We’ve had some problems with our venerable RCBS Chargemaster (overcharges that display incorrectly, even after a second weighing), so we decided to dispense one grain low and then trickle up on a Lab Scale with the latest Magnetic Force Restoration (MFR) load cell technology. Though still quite expensive, MFR scales respond very quickly and accurately, so they are ideal for trickling. To optimize the trickling process, we acquired an Omega 2-Speed Powder Trickler. This $69.95 gadget works great with an MFR scale, allowing you to quickly and easily “finish off” charges with extreme precision — no more than a couple of kernels variance in your load. (With a typical extruded powder, a tenth of a grain is four to five kernels).
Omega 2-Speed Trickler
Most reloaders have used a manual powder trickler at one time or another. However, they can be frustrating to use for a variety of reasons — e.g. the tube is too short, or the trickler is too low, or the unit isn’t stable enough, or the unit doesn’t hold enough powder.
Well, the inventors of the Omega 2-speed Powered Powder Trickler have considered all those practical shortcomings in existing tricklers, and built a superior product — a “better mouse trap.”
Every aspect of the battery-powered Omega 2-Speed Trickler (from Dandy Products LLC) shows smart thinking. First, hopper height can be adjusted from 1/2″ to 5.5″ high. The tube is long enough to reach the middle of large-footprint electronic scales. And the outer end of the tube is cut at an angle, so you can see the powder kernels as they flow out — no more surprise clumps that raise your charge 0.3 grains. The powder hopper itself is bigger than most, holding a full 1000 grains. That lets you load all afternoon without having to constantly replenish your trickler.
There is also a vinyl-clad, yellow “tuner” weight. You can slide this back and forth on the arm to adjust the powder flow. Once you get it set for your choice of powder, with a little practice, you can dispense one to two kernels reliably with a single, quick touch of the Omega’s dispense button.
In practice, the Omega trickler is easy to use. It is reasonably fast, while being as precise as anything on the market. The unit is controlled by a two-button control pad, with a black button for slow feed and red button for fast feed. You can use the fast button to load the bulk of reloading powder and then use the slow button to maximize the accuracy of your load. The control pad is connected to the dispenser by a 24″ cable. That two-foot cable run allows plenty of trickler placement options on your bench. Watch the video review below to see the Omega Trickler in use. (Review by UK-based “1967 Spud”).
Review of Omega Two-Speed Tricker
Omega User Comments
Posting on 24HourCampfire.com, JasonK gave the Omega Trickler high marks: “This thing rocks! It can trickle fast, it can trickle slow, it can drop a kernel or two at a time. After ordering my Omega I quickly shopped for an Acculab VIC-123 scale, accurate to within .02 grains.”
Another Omega user, In2Deep, writes: “You can actually tap the low-speed button and drop kernels while watching the scale. After a little practice it only takes a few seconds to trickle up a load. Using an Acculab 123 scale, it can drop charges that repeatedly read down to around 4 one-hundredth’s of a grain. It turned out to be a tool that really works and saves time. There are rubber feet on the unit and surprisingly it does not cause interference with the digital scale which is often mentioned as a problem with most of the vibratory tricklers. Not many products are even worth the time to do a testimonial but this is a winner[.]”
Forum member Barry O (aka TheBlueEyedBear) has been using an Omega Trickler for a while, and he currently has a second-generation (upgraded) unit on his bench. Barry likes the unit, with some reservations. Barry tells us: “it took me some time to get used to it. One main gripe is the length of time it takes to get the thing primed and ready to dispense powder. But after that, not too bad. I still use my trusty tweezers for fine tuning loads.”
Thanks to Boyd Allen for suggesting this product for review.
Want smoother chamfers on your case-mouths? Here’s a simple tip that can: 1) remove the sharp edge left by chamfering blades; and, 2) create a smoother entry for your bullets. Smoothing the inside chamfer can avoid nicks on your bullet jackets, and can also make bullet seating more consistent.
If you are using a 45° rocket tool on newly-trimmed brass, start your inside chamfer with two or three turns in the normal cutting direction. Keep the tool centered, and use light-to-moderate pressure — you don’t need to remove a lot of brass. After your cutting turns (which should reveal a shiny chamfer line), take out the tool, inspect the neck and remove any small brass chips or shavings.
Now here’s the secret — put your tool back in the neck and go in the reverse direction for a couple partial turns. Again, be sure to keep the tool centered and use a light touch. The reverse rotation of the rocket tool inside the case mouth will burnish and smooth the chamfer. Next you can make a quick spin with some fine steel wool held in your fingers. Don’t grind away — you do NOT want to get rid of all the carbon in the neck. As a last step we run a hand-held nylon brush in the neck for 2-3 quick passes to further smooth out the chamfer and remove any residue from the steel wool.
We think, if you use this procedure, your will find that your bullets seat more smoothly and consistently. That can improve accuracy and help avoid mysterious fliers.
You can use this same technique even if you prefer a sharper angle chamfer tool for your initial inside-neck chamfering operation. Reverse your tool gently a couple turns to burnish and smooth the cut. And always remove brass chips and shavings before you run the tool backwards (in the non-cutting direction).
Don’t Forget to Smooth the Outside Chamfer Too
You can also use the backwards rotation trick on outside chamfers to smooth and soften the sharp edge. A little steel wool, applied judiciously, can help here. If you are chamfering a large number of cases after trimming, you may want to tumble the brass in corn-cob or walnut media after the chamfering procedure. Tumbling further smooths the chamfer. You want a nice, smooth chamfer with no burrs or sharp edges.
Fred Zeglin has released a Kindle eBook edition of his popular book Wildcat Cartridges — Reloader’s Handbook of Wildcat Cartridge Design. Gunsmith/author Zeglin explains: “The print edition of Wildcat Cartridges has gone out of print. We have plans to produce a second edition, but that is currently on the back burner. Demand of this book has remained strong so the decision to offer the first edition in a e-book format was made.” The Kindle eBook edition retails for $9.99 on Amazon.com. You can preview a FREE SAMPLE of the book to “try before you buy”.
This is more than just a history of cartridges. Dimensional drawings and loading data accompany many of the cartridge descriptions. More recent and popular designs are included as well as the “classic” older wildcats. There are chapters about important cartridge designers like P.O. Ackley, Jerry Gebby, Rocky Gibbs, and Charles Newton. (The hardback edition of the book contains 288 pages of stories, illustrations, instructions, and data.)
Gunwriter Wayne Van Zwoll says Zeglin’s book is a valuable resource: “Fred has illustrated his book well, with neat line drawings and photos you probably won’t find anywhere else. It’s a rare technical treatise that draws you in with illustration, or that keeps you with an easy flow of chat that, were it lifted from print, might pop up at any gun counter or handloading bench. Fred Zeglin has done well with this book, giving wildcatters – indeed, all rifle enthusiasts – an overview of a culture often mentioned but little explored on the page.”
Writing about the 2005 Print Edition of Wildcat Cartridges, Big Bore Journal declared: “This is a fantastic book on American wildcats, US loads and much more. A must have for wildcatters and gunsmiths.”
About the Author
An award-winning writer, Fred Zeglin operates Z-Hat Custom, a custom rifle-building company. Fred has taught classes for the NRA Gunsmithing Schools in Colorado and Oklahoma. He has served as production manager for McGowen Precision Barrels for a time, and he is the tech advisor for 4D Reamer Rentals. To learn more about Z-Hat and Fred’s Wildcat Cartridges eBook, contact:
Back in May, IBS shooter Rodney Wagner shot a 0.349″ (50-2X) 5-shot group that became the talk of the shooting community. This was the smallest 600-yard group shot in the history of recorded rifle competition. Rodney’s group cuts the existing IBS 600-yard record in half. Rodney put five shots under the size of a dime at the distance of six football fields. Just pause and think about that…
News of this amazing feat spread like wildfire via the internet. People were amazed at what Rodney accomplished. Here are some actual comments posted on various shooting forums:
308Nut: Simply Astounding.
Coues Sniper: That’s insanity.
PapaJohn: I strut around like a peacock if my rifles will shoot under a half-inch at 100 yards. His group was better than that at six times the distance… that’s just unfathomable. I don’t see anyone breaking that record for a loooooooooooong time!
Given the spectacular (and historic) nature of Rodney’s 600-yard group, many folks wanted to learn more about Rodney’s equipment and his shooting techniques. For that reason, we’ve compiled this follow-up report. Rodney was kind enough to provide a short video showing his equipment and shooting technique. In his video demonstration, Rodney runs off a 5-shot group in about 19 seconds. When he actually shot the 0.349″ group, Rodney estimates he got the five shots down-range in 12-15 seconds. (He slowed down a bit for the video!)
Watch Rodney Wagner Fire Five Shots in Under 20 Seconds
Rodney comments: “You’ll notice I hold the stock with my left hand while working the bolt to keep it from losing its ‘track’ (that slows me down a lot). I have just gotten into the habit of doing that because I feel tracking is one of the most important things not to take for granted. With this technique I don’t have to ‘saw’ the stock into the bags as much when I get on to the record target.”
Record-Setting Load: Varget Powder, CCI Primers, and Berger 108s Jumped
Rodney’s record 0.349″ group works out to 0.055 MOA at 600 yards. To shoot a “zero” group at 600 yards you need the finest components and insanely good reloading techniques (not to mention the grace of God.) As he does with all his 600-yard ammo, Rodney pre-loaded before the match. This particular ammo had been loaded 5-6 days before the match. Here are specs on Rodney’s load:
32.5 Grains of Hodgdon Varget Powder and CCI 450 Primers.
108gr Berger BT Match bullets seated 0.020″ away from the lands.
Lapua 6mmBR brass fire-formed to 6 Dasher and turned to 0.265″ loaded round for a 0.268″-neck chamber.
Neck-sized with a 0.262″ Redding bushing.
Note that Rodney was using Berger 108s, not the 105gr VLDs or Berger’s popular 105gr Hybrids. Rodney found his Brux barrel shot best with the 108s: “I’d get really nice 4-shot groups with the VLDs, but it seemed there would be four together and one out. The 108s seem to have less fliers.” Rodney experimented with seating depths before he settled on a .020″ jump: “I shot them for a long time 3 to 5 thousandths in the lands, just barely in the lands. But I knew Sam Hall had really good luck jumping. So I went to .020″ jump and it all came together. The 108s have shot good like that in three different Brux barrels (all chambered with the same reamer) so I just start at that setting now — twenty off the lands.”
Rodney was shooting a 17-lb Light Gun. It features a BAT Machine ‘B’ action, and a 29″ Brux barrel chambered for the 6mm Dasher with a 0.268″ neck. The 0.236″-land, 4-groove barrel was fairly new when the record group was shot — it had about 300 rounds through it, and had shot 30 rounds since its last cleaning. Rodney chambered the barrel himself. The stock is a Shehane ST-1000 fiberglass tracker, inletted and bedded by Tom Meredith. A March 10-60x52mm scope is held in Burris Signature Zee rings on a +10 MOA rail. These rings are inexpensive, but they work just fine, notes Rodney: “With the inserts I can align the scope mechanically and keep the windage pretty much centered in its travel.”
Supporting his rifle, Rodney used a Farley co-axial rest up front (on Super-Feet) and a Protektor Doctor bag in the rear. The Farley features a Borden top carrying an Edgewood bag. Rodney notes: “In the front, I use the black diamond blasting sand, because it doesn’t pack as hard as regular sand. You can buy it at tractor supply stores in the welding section. It’s not as heavy as heavy sand.”
In the rear, Rodney runs a flat-top Protektor Doctor bag with Cordura ears. Rodney uses Sinclair heavy sand in his rear bag. He says “it’s got some squish — not much but just a little — call it a medium-hard fill”. Interestingly, Rodney sets up the bag so that the flat on the bottom of the stock rides on the stitches between the ears: “I like the stock to touch the top of the bag between the ears — I don’t like to see daylight.”
Conditions for the Record — You May Be Surprised
Many folks who have commented on Rodney’s 0.349″ group have wrongly assumed that the 0.349″ group was shot in “perfect” zero-wind conditions. Not so. There were switchy 5 mph winds with gusts to 10 mph. Rodney notes that on his second target of the day, he had to hold in three different places to manage a decent-sized group. So for those who think the group was shot in miraculous conditions, we have to say that wasn’t the case.
Creating Ultra-Accurate 6mm Dasher Ammunition
Rodney takes great care in loading his brass, and he employs a few tricks to get superior consistency.
Fire-Forming — To prepare his cases for fire-forming, Rodney starts by turning his Lapua brass to just past where the new neck-shoulder junction will be: “I just cut enough for the 6mm Dasher neck. A little bit of the cut shows on the shoulder after forming.” Then Rodney runs a .25-caliber K&M mandrel through the whole neck, expanding the neck diameter. After the entire neck is expanded, Rodney re-sizes the top section with a Wilson bushing, creating a false shoulder. Then, as further insurance that the case will be held firmly in place during fire-forming, Rodney seats his bullets long — hard into the lands. When fire-forming, Rodney uses a normal 6mmBR load of 29.8 grains of Varget: “I don’t like to stress my brass before it has been hardened. I load enough powder to form the shoulder 95%. Any more than that is just wasted.” Rodney adds: “When fire-forming, I don’t want to use a super-hard primer. I prefer to use a Federal 205, CCI 200, or Winchester — something soft.” Using a softer primer lessens the likelihood that the case will drive forward when hit by the firing pin, so this helps achieve more consistent “blow lengths”.
Ammo Loading — Rodney is fastidious with his brass and weighs his charges very precisely. Charges are first dispensed with an RFD manual powder measure, then Rodney trickles kernel by kernel using a highly-precise Sartorius GD-503 laboratory scale. He tries to maintain charge-weight consistency within half a tenth of a grain — about two kernels of Varget powder.
One important technique Rodney employs is sorting by bullet-seating force. Rodney batch-sorts his loaded rounds based on seating force indicated by the dial gauge on his K&M arbor press: “I use a K&M arbor press with dial indicator strain gauge. When I’m loading I pay lots of attention to seating effort and I try to batch five rounds that feel the same. For record rounds I try to make sure I get five of the same number (on the dial). When sorting based on the force-gauge readout, you need to go slow. If you go too fast the needle will spike up and down before you can see it.”
In practice, Rodney might select five rounds with a gauge value of 25, then another five with a gauge read-out of 30 and so on. He places the first five like-value rounds in one row of his ammo caddy. The next like-value set of five will go in the next row down. By this method, he ensures that all five cartridges in a five-round set for a record target will have bullets seated with very consistent seating force.
Unlike some top shooters, Rodney does not regularly anneal his cases. However, after every firing, he does tumble his Dasher brass in treated corncob media. After sizing his brass, before seating the bullets, he runs a nylon brush in the necks: “The last thing I do before firing is run a well-worn 30 caliber nylon brush in the necks, using a small 6-volt drill for power. This is a quick operation — just in and out the neck”. Sometimes, at the end of the season, he will anneal, but Rodney adds: “If I can get 10 firings out of the case I’ve done good.” He usually makes up new brass when he fits a new barrel: “If it is a good barrel (that I may shoot at the Nationals), I’ll usually go ahead and prepare 200 pieces of good brass.”
Shooting Techniques — Piloting a 600-yard Group into the Zeros Gun-handling and Rate of Fire — As you can see from the video, Rodney shoots with very minimal contact on the rifle. He normally shoots a string fast, but he remains calm and steady — almost machine-like. In the video he runs five shots in about 19 seconds, but he figures he shot the 0.349″ group in 12-15 seconds. Rodney says: “I’m not quite as fast as Sam Hall but I can usually run ‘em under fifteen seconds, sometimes closer to 10 on a good day. But when I shot the 0.349″ I couldn’t see the flags for the last shot so I dipped the joystick down between 4th and 5th shots, and that took a couple seconds. The flags had not changed, so I kept the same point of aim for 4th and 5th shot. I’d been watching that flag all morning, so to satisfy my curiosity I kind of dipped down for a second.”
Aiming for the Nine — To shoot ultra-small at long range, you must aim very, very precisely. When shooting at 600 yards, Rodney lines up his cross-hairs on the white number “9″ in the blue field above the ten ring. This is visible through his rifle-scope at 600 yards, and it provides an aim point smaller than the center “X”.
Rodney explains: “I always aim for the number 9 up in the blue field. It provides for a smaller aim point. I noticed a difference when I started doing that. I learned that from some guys from South Dakota. It made sense so I’ve been doing it ever sense.”
Tips for 600-Yard Shooters New to the Game
In the course of our interview with Rodney, we asked if he had any tips for shooters who are getting started in the 600-yard Benchrest Game. Rodney offered some sensible advice:
1. Don’t try to go it alone. Find an old-timer to mentor you. As a novice, go to matches, watch and ask questions.
2. Go with a proven cartridge. If you are shooting 600 yards stick with a 6mmBR or one of the 6BR improveds (BRX or Dasher). Keep it simple. I tried some of the larger cartridges, the 6XC and 6-6.5×47 Lapua. I was trying to be different, but I was not successful. It wasn’t a disaster — I learned something. But I found the larger cases were not as accurate as a 6BR or Dasher. Those bigger cartridges are competitive for score but not for group.
3. You don’t have to spend a fortune to be competitive. Buy a used rifle from somebody and find out if you like the sport. You can save a lot with a used rifle, but do plan on buying a new barrel immediately.
4. Don’t waste weeks or months struggling with a barrel that isn’t shooting. My best barrels, including this record-setting Brux, started shooting exceptionally well right from the start.
Precision Reloading is having a June SALE on big-name reloading presses and powder dispensers. You’ll find good values on Redding, RCBS, Lyman, and Hornady Products. This special sale ends June 30, 2013. Note: Sale pricing is limited to quantities on hand and the discount prices cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.
RCBS Cash-Back Rebate
In addition, RCBS is offering a Rebate for products purchased in 2013. If you buy $50 worth of RCBS hardware you can get $10 Cash Back. If you buy $300 worth of RCBS equipment you can get $50 Cash Back.
NOTE: Although the Rebate Form refers to an option of Speer Bullets (instead of cash money), due to shortages, ALL rebates will be issued in CASH. CLICK HERE for Rebate Form.
By Dennis Santiago
Competition teaches you things. Compared to loading for benchrest bolt guns, producing ultra-reliable and accurate ammo for tight-chambered, semi-auto .308 target rifles requires a different approach to case prep. Smoothness of operation is much more important in a field course gun. Reliability trumps everything (even case life) for these types of guns.
In the photo below, there’s a Redding small base body die for bumping the shoulder and making sure the case body is at SAAMI minimum. This body die is not just nice to have. It is vital. There are also a full-length sizing die and a Lee Collet neck-sizer in that turret holder. One or the other gets used after the body size die depending on what rifle the ammo will be used in. The semi-auto rounds always go through the full-length sizing die. After that comes trimming and finally cleaning — then loading can begin. The cases are trimmed using a Gracey trimmer so everything’s the same each and every time. I use an RCBS Competition Seater Die to seat the bullets. One nice feature of this RCBS die is the open side slot that allows you to place bullets easily.
It’s a long path methodology but uniformity is accuracy. More important for safety, controlling “stack-up” errors in the system solution is how one achieves reliability. The chamber-hugging philosophies of benchrest bolt guns do not apply well to AR-10s. Like most things, the right answer is context-dependent. Success is about accepting and adapting.
Dennis Talks About Using a Semi-Auto in Tactical Competitions
I have succumbed to the Dark Side — deciding to put an AR-10 together. For tactical competitions you want a bolt gun most of the time but there are times the course of fire favors the use of a semi-auto. I was using an M1A that gives me 0.75 MOA performance but I heard people were getting almost bolt-gun-level, half-MOA accuracy out of their AR-10s — so I wanted to see if that was really achievable. A quarter-MOA difference in accuracy potential may seem tiny in practical terms but it will make a difference in competition. In a match, the difference between 3/4-MOA and 1/2-MOA can alter your hit probability on a small target by 20-30%.
The AR platform also lets you tinker with triggers, stock ergonomics and muzzle brakes that help in managing the dynamics of a long distance shot better. Well I found out you can get the incremental accuracy but there’s more work to do to get the same reliability. Being a curious sort, it’s worth it to me to explore it. It’s a far cry from as-issued M-1 shooting with whatever HXP is handy. This is definitely swimming in the deep end of the pool.
How would you like to lower your Extreme Spread (ES) and Standard Deviation (SD) significantly by a simple procedure that takes seconds and costs almost nothing?
Here’s all you need to do. After lubing your cases for full-length sizing, be sure to clean your hands (removing ALL residual lube) before you handle your bullets. As an extra measure to avoid lube contamination, slip on thin Latex gloves before you handle and seat your bullets. Will this make a difference? Let me tell you a story.
Keep Those Greasy Fingers Off Your Bullets
I recently loaded a couple dozen cases for a 6mm Dasher. We were in a hurry to leave for the range so I was loading faster than normal. When we started shooting the ammo I noticed that the 5-shot ES was bad — really bad — 48 fps. I was shocked because this was a known good load that had previously showed ES in the teens. This one had me stumped. What could have resulted in this high ES? What did I do different while reloading this time?
Then a lightbulb went off. I realized I had been seating bullets (round by round) immediately after lubing and sizing each case. My fingers still had some greasy lube on them which obviously got on some of the bullets, “polluting” them. My normal reloading procedure is to lube and size all cases, clean them off, then place the brass in a loading tray. Then I would clean my hands BEFORE adding powder and seating bullets. This time, in my rush, I sized a case, wiped it off, then immediately added powder and projectile. I did not take the time to clean off my fingers carefully before handling the bullets.
Big Drop in ES When I Avoided Bullet Contamination with Case Lube
The next day I went back to the loading room. I loaded the same brass with the same powder, same primer, same bullet type, same bushing — same everything. But this time, I washed my hands thoroughly with a hand cleaner, dried them with a clean paper towel, and I even put on thin latex gloves before handling the bullets. I loaded 10 rounds and fired them over the chronograph again in the same rifle. The 5-shot ES was 14 fps and the 10-shot ES was 22 fps (That’s normal for this load/rifle). Compare that to a 5-shot ES of 48 the day before. I had reduced my 5-shot ES by 70%! We were back in business. (By the way, the groups were also very small).
Lesson Learned — Keep Case Lube Off Your Bullets Your results may vary of course, but now I always make sure to remove ALL residual lube from my fingers before handling bullets or doing anything that can get unwanted lube inside the necks.
What about gloves? I don’t think the Latex gloves are essential (if your hands are dry and clean), but they just cost a few pennies when bought in bulk. You can buy a box of 100 latex gloves for under $7.00 on Amazon.com. I suggest the non-powdered type.
Use Your Common Sense
Before the critics launch a tirade, let me be the first to acknowledge that many champions have loaded perfectly good ammo (and shot great groups) without paying much attention to greasy fingers. We’ve all seen short-range benchresters loading ammo between relays. They work fast and may not take the time to clean all lube off their fingers before seating bullets. And we’ve seen some of those guys go out and shoot itty-bitty groups in the ones and zeros. So I am NOT claiming that careful “reloading bench hygiene” is essential to shooting small!
All I am saying is that I observed and recorded a significant drop in my ES when I made sure to avoid contaminating bullet jackets with case lube. This is a simple precaution that is easy to follow when loading at home. It may help you cut your ES/SD. It may help avoid that one “mystery flyer” that ruins a group. Cleaning your hands before seating bullets may seem obsessive. But the smart reloader knows that paying attention to the small details, in all respects, is the key to making ultra-accurate ammo that exhibits low ES/SD on the chronograph.
If you haven’t visited the Norma website recently, you should click over to www.norma.cc/en/ (the ‘en’ is for English version). There you will find Norma’s “Ammo Academy”, a technical resource that provides information on: Ballistics, Powder Storage, Barrel Wear, and Bullet Expansion. In addition, the Ammo Academy now links to Norma’s Reloading Data Center, where you’ll find loads for nearly 70 cartridge types including: .223 Rem, .22-250, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, 260 Rem, 6.5-284, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, .270 Win, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Mag and dozens more.
The Ammo Academy’s Ballistics section contains some fascinating technical facts:
After the trigger is pulled, it takes around 0.005 seconds before the firing pin reaches the primer.
From the firing of the primer it takes 0.0015-0.002 seconds until the bullet exits the muzzle.
When the bullet leaves the muzzle, the hot gases surround and overtake the bullet, continuing the acceleration for a few centimeters.
Because the barrel is always angled slightly upwards, the bullet’s flight starts about 3-5 cm below the line of sight.
Norma also offers some good advice about Powder and Cartridge Storage:
To maintain the product quality for as long as possible, you have to keep the powder in a suitable place under suitable conditions. Where possible, store the powder at a constant temperature, ideally between 12 and 15°C (54°F to 59°F), and a relative humidity of 40–50%. If the air is too dry, it will dry out the powder, which will cause the pressure to be higher, thus affecting performance. Also make sure that you close the powder container properly afterwards. Cartridges should be stored under the same ambient conditions to maintain their quality.
The 6mm Dasher is based on the 6mm BR cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and “improved” to 40°. Case capacity is raised to about 41.0 grains. This allows the Dasher to drive 105-108gr bullets comfortably at 2970-3000 fps without over-stressing the brass. A popular load used by many successful Dasher shooters is 32.5 to 33.0 grains of Reloder 15, CCI 450 primers, with 105gr Berger VLDs, .010″ in the lands, or Berger 105gr Hybrids .015-.020″ off the lands (jumping). At the upper end this is a “warm load” and should only be used with fire-formed brass. Norma 203B is very, very similar to Reloder 15, and may be more readily available in the near future. As with any load, start 10% low and work up.
You may also have good luck with Hodgon Varget powder. Forum Member Rodney Wagner recently shot a spectacular IBS-record-setting 0.349″ five-shot group at 600 yards. Rodney was loading 32.5 Grains of Varget with CCI 450 primers and Berger 108gr BTs seated about .020″ off the lands (jumping). In preparation for fire-forming his Dasher cases, Rodney used a .257 expander to create a false shoulder on his case necks. This helps stabilizes the case with a good “crush fit” when fire-forming, but other methods of forming Dasher cases (including hydro-forming) can work well also.
Robert Hoppe, one of the top 600-yard shooters in the country, was the 2009 NBRSA 600-yard champion. In 2007, shooting a 6 Dasher, Robert nailed a 0.5823″, 5-shot group. At the time it was the smallest group ever shot in 600-yard registered benchrest competition. In 2008, John Lewis shot even smaller with an IBS Heavy Gun, but Robert’s 0.5823″ still remains the NBRSA 600-yard record, and we believe it is the second smallest group ever shot at 600 yards (in registered BR competition) by a 17-lb class rifle. Robert has been very successful in the 600-yard game, and is one of the best 600-yard shooters in the West. He knows how to wring the best accuracy out of the 6mm Dasher cartridge. Here Robert offers some tips on load development and tuning for the 6mm Dasher.
Our IT guy, Jay (aka JayChris in the Forum), was having some issues with his .260 AI. A load with known accuracy had suddenly and mysteriously stopped shooting well. Jay couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. Then he remembered he had cleaned his brass using a powerful ultrasonic machine.
He inspected his brass carefully and saw that the ultrasonically-cleaned necks were so “squeaky clean” that he was actually scratching the jackets on his bullets when seating them. As well, Jay noticed that it took more force to seat the bullets and the seating force became less uniform case to case. Jay solved the problem by applying NECO Moly dry-lube inside the necks of his brass before seating the bullets.
The Perils of Ultrasonic Brass Cleaning by JayChris
I rotate my brass so that I can keep track of each firing, so I keep a “clean/ready to load” bin and a “fired” bin. I have 400 pieces of .260 AI brass. So, all of it was on its first firing (after doing a Cream of Wheat fire-forming) until I hit the 400-round mark. To my surprise, things went south at the 500-round mark. The first time I noticed it (according to my range log) was at a match last year, when I dropped several points and had some vertical stringing issues. After that match, I had 400 rounds through the barrel and all of my brass had a single firing on it. So, it was time to clean.
I have used an ultrasonic cleaner for a while now. I recently got a more powerful Ultrasonic cleaner, although I don’t know if that makes a difference. My brass comes out dry and squeaky. Emphasis on the “squeaky”.
I found that my new US machine may have been getting the necks TOO clean. After ultrasonically cleaning my brass, I had noticed that it required a little more force to seat the bullets, but I didn’t really think too much about it. But then, after going over my ordeal with a shooting buddy and going over my process in minutiae, we had an “AH HA” moment when it came to cleaning (he uses good ol’ vibratory cleaning).
So, I used some moly dry-lube to pre-lube the case necks and took some rounds out to test at 200 yards. I used my last known good load and sure enough, the vertical flyers disappeared! I shot two, 10-rounds groups with .335 and .353 MOA vertical dispersion, which is consistent with the results I was originally getting.
Other folks have suggested necks may get “too clean” after ultrasonic cleaning. It was pretty sobering to actually witness, first hand, what can happen when brass is “too clean”. I had read some discussions of issues with neck friction/bullet seating after ultrasonic cleaning, but, frankly, I dismissed the idea. Now I understand. The “too clean” effect doesn’t seem to affect my Dasher at all (perhaps because Dasher necks are very short), but on the bigger .260 AI, it definitely does.
Close-Up Photos of Case-Necks
Here are photos Jay took with a microscope. You can see the difference between tumbled brass and ultrasonically-cleaned brass. Jay says: “Here, in sequence, are the Ultrasound-squeaky-clean case neck, a case neck after treatment with NECO moly dry-lube (you can see the particles that will help coat the neck during seating), and, finally, the neck from a case cleaned with corncob media in a vibratory tumbler. You can clearly see how much smoother the inside of the tumbled neck is. Yes, it’s dirty, but it’s also very, very smooth.
Close-Up of Scratched Bullet
Here is a close-up of a bullet that was seated in an ultrasonically-cleaned (“squeaky clean”) neck, with no lubrication. You can clearly see the damage done to the jacket — in fact, in a couple spots you can see the lead core through the scratches! Jay also observed that quite a bit more seating force was required to seat the bullet in a “squeaky clean” neck.
NOTE: The bullet jacket is naked — NOT coated in any way. It looks a little dark because of the shadow from the microscope lens, and the high contrast.
We often get questions about the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge — folks ask where they can find good resources for this cartridge, which is popular with Across-The-Course, High Power, and tactical shooters. We did some searching and found that the August 2011 digital edition of Shooting Sports USA has a good article for all fans of the 6.5 Creemoor.
Development of the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge
In the August 2011 Edition of Shooting Sports USA you’ll find a lengthy feature on the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This story covers the origin of the cartridge and its performance both as a match cartridge and as a hunting round. Hornady Chief Ballistician Dave Emary explained: “the original intent of the cartridge was as an across-the-course match cartridge. We envisioned it as an off-the-shelf round that would produced the accuracy and ballistics to compete in all match disciplines right out of the box. At the same time we realized that the same characteristics would make an exceptional hunting cartridge with the right bullets.”
6.5 Creedmoor Brass No Longer Washed After Annealing
Here’s an interesting update on Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor brass and loaded ammo. In a move to improve case quality and neck uniformity, Hornady recently changed the 6.5 Creedmoor production process, eliminating the case-washing step after annealing. So now you will see annealing coloration on 6.5 Creedmoor brass, just like on Lapua brass. Dennis DeMille of Creedmoor Sports wanted to improve the consistency/uniformity of 6.5 Creedmoor case-necks. At Dennis’ suggestion, Hornady conducted tests which showed that the “standard industry practice” of washing brass could potentially alter the necks in undesirable ways. Bottom line, unwashed annealed brass was determined to have an accuracy edge over washed brass. Looking at these results, Hornady decided to forgo the post-anneal washing process. As a result, the latest 6.5 Creedmoor brass now displays the distinctive coloration left by neck/shoulder annealing. Learn something new every day, eh?
Effects Of Cartridge Over All Length (COAL) And Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) – Part 1 by Bryan Litz forBerger Bullets.
Many shooters are not aware of the dramatic effects that bullet seating depth can have on the pressure and velocity generated by a rifle cartridge. Cartridge Overall Length (COAL) is also a variable that can be used to fine-tune accuracy. It’s also an important consideration for rifles that need to feed rounds through a magazine. In this article, we’ll explore the various effects of COAL, and what choices a shooter can make to maximize the effectiveness of their hand loads.
Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI)
Most loading manuals (including the Berger Manual), present loading data according to SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) standards. SAAMI provides max pressure, COAL and many other specifications for commercial cartridges so that rifle makers, ammo makers, and hand loaders can standardize their products so they all work together. As we’ll see later in this article, these SAAMI standards are in many cases outdated and can dramatically restrict the performance potential of a cartridge.
Bullet seating depth is an important variable in the accuracy equation. In many cases, the SAAMI specified COAL is shorter than what a hand loader wants to load their rounds to for accuracy purposes. In the case where a hand loader seats the bullets longer than SAAMI specified COAL, there are some internal ballistic effects that take place which are important to understand.
Effects of Seating Depth / COAL on Pressure and Velocity
The primary effect of loading a cartridge long is that it leaves more internal volume inside the cartridge. This extra internal volume has a well known effect; for a given powder charge, there will be less pressure and less velocity produced because of the extra empty space. Another way to look at this is you have to use more powder to achieve the same pressure and velocity when the bullet is seated out long. In fact, the extra powder you can add to a cartridge with the bullet seated long will allow you to achieve greater velocity at the same pressure than a cartridge with a bullet seated short.
Figure 1. When the bullet is seated farther out of the case, there is more volume available for powder. This enables the cartridge to generate higher muzzle velocity with the same pressure.
When you think about it, it makes good sense. After all, when you seat the bullet out longer and leave more internal case volume for powder, you’re effectively making the cartridge into a bigger cartridge by increasing the size of the combustion chamber. Figure 1 illustrates the extra volume that’s available for powder when the bullet is seated out long.
Before concluding that it’s a good idea to start seating your bullets longer than SAAMI spec length, there are a few things to consider.
Geometry of a Chamber Throat
The chamber in a rifle will have a certain throat length which will dictate how long a bullet can be loaded. The throat is the forward portion of the chamber that has no rifling. The portion of the bullet’s bearing surface that projects out of the case occupies the throat (see Figure 2).
The length of the throat determines how much of the bullet can stick out of the case. When a cartridge is chambered and the bullet encounters the beginning of the rifling, known as the lands, it’s met with hard resistance. This COAL marks the maximum length that a bullet can be seated. When a bullet is seated out to contact the lands, its initial forward motion during ignition is immediately resisted by an engraving force.
Seating a bullet against the lands causes pressures to be elevated noticeably higher than if the bullet were seated just a few thousandths of an inch off the lands.
A very common practice in precision reloading is to establish the COAL for a bullet that’s seated to touch the lands. This is a reference length that the hand loader works from when searching for the optimal seating depth for precision. Many times, the best seating depth is with the bullet touching or very near the lands. However, in some rifles, the best seating depth might be 0.100″ or more off the lands. This is simply a variable the hand loader uses to tune the precision of a rifle.