October 23rd, 2014

Ultrasonic Case Cleaning — How to Get Better Results

Sooner or later you’ll want to clean your rifle brass, even if you aren’t fussy about appearance. You can tumble your cases in a vibratory tumbler with dry media, but that can leave cases with a fine layer of dust, or worse yet, clogged flash holes. As an alternative to tumbling, many shooters are experimenting with ultrasonic case cleaning. Here are three tips to achieve the best results when using ultra-sound to clean your brass:

Try a Commercial Ultrasonic Cleaning Solution
As a companion product to its new ultrasonic cleaning tank, Hornady is selling a citric-acid based One Shot™ Sonic Clean™ Solution, that is claimed to speed up cleaning times, and not leave your brass an odd pinkish color like some “home-brew” solutions. We’ve heard good reports about the One-Shot Solution (cartridge case formula) as well as Citranox®. Both products are economical to use since you dilute them heavily with water. For example, Hornady recommends you mix forty (40) parts water to one part of One Shot Sonic Clean.

Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions

Forum member Dave B is a chemist/physicist with decades of experience working with the ultrasound process. Dave tried a variety of solutions and he favors a mix of water and Citranox®. Dave notes: “So far I’ve been very impressed with the Citranox. Once- or twice-fired brass clean up very quickly. The worst cases I tried were 6 Dashers that had been fired ten times with Varget and never cleaned. The worst fouling was in the bottom of the case around the flash hole. They took longer and I used a more concentrated cleaning solution but they did come out clean. The price is reasonable. I paid $35 a gallon and for once- or twice-fired cases I dilute the cleaner 100 to 1. There is much less chemical reaction with the brass than there is with vinegar. No weird colors, just shiny bright. I even used it with hot water, which speeds up the cleaning process. The cleaner is mostly detergents with a little citric acid. Even at a 1:75 ratio my $35 worth of cleaner will make 75 gallons of solution.” The price has gone up a bit since Dave acquired his Citranox, but Amazon.com sells Citranox for $45.50 per gallon.

Another good ultrasonic solution is L&R non-ammoniated Safety Cleaning Solution, sold by Brownells, item #515-000-004. Brownell’s L&R solution is non-toxic and biodegradeable. The strong surfactant in L&R solution helps penetrate the grit so the ultrasonic cavitation can carry the grime away.

De-Gas the Solvent Before Adding Brass
One of our readers, Eddy M. in Glasgow, Scotland writes: “I have read a couple of articles recently about ultrasonic cleaning of cases and not one has mentioned de-gassing the cleaning liquid before starting to clean items. As an engineer who traveled around for ten years servicing ultrasonic tanks I would like to point out that the cleaning liquid when first put into the tank has invisible dissolved air bubbles in it which will absorb ultrasonic energy until the liquid de-gasses. (Ten minutes in a powerful industrial tank — longer in a small hobby tank). You must let the tank run on its own for 20 minutes on the first use of the liquid to allow this to happen. Only after the new liquid or re-introduced liquid has been de-gassed will the tank give good results.”

moly dry lube kit NeconosApply Dry-Lube Inside Case Necks
Jason Baney has found that Ultrasonic cleaning leaves the inside of the case-necks so “squeaky clean” that there is excess friction when seating bullets. On a fired case that has been cleaned conventionally (no ultra-sound), a thin layer of carbon remains to lubricate the bullet entry and exit. To restore that lubricity in cases cleaned with ultrasound, Jason applies a dry lube to the inside of his case necks. Jason prefers the $10.95 moly dry lube kit from Neconos.com. With this kit, small carbon steel balls transfer moly to the neck when you place your brass nose-down in the container.

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October 21st, 2014

IMR Introduces New Enduron Powders: 4166, 4451, 7977

IMR Hodgdon Enduron PowderIMR is bringing out a new series of advanced-formulation extruded powders. In 2015, IMR will introduce three (3) new Enduron powders: IMR 4166, IMR 4451, and IMR 7977. The new line of IMR Enduron powders feature small kernels for easy metering, plus a built-in copper fouling eliminator. IMR claims that Enduron powders are not sensitive to temperature changes. If this is true, these powders should prove popular, particularly IMR 4166 which seems to be in the Varget/Reloder 15 burn-rate range. With Varget so hard to find, if IMR 4166 proves accurate (and available) we might see many .308 Win shooters make the switch. IMR states that IMR 4166 is a “versatile, match grade propellant”. We’ve been quite pleased with IMR 8208 XBR as a Varget alternative. IMR 8208 XBR is accurate, clean-burning, and offers good velocity. Perhaps the new IMR 4166 will be as good or better.

When will Enduron powders appear on dealers’ shelves? Hodgdon Powder Co., distributors of Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester powders, says that: “The new IMR Enduron™ Technology powders will be available at dealers in early 2015 in 1-pound and 8-pound containers.” For more information and Enduron LOAD DATA visit imrpowder.com or check the 2015 Hodgdon Annual Manual.

IMR’s press release provides these descriptions of the new Enduron propellants:

IMR 4166 is the first in the series of Enduron™ propellants. It’s a perfect burn speed for cartridges like the 308 Win/7.62mm NATO, 22-250 Remington, 257 Roberts and dozens more.

IMR 4451 Another new Enduron powder that gives top performance in the venerable .30-06, 270 Winchester, and 300 Winchester Short Magnum, to name just a few. This propellant is ideally suited for many mid-range burn speed cartridges.

IMR 7977 is the slowest burn rate Enduron Technology powder. It is a true magnum cartridge propellant with outstanding performance in such cartridges as the .300 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Remington Magnum, .338 Lapua and more.

IMR Hodgdon Enduron Powder

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October 13th, 2014

CUP vs. PSI — What’s The Difference in Pressure Measurements

by Philip Mahin, Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician
This article first appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog

The ANSI / SAAMI group, short for “American National Standard Institute” and “Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute”, have made available some time back the voluntary industry performance standards for pressure and velocity of centerfire rifle sporting ammunition for the use of commercial manufacturers. [These standards for] individual cartridges [include] the velocity on the basis of the nominal mean velocity from each, the maximum average pressure (MAP) for each, and cartridge and chamber drawings with dimensions included. The cartridge drawings can be seen by searching the internet and using the phrase ‘308 SAAMI’ will get you the .308 Winchester in PDF form. What I really wanted to discuss today was the differences between the two accepted methods of obtaining pressure listings. The Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) and the older Copper Units of Pressure (CUP) version can both be found in the PDF pamphlet.

SAAMI CUP PSI Cartridge Copper Units Pressure PSI
Image by ModernArms, Creative Common License.

SAAMI CUP PSI Cartridge Copper Units Pressure PSICUP Pressure Measurement
The CUP system uses a copper crush cylinder which is compressed by a piston fitted to a piston hole into the chamber of the test barrel. Pressure generated by the burning propellant causes the piston to move and compress the copper cylinder. This will give it a specific measurable size that can be compared to a set standard. At right is a photo of a case that was used in this method and you can see the ring left by the piston hole.

PSI Pressure Measurement
What the book lists as the preferred method is the PSI (pounds per square inch or, more accurately, pound-force per square inch) version using a piezoelectric transducer system with the transducer flush mounted in the chamber of the test barrel. Pressure developed by the burning propellant pushes on the transducer through the case wall causing it to deflect and make a measurable electric charge.

Q: Is there a standardized correlation or mathematical conversion ratio between CUP and PSI values?
Mahin: As far as I can tell (and anyone else can tell me) … there is no [standard conversion ratio or] correlation between them. An example of this is the .223 Remington cartridge that lists a MAP of 52,000 CUP / 55,000 PSI but a .308 Winchester lists a 52,000 CUP / 62,000 PSI and a 30-30 lists a 38,000 CUP / 42,000 PSI. It leaves me scratching my head also but it is what it is. The two different methods will show up in listed powder data[.]

So the question on most of your minds is what does my favorite pet load give for pressure? The truth is the only way to know for sure is to get the specialized equipment and test your own components but this is going to be way out of reach for the average shooter, myself included. The reality is that as long as you are using printed data and working up from a safe start load within it, you should be under the listed MAP and have no reason for concern. Being specific in your components and going to the load data representing the bullet from a specific cartridge will help get you safe accuracy. [With a .308 Winchester] if you are to use the 1% rule and work up [from a starting load] in 0.4 grain increments, you should be able to find an accuracy load that will suit your needs without seeing pressure signs doing it. This is a key to component longevity and is the same thing we advise [via our customer service lines] every day. Till next time, be safe and enjoy your shooting.

SAAMI CUP PSI Cartridge Copper Units Pressure PSI

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October 12th, 2014

Cartridge OAL — How It Affects Pressure, Velocity, and Accuracy

Berger Bullets COAL length cartridgeEffects Of Cartridge Over All Length (COAL) And Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) – Part 1
by Bryan Litz for Berger Bullets.
Many shooters are not aware of the dramatic effects that bullet seating depth can have on the pressure and velocity generated by a rifle cartridge. Cartridge Overall Length (COAL) is also a variable that can be used to fine-tune accuracy. It’s also an important consideration for rifles that need to feed rounds through a magazine. In this article, we’ll explore the various effects of COAL, and what choices a shooter can make to maximize the effectiveness of their hand loads.

Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI)
Most loading manuals (including the Berger Manual), present loading data according to SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) standards. SAAMI provides max pressure, COAL and many other specifications for commercial cartridges so that rifle makers, ammo makers, and hand loaders can standardize their products so they all work together. As we’ll see later in this article, these SAAMI standards are in many cases outdated and can dramatically restrict the performance potential of a cartridge.

Bullet seating depth is an important variable in the accuracy equation. In many cases, the SAAMI specified COAL is shorter than what a hand loader wants to load their rounds to for accuracy purposes. In the case where a hand loader seats the bullets longer than SAAMI specified COAL, there are some internal ballistic effects that take place which are important to understand.

Effects of Seating Depth / COAL on Pressure and Velocity
The primary effect of loading a cartridge long is that it leaves more internal volume inside the cartridge. This extra internal volume has a well known effect; for a given powder charge, there will be less pressure and less velocity produced because of the extra empty space. Another way to look at this is you have to use more powder to achieve the same pressure and velocity when the bullet is seated out long. In fact, the extra powder you can add to a cartridge with the bullet seated long will allow you to achieve greater velocity at the same pressure than a cartridge with a bullet seated short.

Berger Bullets COAL length cartridge

Figure 1. When the bullet is seated farther out of the case, there is more volume available for powder. This enables the cartridge to generate higher muzzle velocity with the same pressure.

When you think about it, it makes good sense. After all, when you seat the bullet out longer and leave more internal case volume for powder, you’re effectively making the cartridge into a bigger cartridge by increasing the size of the combustion chamber. Figure 1 illustrates the extra volume that’s available for powder when the bullet is seated out long.

Before concluding that it’s a good idea to start seating your bullets longer than SAAMI spec length, there are a few things to consider.

Geometry of a Chamber Throat
The chamber in a rifle will have a certain throat length which will dictate how long a bullet can be loaded. The throat is the forward portion of the chamber that has no rifling. The portion of the bullet’s bearing surface that projects out of the case occupies the throat (see Figure 2).

Berger Bullets COAL length cartridge

The length of the throat determines how much of the bullet can stick out of the case. When a cartridge is chambered and the bullet encounters the beginning of the rifling, known as the lands, it’s met with hard resistance. This COAL marks the maximum length that a bullet can be seated. When a bullet is seated out to contact the lands, its initial forward motion during ignition is immediately resisted by an engraving force.

Seating a bullet against the lands causes pressures to be elevated noticeably higher than if the bullet were seated just a few thousandths of an inch off the lands.

A very common practice in precision reloading is to establish the COAL for a bullet that’s seated to touch the lands. This is a reference length that the hand loader works from when searching for the optimal seating depth for precision. Many times, the best seating depth is with the bullet touching or very near the lands. However, in some rifles, the best seating depth might be 0.100″ or more off the lands. This is simply a variable the hand loader uses to tune the precision of a rifle.

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article with More Info

Article sourced by EdLongrange. We welcome tips from readers.
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October 11th, 2014

300 AAC Blackout Load Data from Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets has just added extensive load data for the 300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK) cartridge. Developed for the AR15 platform, the 300 BLK offers AR shooters a large-caliber option in both subsonic and supersonic variants. The 300 BLK can be made from modified .223 Rem brass or necked-up .221 Fireball cases. We like to form our .300 BLK brass by necking-up the excellent Lapua .221 Fireball brass.

CLICK HERE for Sierra Load Data for 300 AAC Blackout (PDF File)

Sierra Has 5 Pages of Load Data for the 300 AAC Blackout. Here is one sample page:

300 AAC Blackout .300 BLK Whisper AR15 AR

Sierra Cartridge Comments: 300 AAC Blackout
The 300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK, or 7.62x35mm) was created by Advanced Armament Corp. and Remington in order to provide the military with a way to shoot .30 caliber bullets from the M4 platform with only a barrel change. It has since become popular for a wide range of uses including hunting and home defense.

300 AAC Blackout .300 BLK Whisper AR15 AR

The cartridge shares case-head dimensions and body taper with the .223 Remington. Not only does this allow for compatibility with existing magazines and bolts, but it allows reloaders to form 300 BLK brass from the vast supply of 5.56mm or .223 cases. However, since .223/5.56 cases need to be cut-down and reformed, it can be simpler to neck up .221 Fireball brass.

The 300 AAC Blackout is similar to previous wildcats, such as the .30-221 and .300 Fireball, as well as the proprietary 300 Whisper®. However the 300 BLK was the first SAAMI-approved (and standardized) cartridge of this type. Moreover, any company is free to make firearms or ammunition for the 300 BLK.

300 AAC Blackout is popular with hunters, who may not be allowed to legally hunt with .223 in their state, and who prefer .30-caliber bullets for medium-sized game. It provides similar effectiveness to the 7.62×39mm or the slightly more powerful 30-30 cartridges, while working in the more up-to-date AR15 platform. Effective range for hunting is about 100-150 yards.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
October 5th, 2014

New Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide to Reloading

We recommend that all hand-loaders have a couple reliable reloading manuals as reference guides. Berger, Hornady, and Sierra all offer well-respected load manuals. These can provide starting load information for a wide variety of cartridge types and bullet selections. We do like to cross-check any printed load recipes with current online data, to ensure you have the latest info.

Along with a good load manual, those getting started in metallic cartridge reloading can benefit from a good basic reloading treatise. There’s a new intro guide from the publishers of Gun Digest.

Guide to Reloading Book

The New Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide To Reloading, by Phillip Massaro, was created for shooters new to reloading. This is a good starting point for those who want to learn to hand-load safely and efficiently. Hundreds of photos illustrate the text — and we all know a picture can be worth a thousand words.

After discussing the benefits of hand-loading, Massaro’s book covers the basics of metallic cartridge reloading, step by step. Along the way Massaro recommends appropriate presses and tools for reloading both pistol and rifle cartridges. Massaro also explains the variations in bullet and powder types, and how they affect ballistics. In addition, Massaro includes a “Specialty Situations” chapter that reveals common reloading mistakes and issues and offers practical solutions. This section on avoiding common mistakes is one of book’s best features. We wish all reloading guides had a similar section.

Editor’s NOTE: This book will be released next week. Accordingly, we have not seen the final, printed version yet. At $14.79, the Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide to Reloading is relatively inexpensive. The sample chapters we reviewed provided good basic information in a well-organized fashion. Certainly, we would not tell advanced reloaders and/or competition shooters to rush out and buy this book. However, for folks getting started in hand-loading, this resource should be helpful.

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September 29th, 2014

Power of the Progressive — When You Need the Speed

When you need ammo fast — lots of ammo, it’s hard to beat a progressive reloading press for output. We use progressive presses to load handgun ammo and .223 Rem cartridges for varmint safaris. With good dies, and proper press set-up, today’s progressive presses can produce surprisingly uniform and accurate ammo. No, you won’t see Benchrest Hall-of-Famers loading PPC cartridges on progressives. However, if you need 1000 rounds for your next prairie dog adventure, you should consider getting a progressive. Below you can see a Hornady Lock-N-Load AP configured to load .308 Winchester in bulk.

Hornady .308 winchester lock-n-load progressive press

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article

ultimate reloader progressive

UltimateReloader.com has published helpful Tips to Optimize Progressive Rifle Loading. No matter whether you have a Red (Hornady), Green (RCBS), or Blue (Dillon) progressive, this article can help you load more efficiently and produce better results. Here are some highlights:

Proper Brass Prep
Just like a good paint job requires good prep work, great rifle ammo requires good brass prep. In order to make sure your rifle loading goes smoothly, make sure to perform the following brass prep steps:

  • Clean the brass (tumble, ultrasonic, etc.)
  • Inspect brass for cracks, deep dents, etc.
  • For military brass: de-prime, ream/swage primer pockets, size with small-base sizer die (small base usually optional).
  • Measure brass length — if too long, size and then trim.
  • Final inspection before loading.
  • Cleaning primer pockets may be something you’ll consider (I don’t clean primer pockets except for rare cases or match ammo).

Smooth and Steady Pace
Since you’re loading rifle ammunition on a progressive, you’re already saving a load of time, so there’s no need to rush things! Attention to detail is super-important for safety and for good results. Always keep an eye on powder level (goes down FAST) and what’s happening at each station.

The Right Press and Press Setup
Look for a heavy-duty, well-built press that will stand up to rifle loading. You’ll also want to make sure your powder measure will have the proper capacity (~25 grains for .223, ~50 grains for 308). If you are bulk reloading, ensure you have enough stations for sizing, charging, powder check, bullet feed, bullet seating, and (optional) bullet crimp.

More Ultimate Reloader Resources for Users of Progressive Presses:

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September 26th, 2014

Norma’s “Ammo Academy” Provides Valuable Information

If you haven’t visited the Norma website recently, you should click over to www.norma.cc/en/ (the ‘en’ is for English version). There you will find Norma’s “Ammo Academy”, a technical resource that provides information on: Ballistics, Powder Storage, Barrel Wear, and Bullet Expansion. In addition, the Ammo Academy now links to Norma’s Reloading Data Center, where you’ll find loads for nearly 70 cartridge types including: .223 Rem, .22-250, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, 260 Rem, 6.5-284, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, .270 Win, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Mag and dozens more.

Norma web site Ammo Academy

The Ammo Academy’s Ballistics section contains some fascinating technical facts:

stopwatch

  • After the trigger is pulled, it takes around 0.005 seconds before the firing pin reaches the primer.
  • From the firing of the primer it takes 0.0015-0.002 seconds until the bullet exits the muzzle.
  • When the bullet leaves the muzzle, the hot gases surround and overtake the bullet, continuing the acceleration for a few centimeters.
  • Because the barrel is always angled slightly upwards, the bullet’s flight starts about 3-5 cm below the line of sight.

Norma also offers some good advice about Powder and Cartridge Storage:

To maintain the product quality for as long as possible, you have to keep the powder in a suitable place under suitable conditions. Where possible, store the powder at a constant temperature, ideally between 12 and 15°C (54°F to 59°F), and a relative humidity of 40–50%. If the air is too dry, it will dry out the powder, which will cause the pressure to be higher, thus affecting performance. Also make sure that you close the powder container properly afterwards. Cartridges should be stored under the same ambient conditions to maintain their quality.

For more info on Norma products, CLICK HERE to access Norma’s Catalog Download Page.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome submissions from our readers.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
September 19th, 2014

Tech Tip: Try Rotating Cartridge During Bullet Seating Process — This Might Reduce Bullet Run-Out

Redding Competition DieHere is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out. It 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.”

run-out bullet

run-out bullet

Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30BR 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….

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 14 Comments »
September 17th, 2014

Ten Commandments for Use of Electronic Scales

Denver Instrument, maker of the MXX and Timberline Series of precision balances, has created a helpful guide explaining how to get the best performance from a digital scale. Denver Instrument knows that, to achieve and maintain a very high level of accuracy with digital scales, they must be calibrated regularly, leveled properly, and kept away from sources of interference. Unfortunately, some reloaders treat their electronic scales as if the machines were toasters — something to place on a tabletop, plug into an outlet, then “set and forget.” There’s a better way to set up your scale and keep it functioning optimally. Here are ten guidelines provided by Denver Instrument. Follow these “Ten Commandments” and you’ll benefit:

Denver Instrument MXX-123

Denver Instrument MXX-123ONE: Thou shalt choose the best resting spot. The performance of your balance depends greatly on the surrounding environment. Choose a location away from the main traffic flow of the room, especially doors. Also be aware of heating and cooling vents as these produce air movement. You can adjust the environmental settings on your balance to provide the best performance in the chosen location. Balances must be placed away from magnets as they affect the weigh cell performance.

TWO: Thou shalt avoid vibrations. Vibrations can come from large machinery in production environments and from fume hoods in laboratories. An alternative to fume hoods are Power Safety Workstations which are designed specifically for use with a balance.

THREE: Thou shalt watch temperature changes. On an analytical balance a one degree temperature change can cause a 1 digit (0.0001g) drift. Although Denver balances have temperature correction built-in, it is still important to calibrate your balance when the temperature changes significantly. Choosing to place your balance in a temperature controlled room, away from sunlight, and calibrating often helps minimize the effects of temperature.

FOUR: Thou shalt calibrate often. Upon installation and each time the balance is moved you should calibrate your balance. For example moving an analytical balance to a location that is only 13 feet higher changes the weight reading from 200.0000 g to 199.9997 g; which means the result is 0.0003 g lighter than the actual mass.

FIVE: Remember to check the level. The instrument should be leveled upon installation with all feet (two front feet for round pan units, four feet for square pan units) touching the countertop. If the level changes, the balance should be re-leveled and recalibrated. As an example, a 200g sample would weigh 0.0025 g less when tilted at an angle of 0.3°.

SIX: Honor thy weights. Keep in mind that weights are only as reliable as their quality and certification. Remember, a 1 g does not weigh precisely 1.00000 grams. Weights should be recertified annually. Denver Instrument offers recertification services on all weights 1 mg to 5 kg. Check to make sure you have selected the proper weight class for your balance. The weight tolerance should be better than balance readability. Always use tweezers or gloves when handling weights as smudges and indentations change the value of the weight. Keep weights in cases so they don’t get scratched or dusty.

Denver Instrument TimberlineSEVEN: Thou shalt always use a small container and weigh in the center of the pan. Especially when using an analytical balance, the effects of air buoyancy increase as the sample container size increases. Using a small sample container will minimize the effects. Items placed on the pan provide a downward force. Placing them directly in the center of the pan keeps corner loading errors at a minimum.

EIGHT: Thou shalt not unplug. To perform within published speci-fications, balances must have power applied for 30 minutes to 48 hours depending on the resolution of the balance. Denver balances have a standby mode which turn the display to standby but keep power cycling through the electronics.

NINE: Thou shalt not ignore static. Static is one of the most common weighing “noises”. It can cause reading to appear too high, too low or just be unstable. Denver balances include grounding methods to reduce the effects of static. However sometimes extra supplies are needed. Consider anti-static weigh dishes, anti-static brushes or low tech ways to increase the humidity of the chamber like placing damp cotton balls or glass wool in a small vial in the corner of the analytical draft shield.

TEN: Thou shalt clean often. Dirty weigh pans and powder in weighing chamber can contribute to static issues and lead to a wide variety of problems. Denver weigh pans are made from stainless steel and can be cleaned using a variety of household and laboratory chemicals. A small paint brush can be used to get power away from the edges of the draft shield for easy clean up.

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September 14th, 2014

RCBS Lock-Out Die Helps Prevent Faulty Charges on Progressives

RCBS Lock-out dieIf you load pistol or rifle ammo with a progressive press, we strongly recommend you get a Lock-Out Die from RCBS. This unique reloading die will prevent your progressive press from advancing if the dispensed powder charge is more or less than about 0.3 grains too high or too low. The Lock-Out Die really works. Your Editor uses it on his RCBS 2000 progressive press. I can affirm that a Lock-Out Die has “saved my bacon” a half-dozen times over the years when there was an over-charge (which could cause a Kaboom) or a low charge (which could cause a squib load).

The Lock-Out Die works by using a central die detection rod that sets its vertical position based on the height of the powder column in the case. Through an ingenious design, if the powder column height is too low or too high, the rod locks in place as you start to pull the press handle. This halts the press before the ram can lift and the cartridge plate can advance. Unlike a beeping alarm system (which can be ignored or defeated), the Lock-Out Die physically stops the movement of the press ram and prevents a bullet being seated in the “problem” case.

RCBS Lock-out dieIt takes a bit of tweaking to get the Lock-Out Die detection rod setting just right, but once it is correctly positioned, the Lock-Out Die works smoothly in the background. The Lock-Out Die won’t interfere with the loading process unless it detects a high or low charge — and then it positively stops the progressive loading cycle.

While crafted for use in RCBS progressive presses, the RCBS Lock-Out Die can also be used on a Dillon XL Progressive (see video below) or Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive — though it does take up one station which could otherwise be used for a final crimp die (after the seating die). The RCBS 2000 has one more station than a Dillon 550/650, so it’s an ideal platform for using the Lock-Out Die.

Learn More at UltimateReloader.com
On the UltimateReloader.com website, run by our friend Gavin, you’ll find an excellent two-part series on the function and set-up of the RCBS Lock-Out Die. Part One explains how the Lock-Out Die functions, using cut-away illustrations. Part Two shows how to install and adjust the Lock-Out Die on various progressive presses. The video below shows setup of the RCBS Lock-Out Die on the Dillon XL-650 progressive press.

Images © 2011 UltimateReloader.com, used by permission.
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September 8th, 2014

Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN) — How Well Does It Work?

For years, many shooters have coated bullets with Moly (molybdenum disulfide) or Danzac (tungsten disulfide or “WS2″). The idea was to reduce friction between bullets and barrel. In theory, this could lengthen barrel life and extend the number of rounds a shooter can fire between cleanings.

hexagonal Boron nitride bullets

Moly and WS2 both have their fans, but in the last couple of years, some guys have switched to Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN), another dry lubricant. The advantage of HBN is that it won’t combine with moisture to create harmful acids. HBN is very slippery and it goes on clear, so it doesn’t leave a dirty mess on your hands or loading bench. Typically, HBN is applied via impact plating (tumbling), just as with Moly.

hexagonal Boron nitride bullets

HBN Results — Both on Bullets and Barrel Bores
Many folks have asked, “Does Hexagonal Boron Nitride really work?” You’ll find answers to that and many other questions on gunsmith Stan Ware’s popular Bench-Talk.com Blog. There Paul Becigneul (aka Pbike) gives a detailed run-down on HBN use, comparing it to other friction-reducers. Paul also discusses the use of HBN in suspension to pre-coat the inside of barrels. Paul observes:

We coated our bullets … how we had been coating with WS2. Now our bullets have a slightly white sheen to them with kind of like a pearl coat. They are so slippery it takes a little practice to pick them up and not drop them on the trailer floor. What have we noticed down range? Nothing different from WS2 other than the black ring on your target around the bullet hole is now white or nonexistent. Our barrels clean just as clean as with WS2. Your hands aren’t black at the end of the day of shooting and that might be the most important part.

Interestingly, Becigneul decided to try a solution of HBN in alcohol, to pre-coat the inside of barrels. Paul had previously used a compound called Penephite to coat the inside of his barrels after cleaning. Paul explains:

If Penephite was used because it was slippery wouldn’t HBN be better? … We called Jon Leist again, and talked to him about mixing HBN and 90% alcohol for a suspension agent to pre-lube our barrels. He though it sounded great but that the AC6111 Grade HBN would be better for this use. It would stand up in the alcohol suspension and cling to the barrel when passed through on a patch. We got some from Jonn and mixed it in alcohol 90%. We use about one teaspoon in 16 ounces of alcohol.

We started using it this fall and what we have noticed is that now that first shot fired out of a clean and pre-lubed barrel can be trusted as the true impact point. We use tuners so now I got to the line, fire two shots judge my group for vertical, adjust the tuner as needed or not, and after tune has been achieved go to my record targets. This use has saved us in time at the bench and bullets in the backstop.

You really should read the whole article by Becigneul. He discusses the use of barrel lubes such as Penephite and “Lock-Ease” in some detail. Paul also provides links to HBN vendors and to the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the various compounds he tested.

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