October 27th, 2019

New StaBALL 6.5 Powder from Winchester — Temp Stable

Winchester ball spherical propellant powder temperature stable staBALL 6.5

Winchester has just introduced a new ball propellant, StaBALL 6.5, which it claims is very temp-stable. This means velocities and pressures should not vary greatly across a wide range of ambient temperatures. Winchester states: “StaBALL 6.5 is the world’s first temperature-insensitive Ball Powder, stable in extreme-hot or extreme-cold temperatures.” Winchester also claims StaBALL 6.5 can offer 30-200 fps greater velocities than other powders with similar burn rates. This new powder also has additives to reduce copper fouling. StaBALL 6.5’s burn rate and load density is good for popular cartridges such as .223 Rem, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .270 Win. If StaBALL 6.5 can really deliver excellent metering, temp stability, more speed, AND less fouling — Winchester could really have a winner.

Winchester ball spherical propellant powder temperature stable staBALL 6.5

Metering Advantages of Ball Propellants
As there are existing very temp-stable extruded powders, such as Reloder 16 and H4350, what’s the big deal here? Well ball powders, with their small spherical granules, flow easily and meter well. This means ball powders can be thrown in manual powder measures with great precision. So StaBALL 6.5 could have advantages for hand-loaders using manual powder measures or progressive presses with mechanically-operated charge dispensers.

Reloading Data is ONLINE Now

Reloading Data is NOW Available on the Winchester website for a wide variety of cartridges including: 22 Nosler, .223 Rem, 224 Valkyrie, 22-250 Rem, 6GT, 6×47 Lapua, 6mm Creedmoor 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem, .270 Win, 7mm-08, .30-06, 300 WSM and more. To get official LOAD DATA, scroll below the product description, select a cartridge type, and then click the RED “Get Reloading Data” tab. Here are two of 13 listed load options (55-115 grain bullets) for the 6mm Creedmoor:

Winchester ball spherical propellant powder temperature stable staBALL 6.5

Winchester’s StaBALL 6.5 Product Description States:

StaBALL 6.5 is the world’s first temperature-insensitive BALL® Powder, stable in extreme-hot or -cold conditions. It provides optimal loading density in cartridges appropriate for the burn speed, which is ideal for 6mm Creedmoor, 6GT, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7MM-08, .270 Winchester, and many more.

Typical of a ball powder, precise metering contributes to improved velocity and pressure standard deviations, ingredients that are paramount to match grade accuracy!

This “environmentally green” propellant has copper fouling reducer additives, meaning longer durations of competition and field shooting without having to clean the bore. Precision accuracy throughout the match!

Velocity levels obtainable, depending on the cartridge, are 30-200 fps greater than other propellants in its class.

StaBALL 6.5 powder is available in 1 lb. and 8 lb. containers.

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October 26th, 2019

Federal Now Offers Custom-Loaded Precision Ammunition

Federal custom handloading center hand-loaded rifle shotshell ammo ammunition Berger Sierra Nosler

Don’t have time to hand-load your own ammo, or don’t have all the equipment and dies needed? There’s a new option — something that’s actually quite revolutionary in the ammo industry. Federal is now offering custom-loaded ammunition. You choose the cartridge type and bullet type and Federal technicians put the ammo together. Think about it — this could be an interesting option for hunters who only need a few rounds a year, or if you want to try out a bullet/cartridge combo for the first time.

Order Federal Custom Ammunition ONLINE through the Federal Custom Shop.

Federal custom handloading center hand-loaded rifle shotshell ammo ammunition Berger Sierra Nosler

“Each round is painstakingly handloaded to order by our team of expert engineers in our state-of-the-art reloading workshop. Veteran craftsmen combine the best components with extra quality checks at every stage for the most consistent velocity, accuracy, and overall performance. Loads are then hand-checked for final inspection and cleaned before being custom-packed in durable, personalized packaging.”

10 Centerfire Cartridge Types and Many Bullet Options
Currently, you can choose from 10+ rifle cartridge types and a wide selection of quality bullets from Berger, Sierra, Nosler, Federal, Barnes, Swift, and more. Along with rifle ammo, Federal will offer custom TSS Shotshells. NOTE: Federal Custom Shop ammo will be sold direct-to-consumer only.

Right now, centerfire rifle shooters can choose more than 10 different cartridges including 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-284 Norma, 257 Weatherby, 243 Winchester, 257 Roberts +P, and more. Shotshell customers can custom order a large variety of 10-gauge and 28-gauge loads.

“If it’s not in Federal’s vast catalog as factory-loaded ammo, we may have it listed on our website as a load we will custom hand-load for you,” notes Federal Ammunition President Jason Vanderbrink. “For example, Barnes 120-grain Tipped TSX in 6.5-284 Norma and 28-gauge TSS turkey loads aren’t products we list in our catalog, but you can certainly order them through our Custom Shop.”

The Custom Shop handloading center is located at Federal’s main factory in Anoka, Minnesota. For more information, including how to order, what specific load options are available, and shipping details, visit: FederalPremium.com/custom-shop.html.

Federal custom handloading center hand-loaded rifle shotshell ammo ammunition Berger Sierra Nosler

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October 24th, 2019

SAFETY NOTICE: Hodgdon Recalls ALL IMR 4007 SSC Powder

hodgdon imr 4007 ssc recall safety notice

PRODUCT SAFETY WARNING AND RECALL NOTICE FOR IMR 4007 SSC POWDER
Hodgon and IMR are officially announcing a product safety warning and recall notice for IMR 4007 SSC smokeless powder. All lots of powder are included in the recall. IMR has received reports that this particular powder, sold in 1 pound and 8 pound containers, could become unstable due to possible rapid deterioration. Use of this product may result in combustion, fire damage and/or possible serious injury.

What to do if you have IMR 4007 SSC Powder

1. If you are in possession of IMR 4007 SSC, STOP USING THE PRODUCT IMMEDIATELY! Fill the powder container with water, which will render the product inert and safe for disposal.

2. Mail, email or fax a copy of the powder label with the lot number to the contact information below, and include your name, address, phone and email. Be sure to reference the IMR 4007 SSC recall.

EMAIL: help@imrpowder.com
CALL: 1-800-622-4366 or 913-362-9455
FAX: 913-362-1307
WRITE: Hodgdon Powder Company, Inc., 6430 Vista Drive. Shawnee, KS 66218

3. You may select a replacement IMR smokeless powder product of your choice, which will be shipped to you at no charge.

What to Do With Ammo Already Loaded with IMR 4007 SSC
If you have loaded the powder subject to this recall into ammunition, we recommend that you pull the bullets, remove the powder and wet the powder with water for safe disposal. IMR deeply regrets any inconvenience this may cause, but we believe in safety first.

Need More Recall Information?
You can get more information about this IMR 4007 SSC recall by emailing help@imrpowder.com. You can also call 1-800-622-4366 or 913-362-9455, or send a fax to 913-362-1307.

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October 23rd, 2019

Bullet Pointing 101 — How to Point Match Bullet Tips

Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Tech Tip by Doc Beech, Applied Ballistics Support Team
I am going to hit on some key points when it comes to bullet pointing. How much pointing and trimming needed is going to depend on the bullet itself. Specifically how bad the bullets are to begin with. Starting out with better-quality projectiles such as Bergers is going to mean two things. First that you don’t need to do as much correction to the meplat, but also that the improvement is going to be less. NOTE: We recommend you DO NOT POINT hunting bullets. Pointing can affect terminal performance in a bad way.

NOTE the change in the bullet tip shape and hollowpoint size after pointing:
Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Don’t Over-Point Your Bullets
What is important here is that you never want to over-point. It is far better to be safe, and under-point, rather than over-point and crush the tips even the slightest bit. To quote Bryan Litz exactly: “Best practice is to leave a tiny air gap in the tip so you’re sure not to compress the metal together which will result in crushing. Most of the gain in pointing is taking the bullet tip down to this point. Going a little further doesn’t show on target”. So in essence you are only bringing the tip down a small amount… and you want to make sure you leave an air gap at the tip.

Salazar Whidden Bullet Pointer system

Also keep in mind, bullet pointing is one of those procedures with variable returns. If you only shoot at 100-200 yards, bullet pointing will likely not benefit you. To see the benefits, which can run from 2 to 10% (possibly more with poorly designed bullets), you need be shooting at long range. Bryan says: “Typically, with pointing, you’ll see 3-4% increase in BC on average. If the nose is long and pointy (VLD shape) with a large meplat, that’s where pointing has the biggest effect; up to 8% or 10%. If the meplat is tight on a short tangent nose, the increase can be as small as 1 or 2%.” For example, If you point a Berger .308-caliber 185gr Juggernaut expect to only get a 2% increase in BC.

Berger Bullet Pointing Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Whidden Pointing Die pointer

Should You Trim after Pointing?
Sometimes you can see tiny imperfections after pointing, but to say you “need” to trim after pointing is to say that the small imperfections make a difference. Bryan Litz advises: “If your goal is to make bullets that fly uniformly at the highest levels, it may not be necessary to trim them.” In fact Bryan states: “I’ve never trimmed a bullet tip, before or after pointing”. So in the end it is up to you to decide.

Pointing is Easy with the Right Tools
The process of pointing in itself is very simple. It takes about as much effort to point bullets as it does to seat bullets. We are simply making the air gap on the tip of the bullet ever-so smaller. Don’t rush the job — go slow. Use smooth and steady pressure on the press when pointing bullets. You don’t want to trap air in the die and damage the bullet tip. You can use most any press, with a caliber-specific sleeve and correct die insert. The Whidden pointing die has a micrometer top so making adjustments is very easy.

Bryan Litz actually helped design the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System, so you can order the Pointing Die and Inserts directly from Applied Ballistics. Just make sure that you pick up the correct caliber sleeve(s) and appropriate insert(s). As sold by Applied Ballistics, the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System comes with the die, one tipping insert, and one caliber-specific sleeve. To see which insert(s) you need for your bullet type(s), click this link:

LINK: Whidden Gunworks Pointing Die Insert Selection Chart

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October 23rd, 2019

Hornady Offers Reloading App — Data $0.99 Per Cartridge Type

Hornady reloading handbook cartridge Mobile App Android IOS

The Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading is now available in Mobile App form. Hornady has released FREE Mobile Apps for Android and iOS (Apple) Mobile Devices. You get a lot of information for free. However, most of the actual load data is surcharged. You can buy all current load data for $19.99, or use the “à la carte” option to purchase load data for 99 cents each per cartridge type.

For example, if you wanted .223 Rem, .284 Win, .308 Win, you’d pay $2.97 (3 x $0.99). Frankly, we’d just use the FREE information available from the Hodgdon and Vihtavuori online Reloading Centers. But we understand some folks will prefer the convenience of an App with a wide variety of powder brands all in one place. Hornady’s full data collection covers hundreds of cartridges — .17 Hornet to 50 BMG (for rifle) and .22 Hornet to .500 S&W (for pistol). Folks say the App is easy to navigate and simple to use. For more information, visit Hornady.com/reloadingapp.


Download Hornady Android App | Download Hornady iOS App

What you get for free — Included with the FREE APP are hundreds of pages of reloading information including rifle and handgun bullet guides, the basics of reloading, tips and techniques plus limited free data on newer cartridge releases such as .224 Valkyrie, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 300 PRC and more.

Hornady reloading handbook cartridge Mobile App Android IOS

The App features over 200 cartridge types with a variety of loads using Hornady bullets, including A-Tip Match, ELD Match and ELD-X. Velocity and powder charts are included with each cartridge for easy reference. The database includes popular established powders plus new powders such as Power Pro 2000 MR, IMR 4451 and 7977, CFE Pistol, BE-86, Reloder 23, 26, 33 and 50, Accurate LT-30 and 32. Popular powders such as Reloder 17, Superformance, and LeverEvolution® have also been expanded.

Included with the free download are hundreds of pages of reloading information, bullet guides, tips and techniques plus limited free data on recent offerings such as 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, and 300 PRC. Beyond that, reloaders must pay for load data on particular cartridges. Reloading data is available for download in three ways: Á la carte ($0.99 per cartridge type), Full Data Purchase for App ($19.99), or Annual Subscription ($19.99/year recurring).

Subscription Option — If you pay $19.99 per year you get full access to Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading 10th Edition data, plus new data developed for the 11th Edition, plus automatic updates. Subscribers will also get a printed edition of the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading (11th Edition) when it is released in the fall of 2020.

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October 22nd, 2019

21st Century Hydro Press and Arbor Press Review with Videos

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seating

Hydro Press and Arbor Press from 21st Century Shooting

Gear Review by F-Class John
Inline dies, used with arbor presses, continue to dominate the world of precision reloading. While arbor presses have remained mostly unchanged, 21st Century Shooting offers the Hydro Bullet Seating Press, a radical departure from your average arbor press. If you are looking for improved “feel” and feedback on bullet seating pressure, you should definitely check out the Hydro Press. This design has been around for a while now but has remained unchallenged since its inception. The 21st Century Hydro Press still remains a category leader (and the choice of many top competitors) for good reason.

Arbor presses have traditionally worked by using a gear-driven ram operated with a rotating handle. This allows for a compact design but often lacks the tactile feel and smooth operation that many reloaders want. The 21st Century Hydro Bullet Seater works by using simple mechanical leverage coupled with a hydraulic pressure gauge to seat bullets in a smooth motion all while helping you keep track of seating pressures.

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seating

Editor: Many top shooters believe they can seat bullets with greater precision using the 21st Century Hydro Press. I personally get more consistent seating, which seems to improve accuracy and even help a bit with lowering ES. The Hydro Press gives you excellent feedback when seating bullets. That has helped me detect a case with too much neck tension, or a case that may have doughnut issues. When the gauge does something odd or spikes, you are alerted to a possible issue.

In this video, John Perkins of 21st Century Shooting Shows how the Hydro Seater functions.

You might be asking why or how simple a simple mechanical lever gives you an advantage over gear driven systems and the answer is simple, leverage. The Hydro Seater is equipped with a long arm that comes straight up and out from the front and uses a set of hinges that connect to the ram. This elongated arm provides lots of leverage allowing easy force modulation. This smoothly applies pressure to the seating die in one fluid motion. This transfer of power helps seat bullets smoothly in even the tightest of necks without any jerky or stuttering movements.

Working at the same time is a hydraulic pressure gauge using internal oil. I found this gauge was incredibly sensitive, accurate, and repeatable compared to spring-driven gauges. The Hydro gauge read-out really gives the user the chance to sort ammo by seating pressure should they choose. In my particular case I only use it to cull out noticeably high or low ones as “blow off” rounds and am perfectly happy if the rest fall within a given pressure range. The nice thing is that the press allows you to be as picky as you want.

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seatingCompact 21st Century Standard Arbor Press
Not to be outdone by its big brother, 21st Century offers a Standard Arbor Press as well, in both right-hand and left-hand versions. Affordably priced at $108.99, this small arbor press in made to the same exacting standards as the Hydro Seater and has some nice features of its own compared to other small arbors.

The large, knurled adjustment knob is one of my favorite features. It tightens securely, yet it allows for easy raising or lowering of the head unit without the need for hex wrenches. 21st Century’s basic arbor press also has a slightly canted lever arm which allows the user to apply pressure more easily and consistently compared to some other arbor presses. While this press is small enough to fit many range bags, it can be disassembled quickly with a single Allen wrench.

While I own the 21st Century Hydro Press for use at home, the Standard Arbor Press goes with me to out-of-town events, so I can adjust bullet seating depth at the match. I love using it for this purpose since the little press is so easy to transport, and then set up and use on the road. The seating action is smooth, and there is plenty of leverage.

Seating my bullets long before I travel gives me the ability to set them to adjust for any throat erosion that may occur. This also ensures my bullets are seated correctly, by eliminating any potential bullet weld or problems from the bullets accidentally bouncing in your luggage. I like the confidence of knowing that my bullets are properly seated before a big match, especially when it has been days or weeks since I loaded them.

SUMMARY — 21st Century Makes Great Bullet Seating Presses

Whether you need a premium bullet-seating Press such as the Hydro Bullet Seater or a basic, easy-to-transport Arbor Press, 21st Century Shooting has a excellent option for you. The Hydro Press offers outstanding bullet seating “feel” and consistency, with an ultra-smooth operation. The basic Arbor Press is well-made, compact, and also yields excellent results. Both these presses are built for a lifetime of use, using high-quality materials.

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October 21st, 2019

Orange Crush — Tour of Lyman Headquarters in Connecticut

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader factory tour lyman products Mark 7 connecticut

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com recently made a pilgrimage to Connecticut, home base for Lyman Products. He went East to talk with Lyman’s design engineers and learn about the latest products in development by Lyman. Gavin wrote: “During my visit I got to see the factory, meet the team, and even get a behind-the-scenes look at some products to come.”

Gavin noted that Lyman’s management, design team, and production are all under one roof. That definitely streamlines Lyman’s product development process, and helps explain why the Connecticut-based company has been so successful: “At Lyman headquarters you have the CEO, the Engineering team, the Marketing team, machinists, laboratory staff, and warehouse workers all under one roof.”

Gavin Gear Mark 7 Ultimate Reloader factory tour lyman products connecticut

Gavin found the production area very impressive: “When you step into this area… it’s pure action! Lots of parts on racks, material waiting to be machined, CNC machines running, and machinists running machines. Lyman is one of the few companies to use American cast iron, an American manufacturing facility, with American labor start-to-finish. They are able to do this because of how efficient their process has become. Heavy iron comes from nearby and is machined/assembled on-site, and then shipped to distributors and retailers. Outsourcing (like powder coating) is done close-by as to avoid excessive transport cost and to quicken turn-around time.”

Lyman Now Offers Advanced Mark 7 Reloading Systems

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader factory tour lyman products connecticut

Big News — Lyman now sells the highly sophisticated Mark 7 Reloading system. Lyman acquired Mark 7 Reloading earlier this year. The Mark 7 machines represent the most advanced, automated progressive reloading systems available to the general public. The computer-controlled Mark 7 machine makes a Dillon look downright primitive.

This Video Shows Mark 7 Reloading Machines in Action:

Now in its sixth year of operation, Mark 7 Reloading produces a full line of reloading presses ranging from hand operation to light commercial operation. Here’s a detailed video showcasing the Mark 7 reloading system. In this video Gavin Gear interviews Lyman engineer Spencer Carroll:

About Lyman Products — Nearly 140 Years Serving Shooters and Reloaders
Lyman Products, founded by avid outdoorsman William Lyman, has been innovating firearms and reloading accessories and gear for almost 140 years. The proud history of Lyman Products began in the late 1800s when William Lyman created the Lyman No. 1 Tang Sight — a major improvement in rifle sighting. Now a century and a half later, Lyman continues to introduce popular and innovative products, such as the Lyman BoreCam, Case Trim Express, Case Prep Express, and Brass Smith Series Reloading Presses.

See Latest Lyman Products at NASGW Expo in Orlando
Lyman Products will be exhibiting at the 2019 National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) Expo & Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, October 22 – 25, 2019. Along with the new Mark 7 reloading machines, Lyman Products will showcase its other respected brands: Pachmayr, TacStar, A-Zoom, Trius, Butch’s, and Targ-Dots.

Gavin Gear Mark 7 Ultimate Reloader factory tour lyman products connecticut

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October 19th, 2019

IMR Enduron Powders — Accurate, Temp Stable, and Versatile

IMR Enduron Powder 4166 4451 7977

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

IMR Legendary Powders provided this summary of Enduron Properties:

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

IMR Enduron Powder 4166 4451 7977

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

CLICK HERE to Learn More about IMR Enduron Powders»

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

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October 19th, 2019

Do-It-Yourself Chamber Length Gauge

do it yourself chamber length gauge Sinclair case neck

Here is a clever DIY tool we learned about from Frank Shuster, a Forum member, who, sadly, passed away in 2015. Frank was a very knowledgeable shooter who was always willing to help others. Here is one of Frank’s smart inventions. He devised a way to measure the length of a rifle’s chamber using a fired cartridge case. Frank’s system works by cutting a “collar” from part of the case neck. This then slips over a bullet seated in a case loaded without powder or primer. As you chamber the dummy round, the collar will move back to indicate the full length of the chamber. (Make sure the bullet is seated well off the lands so the dummy round can chamber fully.)

do it yourself chamber length gauge Sinclair case neck

do it yourself chamber length gauge Sinclair case neck

The pictured gauge can be home made (for free) with components you already have on hand. Frank explained: “I used a Dremel cut-off wheel to cut the front half of the case neck off. A jewelers needle file to de-burr both rough-cut edges. The cut-off surface does not need to be perfectly square, because you are using the original straight mouth to make contact at the front of the chamber. Seat any old bullet to the approximate normal seating length. Next apply a tiny drop of oil on the ogive of the bullet, and slide the ‘collar’ over the bullet. Then chamber the dummy round and close the bolt. Extract the round slowly and carefully and take the measurement with calipers (see top photo).”

Frank’s DIY chamber length gauge works well. In a related Forum thread, Frank posted: “I’ve compared length dimensions doing it this way and with the chamber length shown on my chambering reamer drawings, and the Sinclair gauge, and they are all within .001″ or so.”

do it yourself chamber length gauge Sinclair case neckCommercial Chamber Length Gauges May Not Work with Custom Chambers

Frank did use Sinclair chamber-length gauges for some applications. These bullet-shaped gauges slip into a cartridge, but “it’s inconvenient to order that little gauge only… without spending $6 shipping for a $7 item.” Moreover, the Sinclair gauges may not fit a custom chamber with a tighter neck dimension because the diameter of the ring at the end is too large.

As an alternative to commercial gauges, the collar-type, homemade gauge will function properly in a custom chamber. The homemade gauge will work with smaller-than-standard chamber neck dimensions, as long as you use a piece of appropriately-turned fired brass that fits your chamber.

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October 16th, 2019

Save $$ By Using Lake City 5.56x45mm Once-Fired GI Brass

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. A recent “Handloading Hump Day” post covered preparation of once-fired 5.56x45mm brass. This article, the first in a 3-part series, has many useful tips. If you shoot a rifle chambered in .223 Rem or 5.56x45mm, this article is worth reading.

This week, Handloading Hump-Day will answer a special request from several competitive shooters who asked about procedures for morphing once-fired GI 5.56mm brass into accurate match brass for NRA High Power Rifle use. The USAMU has used virgin Lake City (LC) 5.56 brass to win National Championships and set National Records for many years. In this 3-part series, we’ll share techniques proven to wring match-winning accuracy from combat-grade brass.

GI brass has an excellent attribute, worth noting — it is virtually indestructible. Due to its NATO-spec hardness, the primer pockets last much longer than most commercial brass when using loads at appropriate pressures.

Preparing Once-Fired GI 5.56 Brass for Reloading (Part 1 of 3)

Assuming our readers will be getting brass once-fired as received from surplus dealers, the following steps can help process the low-cost raw material into reliably accurate components.

1. Clean the Brass
First, clean the brass of any dirt/mud/debris, if applicable. Depending on the brass’s condition, washing it in a soap solution followed by a thorough rinsing may help. [This step also extends the life of the tumbling media.] Approaches range from low-tech, using gallon jugs 1/2 full of water/dish soap plus brass and shaking vigorously, to more high-tech, expensive and time-consuming methods.

cleaning Lake City 5.56 brass

2. Wet-Tumbling Options (Be Sure to Dry the Brass)
When applying the final cleaning/polish, some use tumblers with liquid cleaning media and stainless steel pins for a brilliant shine inside and out, while others take the traditional vibratory tumbler/ground media approach. Degree of case shine is purely personal preference, but the key issue is simple cleanliness to avoid scratching ones’ dies.

If a liquid cleaner is used, be SURE to dry the cases thoroughly to preclude corrosion inside. One method is to dump the wet brass into an old pillow case, then tilt it left/right so the cases re-orient themselves while shifting from corner to corner. Several repetitions, pausing at each corner until water stops draining, will remove most water. They can then be left to air-dry on a towel, or can be dried in a warm (150° F-200° F max) oven for a few minutes to speed evaporation.

Shown below are Lake City cases after cleaning with Stainless Media (STM). Note: STM Case cleaning was done by a third party, not the USAMU, which does not endorse any particular cleaning method.

3. Inspect Every Case
Once dry, inspect each case for significant deformation (i.e., someone stepped on it), damaged mouths/necks and case head/rim damage. Some rifles’ ejectors actually dig small chunks of brass out of the case head — obviously, not ideal for precision shooting. Similarly, some extractors can bend the case rims so badly that distortion is visible when spinning them in one’s fingers. These can be used for plinking, but our match brass should have straight, undamaged rims.

Dented case mouths are common, and these can easily be rounded using a conical, tapered tool, [such as a .223 expander mandrel. A dummy 7.62 or .30-06 cartridge with a FMJ spitzer can also work.] If most of your brass is of one headstamp, this is a good time to cull out any odd cases.

4. Check the Primers Before Decapping
Your clean, dry and inspected brass is now ready for full-length sizing, decapping and re-priming. Historically, primer crimps on GI brass have caused some head-scratching (and vile language) among handloaders. Our next installment will detail efficient, easy and practical methods to remove primer crimp, plus other useful handloading tips. Until next week, Good Shooting!

NOTE: The USAMU Handloading (HL) Shop does not RE-load fired 5.56 brass. We use virgin LC brass with our chosen primer already staked in place. However, our staff has extensive personal experience reloading GI brass for competition, which will supplement the Shop’s customary steps. In handloading, as in life, there are many ways to accomplish any given task. Our suggestions are note presented as the “only way,” by any means. Time for loading/practicing is always at a premium. Readers who have more efficient, alternative methods that maintain top accuracy are invited to share them here.

Accuracy Potential of Mil-Surp 5.56×45 Brass

So, how accurate can previously-fired GI surplus brass be in a good National Match AR-15? Well, here’s a data point from many years ago that might be of interest. A High Power shooter who wrote for the late Precision Shooting magazine took a Bill Wylde-built AR match rifle to a registered Benchrest match. His first 5-round group ever fired in a BR match was officially measured at 0.231″ at 200 hundred yards. This was fired in front of witnesses, while using a moving target backer that confirmed all five rounds were fired.

He recounted that his ammo was loaded progressively with factory 52gr match bullets and a spherical powder using mixed years of LC brass with no special preparation whatsoever. Obviously, this was “exceptional”. However, he had no difficulty obtaining consistent 0.5-0.6 MOA accuracy at 200 yards using LC brass and a generic “practice” load that was not tuned to his rifle.

Saving Money by Using GI Brass

So, with good commercial brass readily available, why would one go to all the extra steps necessary to process fired GI brass? [Editor: It’s about saving money.]

Economically, it makes great sense. When the author was actively practicing and competing with the service rifle, he had ~3,000 rounds of 5.56mm brass, which allowed him to load during winter and spend most time in the summer practicing. If one were wealthy and wanted to shoot nothing but the finest imported brass, the current cost of 3,000 is ~$1920 (plus shipping.)

Dropping down to good, but less-expensive new, U.S. commercial brass brings the price to a much more realistic ~$720. However, at current rates, the same amount of surplus GI once-fired brass costs between $120 — $150, leaving lots of room in the budget for other expenses. [Editor: that’s less than 10% of the cost of the best imported brass.]

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 2 Comments »
October 13th, 2019

Bargain Finder 212: 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 Sunday afternoon or Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, optics, 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. Palmetto State Armory — $30 Rebate on Savage Hunting Rifles

Savage Hunting Rifle Rebate
Savage Hunting Rifle Rebate

Palmetto State Armory is running a promo on Savage hunting rifles this month. Purchase any AXIS/Trophy/Apex or Engage Hunter and receive a $30 Mail-In-Rebate. If you’re looking for a deer rifle with a nice camo finish — this is a good deal. Rifles start at just $329.99, so with the $30 rebate your net cost is just $299.99. NOTE: This $30 Savage Factory Rebate applies to purchases made from ANY Savage dealer, as long as you purchase from 10/1/2019 through 10/30/2019. For example, Sportsman’s Guide has the Savage Axis in .308 Win for just $289.99. That’s just $259.99 after Rebate.

2. Precision Reloading — $10, $20, $30 Off Codes — Act Soon!

Precision Reloading Discount codes save $20 $30

Right now you can save big with discount codes for Precision Reloading. These codes provide INSTANT SAVINGS for nearly all in-stock items. You save $10 on orders of $100 or more with Code 1PR19. If you spend $200 or more, use Code 2PR19 to save $20. And, likewise, use code 3PR19 to save $30 on orders of $300 or more. But act soon! This deal expires at 11:59 pm on Monday October 14, 2019.

3. Palmetto State Armory — S&W 9mm Shield $199.99 w/ Rebate


smith wesson 9mm shield rebate

Right now at Palmetto State Armory you can grab the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm carry pistol for just $249.99. Add the $50 S&W Manufacturer’s Rebate, and your net cost is just $199.99. Other retailers change $440.00 or more for this trusty little 9mm handgun. Visit the Smith & Wesson Rebate Site to get your $50 Rebate.

4. CCI Primers — 20% Rebate on $100 or more of CCI Primers

CCI Federal Primer Reloading primers rebate

Spend at least $100 on CCI reloading primers before 10/31/2019 to get 20% of the purchase price back. With CCI’s Primed for Action Special, you get a prepaid Giftcard with the purchase CCI rifle, pistol, or shotshell primers. Minimum spend $100.00 required. Maximum rebate of $100.00 per person or household. Rebate amount calculated on purchase price only. NOTE: CCI’s sister company Federal is also offering 20% off all Federal reloading components, including primers, as part of Federal’s Handload and Save promo.

5. Amazon — Teslong Digital Borescope, $50.99

teslong digital borescope

The impressive Teslong digital borescope offers capabilities that rival optical systems costing $700 or more. This compact, electro-optical, cable-type borescope outputs sharp, high-resolution images and VIDEO to desktop computers, laptops, as well as Android tablets and smartphones. Check out our Full Teslong Review complete with inside-the-barrel videos. At $50.99 this is a great value. NOTE: This unit does NOT currently work with iPhones and iPads.

6. Brownells — Athlon 20-60X Spotting Scope, $149.99

brownells athlon 40-50x80mm spotting scope sale

Here’s a killer optics bargain at Brownells. The Athlon Talos 20-60x80mm Spotting Scope is just $149.99 right now. This Athlon spotter comes with 20-60X zoom eyepiece and multi-coated lenses. Of course, this inexpensive spotting scope will not compete for sharpness or clarity with high-end optics. But it is more than adequate for spotting mirage and seeing bullet holes out to 300 yards. This spotter measures 16.5″ overall and weighs 38.5 ounces.

7. Grizzly — Bald Eagle Precision Priming Press, $70.97

grizzly priming press

Primer seating is one of the most critical steps in reloading. There are lots of priming tool options but no device anywhere near the price can match the Bald Eagle Precision Priming Press. This high-quality tool is close-out priced at $70.97 — a very good deal. This beautifully-made priming press is click adjustable to .002″ and incredibly repeatable. If you’re in the market for something that’s easy on the hands and works like units costing hundreds more, grab one of these now.

8. EuroOptic — Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24x50mm, $299.99

vortex strike eagle

Vortex makes a great product and offers one of the best warranties in the business. So when we saw the Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24x50mm scope for only $299.99 we had to feature it. It has a great 6 times zoom range and features Vortex’s popular EBR-4 MOA reticle. If you are looking for a SFP MOA-based scope for varminting or practical matches, this is a very good offering for the price — a real bargain.

9. Midsouth — Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler Lite, $99.99

Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler Lite

Lots of people love wet-tumbling their brass in stainless pins but not everyone want to do it in a giant unit. We found a sweet deal on the Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler Lite. Midsouth has this unit on sale for $99.99. This tumbler is small enough to fit on a counter but still big enough to hold 300 pieces of .223 Rem brass. For folks on a limited budget who want to get started with wet tumbling, this is a solid choice.

10. Home Depot — Low-Profile Muffs + Shooting Glasses, $16.01

Walker low profile ear muffs eye protection glasses sale

Every shooter should have an extra set of shooting muffs and protective earwear. These will provide vital protection for friends/guests you bring to the range. And let’s face it, sooner or later you’ll forget your own muffs, so it’s wise to keep an extra set in your vehicle at all times. Home Depot a great deal on Walker’s NRR 22 Muffs + ANSI Z87.1-rated Shooting Glasses. Get both as a Combo Set for just $16.01. Midsouth also has this combo for $19.99.

Permalink Hot Deals, News, Optics, Reloading No Comments »
October 11th, 2019

Revolver Kaboom Provides Important Safety Lessons

Revolver kaboom wheelgun explosion mistake reloading powder safety

This shocking Revolver Kaboom resulted from “user error”. Our friends at Midsouth Shooters provided this cautionary tale, noting that you must ALWAYS be careful when hand-loading any ammo. Check your loads and don’t have multiple powder containers in your reloading area.

Revolver kaboom wheelgun explosion mistake reloading powder safety

“Ever wonder what happens when you don’t pay attention to detail? A word of advice from the reloader who brought this in — always double-check the load data.

Thankfully, the shooter was unharmed in the explosion. A live round we recovered from the remaining portions of the cylinder contained 12.8 grains of powder. The shooter had multiple powders on his bench and was unable to recall which one had been used while loading.” — Midsouth Shooters

Revolver kaboom wheelgun explosion mistake reloading powder safety

How to Avoid Kabooms

1. Never have more than one powder container open on your reloading bench at the same time — when you are finished with a powder, seal the bottle and put it away.

2. If there is already powder sitting in your dispenser, and you’re not 100% sure what it is — throw it out. We suggest, whenever you fill a powder hopper, put a piece of paper in the powder hopper with the name of the powder and the date.

3. When loading a new cartridge or when using a new powder, get load data from more than one source. Always load conservatively to start!

4. Always double-check your Load Data before starting the loading process.

5. In short handgun cases, bullet seating depth can make a BIG difference in pressure levels. Be sure to check your Cartridge OAL.

Revolver kaboom wheelgun explosion mistake reloading powder safety

Credit Boyd Allen for Finding this content.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Handguns, Reloading 4 Comments »
October 10th, 2019

How to Succeed at Club Matches — Six Tips

During shooting season, 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 6 Comments »
October 9th, 2019

How’s Your Headspace? Four Tools to Measure Shoulder Bump

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

The Tactical Rifle Shooters Facebook Group recently showcased tools used to measure case headspace before and after “bumping” the shoulder. After a case is fired, hand-loaders who full-length size their cases will typically bump the shoulders back anywhere from .001″ to .0035″, depending on the rifle and application. With our 6mmBR and Dasher cases we like about .0015″ bump.

You want the amount of case sizing and bump to be the same for all your brass. To ensure uniformity, it makes sense to measure your cases before and after the FL sizing process. When we have time, we check every case. Other folks will simply check the first 3-4 cases coming out of the FL sizing die to ensure the FL die setting is correct and delivering desired headspace/bump.

1. Whidden Gunworks Shoulder Bump Gauge

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

There are a variety of tools that can be used to measure shoulder bump. Our favorite is a special cartridge-specific bushing made by Whidden Gunworks. The Whidden Shoulder Bump Gauge enables you to adjust your sizing die to the desired measurement. The bump gauge is attached to your calipers with a set screw and determines the measurement from the base to the shoulder of the case. The photo below, from Tactical Rifle Shooters, shows the Whidden Bump Gauge for the .375 CheyTac cartridge.

2. Dave Manson Vertical Comparator with Dial Read-Out

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson
Background image courtesy Tactical Rifle Shooters; inset photo from Manson Precison Reamers.

Dave Manson states: “This tool was designed to make life easier for the advanced shooter and re-loader by allowing precise measurement of ammunition, case, and chamber headspace. With this information, the re-loader will be able to fine-tune clearances and fits between his ammunition and chamber, with resultant improvements in accuracy and case life.” The functions of the Comparator are:

1. Measure headspace of factory or reloaded ammunition
2. Quantify chamber headspace by measuring headspace of a fired case
3. Ensure minimal shoulder set-back when setting up re-loading dies
4. Compare base-to-ogive length to ensure consistent bullet-to-rifling relationship.

In addition to the Dial Indicator and Stand, the $130.00 Vertical Comparator is supplied with multiple Datum Blocks of precise length and inside diameter (.3300″/.3750″/.4000″/.4375″). MORE INFO HERE.

3. Hornady L-N-L Headspace Comparator System

shoulder bump headspace gauge comparator tool whidden manson

Hornady makes comparator gauges matched to the red comparator holder that mounts on your caliper. These Lock-N-Load Headspace Gauges are inexpensive. You can get a set of five gauges for $31.99. Hornady explains: “The Lock-N-Load® Headspace Comparator… gauge measures variations in brass before and after firing or re-sizing. It allows for headspace comparison between fire-formed brass and re-sized brass.” IMPORTANT: Hornady states: “To determine the proper bushing diameter for your cartridge, simply add the neck diameter and the shoulder diameter and divide that number by two. Use the bushing closest to that number.” Hornady offers five: .330″, .350″, .375″, .400″, and .420″.

One tip — We have found the Hornady gauges may vary a little from unit to unit even with the same nominal size. If you have more than one gauge for the same cartridge, test each on your brass — you may then note a slight difference in your bump measurements.

4. Pistol Brass Case DIY Bump Gauge

Last is a “field expedient” set-up if you do not have any of the comparator tools shown above. A sized .45 ACP case (or other suitable pistol case) can be used to measure shoulder bump. The mouth of the pistol case sits on the shoulder of your rifle cartridge brass.

Make sure the .45 ACP case is trimmed square and that it is round. We recommend you first run it through an expander, then size it, trim it and chamfer. Next, take the .45 ACP case and slip it over the neck of a fired, unsized rifle case with the primer removed. Align the two cases between the jaws of your calipers and note the length from rim to rim (See left photo below).

OK, now you have the length for a fired rifle case BEFORE sizing. Next, take a full-length sized rifle case (without primer) and do the same thing, placing the .45 ACP case over the neck of the FL-sized case (Right Photo). The difference between the two numbers is the amount of “bump” or set-back you are applying to the shoulder. Here the difference is .0015″. The amount of bump you need varies with your chamber and your load, but .0015-.002″ is a good initial setting.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
October 7th, 2019

AutoTrickler V3 Updates — Report by UltimateReloader

UltimateReloader Gavin Gear Powder dispenser Autotrickler v3 update report

Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com has been testing the AutoTrickler V3, a microprocessor-controlled powder-dispensing system that works with super-precise force restoration scales. Combining an automated powder measure with a motorized trickler, the AutoTrickler can deliver a full powder charge, with single-kernel precision, in a few seconds.

» GO TO AutoTrickler V3 Report on UltimateReloader.com

AutoTrickler inventor Adam MacDonald has developed numerous enhancements to his powder-dispensing system, which will be incorporated into the latest AutoTrickler V3 production version. Gavin Gear reviews all these important new features in a new video released on October 6, 2019. Check it out:

Key Enhancements for AutoTrickler V3 Production Version:

1. Improved, Larger-Capacity Clear Powder Hopper
The new clear plastic powder hopper is much larger than the old Lee red-colored hopper it replaces. That’s good news for folks loading large magnum cartridges.

2. Taller Glass Powder Cup and Improved Diffuser
When the main powder charge comes down from the hopper, it passes through a plastic “diffuser” into a glass cup. Both these products have been enhanced.

3. New Simple V-Shaped Stop for Powder Cup
With the V3, it is easier to center the powder cup on the scale unit. Gavin explains: “Instead of a ramp and ‘landing pad’, the cup stop is now a super-simple angled back stop. If you push the cup back towards the center of the pan, it will guide itself into the centered position every time.”

Here is the original AutoTrickler V3 Video Report from UltimateReloader.com:

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
October 4th, 2019

Click-Adjust FL Die Systems from PMA Tool & Whidden Gunworks

click-adjustable die micro-adjusting lock ring PMA Tool Whidden Gunworks

One of the most important aspects of precision reloading is setting the shoulder bump during the full-length (FL) sizing process. You want the amount of “bump” to be precise and identical for every loaded round. However, when you switch brands of brass you may need to change the die position to get the desired bump and case body sizing. And even with the same brand of brass, you may find that you need to adjust your FL die as the number of brass load cycles increases. Brass that has been fired many times will behave differently than new or near-new brass.

Also, even with the same cartridge type, brass loaded for a semi-auto rifle may need more bump than brass fired in a bolt gun. For example, with .223 Rem ammo, you’ll normally want to push the shoulder back farther if the ammo will be shot in a AR15 as opposed to a bolt-action rig.

So how do you make all these needed adjustments for your full-length dies? You can move a conventional locking ring up and down, but that can be a tedious, trial-and-error process. Some guys use shims in one-thousandth intervals, but that still requires taking your dies in and out of the press. Well there is a better way now…

PMA Tool Micro-Die Adjuster

Wouldn’t it be great if you could precisely adjust your FL die up and down in half-thousandth increments, with a simple indexed click. That is now possible with products offered by PMA Tool and Whidden Gunworks. PMA Tool offers a Micro-Die Adjuster that replaces your existing lock ring and can be used with nearly any 7/8-14 full length sizing die. The engraved marks correspond to approximately .001″ of shoulder bump adjustment. Splitting the engraved marks is therefore approximately equal to .0005″ (half a thousandth). Users love this product, saying it adds precision and saves time.

Whidden Click-Adjustable FL Sizing Die System

Whidden Gunworks offers a complete click-adjustable FL sizer die with a special, indexed ring. With Whidden’s patent-pending Click Adjustable Sizer Die system, the die and lock ring work together to allow rapid, precise bump adjustments. One click changes the bump .001″. It’s simple and fast. Included with the Click Adjustable Sizer Die is a shoulder bump gauge. John Whidden (in video below) explains:

“There has become a need for an easier way to adjust the sizer die properly. Until now there have been few options other than trial and error to get the shoulder setback correct. Anyone who has done this can attest that it’s a slow and imprecise job! Our die and lock ring work together to give the user a clicking feel to the adjustment. Each click moves the shoulder bump .001” so you can easily find the exact shoulder bump that you desire.” — John Whidden

General Tips on Setting Up and Using Sizing Dies

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Reloading 1 Comment »
October 3rd, 2019

Stick, Flake, and Ball — Do You Know Your Powder Properties?

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener’s Reloading & Shooting Supply recently published a helpful introduction to reloading powders. Widener’s online Guide to Smokeless Powders shows the various types of powders, and explains how the differences in powder kernel/flake size and shape, and burn rate affect performance. We recommend you visit Widener’s website and read the Powder Guide in full.

Take a close look at these illustrations which show the key differences between the four main powder types: extruded (stick) powder, ball (spherical) powder, flattened ball powder, and flake powder.

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Burn Rate Basics

Widener’s Guide to Smokeless Powders also has a useful discussion of Burn Rate (a confusing topic for many hand-loaders). Wideners explains: “While a gun powder explosion in the cartridge seems instantaneous, if you slow it down you will actually find that each powder has a different ‘burn rate’, or speed at which it ignites.” This video shows powders with two very different burn rates. Watch closely.

Different burn rates suit different cartridge types notes Widener’s: “In general a fast-burning powder is used for light bullets and low-speed pistols and shotguns. Medium-rate powders are used for magnum pistols, while high-velocity, large bore rifle cartridges will need slow powders[.]

It should be noted that burn rate does not have a standardized unit of measurement. In fact, burn rate is really only discussed in comparison to other powders; there is no universal yardstick. Specifics will change by cartridge and bullet types[.]”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
October 2nd, 2019

Four Vital Ammo Checks — Avoid Big Problems at the Range

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Here’a useful article by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant. This story, which originally appeared in the Sierra Blog, covers some of the more common ammo problems that afflict hand-loaders. Some of those issues are: excessive OAL, high primers, and improperly sized cases. Here Mr. Pilant explains how to avoid these common problems that lead to “headaches at the range.

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

I had some gentlemen at my house last fall getting rifle zeros for an upcoming elk hunt. One was using one of the .300 short mags and every 3rd or 4th round would not chamber. Examination of the case showed a bulge right at the body/shoulder junction. These were new cases he had loaded for this trip. The seating die had been screwed down until it just touched the shoulder and then backed up just slightly. Some of the cases were apparently slightly longer from the base to the datum line and the shoulder was hitting inside the seating die and putting the bulge on the shoulder. I got to thinking about all the gun malfunctions that I see each week at matches and the biggest percentage stem from improper handloading techniques.

One: Check Your Cases with a Chamber Gage

Since I shoot a lot of 3-gun matches, I see a lot of AR problems which result in the shooter banging the butt stock on the ground or nearest solid object while pulling on the charging handle at the same time. I like my rifles too well to treat them that way (I cringe every time I see someone doing that). When I ask them if they ran the ammo through a chamber gage, I usually get the answer, “No, but I need to get one” or “I didn’t have time to do it” or other excuses. The few minutes it takes to check your ammo can mean the difference between a nightmare and a smooth running firearm.

A Chamber Gauge Quickly Reveals Long or Short Cases
Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Size Your Cases Properly
Another problem is caused sizing the case itself. If you will lube the inside of the neck, the expander ball will come out a lot easier. If you hear a squeak as the expander ball comes out of a case neck, that expander ball is trying to pull the case neck/shoulder up (sometimes several thousandths). That is enough that if you don’t put a bulge on the shoulder when seating the bullet … it can still jam into the chamber like a big cork. If the rifle is set up correctly, the gun will not go into battery and won’t fire but the round is jammed into the chamber where it won’t extract and they are back to banging it on the ground again (with a loaded round stuck in the chamber). A chamber gage would have caught this also.

Bad_Primer_WallsOversizing cases also causes problems because the firing pin doesn’t have the length to reach the primer solid enough to ignite it 100% of the time. When you have one that is oversized, you usually have a bunch, since you usually do several cases at a time on that die setting. If the die isn’t readjusted, the problem will continue on the next batch of cases also. They will either not fire at all or you will have a lot of misfires. In a bolt action, a lot of time the extractor will hold the case against the face of the breech enough that it will fire. The case gets driven forward and the thinner part of the brass expands, holding to the chamber wall and the thicker part of the case doesn’t expand as much and stretches back to the bolt face. If it doesn’t separate that time, it will the next time. When it does separate, it leaves the front portion of the case in the chamber and pulls the case head off. Then when it tries to chamber the next round, you have a nasty jam. Quite often range brass is the culprit of this because you never know how many times it has been fired/sized and in what firearm.’Back to beating it on the ground again till you figure out that you have to get the forward part of the case out.

Just a quick tip — To extract the partial case, an oversized brush on a cleaning rod [inserted] and then pulled backward will often remove the case. The bristles when pushed forward and then pulled back act like barbs inside the case. If you have a bunch of oversized case that have been fired, I would dispose of them to keep from having future problems. There are a few tricks you can use to salvage them if they haven’t been fired though. Once again, a case gage would have helped.

Two: Double Check Your Primers

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Another thing I see fairly often is a high primer, backwards primer, or no primer at all. The high primers are bad because you can have either a slam fire or a misfire from the firing pin seating the primer but using up its energy doing so. So, as a precaution to make sure my rifle ammo will work 100% of the time, I check it in a case gage, then put it in an ammo box with the primer up and when the box is full, I run my finger across all the primers to make sure they are all seated to the correct depth and you can visually check to make sure none are in backwards or missing.

Three: Check Your Overall Cartridge Length

Trying to load the ammo as long as possible can cause problems also. Be sure to leave yourself enough clearance between the tip of the bullet and the front of the magazine where the rounds will feed up 100%. Several times over the years, I have heard of hunters getting their rifle ready for a hunt. When they would go to the range to sight in, they loaded each round single shot without putting any ammo in the magazine. On getting to elk or deer camp, they find out the ammo is to long to fit in the magazine. At least they have a single shot, it could be worse. I have had hunters that their buddies loaded the ammo for them and then met them in hunting camp only to find out the ammo wouldn’t chamber from either the bullet seated to long or the case sized improperly, then they just have a club.

Four: Confirm All Cases Contain Powder

No powder in the case doesn’t seem to happen as much in rifle cartridges as in handgun cartridges. This is probably due to more handgun ammo being loaded on progressive presses and usually in larger quantities. There are probably more rifle cartridges that don’t have powder in them than you realize though. Since the pistol case is so much smaller internal capacity, when you try to fire it without powder, it usually dislodges the bullet just enough to stick in the barrel. On a rifle, you have more internal capacity and usually a better grip on the bullet, since it is smaller diameter and longer bearing surface. Like on a .223, often a case without powder won’t dislodge the bullet out of the case and just gets ejected from the rifle, thinking it was a bad primer or some little quirk.

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

For rifle cases loaded on a single stage press, I put them in a reloading block and always dump my powder in a certain order. Then I do a visual inspection and any case that the powder doesn’t look the same level as the rest, I pull it and the one I charged before and the one I charged after it. I inspect the one case to see if there is anything visual inside. Then I recharge all 3 cases. That way if a case had powder hang up and dump in the next case, you have corrected the problem.

On progressive presses, I try to use a powder that fills the case up to about the base of the bullet. That way you can usually see the powder as the shell rotates and if you might have dumped a partial or double charge, you will notice as you start to seat the bullet if not before. On a progressive, if I don’t load a cartridge in one smooth stroke (say a bullet tipped over sideways and I raised the ram slightly to reset it) Some presses actually back the charge back adding more powder if it has already dumped some so you have a full charge plus a partial charge. When I don’t complete the procedure with one stroke, I pull the case that just had powder dumped into it and check the powder charge or just dump the powder back into the measure and run the case thru later.

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October 2nd, 2019

Smart Reloader — Die Shims For Full-Length Sizing Dies

Sinclair Die Shims

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. You can get a set of seven (7) shims for your standard 7/8-14 FL sizing dies for just $11.99.

Here are reports from Forum members who use the shims:

“Great product. I have my die lock ring(s) adjusted for the shortest headspace length on my multiple chambers 6BRs and 6PPCs. When needing a longer headspace, I just refer to my notes and add the appropriate shim under the lock ring. Keep it simple.” — F.D. Shuster

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.” — Mats Johansson

Sinclair Die ShimsBrownells offers a seven-piece set of Sizing 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 $11.99 Die Shim Kit (item 22400 or 749-001-325WB) 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.

NOTE: Brownells also offers a 10-shim set for use with L.E. Wilson seating dies used with arbor presses. Frankly we prefer micrometer-top Wilson dies, but if you have the standard dies, these shims come in handy. Order Brownells Code 749-001-326WB, $12.99.

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October 1st, 2019

Don’t Ruin Primer Pockets — Adjust Your Decapping Rod Properly

One of our Forum members complained that he wasn’t able to set his primers flush to the rim. He tried a variety of primer tools, yet no matter what he used, the primers still didn’t seat deep enough. He measured his primers, and they were the right thickness, but it seemed like his primer pockets just weren’t deep enough. He was mystified as to the cause of the problem.

Well, our friend Boyd Allen diagnosed the problem. It was the decapping rod. If the rod is adjusted too low (screwed in too far), the base of the full-diameter rod shaft (just above the pin) will contact the inside of the case. That shaft is steel whereas your case is brass, a softer, weaker metal. So, when you run the case up into the die, the shaft can actually stretch the base of the primer pocket outward. Most presses have enough leverage to do this. If you bell the base of the primer pocket outwards, you’ve essentially ruined your case, and there is no way a primer can seat correctly.

The fix is simple. Just make sure to adjust the decapping rod so that the base of the rod shaft does NOT bottom out on the inside of the case. The pin only needs to extend through the flash hole far enough to knock the primer out. The photo shows a Lyman Universal decapping die. But the same thing can happen with any die that has a decapping rod, such as bushing neck-sizing dies, and full-length sizing dies.

Universal decapping die

Whenever you use a die with a decapping pin for the first time, OR when you move the die to a different press, make sure to check the decapping rod length. And it’s a good idea, with full-length sizing dies, to always re-check the height setting when changing presses.

Lee Universal Decapping Die on SALE for $10.96
Speaking of decapping tools, Midsouth Shooters Supply sells the Lee Universal Decapping Die for just $10.96 (item 006-90292), a very good deal. There are many situations when you may want to remove primers from fired brass as a separate operation (prior to case sizing). For example, if your rifle brass is dirty, you may want to de-cap before sizing. Or, if you load on a progressive press, things will run much more smoothly if you decap you brass first, in a separate operation.

Lee universal decapping die

NOTE: Some Euro Small Flash Holes are 1.5mm or 0.059″.

The low-cost Lee Universal Decapping Die will work with cartridges from 17 Fireball all the way up to big Magnums. However, NOTE that the decapping pin supplied with this Lee die is TOO LARGE for LAPUA 220 Russian, 6mmBR, 6.5×47, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win (Palma) and Norma 6 PPC flash holes. Because the pin diameter is too large for these brass types, you must either turn down the pin, or decap with a different tool for cases with .059″ flash-holes. Otherwise, the Lee Decapping Die works well and it’s a bargain.

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