June 25th, 2016

Varget 1-Pounders Available at Midsouth and Powder Valley

hodgdon imr varget powder propellant 1-lb Powder Valley Midsouth

Behold… the Holy Grail, Hodgdon Varget powder. Among all the rifle propellants on the market, Varget may have been the hardest to find in the last couple of years. But take heart, Midsouth Shooters Supply and Powder Valley Inc. now have 1-pound containers of Varget in stock for immediate delivery. To get to the PVI order screen, from the PVI Home page, click “Powders” then click “Hodgdon”.

hodgdon imr varget powder propellant 1-lb Powder Valley Midsouth

hodgdon imr varget powder propellant 1-lb Powder Valley MidsouthOver the years, Hodgdon Varget has proven to be one of the most accurate powders ever created. And it is also exceptionally temp-stable. In the .308 Win, 6mmBR, 6mm Dasher and other popular cartridges, Varget has set many records and won countless matches. It meters well (for an extruded powder) and can be used in a very large range of calibers and cartridge types. If you need Varget… don’t hesitate. Supplies are limited. This may sell out by the end of the day today..

TIME STAMP: This Notice Issued at 9:30 am EST Saturday, June 25, 2016.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 2 Comments »
June 20th, 2016

Bargain Finder 40: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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

1. Monmouth Reloading — Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 LRF $499.00

NRA Life Membership Offer

This excellent laser rangefinder rivals other premium LRFs selling for hundreds more. Head-to-head field tests with Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski LRFs proved that the new Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 can play in that league, but at a much more affordable price point. Sig accomplishes that with tight beam divergence and state-of-the-art DSP technology which allows the Kilo 2000 to range faster (and more reliably) at longer 
distances. Optic magnification is 7X. The Kilo 2000 weighs 7.5 oz and measures 3″ x 4.2″ x 1.3″.

— Lumatic OLED Display™ monitors ambient light and adjusts display brightness.
— AMR™ (Angle Modified Range) built-in angle compensation.
— 4X per second refresh rate in scan mode.
— Dependable waterproof (IP X-4) and fog-proof performance.
— Lightweight magnesium body and compact form.

SAVE MORE: Right now you can save an additional $110 off every Rangefinder Monmouth Reloading sells, including the Sig Kilo 2000. To save an additional $110, use Coupon Code LRF 110. That will lower your cost to $389.00 for the Kilo 2000, which is a total steal. (Time-limited offer).

2. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, which is on sale for $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supply. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you many want to add an additional large heavy press, but this will get the job done. This kit includes an RCBS Powder Measure, Digital Scale, Powder Trickler, Hand Priming Tool, Load Manual, Loading Tray, and more. It’s hard to beat this combination of tools for under $200.00.

3. NRA Life Membership $500 — Offer Ends 7/31/2016

NRA Life Membership Offer

If you are considering getting an NRA Life membership, now is the time to buy. You can get a Life Membership for $500.00. That’s $1000.00 off the regular $1500.00 price. You heard us right — save a thousand bucks on an NRA Life Membership. This offer is good through July 31, 2016. And with each lifetime membership, you get your choice of one of four print magazines: American Hunter, American Rifleman, Shooting Illustrated, or America’s First Freedom.

4. Midsouth — Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

Here’s a good deal on the new Lyman 50th Ed. Reloading Manual. Our Forum members have rated this as the best Loading Manual for starting hand-loaders. This 50th Anniversary Edition, the first to be produced in full color, includes more load data, and covers more cartridge and bullet types than ever before. This handbook has a strong heritage, starting with the Ideal/Lyman reloading manuals from the early 20th Century. (In 1925, Lyman purchased Ideal Reloading Products, which produced the Ideal reloading handbooks.)

5. Amazon — RAVPower 16750mAh Portable Charging Pack

Amazon Ravpower battery charger USB high-output battery pack LadRadar Bart Sauter

Bullet-maker Bart Sauter used this RAVpower portable charging unit to power his LabRadar chronograph at a short-range shooting match. He reports: “I bought a RAVPower pack from Amazon. It was the most powerful cell phone charger they had and it was reduced to $31. It was able to run the LabRadar for two full days without recharging and still had juice.” This unit has impressive specs: “4.5A Output: Highest output in the market, featuring a 4.5A total output capable of simultaneously charging two tablets, making it faster and more powerful than the rest. Exclusive iSmart Technology… ensures fastest and most efficient charge.”

6. Bullets.com — Norma .22LR Ammo (Match 22 & Tac 22)

Norma Match 22 Tac .22 LR Ammo rimfire ammunition bullets.com

Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. Bullets.com has Norma Tac-22 ammo in stock at $5.25 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL7819). In addition, Bullets.com offers Norma Match-22 ammunition at $7.50 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL11887).

7. Cabela’s — Lyman Turbo Sonic 1200, $59.99

Cabelas Lyman Turbo Sonic ULtrasonic Cleaning machine

Looking for a reliable ultrasonic cleaning unit at a rock-bottom, $59.99 price? Here’s a very good deal — this new Lyman 1200 sells elsewhere for up to $110.00. This machine will hold up to 350 9mm cases, and clean them in 10-15 minutes. The see-through cover lets you view the progress in the 6.5″L x 5.4″W x 2.6″D heated tank. Select four different dwell times with handy touch controls.

8. Amazon — 34 NRR Top-Selling Ear Muffs

hearing protection amazon cleararmor nrr 34 earmuff muffs safety

If you want serious hearing protection, and can tolerate large muffs, these Clear Armor earmuffs are hard to beat for the price. They seal very well and carry an unsurpassed 34db Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). These are the #1 Best Selling Safety Muffs on Amazon. Yes they are big and bulky — but you only have one set of ears. These are a good choice for loud magnum rifles and noisy indoor ranges.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 16th, 2016

Reloading Basics: Neck Tension, Expander Balls, and Bushings

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
One thing that plays a major role in building an accuracy load is neck tension. I think a lot of reloaders pretty much take this for granted and don’t give that enough thought.

So, how much neck tension is enough?

Thru the years and shooting both a wide variety of calibers and burn rates of powder, I’ve had the best accuracy overall with .002″ of neck tension. Naturally you will run into a rifle now and then that will do its best with something different like .001″ or even .003″, but .002″ has worked very well for me. So how do we control the neck tension? Let’s take a look at that.

First of all, if you’re running a standard sizing die with an expander ball, just pull your decapping rod assembly out of your die and measure the expander ball. What I prefer is to have an expander ball that is .003″ smaller than bullet diameter. So for example in a .224 caliber, run an expander ball of .221″. This allows for .001″ spring back in in your brass after sizing, and still gives you .002″ in neck tension. If you want to take the expander ball down in diameter, just chuck up your decapping rod assembly in a drill and turn it down with some emery cloth. When you have the diameter you need, polish it with three ought or four ought steel wool. This will give it a mirror finish and less drag coming through your case neck after sizing.

Tips for Dies With Interchangeable Neck Bushings
If you’re using a bushing die, I measure across the neck of eight or ten loaded rounds, then take an average on these and go .003″ under that measurement. There are other methods to determine bushing size, but this system has worked well for me.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Proper Annealing Can Deliver More Uniform Neck Tension
Another thing I want to mention is annealing. When brass is the correct softness, it will take a “set” coming out of the sizing die far better than brass that has become to hard. When brass has been work hardened to a point, it will be more springy when it comes out of a sizing die and neck tension will vary. Have you ever noticed how some bullets seated harder than others? That is why.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Paying closer attention to neck tension will give you both better accuracy and more consistent groups.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
June 15th, 2016

High-Volume Case Lubrication — Tips from the USAMU

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. Recently 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 hand-loading tips, visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.

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.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
June 14th, 2016

Reloading Gear Review: Lyman Case Prep Xpress

Lyman Case Prep Xpress gear review

For a few years now, Lyman has offered the Case Prep Xpress, an all-in-one case prep center that chamfers necks (inside and out), cleans and uniforms primer pockets, brushes the inside of case-necks, and uniforms flash holes. The unit can also ream out the crimps on military brass. However, the Lyman Case Prep Xpress does NOT trim cases.

The Lyman Case Prep Xpress comes with all the necessary tools (listed above), so you don’t have to purchase extra accessories. The five (5) gear-driven heads on the unit are powered by a high torque, low-speed motor ideal for case prep operations. Lyman’s Case Prep Xpress features handy storage areas for accessories, a removable brass shavings dump pan, and a handy clean-up brush.

Sinclair Int’l video clearly illustrates all case prep functions. Worth watching.

In the 3.5 years that this product has been on the market it has been a strong seller. If you’re prepping hundreds of cases, this unit will save considerable time and reduce hand/finger fatigue. While the Case Prep Xpress is not as sturdy as the metal-bodied Hornady prep center, the Lyman unit offers a lot of functionality for the money ($115-$125 normal price, and sometimes around $100 on sale).

Lyman Case Prep Xpress Pros and Cons

GOOD Features
Quite Affordable (under $120)
Compatible with RCBS and Redding Tool-heads
Removable Bin for Shavings
Four Brush Sizes: .25, .30, .38, .45
Compact Footprint

Not-So-Good Features
Tool-heads Not Particularly Sharp
No Case Trim Function
No Flash-hole Uniformer
No Top Dust-Cover
Only 1-Year Warranty

Reviews by Verified Purchasers

“Case prep is the most tedious and boring aspect for hand loading in my opinion. The process center makes all the steps in prepping the case very quick and with consistent results. It has reduced the time required to do these steps with separate tools by easily 50% if not more. Highly recommended.” — Brandon G.

“Quiet and capable. Worth every penny. I adapted a Lee Cutter and Lock Stud, to cut case lengths, and I can fly through my brass. I can do so much more brass without getting the sore, cramped-up hands.” — Dean Ellis

“This unit has plenty of torque, and my unit is very quiet. This unit will also work with tools made by RCBS and Hornady, or anything else with 8-32 threads. My Redding tools (specifically, my primer pocket uniformers) do in fact fit on this machine. This unit is certainly worth the money, and will revolutionize the way you reload by saving you massive amounts of time and wear on your hands/fingers.” — Mule

“A simple machine to perform complex solutions. I was up and running in about 10 minutes flat. This thing has made my life of reloading so much easier. I do wish there was a trimmer included, but I have a manual one from L.E. Wilson.” — Richard Niles

Lyman Case Prep XpressYou can find Lyman’s Case Prep Xpress for under $120.00 at Brownells and Midsouth, making it much less expensive than the larger Hornady Case Prep Center, which runs about $365.00. The Hornady unit is beefier, and will trim cases. However, we think the compact Lyman unit makes sense for guys who already have a good case trimmer, such as a Forster or Wilson. The Lyman Case Prep Xpress is hundreds of dollars less than the Hornady prep center. The money you save will buy lots of bullets and brass.

Case Prep Xpress $115.45 at Midsouth
The Lyman Case Prep Xpress is sold by most of the big vendors. The best current price we found was at Midsouth Shooters Supply, which sells the Lyman unit for $115.45.

Gear Review Tip from Edlongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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June 13th, 2016

Video Demonstrates Lock-N-Load Press Conversion Kit

Lock N load Conversion Kit Die bushing twist lock Hornady

Would you like to swap dies in and out of a reloading press in just seconds, with a quick twist of the wrist? Hornady’s Lock ‘N Load twist-lock hardware makes that possible. This time-saving system uses “die bushings” that screw on to your dies. Don’t have Hornady press? No problem — the Lock-N-Load system can be used with non-Hornady presses via the Lock-N-Load Conversion Kit. This includes three die bushings and one press conversion insert. The adapter will work with RCBS RockChuckers and any other reloading press using a 1-1/4-12 thread. The Lock-N-Load Conversion Kit costs just $14.59 at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Watch this video to see how it works.

Product and video tip from EdLongRange. We welcome reader submissions.

.

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June 10th, 2016

Guide to IMR’s Enduron Powders — What You Need to Know

IMR Enduron Powders 4955 4451 4166 7977

IMR® Legendary Powders now offers four (4) Enduron powders: IMR 4166, IMR 4451, IMR 4955, and IMR 7977. Shooters looking for readily-available alternatives to hard-to-find extruded powders should definitely check out the Enduron line-up. Precision shooters will find an Enduron option well-suited to most of the popular precision cartridge types. For example, IMR 4166 is a good replacement for Hodgdon Varget (commonly used in the .223 Rem, 6mmBR and .308 Win), while IMR 4955 is a fine substitute for H4831 (favored by F-Open shooters for the .284 Win and 7mm WSM cartridges).

enduron IMR Powder Hodgdon extreme

Modern Powder Technology for Enhanced Performance

The technology in IMR’s Enduron line of powders provides four very important qualities that enhance both in-gun and downrange performance.

IMR Enduron Powders 4955 4451 4166 7977

Copper fouling reduction – these powders contain an additive that drastically reduces copper fouling in the gun barrel. Copper fouling should be minimal, allowing shooters to spend more time shooting and less time cleaning a rifle to retain accuracy.

Temperature change stability – the Enduron line is insensitive to temperature changes. Whether a rifle is sighted in during the heat of summer, hunted in a November snowstorm or hunting multiple locations with drastic temperature swings, point of impact with ammunition loaded with Enduron technology will be very consistent.

Optimal load density - Enduron powders provide optimal load density, assisting in maintaining low standard deviations in velocity and pressure, a key feature for top accuracy.

Environmentally friendly - Enduron technology is environmentally friendly, crafted using raw materials that are not harmful to the environment.

The Enduron Line-Up of Four Powders

IMR now offers four Enduron powders that cover a broad range of burn rates. They are suitable for a wide variety of cartridges, from small varmint cartridges all the way up to the .338 Lapua Magnum.

IMR Enduron Powders

IMR 4166 possesses the fastest burn rate in the Enduron lineup. It is the perfect burn speed for cartridges such as .308 Win, 7.62mm NATO, 22-250 Rem and 257 Roberts. A versatile, match-grade propellant, IMR 4166 is comparable to Hodgdon® Varget.

IMR 4451 is a mid-range burn speed powder, ideally suited for cartridges such as .270 Winchester, .30-06 and 300 Winchester Short Magnum. This powder is comparable to Hodgdon H4350.

IMR 4955 is a medium burn speed powder, falling in between IMR 4451 and IMR 7977 in burn speed. It provides top performance in big game cartridges such as 25-06, 280 Remington and 300 Winchester Magnum. This powder is comparable to Hodgdon H4831.

IMR 7977 has the slowest burn rate among the Enduron Technology powders. Its loading density is perfect for magnum cartridges and contributes to superb uniformity, yielding outstanding performance in 300 Winchester Magnum, 7MM Remington Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum. IMR 7977 is comparable to Hodgdon H1000.

The Enduron Technology powders are available in one-pound (1 lb) and eight-pound (8-lb) containers from quality reloading retailers. Learn more about Enduron powders at www.enduronimr.com. For info on other IMR powders, visit www.imrpowder.com.

IMR Enduron Powders 4955 4451 4166 7977

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 9th, 2016

Reloading Tip: How to Set Optimal Case Neck Tension

USAMU handloading Neck Bushing Die tension springback interchangeable bushings

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. This week the USAMU’s reloading gurus addressed a question frequently asked by prospective handloaders: “How much neck tension is optimal, and how should I select a neck bushing size?” The USAMU offers a straight-forward answer, suggesting that hand-loaders start with a neck bushing that sizes the neck so that it is .003″ less than the loaded outside diameter with bullet in place. From there, you can experiment with more or less tension, but this is a good starting point for many popular cartridge types.

USAMU Reloading

Determining Optimal Case-Neck Tension

This week, we examine determining the correct case neck tension for optimum accuracy. Our method is simple, but relies on the use of case sizing dies which accept interchangeable neck diameter bushings graduated in 0.001″ increments. (Those readers using fixed-diameter dies with expander balls aren’t forgotten, however. Methods of tailoring these dies for proper neck tension will be found below.)

In our experience across many calibers, sizing case necks 0.003″ under the loaded-case neck diameter usually yields excellent accuracy. In other words, the sized case neck expands 0.003″ when the bullet is seated.

USAMU handloading Neck Bushing Die tension springback interchangeable bushings

USAMU handloading Neck Bushing Die tension springback interchangeable bushingsBushing Choice for Optimal Sizing
Over the years, we have periodically experimented with increasing neck tension to possibly improve accuracy. In testing with machine rests at 300/600 yards, accuracy often deteriorated as neck tension increased; thus, 0.003″ expansion (from sized neck to loaded neck) is where we usually start.

Using the .260 Remington as an example, our loaded cartridge case necks measure 0.292”. Simply subtract 0.003” from that, and use a bushing that sizes necks to 0.289” (after springback). There are exceptions — sometimes, brass may be a bit soft or hard. Some case necks might need, say, 0.001” more tension, but in general, this works well.

This .003″ standard of neck tension works very well for single-loaded, long range cartridges. Depending on your caliber and firearm, it MAY also work very well for magazine-fed cartridges. If this neck tension proves inadequate for your purpose, one can increase neck tension as needed while monitoring for possible accuracy changes.

Special Considerations for Coated Bullets: If you are using moly-coated bullets, this significantly reduces the “grip” of the case neck on the bullet, and you can expect to have to tighten your case necks accordingly — particularly for magazine-fed ammunition. In any event, we do not crimp rifle cartridges, and advise against it for accuracy handloads.

Tips for Using Expander Balls
Many savvy handloaders avoid the use of expander balls in high-accuracy reloading, if possible. These can stretch cases and/or disturb the concentricity of the case neck vs. case body. If using a die with an expander ball, tapering both ends of the ball and polishing it to a mirror finish can significantly reduce these effects. (Special carbide expander ball/decapping stem sets are available for this as well.)

The typical dies used with expander balls are intended to take any cases the user may find, and size them down well below the ideal “spec” to ensure any cases will give good neck tension. The necks are then expanded up to provide heavy to medium neck tension as the expander ball exits the neck. The brass is over-worked, leading to premature work-hardening, and seated-bullet concentricity may suffer. However, the cartridges produced are perfectly adequate for most handloaders. Those who seek finest accuracy generally prefer not to over-work their brass if possible.

Another Option — Custom-Honed FL Dies
There are companies which offer to convert one’s standard dies to accept neck bushings, and that gives excellent flexibility. Another, more “old-school” approach, is to have the neck of one’s FL die honed out to the desired diameter for sizing, based on one’s case neck thickness. The expander ball may then be reduced until it barely touches the case necks after sizing, or it may be eliminated entirely. However, once performed, this modification is permanent and leaves fewer options than the bushing route, if one later changes case neck thickness.

Those shooters who turn their case necks for optimum neck wall thickness uniformity, or for a tight-neck chamber, will want to take the reduced neck wall thickness into consideration. For example, when setting up a 7mm match rifle to use a standard hunting die without an expander ball, the slightly thinner necks resulted in a perfect 0.003″ reduction in the fired-neck diameter. The result was a low-cost die that fit with custom precision and yielded excellent, match accuracy!

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June 5th, 2016

Best Reloading Manual for Novice Hand-Loaders — Lyman Favored

Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual novice basic

What’s the best book for folks getting started in metallic cartridge reloading? According to our Forum members, the best manual for “newbie” reloaders is the Lyman Reloading Handbook. In our Shooters’ Forum, a newcomer to reloading was looking for a basic reloading guide that also included load data. The most recommended book was the Lyman Handbook, now in its 50th Edition (just released). Along with “how-to” advice on reloading procedures, the Lyman Manual features cartridge specifications and load data for the most popular cartridges.*

Here are some comments from Forum members:

“The Lyman book is an excellent manual with a large section describing the process of reloading. I heartily recommend it. As a beginning reloader, you may want to consider purchasing more than one book in order to get different perspectives on the reloading regimen. One can never be too careful. A ‘minor’ mistake can be costly.” — Cort

“In my opinion, the Lyman Manual is one of the best for the beginning reloader since it covers all the basics and some advanced methods. If possible, you would be also well served to hook up with an experienced reloader, preferably a target shooter or long-range varmint hunter, who can also give you some very useful pointers on precision reloading.” – K22

Editor’s NOTE: K22 echoes the advice we give to new hand-loaders. We suggest that novices find an experienced mentor who can “show them the ropes” and guide them through the basics.

Another gun blogger agrees that the Lyman Manual is a logical choice for new handloaders:

Carteach Review: The Lyman Reloading Manual
“[Lyman publishes] an excellent manual for any handloader, but especially for those new to the craft. Perhaps the best judgment of a handloader’s regard for a reloading manual is which one he chooses to give someone new to the fold. The needs of a new reloader differ from those of someone with long experience, and the right manual can set the foundation for years of safe procedures. Here is the one I choose to give a good friend embarking down the path:”

Lyman 49th Reloading Manual

Carteach adds: “Lyman has always taken pains to provide very clear and understandable instruction on the basic process of reloading cartridges. The imaging is helpful and to the point. The load data Lyman provides is comprehensive, and [Lyman] takes the time to note special circumstances which new loaders need to be aware of. As example, the .30-06 section has some words regarding the M-1 Garand and its special needs. For someone who has never loaded for the Garand, these few sentences are golden!”

*We recommend that you always double-check printed load data with the latest web-based data from the actual powder manufacturers. Powder properties can change. The most current powder data is usually found on the powder-makers’ websites.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
May 30th, 2016

Bargain Finder 37: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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

1. Amazon — Caldwell Long Range Target Camera System, $367.70

Amazon Caldwell Precision Long Range Target System Cam Camera

A few Forum members have purchased this Caldwell Target Cam System and they’ve found that it works reliably, providing a clear signal to any WiFi-enabled mobile device (smartphone, iPad, Laptop). One member specifically tested the unit at 1000 yards and it functioned fine. NOTE: This system does NOT have a zoom camera lens, so you need to position the camera within 10 yards or so of the target. But if you place it to the side a bit, this shouldn’t be a problem. This system comes with a nice, fitted carrying case that holds camera, transceivers, antennas, and stands. You get a very capable system for under $400.00.

2. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, which is on sale for $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supply. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you many want to add an additional large heavy press, but this will get the job done. This kit includes an RCBS Powder Measure, Digital Scale, Powder Trickler, Hand Priming Tool, Load Manual, Loading Tray, and more. It’s hard to beat this combination of tools for under $200.00.

3. Walmart — 14-gun Stack-on Gun Safe

Deal of Week Walmart Stack-on Gun Safe 14 Gun Fire Safe

If you need a smaller, secondary safe that can fit in a closet, here’s a 14-gun Stack-On Safe that is a great bargain right now. The safe is on sale at Walmart for $399.00 — nearly $200 off the regular price. And Walmart offers FREE shipping or FREE Pickup. Don’t expect this to hold anywhere near 14 scoped rifles — 8 or so long-guns will probably be the most you can fit comfortably. But that’s fine for a secondary “closet” safe that will also articles such as cameras, jewelry, and important documents. One verified safe purchaser states: “This safe is 300 pounds, not too hard to move around, took it home in my truck.”

4. Cabela’s — Lyman Turbo Sonic 1200, $69.99

Cabelas Lyman Turbo Sonic ULtrasonic Cleaning machine

Looking for a reliable ultrasonic cleaning unit at a rock-bottom price? Here’s a very good deal, $69.99 for the Lyman 1200 (this popular unit sells elsewhere for up to $110.00). This machine will hold up to 350 9mm cases, and clean them in 10-15 minutes. The see-through cover lets you view the progress in the 6.5″L x 5.4″W x 2.6″D heated tank. Select four different dwell times with handy touch controls.

5. CDNN Sports — Ruger American Ranch Rifle (Tan), $389.99

Ruger American Ranch Rifle 5.56 .223 223 Remington Varmint Bolt Action

Here’s a nice little varmint rifle from Ruger with some nice features at a very attractive price, $389.99. This .223 Rem rifle features a 16.5″ hammer-forged barrel barrel threaded 1/2″-28 at the muzzle for brake or suppressor. The action, which features a 70° three-lug bolt, and Picatinny-style scope rail, sits in an aluminum bedding block. The crisp trigger adjusts down to 3 pounds. With a weight (before optics) of 6.1 pounds, this is a handy carry-around varminter.

6. MidwayUSA — Free Shipping with Order of $150.00 or More.

MidwayUSA Free Shipping Code Promo Offer Memorial Day

Here’s a deal that can save you big bucks on shipping. But don’t procrastinate — this free shipping offer runs out tomorrow (5/31/2016). If you shop at MidwayUSA during the next two days, you can get FREE Shipping on all orders of $150.00 or more for in-stock merchandise. Use Promo Code FSMEMORIAL on check-out. NOTE: This offer expires Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST.

7. Midsouth — Lyman Bleacher Loading Blocks

Max NRR 33 db ear plugs

Lyman’s new Bleacher Block stepped cartridge holders are great. Use the different levels for sorting brass. Or, migrate the brass from top to bottom as you proceed through case prep stages. Made of durable polymer, Bleacher Blocks are molded in three sizes. The smallest size (with 0.388″-diam holes) fits .223 Rem-size case heads. The middle size (with 0.485″-diam holes) fits .308 Win-size case heads. The biggest Bleacher Block has 0.565″-diameter recesses for magnum-size cases. All three cartridge block sizes hold fifty (50) rounds. Purchase any size for just $5.90 per Block at Midsouth.

8. RCBS — Buy Green, Get Green Rebate

RCBS Reloading Press Rebate Green

RCBS is running a very attractive Rebate Program currently. If you spend $300.00 on qualifying products you get a $75.00 rebate. Spend $50 and get a $10.00 Rebate. This program is limited to one (1) rebate redemption per calendar year, with a maximum of $75.00. CLICK HERE for more information. NOTE: To qualify, you must supply completed RCBS rebate coupon, original UPC barcodes from package, and original cash register receipt and/or dated, itemized sales invoice.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading No Comments »
May 29th, 2016

Bruno Shooters Supply Memorial Day Sale — 7% Off

Brunos Bruno's Bruno Shooters Supply Memorial Day Sale Bargain online discount

If you’re planning a significant purchase, such as a new riflescope, or a couple new barrels, then head over to Bruno Shooters Supply in the next two days. Now through 8:00 am on May 31st, 2016, Bruno’s is running a Memorial Day Sale. You can get 7% off ALL online orders (other than firearms or actions). So you can save 7% on optics, 7% on powder and primers, 7% on barrels, 7% on reloading tools… you get the idea. Doing the math, seven percent off a $2000.00 scope is $140.00 — that’s a fair chunk of change.

NOTE: This deal applies to Online Orders Only, placed through www.BrunoShooters.com. (Phone lines will NOT be open over the holiday.) Bruno’s stocks all your favorite products, including brass from Lapua and Norma, bullets from Barts, Berger, Sierra, and Nosler, dies from Redding and Wilson, and Powder from Hodgdon, IMR, Norma, Alliant and Western. Bruno’s also has a large selection of optics including comp scopes from Leupold, Nightforce, Sightron, and Weaver.

Nightforce comp competition scope 15-55 Bruno Shooters Supply

Sale tip from EdLongrange. We welcome Reader Submissions.
Permalink Hot Deals, Optics, Reloading No Comments »
May 27th, 2016

Primer Pocket Plugs Help You Measure Case Capacity Accurately

H20 Case Capacity measurement tool plug

When developing loads, it is important to know the true internal capacity of your cases, both fired and “as FL-sized”. In particular, when using the QuickLOAD program, it is vital to determine true case capacity. The default case capacity values listed by QuickLOAD may be off half a grain (or more) because brass from different manufacturers can vary considerably in capacity. Case capacity is a very important variable that will affect the pressure of a load and the velocity of your bullets.

To determine the true internal capacity of your cases, first weigh an empty cartridge case, then fill the case with water (all the way to the top of the neck) and weigh the case again. The difference in weight is your H20 capacity in grains. But how do you keep the H20 from flowing out the bottom? When measuring fired, unsized cases, you can simply leave the spent primer in the pocket. However, if you want to measure new brass or “as-FL sized” cases that have been deprimed, you’d have to insert a spent primer to “stem the tide”. Until now that is… 21st Century Shooting sells a great little $11.99 tool that plugs the bottom of the case so you can measure H20 capacity with ease.

When we saw 21st Century’s Primer Pocket Plug we thought “That’s smart — why didn’t someone think about that a long time ago?”. This handy “end-cap” lets you quickly measure multiple new brass cases or deprimed FL-sized cases so you can get an average H20 capacity. The primer pocket plugs are NOT case-specific (they feature an O-ring that fits the pocket). One version will work with all small-primer-pocket cases, while another works with all large-primer-pocket cartridge types. Price is $11.99 for either small-pocket or large-pocket version.

NOTE: If you want to measure H20 capacity on fired, sized brass, but don’t want to shell out the money for the tool (or re-insert a spent primer), here’s a simple suggestion. When you size your case, first remove the decapping rod from the die. Then you can FL-size the case without removing the primer. Of course, you will eventually have to knock the primer out, and that requires putting the decapping rod back in the die and running the case through a second time. To avoid that hassle, the Primer Pocket Plug may be worth the twelve bucks over the long haul.

Product Find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 4 Comments »
May 26th, 2016

Primer Pocket and Flash Hole Uniforming Basics

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has published a series of reloading “how-to” articles on its Facebook Page. This post explains how to uniform primer pockets and remove burrs in flash holes. These brass prep operations can help ensure greater consistency, shot after shot. Visit the USAMU Facebook Page each Wednesday for other, helpful “Handloading Hump-Day” tips.

Primer Pocket and Flash-Hole Conditioning

This week, we’ll address a question that frequently arises: “Do you uniform primer pockets and deburr flash-holes?”

As we tailor our handloading methods to the specific needs of each instance, the answer, not surprisingly, is “occasionally!” Generally, the USAMU Handloading Shop does not uniform primer pockets (PP) or deburr flash holes (FH) of our rifle brass. That’s not to say we’re against it — rather, it reflects the very high volume of ammunition loaded, the fact that very few cases are ever re-loaded for a second firing, and the types of brass we use. However, as a need is perceived, we DO deburr flash holes (of which, more later.)

As to the type cases we use, many thousands of our long-range 5.56x45mm cases come to us from the arsenal with the primer of our choice pre-installed and staked in per their usual practice. Obviously, we could not uniform either FHs or PPs on this live-primed brass. However, after careful sorting, inspection and preparation, we do obtain match-winning results with it. Regular readers have seen photos of some of the tiny 1000-yard test groups we’ve fired with weight-selected domestic brass which had neither Primer Pockets uniformed nor flash holes deburred.

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket
Figure 1 shows a fired, deprimed 7.62×51 case with primer residue intact. In Figure 2, the primer pocket has been uniformed to SAAMI specs. Note the shiny finish — evidence of the metal removed to uniform and square the primer pocket.

Shooters who reload their brass several times may decide to uniform PPs and deburr FHs, especially on their “300-yard and beyond” brass. Unlike us, they will be using their cases many times, while the operations are only needed once. Also, most handloaders only process a relatively moderate amount of brass compared to our 20-thousand round lots. Having high quality Long Range (LR) brass helps. Many of the better brass manufacturers form their flash holes so that no burrs are created.

Still, it does pay to inspect even THESE manufacturer’s products, as occasional slips are inevitable. Very rarely, some of these makers will have a significant burr in, say, 1 per 1000 or 2000 cases, and it’s worth catching those. Recently, we began processing a large lot of match brass from a premier manufacturer, and were startled to find that every case had a burr in the FH — something we’d never before seen from this maker. We then broke out the FH deburring tool and went to work.

Reloading Case Prep Flash Hole Primer Pocket

For those who do opt for these procedures, note that various tool models may have adjustable depth-stops. Pay attention to the instructions. Some flash hole deburring tools which enter the case mouth, not the primer pocket, depend on uniform case length for best results.

Does It Really Make a Difference?
It can be difficult to truly verify the contribution to accuracy of these procedures, particularly when firing from the shoulder, in conditions. Members of this staff, as individual rifle competitors, do often perform these operations on their privately-owned LR rifle brass.

One could ascribe this to the old High Power Rifle maxim that “if you think it helps, then it helps”. Another thought is to “leave no stone unturned” in the search for accuracy.

However, an extremely talented World Champion and Olympic Gold/Silver medalist commented on his own handloading (for International competition, which demands VERY fine accuracy). He noted that he did seem to see a decline in accuracy whenever he did not uniform FH’s, deburr FH’s and clean primer pockets before each reloading; however, with the wisdom of decades’ experience, he also remarked that “It could have been that I just wasn’t shooting as well that day.”

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 2 Comments »
May 23rd, 2016

Bargain Finder 36: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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

1. Midsouth — Nikon Buckmaster II Scopes, $129.95

Midsouth Shooters Supply Nikon Buckmaster Hunting Scope

If you need a good, basic mid-range zoom for a hunting rifle or general-purpose rifle, this deal is hard to beat. Choose either 4-12x40mm or 3-9x40mm for just $129.95. And there’s free shipping to boot! Both scopes feature Nikon’s patented BDC reticle and are backed by Nikon’s no-nonsense, lifetime warranty. CLICK HERE to see this offer at Midsouth Shooters Supply.

2. CDNN — Howa 1500 Rifle with Vortex Viper Scope, $899.99

Howa 1500 Vortex Viper Scope Package CDNN Sports hunting

Here’s a great deal on an outstanding hunting combo. You get a complete Howa 1500 Alpine rifle PLUS a quality Vortex Viper 3-9x40mm scope for $899.99. Two chamberings are available with this package. Select the 7mm-08 model for bigger game or choose the .243 Win model for predators and varmints. The Howa 1500 has a smooth-running action and excellent 2-stage HACT trigger. The highly-regarded Vortex Viper scope sells elsewhere for $300.00 or more by itself.

3. Amazon — Caldwell Long Range Target Camera System, $399.49

Amazon Caldwell Precision Long Range Target System Cam Camera

A few Forum members have purchased this system and they’ve found that it works reliably, providing a clear signal to any WiFi-enabled mobile device (smartphone, iPad, Laptop). One member specifically tested the unit at 1000 yards and it functioned fine. NOTE: This system does NOT have a zoom camera lens, so you need to position the camera with 10 yards or so of the target. But if you place it to the side a bit, this shouldn’t be a problem. This system comes with a very nice, fitted carrying case that holds camera, transceivers, antennas, and stands. You get a very capable system for under $400.00.

4. Cabela’s — RCBS Master Reloading Kit, $225.00 After Rebate

Deals of Week RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Kit

Everything you see above can be yours for just $225.00, after manufacturer’s rebate. Right now, Cabela’s is selling the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for $300.00. This Reloading Kit sells elsewhere for up to $360.00. But he’s the real incentive — if you spend $300.00 on RCBS products in 2016, RCBS will send you a $75.00 rebate. With that RCBS mail-in rebate, your net cost is just $225.00 for the entire Kit.

5. MidwayUSA — $75 Gift Certificate with 1-4x24mm Vortex Scope

Midway USA Vortex Certificate Gift $75 off

Looking for a quality, low-power variable optic for an AR or hunting rifle? Look no more. Right now, at MidwayUSA, you can get a $75.00 Gift Certificate with the purchase of a 1-4x24mm Vortex scope with either 1/2 MOA or 2/10 Mil clicks. And you won’t pay a penny for shipping as MidwayUSA is currently offering free shipping on orders of $150.00 or more. NOTE — 1/2 MOA (or 2/10 Mil) clicks are pretty course — this may NOT be precise enough more for Service Rifle Matches (1/2 MOA is about 3 inches at 600 yards). However the scope may be fine for 3-Gun matches or hunting.

6. Bruno Shooters Supply — Free $100+ Shipping and $10 Hazmat

$10 Hazmat Free shipping Bruno Shooters Supply

This is a very short-lived special promotion by Bruno Shooters Supply so act soon. Right now you can get powder and primers shipped with a mere $10.00 Hazmat fee (other vendors charge up to $35.00 for Hazmat). Regular shipping charges apply. However, Bruno’s is also offering FREE
Shipping on orders of $100.00 or more. This offer expires today, May 23, 2016.

7. Natchez — Dewey Cleaning Rods 36″ or 44″, $19.99

Natchez Dewey Cleaning Rod Bore coated bearing

We featured this Dewey Deal before, but it’s good enough to be spotlighted again this week. Right now you can get a quality Dewey Cleaning Rod from Natchez for under twenty bucks. These bearing-equipped rods are very well made and can last for many seasons. This editor has a couple Dewey rods that are still going strong after 12 years. For just $19.99, you can get either a 36″ or 44″ coated Dewey rod. NOTE: Select “.22-.26 cal” from the pull-down menu (the other options are for short pistol rods). It’s hard to beat a quality cleaning rod for under twenty bucks. Credit Boyd Allen for finding this bargain.

8. Clinger Holsters — Atom Kydex IWB Holster, $19.99

Clinger Atom $19.99 holster bargain Jay

Our systems admin Jay C. recently acquired a Walther PPS M2 carry gun. After looking at many options, Jay chose a Kydex Clinger Atom Holster. The most important design feature of the $19.99 Clinger Atom is that the belt clip is located over the trigger guard area (not the slide). This design pulls the holster in closer to the body for better concealment. Jay says: “This is a great IWB holster that feels very secure. I still can’t believe it only costs $19.99.”

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading No Comments »
May 23rd, 2016

How To Pull Bullets Using Press-Mounted Collet Tools

Collet Bullet Puller Hornady RCBS Press Mount Reloading

Do you have some ammo that got loaded incorrectly, perhaps with the wrong powder? Then you’ll want to disassemble the ammo for safety’s sake. You can use an impact puller to do this task, but if you have more than a dozen rounds or so, you may prefer to use a collet-style bullet puller. These work very quickly and positively, making quick work of big jobs. The efficiency of the collet-style puller is worth the investment if you frequently disassemble ammo. These devices retail for under $25.00 (collets sold separately). Normally, you’ll need a specific collet for each bullet diameter. But collets are not that costly, so this isn’t a big deal, particularly if you only load a few calibers, such as .223, 6mm, and .308.

Hornady and RCBS use different mechanisms to tighten the collet around the bullet. On Hornady’s Cam-Lock Bullet Puller, a lever-arm on the top of the bullet puller serves to tighten the collet around the bullet. Simply rotate the lever from the vertical to the horizontal position to grab the bullet. Lower the ram to remove the case. The bullet will drop out when you return the lever arm to the vertical position. This is demonstrated in the video below:

Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet Puller Demonstrated

Collet bullet-pullers resemble a loading die with a lever or handle on the top. They screw into a standard reloading press. Hornady and RCBS both make collet-style bullet pullers. They use the same basic principle — the device tightens a collet around the bullet, and then the bullet is separated from the case by lowering the press ram. NOTE: Collet pullers may leave small marks on your bullets, unlike impact (kinetic) pullers.*

(more…)

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
May 22nd, 2016

Siebel’s Slick, 6-6.5×47 Varminter Delivers Speed and Accuracy

VarmintsForFun.com 6-6.5x47

A while back, John Siebel, creator of the Varmints for Fun website, put together a 6-6.5×47 Varminter with a Lilja 10-twist barrel and BAT RBRP three-lug action. Richard Franklin smithed the gun using a Model 10 Varminter stock, one of Richard’s own stock designs.

Varmintsforfun.com 6-6.5x47 LapuaVarmint Loads with 75gr and 87gr V-Maxs
Our Forum readers have asked for recommended 6-6.5×47 Lapua loads for the lighter bullets. Well, John has some useful load data that should provide excellent starting points for 75gr and 87gr projectiles. John writes: “The 75s and 87s will be my main groundpig/varmint rounds. I have worked up loads for all of them but I need to work on the 95s to fine tune them for the egg shoot. I used CCI 450 primers for all loads. They have shown to reduce ES greatly. This case has a small primer pocket and I reasoned with the slower burning powders I wanted to get my velocity as high as possible. I had plenty of H414 and N550 … so that’s what I tried. Velocities and case fullness seemed to be pretty dang good.”

John favored Vihtavuori N550 for the 75 V-Max, while H414 was his powder of choice for the 87gr V-Max. John found these two powders offered near 100% fill density. There are other good powder choices for these bullets. For pure accuracy, you may want to try the 80gr Berger Varmint bullet — it has shot superbly in our 6BRs.

Varmintsforfun.com 6-6.5x47 Lapua

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Reloading 4 Comments »
May 21st, 2016

Precision Handloading for Pistols — Tips from the USAMU

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice Reloading

Each Wednesday the USAMU offers tips for handloaders on the USAMU Facebook page. This article from the “Handloading Hump-Day” archives should interest pistol competitors, an any shooter who enjoys getting the best possible accuracy from their fine pistols. In this article, the USAMU’s experts share key tips that can help optimize your pistol ammo. Follow this tips to produce more consistent ammo, that can shoot higher scores.

Optimize the Taper Crimp
One often-overlooked aspect of handloading highly-accurate pistol ammunition is the amount of crimp and its effect on accuracy. Different amounts of taper crimp are used with various handloads to obtain best accuracy. The amount is based on bullet weight, powder burn rate and charge, plus other factors. It is not unusual for our Shop to vary a load’s crimp in degrees of 0.001″ and re-test for finest accuracy.

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice ReloadingUse Consistent Brass
Brass is also important to pistol accuracy. While accurate ammunition can be loaded using brass of mixed parentage, that is not conducive to finest results, particularly at 50 yards. It is important for the serious competitor/handloader to use brass of the same headstamp and ideally one lot number, to maximize uniformity. Given the volumes of ammunition consumed by active pistol competitors, using inexpensive, mixed surplus brass for practice, particularly at the “short line” (25 yards), is understandable. However, for the “long line” (50 yards), purchasing and segregating a lot of high-quality brass to be used strictly for slow-fire is a wise idea.

Importance of Uniform COAL
Uniformity of the Case Overall Length (COAL) as it comes from the factory is also important to achieving utmost accuracy. More uniform case lengths (best measured after sizing) contribute to greater consistency of crimp, neck tension, ignition/burn of powder charge, and so on. Cartridge case-length consistency varies from lot to lot, as well as by maker. Some manufacturers are more consistent in this dimension than others. [Editor’s note: It is easy to trim pistol brass to uniform length. Doing this will make your taper crimps much more consistent.]

Primers and Powders — Comparison Test for Accuracy
Pay attention to primer brands, powder types and charges. Evaluating accuracy with a Ransom or other machine rest at 50 yards can quickly reveal the effect of changes made to handload recipes.

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice Reloading

Bullet Selection — FMJ vs. JHP
Bullets are another vital issue. First, there is the question of FMJ vs. JHP. A friend of this writer spent decades making and accuracy-testing rifle and pistol bullets during QC for a major bullet manufacturer. In his experience, making highly-accurate FMJ bullets is much more difficult than making highly-accurate JHPs, in large part due to the way the jackets are formed. Small die changes could affect accuracy of FMJ lots dramatically.

The CMP now allows “safe, jacketed ammunition” in Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Service Pistol matches, although wadcutter ammunition is prohibited. Thus, the option to use very accurate JHP designs simplifies the life of CMP Service Pistol shooters in pursuit of the prestigious Distinguished Pistol Shot badge.

Hopefully, these tips will be helpful to any pistol shooters interested in accurate handloads, not just “Bullseye” shooters. Small tweaks to one’s normal routine can pay big dividends in improved accuracy and make practice and competition more rewarding.

Stay safe, and good shooting!

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
May 20th, 2016

How to Succeed at Club Matches — Six Tips

Every summer weekend, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also tape a spot on the  golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. If you don’t have a golf shaft, use a wood dowel.

2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even on a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal firing.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

Permalink Competition, Reloading, Shooting Skills 5 Comments »
May 19th, 2016

Hodgdon Goes Hollywood, Releasing How-To Reloading Videos

Hodgdon Reloading Center Video

Hodgdon Reloading Center VideoHodgdon Powder Company (Hodgdon) offers a series of professionally produced how-to videos on its popular 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).

Permalink - Videos, Reloading 3 Comments »
May 18th, 2016

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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