April 10th, 2017

Long-Term Powder Storage — What You Need to Know

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

Ever wondered about the stability of the propellants in your reloading room? There are some important things you should know about powder storage, to ensure consistent powder performance and safety. On its website, Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders) published an informative Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.

Proper Powder Storage

Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.

Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.

CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)

In their original containers smokeless powder’s lifespan is quite long, even in your hot, arid climate, typically longer than the average handloader would need to store them. Stored safely in a garage or outbuilding, your powder should last years. If you see the powder developing a reddish tint, or giving off a foul odor, it is time to discard it.

Clumps in Powder Container

Q: I ordered some of your Accurate 1680 powder back about in December. I just now opened it … and it is full of clumps. My knowledge tells me that means moisture. Am I wrong? I just now broke the seal and it has been stored in a ammo can with desiccant packs around it and a dehumidifier running 14-16 hours a day. I can’t imagine this being my fault, if this does indicate moisture. I don’t know if the pink part on the label is suppose to be red or not, but it is definitely pink, so if it was red I am wondering if I was shipped an old container? I hope that this isn’t bad and I am stuck with it…

Lab Answer: All powder contains a certain amount of moisture. When the powder is stored or during shipping, it can go through temperature cycles. During the cycling, the moisture can be pulled to the surface and cause clumping. Clumping can also be caused by static electricity if too dry or the powder has limited graphite content. You can break up the clumps before metering and they shouldn’t be a problem. This will not affect the powder performance, so your product is fine. Accurate 1680 labels are designed in Pink. As a side note, specification for testing powder is at 70° F and 60% humidity.

Shelf Life and Packaging Dates

Q: Does powder ever get to old to use and what identifying marks does your company put on the canister for when it is made, You have helped me out a while ago when I asked about keeping my cowboy shooting under 950 fps and it works great less stress on the hand and the recoil is very minimum. — R.B.

Lab Answer: On one pound bottles, the number is on the corner in a silver box. If the powder was poured today, it would read 012815 followed by a lot number. The whole number would look something like 012815749. Eight pound bottles have a sticker on the bottom with an obvious date code. The lot number appears above the date.

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

SUMMARY: Powder can have a very long shelf life. You need to watch for changes in smell and color. A reddish tinge, almost like rust on the powder, is a bad sign, as is a foul odor, not to be confused with a normal chemical smell. Either of these signs indicate it is time to dispose of your powder by means other than shooting.

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April 8th, 2017

Wonders of Wood — Amazing Reloading Room Projects

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood
Bullet sorting station — quilted Maple with marble tile inlay, created by JVW2008.

We have a master woodworker in our Shooters’ Forum, Jerry from Colorado (aka JVW2008). In a recent Forum thread, Jerry showcases multiple examples of his handiwork — various wood projects for the reloading room. Beautifully made, these one-of-a-kind custom cabinets and tool stands deserve to be on display in a museum.

Jerry’s creations exhibit exquisite craftsmanship and some very clever design features. What is your favorite item among the Jerry’s wood wonders shown here? You can reveal your favorites in the comment section below.

Throne for a Sartorius Analytical Balance
Jerry built this “Throne” for his ultra-precise Sartorius Entris force restoration scale, which is linked to a V2 Auto-Trickler. This is a true state-of-the-art powder measuring system on a beautiful base unit.

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

Cabinet for Balance Beam Scale
Here is an oak balance beam scale cabinet and weighing surface. Note the mulitiple tiers, side wings, and other smart design features.

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

Custom Arbor Press Base
Below is a handsome, well-designed base for K&M Arbor Press and Wilson dies. Look at the fitted recesses for the hand dies — very nice!

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

Jumbo Walnut/Maple Loading Block
And here is a beautiful 100-cartridge reloading block, crafted from Walnut over Maple. It’s impressive to see 100 cartridges all lined up like that!

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

To see more impressive wood projects by our Shooters’ Forum members, visit the Wood Working Ideas Forum Thread. Along with Jerry’s reloading toom wonders, you’ll see cleaning cradles, shooting benches, transport boxes, and much more. Check out this amazing inlaid rifle case crafted by Forum member Nando-AS for his son.

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

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April 8th, 2017

Hand-Loading as Stress Relief for the Modern-Day Man

Sierra Bullets Blog handloading stress relief

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin for Sierra Bullets Blog
A lot of calls that come into the Sierra Customer Service Center are made by shooters [of retirement age]. Most of the time the shooter used to reload back when they were [younger] and stopped in order to raise a family, pursue a career, or both. Maybe their father or grandfather taught them back in the day and they are looking for an answer to the new whatchamacallit they found on the internet. The point is they are coming back to it because it was fun.

Reloading Can Provide Stress Relief
As a father of three, a husband, a brother, a son and son-in-law, and a friend and neighbor, I get pulled in a lot of directions. In all honesty, reloading and shooting has become a stress relief for me even though I work in the shooting industry.

Sometimes, the shooting gets put on hold for other more important things but there will always be another project or repair to accomplish. There are a lot out there that have found a way to balance the work life, the family life, and the play life. I would like to applaud you on your efforts because it is a hard thing to accomplish.

Remember to take time and relieve that stress. Do something fun, especially if it is shooting that special hand-load you just made.

AccurateShooter Comment — Hand-Loading and the Creative Process
Reloading your own precise ammo can be rewarding in many ways. First it allows you a temporary escape from work pressures, “Honey-Dos”, filing your taxes — whatever. It’s just you and Mr. Rockchucker spending quality time in the loading room. Second, hand-loading is a creative process that engages the mind. During load development, you are like an inventor, selecting a powder charge, choosing the bushing size, experimenting with seating depths, working to perfect your load.

Lastly, the process of hand-loading is rewarding because you are building something start to finish. You begin with components — bullets, brass, and powder, and end up with a finished product that (hopefully) is better than the best factory ammo you could buy. It is enormously satisfying to start with piles of bullets and brass and end up with beautiful hand-loads that can deliver great accuracy.

This post originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog.

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April 5th, 2017

Save Big Bucks with Midsouth’s Spring Clearance Sale

Midsouth Spring Inventory Clearance Sale Leupold Scopes Nosler Redding

Right now Midsouth Shooters Supply is running a Spring Inventory Clearance Sale. Everything in the Clearance Sections just got marked down 10% below the previous sale pricing. There are a lot of great bargains here — everything from big name optics to reloading dies to loaded ammo and much more. Hundreds of items are on sale, even top-quality items such as Sierra MatchKing bullets and Norma brass. If you need a scope or dies, you should definitely check out the sale. Likewise if you want factory ammo for a hunting rig, you’ll find some great bargains.

Here’s Some of the Cool Stuff on Sale, at Very Low Prices:

Sierra 7mm and .308 MatchKing Bullets
Federal Primers
Lyman Sonic Cleaning Machine
Hornady Reloading Tools
Norma 22 PPC Brass
Leupold Scopes
Leupold Binoculars
Burris Scopes

Vihtavuori N310 and N350 Powder
Redding Competition Dies
Redding TiN Neck Bushings
RCBS Reloading Dies
Nosler .260 Rem and 300 WSM Ammo
Leica CFR Rangefinders
Weatherby/Howa stocks
Handgun Holsters and Gun Cases

Midsouth Spring Inventory Clearance Sale Leupold Scopes Nosler Redding

Clearance Sale Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 3rd, 2017

Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass Performs Great in Tough Field Test

6.5 Guys 6.5 creedmoor Lapua brass cartridge casing filed test 20 reload cycles

The verdict is in — Lapua’s new 6.5 Creedmoor brass is ultra-tough and very consistent. So sayeth the 6.5 Guys, who recently field-tested the brass, loading it to very stout levels. Even after 20 reloadings, the Lapua 6.5 CM brass held up extremely well. This brass, with its small primer pocket and small flash hole, really does out-perform other 6.5 Creedmoor brass offerings. Yes the Lapua brass is pricey, but it outlasts the alternatives, and, if the 6.5 Guys test is any indication, you can run higher velocities with this brass compared to other brands. Watch the 6.5 Guys Lapua brass test in this video:

If you have a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, or are considering getting a gun chambered for this cartridge, we strongly recommend you watch the full 6.5 Guys Video. Ed and Steve spent a lot of time conducting this test, and the video includes helpful summaries of their findings.

The Evolution of the 6.5 Creedmoor
Over the last few years the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge has become increasingly popular among precision rifle enthusiasts. However, availability of brass cases was limited to only a few manufacturers. In early 2017 Lapua introduced to the market its own 6.5 Creedmoor case with a unique twist — the case has a small rifle primer pocket and small flash hole — like the 6mmBR Norma and 6.5×47 Lapua.

6.5 Guys 6.5 creedmoor Lapua brass cartridge casing filed test 20 reload cycles

Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass — Test Protocol
The 6.5 Guys tested a box of Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge brass supplied by Graf & Sons. The project involved two phases. First the 6.5 Guys weighed and measured the cases to assess weight uniformity and dimensional consistency (which was impressive). Then came phase II — the “torture test”. The 6.5 Guys loaded the brass with a very stout charge of H4350 pushing 140gr Hornady ELD bullets*. The brass was loaded and shot over 20 times. This durability test was conducted to see how many repeated firings and resizing/reloading cycles the brass could handle. Remarkably, after 20+ loadings, the brass was still holding up — no “blown-out” primer pockets. This stuff is tough. The 6.5 Guys note: “You can go at least 20 reloadings without a split neck…but brass spring-back may be another issue.”

After 20 Load Cycles — Going to the Extreme
Once the Lapua cases had been shot 20+ times, the 6.5 Guys tried something more extreme. They stuffed the brass with a very hot load — a powder charge weight well beyond a sensible maximum. Even with this “beyond max” load, the Lapua brass held up but there was some evidence of pressure on the primers: “You do see some cratering on the primer with a Remington 700 that you don’t see with a Defiance action, but nothing to indicate a potential pierced primer.”

6.5 Guys 6.5 creedmoor Lapua brass cartridge casing filed test 20 reload cycles
WARNING: The 6.5 Guys deliberately used a very stout load for testing. Do not attempt to duplicate. This load was shot in a faster-than-average barrel with a chamber set up for long 140gr bullets. You may not be able to achieve similar velocities — maybe not even close. As with all hand-loading, always start low and work up charges in small increments.

6.5 Creedmoor vs. 6.5×47 Lapua — Battle of the Middle-Weights
With this new brass, does the 6.5 Creedmoor enjoy an edge over the 6.5×47 Lapua? The 6.5 Guys answer: “That’s hard to say. From a market share standpoint, the 6.5 CM is more popular in the USA. From a technical perspective, 6.5×47 Lapua offers near identical performance with better barrel life. But from our tests, you can drive a 140-grain bullet much faster with 6.5 Creedmoor than you ever can (safely) with a 6.5×47 Lapua. That’s our non-answer answer….”

The 6.5 Guys concluded that the 6.5 Creedmoor will enjoy a velocity advantage: “We’ve had a number of discussions with RBros and other folks about this. It appears that 6.5×47 still has the edge as far as barrel life. But it also looks like you can push a 140gr bullet pretty fast with the 6.5 CM — speeds that are not obtainable with the 6.5×47 Lapua.”

* Why were the Hornady 140gr ELDs chosen for testing? The 6.5 Guys wanted a bullet in the 140gr weight range. Beyond that, the choice was fortuitous. Ed explained: “Our bullet selection was quite scientific — we sat down at my reloading bench and looked around. Saw the Hornady 140 ELD Match and decided to roll with that.”

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 18 Comments »
April 3rd, 2017

Bargain Finder 81: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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

1. Cabela’s — Winged 1/2″-Padded Shooting Mat, $44.99

Shooting Mat Cabelas custom wings large flaps

This is a very good, thickly-padded mat, with unique features — twin side wings for gear. Sale priced at $44.99 at Cabela’s, this offers great value for the money. With 1/2″-thick padding, this mat is comfortable, and the large side wings keep your gear off damp, mucky, or dusty ground. The left wing has a zippered compartment while the right wing has a large pouch that can hold ammo box, rangefinder, or other gear. Up front is a handy bipod stop. Deployed, the mat is an ample 73-1/2″ long x 35-1/2″ wide. The mat rolls up into a convenient package complete with adjustable shoulder strap. With a Lifetime Guarantee, this mat has earned very positive user reviews — 4.8 out of 5 stars. One owner declared: “This is a great shooting mat … rivals many other mats in a much higher price range. The added wing area has plenty of room for ammo, elbows and miscellaneous gear. It has two sewn-in bipod stops and the padding is just right. It is very well built, love it!” — LHeffy.

2. CDNN Sports –$1.50 Safety Eyewear and $10.00 Muffs

Earmuffs Eyewear CDNN Cheap Sale Clearance

CDNN is selling off all its remaining inventory of Safety Eyewear and Hearing Protection. Accordingly, you can purchase ANSI-Z87.1-Rated Eyewear for $1.50, and a set of NRR25 Muffs for just $10.00. At these prices, you can outfit the whole family, or donate a few sets to your local youth program. We’ve learned it’s always good to have spare eye and ear protection — keep extra sets in your range bags and vehicle glove boxes.

3. Aero Precision — Upper & Lower Kit, FDE Cerakote, $193.49

AR AR16 Upper and Lower Aero Precision Kit

Thinking of putting together an accurate AR for the new PRS Gas Gun series (or 3-Gun matches)? Here’s a good place to start. Aero Precision now offers a $193.49 kit with stripped Upper and Lower Receivers — both with a durable Flat Dark Earth (Magpul FDE) Cerakote finish. Just add barrel, buttstock, trigger group, controls, and your bolt carrier group. Note: This Kit will work with the .223 Rem and similar-length, larger-caliber cartridges such as the 6mmAR and 6.5 Grendel. If you want to shoot a 6.5 Creedmoor, you’ll need an AR10 platform rifle.

4. Midsouth — GECO .22 LR Bolt Action Ammo, $42 for 500 Rds

Shooting Mat Cabelas custom wings large flaps

This a very good deal on quality, European-made GECO .22 LR rimfire ammunition. This is optimized for use in bolt-action rifles. Test lots have proven reliable with much better than average ED and SD and solid accuracy. GECO is a good brand, part of the Swiss RUAG family of companies. The price, $42.00 for a 500-round Brick (10 boxes), is just 8.4 cents per round. Though still very affordable, this GECO .22 LR ammo is way better than typical domestic “bulk pack” rimfire ammo.

5. Grafs.com — Sightron SIIB Scope Clearance Sale, 46-47% Off

Sightron Graf's Grafs.com Scope Sale SIIB

As part of its Spring Inventory Clearance Sale, Grafs.com is offering Sightron SIIB scopes at rock-bottom prices. If you are looking for a reliable medium-power zoom optic for a varmint rig or hunting rifle, check out these bargains: Sightron 3-12x42mm Plex and Sightron 4-15x42mm Target AO Plex.

We like the 4-16x42mm Sightron SIIB with adjustable front objective for just $329.99. That’s 47% off the regular price. The 15X is enough power for most prairie dog shooting and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an adjustable front objective — these systems are very positive and “dead nuts” reliable.

6. CDNN Sports — Ruger 17 HMR American Compact $279.99

Ruger 17 HMR American Compact

With ballistics far superior to a .22 LR, the 17 HMR is ideal for Prairie Dogs and small varmints out to 180 yards or so. Now you can get a reliable, name brand 17 HMR rifle for a very attractive price. That’s right, CDNN Sports is selling the 17 HMR Ruger American Rimfire Compact, with 18″ barrel, for just $279.99. That includes two (2) comb units and a FREE padded carry sling. FFL required.

7. Amazon — Plano Double Rifle Case with Wheels, $113.99

Plano double scoped rifle case with wheels

This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case is an Amazon Best Seller for good reason. It offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is under $115.00, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00, so you can buy two Planos for the price of one SKB. The 51.5″ interior will fit most scoped competition rifles up to about 29″ barrels (measure your own rifle to make sure). The handles are convenient and beefy and the wheels make this case easy to move through airports and parking lots. This is a very tough, roomy case for the money (plus there’s Free Shipping for Prime Members).

8. Amazon — 630 1″-Diameter Target Spots, $9.65 Delivered

Amazon target dots discount free shipping sight-in target

We use 1″-diameter Target Spots for sight-in and practice at 100-300 yards. These bright red/orange self-adhesive dots are easy to see. At 100 yards the high-contrast black diamond centers provide precise aiming points. We found this 10-pack of target spots on Amazon at a rock-bottom price. You get 630 total stick-on dots for just $9.65 with FREE Shipping. You can also get 360 Birchwood Casey 1″ dots from Midsouth for just $3.15, but shipping is extra. If you’re already ordering something from Midsouth, you may want to add the dots to your order.

9. Amazon — Cotton Cleaning Patches, 800 for $9.99 – $17.99

Amazon bulk pack patches 800 cotton flannel

Got patches? Here’s a great deal on 100% cotton flannel patches. There are many sizes available, starting at $9.99 for 800 one-inch “17 Cal” patches. For 6mm rifles, we actually like the 1.25″ round “22/223″ sized patches priced at $11.99 for 800. Choose either round patches or square patches in most sizes. We generally like round patches for use with spire-tip jags, but some shooters prefer to wrap their patches around a jag or brush and square patches work better for wrapping. The large, 2″-square .30 Cal patches cost $17.99 for 800. These prices include FREE Shipping for Prime Members.

10. Amazon — Leight MAX NRR33 Earplugs, $7.45 for 50 Pairs.

Max NRR 33 db ear plugs

These Howard Leight NRR33 Max plugs are your Editor’s favorite foam earplugs. They seal out noise better than any others I’ve tried. Between shooting, motorcycling and mowing lawns, I probably have Max plugs in my ears 2-3 days a week. This is a very good price for a bulk pack of 50 pairs (100 plugs). And if you act soon, you can get free shipping to boot.

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April 3rd, 2017

Reloading Bling — MK Machining’s Aluminum Reloading Trays

MK Machining Reloading Tray Block Anodized shell Red Blue black

Forty-five bucks for a 25-round reloading tray? No this is not a late April Fool’s Day story. The CNC wizards at MK Machining in Missouri have created what may be the world’s most high-tech tray. Milled from billet aluminum, these trays will last a lifetime, and they offer one big advantage — any powder over-spill simply fills the open gap between the top and bottom plates. That way you don’t have stray powder kernels collecting in the bottom of the cartridge holes.

The MK Reloading Trays come in four colors: Red Anodized ($44.99), Blue Anodized ($44.99), Black Anodized ($39.99), and Silver (Clear) Anodized ($34.99). The holes are sized for .308 Win-diameter cases, so they’ll work for 6mmBR, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor, .243 Win, 7mm-08, and the entire .308 Win family. As shown below you can buy a Red and Blue pair and simply re-assemble them in a Red/Blue Sandwich style. We think that looks pretty cool.

MK Machining Reloading Tray Block Anodized shell Red Blue black

For more information, or to order MK Reloading Trays, visit MKMachining.com.

Reloading Block Tray Sinclair white polymer BrownellsTo be honest, the $6.99 Sinclair Polymer Loading Blocks are good enough for most reloading applications — and the larger, 50-round Blocks ($10.99 at right) can hold twice as many rounds as the MK trays.

However, the MK Machining Loading Tray definitely has more “bling appeal” and there are some advantages to the sandwich design. The aluminum is certainly more heat resistant than polymer. For guys who want a “Cadillac” tray on their bench, the MK Machining Trays may be worth the investment. We also think these might make nice prizes for a shooting match.

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March 30th, 2017

Consider Alliant Reloder 26 for Magnum Cartridges

Reloder 26 Magnum cartridge Alliant RL26

We’ve told fans of Hodgdon H4350 to give Alliant Reloder 16 (RL16) a try. In our tests, Reloder 16 has proven a very promising rival to H4350 for accuracy, low ES/SD, and temp stability.

Now you can get the advantages of Reloder 16 in a slower powder formulated for magnum cartridges — Reloder 26 (RL26). Alliant says RL26’s burn speed falls between that of Reloder® 22 and Reloder® 33. That means it’s slower than H4831 but faster than powders that would suit the .338 Lapua Magnum. Reloder 26 has a high bulk density that allows larger powder charges, and high velocities. RL26 also provides a consistent, controlled response to temperature changes.

We are hearing very good things about RL26 from friends and Forum members who are testing it with big calibers for Long Range applications. Accuracy is good and velocities are impressive. Alliant says RL26 “incorporates EI® technology to produce extremely high velocities in magnum cartridges”. In big magnums, shooters have reported gaining 100+ fps with RL26 compared to H1000 or Retumbo. And to our surprise some guys have even tried replacing H4350 with RL26 (in smaller cartridge types) and they have picked up meaningful velocities. We don’t think Alliant ever intended RL26 as a substitute for H4350, but if you’ve got the case capacity… it may be worth a try.

Alliant Reloder 26 Features

  • EI® technology delivers high velocities in magnum cartridges
  • Contains proprietary de-coppering additive
  • Controlled temperature stability
  • Excellent lot-to-lot consistency
  • Formulation contains no DNT or DBP
  • Made in Switzerland for Alliant Powder

Alliant’s Tech Expert Talks about Reloder 26
What are the characteristics of Reloder 26? That question was answered recently by Paul Furrier who works for ATK, the parent company of Alliant Powders. Posting in our Shooters’ Forum, Paul writes:

“Reloder 26 is produced in Switzerland by our extremely capable partner Nitrochemie. I have seen it stated that they [it is] made by Bofors, so that is incorrect. I have also noticed people are equating … Reloder 26 to Reloder 25. Reloder 26 is definitely slower burning than Reloder 25, so there shouldn’t be any confusion there either.”

Speed and More Speed with RL 26
Think of Reloder 26 as a high-velocity powder for big cartridges. Furrier explains: “Reloder 26 is produced with Nitrochemie’s latest generation EI® process technology. This is the same impregnation coating process used to produce Reloder 17, Reloder 33, and Reloder 50 for us, and it is fantastic. Reloder 26 [offers] great ballistic efficiency, high bulk density so you can get more of the slow powder into the case to harness the energy, and decent, predictable extreme temp response. Reloder 26 is not as flat at temps as the TZ or Australian materials, but it is very manageable, usually in the 0.5 fps/°F range (depending on the application). Just as important, the pressure increases at hot are very manageable. We are using quite a bit of this RL26 powder in our Federal factory ammo due to the fantastic ballistics and accuracy.” — Paul Furrier, ATK

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
March 30th, 2017

How to Coat Bullets Using a Vibratory Tumbler

While “naked” bullets are just fine for most applications, some shooters like to put a friction-reducing coating on their projectiles. Coating bullets can benefit guys who run very high round counts between barrel cleanings. Reader Mike Etzel has come up with a simple, cost-effective way to apply HBN, Moly, or Danzac (WS2) coatings to your bullets. And you won’t need any expensive gear other than your regular vibratory tumbler and some small plastic containers.

Mike explains: “For a number of years I have been using a very convenient way of coating my projectiles with DANZAC in a tumbler. Instead of using a separate tumbler filled with DANZAC and stainless steel balls for coating applications, use small resealable plastic cake or pudding cups filled with stainless balls and DANZAC. Each cup will accommodate between 20 to 70 projectiles depending on caliber once the polishing balls and DANZAC are added. When I need to polish some cases, I insert the sealable plastic container(s) into the polishing material in the tumbler, add cases to the media, and in the process clean cases and coat the projectiles simultaneously in one tumbler. This does two operations in one session, saving on time and resources.”

While Mike uses DANZAC (Tungsten DiSulfide or WS2), you can use the same impact-tumbling method to moly-coat your bullets, or to apply HBN (Hexagonal Boron Nitride).

bullet coatings source hbn moly danzac

TIPS for COATING your BULLETS, by GS Arizona

1. Start with Clean Bullets. This is simple enough, but some people overlook it and others overdo it. Get the bullets out of the box, wash them with warm water and dish soap and dry them. No need for harsh chemicals, after all, we’re only removing some surface dirt from shipping and maybe some left over lanolin from the forming process. Don’t handle them with bare hands once they’re clean, your skin oils will contaminate them.

2. Get Everything Hot — Real Hot. This is probably the single most important element in producing good-looking moly-coated bullets. I put the tumbler, the drum and the bullets out in the sun for at least 30 minutes before starting and then do all the tumbling in direct sunlight. On a summer day in Arizona, everything gets to the point that its uncomfortably hot to handle. If you are tumbling in the winter, you should heat the bullets in some form, a hair dryer can be useful, but they will cool off in the drum if you’re tumbling in cold temperatures. Your best bet is to plan ahead and do your coating in the summer. I coated about 3000 bullets in a couple of days recently to see me through our winter season (we’re a bit reversed from the rest of the country in terms of shooting season).

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March 29th, 2017

What You Need to Know About Primers — Explained by an Expert

Primer Priming Tool Magnum primers foil anvil primer construction reloading powder CCI
Winchester Pistol Primers on bench. Photo courtesy UltimateReloader.com.

There is an excellent article about primers on the Shooting Times website. We strongly recommend you read Mysteries And Misconceptions Of The All-Important Primer, written by Allan Jones. Mr. Jones is a bona fide expert — he served as the manager of technical publications for CCI Ammunition and Speer Bullets and Jones authored three editions of the Speer Reloading Manual.

» READ Full Primer “Mysteries and Misconceptions” Article

This authoritative Shooting Times article explains the fine points of primer design and construction. Jones also reveals some little-known facts about primers and he corrects common misconceptions. Here are some highlights from the article:

Primer Priming Tool Magnum primers foil anvil primer construction reloading powder CCISize Matters
Useful Trivia — even though Small Rifle and Small Pistol primer pockets share the same depth specification, Large Rifle and Large Pistol primers do not. The standard pocket for a Large Pistol primer is somewhat shallower than its Large Rifle counterpart, specifically, 0.008 to 0.009 inch less.

Magnum Primers
There are two ways to make a Magnum primer — either use more of the standard chemical mix to provide a longer-burning flame or change the mix to one with more aggressive burn characteristics. Prior to 1989, CCI used the first option in Magnum Rifle primers. After that, we switched to a mix optimized for spherical propellants that produced a 24% increase in flame temperature and a 16% boost in gas volume.

Foiled Again
Most component primers have a little disk of paper between the anvil and the priming mix. It is called “foil paper” not because it’s made of foil but because it replaces the true metal foil used to seal early percussion caps. The reason this little disk exists is strictly a manufacturing convenience. Wet primer pellets are smaller than the inside diameter of the cup when inserted and must be compacted to achieve their proper diameter and height. Without the foil paper, the wet mix would stick to the compaction pins and jam up the assembly process.

Read Full Primer Story on ShootingTimes.com:
http://www.shootingtimes.com/ammo/ammunition_st_mamotaip_200909

VIDEOS about PRIMERS
Here are two videos that offer some good, basic information on primers:

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March 27th, 2017

Bargain Finder 80: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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

1. Midsouth — Labradar Chronograph and Accessories

Labradar chronograph

Midsouth Shooters Supply is now carrying the advanced Labradar chronograph. This unique unit allows you to measure your shots without having to set up a tripod and skyscreens downrange. When you start using a Labradar, you’ll never want to go back to old-style chronographs. You can also purchase the Labradar from Bruno Shooters Supply. Price is $559.95 from either vendor. NOTE: Very soon Labradar plans to offer Bluetooth functionality, allowing you to control the machine remotely with your mobile device. This functionality will come via new software — the Bluetooth transceiver is built-in to all current Labradar units, so you can buy one now and use Bluetooth later (when the software is released).

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

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.

3. CDNN — Browning Maple X-Bolt Medallion, $849.99 with Rebate

Browning X-Bolt Medallion

CDNN Sports has some of the nicest modern Browning rifles we’ve seen. These deluxe Maple-stocked X-Bolt Medallion Rifles are now on sale for $899.99, marked down from $1519.99. Plus, through March 31st, you can get another $50.00 off with a Browning Rebate. The machine-engraved receiver features a polished blued finish, and is glass bedded into the stock. The free-floating barrel is high-gloss blued, hand-chambered and finished with a target crown. The bolt has a 60° lift and the trigger is adjustable. The stock is a high gloss AAA maple with rosewood fore-end and pistol grip cap. These are very nice rifles that any shooter would be proud to own. This Editor has ordered one as a gift to a family member — that should say something.

4. Amazon — Ammo Can/Gun Case/Range Bag System, $44.99

Plano 1612 X2 range bag ammo can gun case

This Plano 1612 X2 Range Bag System combines a plastic ammo can-type container with a two-pistol hardshell case, both enclosed in a durable, padded fabric cover with many pockets. This handy system lets you keep pistols in a separate locked compartment while still accessing ammo, muffs and other gear from the main compartment, which can also be secured with a padlock. This is a clever, versatile design, and owner reviews have been very positive:

The perfect range bag. It comes with a nice gun case, more pockets than shown, plenty of storage for earphones, several boxes of ammo and room to spare. Would buy again!” — Nate K

The problem with most range bags is that they are range ‘bags’. This is an ammo can with pockets for all your other gear. No more ‘saggy baggy’!” — MPowers

5. Sportsman’s Guide — 1000 Rds 9mm Ammo, $204.99 delivered

9mm Luger 9x19mm ammo deal case 1000 rounds Sportman's Guide

Everyone can use a 1000-round case of 9mm Luger Ammo. This Sellier & Bellot 124gr FMJ brass-cased ammo feeds and functions well. We’ve checked around and this $204.99/1000 price is one of the best deals on brass-cased 9mm ammo this week (for SG members, the cost is $194.99). Plus you can get FREE shipping with CODE SH2656 at checkout. We have shot this ammo in Glock, H&K, Sig Sauer, and S&W pistols. Rated at 1080 fps, this 9mm ammo was very reliable, and the boxer-primed cases are reloadable.

6. Cabelas — Simmons 20-60x60mm Spotter, $49.99 with Rebate

Simmons Spotting Scope Bargain Cave Cabelas 20-60x60mm

Let’s be realistic — this 20-60x60mm Simmons is NOT a great spotting scope. The sharpness is nowhere near as good as you’d get with a $1000+ spotter. However, you can now get this unit for under fifty bucks with manufacturer’s rebate. Cabela’s Sale Price is $59.99 and Vista Outdoor is offering a $10 Rebate. For basic work, such as viewing pistol targets, or spotting hits out to 250 yards, this bargain basement Simmons should suffice. Read the owner reviews — they have been surprisingly good. This scope will also work for general recreational use. Hard to beat for fifty bucks.

7. Amazon — 34 dB Noise Rating Ear Muffs, $17.45

34dB NRR 32 hearing protection earmuffs

These 34 dB NRR earmuffs provide excellent sound protection without being too heavy and bulky. At at $17.45, they are a great bargain. The lower section of the muff is trimmed for a narrower profile — that helps with rifle and shotgun stocks. The headband is adjustable and has comfortable padding. These Pro For Sho Muffs have earned a 4 1/2 star consumer rating, with over 1,600 Amazon customer reviews. NOTE: These fit pretty tight. If you have a very large hat size you might want a different brand.

8. Amazon — Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual, $19.99

Lyman 50th Reloading Manual

Here’s a good deal on the new Lyman 50th Ed. Reloading Manual. Our Forum members have rated this as the best Loading Manual for starting hand-loaders. This 50th Edition, the first to be produced in full color, includes more load data, and covers more cartridges than ever before. New Cartridges Include: 17 Hornet, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-284, 26 Nosler, 28 Nosler, 300 Blackout, 300 RCM, 338 RCM, 450 Bushmaster, 458 SOCOM, 50 Beowulf. Amazon has the Softcover version for $19.99 and Hardcover for $23.99. Notably, Lyman donates $1.00 to the NRA for every Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Handbook sold during the first year of publication.

9. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $16.45

Amazon Neiko Digital Caliper

Even if you have a good set of calipers, you may want to get one of these Neiko 01407A Digital Calipers. The #1 best-selling digital caliper on Amazon.com, this Neiko tool features a large LCD Screen and measures up to 6.0 inches. With over 2300 customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $17.74, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.

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March 23rd, 2017

PMA Micro-Die Adjuster — Try One And You’ll Be Spoiled

PMA Tool Micro Die Adjuster .001 Shoulder Bump full length sizing lift shim

Wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly and easily adjust shoulder bump during the full-length sizing process, without struggling to move die lock-rings by trial and error (or fiddle with shims). Well you can. The PMA Micro Die Adjuster is a brilliant little device that replaces the lock ring on your FL sizing die. It allows you to move the die up and down in precise, tiny increments. The tool has .001″ index marks, but you can easily set your die between the marks to achieve .0005″ (half-thousandth) adjustments.

The affordable PMA Micro Die Adjuster is offered in two versions, an upgraded model with a handy thumb screw for $69.95 (photo above), as well as the original with set screw for $65.95 (photo below).

PMA Tool Micro Die Adjuster .001 Shoulder Bump full length sizing lift shim

To see how the PMA Micro-Die Adjuster works, watch this video by our friend Boyd Allen:

Many of our Forum members now use the PMA Micro Die Adjuster, and they give this specialty tool high praise. Here are actual reviews by Forum members and other verified tool buyers. Read more comments in this AccurateShooter Forum Thread.

PMA Micro Die Adjuster User Reviews

“No more ‘close enough’ for headspace[.] With this tool set-up it’s easy to put headspace exactly where you want it, then repeat it exactly for subsequent batches for the same cartridge.” — JohnF

“I have four of these Micro Adjuster rings and all I can say is that it works and it is repeatable. I bump my brass .0005″-.001″ and this die lock ring will do it without issue.” — TrapperT

“I size brass for four different 6.5×47 rifles (chambered with three different reamers) using a single die, set in the PMA Adjuster. I have to say… I should have bought one sooner. Adjusting it is very quick and repeatable to well under .001.” — /VH

“I’ve been using PMA’s lock ring for some time now and find it to be very easy to adjust to within .0005″ on a single piece of brass. Very quick to do as well. One thing I have found is that if you still need that half-thou adjustment I will run the brass once more at the same setting before I make that .0005″ adjustment and 50 percent of the time that does the trick. The marked increments are in .001″ scale so if you go half way in between there’s your half-thousandth.

PMA Micro-Adjuster vs. Shims

Many hand-loaders have abandoned shims after trying the PMA Micro Die Adjuster:

“Shims [require] you to completely remove the die. That gets old rather quickly after having used the PMA adjustable lock ring.” — Patch 700

“Great product. Shims used to drive me crazy, put a .002 in and get .0035 of change. With this if you want .0015 set it and that’s what you get.” — John B

“I like mine — adjustments are easy and it will adjust very fine. I used to use .001″ shims. Now can adjust my bump as fine as I want.” — Joe139

PMA Micro die adjusterProduct Description from PMA Tool
The PMA Tool Micro Die Adjuster (MDA) replaces your existing lock ring and can be used with nearly any 7/8-14 full length sizing die. We successfully used this tool with sizing dies from Redding, RCBS, Hornady, Lee, Harrells Precision and those made from Newlon Precision die blanks. It allows you to easily make adjustments to your “shoulder bump” as fine as .0005″. The engraved marks on the MDA are equal to approximately .001 inches (true adjustment .000992″) of adjustment to the shoulder bump. Splitting the engraved marks is therefore approximately equal to .0005″. The design of the MDA does not allow it to work with the Forster Co-Ax press. Some custom dies for very short cartridges may require the use of an extended shellholder. Micro Die Adjuster shown in use installed on Custom Newlon/Scott 6mm PPC Die and Harrells Precision Compact Press.

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March 22nd, 2017

Precision Handloading for Pistols — Tips from the USAMU

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice Reloading

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

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

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

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

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

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice Reloading

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

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

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

Stay safe, and good shooting!

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March 22nd, 2017

Chronograph Testing — Tips from the USAMU

USAMU Marksmanship Unit Velocity Chronograph Testing Sample Sizes

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. This past week’s “Handloading Hump Day” article, the latest in a 7-part series, relates to chronograph testing and statistical samples. We highly recommend you read this article, which offers some important tips that can benefit any hand-loader. Visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.

Chronograph Testing — Set-Up, Sample Sizes, and Velocity Factors

Initial Chronograph Setup
A chronograph is an instrument designed to measure bullet velocity. Typically, the bullet casts a shadow as it passes over two electronic sensors placed a given distance apart. The first screen is the “start” screen, and it triggers an internal, high-speed counter. As the bullet passes the second, or “stop” screen, the counter is stopped. Then, appropriate math of time vs. distance traveled reveals the bullet’s velocity. Most home chronographs use either 2- or 4-foot spacing between sensors. Longer spacing can add some accuracy to the system, but with high-quality chronographs, 4-foot spacing is certainly adequate.

Laboratory chronographs usually have six feet or more between sensors. Depending upon the make and model of ones chronograph, it should come with instructions on how far the “start” screen should be placed from one’s muzzle. Other details include adequate light (indoors or outdoors), light diffusers over the sensors as needed, and protecting the start screen from blast and debris such as shotgun wads, etc. When assembling a sky-screen system, the spacing between sensors must be extremely accurate to allow correct velocity readings.

Statistics: Group Sizes, Distances and Sample Sizes
How many groups should we fire, and how many shots per group? These questions are matters of judgment, to a degree. First, to best assess how ones ammunition will perform in competition, it should be test-fired at the actual distance for which it will be used. [That means] 600-yard or 1000-yard ammo should be tested at 600 and 1000 yards, respectively, if possible. It is possible to work up very accurate ammunition at 100 or 200 yards that does not perform well as ranges increase. Sometimes, a change in powder type can correct this and produce a load that really shines at longer range.

The number of shots fired per group should be realistic for the course of fire. That is, if one will be firing 10-shot strings in competition then final accuracy testing, at least, should involve 10-shot strings. These will reflect the rifles’ true capability. Knowing this will help the shooter better decide in competition whether a shot requires a sight adjustment, or if it merely struck within the normal accuracy radius of his rifle.

How many groups are needed for a valid test? Here, much depends on the precision with which one can gather the accuracy data. If shooting from a machine rest in good weather conditions, two or three 10-shot groups at full distance may be very adequate. If it’s windy, the rifle or ammunition are marginal, or the shooter is not confident in his ability to consistently fire every shot accurately, then a few more groups may give a better picture of the rifle’s true average.

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March 21st, 2017

The Amazing 30 Major — 6.5 Grendel Necked Up to .30 Caliber

30 Major 6.5 Grendel 30 caliber PPC

Sometimes everything comes together — a great barrel, the right load, good bullets, and, of course, a gifted trigger-puller. Check out this target from Forum member Mike Ezell. That’s five (5) shots at 100 yards from Mike’s 30 Major benchrest rifle. When this group was shot a while back, Mike reported: “I fired a few groups in the great weather. No surprises — it did VERY well! My little wildcat, the 30 Major, has always been a shooter. That target was not a fluke — I shot a few groups today and Agg’d a high One.” Mike is a Kentucky gunsmith who builds his own rifles.

30 Major is Based on 6.5 Grendel
What’s a “30 Major” you ask? This is Mike’s own wildcat, a 6.5 Grendel necked up to .30 caliber. Mike writes: “The 30 Major is essentially a .070″-long 30 PPC. With the great 6.5 Grendel brass available from Lapua, all you need to do is neck-up and turn the necks to prep the brass.” Mike says it is very much like a 30 BR, but you just start with 6.5 Grendel brass instead of 6mmBR brass.

The cartridge has one major benefit — it utilizes a PPC-diameter bolt face. That makes it easy to convert your group-shooting 6 PPC to shoot score with .30-cal bullets. Mike explains: “If you have a PPC, to shoot score, all you have to do is chamber up a [.30 caliber] barrel and screw it on your PPC.”

From 7.62×39 Russian to 30 Major — Full Circle

Arms expert Neil Gibson has an interesting perspective on the lineage of the 30 Major. He reminds us that this wildcat has returned to its roots: “Start off with the 7.62×39 Russian [cartridge]. The Russians then modify it, necking it down to .223 for deer hunting. The U.S. benchrest guys then modify that, necking it up to 6mm and blowing the case out making the 6mm PPC. Someone takes that case, necks it out to 6.5 mm, making the 6.5 PPC. Alexander Arms takes that and makes the 6.5 Grendel. Then finally Mike Ezell takes the Grendel and necks it up to 30 caliber, making the 30 Major. From 30 caliber, back to 30 caliber. OK, the original uses .31 caliber bullets, but the bore is still .300. Talk about almost coming round full circle!”

7.62×39 Russian
v
.220 Russian
v
6mm PPC
v
6.5 PPC
v
6.5 Grendel
v
30 Major

The 7.62×39 Russian was the Grand-Daddy of the 30 Major…
7.62x39 Russian Kalashnikov 30 Major 6.5 Grendel

Great Accuracy Restored after Solving Mystery Problem
To get his 30 Major rig shooting this well, Mike had to solve a mysterious problem that cropped up last year. Mike explains: “Two years running, I have finished in the top 15 in IBS points shooting [the 30 Major], but last year’s benchrest season was tough.” Mike was having some accuracy issues that defied explanation. But he figured it out: “The front action screw was bottoming out against the barrel extension – just barely. A simple fix brought the gun back to life. It’s a Stiller Viper Drop Port. The action is screwed and glued into the stock, so I was a bit surprised … especially after having checked for [that issue] while looking for the problem. I’m just glad to have found the trouble so I can begin to re-instill some confidence in the gun and myself, after last year.”

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March 20th, 2017

Cheap Tricks — Ten Handy Budget Items For Hand-Loaders

Budget reloading items

Useful reloading gear does not have to be costly. Here are ten handy (and very inexpensive) items that belong on your loading bench or in your range kit.

magnifying glassMagnifying Glass – We use a flat, 2″x2″ pocket 4x-8x magnifier. This folds up on itself. Very handy, we use it to inspect bullets and brass. Use this to check your flash holes for burrs, and check the meplats of your bullets before loading.

Clear 35mm Film Cannister – Use this to transfer the thrown powder charge to the little measuring cup that sits on your scale. That way you don’t get any kernel splash. Also if the charge weight is obviously off, it’s easy to dump back in the measure. A film canister works pretty well as a trickler too.

Compressed Air in a Can -- Get these at office supply stores. Use the can (with tube attached) to blow crud out of cases after cleaning the neck with a brush, and blast loose debris out of primer pockets.

Pin Vise – A simple $7.00 pin vise with a #53 bit is perfect for deburring Lapua PPC and BR flash holes without reaming the flash-holes any larger. The Lapua PPC/BR flash-hole diameter is 1.5 mm, or 0.059″. eHobbyTools.com sells a 1.5mm pin vise bit. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores.

Bounce Dryer Sheets – The common dryer sheets eliminate “static cling” on your plastic reloading parts such as powder measure cylinders, powder funnels, and reloading press plastic bins. Thanks to Doc76251 for this tip.

BallistolBallistol Aerosol – Try using this versatile lubricant/solvent for full-length sizing. Spray some on a patch and you can wipe the carbon of your case necks. Then, continue to apply a very small amount of Ballistol on the case bodies — just thin sheen is all you need. Ballistol is super slippery, and easy to remove. For general full-length sizing (on small cases) it works great and doesn’t leave a gooey, waxy, or chalky residue. For heavier case-forming jobs, we recommend Imperial Die Wax.

Shotgun Mop – Stick this in the chamber when using Wipe-Out foaming bore cleaner. This will seal off the chamber so the foam doesn’t flow into your action. For long chambers screw on one section of cleaning rod to aid extraction.

Colored Sharpie Marking Pens – Mark your bullets ahead of the bearing surface, and the color transfers to the target. This way you can shoot multiple loads at the same point of aim and discern which load shoots the tightest. (Recommended for 300 yards and beyond). With colored bullet tips you can test multiple loads “round robin” to equalize wind effects. When testing seating depths for example, you can mark the longer-seated set of bullets red and the shorter-seated set green and shoot them during the same sequence. Just look at the colored marks on the target to see which grouped better.

Sharpies Pens

Thin Latex Gloves – You should keep a box of inexpensive, disposable latex gloves (the kind doctors use) in your loading room. These will prevent contamination of primers or powder kernels that you handle directly. Also, use the gloves when handling fine blued tools or firearms to prevent transfering body oils and salts that promote rust.

Plastic Washers for Neck Mic – If you use a Sinclair Neck-wall Micrometer Gauge with integral stand, you can use thin plastic washers to adjust the height of the case on the mandrel. This makes it much easier to measure the same point on the case neck every time. Thanks to MikeCR for this tip (and photo).

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March 19th, 2017

WARNING: Ramshot Recalls Recent Lot of Hunter Powder

Western Powders Ramshot Hunter Powder overpressure recall safety exchange

Here is an important safety notice regarding Ramshot Hunter reloading powder. If you have any Ramshot Hunter powder with lot number 489, you should stop using it immediately. If you have loaded ammo with Hunter Powder lot number 489 you should NOT SHOOT this ammo. Use of this powder can result in HIGH PRESSURE loads that can cause injury or damage to your guns.

You can find the lot number on the rear of the package. This make appear one of two ways (see illustration). The lot number 489 may appear above code 080516 or as a long code 080516489.

If you have any lot number 489 Hunter powder, contact Western Powder by telephone at (406) 234-0422. The company will replace your powder for free with an approved lot of Ramshot Hunter.

Western Powders Ramshot Hunter Powder overpressure recall safety exchange

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March 18th, 2017

Tool Time: Sinclair Cartridge Case Neck Sorting Tool

Case Neck thickness sorting gauge Sinclair accurateshooter.com

He who dies with the most toys wins — right? Well Sinclair has another interesting gadget you can add to your reloading bench. The Sinclair Case Neck Sorting Tool lets you quickly sort brass by neck-wall thickness. For those who shoot “no-turn” brass, this can improve neck-tension consistency. Large variances in neck-wall thickness can cause inconsistent neck “grip” on the bullet. Generally, we’ve found that more consistent neck tension will lower ES and (usually) improve accuracy. We know some guys who shoot no-turn 6mmBR brass in competition with considerable success — but their secret is pre-sorting their brass by neck-wall thickness. Cases that are out-of-spec are set aside for sighters (or are later skim-turned).

Watch Case Neck Sorting Tool Operation in Video

Case Neck thickness sorting gauge Sinclair accurateshooterHow the Case Neck Sorting Tool Works
Here’s how the Sinclair tool works. Cases are rotated under an indicator tip while they are supported on a case-neck pilot and a support pin through the flash hole. The unit has a nice, wide base and low profile so it is stable in use. The tool works for .22 through .45 caliber cases and can be used on .17- and .20-caliber cases with the optional carbide alignment rod. The MIC-4 pin fits both .060 (PPC size) and .080 (standard size) flash holes. Sinclair’s Case Neck Sorting Tool can be ordered with or without a dial indicator. The basic unit without dial indicator (item 749-006-612WB) is $59.99. The tool complete with dial indicator (item 749-007-129WB) for $89.99. IMPORTANT: This tool requires caliber-specific Sinclair Case Neck Pilots which must be ordered separately.

Editor’s Comment: The purpose of this Sinclair tool is rapid, high-quantity sorting of cartridge brass to ascertain significant case-neck-wall thickness variations. Consider this a rapid culling/sorting tool. If you are turning your necks, you will still need a quality ball micrometer tool to measure neck-wall thickness (to .0005) before and after neck-turning operations.

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March 12th, 2017

Reloading Data Sheets — Download for FREE

Reloading Data Form Ammo Box Template printing labels chronograph data sheet

Redding Reloading offers handy Handloader’s Data Sheets in printable PDF format. This FREE form allows hand-loaders to document their tool settings, bushing size, powder charge, load specs (COAL etc.), and case prep status. In addition, the form allows you to enter your load testing information, complete with chronograph data, group size, zero range, and wind/temp conditions. With this single, handy form you can document all the vital information for your particular cartridges and loads. We suggest you print these out, 3-hole-punch ‘em, and then keep them in a three-ring binder.

Download FREE Handloader’s Data Sheet (PDF)

We’ve seen various reloading log templates, but this Redding form (shown below) is better than most because it combines both reloading data AND range-test data in one place. You can see all key details of the reloading process (tool settings etc.) plus the end results — how the load actually performed over the chronograph and on paper. This form allows the user to capture a large amount of information for later use, while accurately track load development. Go to Download Page.

Reloading Data Form Ammo Box Template printing labels chronograph data sheet

FREE Ammunition Box Label Template
Reloading Data Form Ammo Box Template printing labels chronograph data sheetRedding Reloading has also developed a printable template for your ammo boxes (see photo at top of article). This lets you put all vital load info on your ammo boxes. There are fields for: Date, Cartridge, Powder, Grains, Bullet, Weight, Primer, Case type. Designed for Avery 5260 (or similar) label sheets, this template allows you to print 30 labels at one time. You can purchase the Avery 5260 peel-off printable label sheets at any office supply store.

Download Box Label Template (PDF)

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March 7th, 2017

Six-Five Smackdown: The .260 Remington vs. 6.5×55 Swedish

6.5x55 SE, 6.5 Swedish 6.6x55mm .260 Rem Remington Laurie Holland comparison

The .260 Remington and the 6.5×55 Swedish (aka 6,5x55mm SE) are both very popular cartridges with hunters and target shooters. The 6.5×55 has a long military heritage and a great record as a hunting round. The .260 Rem, essentially a .308 Win necked down to .264 caliber, is a more recent cartridge, but it grows in popularity every year, being one of the top cartridges for tactical/practical competitions. It offers better ballistics and less recoil than the parent .308 Win cartridge. In our Shooter’s Forum, respected UK gun writer Laurie Holland provided a good summary of the differences between the two chamberings. Laurie writes:

Remington 260 CartridgeThe 6.5×55 case has 6 or 7% more capacity than the .260s, even more in practice when both are loaded to standard COALs with heavy bullets, which sees them having to seated very deep in the .260 Rem using up quite a lot of powder capacity. So loaded up for reasonable pressures in modern actions, the 6.5×55 will give a bit more performance.

The issue for many is what action length is available or wanted, the 6.5×55 requiring a long action. So sniper rifle / tactical rifle competitors will go for the .260 Rem with the option of the many good short-bolt-throw designs around with detachable box magazines (DBMs). If a bit more performance is needed, the .260 AI (photo right) can yield another 100-150 fps velocity, depending on bullet weight.

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