July 4th, 2020

Got Powder? Here Are Sources for Many Popular Propellants

reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount

It’s July 4th, that means fireworks displays. What better time to order up some gunpowder? We’re pleased to report that Midsouth Shooters Supply has received some big shipments from the major powder makers. In stock now at Midsouth are many of the most popular accuracy powders, including: Hodgdon H4350, Hodgdon 4831/4831SC, IMR 4166, Vihtavuori N133, Accurate LT30 and LT32, Norma 203B, CFE223 and many more. Powder Valley also has Hodgdon H4350 right now.

Meanwhile at Precision Reloading you will find Alliant Reloder 16, Reloder 23, Reloder 17, IMR 4166, IMR 8208 XBR, Vihtavuori N133, Accurate LT30 and LT32, Norma 203B, and many more.

H4350 and Reloder 16 are superb, temp-stable powders for medium-sized cartridges. Reloder 23 is a slower version of RL16 that works great in magnum cartridges. LT30 is great for the 30BR, CFE 223 is excellent for Service Rifle shooters, and VV N133 is a top choice for the 6PPC. Norma 203B (nearly identical to Reloder 15) works well in the 6mmBR, 6BRA and Dasher. And Hodgdon H4831SC is an excellent choice for the .284 Winchester and 7mm WSM.

Sorry we could not find Hodgdon Varget at these two vendors. However, Bruno Shooters Supply does have Varget in stock today in both 1-lb and 8-lb sizes. Varget fans may also want to try IMR 8208 XBR. It has a slightly faster burn rate, but our tests found it worked very well in the .308 Win with medium-weight bullets, offering excellent accuracy and good velocity.

All these popular Powders (and many more) are in stock:


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reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount
reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount
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June 30th, 2020

Watch Reloading Videos from Hodgdon Powder Company

Hodgdon Reloading Center Video

Hodgdon Reloading Center VideoHodgdon Powder Company (Hodgdon) offers a series of professionally-produced, “how-to” instructional videos through its online Reloading Data Center. These 3.5-minute videos present rifle, pistol, and shotshell reloading basics in an easy-to-understand,step-by-step format. These mobile-friendly, informative videos can also be viewed on a smart phone or tablet.

To watch the reloading videos go to the Reloading Data Center at hodgdon.com. Click to the right/left of the displayed video to switch between pistol, rifle, and shotgun videos. Or, for your convenience, we have embedded the Rifle and Pistol videos here. Just click to watch!

Click to Watch Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Video:

Click to Watch Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Video:

In addition to these videos, Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center (RDC) provides a wealth of information on Hodgdon®, IMR®, and Winchester® propellants. Along with reliable load data, you’ll find explanations of reloading basics, safety procedures, plus answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).

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June 25th, 2020

Incipient Case-Head Separation — How to Detect the Problem

cartridge case separation

We are re-publishing this article at the request of Forum members who found the information very valuable. If you haven’t read this Safety Tip before, take a moment to learn how you can inspect your fired brass to determine if there may be a potential for case separation. A case separation can be dangerous, potentially causing serious injury.

cartridge case separationOn the respected Riflemans’ Journal blog there was an excellent article about Cartridge Case-Head Separation. In this important article, Journal Editor GS Arizona examined the causes of this serious problem and explained the ways you can inspect your brass to minimize the risk of a case-head separation. As cases get fired multiple times and then resized during reloading, the cases can stretch. Typically, there is a point in the lower section of the case where the case-walls thin out. This is your “danger zone” and you need to watch for tell-tale signs of weakening.

The photo below shows a case sectioned so that you can see where the case wall becomes thinner near the web. You can see a little arrow into the soot inside the case pointing to the thinned area. This case hadn’t split yet, but it most likely would do so after one or two more firings.

cartridge case separation

Paper Clip Hack for Detecting Problems
The article provided a great, easy tip for detecting potential problems. You can use a bent paper clip to detect potential case wall problems. Slide the paper clip inside your case to check for thin spots. GS Arizona explains: “This simple little tool (bent paper clip) will let you check the inside of cases before you reload them. The thin spot will be immediately apparent as you run the clip up the inside of the case. If you’re seeing a shiny line on the outside and the clip is really hitting a thin spot inside, it’s time to retire the case. If you do this every time you reload, on at least 15% of your cases, you’ll develop a good feel for what the thin spot feels like and how it gets worse as the case is reloaded more times. And if you’re loading the night before a match and feel pressured for time — don’t skip this step!”

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June 24th, 2020

Efficient Big-Batch Case Lubrication — Best Methods

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. A while back, the USAMU’s reloading gurus looked at the subject of case lubrication. Tasked with producing thousands of rounds of ammo for team members, the USAMU’s reloading staff has developed very efficient procedures for lubricating large quantities of cases. This article reveals the USAMU’s clever “big-batch” lube methods. For other helpful hand-loading tips, visit the USAMU Facebook page on upcoming Wednesdays.

Rapid, High-Volume Case Lubrication

Today’s topic covers methods for quickly applying spray lube to cartridge cases prior to sizing. A typical order for this shop may be 25,000 rounds, so [speeding up] the lubrication process can be a real time-saver. While your ammunition lots probably aren’t this large, the efficient methods discussed here may help save a considerable amount of time over your handloading career. Our case lubrication rates range from 1500-1600 cases per hour, to 2400-2500 cases per hour, depending on caliber.

This shop uses virgin brass, whereas most home handloaders use fired brass, which necessitates some small changes at times. These will be discussed as they arise. Begin with fired brass that has been tumbled clean.

Ensure as much tumbling media as possible is removed from the brass, as when it gets into a size die, it can dent cases significantly. This is a good time to round out dents in the case mouths using a tapered tool to prevent damage from the decapping stem.

First, dump the clean cases into a large box or reloading bin. Shake the bin back and forth so that many cases are oriented with the mouths up. Next, pick up as many cases as is convenient with the mouths “up”, from natural clusters of correctly-oriented cases. With 7.62mm-size cases, this is usually 3-4, and with 5.56mm cases, this can be up to 8-10. Place the cases into the rack slots, mouth-up. Doing this in groups rather than singly saves considerable time. Once these clusters have been depleted, it will be time to re-shake the bin to orient more cases “up.”.

This photo shows a case lubrication rack made by a USAMU staffer.
accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Naturally, adjust the spacing to best fit the calibers you reload. We have found this size … convenient for handling through the various phases of case lubrication/transfer to progressive case feeders for processing. Note that the 1/2-inch angle does not cover much of the critical case area at the base, just forward of the extractor groove, where most re-sizing force will be exerted. As the USAMU uses virgin brass, less lubrication is required for our brass than would be needed for Full Length (FL) sizing of previously-fired brass.

NOTE: The amount applied using our rack is easily enough for our purpose. If using fired brass, be sure to adequately lube this base area to avoid having cases stick in the full-length sizing die.

Using a spray lube, coat the cases adequately, but not excessively, from all sides. Be sure to get some lube into the case mouths/necks, in order to reduce expander ball drag and case stretching/headspace changes. The spray lube this shop uses does not harm primers or powder, and does not require tumbling to remove after lubing.*

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Take a close look at the photo above. The USAMU shop uses a common kitchen turntable, which allows the rack to be rotated easily. We place this in a custom-made box which prevents over-spray on to floors and walls.

Angled Box Method for Smaller Cases to be Neck-Sized
A refinement of the above method which especially speeds processing of 5.56x45mm cases is as follows. A small cardboard box which holds about 100 cases is fitted with an angled “floor” secured by tape. With the smaller 5.56mm cases, usually about 8-10 cases per handful can be picked up, already correctly-oriented, and placed into the box together. This prevents having to place them into the rack slots, saving time.

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

HOWEVER, note that this does not allow nearly as much lube access to the case bodies as does the rack. For our purposes — neck-sizing and setting neck tension on new brass, this works well. If using this procedure with fired brass, take steps to ensure adequate lube to prevent stuck cases.

As always, we hope this will help our fellow handloaders. Good luck, and good shooting!


*A two-part test performed here involved spraying primed cases heavily, while getting more lube into the case mouth/body than even a careless handloader would likely apply. The second part of the test involved literally spraying considerable quantities of the lube directly into the cases, drenching the primers. After a several-day wait to allow the lube to penetrate the primers, they were then fired in a test barrel. All fired normally; no unusual reports were noted. This bolstered confidence that normal amounts of the lube would not adversely affect our ammunition, and we have been pleased with the results over several years.

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June 24th, 2020

Go Big or Go Home — Reloading .416 Barrett with 50 BMG Press

Ko2m king two miles ELR .416 Barrett cheytac .50 BMG Extreme long range press

In the ELR game, particularly the King of 2 Miles (KO2M), it’s “go big or go home”. The top shooters run large-capacity cartridges that push large-caliber, ultra-high BC bullets at very high velocities. Bullets launched by cartridges such as the .416 Barrett can sustain supersonic velocities at Extreme Long Ranges — and that’s what it takes to win. The .416 Barrett can launch a 550-grain solid bullet at 3000+ FPS.

.416 Barrett cartridge ELR .50 BMG RCBS press
Photo from ELR Competitor Corbin Shell.

2018 and 2019 Kings of 2 Miles Loaded on RCBS Presses
So how do you load jumbo cartridges such as the .416 Barrett? It takes a big, heavy, super-strong reloading press. We’ve learned that the last two Kings of 2 Miles, Paul Phillips (2019) and Robert Brantley (2019) both loaded their KO2M ammo on RCBS AmmoMaster .50 BMG presses. Phillips loaded .416 Barrett ammo, while Brantley loaded custom .416 MCS rounds.

In 2018, Robert Brantley topped the field using his custom .416 MCS loads perfected on the AmmoMaster .50 BMG Press. This year, Brantley took a close second to 2019 KO2M winner Paul Phillips. Both Phillips and Brantley use the AmmoMaster .50 BMG single stage press kit and RCBS .416 Barrett dies to hand-load for extreme long-range. “My ammo has been much more consistent after switching to the RCBS press and dies,” remarked Phillips, who runs the Global Precision Group. Brantley said he uses RCBS products for most of his reloading needs — from the dies and AmmoMaster, to the ChargeMaster and Brass Boss. His custom .416 MCS loads launch a 550-grain bullet more than 3,100 fps.

Ko2m king two miles ELR .416 Barrett cheytac .50 BMG Extreme long range press

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June 23rd, 2020

How to Form 30 BR Cases — Experts Explain Best Methods

30BR 30 BR case forming benchrest randy robinette al nyhus

30BR 30 BR case formingThe 30 BR is an amazing little cartridge. However, 30 BR shooters do have to neck-up 6mmBR or 7mmBR brass and then deal with some issues that can arise from the expansion process. One of our Forum members was concerned about the donut that can form at the new (expanded) neck-shoulder junction. Respected bullet-maker Randy Robinett offers tips on how to deal with the “dreaded donut”.

The Forum member was concerned about thinning the brass if he turned his 30 BR necks after expansion: “Everything I have found on 30 BR case-forming says to simply turn off the bulge at the base of the neck caused by the old 6BR shoulder. I expanded my first case and measured the neck at 0.329″ except on the donut, where it measures 0.335″. Looking inside the case… reveals a groove inside the case under the donut. Now, it is a fact that when I turn that neck and remove the donut, the groove is still going to be there on the inside? That means there is now a thin-spot ring at the base of the neck that is .005 thinner than the rest of the neck. Has anyone experienced a neck cracking on this ring?”

Randy Robinett, who runs BIB Bullet Co., is one of the “founding fathers” of the 30 BR who help prove and popularize the 30 BR for benchrest score shooting. Randy offers this advice on 30 BR case-forming:

While the thinner neck-base was one of our original concerns, unless one cuts too deeply INTO the shoulder, it is not a problem. For my original 30BR chamber, thirty (30) cases were used to fire 6,400 rounds through the barrel. The cases were never annealed, yet there were ZERO case failures, neck separations, or splits. The case-necks were turned for a loaded-round neck diameter of .328″, and, from the beginning, sized with a .324″ neck-bushing.

The best method for avoiding the ‘bulge’ is to fire-form prior to neck-turning (several methods are successfully employed). Cutting too deeply into the shoulder can result in case-neck separations. I have witnessed this, but, with several barrels and thousands to shots fired, have not [personally] experienced it. The last registered BR event fired using that original barrel produced a 500-27x score and a second-place finish. [That’s] not bad for 6K plus shots, at something over 200 firings per case.

Check out the 30 BR Cartridge Guide on AccurateShooter.com
You’ll find more information on 30 BR Case-forming in our 30 BR Cartridge Guide. Here’s a short excerpt from that page — some tips provided by benchrest for score and HBR shooter Al Nyhus:

30 BR Case-Forming Procedure by Al Nyhus
The 30 BR cartridge is formed by necking-up 6mmBR or 7mmBR brass. You can do this in multiple stages or in one pass. You can use either an expander mandrel (like Joe Entrekin does), or a tapered button in a regular dies. Personally, I use a Redding tapered expander button, part number 16307. This expands the necks from 6mm to .30 cal in one pass. It works well as long as you lube the mandrel and the inside of the necks. I’ve also used the Sinclair expander body with a succession of larger mandrels, but this is a lot more work and the necks stay straighter with the Redding tapered button. This button can be used in any Redding die that has a large enough inside diameter to accept the BR case without any case-to-die contact.

Don’t be concerned about how straight the necks are before firing them the first time. When you whap them with around 50,000 psi, they will straighten out just fine! I recommend not seating the bullets into the lands for the first firing, provided there is an adequate light crush-fit of the case in the chamber. The Lapua cases will shorten from approx. 1.550″ to around 1.520″ after being necked up to 30-caliber I trim to 1.500″ with the (suggested) 1.520 length chambers. I don’t deburr the flash holes or uniform the primer pockets until after the first firing. I use a Ron Hoehn flash hole deburring tool that indexes on the primer pocket, not through the case mouth. — Al Nyhus

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June 23rd, 2020

7 SAFE: Seven Vital Safety Tips for Reloaders

seven reloading safety tips powder primers brownells manual

You can never be too safe when hand-loading your own ammunition. This helpful Brownells video outlines the Seven Fundamental Reloading Safety Tips. This is important information for novice hand-loaders and a good refresher for those with reloading experience!

Summary of the Seven Safety Tips:

1. Store your reloading supplies in a safe and dry location, away from children and away from any possible source of ignition. It is also smart to keep your powder and primers separate.

2. Get and use respected reloading manuals, especially for new cartridges. Start low and work up slowly while watching for warning signs of pressure and/or case fatigue.

3. Locate your reloading activity where you will not be distracted. If you get interrupted, stop. (Distractions will eventually lead to mistakes.)

4. Do NOT mix powders. Keep your powders clearly marked and dated. You can use masking tape to write the date on the container.

5. If you load the same cartridge type for different firearms, make sure your ammo headspaces properly in each gun.

6. Check cases frequently. Look for split necks, case head separation or other signs of fatigue and excessive pressure.

7. If reloading military brass, be aware that case capacity is usually reduced, and initial loads should be at least 10-15% lower than published data.


Here are some other tips that will help your avoid making costly mistakes (such as using the wrong powder, or undercharging a case):

  • Powder Type — Always double-check the label on your powder containers. After placing powder in the powder measure, put a piece of tape on the measure with the powder type written on it. Some guys write the powder type on a card and place that right in the hopper.
  • Scale Drift — Electronic balances can drift. If you are using a digital powder scale, calibrate the scale with a test weight every 50 rounds or so.
  • Case Fill — If you throw more than one charge at a time, look INSIDE every case before seating a bullet. Squib charges can be dangerous if you don’t notice them before firing the next round.
  • Progressive Presses — When using a progressive press, consider using an RCBS Lock-Out Die. This will detect a low charge and stop the machine. These dies will work with RCBS, Hornady, and Dillon progressives.
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June 22nd, 2020

Fingers Blown Off by Smokeless Powder in a Muzzle-Loader

muzzleloader muzzle-loader smokeless black powder overcharge Kaboom fingers sever

What you see above is what happens when you shoot the wrong powder in a muzzle-loader. Specifically, a charge of smokeless powder was used instead of black powder or black powder substitute. The difference in energy (by weight and volume) between black powder and modern smokeless powder is huge. You should never, ever run smokeless powder in a black powder recipe. The result can be catastrophic. In this case the hapless shooter lost a couple fingers. So he got a free twin-digit amputation, thanks to his reloading mistake. The lesson to learn here is to always double-check your propellant before loading. And never “re-bottle” smokeless powder into a different container with a different label (or worse yet, no label at all).

This incident happened in Indiana a couple years back. As reported by the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), this was a classic case of “user error”: “Corporal Eric Doane worked a firearm accident last night in Martin County that resulted in the shooter losing a couple fingers. This is what can happen when you shoot smokeless powder out of a muzzle-loader designed for black powder.”

Credit to The Firearm Blog for finding this story.

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June 21st, 2020

eBook Edition of Zeglin’s ‘Wildcat Cartridges’ Now Available

Zegline Wildcat Cartridges ManualFred 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”.

CLICK HERE to Read FREE eBook Sample from Zeglin’s Wildcat Cartridges

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, and Hawk Cartridges. Fred has taught classes for the NRA Gunsmithing Schools in Colorado and Oklahoma. He served as production manager for McGowen Precision Barrels for a time, and was a tech advisor for 4D Reamer Rentals. To learn more about Z-Hat and Fred’s Wildcat Cartridges eBook, contact:

Z-Hat Custom Inc.
Fred Zeglin
432 E. Idaho St., Suite C420
Kalispell, MT 59901

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June 20th, 2020

IMR Enduron Powders — Accurate, Temp Stable, and Versatile

IMR Enduron Powder 4166 4451 7977

Have you tried IMR Enduron powders yet (IMR 4166, 4451, 4955, and 7977)? We’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen. IMR’s line of Enduron extruded powders offer excellent temp stability, reduced copper fouling, and good load density for many popular cartridges (such as .223 Rem, 6mmBR, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 WSM to name a few). Some of our Forum members have reported excellent results with IMR 4166 in the 6mmBR, Dasher, 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win. One member wrote: “in my 6.5×47… 4166 gives speeds and accuracy pretty much exactly the same as Varget.” And other shooters have observed reduced copper fouling with Enduron series powders, so IMR’s Enduron anti-fouling chemistry does seem to work.

IMR Legendary Powders provided this summary of Enduron Properties:

Varmint hunters, big game hunters, match shooters and military snipers all seek powders that are insensitive to temperature changes. These powders all have it. This translates to point of impact and group size remaining the same, no matter what temperature conditions prevail. Another huge benefit is an additive that prevents copper fouling from building during dozens of rounds being fired. Here the advantage is top accuracy for longer periods of time, and less cleaning time.

IMR Enduron Powder 4166 4451 7977

A third major accomplishment with this technology is ideal load density. Experienced reloaders know that a case-filling load often delivers the most uniform velocities and best accuracy. We see this in popular match cartridges such as the 6PPC, 6mmBR, 6BRA, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win. These new Enduron powders offer excellent “full case” load density for the most commonly used cartridges with popular bullets.

CLICK HERE to Learn More about IMR Enduron Powders»

These three powders, IMR 4166, IMR 4451 and IMR 7977, are environmentally friendly by not having any ingredients harmful to the environment. Add to that, the three of them cover the most popular cartridges from .204 Ruger up to the mighty 500 Nitro Express, and the handloader “has it all”.

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June 16th, 2020

Gun Digest 560-Page 2020 Annual — On Sale at Amazon

Gun Digest 2020 74th Annual 560-page Gun book

The Gun Digest 2020 Annual, 74th Edition, is on sale now. This 560-page resource covers rifles, shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders, airguns, optics and more. We like the print edition, but there will also be an eBook version releasing later in the year. Both provide hundreds of photos with new product roundups, in-depth product tests, and scores of articles and stories. The Gun Digest 2020, paperback edition, is now ON SALE for $21.37 at Amazon.com. That’s a 41% savings over the regular $35.99 price.

NOTE: If you prefer a digital version, Gun Digest 2020 is also available in PDF format for $35.99 at Gundigeststore.com. Or, get the Amazon Kindle version for $17.59.

Articles by top writers cover long-range shooting, personal defense, hunting, gun-making, and collecting. Reports from the Field provide details on newest firearms and accessories. There is a cool photo essay showcasing fine custom and engraved guns. Among the many gun feature stories is “Finland’s Finest — Sako and Tikka”. There are also many historical gun articles.

Gun Digest 2020 also includes: Testfire reports, Firearms Catalog by Manufacturer, Optics Buying Guide, and Updated Ballistics Tables.

Gun Digest 2020 74th Annual 560-page Gun book

Other Good Books from Gun Digest Media
Gun Digest Media produces numerous other quality books for rifle, pistol, and shotgun owners. Here are four volumes we recommend. These are offered in both paperback and eBook versions:

Cartridges of World Digest Gun book gunsmith gunsmithing rifles Digest Gun book patrick sweeney
gunsmithing rifles Digest Gun book tactical rifles PRS catalog firearms pistol rifle shotgun prices descriptions gunsmithing rifles Digest Gun book
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June 16th, 2020

Chain Detonation in Primer Tube — When Bad Things Happen

RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonation

What can happen when the bottom-most primer in a primer feed tube goes off? A big bang, that’s what. Some or all of the primers in the vertical feeding tube can go off in a chain detonation. That’s exactly what happened to Dustin Ellermann, Top Shot Season 3 Champion. Scary experience, but thankfully Dustin was not injured. He writes: “Super thankful that I was wearing my Wiley X eye protection this weekend when I was reloading some .223 rounds. My press detonated nearly 100 small rifle primers. Shown here is the magazine feed tube. Not fun but it could have been much worse. Stay safe!”

When working with progressive reloading presses, you should definitely wear eye protection. Dustin’s chain detonation experience proves that — without a doubt. Remember you only have one set of eyes!

RCBS APS Strips — Alternative to Primer Tubes
RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonationWhen you stack a column of primers in a single metal tube, you’re asking for trouble. As Dustin Ellermann learned, when one primer fires, the entire column can follow suit in a chain detonation. Thankfully, you do have options when it comes to primer feeding on a progressive press. RCBS developed an innovative, smart system with primers in horizontal plastic strips. Instead of being stored in a vertical tube, primers are placed in flat, plastic “APS” strips, with a ring of plastic separating each primer. Moving horizontally, primers are never stacked, so the chance of a chain detonation is reduced dramatically. The re-usable APS strips are color-coded for different primer types. You can buy CCI “pre-loaded” primer strips, or you can insert any brand of primers into strips using an RCBS strip-loader tool.

RCBS APS Strip Priming System
This video shows how to use APS primer strips wiht a bench-mounted priming system.

AccurateShooter.com Editor Uses Strip Primers
This Editor owns an RCBS Pro-2000 progressive press. The RCBS strip-priming system was one key reason I selected the RCBS Pro-2000 over similar-priced progressives from Dillon and Hornady. I believe the strip primer system is safer, more positive, and easier to use. Before I purchased my RCBS progressive, I “road-tested” the competition. I loaded hundreds of rounds on each of four different progressives: Dillon 550B, Dillon 650, Hornady Lock-N-Load, and RCBS 2000. I was concerned about the primer feed tubes on the Dillons, and I found the RCBS rotary powder measure was much more precise (and easier to adjust) than the sliding bar system on the Dillon machines. The RCBS priming system was definitely more fool-proof than the system on the Hornady press (a first-generation L-N-L that had issues with primer feeding). After “test-driving” blue, red, and green brand progressives extensively, I settled on the RCBS Pro-2000. A decade later, I still think I made the right choice. I like the APS strips for big jobs, and I can also use them in the RCBS hand-priming tool (shown below). With the strips, it’s easy to prime 20 or 40 cases at a time, and then switch to another type of primer for comparison testing.

RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonation

APS Tool press mounted RCBSThe APS priming system also works with press-mounted priming tool, bench-mounted tool, and APS hand-tool. EdLongRange uses the press-mounted tool: “I also like the APS approach but use the press-mounted unit (saves your hands/wrists — and I haven’t had a need for a progressive press in over 20 years). Loading the primers in the strips is a bit of a PITA but very manageable. As with all tools there is a learning curve.” CLICK HERE for video showing strip-loading tool and press-mounted APS tool. The RCBS press-mounted tool is no longer in production by RCBS, but you can still find it in some stores or via eBay.

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June 13th, 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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June 10th, 2020

Case Priming Procedures — Insights from Glen Zediker

Primer Forster Co-ax priming tool
The anvil is the tripod-shaped thin metal piece protruding above the bottom of the primer cup. Getting the primer sitting fully flush on the bottom of the case primer pocket, without crunching it too much, requires some keen feel for the progress of primer seating.

top grade ammo book Glen ZedikerIn two informative Midsouth Blog articles, Glen Zediker offers helpful advice on priming. First he examines what happens to the primer itself as it is seated in the cup. Glen explains why some “crush” is important, and why you never want to leave a high primer. Glen also reviews a variety of priming tools, including his favorite — the Forster Co-Ax Bench Primer Seater. Then he offers some key safety tips. Glen provides some “rock-solid” advice about the priming operation. You’ll find more great reloading tips in Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, which we recommend.

Priming Precision vs. Speed
Glen writes: “The better priming tools have less leverage. That is so we can feel the progress of that relatively very small span of depth between start and finish. There is also a balance between precision and speed in tool choices, as there so often is.”

Benchtop Priming Tools — The Forster Co-Ax
Glen thinks that the best choice among priming options, considering both “feel” and productivity, may be the benchtop stand-alone priming stations: “They are faster than hand tools, and can be had with more or less leverage engineered into them. I like the one shown below the best because its feeding is reliable and its feel is more than good enough to do a ‘perfect’ primer seat. It’s the best balance I’ve found between speed and precision.”

Primer Forster Co-ax priming tool

Primer Forster Co-ax priming tool

Load Tuning and Primers
Glen cautions that you should always reduce your load when you switch to a new, not-yet-tested primer type: “The primer is, in my experience, the greatest variable that can change the performance of a load combination, which is mostly to say ‘pressure’. Never (never ever) switch primer brands without backing off the propellant charge and proving to yourself how far to take it back up, or to even back it off more. I back off one full grain of propellant [when I] try a different primer brand.”

Primer Forster Co-ax priming tool

Priming Safety Tips by Zediker

1. Get a good primer “flip” tray for use in filling the feeding magazine tubes associated with some systems. Make double-damn sure each primer is fed right side up (or down, depending on your perspective). A common cause of unintentional detonation is attempting to overfill a stuffed feeding tube magazine, so count and watch your progress.

2. Don’t attempt to seat a high primer more deeply on a finished round. The pressure needed to overcome the inertia to re-initiate movement may be enough to detonate it.

3. Don’t punch out a live primer! That can result in an impressive fright. To kill a primer, squirt or spray a little light oil into its open end. That renders the compound inert.

4. Keep the priming tool cup clean. That’s the little piece that the primer sits down into. Any little shard of brass can become a firing pin! It’s happened!

These Tips on Priming come from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth Shooters Supply. CLICK HERE to learn more about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

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June 9th, 2020

Load Data for 6.5 Creedmoor with 90gr to 142gr Bullets

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895

We’re told the 6.5 Creedmoor is now the best-selling chambering in new bolt-action rifles sold in the USA. Accurate, versatile, with moderate recoil, the 6.5 Creedmoor serves hunters, paper punchers, and PRS shooters equally well.

GET ALL NOSLER 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data HERE »

As part of its online Load Data Center, Nosler offers very complete LOAD DATA for the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This medium-sized cartridge has become one of the most popular chamberings for tactical and PRS shooters. The 6.5 Creedmoor combines excellent accuracy, good mag-feeding, good barrel life, moderate recoil, and reasonable component cost. That’s why this cartridge has caught on quickly.

6.5 Creedmoor Velocity Test Rifleshooter.com barrel cut test Nosler Load Data
How does barrel length affect 6.5 Creedmoor Muzzle Velocity?
CLICK HERE for RifleShooter.com barrel cut-down velocity test.

Origins of the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge
According to the Sierra Load Manual: “Developed in 2007 by Dennis DeMille and Dave Emary, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a shortened and improved 30 TC cartridge case that was inspired by the .308 Winchester design. This short action design was created to maximize case capacity and a wide range of loading lengths, while still fitting in standard short action magazines. With the correct twist barrel, the versatile 6.5 Creedmoor can take advantage of the wide range of bullet weights available in 6.5 mm (i.e. .264 caliber).” Reloaders should keep in mind that the 6.5 Creedmoor works best with medium to medium-slow powders such as H4350, Reloder 16, IMR 4451, Varget, and Vihtavuori N150.

Click Each Image to Load PDF File for Listed Bullet Weights

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895 Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895
Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895

In addition to the data sheets shown above, Nosler offers 6.5 Creedmoor data for 90 grain FB tipped bullets and 100 grain Ballistic Tip and Partition bullets.

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895
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June 9th, 2020

Powder Burn Rate Comparison Table — Download HERE

Hodgdon IMR Winchester Burn Rate Powder speed table relative table chart

Day after day, one of AccurateShooter’s most-visited web pages is a reference guide featuring a comparative burn rate chart, ranking powders from fastest to slowest. Compiled by Hodgdon Powder Co., this Burn Rate Chart displays the relative burn rates of 163 different powders. Here is the latest table, released by Hodgdon in November of 2019.

You’ll want to download this Powder Burn Rate Table. This table shows the latest IMR powders including the Enduron series (IMR 4166, 4451, 4955, 7977), highlighted in green. This 163-entry comparison table provides vital information for hand-loaders. Note — this invaluable chart is not limited to Hodgdon and IMR propellants. This burn rate chart ranks powders from eight major powder-makers: Accurate, Alliant, Hodgdon, IMR, Norma, Ramshot (Western), Vihtavuori, and Winchester.

This chart provides useful information for all hand-loaders. When doing load development, and testing one powder versus another, it’s generally wise to choose propellants that share the same relative burn rate, as least for starters.

NOTE: Hodgdon powders are blue, IMR Enduron powders are green, IMR standard powders are yellow, and Winchester powders are red. DOWNLOAD Chart HERE.


Latest POWDER BURN RATE TABLE from HODGDON/IMR

Hodgdon IMR Winchester Burn Rate Powder speed table relative table chart

CLICK HERE to Download Chart as PDF File

Story find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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June 8th, 2020

For Less Run-Out, Try Rotating Your Cases During Bullet Seating

Bullet Seating Reloading rotate cartridge Run-out TIR

Here is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out (as measured on the bullet). This procedure costs nothing and adds only a few seconds to the time needed to load a cartridge. Next time you’re loading ammo with a threaded (screw-in) seating die, try seating the bullet in two stages. Run the cartridge up in the seating die just enough to seat the bullet half way. Then lower the cartridge and rotate it 180° in the shell-holder. Now raise the cartridge up into the die again and finish seating the bullet.

Steve, aka “Short Range”, one of our Forum members, recently inquired about run-out apparently caused by his bullet-seating process. Steve’s 30BR cases were coming out of his neck-sizer with good concentricity, but the run-out nearly doubled after he seated the bullets. At the suggestion of other Forum members, Steve tried the process of rotating his cartridge while seating his bullet. Steve then measured run-out on his loaded rounds. To his surprise there was a noticeable reduction in run-out on the cases which had been rotated during seating. Steve explains: “For the rounds that I loaded yesterday, I seated the bullet half-way, and turned the round 180 degrees, and finished seating the bullet. That reduced the bullet runout by almost half on most rounds compared to the measurements from the first test.”

READ Bullet Seating Forum Thread »

run-out bullet

run-out bullet

Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30 BR brass using both the conventional (one-pass) seating procedure, as well as the two-stage (with 180° rotation) method. Steve’s measurements are collected in the two charts above. As you can see, the run-out was less for the rounds which were rotated during seating. Note, the change is pretty small (less than .001″ on average), but every little bit helps in the accuracy game. If you use a threaded (screw-in) seating die, you might try this two-stage bullet-seating method. Rotating your case in the middle of the seating process won’t cost you a penny, and it just might produce straighter ammo (nothing is guaranteed). If you do NOT see any improvement on the target, you can always go back to seating your bullets in one pass. READ Forum Thread..

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June 2nd, 2020

Go with the “O” — O-Rings May Reduce Run-Out When Sizing

reloading die O-ring
reloading die O-ring

Here’s an inexpensive procedure that can help you load straighter ammo, with slightly better measured concentricity (i.e. less run-out) on the case necks and bullets. Simply use a Rubber O-Ring on the underside of the die locking ring. This allows the die to self-align itself (slightly) to the case that is being sized. Without the O-Ring, if the flat surface on the top of your press is not perfectly square with the thread axis, your die can end up slightly off-angle. This happens when the bottom of the locking ring butts up tight against the top of the press. The O-Ring allows the die to float slightly, and that may, in turn, reduce the amount of run-out induced during case sizing.

Top prone shooter GSArizona has tried this trick and he says it works: “Go to your local hardware store and get a #17 O-Ring (that’s the designation at Ace Hardware, don’t know if its universal). Slip the O-Ring on the die and re-adjust the lock ring so that the O-Ring is slightly compressed when the die is at the correct height. Size and measure a few more cases. You will probably see a slight improvement in neck concentricity as the die can now float a bit as the case enters and leaves it. This isn’t going to be a dramatic improvement, but it’s a positive one.”

We want to stress that adding O-Rings to sizing dies may help some reloaders, but we don’t offer this as a panacea. Try it — if using the O-Ring reduces measured runout that’s great. If it doesn’t, you’ve only spent a few pennies to experiment.

reloading die O-ring

Lee Precision makes die lock rings with built-in O-Rings. Lee’s distinctive lock ring design allows the same kind of self-alignment, which is good. However, Lee lock rings don’t clamp in place on the die threads, so they can move when you insert or remove the dies — and that can throw off your die setting slightly. By using an O-Ring under a conventional die lock ring (that can be locked in place), you get the advantages of the Lee design, without the risk of the lock ring moving.

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May 31st, 2020

Wet-Tumbling Cartridge Brass with Rotary Tumblers

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series wet liquid horizontal rotary tumbler

More and more shooters are “wet-tumbling” their brass (in liquid) with reusable polishing media, rather than using dry media in a vibratory tumbler. The “wet-cleaning” method works best with a rotary tumbler fitted with a water-tight, horizontal drum to hold your brass, cleaning solution, and stainless, pin-type media. The rotary tumbler of choice has been the Thumler’s Tumbler Model B Heavy-Duty. That is a great, sturdy machine, but now you have a more affordable option.

Frankford Arsenal offers “Platinum Series” rotary tumblers designed to clean cartridge brass with liquid and stainless media. The watertight, polymer drum rides on four rollers which rotate the drum around its horizontal axis. Two filters are provided so you can quickly separate your brass and media. A built-in timer allows you to set tumbling sessions up to three hours. There is a large, 7-liter unit and a smaller, 3.3-liter tumbler. Frankford Arsenal says the big version will clean up to 1000 cases of .223 Rem brass. That’s impressive capacity.

Rotary Tumbler Sources Online
The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series rotary tumblers are sold by major retailers including Grafs.com, Midsouth, and Cabela’s. Shop multiple vendors to find the best current pricing.

Amazon often has very competitive pricing on the Frankford Arsenal Tumblers, both the 7-liter unit and the smaller, 3.3-liter tumbler.

How to Wet-Clean Your Brass in a Rotary Tumbler
On our main Accurateshooter.com website, you’ll find a comprehensive review of the STM system for cleaning cartridge brass with stainless media. To clean brass with stainless media, start with five pounds of small stainless pins sold by StainlessTumblingMedia.com. Place these along with a gallon of water, a little liquid cleaner, and two pounds of cartridge brass in a rotary tumbler, and run the machine for one to four hours. After cleaning be sure to inspect all your primer holes. CLICK HERE for Brass Cleaning System Review.

Forum Member Tests STM System
Our reviewer, Forum member Jason Koplin, purchased the STM media and a new Thumler’s Tumbler. He then tested the STM cleaning procedure on his own brass, including some extremely dirty and tarnished “range pick-up” brass. Jason was thoroughly impressed with how well the STM process worked — as you can see from the “before and after” photos below. Brass which looked like it was ready for the scrap heap was restored to “like-new” appearance. The process works equally well on both rifle brass and pistol brass. Jason observed that one surprise benefit of the STM cleaning procedure is a big reduction in noise. Jason said the water-filled rotary tumbler was much quieter than his vibratory tumblers. One tip though — you should always inspect every cartridge carefully after wet-tumbling with stainless media. With large-flash-hole brass it is possible to have a pin stuck in a flash hole. This is rare, but it CAN happen.

stainless tumbling Media

stainless tumbling Media

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May 28th, 2020

Cartridge Headspace 101 — Understanding the Basics

Brownells Headspace Gauge cutaway chamber drawing SAAMI ANSI

Do you know what the inside of a rifle chamber (and throat zone) really looks like? Do you understand the concept of headspace and why it’s important? If not, you should read the Brownells GunTech article Gauging Success – Minimum Headspace and Maximum COL. This article explains the basics of headspace and shows how to measure headspace (and length to lands) in your barrels with precision. The article also explains how to adjust your full-length sizing dies to “bump the shoulder” as needed.

Why is headspace important? The article explains: “Controlling headspace and setting proper C.O.L. also represent improved safety and reduced cost of handloading. Excessive headspace can cause case head separation and gases in excess of 60,000 PSI escaping from a rifle’s chamber. Too little headspace can result in a chamber forced bullet crimp and a bullet that becomes an obstruction more than a properly secured projectile. Excessive C.O.L. can result in a rifling-bound bullet, a condition that could result in spikes of excessive pressure.” [Editor’s NOTE: It is common for competitive benchrest shooters to seat bullets into the rifling. This can be done safely if you reduce your loads accordingly. With some bullets we often see best accuracy .010″ (or more) into the lands. However, this can generate more pressure than the same bullet seated .010″ away from initial lands contact. As with all reloading, start low and work up gradually.]

Brownells Headspace Gauge cutaway chamber drawing SAAMI ANSI

How is headspace specified? Most cartridges used within the United States are defined within ANSI/SAAMI Z299.3-4. Brownells explains: “In the case of the .243 Winchester, as an example, there are pressure specifications, cartridge drawings and, as pictured above, chamber drawings. Armed with a chamber drawing, each manufacturer producing a firearm for the .243 Winchester knows the proper standard dimension to cut chambers and set headspace. Notice there are two headspace reference dimensions for the chamber. The upper is a place in the chamber where the shoulder is .400″ in diameter; the “datum” or “basic” line. The lower is the 1.630″~1.640″ minimum – maximum dimension from the breech face (bolt face) to that point in the chamber that measures .400″.”

The actual headspace of any firearm is the distance from the breech face to the point in the chamber that is intended to prevent forward motion of a cartridge.

Finding Cartridge Length to Lands with OAL Gauge
Using a comparator on a set of calipers, you can quickly determine catridge base-to-ogive length. This is the measurement from the base of the case to the forward-most full diameter section of the bullet, typically called the ogive. Shown here, that ogive is 0.243″ diameter.

The next step is using a modified (threaded) case with a Hornady OAL tool to determine Length-to-Lands (LTL) in your rifle’s chamber. During this measurement process, the modified case, with a bullet in its neck, is inserted in the chamber. Go slow, take your time. Here are 5 tips that will help you get repeatable and reliable LTL measurements:

1. Start with a clean chamber and clean barrel throat.
2. Make sure the modified case is fully screwed down and seated on the OAL Gauge. It can sometimes unscrew a bit during repeated measurements.
3. Insert the modified case slowly and gently, but ensure the shoulder of the modified case is fully seated on the end of the chamber.
4. Push the gray plastic rod GENTLY. It is common for the bullet to be tilted a bit. You want to allow the bullet to self-center in the throat BEFORE you apply much pressure. Then tap a couple times and push until you feel resistance. Do NOT push too hard — that will jam the bullet in the lands.
5. Repeat the measurement at least 3 more times. If you follow our instructions, you should, typically, get a repeatable measurement, within 0.0015″ or so, 3 out of 4 times.

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