July 30th, 2014
The 30BR is an amazing little cartridge. However, 30BR shooters do have to neck-up 6mmBR brass and then deal with some issues that can arise from the expansion process. One of our Forum members was concerned about the donut that can form at the new (expanded) neck-shoulder junction. Respected bullet-maker Randy Robinett offers tips on how to deal with the “dreaded donut”.
The Forum member was concerned about thinning the brass if he turned his 30BR necks after expansion: “Everything I have found on 30BR case-forming says to simply turn off the bulge at the base of the neck caused by the old 6BR shoulder. I expanded my first case and measured the neck at 0.329″ except on the donut, where it measures 0.335″. Looking inside the case… reveals a groove inside the case under the donut. Now, it is a fact that when I turn that neck and remove the donut, the groove is still going to be there on the inside? That means there is now a thin-spot ring at the base of the neck that is .005 thinner than the rest of the neck. Has anyone experienced a neck cracking on this ring?”
Randy Robinett, who runs BIB Bullet Co., is one of the “founding fathers” of the 30BR who help prove and popularize the 30 BR for benchrest score shooting. Randy offers this advice on 30BR case-forming:
While the thinner neck-base was one of our original concerns, unless one cuts too deeply INTO the shoulder, it is not a problem. For my original 30BR chamber, thirty (30) cases were used to fire 6,400 rounds through the barrel. The cases were never annealed, yet there were ZERO case failures, neck separations, or splits. The case-necks were turned for a loaded-round neck diameter of .328″, and, from the beginning, sized with a .324″ neck-bushing.
The best method for avoiding the ‘bulge’ is to fire-form prior to neck-turning (several methods are successfully employed). Cutting too deeply into the shoulder can result in case-neck separations. I have witnessed this, but, with several barrels and thousands to shots fired, have not [personally] experienced it. The last registered BR event fired using that original barrel produced a 500-27x score and a second-place finish. [That's] not bad for 6K plus shots, at something over 200 firings per case.
Check out the 30BR Cartridge Guide on AccurateShooter.com
You’ll find more information on 30BR Case-forming in our 30 BR Cartridge Guide. Here’s a short excerpt from that page — some tips provided by benchrest for score and HBR shooter Al Nyhus:
30BR Case-Forming Procedure by Al Nyhus
The 30BR cartridge is formed by necking-up 6BR or 7BR brass. You can do this in multiple stages or in one pass. Most of the top shooters prefer the single-pass method. You can use either an expander mandrel (like Joe Entrekin does), or a tapered button in a regular dies. Personally, I use a Redding tapered expander button, part number 16307. This expands the necks from 6mm to .30 cal in one pass. It works well as long as you lube the mandrel and the inside of the necks. I’ve also used the Sinclair expander body with a succession of larger mandrels, but this is a lot more work and the necks stay straighter with the Redding tapered button. This button can be used in any Redding die that has a large enough inside diameter to accept the BR case without any case-to-die contact.
Don’t be concerned about how straight the necks are before firing them the first time. When you whap them with around 50,000 psi, they will straighten out just fine! I recommend not seating the bullets into the lands for the first firing, provided there is an adequate light crush-fit of the case in the chamber. The Lapua cases will shorten from approx. 1.550″ to around 1.520″ after being necked up to 30-caliber I trim to 1.500″ with the (suggested) 1.520 length chambers. I don’t deburr the flash holes or uniform the primer pockets until after the first firing. I use a Ron Hoehn flash hole deburring tool that indexes on the primer pocket, not through the case mouth. — Al Nyhus
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July 28th, 2014
We know that many of our readers are now tumbling their brass in liquid media rather than dry media such as corn-cob or walnut shells. When done with STM stainless tumbling media (small ss pins), this system really does work, producing brass that is clean “inside and out”. The only down-side to wet tumbling is that sometimes the inside of the caseneck gets so “squeaky clean” that bullets take more effort to seat. This can be remedied with the use of a dry lube inside the necks. When cleaning with stainless tumbling media you’ll need a quality tumbler that is water-tight. The wet-tumbler of choice is the Model B Thumler’s Tumbler. Featuring a bright-red, side-loading drum, the Model B Thumler’s Tumbler is reliable and built to last.
A while back, Bill Gravatt, then President of Sinclair Int’l, had a chance to evaluate the Thumler’s Tumbler and the wet-cleaning process for cartridge brass. Bill came away a believer: “I wanted to share with you my experience using the Thumler’s Tumbler and stainless steel pin media to clean brass.
I used it for the first time just before the National Matches on some .308 Winchester brass. I just added water and some Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner and tumbled them for about 45 to 60 minutes. Wow! I have never had cases so clean both inside and out. The tumbler I used was the sample from our photo studio, and someone had left a 223 Remington case in there that was completely tarnished dark green. I left it in to see what would happen, and it came out just as clean as my .308 cases.
A lot of customers, and a couple of our techs, have told me about the good results they get with this tumbler, but I was still very impressed. At Camp Perry, I talked to a few shooters who had used it, and they all had only good things to say about the Thumler system. Of course, being shooters, they all had their own concoctions (recipes) of various cleaners. All I can say is that the Simple Green worked well for me. If you want to try something different for cleaning brass, you might want to give the Thumler system a tryout. The great thing about the stainless steel media is that it never wears out. Buy it once and never buy media again. We sell a kit of the Tumbler and 5 lbs. of media that will save you a few bucks off buying them separately.” — Bill Gravatt
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July 25th, 2014
In our Shooters’ Forum, a member recently noted that he needed to pull down (disassemble) some ammunition that was loaded incorrectly by one of his shooting buddies. 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.
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.*
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
Like the Hornady tool, the RCBS Bullet Puller employs a collet to grab the bullet. However, the RCBS tool tightens the collet in a different way. The head of the RCBS tool is threaded internally. By rotating the lever arm clockwise in a horizontal circle you squeeze the collet around the bullet. To remove the bullet, after lowering the press ram, simply spin the lever arm back in the opposite direction. The use of the RCBS tool is demonstrated in this video:
RCBS Collet Bullet Puller Demonstrated:
WARNING: When removing bullets from loaded cartridges, always make sure there are no obsructions or debris in your shell-holder or under the loaded round. NEVER engage a primer seating accessory on your press when working with loaded rounds. You can cause a round to discharge by contacting the primer! Also, we recommend you keep your head and torso away from the bullet puller tool at all times.
*By contrast, impact pullers rarely mark bullets, particularly if you put a little bit of foam or paper wadding in the closed end of your impact puller. When dismantling loaded rounds, powder kernels can get trapped in the wadding, so you should remove and replace the wadding before changing to cartridges loaded with a different powder type (assuming you intend to save the powder).
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July 25th, 2014
Hodgdon Powder Company (Hodgdon) has released three new 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 the new videos, Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center (RDC) provides a wealth of information on Hodgdon®, IMR®, and Winchester® propellants. Along with reliable load data, you’ll find explanations of reloading basics, safety procedures, plus answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).
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July 23rd, 2014
When your cases become hard to extract, or you feel a stiff bolt lift when removing a cartridge, it’s probably time to full-length size your cases, and “bump” the shoulder back. With a hunting load, shoulder bumping may only be required every 4-5 loading cycles. Short-range benchrest shooters, running higher pressures, typically full-length size every load cycle, bumping the shoulder .001-.002″. High Power shooters with gas guns generally full-length size every time, and may need to bump the shoulders .003″ or more to ensure reliable feeding and extraction.
Use Shims for Precise Control of Shoulder Bump
Some shooters like to set the “default” position for their full-length die to have an “ample” .003″ or .004″ shoulder bump. When they need less bump, a simple way to reduce the amount of shoulder movement is to use precision shims in .001″ (one-thousandth) increments.
Mats Johansson writes: “I’ve been using [shims] since Skip Otto (of BR fame) came out with them. I set up my dies with the .006″ shim, giving me the option of bumping the shoulder a bit more when the brass gets old and hardens while still having room to adjust up for zero headspace, should I have missed the original setup by a thou or two. Hunting rounds can easily be bumped an extra .002-.003″ for positive, no-crush feeding. Being a safety-oriented cheapskate, I couldn’t live without them — they let me reload my cases a gazillion times without dangerous web-stretching. Shims are a must-have, as simple as that.”
Sinclair Int’l offers a 7-piece set of Die Shims that let you adjust the height of your die (and thereby the amount of bump and sizing) in precise .001″ increments. Sinclair explains: “Some handloaders will set their die up to achieve maximum sizing and then progressively use Sinclair Die Shims between the lock ring and the press head to move the die away from the shellholder. Doing this allows you to leave the lock ring in the same position. These shims are usually available in increments of .001″ and work very well.”
Seven Shims from .003″ to .010″
Sinclair’s $12.49 Die Shim Kit (item 22400) includes seven shims in thicknesses of .003, .004, .005, .006, .007, .008, and .010. For ease of use, shim thickness is indicated by the number of notches cut in the outer edge of each shim. Even without looking you can “count” the notches by feel.
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July 22nd, 2014
Bullets.com has launched a huge closeout on its entire RCBS inventory. Here’s a great opportunity to save big bucks on high-quality RCBS tools and reloading accessories, including RCBS Chargemasters and even RCBS Rockchucker presses. The folks at Bullets.com report: “We have slashed prices to levels at or below cost on hundreds of items.” Guys — take note: this is a unique opportunity to pick up some great gear at truly rock-bottom prices. In fact the deals are so good that your Editor plans to purchase a couple presses, a powder measure stand, and some accessories for my RCBS 2000 progressive press. I really don’t think you can beat these prices… and remember this is an inventory close-out sale, limited to stock on hand. When it’s gone, it’s gone. So don’t say we didn’t warn you!
GO to RCBS Sale at Bullets.com
Closeout items include:
Electronic Powder Measures
Digital and Beam Scales
Sizing and Seating Dies
Bullet Casting Kits
Case Prep Tools and much more.
Here Are Some of the RCBS Presses on Sale:
Get RCBS Factory Rebates
In connection with this Bullets.com SALE, you can save even more with RCBS factory rebates. If you spend $50.00 you can get a $10.00 rebate. If you spend at least $300.00 on RCBS products you can save $50.00. These rebates are good through 12/31/2014. CLICK HERE for details.
Click for Detals
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July 19th, 2014
The folks at PMA Tool, makers of arbor presses, neck-turning tools, and other case-prep tools, offer some good advice about case trimming on the PMA Tool Blog. Here we reprint a PMA blog post that explains case trimming basics and helps you choose the right case-trimming tool for your needs.
Case Trimming Basics
Trimming the cartridge case to the proper length is a crucial step in case preparation that should not be overlooked or underestimated. The cartridge case or the rifle can be damaged, or even worse you get badly injured. In most instances cases should be trimmed after firing and sizing. Trimming new brass is necessary for a lot of wildcats and can be beneficial in some instances, but by and large, trimming new brass is not necessary for most situations (unless you are neck-turning). Cases should be trimmed after you have sized the case, because the expander ball on the decapping pin can (and will) stretch the neck. Those of us who neck size should get into the habit of trimming after sizing as well. This is a good rule of thumb to go by, and hopefully it will keep you safe during the reloading and shooting process.
There are so many case trimmers out there that work, deciding which one is right for you can be confusing. Even though I have trimmed thousands of cases, using about every method possible, I can’t answer the question of what case trimmer is right for you because of all the variables that may be involved. I can, however shed some light on the subject.
The two most popular designs of trimmers either index (1) off the base or the head of the case, (2) off the shoulder or datum line of the case. There are pros and cons to each and it all depends on what you are willing to live with.
Indexing off the Base (Case Head)
Let’s talk about the first one I have listed, indexing off the base, or the head of the case. The pros to this method are that you can achieve a very accurate over all length and that is after all, what it is all about. The cons to this method are that you can get some variation doing it this way. Let me explain, the base is not always square to the body or can be damaged during firing especially if it is fired through a military style rifle with a very aggressive ejector. These cases should be discarded, but sometimes they can be overlooked. This condition can lead to an over all length that is incorrect. The case head being out of square will be corrected upon firing, however that case will wind up being shorter than the rest of your cases, possibly creating a difference in the neck tension on the bullet. The more you can do to eliminate variables in your reloads the better off you are going to be. This method can also be very slow, and if the user gets careless the result will be a inconsistent over all length.
Indexing off the Shoulder (Datum Line)
The second method I mentioned, trimming off the shoulder or the datum line of the case, has its pros as well. I have found this to be the quickest of the methods and very accurate as well. After the case has been sized through the die the dimensions (particularly the headspace) of the cases are usually very uniform and exact, this allows the case to be trimmed by indexing off the shoulder. This method can be done very quickly, by hand, or by powering either the case, or the trimmer. You also don’t have to worry about the case heads being out of square with the body using this method. Generally the trimming time is cut in half, and this leads to greater focus on the job, without becoming careless. [Editor's Note: The World's Finest Trimmer (WFT) is one power device that indexes off the shoulder datum. It works fast and is very precise. The new WFT 2 Model with interchangeable trim chambers works with multiple cartridge types.]
Story Tip by EdLongrange. User Submissions are welcome.
The choice is yours to make. I hope that this was some help to you, whether you are looking for your first trimmer or looking to replace the trimmer you have. Just remember to always put safety first and accuracy second, and you will start making little bug holes in no time.
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July 18th, 2014
Do you use bushings to size your case-necks? Are you assuming that your bushings are actually round on the inside, with a hole that’s centered-up properly? Well you may be in for an unpleasant surprise, based on what our friend Jim de Kort recently discovered. Jim was concerned about the run-out on his brass. His cases went into his bushing-equipped FL die pretty straight, but came out of the die with up to .004″ run-out. “What gives?”, Jim wondered. “Could the problem be the bushings themselves?”
To answer that question, Jim decided to examine his bushings. Using an Accuracy One Wheel-drive concentricity gauge, Jim checked out some of his neck bushings. What he discovered may surprise you…
Neck Bushing Flaws Revealed
Trust no one… — Jim de Kort
Jim writes: “I measured the concentricity of my 6BR rounds today. I noticed they went into the neck-bushing equipped full-length sizing die with <.001" deviation but came out with .003-.004". The culprit, it appears, was the bushing itself. Without it the cases stayed within .0005" to .001" deviation, so something was happening with the bushing.
One bushing had .00025" deviation on the outside, yet almost .003" on the inside, so it is crooked. But even when using a bushing that is within .001" I still get .003" runout after sizing. I repeated the same procedure for my 6x47 and got the same results. When using the bushing, concentricity suffers a lot."
Before we bash the bushing-makers, we must acknowledge that many different things can contribute to excessive run-out and/or mis-alignment of case-necks. We don’t have all the answers here, and Jim would be the first to say that some mysteries remain. Still, these are interesting results that give all precision hand-loaders something to think about.
Jim Borden also offers this tip: “Check the trueness of the face of the die cap. That has more to do with trueness than the bushing. Also check perpendicularity of hole in bushing to top surface. When I was making dies, the cap was made by threading and facing the threaded tenon in same setup.”
Editor’s Comment: Many people have great results with neck-bushing dies, but Jim isn’t the only fellow who has seen some very odd results. I personally employ honed, non-bushing dies for many of my chamberings. These non-bushing dies (with the necks honed for .002-.003″ neck tension) produce extremely straight ammo, with run-out consistently under .0015″.
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July 13th, 2014
Tempilaq is a temp-sensitive “paint-on” liquid coating which can be used to gauge case temperatures during the annealing process. Tempilaq is offered in 43 different temperature ratings from 175°F to 1900°F (79°C to 1038°C).
Tempilaq quickly dries, forming a dull, opaque film. Then, when heat is applied to that surface and the rated temperature is reached, the film liquefies, letting you know that you’ve reached the target annealing temp. Because you can ruin brass by over-annealing, we recommend using Tempilaq when annealing, at least when you are setting up your torch position and calculating the amount of time your cases should be exposed to the flame. To prevent premature “burn-off” you can apply the Tempilaq to the inside of the necks.
Thinner for Tempilaq
One of our Forum members from Australia was concerned about some 700° F Tempilaq he had recently obtained. He explained that it was thick and glue-like, making it hard to apply. He wondered if there was a thinner he could use with the 700° Tempilaq.
Yes there is such a product: Green Label Thinner from Tempil (the manufacturer of Tempilaq). Forum member Gary M. (aka gmorganal) tells us: “You can buy Temiplaq thinner from McMaster Carr, and they will have it on your doorstep about the time you hang up the phone. I just ordered from them this week, and [the thinner] was delivered the next day. The thinner is about half the price of the [Tempilaq] paints — roughly $5.00 or so per bottle.” Tempil explains: “Use Green Label Thinner to dilute Tempilaq G® or to replace evaporated solvent. For use only with Tempilaq G® temperature indicating liquid.”
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July 10th, 2014
Here’s an inexpensive procedure that can help you load straighter ammo, with slightly better measured concentricity (i.e. less run-out) on the case necks and bullets. Simply use a rubber O-Ring on the underside of the die locking ring. This allows the die to self-align itself (slightly) to the case that is being sized. Without the O-Ring, if the flat surface on the top of your press is not perfectly square with the thread axis, your die can end up slightly off-angle. This happens when the bottom of the locking ring butts up tight against the top of the press. The O-Ring allows the die to float slightly, and that may, in turn, reduce the amount of run-out induced during case sizing.
Top prone shooter German Salazar has tried this trick and he says it works: “Go to your local hardware store and get a #17 O-Ring (that’s the designation at Ace Hardware, don’t know if its universal). Slip the O-Ring on the die and re-adjust the lock ring so that the O-Ring is slightly compressed when the die is at the correct height. Size and measure a few more cases. You will probably see a slight improvement in neck concentricity as the die can now float a bit as the case enters and leaves it. This isn’t going to be a dramatic improvement, but it’s a positive one.” We want to stress that adding O-Rings to sizing dies may help some reloaders, but we don’t offer this as a panacea. Try it — if using the O-Ring reduces measured runout that’s great. If it doesn’t, you’ve only spent a few pennies to experiment.
Lee Precision makes die lock rings with built-in O-Rings. Lee’s distinctive lock ring design allows the same kind of self-alignment, which is good. However, Lee lock rings don’t clamp in place on the die threads, so they can move when you insert or remove the dies — and that can throw off your die setting slightly. By using an O-Ring under a conventional die lock ring (that can be locked in place), you get the advantages of the Lee design, without the risk of the lock ring moving.
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July 8th, 2014
Are you just getting started in reloading, or maybe you have a buddy who is planning to start hand-loading? Well here’s a very complete RCBS reloading package for just $279.95 at Midsouth Shooters Supply. You get pretty much everything you need, including a scale, powder measure, loading block, powder funnel, reloading manual, and a rugged RCBS Rock Chucker press that can last a lifetime.
Midsouth’s $279.95 sale price for the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit (RCBS item 09361) is a very good deal. We checked around and this kit typically sells for $325.00 to $345.00. For example, MidwayUSA currently lists this package for $325.99. Right now, Midsouth beats MidwayUSA’s price by more than forty-six bucks. That will pay for some powder and bullets.
RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit includes all these items:
- Rock Chucker Supreme Single Stage Press
- 505 Balance Beam Scale (with pan)
- Uniflow Powder Measure
- Speer Reloading Manual
- Hand Priming Tool for small and large Primers
- Universal Case Loading Block (40-case capacity)
- Powder Funnel for .22 to .45 Calibers
- Case Lube Kit, with Lube Pad and Case Lube
- Case-Neck Brush Ttool
- Chamfer/deburring “Rocket” Tool
- Folding Hex Key Set (with 8 SAE sizes)
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July 5th, 2014
The digital version of the Vihtavuori Reloading Guide (13th Edition) has been updated. It can be downloaded for FREE in PDF Format.
CLICK HERE to Download Vihtavuori Reloading Guide (Updated June, 2014)
In this latest update, two new calibers have been added: .221 Remington Fireball and .300 AAC Blackout. (Lapua now makes .221 Fireball brass.) In addition, there is updated data for the popular .260 Remington cartridge. That’s good news as we know that many of our readers are looking for load data for the .260 Rem. Vihtavuori makes a variety of powders well-suited for both hunting and match loads in the .260 Rem.
Data Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
The Vihtavuori Reloading Guide covers more than 20 different types of VV reloading powders. It was most recently updated in June, 2014. The online reloading info database at Vihtavuori.com has also been updated.
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