November 24th, 2020

6mm Creedmoor Load Data from Sierra Bullets + BONUS

6mm Creedmoor 6.5 Creedmoor load data Sierra Bullets
NOTE: The 6mm Creedmoor now does have an official SAAMI specification. It is no longer just a wildcat.

CLICK HERE for Sierra Bullets 6mm Creedmoor LOAD DATA PDF »

Sierra Bullets Load Data 6mm Creedmoor reloading tips

Sierra Bullets has published load data for the 6mm Creedmoor cartridge, a necked-down version of the popular 6.5 Creedmoor. Sierra has released very comprehensive 6mm Creedmoor load data, covering fifteen (15) different bullets from 55 to 110 grains. NOTE: Hornady-brand brass was used for Sierra’s 6mm Creedmoor load tests, not the newer, stronger Lapua 6.5 CM brass with small primer pockets. Hand-loaders using Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass necked to 6mm may have to adjust their loads.

Sierra writes: “As soon as the 6.5 Creedmoor was released in 2007, a 6mm version was being envisioned. After the 6mm Creedmoor demonstrated its worth at 1000 yards it began to catch the attention of Precision Rifle Series (PRS) competitors. The 6mm Creedmoor is a great fit for those looking for an AR platform-friendly cartridge. It delivers velocities very similar to the .243 Win and yet fits the AR10 magazine length[.] The 30-degree shoulder makes this a very efficient case and helps prolong case life as well. The 6mm Creedmoor works well with powders such as H4350, [RE-16], RE-17, and Ramshot Hunter for heavier long-range bullet weights. Slightly faster powders such as RE-15, Win 760, and Vihtavuori N540 work well with lighter weight bullets.”

Sierra Bullets Tested for 6mm Creedmoor Load Data
55gr BlitzKing (#1502)
60gr HP (#1500)
70gr HPBT (#1505)
70gr BlitzKing (#1507)
75gr HP (#1510)
80gr SBT (#1515)
85gr Spitzer (#1520)
85gr HPBT (#1530)
90gr FMJBT (#1535)
95gr HPBT (#1537)
95gr TMK (#7295)
100gr Spitzer (#1540)
100gr SBT (#1560)
107gr HPBT (#1570)
110gr HPBT (#1575)

In developing its 6mm Creedmoor load data, Sierra tested a very wide selection of propellants, two dozen overall. For the smaller bullets, fast-burning powders such as Benchmark, H4895, and CFE223 were tested. For the heavier 100+ grain bullets, Sierra tested a selection of medium-burn-rate powders including H4350, Reloder 16, Reloder 17, Varget, and Superformance. Sierra did a very thorough job. We know this information will be welcomed by 6mm Creedmoor shooters.

Don’t know what powder to try first? For the 107-110 grain bullets, if you want best accuracy and low ES/SD, our Forum members recommend Alliant Reloder 16 and Hodgdon H4350. If you are seeking max velocity with the 110-grainer, look at Hodgdon Superformance and Reloder 19.

Here are Sierra’s 6mm Creedmoor Load Data Charts for 90-95 grain bullets plus the 107gr MK and 110gr MK. There are five other tables for other bullet types.

6mm Creedmoor 6.5 Creedmoor load data Sierra Bullets

6mm Creedmoor 6.5 Creedmoor load data Sierra Bullets

6mm Creedmoor 6.5 Creedmoor load data Sierra Bullets

6mm Creedmoor 6.5 Creedmoor load data Sierra Bullets


BONUS: PRB 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor Load Survey

The Precision Rifle Blog compiled Load Data from PRS Competitors, for both 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor. This is a good place to start. PRB surveyed the match loads for “173 of the top-ranked precision rifle shooters in the country”. One cautionary note: These PRS guys may be loading fairly hot, so work up gradually, 0.3 grains at a time. CLICK HERE.

PRB precision rifle blog pet loads what pros use 6.5 Creedmoor 6mm CM

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November 24th, 2020

10 Shots in 0.289 MOA — Can Your Rifle Beat this XP-100 Pistol?

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

TEN Shots in 0.303″ (0.289 MOA) at 100 Yards
Look at that target showing TEN shots at 100 yards, with eight (8) shots in the main cluster at the top. The ten-shot group measures .303″ (0.289 MOA), as calculated with OnTarget Software. Not bad for a handgun — a very nice bolt-action XP-100 pistol! What do you think, can your best-shooting rifle match the 10-shot accuracy of this XP-100 pistol?

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

Report by Boyd Allen
This story goes back a few seasons… this remarkable XP-100 pistol belongs to Dan Lutke, a Bay Area benchrest shooter who publishes the results for the Visalia matches to the competitors and the NBRSA. He has been an enthusiastic competitor for an number of years, at various ranges, notably Visalia and Sacramento. The action is a Remington XP-100, to which a Kelbly 2 oz. trigger has been fitted. On top is an old Japanese-made Tasco 36X scope (these were actually pretty darn good). The Hart barrel (a cast-off from Dan’s Unlimited rail gun) was shortened and re-chambered for the 6x45mm, a wildcat made by necking-up the .223 Remington parent case. The custom stock/chassis was CNC-machined by Joe Updike from 6061 Billet Aluminum to fit the XP-100 action and mount a target-style AR grip with bottom hand rest. The gun was bedded and assembled by Mel Iwatsubu. In his XP-100 pistol, Dan shoots 65gr custom boat-tails with Benchmark powder.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

This diagram shows the most common 6x45mm wildcat, which is a necked-up version of the .223 Remington parent cartridge. NOTE: The dimensions for Dan Lutke’s benchrest version of this cartridge may be slightly different.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest
ACAD drawing by Peter Gnanapragasam CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Title Added.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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November 23rd, 2020

Bargain Finder 270: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Weekly Bargain Finder Sale Discount Savings

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Sunday afternoon or Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, optics, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Academy Sports — Cannon 64-Gun Safe, $599.99 (Save $400)

academy sports Cannon 64-gun Valley Forge Safe Black Friday Sale
BIG gun safe, good interior, amazing 40% OFF Savings

This is a jumbo-sized, 40″-wide fire-rated safe that holds up to 64 long guns. This big Cannon Valley Forge Gunsafe normally sells for $999.99, but this week you can get it for just $599.99 at Academy Sports. Yep, that’s a whopping $400 off normal retail, a 40% savings! If you need a big safe, don’t hesitate — this deal is good from November 22-28, 2020 only.

2. Brownells — Hornady L-N-L Classic Reloading Kit, $299.99

hornady reloading kit
Bargain Price AND get 500 free bullets from Hornady

Need tools to start reloading? Check out the Lock-N-Load Classic Reloading Kit. This Hornady Reloading Kit includes everything you need except brass, powder, and bullets to get started. Don’t forget to use Brownells coupon code VTJ for $20 off, lowering your net price to $299.99. Also, this Lock-N-Load Classic Reloading Kit appears to qualify for 500 FREE bullets through the Hornady Get Loaded Rebate. That Rebate can net you bullets worth 50% of your Kit purchase price, making this a very attractive deal

3. Amazon — Vortex Diamondback HD Spotting Scope, $399.00

vortex diamondback HD spotting scope
Great Spotting Scope Deal — hard to beat at twice the price

Whether hunting or target shooting, spotting scopes get you on target faster and easier than bare eyes or riflescope. If you need a good HD-grade spotter, check out the Vortex Diamondback HD 16-48x65mm angled spotting scope for $399.00. It offers great clarity and rock-solid lifetime guarantee. Relatively compact and weighing 49.8 ounces, this is a good choice for a hunter. There’s also a straight version for $399.00, with same 16-48X power and 65mm objective. If you need more magnification and low-light performance, Vortex offers the 20-60x80mm Diamondback HD spotter for $499.00.

4. Amazon — All-Weather Case with Anti-Rust Interior, $93.99

plano all weather case
Protect your firearm investment with corrosion-fighting rifle case

Transporting your firearms isn’t just about protecting them from damage, it’s also about keeping them clean and RUST FREE. If you keep long guns in hard cases for significant periods of time, condensation can create rust faster than you realize. A great choice to combat this is the Plano All Weather Gun Case with Rustrictor. This waterproof rifle case fights rust with Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) chemicals infused into resin and foam emitters. With its built-in rust-fighter, this case resists corrosion 5x longer than competing products (per lab testing). The 42″ model is $93.99, while the smaller 36″ rustrictor case is just $74.99. There is also a large 52″ wheeled case for $171.90.

5. Creedmoor Sports — Deluxe 55″ or 60″ Rifle Case, $124.95

creedmoor rifle case
Truly some of the highest-quality soft rifle cases you can buy

Tired of poorly-made soft cases that wear out after one season? If you want to get a top-quality case that will last for years, check out the Creedmoor Blue Deluxe 55″ or 60″ Rifle Case. These are hand-made cases that provide an incredible level of protection with quality fabrics and padding. Smart design, high-grade zippers, and top-quality sewing make a noticeable difference. And right now you can get either the 55″ or 60″ model for $124.45 — a $25 savings off the regular $149.95 price. You will see many of the nation’s top Palma and F-Class shooters using these cases.

6. Bullet Central — Jewell Benchrest Trigger, $169.50

Jewell BR Trigger
Jewell triggers hold world records in multiple disciplines

Jewell triggers have set records and dominated firing lines across the country for good reason. They’re about half the price of other top triggers, can be easily tuned and adjusted and they just work without question. If you need a new competition trigger consider the Jewell Remington 700 BR Trigger (No Safety) model from Bullet Central. Upgrade your rifle for a reasonable price.

7. Natchez — RCBS ChargeMaster Lite, $229.99

Chargemaster Lite Midsouth Sale
Best Deal on popular, speedy Scale/Dispenser

Do you need an electronic powder scale/dispenser? Most vendors charge $290-$300 for the popular RCBS ChargeMaster Lite. But now you can get it for just $229.99 at Natchez. You save $70.00, about 24%! The ChargeMaster Lite features an easy-to-use LCD touchscreen and claimed precision of plus/minus 0.1 grains. The unit comes with twin check weights and a convenient plastic cover for the powder pan. If Natchez sells out, you can get the ChargeMaster Lite for $239.99 at Sportsman’s Warehouse.

8. Amazon — Frankford Arsenal Hand Deprimer Tool, $44.49

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Hand Deprimer Tool
Deprime fired cartridge brass anywhere — no press needed

Decapping brass can be a tedious and messy chore. Not only does the priming cup come out but so does the anvil and other little bits. Keep it clean and easy but grabbing the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Hand Deprimer Tool and deprime in style. This self-contained unit allows you to decap anywhere and keep all the mess in the capture container. It’s easy on the hands too. With this handy tool you can deprime your bases while watching TV.

9. Amazon — TWO Sets of NRR 28dB Earmuffs, $21.24

shooting hearing protection
Amazing Deal for TWO pairs of NRR 28 muffs

How about a gift for a friend that’s also a gift for you? Pick up this 2-Pack of Mpow Professional Ear Defenders muffs for just $21.24. You can give one set to a buddy and keep one set for yourself. With a 28dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), these muffs have good buyer reviews, with positive comments about comfort and noise reduction. You can’t beat this price for TWO sets of muffs with carry bags included.

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November 22nd, 2020

Click-Adjust FL Die Systems from PMA Tool & Whidden Gunworks

click-adjustable die micro-adjusting lock ring PMA Tool Whidden Gunworks

One of the most important aspects of precision reloading is setting the shoulder bump during the full-length (FL) sizing process. You want the amount of “bump” to be precise and identical for every loaded round. However, when you switch brands of brass you may need to change the die position to get the desired bump and case body sizing. And even with the same brand of brass, you may find that you need to adjust your FL die as the number of brass load cycles increases. Brass that has been fired many times will behave differently than new or near-new brass.

Also, even with the same cartridge type, brass loaded for a semi-auto rifle may need more bump than brass fired in a bolt gun. For example, with .223 Rem ammo, you’ll normally want to push the shoulder back farther if the ammo will be shot in a AR15 as opposed to a bolt-action rig.

So how do you make all these needed adjustments for your full-length dies? You can move a conventional locking ring up and down, but that can be a tedious, trial-and-error process. Some guys use shims in one-thousandth intervals, but that still requires taking your dies in and out of the press. Well there is a better way now…

PMA Tool Micro-Die Adjuster

Wouldn’t it be great if you could precisely adjust your FL die up and down in half-thousandth increments, with a simple indexed click. That is now possible with products offered by PMA Tool and Whidden Gunworks. PMA Tool offers a Micro-Die Adjuster that replaces your existing lock ring and can be used with nearly any 7/8-14 full length sizing die. The engraved marks correspond to approximately .001″ of shoulder bump adjustment. Splitting the engraved marks is therefore approximately equal to .0005″ (half a thousandth). Users love this product, saying it adds precision and saves time.

Whidden Click-Adjustable FL Sizing Die System

Whidden Gunworks offers a complete click-adjustable FL sizer die with a special, indexed ring. With Whidden’s patent-pending Click Adjustable Sizer Die system, the die and lock ring work together to allow rapid, precise bump adjustments. One click changes the bump .001″. It’s simple and fast. Included with the Click Adjustable Sizer Die is a shoulder bump gauge. John Whidden (in video below) explains:

“There has become a need for an easier way to adjust the sizer die properly. Until now there have been few options other than trial and error to get the shoulder setback correct. Anyone who has done this can attest that it’s a slow and imprecise job! Our die and lock ring work together to give the user a clicking feel to the adjustment. Each click moves the shoulder bump .001” so you can easily find the exact shoulder bump that you desire.” — John Whidden

General Tips on Setting Up and Using Sizing Dies

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November 20th, 2020

Smarter Reloader — Use Expander Mandrels with Your New Brass

Expander Mandrel reloading case neck tension cartridge brass

Before you load that nice new cartridge brass for the first time, run an expander mandrel down the case necks. This will iron out dents and provide more uniform neck tension. Chose a mandrel diameter that provides appropriate neck tension.

Lapua brass is so good that you’ll be tempted to just load and shoot, if you have a “no-turn” chamber. However, some minimal case prep will ensure more uniform neck tension. Keeping your neck tension very uniform allows more consistent bullet seating. That, in turn, usually yields better accuracy, and lower Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation (ES/SD). Lapua brass, particularly 6mmBR, 6.5×47, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win comes from the factory with tighter-than-optimal necks. Before you seat bullets, at a minimum, you should inside chamfer the case mouths, after running an expander mandrel down the necks. The expander mandrels from both Sinclair Int’l and K&M will both leave the necks with enough neck tension (more than .001″) so you can then seat bullets without another operation. We suggest putting a bit of lube on the mandrel before running it down the necks — but remove any lube that gets inside the necks before seating bullets.

Sinclair Expander Tool Mandrel

Both Sinclair and K&M Tools make a die body specifically to hold expander mandrels. The Sinclair version, is shown above. This $32.99 unit fits caliber-specific expander mandrels ($9.99) which measure approximately .001″ less than bullet diameter for each caliber. This is an updated “Gen II” design that completely captures the mandrel within the die so the mandrel cannot pull out. It also has an O-ring in the die cap that allows the mandrel to self-center within the case neck. Sinclair now offers three sizes of die bodies for expander mandrels: .17 -.338 Caliber (#749-011-715WS $32.99); .357 – .50 caliber (#749-008-843WS, $32.99), and a special .50 Cal die body for large-diameter 50 BMG presses (#749-009-163WS, $39.99). All Generation II dies are machined from stainless steel and the standard diameter 7/8-14 dies include the Sinclair Stainless Steel Split Lock Ring.

Once you run the Sinclair expander mandrel down the necks of Lapua brass, after you account for brass spring-back, you’ll have about .002″ neck tension*. This will make the process of seating bullets go much more smoothly, and you will also iron out any dents in the case mouths. Once the case mouths are all expanded, and uniformly round, then do your inside neck chamfering/deburring. The same expander mandrels can be used to “neck-up” smaller diameter brass, or prepare brass for neck-turning.

Forum member Mike Crawford adds: “These expanders can also reduce runout from offset seating. Prior to bullet seating, expand the sized necks to force thickness variance outward. With the Sinclair system, the necks will springback fine, and will not be pulled out of center. This leaves plenty of tension, and bullets seated more centered. I do this, even with turned necks, to get improved seating.”

Mandrels vs. Expander Balls on Decapping Rods
If you haven’t acquired an appropriate expander mandrel for your brass, but you DO have a full-length sizing die with an expander ball, this will also function to “iron out” the necks and reduce tension. However, using a die with an expander ball will work the necks more — since you first size them down, then the ball expands them up again. Typically (but not always), run-out is worse when using an expander ball vs. an expander mandrel.


* This .002″ tension is what we have observed with Lapua 6mmBR, 6.5×47, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win brass. This might vary with much smaller or larger cases, and of course a different brand of brass might yield different results. If you get too little tension with your current mandrel, you can get a smaller-diameter mandrel from 21st Century Shooting. 21st Century even offers low-friction Titanium Nitride-coated mandrels.

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November 17th, 2020

TECH TIP: Bullet Bearing Surface Length Can Affect Pressure

USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparision Safety Reloading
Photo 1: Three Near-Equal-Weight 7mm Bullets with Different Shapes

TECH TIP: Bullets of the same weight (and caliber) can generate very different pressure levels due to variances in Bearing Surface Length (BSL).

Bullet 1 (L-R), the RN/FB, has a very slight taper and only reaches its full diameter (0.284″) very near the cannelure. This taper is often seen on similar bullets — it helps reduce pressures with good accuracy. The calculated BSL of Bullet 1 was ~0.324″. The BSL of Bullet 2, in the center, was ~0.430”, and Bullet 3’s was ~ 0.463″. Obviously, bullets can be visually deceiving as to BSL!


This article from the USAMU covers an important safety issue — why you should never assume that a “book” load for a particular bullet will be safe with an equal-weight bullet of different shape/design. The shape and bearing surface of the bullet will affect the pressure generated inside the barrel. This is part of the USAMU’s Handloading Hump Day series, published on the USAMU Facebook page.

Beginning Handloading, Part 13:
Extrapolating Beyond Your Data, or … “I Don’t Know, What I Don’t Know!”

We continue our Handloading Safety theme, focusing on not inadvertently exceeding the boundaries of known, safe data. Bullet manufacturers’ loading manuals often display three, four, or more similar-weight bullets grouped together with one set of load recipes. The manufacturer has tested these bullets and developed safe data for that group. However, seeing data in this format can tempt loaders — especially new ones — to think that ALL bullets of a given weight and caliber can interchangeably use the same load data. Actually, not so much.

The researchers ensure their data is safe with the bullet yielding the highest pressure. Thus, all others in that group should produce equal or less pressure, and they are safe using this data.

However, bullet designs include many variables such as different bearing surface lengths, hardness, and even slight variations in diameter. These can occasionally range up to 0.001″ by design. Thus, choosing untested bullets of the same weight and caliber, and using them with data not developed for them can yield excess pressures.

This is only one of the countless reasons not to begin at or very near the highest pressure loads during load development. Always begin at the starting load and look for pressure signs as one increases powder charges.

Bullet bearing surface length (BSL) is often overlooked when considering maximum safe powder charges and pressures. In photo 1 (at top), note the differences in the bullets’ appearance. All three are 7mm, and their maximum weight difference is just five grains. Yet, the traditional round nose, flat base design on the left appears to have much more BSL than the sleeker match bullets. All things being equal, based on appearance, the RN/FB bullet seems likely to reach maximum pressure with significantly less powder than the other two designs.

Bearing Surface Measurement Considerations
Some might be tempted to use a bullet ogive comparator (or two) to measure bullets’ true BSL for comparison’s sake. Unfortunately, comparators don’t typically measure maximum bullet diameter and this approach can be deceiving.

Photo 2: The Perils of Measuring Bearing Surface Length with Comparators
USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparision Safety Reloading

In Photo 2, two 7mm comparators have been installed on a dial caliper in an attempt to measure BSL. Using this approach, the BSLs differed sharply from the original [measurements]. The comparator-measured Bullet 1 BSL was 0.694” vs. 0.324” (original), Bullet 2 was 0.601” (comparator) vs. 0.430” (original), and Bullet 3 (shown in Photo 2) was 0.602” (comparator) vs. 0.463” (original). [Editor’s comment — Note the very large difference for Bullet 1, masking the fact that the true full diameter on this bullet starts very far back.]

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November 12th, 2020

AutoTrickler V3 Tips — Set-up, Optimization, Maintenance

Adam MacDonald Autotrickler v3 autotrhow powder dispenser video F-Class john

Top rifle competitors use the AutoTrickler system because it offers a superior combination of speed and precision in dispensing powder loads. With an AutoTrickler fitted to a compatible lab-grade magnetic force restoration scale, you can achieve single-grain weight consistency with your hand-loads. That kind of load weight uniformity does help deliver low ES/SD that translates to reduced vertical at long range. Adam MacDonald’s AutoTrickler system is so good that it can truly be called a “game-changer” in the precision handloading world.

As good as the AutoTrickler may be, there are some simple ways to keep it functioning better, or to improve your productivity. Here are three videos by F-Class John that provide very helpful tips for AutoTrickler owners. The first video shows general set-up and installation. The second video shows a simple but brilliant trick to speed up the process — use two identical powder measure cups shaved to be the EXACT same weight. In third video, F-Class John shows important maintenance tips to keep your AutoTrickler components running smoothly and quietly.

AutoTrickler V3 — General Set-Up and Operational Advice

In this video, John offers some general advice for setting-up the AutoTrickler system. He explains how you can get the machine optimized. For example he notes that you want to set the initial drop weight (from the powder measure) in an optimal range: “When you set the original drop you need it to be about 1 to 1.5 grains below. Some people set it too close to the final weight they want and it actually doesn’t let the trickler unit work as efficiently, consistently and accurately as it will if you start 1 to 1.5 grains low.”

John also explains how to hook up the cords and how to position the trickler unit. John places his AutoTrickler on a 30-lb piece of granite, with a thin polymer “anti-static” pad on top. John also uses a line conditioner and grounding wire to provide the best electrical flow to the scale and trickler. Interestingly, the granite was an inexpensive “surplus” piece taken from a kitchen top installation.

John also shows how the angle of the trickler unit can be adjusted. Another smart tip involves marking the white trickler tube belt bushing. That makes it is easier to discern slow movement and determine when the trickler is completely stopped.

If you own an AutoTrickler or plan to purchase one, we definitely recommend you watch this entire video.

Are you experience chattering when powder is dispensed? John also explains (3:20 – 5:30 time mark) how to replace a small rubber “wiper” part in the dispenser unit. This can help prevent chattering or kernel-cutting as the powder charge drops into the pan from above.

Use Two Identical-Weight Powder Cups to Load Faster

In this second video, F-Class John shows how you can use TWO identical powder cups to speed up your reloading. This is a VERY clever and relatively inexpensive upgrade. You can use 600-grit wet sandpaper to make the weight of the twin cups absolutely identical. John says: “I just lightly sanded the bottom of these until they both weighed exactly the same on my scale.” He can now use one cup to load a case while the other cup is receiving the next powder charge.

AutoTrickler V3 General Maintenance Tips

If you have been running an AutoTrickler for quite some time, you have probably noticed some noise or vibration. This video shows some very simple maintenance procedures that will have your AutoTrickler running great again. F-Class John reveals some components that can get dirty or worn after considerable use. The video identifies the items that may require a cleaning or adjusting. In the video John shows how to do those tasks quickly and easily.

Adam MacDonald Autotrickler v3 autotrhow powder dispenser video F-Class john

In the last three minutes of the above video John shows an important process involving the trickler unit motor. The motor’s attachment screws tend to loosen slightly over time. After removing the pulley drive wheel, you want to gently tension the four Phillips screws. Then reattach the wheel and drive belt. Doing this simple process should reduce unwanted vibration.

Adam MacDonald Autotrickler v3 autotrhow powder dispenser video F-Class john

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November 12th, 2020

Variances in Load Data — Why Load Manuals Don’t Always Agree

load manual sierra reloading hornady data

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks
One of the first things new reloaders notice is that load data varies between reloading manuals. The Sierra Bullets Technicians frequently get inquiries asking us to explain why the load data appears to be inconsistent. This article explains five key factors that can influence published load data.

Example of load data variances for two 168 grain bullets:

Sierra Reloading Manual Hornady Load Reloading

Here are five reasons why the load data varies:

The Bullet
Basically, the similarities in the .30 caliber 168 grain Match bullets (for example) end with weight and diameter. The bullets likely have dimensional differences such as bearing surface length. Bearing surface has a large effect on pressure and velocity. There are also differences in boat tail, flat base, ogive and over-all lengths, which each help determine the cartridge over-all-length (COAL). With different COAL’s, we can expect changes in pressure and velocity also. In some calibers there are differences in bullet diameter with different bullet manufacturers.

It is also worth noting that bullet manufacturers do not all use the same copper alloy for their jackets. This produces more or less friction that results in load pressures and velocities. The solid copper bullets also vary quite a bit in comparison to a lead core and copper jacketed bullet.

The Gun
Each gun is unique, even if you are using the same make, model, and caliber. Special consideration should be used to consider that not all firearm chambers are the same either, creating more variables that need consideration. There can be drastic differences in the throat length. This controls the amount of “jump” that a bullet experiences when the cartridge is fired.

The Powder
Within normal manufacturing tolerances, you can see some variation in a given powders burn rate between different lots of the same powder. So naturally when two different Manuals are produced, it would be doubtful that the same lots would be tested.

The Cartridge Cases
New cases are almost always near minimum specs in dimension. A load fired in a new case would likely have slightly more pressure that when fired in a re-sized case. This would certainly be true if we were loading into fire-formed cases that have had minimal re-sizing done. Fired cases that are full length resized most of the time be slightly larger than the new unfired cases. This gives you differences in case capacity. The same powder charge placed within a new case and a full length resized case will produce different pressure levels and probably different velocities.

Conditions
Temperature can cause pressure increases or decreases. Hot temperatures tend to cause pressures to increase, while cold temperatures will usually do the opposite. Humidity and altitude can impact pressures and velocities likewise.

Conclusion
As you can see, an amazing number of variables effect any load combination. With the differences in the manuals, you’re just seeing firsthand examples of what took place when the data was collected with that particular set of components and firearm. Think of a reloading manual as a report. In essence, a reloading manual says, “We tried this particular component combination, and these are the results we obtained.”

Remember that you may or may not reach the same maximum load safely. There is no “one load fits all bullets.” The minimum load data offers a safe place to start. The maximum load data listed should always be regarded as a safety guideline and not necessarily a goal! Your gun should shoot accurately without breaching the maximum load data. The best advice is: always start low and work your load up!

If you have questions about variances in load data or other reloading questions, please call our ballistic technicians at 1-800-223-8799 or send us an email at sierra [at] sierrabullets.com.

Sierra Bullets Blog reloading information

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November 9th, 2020

Bargain Finder 268: Accurateshooter’s Deals of the Week

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Weekly Bargain Finder Sale Discount Savings

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Sunday afternoon or Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, optics, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Palmetto — Tactical 12ga Shotgun, Two Stocks + Case, $599.99

12ga gauge tactical shotgun thumbhole stock discount
With 2 stocks and 2 barrels, this is like having two different 12ga shotguns

12ga gauge tactical shotgun thumbhole stock discountTactical shotguns have been hot sellers in 2020, given the social unrest and need to safeguard home and business. Here is a great shotgun deal. The Black Aces Tactical Pro Series X package features 2 barrels, 2 stocks, and multiple choke tubes. You even get a special fitted carry case. This Pro Series shotgun’s components include: 18.5″ and 24″ Barrels (with 3 chokes included); Standard Full Stock; Additional 6-Position, Side-Folding Tactical Stock; 4+1 standard capacity, +2 extension, and +6 extension. The receiver features Hi-Viz sights and Picatinny rail.

2. Natchez — RCBS Rebel Master Reloading Kit, $394.99

rcbs rebel master loading kit
Good value for everything you need, hard to find right now

With the high price of ammo, more people than ever are loading their own ammo. A good basic package is the RCBS Rebel Master Reloading Kit. On sale for $394.99 at Natchez, this RCBS Package features pretty much all you need to load rifle and pistol ammo: Rebel single-stage Press, Uniflow-III Powder Measure, digital scale, hand priming tool, powder funnel, powder trickler, hex key set, accessory handle with case neck brushes, primer pocket brushes, deburring tool, loading block, and case lube. You even get a Speer Reloading Manual. NOTE: You can buy this same Rebel Master Kit for $399.99 at Cabelas.com.

3. Precision Reloading — VihtaVuori Powder In-Stock

vihtavuori powder
These powders deliver winning ammo in many disciplines

Popular powders remain in high demand and hard to find. But Precision Reloading has the excellent Vihtavuori line of powders in stock right now for immediate shipping. You can find nearly every VihtaVuori powder in stock including the harder-to-find N133, N150, and N165 and lots of others. We use clean-burning VV for our pistol loads, and N133 remains the #1 choice of short-range benchrest competitors. Grab some VV powder now while supplies last.

4. Midway USA — Walker Razor Muffs with Walkie-Talkie, $59.99

walker razor headphones
Dual-function electronic muffs — great for range communications

Electronic earmuffs protect your hearing while allowing you to hear range commands. With these special Walker Walkit-Talkie muffs you also get long-range communication capabilities. That’s great as you can talk to folks in the pits or friends on a different section of your shooting club. The Walker Razor Slim Low Profile Electronic Earmuffs (NRR 23dB) with Free Walkie Talkie comes with a walkie talkie function that allows you to communicate with other FRS radios. That lets you give range commands or talk with friends without the need for a second radio. You get two-for-one functionality all for just $59.99. This is a GREAT deal.

5. EuroOptic — Bushnell Tactical Scope Sale, Up To 54% off

bushnell tactical scope sale
Huge Discounts for excellent Tactical scopes for ARs, PRS, Hunting

Picking up a great scope for a steal of a price isn’t always easy but we have one of those deals for you. Check out the Bushnell Tactical Scope Sale over at EuroOptic where there’s a small but mighty selection of scopes at prices up to 54% off. These are great scopes at very attracive prices (up to $750 off) so grab one now before they’re gone.

6. Amazon — Large Digital Display Timer, $12.95

shooting timer
Use in Matches — Count-Down or Count-UP, handy big buttons

If you shoot in a discipline with time limits, or you time your firing strings during practice, having a reliable and easy-to-read timer is critical. One of our favorite timers is this very affordable Digital Display Timer with both count-up and count-down functions. It boasts an easy-to-read display and LARGE buttons making it perfect for F-Class, Palma, and other matches. This timer comes with both a built-in stand AND a strong magnet so you can position the timer conveniently.

7. Amazon — Tactical Shooting Bags, $23.99

shooting bags
Versatile 2-Bag Combo set, ready for your choice of filling

To shoot accurately, you want good front and rear support for your rifle. Sandbags offer an affordable support solution that is also easy to transport. Front sandbags are good for sighting in hunting rifles and they are very handy for tactical matches. Check out this Tactical Shooting Bag Set from East TN. Outfitters. For a bargain $23.99 price, you get BOTH front and rear bags. The front bag features handy bullet loops and Molle Web straps. These bags come ready to fill with anything from sand to plastic BBs.

8. Natchez — Bushnell 2.5-10x44mm SFP Scope + Knife, $189.99

bushnell scope sale
Great Deal PLUS nice hunting knife with 5 blades

The Bushnell Nitro 2.5-10×44 SFP 30mm Rifle Scope is a solid, reliable optic. And right now if you purchase this riflescope for just $189.99 you get a FREE Havalon hunting knife. This Bushnell Nitro optic features good light transmission and EXO Barrier lens coating that repels water, oil, dust, debris and scratches. Buyers have given this scope very good reviews: “This [scope] is way better than I expected for the money. I liked it so well I ordered another one.” Not only do you get the scope at nearly half off but you also get a free set of Havalon knives with FIVE replaceable blades.

9. Amazon — Tipton Carbon Fiber Cleaning Rods, From $23.99

tipton cleaning rods
Buy 2 or 3 at this price — durable and nice handles

Rifle shooters all need good cleaning rods with appropriate dimensions for their barrel length(s). If you need a new cleaning rod, check out the Tipton 1-Piece Deluxe Cleaning Rods. We own and use these rods, which feature a carbon fiber shaft and multiple bearings for smooth operation. Available in multiple lengths and calibers, you’ll certainly find one that fits your long guns. When shopping on Amazon, use the “SELECT” button to choose your preferred length, from 12″ to 50″. We like the 44″ version for barrels up to 30″. NOTE: Some sizes are cheaper at MidwayUSA.com so check both vendors before you order.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hot Deals, Optics, Reloading No Comments »
November 5th, 2020

Reloder 23 and Reloder 26 — Good for Magnum Cartridges

Alliant Bofors Nitrochemie Reloader Reloading RL Reloder powder 22 23 25 26

Do you shoot a magnum cartridge? Here are two modern-formulation powders you may want to try: Reloder 23 and 26. We have been particularly impressed with Reloder 23. It has worked well in competition for target cartridges such as the 7mm RSAUM. Reloder 23 is like a slower version of Reloder 16 — a very temp-stable powder which has proven a worthy rival to H4350.

Ever heard of Alliant Reloder 23? Or Reloder 26? These two relatively new European-produced Reloder propellants were introduced in 2014. Most folks haven’t tried these Reloder powders because it took quite a while for the first shipments of RL 23 and RL 26 to arrive in the USA. But now these two new propellants are available in the USA, with substantial inventories in stock at some larger vendors. For example, Powder Valley has both RL 23 and RL 26 in stock now at $23.50 per pound. Many other vendors have ample RL 23, but RL 26 is a bit harder to find.

From our Forum members who shoot large magnum cartridge types with heavy bullets, we have heard good things about both RL 23 and RL 26. Reports from the field indicate that both these powders are delivering impressive velocities with low velocity ES/SD.

What are the characteristics of RL 23 and RL 26? That question was answered by Paul Furrier who works for ATK, the parent company of Alliant Powders. Posting in our Shooters’ Forum, Paul writes:

“Let me provide some factual info about these products. Some of the stuff that gets propagated is not correct. Reloder 23 is produced by our Swedish partner Bofors, and Reloder 26 is produced in Switzerland by our extremely capable partner Nitrochemie. I have seen it stated that they are both made by Bofors, so that is incorrect.

I have also noticed people are equating Reloder 23 to Reloder 22, and Reloder 26 to Reloder 25. Both of those statements are definitely incorrect. We do state that the performance of Reloder 23 is similar to Reloder 22, and it is, in general burn speed terms, but they are most certainly not the same. We have worked quite a lot of recipes for Reloder 23, and they are not the same as Reloder 22. Reloder 26 is definitely slower burning than Reloder 25, so there shouldn’t be any confusion there either.”

Alliant Bofors Nitrochemie Reloader Reloading RL Reloder powder 22 23 25 26

Furrier says that RL 23 is NOT sensitive to temperature shifts: “Reloder 23 was developed to bring a truly temp-stable powder to the Reloder 22 burn-speed range using Bofors new process technology. This is the second product developed for us with this TZ® process, the first being AR-Comp™. We see terrific efficiencies, SDs, accuracy and flat temp response from these powders. Please try them, I think you will be impressed.”

(more…)

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 3 Comments »
November 1st, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Glen Zediker 1959 – 2020, In Memoriam

Glen Zediker Obituary memorial book writer author reloading AR15

This Sunday we mark the passing of a prolific writer, High Master marksman, good father, respected colleague, and reloading guru. Glen Zediker, author of many leading treatises on reloading, gun maintenance, and shooting skills, passed away on October 1, 2020, one month ago today. We mourn this loss. Glen helped this website with advice many times and Glen’s classic Handloading for Competition remains one of our favorite reloading resources. Glen was a “leading light” in the shooting sports world for decades. His books and technical articles have helped countless shooters and hand-loaders. His knowledge of the AR15 platform was unrivaled. He will be missed. Rest in Peace Glen.

Glen Zediker Obituary memorial book writer author reloading AR15

In 2015 Glen started a series of articles for the Midsouth Shooters Blog, the Reloaders Corner. Here is a section from his introduction to that series:

Glen Zediker — Author and High Master Marksman
Glen posted this in 2015…

Glen Zediker Obituary memorial book writer author reloading AR15“I’ve been ‘at this’ for over 40 years now, and ‘this’ is shooting, handloading, and writing about it for the past 25. My background is competitive shooting, primarily NRA High Power Rifle. From that followed my exploration of handloading and education therein. As an NRA High Power Rifle competitor, I earned a High Master classification, and I did it competing in Service Rifle division.

The whole reason I started writing about all this came about because I couldn’t find anything to read that put the pieces together — all the pieces that all the better shooters knew. I wanted to learn more, and I spent a lot of time and effort doing so. I continually got answers from winners and those who built rifles for winners. Unfortunately, those answers were not the same as I had been reading, and none of the authors of the other material I had read had won any championships. I thought there must be others who would appreciate some short cuts, and that’s how I started my publications career.

I think I’ve helped a few folks along the way.”

From Glen Zediker’s Reloaders Corner
Here is Glen’s advice about loading from his first “Reloaders Corner” Blog article in 2015:

Glen Zediker Obituary memorial book writer author reloading AR15“So, the advice that accompanies this first installment is to consider or reconsider your standards, and your evaluation of what is a good load. When I’m testing I choose the best group out of whatever it was I was testing. However, when it’s decision time, I choose the best, worst group. Let me explain. I really don’t consider what the very best any combination can show me is, but rather what is the worst the combination has shown me. Exceedingly tight groups are all too often a combination of luck and a little more luck. We got lucky in our judgment to choose the combination and the bullet fairy tipped her tiara. The more rounds anyone shoots, the bigger the groups are going to get. That’s just math. However, if three or four 10-shot groups are showing X-Ring accuracy, I’m going to ignore the group measurement, pay more attention to the chronograph, and pay very close attention to any over-pressure indicators. I don’t want to see anything outside a golf-ball sized circle at 300 yards, and I’m hoping to keep it that way.

Speaking of which — years ago, I was a golf pro… a legendary golf instructor, Percy Boomer (real name) had a line, ‘The difference between the amateur and professional is not in the quality of their best shots, but in their worst.’ That’s it. The difference between a good load and one that’s almost a good load is that also. The good load stays tight, throughout. A ‘flyer’ is grounds for disqualification. That’s a shot that strays from the herd. Don’t ignore it.”

Glen Dwight Zediker Obituary

June 17, 1959 – October 1, 2020

Glen Dwight Zediker, died on October 1, 2020, at home in Oxford, Mississippi, with his sons at his side.

Glen was born on June 17, in Rifle, Colorado, to Lloyd and Marie Zediker (both deceased) of Grand Valley (now Parachute), Colorado. He attended K-12 in Grand Valley, studied at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and graduated from the University of Mississippi with a B.A. in English.

Glen spent most of his professional career combining his expertise in target shooting with his skill at writing. He became an NRA High Master known for pinpoint accuracy. He wrote and published several books on target shooting and reloading which are highly respected in the precision shooting community.

Glen Zediker Obituary memorial book writer author reloading AR15

Glen spent many years in Mississippi and embraced southern culture from the food to Faulkner, but at his core, he remained a Westerner. He loved nothing more than riding over red dirt hills and hiking in the Southwest.

Glen’s two sons, Matthew and Charlie, were the center of his life. In addition to his sons, he is survived by his sister, Diane Zediker-Pastore (Victor) and his former wife, Kris Kunkler Zediker. See more life history and photos on Glen’s Memorial tribute site.

Glen Zediker Obituary memorial book writer author reloading AR15

Read Glen Zediker’s Articles on Reloading and Gun Tech
If you haven’t read any of Glen’s works, you will find a selection of shorter articles on the Midsouth Shooters Blog. This is a good way to sample the scope of Glen’s knowledge of reloading, AR15 technical matters, and service rifle shooting. We’ve enjoyed reading Glen’s articles and we know you will too.

In addition, Glen’s website, Zediker.com, has 20 older articles which you can read in PDF format for free. You can find these at Zediker.com/articles/articles.html. Here are three examples:



By Glen Zediker. Folks who read Handloading For Competition know most of this material, but here it is encapsulated for those who want. It’s the run down on how to load at the range, on the spot, and radically improve your success in working up an ammo recipe.


By Glen Zediker. A lot has changed since the original MKII, but then some things really haven’t. There are new triggers on the market and this article will run down what they are and what I think of them. Drop-ins, pins, and lock-time get their spaces too.
Zediker AR Maintenance

By Glen Zediker. There are three articles on this topic that are separated into barrel cleaning, cleaning and lubrication of the rest of the rifle, and a full component on how to run an AR15 as well as store it unharmed.

Royalties from Glen Zediker’s Books go to his surviving sons/family members. Consider purchasing one now:


NOTE: Most of these books are also available from Midsouth Shooters, some at lower cost.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, News, Reloading, Shooting Skills 3 Comments »
October 28th, 2020

Advanced New Area 419 ZERO 9-Station Turret Press

Area 419 Zero reloading turret 10 station reloading press ultimatereloader review gavin gear

Area 419 has just introduced the all-new ZERO reloading press, a 9-station turret press with some very unique features. This press was designed to be the most precise turret ever created. As tested by Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com, the new ZERO turret press delivered very impressive shoulder-bump consistency and ultra-low seated bullet run-out (about +/- 0.0005″). The numbers were as good as you can get from a quality single-stage press, so Area 419 did some impressive engineering. We would expect that, as this is an expensive product — MSRP is $1200.00. SEE FULL REVIEW on UltimateReloader.com.

The ZERO turret press lets you install up to nine (9) different reloading dies in the large top turret, which revolves around a central axis. But unlike most turret presses, the ZERO doesn’t have flex or wobble when you’re loading. This is because Area 419 includes a clever system for locking the turret in position after you’ve selected the die from your array. Area 419 also uses a unique system for securing shell-holders (see video at 12:00). This, likewise, adds to the precision of the press.

In the video above, you can see how the turret is secured with a “wedge clamp”. By loosening the wedge clamp you can index the press easily to any station. Then, when you have selected your die, you tighten the wedge clamp again. You can see this important procedure at 13:20 – 13:35 timemark in the video.

Area 419 Zero reloading turret 10 station reloading press ultimatereloader review gavin gear

ZERO Turret Press Has Very Smooth Operation
Gavin observed that this ZERO turret is both smooth and very precise, thanks to smart engineering and the use of multiple bearings. Area 419 describes the design features:

— Turret (zero-slop) eliminates variability induced when removing and resetting dies
— The turret head holds nine 7/8×14-threaded dies (1-1/4 thread in future)
— Available ram-stroke here is 4.4″, allowing use of very tall cartridge types.
— Adjustable/interchangeable handle setup for maximizing leverage/feel based on operation
— Internally contained primer-catch system, slide-out drawer

Important Features of ZERO Turret Press

Area 419 Zero reloading turret 10 station reloading press ultimatereloader review gavin gear

1. Press frame: 6061 Aluminum, clear anodized
2. Wedge clamp (locks turret into indexed position)
3. Turret (7075 aluminum and steel construction)
4. Adjustable handle with roller knob (set either left- or right-handed operation)
5. Bearings: Ball bearing plus roller thrust bearings for side plates
6. Ram riding in self-lubricated linear bearing
7. Spent primer catcher drawer

Milled from American billet aluminum and stainless steel, this press employs 14 bearings, including a self-lubricating linear sleeve bearing for the precision-ground 1.25″ ram. The linkage system also glides on bearings providing smooth operation with near-ZERO slop. The oversized ram features a 0.75″-diameter steel arm and ZERO-friction knob. The turret system is located with an oversized ball-detent system and secured using an over-sized, custom-made ZERO-point pull-stud. Locking the turret after indexing require only a half-turn of the supplied T-handle (see photo above). When indexing the turret, repeatability variance of the system should be less than .0005″.

The opening in the press will allow for sizing and seating of cases up to.338 Lapua Magnum, and will accept standard 7/8″ dies and standard shellholders. NOTE: Area 419 will be making and selling shellholders specifically fit to the system later in 2020.

SUMMARY — Impressive Press Delivers Precise Results
Gavin Gear was very impressed with Area 419’s new Zero Press, which he said offers the precision of a quality single-stage with the versatility of a turret: “There will always be people that prefer a traditional single-stage. Where the ZERO will be compelling is to those who want the precision of a single-stage without the need to screw dies in and out. Leaving your dies set can have benefits for precision as well — everything comes back to the ‘same place’ when dies are indexed into position. Screwing dies in and out can impose variation, and variation is the enemy of the ‘white lab coat shooter’. I plan on testing the ZERO press with ultra-high-end dies, and custom dies that I ream to my own specifications. I’m thinking that will show the true potential of this press!”

Area 419 ZERO Press Video with Operation Instructions

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »
October 27th, 2020

Pioneers of Precision Shooting — Legendary L.E. “Sam” Wilson

lewilson15001
Sam (L.E.) Wilson actively competed in benchrest matches until he passed. He’s shown here with an Unlimited benchrest rifle of his own design.

If you’ve used hand dies with an arbor press, chances are you’ve seen the L.E. Wilson company name. You may not know that the founder of L.E. Wilson Inc. was an avid benchrest competitor who pioneered many of the precision reloading methods we used today. Known as “Sam” to his friends, L.E. Wilson was one of the great accuracy pioneers who collected many trophies for match victories during his long shooting career. His company continues to innovate — bringing out new products such as the Case Gage Depth Micrometer tool we recently reviewed.

lewilson1503

The photo above shows Sam (foreground) with all of his children at a shoot. Behind Sam are Jim, Jack and Mary, shooting in the Unlimited Class. What do they say — “the family that plays together stays together”? Note the long, externally-adjusted scopes being used. Learn more about Sam (L.E.) Wilson and his company on the L.E. Wilson Inc. Facebook Page.

lewilson1504

Unlimited Class was Sam’s favorite discipline, because in the “good old days” top competitors normally would craft both the rifle and the front/rear rests. This rewarded Sam’s ingenuity and machining/fabrication skills. In the “build-it-yourself” era, one couldn’t just order up an unlimited rail gun on the internet. How times have changed…

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 5 Comments »
October 25th, 2020

L.E. Wilson Case Gage Depth Micrometer Product Review

L.E. Wilson case gage gauge shoulder bump depth micrometer measureing tool

L.E. Wilson Case Gage Depth Micrometer Tool
Hands-On Tool Review by F-Class John
Are you looking for a better way to measure shoulder bump when sizing brass? When it comes to measuring your shoulder bump there has traditionally been just one way to do it and that’s with a set of calipers and some type of tool attached to a calipers jaw which contacts the case shoulder. While this method has worked well for decades there’s always been some inherent lack of consistency and repeatability. While a minor issue, the inability to get the exact number in completely dependent on the user’s pressure applied and the angle at which the jaws push on the brass.

Enter the L.E. Wilson Case Gage Depth Micrometer with its simple but effective use of Wilson case gauges to ensure a perfect measure of shoulder bump every time. The unit comes with the micrometer top as well as a check gauge which allows you to easily calibrate the micrometer whenever needed. On top of the micrometer unit, you’ll also need to purchase the appropriate case gauges for each of your cartridge types and then you’re ready to go. No other measuring instruments are needed (yep, no calipers are required).

L.E. Wilson case gage gauge shoulder bump depth micrometer measureing tool

Using the Wilson Depth Micrometer (perhaps a better name is Shoulder Bump Micrometer) is a straightforward process. Simply take your fired brass and insert it into the case gauge and place the micrometer top onto the primer side of the gauge. While holding the micrometer top firmly against the case gauge in one hand, slowly turn the micrometer until you feel it stop. You can back off and turn it again to verify the stop point and once you have it, look at the measurement on the micrometer. Now insert a sized piece of brass and repeat the procedure. Take note of the new number and subtract it from the fired brass number and you now have an exact amount of shoulder bump. Continue to adjust your sizing die until you have the correct amount of shoulder bump and you’re ready to size all your brass.

Watch Video to See how Shoulder-Bump Measuring Micrometer Tool Works

Guys, in this case a VIDEO is worth more than a thousand words. In may not be obvious from the photos how this system works. In fact, it is fast and easy. Drop brass into cartridge-specific case gauge, then put the Micrometer unit on top, and dial to touch. The video shows how this works.

SUMMARY — Tool is Fast, Precise, Repeatable, and Easy to Use — We Like It
The beauty of this tool is the simplicity with which it works. It uses a very accurate micrometer to simply measure how much further your brass is sitting forward inside the case gauge. After a couple uses, you’ll find that this tool is fast, accurate and incredibly repeatable. That gives you confidence that your brass is being sized properly. Ultimately, I found that using the micrometer top really became a joy as I set up a new set of dies and as I sized my brass, I could easily check the consistency as brass came off my press. If you’re looking to improve your sizing game, give the L.E. Wilson Case Gage Depth Micrometer a try. MSRP is $110.00.

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October 25th, 2020

Smart Advice for Reducing Run-Out with Standard Seating Dies

USAMU Handloading Hump Day Seating Die Adjustment Stem TIR Concentricity Run-out

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. This USAMU “Handloading Hump Day” article, the second in a series on improving concentricity, has many useful tips. If you use standard (non-micrometer) seating dies when loading some cartridge types, this article is worth reading. And visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.

Once again, it’s time for USAMU’s “Handloading Hump-Day!” Last week, we addressed achieving very good loaded-cartridge concentricity (AKA “TIR”, or Total Indicator Runout) using standard, “hunting grade” reloading dies.

We explained how to set up the Full-Length Size die to float slightly when correctly adjusted for desired case headspace. We also cited a study in which this method loaded ammunition straighter than a set of [higher grade] match dies from the same maker. [One of the keys to reducing TIR with both sets of dies was using a rubber O-ring below the locking ring to allow the die to float slightly. READ Full-Length Sizing Die TIP HERE.]

Now, we’ll set up a standard seating die to minimize TIR — the other half of the two-die equation. As before, we’ll use a single-stage press since most new handloaders will have one. A high-quality runout gauge is essential for obtaining consistent, accurate results.

Having sized, primed and charged our brass, the next step is bullet seating. Many approaches are possible; one that works well follows. When setting up a standard seating die, insert a sized, trimmed case into the shell-holder and fully raise the press ram. Next, back the seating stem out and screw the die down until the internal crimping shoulder touches the case mouth.

Back the die out one-quarter turn from this setting to prevent cartridge crimping. Next, lower the press ram and remove the case. Place a piece of flat steel on the shellholder and carefully raise the ram. Place tension on the die bottom with the flat steel on the shellholder. This helps center the die in the press threads. Check this by gently moving the die until it is well-centered. Keeping light tension on the die via the press ram, secure the die lock ring.

USAMU Handloading Hump Day Seating Die Adjustment Stem TIR Concentricity Run-out

If one were using a micrometer-type seating die, the next step would be simple: run a charged case with bullet on top into the die and screw the seating stem down to obtain correct cartridge OAL.

However, with standard dies, an additional step can be helpful. When the die has a loosely-threaded seating stem, set the correct seating depth but don’t tighten the stem’s lock nut. Leave a loaded cartridge fully raised into the die to center the seating stem. Then, secure the stem’s lock nut. Next, load sample cartridges and check them to verify good concentricity.

One can also experiment with variations such as letting the seating stem float slightly in the die to self-center, while keeping correct OAL. The runout gauge will show any effects of changes upon concentricity. However, the first method has produced excellent, practical results as evidenced by the experiment cited previously. These results (TIR Study 2) will reproduced below for the reader’s convenience.

TIR Study 2: Standard vs. Match Seating Dies

50 rds of .308 Match Ammo loaded using carefully-adjusted standard dies, vs. 50 using expensive “Match” dies from the same maker.

Standard dies, TIR:
0.000” — 0.001” = 52%;
0.001”– 0.002” = 40%;
0.002”– 0.003” = 8%. None greater than 0.003”.

“Match” dies, TIR:
0.000”– 0.001” = 46%;
0.001” — 0.002” = 30%;
0.002” — 0.003” = 20%;
0.003” — 0.004” = 4%.

AccurateShooter Comment: This shows that, with careful adjustment, the cheaper, standard dies achieved results that were as good (or better) than the more expensive “Match” Dies.

These tips are intended to help shooters obtain the best results from inexpensive, standard loading dies. Especially when using cases previously fired in a concentric chamber, as was done above, top-quality match dies and brass can easily yield ammo with virtually *no* runout, given careful handloading.

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October 24th, 2020

Loading Accurate Pistol Ammo for Competition — USAMU Tips

Accurate Reloading hand loading handgun pistol progressive 9mm .45 ACP
Photo courtesy UltimateReloader.com.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) regularly publishes a weekly reloading article on its Facebook Page. In this article, the second in a 3-part series, the USAMU covers the process of loading competition pistol ammunition. The authors focus on two key elements — the taper crimp and the quality/uniformity of the original brass. If you shoot pistol competitively, or just want to maximize the accuracy of your handguns, read this article. The taper crimp tips are very important.

Pistol Reloading USAMU taper crimp Brass

Loading Accurate Competition Pistol Ammunition — Part 2 of 3

Today, we resume our series on factors affecting accuracy in pistol handloads. Readers who missed Part One can visit our USAMU Facebook Page. Scroll down to March 28, 2018 to find that first installment which is worth reading.

One often-overlooked aspect of handloading highly-accurate pistol ammunition is the amount of taper crimp used, and its effect on accuracy. (NOTE: this article pertains to loading for semi-autos – revolver crimp techniques involve some quite different issues.) Briefly, different amounts of taper crimp are used with various handloads to obtain best accuracy. The amount is based on bullet weight, powder burn rate and charge, plus other factors such as case neck tension. During machine-rest testing of experimental Service Pistol ammunition, many variables are examined. Among these, our Shop often varies a load’s crimp in degrees of 0.001″ when re-testing for finest accuracy.

How to Measure Taper Crimp on Pistol Cartridges
One question that often arises is, “How do I measure the taper crimp I’m putting on my cartridges?” Using the narrow part of one’s dial caliper jaws, carefully measure the case diameter at the exact edge of the case mouth on a loaded cartridge. It’s important to take several measurements to ensure consistency. Also, be sure to measure at several places around the case mouth, as case wall thickness can vary. After measuring 2-3 cartridges with a given crimp setting, one can be confident of the true dimension and that it can be repeated later, if needed.

Accurate Reloading hand loading handgun pistol progressive 9mm .45 ACP

However, for good results, one must use brass from one maker due to variances in case wall thickness. For example, the same degree of crimp that imparts a measurement of 0.471″ with Brand X brass may result in 0.469″ with Brand Y. Thus, for best accuracy, using brass from the same manufacturer is important — particularly for 50-yard Slow Fire. In a perfect world, it is better still to use brass from one lot number if possible. With the popularity of progressive presses using interchangeable tool heads, keeping separate tool heads adjusted for each load helps maximize uniformity between ammunition lots.

Brass Uniformity and Accuracy
Brass is important to pistol accuracy. While accurate ammunition can be loaded using brass of mixed parentage, that is not conducive to finest results, particularly at 50 yards. It is important for the serious competitor to pay attention to his brass – even if only for the 50-yard “Slow Fire” portions of “Bullseye” matches and practice. By segregating brass as described above, and additionally keeping track of the number of times a given batch of cases has been fired, one can ensure case neck tension and case length are at their most uniform.

Accurate Reloading hand loading handgun pistol progressive 9mm .45 ACP

Given the large volumes of ammunition consumed by active pistol competitors, using inexpensive, mixed surplus brass for practice, particularly at the “short line” (25 yards), is understandable. In NRA Outdoor Pistol (“Bullseye”), the 10-ring is relatively generous — especially for a well-trained shooter with an accurate pistol and load. However, for the “long line” (50 yards), purchasing and segregating a lot of high-quality brass to be used strictly for slow-fire is a wise idea. To keep track of your brass on the line, use a unique headstamp marking with 1 or 2 colors of marking pen ink.

Uniform Cartridge Overall Length is Important
Cartridge case Overall Length (OAL) uniformity as it comes from the factory is important to achieving utmost accuracy. More uniform case lengths (best measured after sizing) contribute to greater consistency of crimp, neck tension, ignition/burn of powder charge, headspace (rimless cartridges), etc. Cartridge case-length consistency varies noticeably by maker and, with lesser manufacturers, also from lot to lot. Some manufacturers are more consistent in their dimensions than others, and also in the hardness/ductility of their brass. Similarly, pay attention to primer brands, powder lot numbers, etc.

Consider Using a Lock-Out Die with Progressive Presses
When reloading pistol ammo with a Progressive press, we strongly recommend the use of a lock-out die, or other system that can detect double charges or low charges. If your progressive is manually advanced, the possibility of a double charge is very real — and that can have disastrous consequences.

On UltimateReloader.com website you’ll find an excellent two-part series on the function and set-up of the RCBS Lock-Out Die. This die prevents loading if a high or low powder charge is detected. The video below shows setup of the RCBS Lock-Out Die on the Dillon XL-650 progressive press.

Permalink Handguns, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
October 11th, 2020

“Cheat Sheet” — Print Handy Drop Chart for Your Rifle

Hornady Ballistics Calculator

Hornady Ballistics CalculatorNeed a simple, easy-to-use drop chart for your rifle? Something you can tape right to the buttstock? Then check out Hornady’s handy Online Ballistics Calculator. This user-friendly calculator will compute your drops accurately, and output a handy “Cheat Sheet” you can print and attach to your rifle.

Here’s how it works. From the Ballistics Calculator Page, simply input G1 or G7 BC values, muzzle velocity, bullet weight, zero range, and a few other variables.

Click “Calculate” to view the full chart (shown below). Then click “View Cheatsheet” and the simpler, 4-line Drop Chart (shown above) appears. Click “Print” and you’re done!

The online ballistics caculator is easy to use. You can select the basic version, or an advanced version with more data fields for environmental variables (altitude, temperature, air pressure, and humidity). You can also get wind drift numbers by inputing wind speed and wind angle.

Conveniently, on the trajectory output, come-ups are listed in both MOA and Mils — so this will work with either MOA clicks or Mil-based clicks. There are more sophisticated ballistics solvers available on the web (such as the outstanding Applied Ballistics Online Calculator), but the Hornady Calculator is very simple and easy to use. If you just want a basic drop chart, you may want to check this out.

Hornady Ballistics Calculator

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, Optics, Reloading No Comments »
October 9th, 2020

Good Resource for Handloaders Who Want to Make Better Ammo

Glen Zediker Competition Reloading bookForum member Danny Reever and this Editor have discussed how novice reloaders can struggle with the fine points of reloading, making errors in seating depth, neck-bushing choice, or sizing their cases. We agreed that a good resource covering more than “Reloading Basics” is sorely needed. Danny reminded me that Glen Zediker’s excellent Handloading for Competition book has been available since 2002. Danny says this may still be the best guide in print for those getting started in precision reloading, though the book is not without flaws.

Danny observed: “I consider this still the best book out there on the subject. I’ve bought a lot of other books only to be sorely disappointed after spending $30-$40 of my hard-earned cash. This book is not one of those! I’ve read and re-read Zediker’s treatise at least four times and refer to it often for advice while reloading. My number one suggestion for those who buy the book is to sit down with a highlighter and read it cover to cover. It’s well-written with a bit of humor and it is not boring.”

Extremely comprehensive, Zediker’s book covers nearly all of the key factors involved in accurate reloading: case sorting, brass prep, load development, neck-sizing, full-length sizing, bushing selection/use, tool selection, priming, powder measurement, and bullet seating. The book also explains how to test and evaluate your ammo, and how to monitor and interpret pressure signs.

There are many “must-read” sections in Zediker’s book, according to Danny: “The section beginning on page 161 dealing with concentricity (and how to achieve it) is excellent. Likewise the Load Limits section discussing pressures offers very valuable advice and info. You should also read Zediker’s commentaries about load testing, powders (burn characteristics etc.), and the effects of temperature.”

Zediker competition reloading book

CLICK HERE to view book contents and sample pages.

Zediker has conveniently provided a detailed summary of his book on the web, complete with table of contents, sample pages (PDF format), and dozens of illustrations. Shown above is just one small section that covers ejectors.

Overall, we recommend Glen Zediker’s Handloading for Competition, though the book definitely could use some updating. Danny says: “Plunk down the [money] and buy this book, you won’t be sorry.” Zediker’s book is available from Amazon.com ($34.99), Midsouth Shooters ($33.49), and Zediker Publishing ($36.95).

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
October 7th, 2020

Powerful Progressive — Dillon RL-1100 with 8 Stations

Dillon R1100 RL 1100 progressive reloading press MR. bulletfeeder Double alpha 9mm ammo

Factory-loaded ammunition has become very hard to find, particularly pistol ammo. Concerns over social unrest, personal security, and the upcoming election have spiked demand for loaded ammo. Everyone is asking “where has all the ammo gone?”

Dillon R1100 RL 1100 progressive reloading press MR. bulletfeeder Double alpha 9mm ammoPistol Ammo Hard to Find
In particular, 9mm pistol ammo flies off the shelves as soon as it arrives, and even major online vendors such as Midsouth Shooters, MidwayUSA, and Natchez have very limited supplies.

Need Ammo? Load Your Own…
One answer to the ammo shortage is to load your own. And if you want to produce a large quantity of ammo in a short amount of time, the progressive press is the answer. There are many progressive press systems, from modest Lee progressives to high-end, automated systems from Mark 7 (Lyman). In this article we feature the “latest and greatest” progressive press from Dillon — the new eight-station RL 1100 Press with Case-Feeder.

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com got his hands on Dillon’s impressive new RL 1100. In two videos, Gavin shows how to set up the RL 1100 and then he demonstrates how to produce 9mm pistol ammo with this impressive 8-station press.


Gavin says: “My Dillon RL-1100 is cranking out the 9mm, and in this video we bring it up to ‘full tilt’ speed” [with the MR. Bullet Feeder and the Dillon Case-Feeder]. If you watch the video, you’ll see Gavin produce 9mm ammo at a rate of nearly 50 rounds per MINUTE!

Gavin equipped his new RL 1100 with two cool products from Double Alpha Academy (DAA) — the Mr.Bulletfeeder® as well as an advanced, Magnetic Powder Check. When loading ammo you can never be too safe, so we definitely recommend the use of powder-check dies (we use a conventional RCBS powder-check die on our progressives). The DAA bullet feeding system is an important add-on that significantly increases output rates when used in concert with the Dillon Case-Feeder (blue funnel).

RL 1100 Reloading Stations with Powder Check and Bullet Feeder

Dillon R1100 RL 1100 progressive reloading press MR. bulletfeeder Double alpha 9mm ammo

RL 1100 Stations shown above:
1. Case inserter
2. Sizer/De-Primer
3. Swager (with hold-down)
4. Priming (no die)
5. Powder charge and expansion (expansion for pistol cartridges only)
6. Double Alpha Magnetic Powder Check
7. Mr. Bullet Feeder bullet feed die
8. Bullet seating and Crimping

Note: In order to accommodate the magnetic powder check die AND the bullet feed die, bullet seating and crimping were combined at the last station.

The RL 1100 has some very impressive features that allow faster and easier ammo production. An Eccentric Roller Bearing Drive System reduces friction. The RL 1100’s heavier frame provides greater rigidity for more efficient cranking. The RL 1100 also boasts an improved shellplate indexing system. Priming is enhanced through a spring-loaded Priming Station Locator and Upgraded Primer Pocket Swager.

Dillon RL-1100 Set-Up Video:

Loading with the “Turbocharged” Dillon RL-1100
Gavin was very impressed with his RL-1100: “This reloading setup is [great]. Every crank of the lever yields a completed cartridge, and the attainable speeds are AMAZING. The case feeder and bullet feeder had no trouble keeping up with my quick pace using this setup. And it is great to know that every powder charge is being checked.

This press is very reliable and smooth, bridging the gap between lower cost home set-ups and six-figure commercial loading equipment packages. What’s next? I’ll be performing a caliber changeover to .308 Winchester.”

The DAA Magnetic Powder Check can be used on a variety of Progressive Presses.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »
October 4th, 2020

TECH TIP: Turn Case-Necks Better with Optimal Cutter Angle

neck turning lathe cutter tip sinclair pma 21st Century

When neck-turning cases, it’s a good idea to extend the cut slightly below the neck-shoulder junction. This helps keep neck tension more uniform after repeated firings, by preventing a build-up of brass where the neck meets the shoulder. One of our Forum members, Craig from Ireland, a self-declared “neck-turning novice”, was having some problems turning brass for his 20 Tactical cases. He was correctly attempting to continue the cut slightly past the neck-shoulder junction, but he was concerned that brass was being removed too far down the shoulder.

Craig writes: “Everywhere I have read about neck turning, [it says] you need to cut slightly into the neck/shoulder junction to stop doughnutting. I completely understand this but I cant seem to get my neck-turning tool set-up to just touch the neck/shoulder junction. It either just doesn’t touch [the shoulder] or cuts nearly the whole shoulder and that just looks very messy. No matter how I adjust the mandrel to set how far down the neck it cuts, it either doesn’t touch it or it cuts far too much. I think it may relate to the bevel on the cutter in my neck-turning tool…”

Looking at Craig’s pictures, we’d agree that he didn’t need to cut so far down into the shoulder. There is a simple solution for this situation. Craig is using a neck-turning tool with a rather shallow cutter bevel angle. This 20-degree angle is set up as “universal geometry” that will work with any shoulder angle. Unfortunately, as you work the cutter down the neck, a shallow angled-cutter tip such as this will remove brass fairly far down. You only want to extend the cut about 1/32 of an inch past the neck-shoulder junction. This is enough to eliminate brass build-up at the base of the neck that can cause doughnuts to form.

K&M neck-turning tool

The answer here is simply to use a cutter tip with a wider angle — 30 to 40 degrees. The cutter for the K&M neck-turning tool (above) has a shorter bevel that better matches a 30° shoulder. There is also a 40° tip available. PMA Tool and 21st Century Shooting also offer carbide cutters with a variety of bevel angles to exactly match your case shoulder angle*. WalkerTexasRanger reports: “I went to a 40-degree cutter head just to address this same issue, and I have been much happier with the results. The 40-degree heads are available from Sinclair Int’l for $15 or so.” Forum Member CBonner concurs: “I had the same problem with my 7WSM… The 40-degree cutter was the answer.” Below is Sinclair’s 40° Cutter for its NT-series neck-turning tools. Item NT3140, this 40° Cutter sells for $14.99. For the same price, Sinclair also sells the conventional 30° Cutter, item NT3100.

Al Nyhus has another clever solution: “The best way I’ve found to get around this problem is to get an extra shell holder and face it off .020-.025 and then run the cases into the sizing die. This will push the shoulder back .020-.025. Then you neck turn down to the ‘new’ neck/shoulder junction and simply stop there. Fireforming the cases by seating the bullets hard into the lands will blow the shoulder forward and the extra neck length you turned by having the shoulder set back will now be blended perfectly into the shoulder. The results are a case that perfectly fits the chamber and zero donuts.”

* 21st Century sells carbide cutters in: 15, 17, 20, 21.5, 23, 25, 28, 30, 35, 40, and 46 degrees. PMA Tool sells carbide cutters in: 17.5, 20, 21.5, 23, 25, 28, 30, and 40 degrees, plus special short-neck cutters.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »