November 28th, 2009

Great Price on Widescreen Garmin 255W GPS Navigator

A vehicle GPS Navigation system is great for the active shooter or hunter who regularly travels to distant ranges or hunting grounds. Prices for high-quality GPS systems have been dropping even while more features are being added. When we saw that the latest-generation Garmin nüvi 255W 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS went on sale for $119.99, we thought that was worth a mention in the Bulletin. Assistant Editor Jason Baney did a lot of research on vehicle GPS systems a few months back. He concluded that the Garmin 255W offered the best “bang for the buck.” And that was when a 255W cost about $160.00. Jason purchased a Garmin 255W and recommends it: “My Garmin 255W is easy to use, the screen is bright and easy to read, and the routing is usually very good.”

CLICK for Best Price on Garmin nüvi 255W 4.3″ Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator

Garmin nuvi 255W GPS

CLICK HERE for more Garmin 255W Photos and Complete Specs.

This unit has some impressive features. Of course it provides spoken turn by turn directions. You can also search locations with your home computer and load them into the 255W — the unit can hold up to 1000 destinations or way points. The 255W has a large, bright touchscreen that makes it easy to enter directions. With so many GPS Nav units available, the 255W has become one of the most popular on the market. One nüvi 255W owner explains why: “I chose the 255W for several reasons… It uses some of the newest and best maps available. It has one of the more usable touch screens for entering destinations. It’s fast to acquire satellites. And Garmin almost always comes out on top in reviews — especially in routing. Ultimately, you buy a car GPS to get you from Point A to Point B as easily and efficiently as possible. And that’s what the 255W does best. If you’ve ever had a ‘Brand X’ GPS take you on some strange route that adds 20 minutes to your trip, has you turn the wrong way down a one way road, tells you to turn AFTER you’ve passed the street, frequently loses the satellite signal, or has old maps missing streets, you know how important this stuff is.”

No Lane Assist on 255W
We do wish the $120.00 Garmin 255W offered the “Lane Assist” feature found in the more expensive Garmins (but for $120 you can’t have everything). Lane Assist zooms in to show the lane you need when exiting freeways, or navigating through large interchanges. The Garmin 255W does tell you when and where to turn, it just doesn’t offer enhanced Lane Assist graphics. If you want a unit with Lane Assist, we recommend the Garmin nüvi 855. Along with Lane Assist the 855 model offers speech recognition — a nice feature that can simplify inputting new destinations or switching among GPS displays while driving.

Garmin nuvi Lane Assist

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals 1 Comment »
November 8th, 2009

NEW Product: Borden 'Tubegun Special' Action

This gear review is by respected prone shooter German Salazar. German recently received the first production version (Serial No. 0001) of the NEW Borden Action espressly designed for Tubeguns. German reports this is “really a great piece of equipment” and it’s affordable at $800 for the single-shot version or $850.00 for the repeater.

NEW Action for the Tubegun Revolution by German Salazar
If you’re a High Power shooter then you know that the Tubegun Revolution is in full swing both in across-the-course and prone matches. For many reasons, including accuracy, availability, cost, delivery time, ergonomics, familiar feel (for AR15 shooters) and more, the Tubeguns are becoming the norm in High Power. I recently built a 30-06 Tubegun for prone matches and have been extremely satisfied with the results, but I had a desire for a better action for it, now that desire is a reality.

Borden Tubegun special action

While most Tubegun stocks are made to take Remington 700 actions or clone, it has become difficult to get bare Remington actions and bargain priced 700s are non-existent these days. Buying a complete rifle to strip, then blueprinting the action leaves you with about the cost of a custom action invested in the Remington — not the most economically sensible outcome.

Seeing the need for a custom action to fit the Tubeguns at a moderate price, Jim Borden of Borden Rifles is now making a Tubegun Special (TGS) action –- actually six variants of it. The TGS action is made to fit the Tubegun stocks without alteration and has been designed in cooperation with Gary Eliseo (Competition Shooting Stuff) to ensure compatibility and functionality.

Special Features Optimized for Tubegun Installations
The TGS is a full round action, without the scallops of the Borden Alpine/Timberline series and without the flattened rear bridge of the Remington 700. This full round surface presents a much larger surface area for epoxy if you intend to glue-in the action, and simply a better fit if you intend to bolt the action into the tube. Additionally, the TGS has no scope mounting holes or bolt stop since these are not required in a Tubegun stock and their elimination reduces machining costs, helping to keep the retail price competitive with a blueprinted Remington.

Borden Tubegun special action

Beyond the action profile, there are a few choices in the TGS. You can order it right-handed or left-handed, long action or short action, single-shot or repeater. The single-shot models have a coned bolt as shown in the photos, which helps feeding from the action trough, whereas the repeaters have a flat-faced bolt like a Remington to ensure reliable feeding from a magazine.

The TGS has the familiar Remington-type plunger ejector and a claw extractor similar to the Sako. I have put over 4,000 rounds through my 6BR Borden Alpine with 100% reliability from the extractor. It’s a solid, reliable design. The bolt is nicely fluted in a spiral pattern and the fit and finish of every bit of the action and bolt are first class. It’s almost a shame to epoxy it into the tube, but that’s what it’s meant for!

Borden Accuracy is now a distributor for the CG triggers (X-tremeshooting.com) and can time the action to the trigger before delivery. Other triggers are available from Borden as well and the action takes any Remington-type trigger. Finally, Gary and Jim have standardized locations for the serial number and manufacturer information and the CSS stocks have small windows in the main sleeve to allow those to be seen at all times.

Borden Tubegun special action

If you’re planning to build a Tubegun, you should take a close look at the Borden Tubegun Special action, it’s a very practical and cost-effective approach with the single-shot actions priced at $800 and the repeaters at $850 as of this writing.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 4 Comments »
November 4th, 2009

Affordable Timex Offers Temp, Air Pressure, Timer Functions

Temperature, Atmospheric Pressure, and Altitude — all these things can and do affect bullet ballistics. Moreover, temperature changes can alter powder performance and chamber pressures. The smart reloader takes the predicted ambient temperature into account. And when calculating your come-ups and windage click values, you need to factor in Temperature, Air Pressure, AND Altitude.

Kestrel 4000 Weather TrackerHow do you keep track of these important variables when you’re shooting? The Kestrel 4000 Pocket Weather Tracker®, is compact and provides a wealth of information: atmospheric pressure, altitude, density altitude, temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind chill, dew point, and heat index. We like the Kestrels and recommend them. But at $279.00, a Kestrel 4000 is too expensive for many shooters.

Timex now offers a solution. Selling for about $60.00-$75.00 (street price), the Timex Expedition® Adventure Tech™ watch (item T41501EA) displays Altitude, Barometric Pressure, and Temperature (ABT). The thermometer function records temps from 14° F to 140° F. The Altimeter reads from -2,296 feet to +29,520 feet with 10-foot resolution. The Barometer tracks current and sea level pressure, and provides a graph of pressure changes over time.

Timex Altimeter Watch

Encased in a stainless housing with a resin band, the Timex watch is water resistant to 50 meters, and offers many other nice features, including dual time zones, countdown timer, alarm, and backlit nightlight (very handy). The countdown timer is very easy to set and activate; and yes the timer can be used effectively in a shooting match.

There are other quality watches, such as the Suunto Core, that provide Altitude, Atmospheric Pressure, and Temperature read-outs. But, at under $70.00, the Timex is one-fourth the price of the Suunto. Amazon.com is currently offering the Timex Temp/Altitude/Barometer watch for $62.88. It is offered with a silver band as well as the black shown above.

Useful Tool or Just Another Gadget?
Is this watch really useful or just another piece of male jewelry? Well just last week a friend was developing loads and he wanted to input the ambient temperature, and current air pressure. The Timex gave us the desired data. (Note: it’s best to take the watch off your arm when gauging air temp). For this editor, the Timex ABT watch is a useful tool. I bought one and use it during load development and when shooting competitively. Negatives? Well the Timex IS big and thick, really thick, but then it’s much handier than carrying BOTH a digital thermometer/altimeter AND a separate count-down timer.

Here’s an owner’s review: “I have been through a Nike ABT, a Swiss Army ABT, and a High Gear ABT watch this year alone. None of them, which cost quite a bit more, have been as accurate and durable as this Timex. It has a better fit, was easy to use and read and just plain ‘on the money’ as far as forecasting weather and altitude. Also, I have not had to take it off my arm for 10-15 mins to get a decent temperature rating. It has always been within 1-3 degrees of actual temp. And I live in the Carribean in a tropical climate… so, for it to be this accurate is a statement in itself.”

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November 1st, 2009

New "Outside-In" Flash Hole Reamer for Large Flash Holes

For years, Sinclair Int’l has offered a reamer for small, BR-sized flash-holes, product #07-3000. This popular tool features an 0.0625″ cutting tip to uniform the .059″ flash-holes on Lapua 220 Russian, 6mmBR, 6.5 Grendel, and 6.5×47 brass. Sinclair’s tool works from the outside, indexing off the primer pocket. For those people who believe in the utility of reaming small flash-holes (an open question), the Sinclair “outside-in” design may be the best. But until now, there has been no equivalent “outside-in” reamer for cases with large flash-holes.

Large flash-hole reamer Sinclair AccurateShooterSinclair recently introduced its NEW .081″ large flash-hole reamer, item #07-3081. This $37.50 tool is designed to ream standard flash holes (.080″) to exactly .081 inch, both for small primer pockets and large primer pockets. This tool will remove most burrs left in manufacturing and will uniform the flash-hole diameter of all your brass to ensure consistent ignition.

Double-Ended Design Works with Both Small and Large Primer Pockets
Sinclair’s all-stainless three-piece tool features a double-ended reamer guide for both large and small primer pockets, a knurled handle for easy turning and a straight fluted .081″ reamer. It is designed for all cartridges (with either small OR large primer pockets) with standard .080″ flash holes.

As one Sinclair customer noted: “This is a tool that has been needed for a long time.” As a result, the .081″ flash-hole reamers have been back-ordered through 12/1/2009. But if you order now you should have yours within 5-6 weeks.

IMPORTANT: We recommend, if you order this tool, that you mic the actual diameter of the cutter tip. We have found that some flash-hole reamers, of ALL brands, arrive with slightly oversized cutter tips. Indeed we’ve seen tip diameters of other brands (not Sinclair) vary by as much as .006″ (six-thousandths). You want to make sure you don’t have an oversize cutter before you ream hundreds of cases.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product No Comments »
October 21st, 2009

Gear Review: Lee Classic Cast Iron Press

Lee reloading products have always represented good “bang for the buck”. The Lee Classic Cast “O”-style press is no exception — it works as well as some other presses costing twice as much. One well-known “boutique” bullet maker has recently switched to Lee presses because the tolerances and lack of slop were actually superior to more expensive presses.

The Lee Classic Cast press is a well-designed unit with a strong, cast-iron frame and all-steel linkage. It has important (and very cool) features you won’t find on an RCBS RockChucker. First, the ram is drilled in the center and fitted with a plastic drop tube so spent primers drop right out the bottom (where you position your trash can). Second, the handle adjusts for length and “attack angle”. This allows you to change the leverage to suit your task. As Lee explains: “The start and stop position is adjustable with a 48-tooth, ratchet-type handle clamp. In addition, the handle length is completely adjustable. Shorten when you’re loading handgun and short rifle cases.” As you can see, you can also mount the handle on either side, left or right.

Lee Classic Cast Iron PressLee Classic Cast Iron Press

You can purchase the Lee Classic Cast Press for under $86.00 at major vendors. FactorySales.com offers the Lee Classic Cast for $73.40, item 90998. MidwayUSA sells the Lee Classic (item 317831) for $85.99. Natchez Shooters Supply also offers the Lee Classic for $80.99, item LEE90998.

Lee Classic Cast Press Primer systemMark Trope of SurplusRifle.com has written a detailed Review of the Lee Classic Press. He notes that the press is “southpaw friendly” and he praises the priming system. Mark found that the spent primer drop tube worked very well and that the press “works perfect and has great sensitivity” when seating primers.

Not yet convinced? CLICK HERE to read comments from actual Lee Classic owners. Here are some highlights:

“It has a large, heavy-duty 1-1/8″ diameter ram that has been drilled out for spent primers … and a long clear plastic hose attached to it so you can route it to a trash can. [This is] a VERY well thought-out way to collect ALL primers to your trash can when you’re decapping.” –D. Oldham

“Fit and finish are impeccable. The spent primer disposal system is simple and neat. There is no spring or flexing of any kind. There is virtually no play in the ram, which is a good tight fit in the frame. Operation is totally smooth.” –R. Smith

“Totally outclasses any other press in its price range. Runs with presses in the $100-$120 range.”–W. Rose

“I like…the position of the ram at priming. The Lee seats the primer with the ram at the bottom of the stroke vs. the RC II, which seats in the middle of the stroke. Priming at the bottom of the stroke gives you a much better ‘feel’.” –M. Gallagher

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
October 17th, 2009

Greatest Hits: Money-Saving Bipod Swivel Adjuster Kits

LINK: Make Your Own Swivel Bipod Adjustment Handles
Save $15-20 by assembling your own easy-adjusting bipod handles with components from T-Nuts.com.

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals 1 Comment »
October 17th, 2009

Greatest Hits: Texas Twins Showcase Eliseo TubeGuns

LINK: Eliseo You-Tube Gun Video from the Cole Twins
Rockin’ soundtrack and tack-drivin’ Tube Guns made this one of our most popular videos ever. Them Cole boys from Texas can shoot….

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
October 17th, 2009

Greatest Hits: Machining Art from John Loh

LINK: John Loh Rest Donated for World BR Championships
Can a rest be a work of art? Yes, it can — when crafted by John Loh of JJ Industries. John, one of the great guys in the sport, donated this rest to support the U.S. Team at the BR Worlds in South Africa.

Permalink Gear Review No Comments »
October 9th, 2009

Brass Jag Alternatives: Nylon, Nickel, SS, Clear-Coated

Brass jags perform well for their intended purpose — with one hitch. Strong copper solvents can actually leech metal from the jag itself, leaving the tell-tale blue tint on your patches. This “false positive” can be frustrating, and may lead shooters to over-clean their barrels.

There are now some good alternatives to brass jags. The best may be the Gunslick® Nylon Snap-Lock™ jags shown at left. These never leave a “false positive” and snap on and off quickly. Larry Bartholome, past USA F-Class Team Captain says: “The best spear-type jags I have used are the GunSlick black nylon tips. I have used the model 92400 for the last couple years in my 6BR and 6.5-284s. Unlike the white plastic jags, these are strong and there’s no brass to worry about.”

92400 22 through 270 calibers: $1.49
92421 30 through 375 Calibers: $1.49

If you prefer a metal jag, MidwayUSA sells Tipton Nickel-coated jags, both individually and as a boxed set. The vast majority of user reviews have been very positive. A few guys have complained that the nickel-plated Tipton jags run oversize, but we use a .22-caliber jag in our 6mms anyway, so this hasn’t been a problem for us. The 22-caliber nickel-plated jag (item 996840) costs $4.79. The complete 12-jag set (item 812503), covering .17 to .45 calibers, costs $24.49 including a fitted box, shown below.

MidwayUSA Nickel Cleaning Jags

K&M Stainless Jags
K&M Tools offers stainless spire-point jags in .22, .243, and .308 calibers. These are well-made and won’t produce false positives. However, with stainless jags, you MUST always keep the jag covered with a patch when inside the barrel. Otherwise you can rub steel against steel — not good. The downside of stainless is the potential for barrel scratching. On the other hand, according to Forum member Dans40x: “300 series stainless steel jags last a few lifetimes”.

Clear-Coating Your Brass Jags
If you’re reluctant to give up your collection of brass jags (after all they’ve worked pretty well so far), try covering the jag itself with a thin, transparent coating. Forum Member BillPA says: “I give the brass jags a coat of clear lacquer or acrylic; that works for me”. You may need to experiment to find a coating that stands up to your favorite solvent. BillPA says: “The only solvent I’ve found that eats the lacquer off is TM Solution. Butch’s, Shooter’s Choice, or Wipe-Out don’t seem to bother it. Most of the time I use rattle-can clear lacquer”. If you’re feeling creative, you could even color-code your jags by adding tints to the clear-coat.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 3 Comments »
October 1st, 2009

Spotting Scope Stands for F-Class and Prone

The 2009 F-Class Nationals are underway right now at Camp Butner, NC. While riflescopes are allowed in both F-Open and F-TR classes, many competitors use a spotting scope as well. With a low-mounted spotting scope placed near the shooter, you can keep your riflescope trained on the target, then quickly check wind flags or mirage by looking through the spotter.

Here’s a smart product from Ray-Vin.com that lets F-Class and prone shooters mount their spotting scopes in the ideal viewing position. Ray-Vin’s patented MKII F-Stand is solid and sturdy, and “floats” the scope close to the shooter’s head without interfering with the placement of a front pedestal rest or ultra-wide bipod. The base can sit off the shooter’s mat.

Ray-vin fstand

How much? The entire F-Stand package costs $310.00, including 8″ bottom for prone, two 24″ extensions, Ray-Vin 360 Head, and Take-Off Knob. But if you don’t need the extensions, you can purchase components separately.

Ray-vin fstandThe F-Stand is shown with Ray-Vin’s $85.00 Scope Head. This head allows the shooter to adjust scope height, rotation (around the stand shaft), scope angular elevation, and eyepiece orientation, all with one control. Some other scope heads, though more expensive, require you to use multiple knobs or friction adjusters. Conveniently, most of the adjustments can be done easily with one hand, using the black adjusting handle. Smart engineering we’d say.

You can see that the F-Stand places the spotting scope right where the shooter wants it, yet the legs do not interfere with the shooting position. A heavy-duty milled metal bracket clamps the base stud and scope rod securely. The F-stand will hold even heavy 80mm spotting scopes without flexing.

Ray-vin fstand

CLICK HERE to Read Reports from F-Stand Owners.

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 5 Comments »
September 27th, 2009

Improved Ultrasonic Cleaning with Citranox

Citranox Case CleanerForum Member Dave B., aka “Gunamonth”, is a chemist/physicist with decades of experience working with the ultrasound process. He has achieved great results cleaning cases via ultrasound. Dave tried a variety of solutions and he favors a mix of water and Citranox®. This achieved the best results, and did not require a separate neutralizing step if you rinse the cases thoroughly after. Citranox, mixed 1:75 or 1:100 with water (distilled H20 is best), is inexpensive to use. Phospate-free Citranox® contains a blend of organic acids, anionic and non-ionic surfactants and alkanolamines. For more information on using Citranox®, check out THIS FORUM THREAD.

Dave notes: “I had a lot of communication with the technical VP of Alconox about trying to clean fired cases with an ultrasonic unit. He sent me a copy of his ultrasonic cleaning manual and recommended a product called Citranox®. So far I’ve been very impressed. With once- or twice-fired brass they clean up very quickly. The worst cases I tried were 6 Dashers that had been fired ten times with Varget and never cleaned. The worst fouling was in the bottom of the case around the flash hole. They took longer and I used a more concentrated cleaning solution but they did come out clean. The price is reasonable. I paid $35 a gallon and for once- or twice-fired cases I dilute the cleaner 100 to 1. There is much less chemical reaction with the brass than there is with vinegar. No weird colors, just shiny bright. I even used it with hot water, which speeds up the cleaning process. No need to neutralize. Just rinse in running water and they’re squeaky clean. The cleaner is mostly detergents with a little citric acid. Even at a 1:75 ratio my $35 worth of cleaner will make 75 gallons of solution. It doesn’t seem to be reusable but 75 gallons is a whole lot of solution when I only use about two cups at a time.”

The price has gone up a bit since Dave acquired his Citranox, but Amazon.com sells Citranox for $40.00 per gallon, or you can buy a gallon of Citranox from LabSafety Supply for $46.40.

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
September 26th, 2009

Electronic Target Systems — Fast, Precise, and Expensive

We live in a digital, electronic era. The very story you’re reading right now consists of digital data packets transmitted electronically around the globe. Because of cost factors, 99+% of shooting matches in the USA still rely on old-fashioned manual scoring methods. However, target scoring can be done faster and more precisely with electronic scoring systems. Olympic and international CISM shooting competitions now employ electronic target systems. And electronic scoring is widely used in Europe already.

Below is a video showing an electronic scoring system developed by Norway’s Kongsberg Mikroelektronikk AS. Watch as a prone shooter puts five rounds on a 300m target. You can see the group form on the video screen at his shooting station. He’s a good shooter (with an accurate rifle). The first three shots are touching.

As you can see from the video, viewing shots on the monitor is easier than using a spotting scope and waiting for targets to be marked. The electronic target eliminates the need for a crew of target pullers in the pits.

YouTube Preview Image

The Kongsberg system, like the electronic systems produced by Sius Ascor of Switzerland, do more than just display shot locations to the shooter. The target units automatically calculate scores, which are transmitted to a central computer. This can provide updated competitor rankings, and can even display the results to event spectators on large view screens.


CLICK HERE for a longer streaming Flash VIDEO showing how electronic target systems work. This video, produced by Sius Ascor, shows olympic target systems in action.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gear Review 2 Comments »
September 24th, 2009

Lambeth Builds a Tack-Driving Savage Prone Rifle

North Carolina-based gunsmith Nat Lambeth is one of the gurus of the Savage world. He has built many highly competitive match rifles using Savage actions, employing his special accurizing methods. Nat recently built up a 6 BRX prone rifle using Gary Eliseo’s new S1 Savage Chassis. The 6 BRX, a 6BR improved with 30° shoulder, can be a very accurate cartridge, as demonstrated by Nat’s new rifle. Right out of the gate, this gun shot an 0.290 five-shot group during barrel break-in.

Savage Prone Rifle Eliseo

The rifle features a Savage Target action, factory Accutrigger, and a very accurate 32.5″, 8-twist Broughton 5C™ barrel. The load was Lapua 6BR brass hydraulically formed to 6 BRX, 32.5 grains of Hodgdon Varget, Wolf (Russian) SRM primers, and a Berger 105gr VLD bullet.

Nat really likes the 6 BRX chambering in a long-range prone rifle: “The 6mm BRX is like a 6mmBR on steroids. The whole purpose of the 6mm BRX and 6mm Dasher is to make the 6mmBR a better round for 600-1000 yard shooting. The have the advantages of the 6mmBR with a little more velocity. Most folks who shoot a 6mm BRX fire-form their 6mmBR brass by seating the bullets in the rifling and loading the 6mmBR case with a 90% load. The case expands into the larger chamber making a 6mmBR case now a 6mm BRX. [For this gun] I used my new Hornady Hydraulic Forming Die. [Editor: the hydraulic die will form the cases to about 95% of final shape using just the die, a water-filled case, and a mallet.] As you can see, the hydraulic die allowed me to start off with a standard 6mm BRX load from the get go. For optimum accuracy, barrel life, and case life the 6mm BRX seems to have an accuracy node between 3000 fps and 3080 fps.

Another factor is that the Broughton barrels seem to give about 100-150 fps more velocity. Almost every Broughton barrel that I have chambered seem to gain a little velocity after the first 200 rounds. I have chambered the 6mm BRX with most other barrel manufacturers and they all have shot well. This is a very sweet round.”

Savage Prone Rifle Eliseo

If you want to check out this rifle, head to the 2009 F-Class Nationals at Camp Butner, Sept. 30 – October 4. Nat explains: “This rifle will be at Butner for the F-Class Nationals and future matches and practices. I will have it and ammo available for those who would like to shoot it during the practice sessions both as a 6mm BRX and .308 Win.” For more info, call Nat Lambeth at (919) 556-0554 (Home/shop — evenings and weekends), (919) 662-6848 (cell), or email NLambeth [at] embarqmail.com.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 2 Comments »
September 16th, 2009

Priming Tools — RCBS APS Strip System Tools

Readers often ask: “What priming tool should I use?” There is no simple, clear-cut answer. Different tools have different advantages and disadvantages. Many short-range benchresters like the Sinclair one-at-a-time priming tool. They believe this unit has the best “feel” for seating primers.

Others prefer the K&M tool, another “single-loader”, because it can be fitted with a seating depth gauge, for the ultimate in precision. On the other hand, one top shooter with a couple National Championships under his belt favors the modest $19.00 Lee Autoprime tool: “It’s simple, efficient and has served me well for years–I’m not convinced the fancy, expensive tools do a better job.”

This editor has tried all of these tools, and personally I favor the RCBS APS hand priming tool. It has two important advantages. Number one, primers are held in color-coded plastic strips so you never have to touch the primers. If you buy the pre-loaded strips, there is no chance of getting an upside-down primer, and you never have to fool with flipping primers in a tray. Second, the APS tool has a “universal” shell-holder. This employs spring-loaded jaws so it can fit any size cartridge, from a 17 Fireball to large magnums. The unit has a comfortable grip and plenty of leverage. Each time you seat a primer, the strip automatically advances. (NOTE: If you like the universal shell holder but don’t like strips, RCBS offers a new m90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool with a universal shell-holder that uses a conventional primer tray.)

RCBS APS hand priming toolRCBS Universal Hand Priming Tool

Currently, only CCI primers can be purchased pre-loaded into strips. But there is an inexpensive tool that allows you to load Federal, Winchester, or Wolf primers into the strips. The strips come in a variety of colors (Red, White, Blue, Orange, Yellow, and Black), so you can sort your primers by color.

The RCBS APS hand primer is ideal when doing primer comparison testing. You can slide one strip of 25 primers in the tool, seat 5 or 10, then easily remove the strip with the remaining primers, and slide in a second strip with another primer type. You can slip the first strip back in a storage box and the primers remain ready to use.

As contained in the strips, primers can also be used in an RCBS 2000 progressive press, a bench-mounted priming unit, and a special device that fits into the top of a Rockchucker or similar press. I have loaded over 20,000 pistol rounds with an RCBS progressive press and I have had not a single flipped primer. Not one. The strip-priming system also makes it easy to switch from small to large primers on the progressive–this can literally be done in under 20 seconds.

The bench-mounted unit is ideal for priming large quantities of cases. The long handle provides plenty of leverage, and you can work fast, as the primers automatically feed through the system. When I load large quantities of varmint rounds, I use the bench-mounted APS system. The only gripe I have concerns the small plastic bushing that guides the primer seating rod. This bushing breaks easily and is easy to lose.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 2 Comments »
September 2nd, 2009

Phoenix Rear Sights Impress Match Shooters

Phoenix Precision, based in Elk River, MN, crafts precision target sights for long range target shooters. Known for their outstanding reliability and repeatability, Phoenix rear sights are gaining popularity among competitors in prone, Palma, and High Power disciplines. Some of the top “sling and irons” shooters in the country have switched to Phoenix sights.

Gary LaValley, owner of Phoenix Precision, crafts his rear sights using advanced CNC machinery. The sight housings are anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum. For precise repeatability, the sights feature stainless guide pins and lead screws, plus oil-impregnated bronze guide and thread bushings. The sights offer 70 MOA of elevation, 60 MOA of windage, with 1/4-MOA clicks. Knob rotations for elevation and windage are either NRA match rifle (Counter-CW) or service rifle (CW). Quarter-minute clicks are standard, but on request for the Palma shooters, 1/2-MOA windage detent plates are available at no extra charge. Phoenix sights accept both Anschutz and Gehmann accessories.

Phoenix Precision micrometer rear sights are offered in two basic models: top mount ($380.00), and side mount ($355.00). Both types are available in either right- or left-hand configuration (no extra charge for lefties). Top mount models are designed for use on rail-equipped AR flattops, tube guns, Tubb 2000s, and Gary Eliseo stocks. Side mount models are most commonly used on bolt action rifles, but they also work on Picatinny or Weaver-style rails with the use of an adaptor. So, if you have both an older-style Palma rifle and a new, rail-topped tube-gun, you can use the sight on both rigs. Many shooters do use the same Phoenix rear sight on multiple rifles, as shown in the video below. In the video, when real competitors talk about their Phoenix sights, you hear two things time and again: “quality” and “repeatability”.

YouTube Preview Image

For more information about Phoenix Target Sights and Scope Rails, visit www.PhoenixPrec.com, or call Gary LaValley at (763) 263-3327.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Optics 7 Comments »
August 30th, 2009

Improve Digital Scale Performance with Affordable Line Conditioner

Many reloaders are now using precision digital scales that can measure down to a single kernel of powder. These scales, such as the Denver Instrument MXX-123, are remarkable measuring systems, but you can’t expect them to perform optimally with inconsistent electrical output from a wall socket. We’ve seen the line voltage in some houses vary from 95 to 160 volts. That kind of fluctuation can damage sensitive electronics. A line conditioner can help you get the most from your digital scales and electronic powder dispensers. The line conditioner takes the “juice” from the outlet and actively corrects the voltage to provide a constant 120 volts AC to your machines.

Forum member Danny Reever explains: “We have talked before about the need for surge protection and line conditioning for sensitive electronic equipment like scales and powder dispensers. However the price of said equipment is perhaps a turn-off for a lot of guys.”

Thanks to Danny, now our readers can afford a heavy-duty, high-performance line conditioner/surge protector. Reever has found a quality line conditioner from APC, a well-known manufacturer, at a bargain price — Just $99.99. The APC H10, 1000VA unit is rated for 1000 Watts (continuous). The APC device automatically steps up low voltage and steps down high voltage to levels that are suitable for your equipment. The APC H10 also provides noise filtering and industrial-grade surge protection. Selling elsewhere for $275.00, the APC H10 1000VA is now available for just $99.99 from Tiger Direct.

CLICK HERE for $99.99 APC Line Conditioner (on Sale for Limited Time).

Danny tells us: “This is a real deal for 4900 joules surge protection. The unit weighs a hefty 16.1 pounds and measures 17″ wide X 9.5″ deep. I received mine yesterday and all I can say is $99.99 buys you one nice piece of equipment. It’s built like a tank for worry free and better component performance.”

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals, Reloading 8 Comments »
August 19th, 2009

Savage Palma Rifle Stars in TV Spot

Savage spotlights ultra-long-range accuracy in an impressive new video clip. Most rifle manufacturers might show a one-inch, 3-shot group at 100 yards and brag about it. Not Savage. In its new TV spot, Savage moves the target way out to 1169 yards (two-thirds of a mile) to demonstrate true long-range accuracy. After a Savage Palma rifle makes the shot twice in a row, Savage Chairman and CEO Ron Coburn comments: “If you think this is the same old Savage… think again.” You tell ‘em Ron. We love it.

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In the video, Savage Team Captain Stan Pate, firing prone from bipod, makes back-to-back shots on steel plates set at 1169 yards. You see the plates fall, then the camera zooms all the way back to the shooter, so you can see there’s no fakery. In fact, according to Bill Dermody of Savage: “Stan nailed this shot four takes in a row while we adjusted camera angles and sound levels”. Stan was shooting a Savage Model 12 Palma® rifile chambered in .308 Winchester. This gun features a RBRP Savage Target Action with Accutrigger, 30″ barrel, and laminated stock fitted with accessory rail and adjustable cheekpiece and butt-plate.

Savage Palma Rifle

Rifle photo courtesy Darrell Buell, a member of Team Savage.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review 10 Comments »
August 18th, 2009

You-TubeGuns Video from the Texas Twins

Here’s a cool video created by Ed Cole and Roy Cole, twin brothers from Texas. In the video, the Coles demonstrate two Eliseo prone rifles, a bright green/orange Savage-actioned S1 and a pumpkin-colored R1 with Stiller Predator (Rem footprint) action. Both rifles are chambered for .223 Remington, and fitted with 31″ Brux cut-rifled barrels. In the video, the Coles shoot with slings and iron sights at targets 600 yards away. We have to say the day-glo colors on the Eliseo S1 will get anyone’s attention. WARNING: Loud music track and shooting sounds — turn the volume down if you are at work.

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Roy Cole reports: “My orange ‘Longhorn’ R1 is a superb shooter. After breaking-in the Brux barrel, I took it to the Panola County 600-yard range. The first round was a low 9 on the target. A simple sight adjustment yielded a 10-shot string with eight Xs. With no load development the R1 just ate up the X-Ring. The most amazing thing is how the gun simply falls into your shoulder and fits! One of the greatest surprises of the gun is how nice the Timney tactical trigger is. It is not the most expensive trigger around but it performs as if it is! The Stiller Predator action works right out of the box. Put a barrel and a trigger on it and slip it into the tube stock and have the most fun that you have ever had. My brother Ed’s two S1 guns shoot just as well as my R1 does. His guns use Savage target actions with factory-issue Accutriggers.” Shown below is Ed Cole with another one of his Savage-actioned, Eliseo S1 match rifles. This example is a more ‘sedate’ Candy-Apple red.

Eliseo S1 Savage target rifle

To learn more about the Eliseo B1, R1, S1, R5, RT10, and RTS rifle chassis kits, or other products from Gary Eliseo, visit CompetitionShootingStuff.com or call Gary at (714) 630-5734.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review 4 Comments »
August 14th, 2009

Lock Up Your Tools and Shooting Accessories in Job Site Safe

Many readers already have a gunsafe, but if you’re like most gunowners, your safe is completely filled with guns, scopes, and personal valuables. Wouldn’t it be nice to have additional secure storage for items such as shooting rests, barrels, tripods, and expensive tools? Here’s a useful item that can safeguard your tools, outdoor gear, and shooting accessories. In a pinch, it can augment the storage capacity of your gun safe, though we recommend a conventional gun safe with UL-rated locking mechanism for long-term firearms storage.

Better Built Job Site Safe

The Better Built® 48″ Steel Job Site Safe is now on sale at Lowe’s for $249.00, marked down from $288.00. Offering 17.5 cubic feet of storage space, the Site Safe (Lowe’s item # 195894) will hold tools, barrels, tripods etc. up to 48″ in length. It is 25″ high, 24″ front to back, and is built of powder-coated 14 gauge steel. The design includes recessed lift handles to assist in installation. In the front are two lock ports which can be secured with padlocks.

This unit can be very handy in your garage or workshop to secure expensive tools and other equipment. Also, its low, horizontal design allows it to fit in places where a conventional, vertical style safe will not fit. Better Built® also offers 36″-wide (item 37224145), and 60″-wide (item 37224142) Site Safes, but these products are not currently sold at Lowe’s.

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August 12th, 2009

Fancy Hardwood Sources for Gunstocks

Virginia Gunsmith Richard Franklin sold his stock-making business to Greg West, but Richard is still making stunning, one-off custom rifles using laminated fancy woods such as Crotch Claro Walnut, Turkish Walnut, Curly Maple, Bloodwood, and burls. One of Richard’s favorite sources for fancy woods is Northwest Timber, based in Oregon. NW Timber has one of the largest collections of highly-figured Claro Walnut and fancy Maple blanks in the country, including many “book-matched” sets that are ideal for a three-layer laminated stock. The two, mirror-image, book-matched pieces form the outer layers, with a central spine of contrasting wood.

When shopping for fancy wood for a laminated stock application, be sure to consider the length and thickness required. For a tri-laminated benchrest stock with a 3″ forearm, you’ll need a block at least 2.5″ wide and 32″ to 35″ long (depending on overall stock length). After sawing that will give you two 1 1/8″-wide slabs, so that a contrasting 3/4″-wide section of wood can be placed in the middle. Thinner blocks of fancy wood can be used in a 5-layer laminate. If you can’t find a block at least 32″ long, a contrasting end cap could be placed on the fore-end. However, Richard prefers to work with blanks that are long enough for the whole stock.

Above is a book-matched set from Northwest Timber in Crotch Claro Walnut. Note how there are two matching pieces, top and bottom.

This above photo shows how spectacular Quilted Maple can look when stained and finished with contrasting highlights. A popular material for fine musical instruments, Quilted Maple can look just as good on a gunstock (below).


For more information, contact:

Northwest Timber
3229 Jefferson-Scio Drive
Jefferson, OR 97352
(541) 327-1000

NW Timber Burl Maple

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