AccurateShooter.com Forum members often ask: “Is there a reasonably-priced ammo box that fits PPC and BR cases just right?” The answer is yes — check out the 50-round Frankford Arsenal model 512 ammo box. It is offered in transparent blue or smoke gray for $3.49 per box at MidwayUSA (or $3.99 per box at Amazon.com).
The cartridge slots are just the right size for 22BR, 6mmBR, 30BR, 220 Russian, 6 PPC, 6.8 Rem SPC, 6.5 Grendel, and 7.62×39 cartridge cases. Cells are 1.687″ high x 0.392″ square, with a divider height of 0.94″. That will hold BR-type cases securely, and fired brass won’t get jumbled if you tip-over the box.
The $52.99 RCBS Precision MIC is a well-made and useful tool for measuring cartridge headspace and bullet seating depth. The Precision Mic measures from a datum point on the case shoulder to the base. Unfortunately the Precision MIC is not specifically made for the 6mmBR Norma, 22BR, 6XC or 6.5×47 Lapua cases. Don’t despair. Reader Caduceus devised a clever way to adapt a .308 Win Precision Mic for short cases that match the .308 Win in rim diameter and case body diameter. He simply creates a spacer out of a pistol cartridge. He trimmed a 9mm case to 0.511″ and “found this to be a perfect fit which gave a zero micrometer reading when the FL-sized 6BR case was placed in it.” We expect many readers already own a Precision Mic for their .308s. Now you can adapt this tool for the 6BR family of cartridges, for no extra cost. Cut the spacer shorter for the 6.5×47 Lapua and 6-6.5×47 cartridges.
How to Use the Precision Mic with a Spacer
Caduceus explains: “I can use the .308 version of the RCBS Precision Mic to compare brass which has been fully sized in my 6BR body die with brass which has been fired in my chamber. With the spacer inserted, FL-resized cases mic 0.000″ at the datum point on the shoulder. Using the same set-up, fire-formed cases measure +0.005″. In other words, my chamber has a headspace of +0.005″ above minimum dimensions. This is fairly typical of a custom rifle set up for switch-barrel use. If I were to FL-resize my brass down to minimum spec each time, this excessive working would shorten its life-cycle and might lead to case head separation. Now that I know the headspace of the chamber, I can substitute the standard shell holder on my press with a Redding +0.004″ competition shell-holder. This ensures that my cases only receive 0.001″ of shoulder set-back.”
Click HERE for a full article explaining how to adapt an RCBS Precision Mic for use with a 6BR. You can do the same thing with a 6XC or 6.5×47 case–just cut the spacer to a shorter length (for an 0.000″ mic reading). Note: You can also use this procedure with an RCBS .243 Winchester Precision Mic.
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Gear Reviewby Germán A. Salazar, Contributing Editor
Reloading at the range with an arbor press and Wilson dies is my preferred method of load development. I’ve had a chance to test and evaluate the Arbor Press from 21st Century Shooting. I have to say I’m very favorably impressed by it.
An arbor press’ basic function is simple enough: exert sufficient downward pressure on the die to either size the case neck or seat the bullet depending on which die is in use. It isn’t a mechanically challenging function. So why do we use an arbor press and what should be look for in one? Consistent operation, sensitive feel, quality of design and machining are the hallmarks of a good arbor press and this one from 21st Century comes away with good marks in all areas.
For my initial session with the press, I seated 72 bullets in .30-06 cases, another 70 in .308 cases and neck sized a handful of cases (just for evaluation since I prefer to full-length size). The design of the actuating arm, which angles slightly away from the press was very convenient, allowing me to operate it with less jostling of the press because my fingers weren’t bumping into the press head as they sometimes do with my previous press that has the handle parallel to the press head. That’s a nice touch and shows the press was designed by someone who has used these things.
The press uses a relatively light return spring which materially aids the feel of seating pressure. I prefer this to a heavier return spring which would reduce the feel that I really look for in an arbor press. For someone who uses very heavy neck tension this might not be a big concern, but because I usually use 0.001″ to 0.002″ neck tension, the ability to detect small levels of variance in seating pressure is important to me.
High Quality Machining and Parts Finishing
Every part of the 21st Century press reflects careful thought and skilled machining. The knurled wheel for adjusting the height of the press head is a distinct improvement over the plastic hardware store knobs seen on many presses.
The aluminum press head itself is nicely anodized, the steel base well blued and the shaft nicely polished. Even the decapping base (photo at left) reflects careful design as well as precise machining. Overall, the press gives a look and feel of quality and is a welcome addition to my range reloading setup.
Editors’ Note: The designer of the 21st Century Arbor Press has decades of tool-making experience, and he has designed tools for many “big-name” companies. 21st Century stands behind the product with a lifetime warranty for the original purchaser. The Arbor Press is currently offered in four different versions, with two post heights (8.5″ or 10.5″), and two baseplate sizes (small 3″ x 4″ or large 4″ x 5″). Prices start at $94.99 for the 8.5″ post and small baseplate. CLICK HERE for more info.
Apparently reducing static charges on and around electronic scales can reduce their propensity to drift, lessening the problem of “wandering zero”. Just how and why static charges interfere with scale performance is unclear, but many shooters have noticed that static electricity can cause electronic scales to behave strangely. So how do you reduce static charges around your digital balance? German Salazar has found a very simple solution — an anti-static aerosol spray — that, by all indications, actually works. When this “spray-can solution” was suggested to German by a fellow shooter, German was skeptical. However, German tried the stuff and he says that it really does help the scale maintain zero over time, with much less observed drift.
On his Rifleman’s Journal website, German explains that the use of “Static Guard” spray helped mitigate the problem of a drifting zero on his Ohaus Navigator electronic scale. German writes: “My electronic scale… suffers from drifting zero (as they all seem to). I’ve read dozens of forum posts about drift and how to minimize its occurrence, so I know this problem isn’t limited to my scale or my workshop. Sometime last year, John Lowther mentioned the use of anti-static spray as a solution to the drift problem. John stated that the spray had virtually eliminated drift for him.”
German found that the Static Guard actually worked: “The spray works great, just as John said it would. I spray all surfaces that I touch with my hands and arms as well as the pan (top and bottom), the metal tray on which the pan rests and the table under the scale. In six months or so of using the spray I’ve re-applied it about two or three times; it certainly isn’t something that you need to do each time you sit down to load. Before using the spray, it was not uncommon for me to re-zero the scale 10 times in the course of loading 72 rounds; now it might need it once during a session.”
If you’ve ever used a Harris Swivel Bipod, you know that, without tools, it is difficult to put enough tension on the swivel locking knob to really lock the unit solid. And, if you do manage to get the knob really tight (perhaps by using pliers), it is difficult to loosen with fingers alone.
That was why Terry Cross and the folks at KMW Long Range Solutions invented the Pod-Loc™. This system replaces the knurled swivel tension knob with a push-button adjustable handle. Using the handle you can easily set the swivel tension at any level from loose to “rock solid”. And you can release tension to adjust the bipod to different terrain just as easily. The KMW Pod-Loc™ retails for $24.99 at Brownells.com and Sinclair Int’l.
How to Build Your Own Bipod Swivel Locking System
While we use genuine KMW Pod-Locs on our rifles, readers on a tight budget, or who have a large collection of bipod-equipped rifles, can economize by putting together their own swivel locking systems from off-the-shelf components. You need two parts per installation: a push-button swivel handle and a 3/16″ spacer. Levers and spacers are both available online from www.T-Nuts.com. The spacer is part #SS1 ($1.00). T-Nuts offers a variety of suitable handles, ranging in price from $7.00 to $10.00. So, by sourcing the parts, you can outfit three bipods with swivel adjusters for the cost of one Pod-Loc.
We recommend the Nylon/Stainless BPL/NS model ($7.70), but you may prefer the all-metal BPL-Z ($8.50), or the shorter BPL-Micro model ($8.50). The compact Micro lock does not protrude past the body of the bipod, yet is still easily grasped. T-Nuts supplies one 3/16″ spacer with most of its bipod handles. T-Nuts handles are also available with a metric M6x1.0 thread for use with imported bipods such as Outers and Rockport.
Installation is Easy — With the Right Socket
To install a swivel locking system, first you’ll need a 1/4″ socket to remove the keeper nut from the threaded pivot rod. (During this process, you’ll need to keep pressure on the pivot rod retaining pin on the opposite side of the bipod.) Don’t try to remove the keeper nut with pliers or an open-end wrench. You really need the correct socket. Once that keeper nut is removed, then unscrew the knurled tension knob/ring. This is attached to the same threaded shaft as the keeper nut but you should be able to remove it without tools.
After the knurled tension ring is off, it is easy to put your handle on the bipod. First slip the 3/16″ spacer over the threaded pivot rod. Keeping finger pressure on the pivot rod retaining pin (on reverse side), then spin on the T-Nuts handle. Rotate the handle inwards until it firmly locks the bipod swivel mechanism. By pushing the button in the head of the handle, you can swing the handle left or right to set its position without altering the swivel tension.
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When Berry’s Bench Topper was first released a couple years ago, it proved very popular with hand-loaders looking for extra space on their bench. This unique all-metal riser lets you place a reloading press above your bench surface, clearing valuable space. Unfortunately, after the initial run of Bench Toppers sold out, this product have been nearly impossible to find. But now the Bench Topper is back…
We’re pleased to report that the Bench Topper is back in production. The Bench Topper, from Berry’s Manufacturing, is a sturdy platform that holds a loading press and storage bins in a raised position above your bench — effectively creating additional room for scales, trimmers, and component storage below. The $111.30 Bench Topper (Midsouth item 037-00191) can bolted to your bench, or it can be secured with C-Clamps (for easy removal). Do you load at the range? The Bench Topper can be easily transported in your vehicle, providing a handy platform for your press and powder measure.
Berry’s Bench Topper is crafted from CNC-machined aluminum and powder-coated silver for durability. It comes with two aluminum hangers for storage bins for bullets or brass. All fasteners are recessed for a clean work surface. NOTE: The Bench Topper must be assembled by the purchaser, and YOU MUST DRILL YOUR OWN HOLES for installation of your press or other hardware. This requires a few minutes of initial set-up time, but this allows a secure, custom installation for any brand of reloading press. CLICK HERE for Bench Topper Assembly Instructions (PDF file).
Bench Topper Specs:
6 x 20 x 1/4″
10 x 20 x 1/4″
Height: 11.5 Inches
Weight: 12.5 Pounds
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome user submissions.
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Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang has been working overtime at his SEB COAX production facility in Indonesia. That’s good news for benchrest and F-Class shooters. Seb is finishing up a large shipment of coaxial front rests for customers around the globe. Dozens of new NEOs (is that an oxymoron?) have been completed and are ready to be sent to customers. Seb tells us: “We are progressing. Here are some NEOs ready to be packed and shipped”.
Click image to see full-screen photo:
CNC Machines Speed Production
After acquiring new CNC machines, Seb has been able to increase production in response to high demand: “Though they are only 3-Axis, my new CNC equipment sure helps to make the components.” However, even with the new CNC units, Seb says: “I think I will need more space, employees, and more equipment in the near future.” Whatever it takes Seb, keep those NEOs coming.
Over the years, many different concentricity tools have been on the market. Various approaches have been taken to straightening rounds that exhibit poor concentricity. With extreme examples of excessive run-out, the bullet is is visibly crooked in the neck with the bullet tip clearly off-center. That’s never a good thing. Straight ammo shoots better.
Straighten-Up and Fly Right
If you could straighten up crooked rounds, accuracy should be improved. In the past, some tools promised more than they delivered. But now Bill Goad, a record-setting benchrest shooter, has invented a new tool that improves concentricity via an impact or “jarring” method. A vertical rod with a curved face mates with the case-neck. You spin the case to find the “high spot” of max eccentricity. Then just tap the rod a couple of times and the neck comes back onto centerline. You can then confirm the concentricity improvement with the dial indicator. Watch the video to see how this is done. Pay particular attention to times 01:25 to 01:45. The case starts at .004″ run-out (01:32). After correction (01:40) the neck shows less than .001″ (one-thousandth) run-out.
Bill Goad knows something about accuracy. He shot a 10-target 100/200 benchrest Combined Aggregate of 0.178″ (see video at 00:15-00:35). Bill Goad’s tool offers advantages over systems that clamp a cartridge at both ends and try to bend the case or tilt the bullet without straightening the neck. Goad’s new Fli-Right tool is available now from PremierAccuracy.com.
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Was this Ben Hur or Ben Avery? With all the wheels rolling around the place, the Berger SW Nationals looked a bit like the Chariot scene from the 1959 Hollywood blockbuster movie.
Folks attending a big match such as the Berger Southwest Nationals must haul a lot of gear — both to the range and from vehicles to the firing lines (and then back again). This transportational necessity has inspired shooters to develop a wide variety of modern chariots. Here’s a selection of the “wheeled contrivances” we found at Ben Avery This week.
Don’t mess with Texas. That kind of says it all…
Folding carts were the favored mode of transport. Yes there are TWO carts in the back of this SUV.
Grizzly President Shiraz Balolia, appropriately enough, customized his cart with ursine artwork.
This rig had a custom bracket to support a rifle vertically. This clever invention preserves space in the main cargo section.
Felix Solis of the U.S. Veterans’ Rifle Team customized his travel van’s interior. Rifles are secured upright in the left compartment, with shooting coats on the right.
The little red wagon offers four-wheel stability. This one even has its own license plate.
Wait a minute — is that a stroller? Actually these rigs can be easily adapted to hold rifles and rests. Check out Craigslist for low-cost, “previously owned” strollers.
Past F-Class Nat’l Champ Larry Bartholome was seen rolling around with a familiar cart. This cart used to belong to our good friend German Salazar. Hey German, we all miss your presence at Ben Avery…
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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What’s the best book for folks getting started in metallic cartridge reloading? According to our Forum members, the best manual for “newbie” reloaders is the Lyman Reloading Handbook. In our Shooters’ Forum, a newcomer to reloading was looking for a basic reloading guide that also included load data. The most recommended book was the Lyman Handbook, now in its 49th Edition. Along with “how-to” advice on reloading procedures, the Lyman Manual features cartridge specifications and load data for the most popular cartridges.*
Here are some comments from Forum members:
“The Lyman book is an excellent manual with a large section describing the process of reloading. I heartily recommend it. As a beginning reloader, you may want to consider purchasing more than one book in order to get different perspectives on the reloading regimen. One can never be too careful. A ‘minor’ mistake can be costly.” — Cort
“In my opinion, the Lyman Manual is one of the best for the beginning reloader since it covers all the basics and some advanced methods. If possible, you would be also well served to hook up with an experienced reloader, preferably a target shooter or long-range varmint hunter, who can also give you some very useful pointers on precision reloading.” – K22
Editor’s NOTE: K22 echoes the advice we give to new hand-loaders. We suggest that novices find an experienced mentor who can “show them the ropes” and guide them through the basics.
Another gun blogger agrees that the Lyman Manual is a logical choice for new handloaders:
Carteach Review: The Lyman Reloading Manual
“[Lyman publishes] an excellent manual for any handloader, but especially for those new to the craft. Perhaps the best judgment of a handloader’s regard for a reloading manual is which one he chooses to give someone new to the fold. The needs of a new reloader differ from those of someone with long experience, and the right manual can set the foundation for years of safe procedures. Here is the one I choose to give a good friend embarking down the path:”
Carteach adds: “Lyman has always taken pains to provide very clear and understandable instruction on the basic process of reloading cartridges. The imaging is helpful and to the point. The load data Lyman provides is comprehensive, and [Lyman] takes the time to note special circumstances which new loaders need to be aware of. As example, the .30-06 section has some words regarding the M-1 Garand and its special needs. For someone who has never loaded for the Garand, these few sentences are golden!”
More Good Reference Books for Reloaders
Other book suggestions include The ABCs of Reloading, Glen Zediker’s Handloading for Competition, and The Book of Rifle Accuracy by Tony Boyer. The Boyer book is more for advanced handloaders, though it contains advice that can help beginners too. Forum member VTMarmot writes: “I wish I had read Tony Boyer’s book before I ever started handloading. The concept of using a bushing neck die that also sizes the body is the simplest, most accurate way to get accurate handloads and long brass life. This is true whether or not you turn necks, and whether you are loading for competition or hunting.”
*We recommend that you always double-check printed load data with the latest web-based data from the actual powder manufacturers. Powder properties can change. The most current powder data is usually found on the powder-makers’ websites.
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The popular vertical-loading AirGlide rifle case from Plano is on sale again. You may want to strike while the price is right. Amazon.com is offering the Plano AirGlide for $33.96 with FREE shipping for Amazon Prime Members. (Non-Prime members will be charged for shipping.)
UPDATE: The widget is now showing a higher price. However, after getting to Amazon, if you click on other sellers there is still a price under $35.00. On 2/5/2015, the lowest price was $31.41.
Among injection-molded rifle cases, Plano’s AirGlide™ case is unique in holding a rifle vertically, in foam cradles. This allows ample room for the 3″-wide fore-ends on BR and Varmint rifles. The foam blocks front and rear can even be trimmed for a custom fit, and velcro webbing straps hold the rifle securely. The AirGlide’s hinged top-opening lid provides clearance for all but the most massive target scopes, with no side load on the turrets. (We’ve found that some eggcrate foam-lined gun cases can put enough pressure on scope knobs to alter your zero.)
Airglide Will Hold a Benchrest Rifle with Wide Fore-end and 28″ Barrel
Measuring 51 1/2″L x 7 3/4″W x 12 1/4″H, the AirGlide can easily handle rifles up to 50″ in length. That should hold BR rifles with barrels up to 29″ (or 28″ if you have a thick recoil pad). With its 27.5″ barrel, my 6BR is exactly 49″ long (including pad) and there is about 1.3 inches to spare in an Airglide. If you have a real long barrel or extended buttplate, measure the gun first.
Priced attractively, the AirGlide has proven very popular with Varmint shooters and BR competitors. Lockable and airline-approved, the AirGlide is a unique product at an affordable price. This Editor owns three AirGlides and they are my favorite hardcases for transporting wide-stocked rifles to the range. (For airline transport, I do prefer a heavy-duty, wheeled aluminum safari case with internal locks.)
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Forget flames — induction may be the future of cartridge annealing. Induction heating, using an electrical current passing through a coil, can be controlled with great precision (you can dial in the “dwell time” to a small fraction of a second). With a high-wattage power source, induction annealing is also very fast. A cartridge case can be done in two seconds or less. Combine that with an automatic case feeding system and you have a true assembly-line process capable of cranking out hundreds of precision-annealed cases per hour. Sound too good to be true? Well Giraud Tool recently announced its new Electro-Induction cartridge annealing system. This combines Giraud’s proven hopper-type case feeding system with a powerful Fluxeon Annealer. Watch the video below to see how it works.
Including case-shuttle time, a case is annealed and processed approximately every 4 seconds (rate based on the video demonstration). At that rate, if you keep the hopper full, you could anneal over 900 cases per hour. Even if you don’t need that production capacity, this system allows unattended annealing of your cartridge brass while you do other tasks — such as weighing powder charges or seating bullets.
We know some of you guys are now thinking “OK — I want one. What’s it going to cost?” Giraud has not listed a price yet for a complete induction annealing system. Giraud’s torch-equipped, hopper-fed annealing rig starts at $470.00. We expect that integrating the “Annie” induction unit by Fluxeon will add $500 to the price. By itself, the “Annie” induction annealer costs $449.00 on Fluxeon’s online store. But that $449.00 Fluxeon price does not include long-reach cables and adapters for the hopper feed.
Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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We’ll give you a break from SHOT Show coverage by taking you across the Atlantic to Great Britain. There Chris Parkin has been putting a Savage F-TR Rifle through its paces. Chris has reviewed this popular rifle in a field test just published by Target Shooter Magazine. Chris wrote a very detailed and thorough review. If you are considering any factory-based rifle for F-TR competition you should read this article. It is lengthy, but the text and photos are good and it is worth the investment of time.
Gear Report by Kip Staton
Shooters in the market for an accurate anemometer that doesn’t break the bank need to take a hard look at the WeatherFlow Wind Meter, which retails on Amazon.com for just $34.95. Even though it is inexpensive, owner reviews have been overwhelmingly postive (so long as the software is compatible with your device). One Amazon reviewer says the WeatherFlow measures wind velocity as accurately as his expensive Kestrel.
A big part of the reason the WeatherFlow Wind Meter is so inexpensive is that you’ve probably already got the brains of the system in your pocket. Yes, it connects to and communicates with any standard smartphone or tablet, in either iOS or Android flavors. Users simply download the free WeatherFlow Wind Meter app to their smart device, insert the anemometer into the headphone jack, and can immediately start measuring the wind.
Of course, the first question any serious shooter will ask is “How accurate is this thing?” Pretty dang accurate, as it turns out. The device was calibrated by the University of Florida’s Aerospace Engineering Department, and the unique design allows it to consistently report to within a half a percentage point of the true wind value, even if the breeze is up to 15 degrees off-axis to the meter.
Wind speeds are measurable from as slow as two miles per hour to as high as 125 MPH. The Wind Meter outputs average, lull, and gusts windspeed data to your phone, with velocities indicated in 0.1 MPH increments. Furthermore, a hard-sided protective case is included for safe transportation.
Naturally, since the WeatherFlow Wind Meter is App-based, it’s connectable to a variety of social media websites and distribution sources. This makes saving and sharing information about climate conditions a breeze.
About the Writer
Kip Staton is a freelance gun writer based in North Texas, and loves to blog about news within the firearms industry and his perceptions on marksmanship at KipStaton.com. He served as the weekend range manager of the North Texas Shooter’s Association from 2010-2012, at which point he began performing sales consultations for a major online firearms retailer. Currently, Kip is a content marketer, copywriter and digital strategist for an award-winning Dallas marketing agency.