Black Powder Cartridge Rifles (BPCR) typically fire cartridges with large capacity — 70 grains or more of the ‘holy black’. For a variety of reasons, BPCR shooters may want to use a black powder substitute when training, hunting, or when competing in matches that allow substitutes. The problem with most smokeless propellants is that they are designed to operate at much higher pressure levels and they don’t fill the case well when loaded to black powder pressure levels. (There are some exceptions).
Allian Black MZ Wins Field & Stream Award
Alliant Powder has developed a new black powder substitute that works well in black powder cartridge rifles and in muzzle-loaders. Alliant’s new Black MZ is an innovative, non-corrosive black powder substitute that resists moisture and reduces cleaning time.
Alliant claims that Black MZ “burns cleaner for less residue and easier cleaning” and that Black MZ can deliver “better velocities at lower pressures.” In fact, Black MZ performs so well that it was recently awarded Field & Stream’s “Best of the Best” award in its product category.
Field & Stream reports: “[Black MZ] performed so well… that the test team was able to fire muzzleloaders repeatedly without any cleaning. And when a patch was run through the barrel, there was far less fouling than is normally seen. The loose grains also can be packed tightly, producing great energy results while maintaining low barrel pressure.” Alliant states that: “Moisture resistant and virtually non-corrosive, Black MZ replicates black powder performance without the ignition headaches and cleaning hassles common to traditional black powder use.”
Alliant Brand Director Rick Stoeckel declares: “We are excited to win the Best of the Best from Field & Stream. We strive to provide the best products for our consumers, and this recognition reaffirms the effectiveness of Black MZ” [for both muzzle-loaders and Black Powder Cartridge Rifles].
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Are you bored with your “whimpy” .50 BMG? Looking for something with a little more punch? Well J.D. Jones and his team at SSK Iindustries have created a truly big boomer — the .950 JDJ. As its name implies, rifles chambered for the cartridge have a bore diameter of 0.950″ (24.13 mm). This would normally make such rifles “destructive devices” under the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA). However, SSK obtained a “Sporting Use” exemption allowing the rifles to be sold without special restrictions as destructive devices. CLICK HERE to watch .950 JDJ being fired.
.950 JDJ Specifications
Rifle Cost: $8000.00
Ammunition Cost: $40.00 per round
Projectile Weight: 3,600 grains (more than half a pound)
Rifle Weight: Between 80 and 120 pounds
Muzzle Energy: 38,685 ft/lbs (52,450 Joules)
Momentum: 154.1 Newton-seconds
As crafted by SSK Industries, .950 JDJ rifles use McMillan stocks and very large-diameter Krieger barrels fitted with a massive 18.2-lb muzzle brakes. The ammo produced by SSK features solid 3,600 grain bullets and CNC-machined cartridge brass. It is also possible (through a lot of work), to use a 20mm cannon casing shortened and necked-down.The primer pocket is swaged out to accept a .50 cal machine gun primer. That 3,600 grain bullet is just massive — it weighs more than half a pound. The cartridge propels its 3,600 grain bullet at approximately 2,200 fps. This yields a muzzle energy of 38,685 ft-lbs and a momentum of 154.1 Newton-seconds. The energy on target (knock-down power) is comparable to WWI-era tank rounds.
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A few days ago we featured Tim Sellar’s new Double-stack Sure Feed Ammo Caddy. No sooner had we revealed Tim’s double-stacker, than we got a call from Tim saying that he was developing a new flex-arm support for his gravity-fed ammo caddies. The advantage of the flex arm is that it allows the vertical position of the caddy to be adjusted for different guns (or different shooter positions). In addition, the arm raises the caddy up off the bench, clearing space for the operation of a joystick on a coaxial front rest.
Tim explains: “At the IBS 1000-yard nationals in West Virginia this year I had a lot of requests for a flex-arm type caddy. Here’s the first prototype — the paint just dried this morning. It works great especially for the joy-stick type rest. This opens up space for the arm movement. The example in the photo has a bracket attaching the flex-arm to the rest. I can fabricate any mount specified. I also plan to offer a magnetic base for the caddy flex-arm for use with ferrous metal front rests.”
Tim hasn’t announced a price for the flex-arm option yet: “The price is still being worked out. I will announce it after some anodizing and aluminum estimates come in. Production should start early January next year”. For more information on Sure Feed Ammo Caddies contact Tim in Texas:
Sure Feed Ammo Caddies (Tim Sellars)
4704 Redondo Street
North Richland Hills, TX 76180
Phone: (817) 581-7665 (cell)
eMail: sel248 [at] aol.com
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When shooting, it’s important to keep moisture out of your barrel and action, and it’s also wise to keep your optics dry. When storm clouds are threatening and you’re on the firing line waiting for your relay to start, you want to keep those raindrops off your equipment. Here’s a smart $20.00 product that can protect your expensive optics while keeping moisture and dust out of your rifle’s innards. Produced by Oregon’s CenterShot Engineering, the Rifle Cover is made from 420 Denier Nylon with a waterproof urethane backing. The basic size will fit a rifle up to 52″ in length, but you can order custom sizes (bigger or smaller).
For F-Class shooters, this is a great accessory for those rainy, misty, or foggy days while you’re waiting between relays. Or, a Varmint hunter can slip the cover on during a short rain squall, rather than lug his rifle all the way back to the truck or club-house. To order, visit www.censhot.com, call (503) 622-3815, or write: Center Shot Engineering, 26810 E. Elk Park Rd., Welches, OR 97067. The regular price is $20.00. Ask for pricing on different colors and sizes.
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FNH has released a “TBM” upgrade kit for owners of FNH SPR rifles with the standard .308-size, 4-round DBM magazine assembly. This kits lets current SPR owners utilize the TBM (tactical box magazine) assembly with 5- and 10-round magazines. This easy-to-install kit provides SPR owners with an ambidextrous mag release, along with the ability to use larger-capacity box magazines.
This $449.00 Kit comes with new trigger guard/bottom metal, both 5-round and 10-round TBM magazines, new action screws and instructions. For SPRs with box mags, this is a drop-in, no-gunsmithing upgrade that does not require gun modification or fitting to the rifle. (TSRs or PBRs with DBM equipment might require fitting by a gunsmith). Retrofit on SPRs can be accomplished in minutes with common tools (torque wrench required). Kits are available now through the FNH USA E-Store, Brownells, and Midway USA (item number 62655-01, MSRP $449).
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On his Facebook Page, Gunsmith Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzales featured the Sure Feed cartridge caddy by Tim Sellars. This device works well, and Tim can customize the height to fit your rifle and rest elevation. Speedy reports: “Here’s the new double-stack Sure Feed made by Tim Sellars out of Ft. Worth, Texas. This is one he made for me for my PPC. Each column holds 10 rounds plus five additional hole on the side for sighters or for holding a different test load. Tim makes these for all calibers and work great if you need to dump rounds down-range fast. Each consecutive round slides out and goes directly into the chamber without having to orient it into the correct position.”
To order a Sure Feed Cartridge Caddy (either the original single-stack or the new double-stack model), send email to sel248 [at] aol.com, or call Tim at 817-581-7665, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Speedy adds: “Tim is very accommodating and will build just about whatever [size caddy] you want.” Single-column caddies are $85.00 (short) and $95.00 (tall). Call for prices on the double-stack models.
Sure Feed Ammo Caddies
Tim Sellars – Sure Feed
4704 Redondo Street
North Richland Hills, TX 76180
Phone: (817) 581-7665 (cell)
eMail: sel248 [at] aol.com
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The new, 34th Edition of the Gun Trader’s Guide has just been released. This fully-illustrated resource features current market values for thousands of rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Along with the Blue Blue of Gun Values, the Gun Trader’s Guide is one of the two definitive resources on gun prices. If you buy or sell firearms, the Gun Traders’ Guide is a must-have item that will pay for itself. Over two million copies of the Gun Trader’s Guide have been sold to date. Order soon to be one of the first to own the new 34th Edition. Amazon’s price is $18.64 with free shipping for combined orders over $25.00.
You can order the Gun Trader’s Guide (34th Ed.), the Blue Book of Gun Values and other popular firearms and shooting books through the AccurateShooter Bookstore. To save you time, we’ve collected the best books on shooting, reloading, hunting, and gunsmithing all in one location. Ordering, secure billing, and shipping are all handled efficiently by Amazon.com.
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This article first appeared in 2011.
JayChris, AccurateShooter.com’s IT “guru”, has tested three different digital scales. The first is the relatively inexpensive ($150.00) GemPro 500, the second was the $333.00 Sartorius AY123, which is very similar to the Denver Instrument MXX123 and Acculab-123. Lastly, JayChris tested his $1225.00 Sartorius GD503 lab scale. The 3-way comparison test produced interesting findings. We learned that the AY123 had some serious shortcomings when used to weigh powder. The GemPro 500 performed well for the price, but was quite a bit slower than the big GD503. In speed of response, accuracy of measurement, resistance to drift, and overall reliability, the GD503 was the clear winner in our comparison. Sometimes you do get what you pay for. CLICK HERE for GD503 Review with Videos.
BATTLE of the BALANCES
Three-Way Comparison Test: GemPro 500, Sartorius AY123, Sartorius GD503 Testing Report by JayChris
Precision Weighing Balances, www.balances.com, an authorized Sartorius Distributor, shipped me an AY123 (same as Denver MXX123, Acculab 123, etc.) along with a high-end GD503 force restoration scale. I had purchased the GD503, while the AY123 was a loaner for this comparison test. I included in this test a GemPro 500 scale that I already had. My key objective in this comparison test was to test each scale for measurement drift over time. We wanted to see if the displayed weight of a given object (here a certified test weight), would change over time, or with repeated measurements.
The first test was a “quick” test, where I measured the same weight ten (10) times, in the same order, about every 30 seconds or so. I did this at about the same speed as weighing out powder, maybe a bit slower. This took about 5 or 6 minutes. The second test was more-or-less an overnight test, where I measured the same weight in lengthening intervals, starting every 10 minutes, then every 30, then every 60, and so on. You can see the time series on the included graphs.
- I used the same 100 GRAM Sartorius certified check weight for every test (see photo). Note: 100 GRAMS = 1543.233 GRAINS
- I calibrated each scale within 30 seconds of each other before starting the test.
- I tare’d each scale within a few seconds of each other
- All three scales are connected to the same line conditioning PDU and are located in the same environment (right next to each other)
Measurement Resolution and Display Increments
- The Sartorius AY123 measures to the nearest hundredth of a grain (.00). Increments are in 0.02 grain divisions, i.e. the nearest two hundredth of a grain.
- The Sartorius GD503 measures to the nearest thousandth of a grain (.000). Increments are in 0.005 grain divisions, i.e. the nearest five thousandth of a grain.
- The GemPro 500 measures to the nearest half-tenth of a grain (.05).
NOTE: When weighing powder, I weigh to the nearest .05 grain so any of these provide adequate (or more-than) resolution.
FIRST SERIES Quick Test:
* X-axis is weighing series iteration
SECOND SERIES Time-based:
* X-axis is a time series in minutes-from-0.
THIRD SERIES AY123 “Stable” vs. “Unstable”:
* X-axis is a weighing series iteration
This is a test of the AY123 in “Stable” vs. “Unstable” environment mode. The GD503 was used for comparison. I ran this test to compare the AY123 in “Stable” conditions mode (default) vs. “Unstable” conditions mode, based on anecdotal reports that the “Unstable” mode produces more consistent results. I did not find that to be so. In addition, I found that the weighing time for the “Unstable” mode was extremely slow — taking nearly 5 – 7 seconds per instance to complete a measurement. It then takes a few seconds to return to zero. In the AY123′s default “Stable” mode, it takes a second or so. Based on my testing then, there is no advantage to running the AY123 (or similar clones) in the “unstable mood”. It will simply slow you down.
Observations and Conclusions
Overall, the GD503 was the most consistent, never varying more than .005 (five-thousandths) of a grain, which is about ten times less drift than the next closest scale. The GemPro was “close” behind, never varying more than .05 of a grain. The AY123 was consistently variable and lost significant resolution over time. It was difficult to plot the AY123 results because it rarely settled at a weight for longer than a few seconds — it would routinely come up with a different weight every few seconds, varying by as much as .04 of a grain. I selected the first reading it “settled” on as the “official” reading.
The one thing this test does NOT demonstrate is trickling — our previous Review of the GD503 has a video that shows that nicely. The GD503 gives you near instantaneous read-outs when trickling. By contrast, both the AY123 and GemPro 500 require a “trickle-and-wait-for-update” plan. The GD503 is really dramatically better in its ability to return a “final” weight very quickly. This allows efficient trickling. CLICK HERE for GD503 Review with Videos.
[UPDATE: One of our readers observed that there is a setting which can make the AY123 more responsive (and accurate) when trickling charges: "Note that the video shows the 123 jumping as powder is added. The reason is the scale is in the default setting, which is for single weightings. When changed to ‘Filling’ mode, the scale reacts very quickly, and in my case accurately. Trickling is easy in the ‘Filling’ mode. My experience is that the AY123 is an excellent scale, but is sensitive to environmental factors. The GD503 is way better and is also way more expensive." -- Matt P.]
GemPro 500 Performed Well — Drift Was Usually Minimal and Charges Settle Fairly Quickly
I’ve used the GemPro 500 for quite a while now and have found it to be fairly reliable. However, over one previous loading session I have seen it drift as much as .150 of a grain. I had to go back and re-weigh charges because of this. Therefore, I tend to tare it every five (5) weighings or so which is probably overkill based on one case. I’ve not had that problem since so I am guessing something happened environmentally (maybe I bumped it or something). Overall, the GemPro is not overly sensitive to environment and settles fairly quickly and reliably.
Charges Weighed by SD503 Have More Consistent Velocities, with lower SDs
I’ve loaded a few hundred rounds with the GD503 now. I have not found it to drift more than .010 of a grain in that time. So, now, I only tend to tare it once at the beginning of a load session. I have gotten extremely consistent velocities from charges loaded with this scale, with single-digit standard deviations. By contrast, previously, my best efforts usually resulted in standard deviations (SDs) in the low teens.
Based on my experience testing the AY123, I would not choose this scale to load powder with. The readings are just too variable. The slightest environment factors (breathing, hand movement, etc.) cause large changes in results. I tried to load some rounds using this scale (backed by my GD503 to verify) and I couldn’t do better than a few tenths of a grain, and that was with considerable effort. The Sartorius AY123 is really the wrong tool for the job when it comes to measuring powder.
Thanks to Precision Weighing Balances for providing the AY123 for comparison. The other two scales, the GemPro 500 and GD503, I purchased on my own nickel. [Editor's Note: When purchased in 2011, Jay's GD503 cost approximately $900.00. The current 2012 price at Balances.com is $1225.00.] All three of these digital scales can be purchased through the Precision Weighing Balances webstore:
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 two different versions, either with 3″ x 4″ baseplate for $85.99, or with 4″ x 5″ baseplate for $89.99.
The Spirit of America Match (SOA) and F-Class National Championship Match are both scheduled this month at the Whittington Center in Raton, NM. The SOA Match starts September 9th (this upcoming Sunday), while the F-Class Nationals kick off September 17th. Over the next couple of weeks, hundreds of shooters will be hauling tons of gear to the Raton firing lines (and back again). Carrying all that hardware by hand quickly gets tiring. Accordingly, you’ll see a variety of range carts, converted strollers, and other two-, three-, and four-wheeled haulers used by competitors to tote their gear.
Folding Wagon Holds 150 Pounds of Gear
If you’re looking for an affordable, light-weight gear hauler, consider the $79.95 Mac Sports Folding Wagon from Creedmoor Sports. With a load capacity of 150 pounds, this cleverly-designed folding wagon is great for transporting all your shooting gear to and from the firing line. The Mac Sports Folding Wagon opens up to 37″ x 21″ x 23″, large enough to hold shooting mats, front pedestal rests, spotting scope stands, ammo boxes and more.
Folding Wagon Stows Easily in Vehicle
The wagon folds up in seconds for convenient storage in its own carry bag. When collapsed, the Mac Sports Folding Wagon fits easily into a small car trunk. It weighs just 26 pounds (unloaded), but its steel frame allows it to carry nearly six times its own weight in gear (150-lb load capacity). When you’re not shooting, the wagon is also great for small hauling jobs around the yard. CLICK HERE to order from Creedmoor Sports (green, $79.95). Target.com and some Target retail stores also offer the Max Sports Folding Wagon for $79.99 in red or green livery.
Product tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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After our recent post on ammo boxes for benchrest-sized cartridges, Forum Member Dave Berg let us know that MTM Case-Gard has introduced a new series of R-50 Ammo Boxes with mechanical hinges. The new mechanical hinge on the improved MTM R-50 series box allows the box lid to open fully and lay flat, providing unimpeded access to your rounds. This is smart — no longer will shooters have to struggle with a box lid that wants to spring back over your ammo.
For some guys this makes the MTM R-50-series ammo boxes easier to use both on the bench and at the range. Dave notes: “The new and improved MTM RS-S-50… has a real mechanical hinge that just flops the lid back out of the way. The dimensions are virtually identical to the 512. [The RS-S-50 box is] tall enough that long-seated 6mm 108gr bullets will just fit and the walls between the compartments are high enough the empties can’t jump out.” The new MTM R-50 series are made from tough UV-resistant polypropylene that won’t crack. The mechanical hinge is warranteed for 25 years. The MTM CaseGuard R-50 series is offered in eight (8) sizes to fit everything from 17 Hornet all the way up to .375 Rem Ultra-Mag. For .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, and .223 Rem shooters, get the RS-50 box. For 22-250, 22BR, 6PPC, 6mmBR, 30BR, and 7.62×39, you should order the RS-S-50 box, shown below. For other rifle cartridge types, CLICK HERE for Chart showing the right-size MTM box.
Consumer NOTE: Some online vendors still may still have older-inventory MTM R-50 series Ammo Boxes with the older-style lid attachment. The newer, hinged version shares the same product names, for example RS-50 and RS-S-50, so you’ll need to ask for the newer versions when ordering. (NOTE: The two-tone boxes all have the new hinges.) When shopping online, you may see extended product codes, such as “RS50-24″, and “RS50-16T”. The suffixes are box color codes, “-24″ referring to blue, and “-16T” referring to green/black, with “T” for two-tone. The RS-50 series comes in four (4) color options, each with its own suffix.
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Do you have important documents and data on your computer — items such as tax returns, home inventories, and your precious reloading logs? Well, if you haven’t backed up these critical files, you should do so right away. Computer hard drives in your computer can fail at any time — often without warning. If you want to back up your most important data files, you can “burn” them to CD, but that can be somewhat time-consuming, and if you have very large files, they may not fit easily on a conventional CD.
Small, Portable, Affordable USB Flash Drives
One quick and easy form of back-up is to use a flash memory stick. These small USB devices, about the size of a pack of gum, are easy to use and cost less than ever. Just plug the drive into a USB port and copy your files to it (drag and drop or copy and paste). A 4 gigabyte flash drive can be purchased for around $5.00 while an 8-gig drive is less than $7. You can get a full 16 gigs of storage for under $10.00 these days.
Above are some good options from Amazon. We’ve selected SanDisk and Transcend flash drives. We have found both these brands to be very reliable. (We use Transcend Flash Cards in all our digital cameras). One word of caution — be sure to test the integrity of your files after you have copied them to a flash drive. Also store the drives in a cool, safe place, away from powerful electrical sources or magnetic fields. It is a good idea to update your backups every month or so, on a regular schedule.
Disclosure: A small percentage of Amazon sales helps fund our IT support program.
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