench top.
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Sierra has released two new Tipped MatchKing (TMK®) bullets that should find favor with PRS competitors and tactical shooters*. Sierra is producing a new 95 grain 6mm projectile and a new 130 grain 6.5mm bullet. Both feature acetal resin tips that lower drag by improving the ballistic coefficient (BC) and making the BC more uniform from bullet to bullet. The 95-grainer should work well as a higher-speed option in the .243 Win, 6mm Creedmoor, 6mm Dasher, and 6mmBR. We were able to push other 95gr bullets nearly 100 fps faster than 105gr bullets from a 6mmBR. For those shooting the 6.5×47 Lapua and 6.5 Creedmoor, the new 130gr TMK should be a near-ideal bullet weight. We know that Berger’s 6.5mm 130gr VLD works great in those mid-sized cartridges, so Sierra’s new 130-grainer should be in the “sweet spot”. Also, in the .260 Remington the 130gr TMK should be capable of velocities that hit predicted accuracy nodes with ease. The 6mm 95 grain TMK requires a twist rate of 1:9″ or faster to stabilize while the 6.5mm 130 grain TMK requires a twist rate of 1:8″ or faster to stabilize.
We expect the 130gr 6.5mm TMK to find favor with Tactical Shooters
* In addition, Sierra plans to add a 7mm 160gr TMK to the line-up, product #7660, but we don’t expect this to be used for tactical games because of the heavier recoil.
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Here’s something you don’t see very often — Lapua cartridge brass on sale. As part of its Back-to-Black promotion, Brownells has deeply discounted its inventories of Lapua Brass. For most cartridges/calibers, the price has been reduced at least $10.00 per 100-count box. Here are the sale prices, good through the end of the week:
What kind of 200-yard accuracy can you get in an enclosed, underground test range? Would you believe 0.162 MOA at 200 yards with a .338? Have a look at these test targets from Sierra Bullets. Like most bullet manufacturers, Sierra does live-fire bullet testing to ensure that Sierra projectiles perform as promised, with repeatable accuracy. Sierra tests bullets in its own underground test complex. Sierra’s 300-meter test range is the longest, privately-owned underground bullet test facility in the world. Sierra offers free tours of the test tunnel as part of Sierra’s Factory Tour Program.
Day in and day out, various bullet types are tested using a big collection of barreled actions. These barreled actions are clamped in stout, return-to-battery test fixtures. These big, heavy test fixtures provide near-perfect repeatability (with no human-induced holding or aiming errors).
Sierra Bullets 10-Shot Groups at 200 yards
Check out these 10-shot test groups shot at the Sierra Test Range at 200 yards. Note that the numbers listed on each sample are actual measurements in inches. To convert to MOA, cut those numbers in half (to be more precise, divide by 2.094, which is 1 MOA at 200 yards). For example, the 0.340″ middle group works out to 0.162 MOA at 200 yards.
Scan-Verified 0.162 MOA Accuracy at 200 Yards
To verify the accuracy of Sierra’s measurements, we measured the middle (.338 caliber) 10-shot group with our On-Target Group Measurement software. We registered a group size reading of 0.339″ — within one-thousandth of the Sierra measurement*. The calculated group size in MOA (Minute of Angle) is 0.162. That’s amazingly good for ten rounds of big .338 caliber bullets. A FIVE-shot 0.162 MOA group at 200 would be considered excellent at any benchrest match. But remember this target has TEN shots. The current, one-target IBS world record for ten shots at 200 yards is 0.245″, set by Ed Watson in 1999.
Bevy of Barreled Actions for Bullet Testing
Sierra Bullets uses dozens of barreled actions for testing bullets in its enclosed, 200-yard test range. Each barrel has its own logbook to track the barrel’s usage.
Click Photo to Zoom
*Note, there were ten (10) shots in the group, but for simplicity we are only displaying five (5) shot circles. Adding more circles won’t change the measurement because the two most distant shots, which determine group size, ARE included.
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Bryan Richardson, owner of Powder Valley Inc. (PVI), just notified us that PVI is running a super special on big-name bullets. Get Five Hundred 6.5mm (.264) 140gr HPBT MatchKings for just $115.00. That works out to just $23 per hundred for premium match bullets. Or, for you varminters, get Five Hundred .224-Caliber BlitzKings for just $75.00. At just $15 per hundred, that’s a steal for first-run bullets.
Bryan tells us: “We just received a great buy on some custom major manufacturer bullets. We’re passing the savings on to you. Save 25-30% over what we normally sell these bullets for on our website. Check out the Specials Page and look for the bullets with a description of Custom. They won’t last long at these prices!” Questions? Feel free to call 800-227-4299 or email reload [at] powdervalleyinc.com.
Coating bullets with a friction-reducing compound such as Molybdenum Disulfide (Moly) offers potential benefits, including reduced barrel heat, and being able to shoot longer strings of fire between bore cleanings. One of the effects of reduced friction can be the lessening of internal barrel pressures. This, in turn, means that coated bullets may run slower than naked bullets (with charges held equal). To restore velocities, shooters running coated bullets are inclined to “bump up” the load — but you need to be cautious.
Be Careful When Increasing Loads for Coated Bullets
We caution shooters that when your start out with coated bullets in a “fresh barrel” you should NOT immediately raise the charge weight. It may take a couple dozen coated rounds before the anti-friction coating is distributed through the bore, and you really start to see the reduced pressures. Some guys will automatically add a grain or so to recommended “naked” bullet charge weights when they shoot coated bullets. That’s a risky undertaking.
Instead we recommend that you use “naked” bullet loads for the first dozen coated rounds through a new barrel. Use a chronograph and monitor velocities. It may take up to 30 rounds before you see a reduction in velocity of 30-50 fps that indicates that your anti-friction coating is fully effective.
We have a friend who was recently testing moly-coated 6mm bullets in a 6-6.5×47. Moly had not been used in the barrel before. Our friend had added a grain to his “naked” bullet load, thinking that would compensate for the predicted lower pressures. What he found instead was that his loads were WAY too hot initially. It took 30+ moly-coated rounds through the bore before he saw his velocities drop — a sign that the pressure had lowered due to the moly. For the rounds fired before that point his pressures were too high, and he ended up tossing some expensive Lapua brass into the trash because the primer pockets had expanded excessively.
LESSON: Start low, even with coated bullets. Don’t increase your charge weights (over naked bullet loads) until you have clear evidence of lower pressure and reduced velocity.
Procedure After Barrel Cleaning
If you shoot Moly, and clean the barrel aggressively after a match, you may want to shoot a dozen coated “foulers” before starting your record string. Robert Whitley, who has used Moly in some of his rifles, tells us he liked to have 10-15 coated rounds through the bore before commencing record fire. In a “squeaky-clean” bore, you won’t get the full “benefits” of moly immediately.
To learn more about the properties of dry lubricants for bullets, read our Guide to Coating Bullets. This covers the three most popular bullet coatings: Molybdenum Disulfide (Moly), Tungsten Disulfide (WS2 or ‘Danzac’), and Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN). The article discusses the pros and cons of the different bullet coatings and offers step-by-step, illustrated instructions on how to coat your bullets using a tumbler.
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At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. If this proves popular, we’ll try to run this every Monday. Here are some of the best deals on 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 and Powder Valley — Hodgdon Varget and H4350
Two of the most sought-after (and hard-to-find) powders are now available, at least in one-pound versions. Midsouth Shooters Supply has Hodgdon Varget in one-pound containers for $23.30/pound, while Powder Valley has Hodgdon H4350 in one-pound containers for $23.25/pound. Act quickly — supplies are limited. NOTE: If these sources run out, Precision Reloading has both Varget AND H4350, priced at $29.49 for a one-pound container.
11/10/2015 Update: Midsouth has Sold Out of Varget. Precision Reloading still has it.
2. Grafs.com — Nikon Laser Rangefinder Scope
Now can get a quality Nikon riflescope with a built-in Laser Rangefinder for no more than you’d pay for a Rangefinder by itself. That’s right, Nikon’s advanced 2.5-10x40mm M-223 LASER IRT combines a Laser Rangefinder with a full-featured scope. This is good set-up for hunting — you don’t have to carry a separate LRF. This unit offers “one-touch” activation with range values that display for 12 seconds. That makes it easy to hold your rifle with both hands while scanning.
3. Natchez Shooters Supply — 325 Rounds .22 LR Ammo, $20.99
Now we’re talking — this is the kind of pricing on bulk rimfire ammo we used to see in the “good old days”. Act quickly, this Federal .22 LR Ammo deal won’t last long. Also, seller Natchez has a purchase limit: “Due to limited supplies and high demand this item has a 2-piece maximum order quantity per customer, per every 1 day.” So you may order two boxes per day, which will total 650 rounds. The bullets are 40 grains, solid lead.
4. CDNN Sports — Walther PK380, $339.99
Bond… James Bond. If 007 were to pack a modern-day equivalent of his Walther PPK, it would be this slim new PK380 in .380 ACP. Weighing just 19.4 ounces, the slim PK380 is easy to carry. The grip is very comfortable even for small hands, and the slide is easy to operate, making this a good choice for the ladies. The PK380 has an ambidextrous manual safety and is hammer-fired.
5. Bullets.com — New Heavy, Cast-Iron 50 BMG Front Rest
If you’re shooting a Fifty, you need lots of stability. Now there’s a big, heavy front rest designed expressly for the big .50 Caliber rifles. This new, 20″-wide cast iron rest weighs a whopping 24 pounds. Pin-to-Pin footprint is 18.9″ providing outstanding stability and resistance to rocking. The large top accepts front bags up to 8-3/4″ x 3″ (bag not included). Designed to be used either on the bench or on the ground, the new Bald Eagle Big Fifty Cast Iron Rest (Model BE1161) is available for $375.00 as an introductory special.
6. Creedmoor Sports — $50 Off Hardback Shooting Coats
As an end-of-year special, Creedmoor Sports has knocked $50.00 off its famous Hardback shooting coats. Choose from all-leather, leather + Cordura nylon, or all-Cordura. We personally like the Combo coat that uses leather in the arms/shoulders with nylon in the front. This saves weight and is a bit more comfortable in summer heat.
Yes, you can get a name-brand Ultrasonic cleaning machine for under fifty bucks. This Hornady Lock-N-Load Sonic Cleaner, which sells elsewhere for $75-$85, is available at Brownells.com this week for just $49.99. This cleaning machine holds up to 200 .223 Remington cases, or 100 .308 Winchester cases.
8. Amazon.com — Manfrotto 410 3-Axis Geared Head
Once you’ve used a geared head for your spotting scope, you’ll never want to go back to standard tripod controls. The Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head delivers precise 3-Axis control: 360° of pan (traverse), +90° to -30° of front tilt (elevation), and +90° to -30° of lateral tilt. When spotting, this makes it much easier to traverse from one target to another — you can move horizontally with no vertical movement. AccurateShooter’s editors use this model 410, which features a quick-release plate. This is a very good deal. This same Manfrotto 410 Geared head sells elsewhere for $270.00 or more.
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