July 18th, 2018

Savage Offers Expert Advice on Updated Website

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

Savage Arms just completed a major overhaul of the Savage website. Now the SavageArms.com site is more mobile-friendly and easier to navigate. Savage has expanded information on its rifle products, and also created a new Expert Advice area. This new section of the website offers informative technical articles/videos, as well as numerous helpful tips for hunters.

You’ll find 47 informative topics in the Expert Advice section of the updated Savage website. Below are FIVE of our favorites, all with linked videos. Even if you don’t own a Savage, these features are useful. And all new shooters should definitely check out the Eye Dominance selection. This features a very helpful video that explains this important topic.

1. How to Determine Eye Dominance

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

2. Customizing Fit for Competition — Stan Pate

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

3. How to Mount a Scope

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

4. How to Sight In a Rifle

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

5. How to Adjust the Savage Accutrigger

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

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July 15th, 2018

How Ammo Temp Affects Pressure, Velocity, and Point of Impact

Sierra Bullets Ammunition Ammo temperature temp test hot F-Class Ammo cold
In this .308 Win test, 70° F ammo shot 96 FPS slower than ammo heated to 130.5° F. And the 130.5° ammo was 145 fps faster than ammo right out of the freezer (at 25.5° F). That’s a huge difference…

EDITOR’s NOTE: The Sierra tester does not reveal the brand of powder tested here. Some powders are much more temp sensitive than others. Accordingly, you cannot extrapolate test results from one propellant to another. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see the actual recorded velocity shift with ammo temperature variations in a .308 Win.

Written by Sierra Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd
This story originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog
A few weeks ago I was attending the Missouri State F-Class Match. This was a two-day event during the summer and temperatures were hot one day and hotter the next. I shot next to a gentleman who was relatively new to the sport. He was shooting a basically factory rifle and was enjoying himself with the exception that his scores were not as good as he hoped they would be and he was experiencing pressure issues with his ammunition. I noticed that he was having to force the bolt open on a couple of rounds. During a break, I visited with him and offered a couple of suggestions which helped his situation somewhat and he was able to finish the match without major issues.

He was shooting factory ammunition, which is normally loaded to upper levels of allowable pressures. While this ammunition showed no problems during “normal” testing, it was definitely showing issues during a 20-round string of fire in the temperatures we were competing in. My first suggestion was that he keep his ammunition out of the direct sun and shade it as much as possible. My second suggestion was to not close the bolt on a cartridge until he was ready to fire. He had his ammo in the direct sunlight and was chambering a round while waiting on the target to be pulled and scored which can take from a few seconds to almost a minute sometimes.

This time frame allowed the bullet and powder to absorb chamber [heat] and build pressure/velocity above normal conditions. Making my recommended changes lowered the pressures enough for the rifle and cartridge to function normally.

Testing Effects of Ammunition Temperature on Velocity and POI
After thinking about this situation, I decided to perform a test in the Sierra Bullets underground range to see what temperature changes will do to a rifle/cartridge combination. I acquired thirty consecutive .30 caliber 175 grain MatchKing bullets #2275 right off one of our bullet assembly presses and loaded them into .308 Winchester ammunition. I utilized an unnamed powder manufacturer’s product that is appropriate for the .308 Winchester cartridge. This load is not at the maximum for this cartridge, but it gives consistent velocities and accuracy for testing.

I took ten of the cartridges and placed them in a freezer to condition.

Sierra Bullets Ammunition Ammo temperature temp test hot F-Class Ammo cold

Sierra Bullets Ammunition Ammo temperature temp test hot F-Class Ammo cold

I set ten of them on my loading bench, and since it was cool and cloudy the day I performed this test I utilized a floodlight and stand to simulate ammunition being heated in the sun.

Sierra Bullets Ammunition Ammo temperature temp test hot F-Class Ammo cold

I kept track of the temperatures of the three ammunition samples with a non-contact laser thermometer.

The rifle was fired at room temperature (70 degrees) with all three sets of ammunition. I fired this test at 200 yards out of a return-to-battery machine rest. The aiming point was a leveled line drawn on a sheet of paper. I fired one group with the scope aimed at the line and then moved the aiming point across the paper from left to right for the subsequent groups.

NOTE that the velocity increased as the temperature of the ammunition did.

The ammunition from the freezer shot at 2451 fps.

Frozen FPS

The room temperature ammunition shot at 2500 fps.

Room Temperature FPS

The heated ammunition shot at 2596 fps.

Sierra Bullets Ammunition Ammo temperature temp test hot cold

The tune window of the particular rifle is fairly wide as is shown by the accuracy of the three pressure/velocity levels and good accuracy was achieved across the board. However, notice the point of impact shift with the third group? There is enough shift at 200 yards to cause a miss if you were shooting a target or animal at longer ranges. While the pressure and velocities changed this load was far enough from maximum that perceived over pressure issues such as flattened primer, ejector marks on the case head, or sticky extraction did not appear. If you load to maximum and then subject your ammunition to this test your results will probably be magnified in comparison.

Sierra Bullets Ammunition Ammo temperature temp test hot cold

This test showed that pressures, velocities, and point-of-impact can be affected by temperatures of your ammunition at the time of firing. It’s really not a bad idea to test in the conditions that you plan on utilizing the ammo/firearm in if at all possible. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to also test to see what condition changes do to your particular gun and ammunition combination so that you can make allowances as needed. Any personal testing along these lines should be done with caution as some powder and cartridge combination could become unsafe with relatively small changes in conditions.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
July 15th, 2018

TECH Tip: How to Verify Your Scope’s True Click Values

Click Optics MOA turrent verification test

Let’s say you’ve purchased a new scope, and the spec-sheet indicates it is calibrated for quarter-MOA clicks. One MOA is 1.047″ inches at 100 yards, so you figure that’s how far your point of impact (POI) will move with four clicks. Well, unfortunately, you may be wrong. You can’t necessarily rely on what the manufacturer says. Production tolerances being what they are, you should test your scope to determine how much movement it actually delivers with each click of the turret. It may move a quarter-MOA, or maybe a quarter-inch, or maybe something else entirely. (Likewise scopes advertised as having 1/8-MOA clicks may deliver more or less than 1 actual MOA for 8 clicks.)

Nightforce scope turretReader Lindy explains how to check your clicks: “First, make sure the rifle is not loaded. Take a 40″ or longer carpenter’s ruler, and put a very visible mark (such as the center of an orange Shoot’N’C dot), at 37.7 inches. (On mine, I placed two dots side by side every 5 inches, so I could quickly count the dots.) Mount the ruler vertically (zero at top) exactly 100 yards away, carefully measured.

Place the rifle in a good hold on sandbags or other rest. With your hundred-yard zero on the rifle, using max magnification, carefully aim your center crosshairs at the top of the ruler (zero end-point). Have an assistant crank on 36 (indicated) MOA (i.e. 144 clicks), being careful not to move the rifle. (You really do need a helper, it’s very difficult to keep the rifle motionless if you crank the knobs yourself.) With each click, the reticle will move a bit down toward the bottom of the ruler. Note where the center crosshairs rest when your helper is done clicking. If the scope is accurately calibrated, it should be right at that 37.7 inch mark. If not, record where 144 clicks puts you on the ruler, to figure out what your actual click value is. (Repeat this several times as necessary, to get a “rock-solid”, repeatable value.) You now know, for that scope, how much each click actually moves the reticle at 100 yards–and, of course, that will scale proportionally at longer distances. This optical method is better than shooting, because you don’t have the uncertainly associated with determining a group center.

Using this method, I discovered that my Leupold 6.5-20X50 M1 has click values that are calibrated in what I called ‘Shooter’s MOA’, rather than true MOA. That is to say, 4 clicks moved POI 1.000″, rather than 1.047″ (true MOA). That’s about a 5% error.

I’ve tested bunches of scopes, and lots have click values which are significantly off what the manufacturer has advertised. You can’t rely on printed specifications–each scope is different. Until you check your particular scope, you can’t be sure how much it really moves with each click.

I’ve found the true click value varies not only by manufacturer, but by model and individual unit. My Leupold 3.5-10 M3LR was dead on. So was my U.S.O. SN-3 with an H25 reticle, but other SN-3s have been off, and so is my Leupold 6.5-20X50M1. So, check ‘em all, is my policy.”

From the Expert: “…Very good and important article, especially from a ballistics point of view. If a ballistics program predicts 30 MOA of drop at 1000 yards for example, and you dial 30 MOA on your scope and hit high or low, it’s easy to begin questioning BCs, MVs, and everything else under the sun. In my experience, more than 50% of the time error in trajectory prediction at long range is actually scope adjustment error. For serious long range shooting, the test described in this article is a MUST!” — Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
July 14th, 2018

Are You Right-Eye or Left-Eye Dominant? Do This Simple Test…

6.5 Creedmoor Annealing

Shooting Sports USA Eye dominanceDo you know which one of your eyes is dominant? It’s easy to determine eye dominance with a simple exercise. Pick an object about 6-10 feet away (a light switch or door knob works well). Make an “OK” sign with your right hand (see photo) and hold that about 18″ from your face. Now, with both eyes open, look through the circle formed by your thumb and index finger. Center the circle on the object, so you can see the object in the middle.

Now, here’s the important part — while still holding your hand up, centered on the object, first close your right eye. If you don’t see the object anymore, then your right eye is dominant. If you still see the object, then repeat the procedure with the left eye shut and right eye open. If you don’t see the object when your left eye (only) is closed, then you are left-eye dominant.

6.5 Creedmoor AnnealingThe digital archives of Shooting Sports USA contain many interesting articles. A while back, Shooting Sports USA featured a “must-read” expert Symposium on Eye Dominance, as it affects both rifle and pistol shooting. No matter whether you have normal dominance (i.e. your dominant eye is on the same side as your dominant hand), or if you have cross-dominance, you’ll benefit by reading this excellent article. The physiology and science of eye dominance is explained by Dr. Norman Wong, a noted optometrist. In addition, expert advice is provided by champion shooters such as David Tubb, Lones Wigger, Dennis DeMille, Julie Golob, Jessie Harrison, and Phil Hemphill.

Top Rifle Champions Talk About Eye Dominance:

David Tubb — 11-Time National High Power Champion
I keep both eyes open, always. Some use an opaque blinder in rifle or shotgun shooting. If you close your non-dominant eye, you will not get as good a sight picture. If your aiming eye is not your dominant eye, you have even more of a problem to overcome.

Lones Wigger — World, National and Olympic Champion Rifleman
Shooters should try to use the dominant eye unless the vision is impaired and the non-dominant eye has better vision. You should always shoot with both eyes open since this will allow the shooting eye to function properly.

Dennis DeMille — National Service Rifle Champion
I close my non-shooting eye initially. Once I pick up my sight picture, it’s not something I focus on. For those that use a patch, I recommend that they use something white to block their view, rather than cover the eye.

Bruce Piatt — 2015 World Shooting Championship Winner
Some shooters, especially those with nearly equal or cross-dominance, will naturally find themselves squinting one eye. When anyone does this, you are also closing your dominant eye to some extent and adding stress to your face.

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 12th, 2018

Muzzle Brake Noise Levels — What PRB Tests Reveal

PrecisionRifleBlog.com Cal Zant Muzzle Brake Test Noise Level Decibels Suppressor

A while back, Cal Zant at PrecisionRifleBlog.com did a big muzzle brake comparison test. Along with measuring recoil reduction, Cal’s team recorded sound levels in PRB’s exhaustive muzzle brake field test. In the PRB archives you’ll find comprehensive muzzle brake sound test results, with hard data on 20 different muzzle brakes.

Sound can be a tricky subject, but Cal Zant, the editor of PrecisionRifleBlog.com, presents everything an informed shooter should know about muzzle brake noise in a straightforward and practical way. Most sound tests are measured from the side of the muzzle, in accordance with mil-spec standards, and Cal did that. But he also measured the sound level of each brake from behind the rifle, closer to the shooter’s position. This provides a more accurate indicator of the actual sound levels firearms operators will encounter while shooting.

Muzzle brakes ARE really loud — that’s something most active shooters have observed. But this study finally gives us some hard data and makes objective comparisons. The difference between brakes was quite significant. Some brakes were ear-splitting — more than twice as loud as other brakes tested.

As a bonus, Cal also provides data on how the new Ultra series suppressors from Thunder Beast Arms Corp (TBAC) compare in terms of sound level behind the rifle.

Check out the Test Results: http://precisionrifleblog.com/2015/08/07/muzzle-brakes-sound-test.

Permalink Tactical, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 11th, 2018

How to Hydro-Form Cartridge Brass — Dasher Video

6mm Dasher hydroforming case die hornady

Can you form a wildcat cartridge such as the 6 Dasher without expending primer, powders, and bullets? Absolutely. Using the hydro-forming method you can form improved cases in your workshop with no firing whatsoever, so there is no wear on your precious barrel. Watch this video to see how it’s done:

6 Dasher Case Hydro-Forming Demonstration:

Forum member Wes J. (aka P1ZombieKiller) has produced a helpful video showing how to form Dasher cases use the Hornady Hydraulic forming die kit. This includes a two-part die (body and piston), and a special shell holder. To form the case, you insert a primer in your virgin brass, top the case off with with a fluid (water or alcohol), then run the case up into the Hydro-forming die. A few stout whacks with a hammer and your case is 95% formed.

6mm Dasher hydroforming hydraulic 6mmBR hornadyHydro-Forming Procedure Step-by-Step:
1. Insert spent primer in new 6mmBR brass case.
2. Fill with water or alcohol (Wes prefers alcohol).
3. Wipe excess fluid off case.
4. Place case in special Hornady shell-holder (no primer hole).
5. Run case up into Hydraulic forming die.
6. Smack top piston of forming die 3-4 times with rubber mallet or dead-blow hammer.
7. Inspect case, re-fill and repeat if necessary.
8. Drain alcohol (or water) into container.
9. Remove primer (and save for re-use).
10. Blow-dry formed case. Inspect and measure formed case.

Wes achieves very uniform cartridge OALs with this method. He measured ten (10) hydro-formed 6 Dasher cases and got these results: two @ 1.536″; 2 @ 1.537″; and 6 @ 1.538″.

Three or Four Whacks Produces a 95%-Formed Case
With a Hornady hydro-forming die, hydraulic pressure does the job of blowing out the shoulders of your improved case. The process is relatively simple. Place a spent primer in the bottom of a new piece of brass. Fill the case with water, and then slip it into a special Hornady shell-holder with no hole in the middle. Then you run the case up into the forming die. Now comes the fun part. You gently insert a plunger (hydraulic ram) from the top, and give it three or four stiff whacks with a mallet (or better yet, a dead-blow hammer). Remove the plunger and you have a 95% formed case, ready to load.

Walter Queen Hydraulic Hornady DieSpecial Shell-Holder
Hornady supplies a shell holder made specifically for the hydro die; there’s no hole in the bottom of it. Just insert a spent primer into the primer pocket and you’re ready to go. The spent primer, combined with the solid shell holder, keeps the water from seeping out of the primer pocket. The primer pushes out a little bit during this process, but it’s impossible for it to come out because of the way the shell holder is designed. The shell holder has a grove which allows the case to slide out of the shell holder even when the primer protrudes a bit.

Story tip from Body Allen. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 10th, 2018

Crosman All-American Field Target Championship

Field Target Championship Crossman New York
Today, July 10, 2018 is the last day to register for the Crosman All American Field Target Championship.

Upstate New York heats up in the summer with the largest field target event in the country — the Crosman All-American Field Target Championship (CAAFTC). This very popular airgun event takes place July 20-22, 2018 in upstate New York. If you are a Field Target Shooter and want to attend, don’t hesitate — today is the very last day to register for the big event.

CLICK HERE for Match Info & Schedule | CLICK HERE to Register

Field Target Championship Crosman Rush New York
Shooters from across the nation and many foreign competitors will compete this year at the CAAFTC held at the Rochester Brooks Int’l Skeet and Trap Club.

On July 20-22, the Crosman All-American Field Target Championship (CAAFTC) will be held at the Rochester Brooks International Skeet and Trap Club in Rush, New York. 0ver 100 air rifle and air pistol competitors will participate in the big event hosted by Crosman. This event attracts top Airgunners from across the nation (and some foreign countries). Along with regular Field Target matches, there will be specialty side matches, plus a factory tour. The event is free to the public.

Field Target Championship Crosman Rush New York

The CAAFTC is sanctioned by the American Airgun Field Target Association and is a featured AAFTA Grand Prix event. The 120-shot match has competitive rifle divisions based on allowable gun and support equipment. Here are the main air rifle classifications:

Hunter Division – rifle fires at a maximum 20 foot pounds of energy (FPE), shooter may use a non-attached bipod, non-restrictive clothing, and sitting stool.
Open Division - maximum 20 FPE maximum rifle, shooter may wear a body harness, no bipod, 6″ maximum height seat.
World Field Target Federation (WFTF) – similar to Open but shooters compete according to international standard of maximum 12 fpe for rifles.
Freestyle Division – 20 FPE maximum rifle, no other restrictions. (This is new for 2016).

The pistol competition includes similar divisions based on shooting styles. Both rifle and pistol divisions include sub-classes based on the air rifle powerplant: piston driven or precharged pneumatic.

“If you want to see some of the country’s finest airgun shooters, this is the hottest event of the summer and it’s free for the public,” says Chip Hunnicutt, Marketing Manager for Crosman. “Alongside the world-class shooters, we’ll have enthusiasts simply having a good time and even parents bringing their kids for some good fun outdoors.”

The three-day competition features multiple shooting matches including the main two-day rifle event. There are five divisions for competitors: Open, Hunter, WFTF, Freestyle, and Pistol. In addition to the main rifle event, this year will also feature a pistol match, the Quigley Bucket Match and the Pyramyd Air Gunslinger match. The Bucket match re-creates famous scene in the movie “Quigley Down Under” in which the lead character shoots a bucket at 700 yards. Here the distances are scaled down a wee bit (wink). Competitors, using iron sights only, get 5 shots at a 1.75″ bucket placed at 55 yards.

Field Target Championship Crosman Rush New York

Tech Talk: Why the Big Side-Wheels on the Scopes?
Field Target rifles shoot pellets propelled by compressed air. These light-weight, low-BC projectiles drop very quickly, with a looping trajectory. In order to hit targets at distances out to 50 yards or so, you have to adjust your scope to compensate for pellet drop. But you can’t set the scope correctly without knowing the precise range to the target. This is the function of the big wheels on the side of the scope. Field Target Competitors use the parallax adjustment on high-magnification scopes to determine target range. The big wheel allows quick, yet precise parallax adjustment. Markings on the wheel show the shooter the scope settings required for the distance “dialed-in” via the over-size parallax wheel.

Crosman All American Field Target Championship

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
July 10th, 2018

Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge — Quick & Easy

Here’s a tip we feature every year or so, because it is something that costs nothing, yet can be very useful in the reloading process. With a simple, easy modification to a fired case, you can determine the length to lands in your rifle barrel. As long as you set the tension right, the measurements should be repeatable, and you’ve just saved yourself $32 — the price of a commercial OAL gauge.

case OAL gauge home made

To achieve best accuracy with a rifle, you must control bullet seating depth very precisely, so all bullets end up in the same place relative to the entrance of the lands, every time. There may be multiple cartridge OALs which prove accurate. However, with each, you first need to determine a “zero” point — a reliable, and repeatable OAL where the bullet is “just touching” the lands.

There are tools, such as the Hornady (formerly Stoney Point) OAL Gauge, that will help you find a seating OAL just touching the lands. However, the tool requires that you use a special modified case for each cartridge you shoot. And, while we find that the Hornady OAL Gauge is repeatable, it does take some practice to get in right.

Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge with a Dremel
Here’s an inexpensive alternative to the Hornady OAL tool — a slotted case. Forum member Andris Silins explais how to create a slotted case to measure length to the lands in your rifle:

“Here’s what I did to find length to lands for seating my bullets. I made four cuts into the neck of fire-formed brass. Then I pressed the bullet in lightly and chambered the entire gauge. As the cartridge chambers, the bullet slides back into the case to give you length to lands. It took less than five minutes to get it cut and working. A little light oil in the barrel just past the chamber helps ensure the bullet does not get stuck in the lands. It works great and is very accurate.

How to Adjust Tension — Length and Number of Neck Cuts
I made the cuts using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel. You can adjust tension two ways. First, you can make the cuts longer or shorter. Longer cuts = less tension. If you used only three cuts instead of four you would get more tension. The trick is to be gentle when you open and close the bolt. If you ram the bolt closed you may wedge the bullet into the lands. When you open the bolt it helps to keep a finger or two near by to guide the case out straight because the ejector wants to push it sideways.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
July 6th, 2018

TECH Tip: Safe Loading Practices for Different Bullet Shapes

USAMU Reloading Bullet Safety

This article, from the USAMU Facebook Page, concerns reloading safety. In the relentless quest for more speed and flatter ballistics, some hand-loaders load way too hot, running charges that exceed safe pressure levels. Hint: If you need a mallet to open your bolt, chances are your load is too hot. Stay within safe margins — your equipment will last longer, and you won’t risk an injury caused by over-pressure. In this article, the USAMU explains that you need to account for bullet shape, diameter, and bearing surface when working up a load. Don’t assume that a load which is safe for one bullet will be safe for another even if both bullets are exactly the same weight.

USAMU Reloading tips Army Marksmanship

Today, we continue our handloading safety theme, focusing on not inadvertently exceeding the boundaries of known, safe data.

Bullet manufacturers’ loading manuals often display three, four, or more similar-weight bullets grouped together with one set of load recipes. The manufacturer has tested these bullets and developed safe data for that group. However, seeing data in this format can tempt loaders — especially new ones — to think that ALL bullets of a given weight and caliber can interchangeably use the same load data. Actually, not so much.

The researchers ensure their data is safe with the bullet yielding the highest pressure. Thus, all others in that group should produce equal or less pressure, and they are safe using this data.

However, bullet designs include many variables such as different bearing surface lengths, hardness, and even slight variations in diameter. In fact, diameters can occasionally range up to 0.001″ by design. Thus, choosing untested bullets of the same weight and caliber, and using them with data not developed for them can yield excess pressures.

This is only one of the countless reasons not to begin at or very near the highest pressure loads during load development. Always begin at the starting load and look for pressure signs as one increases powder charges.

Bullet Bearing Surface and Pressure
Bullet bearing surface length (BSL) is often overlooked when considering maximum safe powder charges and pressures. In Photo 1, note the differences in the bullets’ appearance. All three are 7 mm, and their maximum weight difference is just five grains. Yet, the traditional round nose, flat base design on the left appears to have much more BSL than the sleeker match bullets. All things being equal, based on appearance, the RN/FB bullet seems likely to reach maximum pressure with significantly less powder than the other two designs.

Photo 1: Three Near-Equal-Weight 7mm Bullets with Different Shapes
USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparison Safety Reloading

Due to time constraints, the writer used an approximate, direct measurement approach to assess the bullets’ different BSLs. While fairly repeatable, the results were far from ballistics engineer-grade. Still, they are adequate for this example.

Bullet 1 (L-R), the RN/FB, has a very slight taper and only reaches its full diameter (0.284 inch) very near the cannelure. This taper is often seen on similar bullets; it helps reduce pressures with good accuracy. The calculated BSL of Bullet 1 was ~0.324″. The BSL of Bullet 2, in the center, was ~0.430″, and Bullet 3’s was ~ 0.463″. Obviously, bullets can be visually deceiving as to BSL!

Some might be tempted to use a bullet ogive comparator (or two) to measure bullets’ true BSL for comparison’s sake. Unfortunately, comparators don’t typically measure maximum bullet diameter and this approach can be deluding.

Photo 2: The Perils of Measuring Bearing Surface Length with Comparators
USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparision Safety Reloading

In Photo 2, two 7mm comparators have been installed on a dial caliper in an attempt to measure BSL. Using this approach, the BSLs differed sharply from the original [measurements]. The comparator-measured Bullet 1 BSL was 0.694” vs. 0.324” (original), Bullet 2 was 0.601” (comparator) vs. 0.430” (original), and Bullet 3 (shown in Photo 2) was 0.602” (comparator) vs. 0.463” (original). [Editor’s comment — Note the very large difference for Bullet 1, masking the fact that the true full diameter on this bullet starts very far back. You can use comparators on calipers, but be aware that this method may give you deceptive reading — we’ve seen variances just by reversing the comparators on the calipers, because the comparators, typically, are not perfectly round, nor are they machined to precision tolerances.]

Thanks to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit for allowing the reprint of this article.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
July 5th, 2018

.243 Winchester — The Forgotten Long-Range Cartridge

John Whidden gunworks long range championship nra indiana camp perry 2016 2017 atterbury

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks used the .243 Winchester cartridge to win the 2017 NRA Long Range Championship, his fifth LR title at Camp Perry (and second in a row). John selected the .243 Win because it offers excellent ballistics with manageable recoil. John says that, at least for a sling shooter, the .243 Win is hard to beat at long range. Yes, John says, you can get somewhat better ballistics with a .284 Win or .300 WSM, but you’ll pay a heavy price in increased recoil. Here’s John’s story of how he wins with a .243 Win.

Great Ballistics with 6mm 105s at 3275 FPS
Running at an impressive 3275 FPS, Berger 6mm 105 grain Hybrids deliver ballistics that are hard to beat, according to John Whidden:

“My .243 Win shoots inside a 6.5-284 with 142-grainers. Nothing out there is really ahead of [the .243], in 1000-yard ballistics unless you get into the short magnums or .284s and those carry a very significant recoil penalty. In the past I did shoot the 6.5-284. I went to the .243 Win because it had similar ballistics but had much less recoil. It doesn’t beat me up as much and is not as fatiguing.

John Whidden .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anshutz

With the .243 Win, there’s no tensing-up, no anticipating. With the reduced recoil (compared to a 7mm or big .308), I can break and shoot very good quality shots. I find I just shoot better shots with the .243 than I ever did with the 6.5-284.”

The .243 Winchester — Good Enough to Win LR Championships

by John Whidden, Five-Time National Long Range Champion
My experience with the .243 cartridge for use as a Long Range High Power cartridge dates back about 10 years or so. After building a .300 WSM, I realized that the recoil was hurting the quality of my shots. The WSM shot great, but I couldn’t always execute good shots when shooting it. From here I built a 6.5-284, and it shot well. I also had a very accurate 6mmBR at the time, and my logic in going to the .243 Win was to get wind performance equal to the 6.5-284 with recoil similar to the 6mmBR. The experiment has worked out well indeed!

John Whidden gunworks long range championship nra indiana camp perry 2016 2017 atterbury

Championship-Winning Load: Berger Bullets, Lapua Brass, and Vihtavuori N160
For a load, currently I’m shooting Lapua brass, PMC primers (Russian, similar to Wolf), VihtaVuori N160 single-base powder, and Berger 105 grain Hybrid bullets. I switched to the Hybrid bullets fairly recently at the beginning of the 2015 season. Previously I shot the 105gr Berger hunting VLDs, and in testing I found that the Hybrids were just as accurate without having to seat the bullet into the lands. The velocity of this combination when shot through the excellent Bartlein 5R barrels (32” length) is around 3275 FPS. Surprising to some, John does load his ammo on a Dillon Progressive press (with help from his ultra-precise Auto-trickler).

For my match ammo, I seat the Berger 105 Hybrids well off the lands — my bullets are “jumping” from .035″-.060″. I only use one seating depth for ammunition for multiple guns (I know some benchrest shooters will stop reading right here!) and the bullets jump further in the worn barrels than in the fresh barrels. The bullets are pointed up in our Bullet Pointing Die System and are moly-coated. The moly (molybdenum disulfide) does extend the cleaning interval a little bit, probably 20% or so. The Lapua .243 Win brass is all neck-turned to .0125″ thickness.

Whidden’s .243 Win Ammo is Loaded on a Dillon
My loading process is different than many people expect. I load my ammo on a Dillon 650 progressive press using our own Whidden Gunworks dies. However powder charges are individually weighed with a stand-alone automated scale/trickler system from AutoTrickler.com (see below). Employing a high-end force restoration scale, this micro-processor controlled system offers single-kernel precision. The weighed charges are then dropped into the cases with a funnel mounted to the Dillon head.

John Whidden .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anschutz

John Whidden .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anschutz

The Lapua .243 Win brass is full-length sized every time, and I run one of our custom-sized expanders in my sizer die. The expander measures .243″ which yields the desired .001″ neck tension. In my experience, the best way to get consistent neck tension is to run an expander in the case neck at some point. When sizing the case neck by a minimal amount such as is the case here, I don’t find any negative points in using an expander in the sizer die.

In my experience, the keys to accurate long range ammo are top quality bullets and the most consistent neck tension you can produce. From these starting points, the use of quality components and accurate powder measurement will finish out the magic.

John Whidden National Long Range Championship Camp Perry 2016 Wind Reading

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 5th, 2018

Input Key Variables Correctly for Ballistics Apps

Ballistic AE Moble App Ballistics Program solver JBM iphone, iPod, iPad

“Garbage In, Garbage Out.” You have to input key variables with precision if you want your Ballistics Apps to deliver reliable long-range trajectories. So says Tom Beckstrand, Field Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine. A former U.S. Army Special Forces Officer, and avid long-range competitor, Beckstrand knows the importance of using your ballistic calculator correctly. Here are his tips on how to achieve the best results using Ballistics Calculators.

Key Variables: Muzzle Velocity, Ballistic Coefficient, Sight Height

“The most important inputs to make any ballistic calculator work correctly are muzzle velocity, ballistic coefficient, and sight height,” says Beckstrand.

Ascertain Accurate Muzzle Velocity with a Good Chronograph
“Cheap chronographs will not give an accurate muzzle velocity, so the serious shooter needs to spend the money on a quality chrono.” When you chronograph, make sure to measure the distance from the muzzle to the chrono unit. That input is also important to your Ballistic calculations.

Use Reliable G1 and G7 Ballistic Coefficients
Beckstrand added, “Ballistic Coefficients are available from ammunition and bullet manufacturers, and most of these coefficients the manufacturers provide are really quite accurate.” Ballistic Coefficient or BC, is a number that reflects how well a bullet cuts through the air. The higher the BC, the less the bullet is affected by air drag.

Measure Sight Height Correctly Using Calipers
Beckstrand has found that many shooters aren’t inputting sight height or they are guessing at the correct height. As target distance increases, just a half-inch of sight height inaccuracy can mean several inches up or down.

“Sight height is the input most often overlooked and is usually the source of greatest error. I think a lot of shooters, especially those new to long-range shooting, simply don’t understand the importance of this input.”

Sight height is the distance from the centerline of the scope to the centerline of the bore. Some shooters, Beckstrand believes, just “eye it up” and estimate the distance. “Really, you should use a set of calipers to measure the sight height distance … within 0.1 inch”.

Get Leading Ballistics App for iOS Devices

Ballistic AE Moble App Ballistics Program solver JBM iphone, iPod, iPad

Ballistic AE Moble App Ballistics Program solver JBM iphone, iPod, iPadNeed a top-notch Ballistics App for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Start with Ballistic AE, the number 1 (i.e. most installed) App for iOS systems. Ballistics AE (Advanced Edition) is the most popular iOS ballistics program for many good reasons. Full-featured and easy to use, Ballistics AE has been refined over many years, and it supplies rock-solid solutions derived from JBM Ballistics solver (created by James B. Millard). Unlike some other Apps, Ballistics AE is STABLE on iPhones (with various OS levels). What’s cool is that Ballistics AE is now on sale for $12.99.

We’ve used the Ballistic AE program on an iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPad, and it performed well. Here are some of the features we liked:

  • 1. Mirrors output from online version of JBM Ballistics we often use for initial calculations.
  • 2. Controls are simple to use and (mostly) intuitive.
  • 3. Handy comparison feature lets you compare ballistics for different projectiles side by side.
  • 4. Advanced Wind Kit allows you to account for complex wind situations.
  • 5. Projectile and BC Databases are very comprehensive.
  • 6. Software is regularly updated to match Apple OS changes.

Ballistic-AE App for iPhone & iPod, $12.99 | Ballistic-AE App for iPad, $12.99

Ballistic AE Moble App Ballistics Program solver JBM iphone, iPod, iPad

This Video Explains How to Set Up and Use Ballistic AE:

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
June 30th, 2018

AR15 3D Animation — See How an AR Really Works

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

Ever wondered how the parts inside an AR15 work together? Just exactly how does the reciprocating bolt carrier feed rounds from the magazine? How do the elements in the trigger group work and reset after each shot? How does the gas system bleed gas from the barrel and operate the bolt carrier? These and other questions are answered in this eye-opening video from 45Snipers. Using “cutaway” 3D computer animation, this 5-minute video shows all features of an AR15 inside and out. This fascinating firearms animation allows the viewer to look inside the upper and lower receivers, into the bolt carrier, chamber, barrel, and magazine.

This video starts off slow and has annoying background music, but it is well worth watching if you own or shoot any AR-platform rifle. It illustrates all the key operations during the charging, loading, firing, and ejection processes. The cutaway animation shows how rounds are stripped from the magazine and then chambered. It then shows how every part of the trigger group works, and how the firing pin strikes the primer. You can even watch the bullet move down the barrel before the empty shell casing is removed from the chamber and tossed out the ejection port. Here are sample frames from the video:

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

Video find by Grant Ubl. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Tactical, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
June 28th, 2018

TECH TIP: Velocity Increase In New Gun Barrels

Barrel Velocity Increase Sierra Bullets Blog Speedy Gonzalez Jim See

Editor: Many new barrels will deliver higher velocities with the same load after 100-150 rounds through the bore. The exact reasons for this speed-up are not 100% certain, and velocity increases (if any) will vary from one barrel to the next. But this “speeding up” phenomenon is common, so be prepared if this happens with your next barrel. If you do experience a significant velocity increase you should probably re-tune your load AFTER the velocity stabilizes at the higher level.

From the Sierra Bullets Blog
Article by Mark Walker, Sierra New Product Development Director
In a previous post, I discussed a couple of methods to tune a load to your barrel to help achieve the best accuracy possible. People most often work on load tuning if they get a new rifle or have a different barrel installed. In both instances, the barrel is new and has not been fired very much. According to most competitive shooters, this is the most accurate your barrel will ever be, so getting it tuned and shooting accurately is a priority.

The Speed Up Phenomenon After 100-150 Rounds
Even though after you work up a load and your new barrel is shooting great, a lot of shooters notice that at around 100 to 150 rounds their rifle may stop shooting as accurately. I had this happen to a rifle and I was confused as to why something that worked so well to begin with would all of a sudden quit shooting. I decided to break out the chronograph to do another load work up to see what was going on. To my surprise, the velocity had increased around 80 fps over the original velocity! After performing another ladder test and adjusting the seating depth, the rifle was once again shooting well.

There are several thoughts on why this may happen, however, you can rest assured that it does happen. One thought is that as the barrel breaks in, the tooling marks in the throat of the chamber smooth out and allow less resistance to the bullet as it exits the bore thereby increasing speed. Another idea is that the throat area starts to get a little rough which in turn causes more resistance which increases pressure and therefore more velocity. I’m sure there are some out there who have a better understanding as to why this happens, but it can definitely affect the accuracy of your rifle. So be aware and never be afraid to rework a load to keep your rifle in tune.

Experts Confirm That Barrel Speed-Up Is Common
Barrel Velocity Increase Sierra Bullets Blog Speedy Gonzalez Jim SeeTwo respected shooters have observed an increase in velocity with new barrels, typically after 100 rounds. Gunsmith and Hall-of-Fame benchrest shooter Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez has documented barrel speed-up with testing. Moreover, Speedy’s bore-scope barrel inspections revealed a smoothing of the barrel lands. Jim See, a top PRS competitor, has encountered barrel speed-up many times. Accordingly, he re-tunes his load at 150 rounds.

“Alex Lipworth and I documented this phenomenon about four years ago and I have told all my customers about this. My son Mikee would shoot 100 rounds through all new barrels we planned on shooting before we would begin to do load development. We had a shooting snail that caught all the bullets set up in front of an indoor bench. We called it a wear-in process because upon careful examination of the bore when the ‘Speed Up’ takes place the cut-rifled bore resembles that more of a button-rifled barrels with the lands taking on more the softer look of a buttoned bore.” — Speedy Gonzalez

“Seen it [barrel velocity increase] too many times to count. All my match barrels get a ‘generic round’ loaded for them, which has worked well in barrels historically. After I hit 150 rounds I fine-tune the load and never look back, until the tube starts to slow down at it’s life end.” — Jim See

Barrel Velocity Increase Sierra Bullets Blog Speedy Gonzalez Jim See

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
June 28th, 2018

Tech Tip: Keep Your Ammo Cool this Summer

Heat Map USA color chart

Well folks, it’s almost July — the means we’re moving into “peak heat” summer conditions. It’s vitally important to keep your ammo at “normal” temps during the hot summer months. Even if you use “temp-insensitive” powders, studies suggest that pressures can still rise dramatically when the entire cartridge gets hot, possibly because of primer heating. It’s smart to keep your loaded ammo in an insulated storage unit, possibly with a Blue Ice Cool Pak if you expect it to get quite hot. Don’t leave your ammo in the car or truck — temps can exceed 140° in a vehicle parked in the sun.

Ammo cool storage

Bosch Insulated tool caseTo learn more about how ambient temperature (and primer choice) affect pressures (and hence velocities) you should read the article Pressure Factors: How Temperature, Powder, and Primer Affect Pressure by Denton Bramwell. In that article, the author uses a pressure trace instrument to analyze how temperature affects ammo performance. Bramwell’s tests yielded some fascinating results.

For example, barrel temperature was a key factor: “Both barrel temperature and powder temperature are important variables, and they are not the same variable. If you fail to take barrel temperature into account while doing pressure testing, your test results will be very significantly affected. The effect of barrel temperature is around 204 PSI per F° for the Varget load. If you’re not controlling barrel temperature, you about as well might not bother controlling powder temperature, either. In the cases investigated, barrel temperature is a much stronger variable than powder temperature.”

Barrel temperature temp strips Varget

Temp Strips allow shooters to monitor their barrel temperature. Excessive barrel heat can raise load pressures as well as shorten barrel life!

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
June 27th, 2018

Accidental Annealing — Did Your Wife Kill Your Brass?

Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.com
NOTE: If you prefer drying your brass in an oven we recommend a temp setting no higher than 200° F. Better yet, use a dedicated case dryer that cannot possibly over-cook your cases.

Tech Tip by Craig Arnzen of Area419.com
As wet-tumbling brass has become more popular in recent years, guys have tried a LOT of ways to get their brass dry — towels, hair dryers, and even food dehydrators. (See Top Ten Brass Drying Methods). Another common method — albeit with some potential issues — is putting your wet brass in the oven to dry. Provided you monitor TEMP and TIME, this method is fast, effective, and easy (as long don’t use the wife’s favorite cooking pans — that’ll get you in trouble.)

With oven-drying, however, unexpected issues can arise, as illustrated by this worrisome story: “I put my brass in for an hour at 200° F and turned it off. Next thing I know I realize my wife has the oven pre-heating to 350° F. Is my brass ruined?”

Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.comIf you search the AccurateShooter.com Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find at least three threads with stories like that (i.e. higher-than-expected oven temps when drying brass), and answers on both sides of the line. I know this, because it happened to me — I had some 6XC brass drying and the wife pre-heated the oven. Concerned about my cases, I consulted a genuine annealing expert, Andrew Rixon.

Andrew is the Director of Engineering and Manufacturing at Alpha Munitions, makers of premium-grade rifle brass. I had baked a batch of Alpha’s new 6XC brass, which is exceptionally consistent and well-made.

Before Andrew would answer my question though, he gave me a little lesson on what really happens during annealing:

“Annealing is performed by heating the brass to specific temperatures. There are three phases of annealing: recovery, recrystallization, and grain growth. All of which have specific temperatures and or exposure times related to them. It is key for cartridge brass annealing processes to hit the recrystallization phase which allows for strain-free grains to grow. The growth of strain-free grains eliminate dislocations, drastically decreasing hardness and increasing ductility. For recrystallization to occur the material temperature must be within 600-1000 degrees Fahrenheit (F).”

Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.com

He then got into really answering the question, and was (fortunately) definitive in his answer: “If the temps do not exceed 450 degrees F then there is nothing to worry about as it did not exceed the critical temperature for annealing to occur.” Editor: Caution — do NOT assume that the temperature marked on the oven knob is the actual temperature INSIDE the oven, particularly near the back. Some older ovens can be off as much as 75 degrees F. Be conservative!

Well, there you have it. If you’ve baked your brass, you’re probably OK. If you got it hotter than 450° F then there can start to be some changes to the metal, but we will let you learn more about that directly from Andrew, who is working on a lengthy, detailed article on the science of annealing, to be released later this summer.

This TECH TIP brought to you by Area 419
Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.com

Want to learn more about Alpha Munitions? Visit AlphaMunitions.com.

Permalink - Articles, Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
June 26th, 2018

Sierra Secrets — How MatchKings Are Made

Sierra Bullets Carroll Pilant MatchKing Bullet SMK Bullet-making Jacket

The Making of MatchKings — How Sierra Produces SMKs
All Sierra bullets begin life as a strip of gilding metal, an alloy consisting of 95% copper and 5% zinc. To meet Sierra’s strict quality requirements, the gilding metal requires three times more dimensional and quality control standards than is considered standard in the copper manufacturing industry.

A blanking press stamps out a uniform disc and forms the cup that will be drawn into the MatchKing jacket. The cup is then polished and sent to a draw press to be drawn into a jacket that is longer than needed for the future MatchKing, thus allowing for the trim process. Press operators constantly check concentricity to make sure we have only quality jackets. The jackets then go to a trimmer where they are visually inspected again.

Sierra Bullets Carroll Pilant MatchKing Bullet SMK Bullet-making Jacket

After being polished a second time, the jacket travels to the bullet press. In the meantime, 80-pound lead billets are being extruded into lead wire for the cores where great care is taken so that the core wire is not stretched. The core wire is lightly oiled before continuing to the bullet press to be swaged.

The lead core wire and trimmed jacket meet at the bullet press where the first stage forms a boattail on the jacket. The lead core is then formed on top of the bullet press and fed down into the jacket. In one stroke of the press, the MatchKing is formed.

Sierra Bullets Carroll Pilant MatchKing Bullet SMK Bullet-making Jacket

Quality control technicians pull samples from each lot of MatchKings to make sure they meet Sierra’s stringent standards. Samples are then sent to Sierra’s 300-meter underground test range (shown below) to be shot for accuracy on mechanical mounts referred to as “unrestricted return to battery rests” that Sierra designed and built in-house.

Sierra Underground Tunnel test facility Sedalia, Missouri

Sierra bullet sale Clarus Corporation

After inspection, the bullets are placed in the familiar green box along with reloading labels. They are then shrink-wrapped and shipped all over the world.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
June 26th, 2018

Troubleshooting the Remington 700 — Fixing Fouling Problems

Nathan Foster New Zealand Rem 700 rifle copper fouling accurizing barrel lapping

Turn a Rough Factory Rifle into an Accurate Hunting Rig
Kiwi Nathan Foster has produced a good video for hunters with “under-performing” Remington Model 700 rifles. In this video, Nathan helps a client turn a badly-behaving Rem 700 into a reliable tack-driver. A customer had sent Nathan this rifle to rectify stubborn copper fouling. After bedding the rifle, the customer discovered that the rifle produced terrible groups due to the stubborn bore.

Nathan told us: “This was a grand opportunity to study what can go wrong with the M700 rifle with regards to both do-it-yourself work and flaws within rifle production. To help structure the video, we used the chapters of our Accurizing Book as reference steps for the video. This footage also works in conjunction with our free Remington bedding tutorials on YouTube.

Those who have watched the full M700 Troubleshooting video say this is one of the most helpful videos yet released on problem-solving with a factory hunting rifle. This video is especially helpful for those just getting into the accuracy game, as it walks the viewer through the basics of rifle tuning, then proceeds to more advanced methods of improving a badly-behaving rifle.

This video focuses on the Remington M700 and Rem clones, such as the Bergara rifle. However the lessons and techniques in the video can apply to any type of bolt-action rifle suffering heavy copper fouling. The video features detailed footage of barrel break-in and barrel-lapping procedures. These procedures may be beneficial for rough factory barrels. IMPORTANT! AccurateShooter.com recommends different break-in and maintenance regimes for custom, hand-lapped premium barrels — be conservative with fine custom barrels. Our best custom barrels have all shot superbly with minimal break-in and zero use of abrasives during break-in.

Troubleshooting the Remington 700 Rifle with Nathan Foster

NOTE: This is a free 70-second trailer video. The FULL Remington Troubleshooting Video is 1 hour, 16 minutes long and can be streamed through Vimeo-on-Demand for $12.00. Access Full Video HERE.

Nathan Foster of Terminal Ballistics Research in New Zealand, is a expert hunter and highly-respected author of a series of hunting and long range shooting books. Nathan’s first book, The Practical Guide to Long Range Hunting Rifles, is a classic — one of the best treatises ever written on choosing and using a hunting rifle.

Nathan Foster Long Range Rifles Hunting Hunter

CLICK HERE to Download Remington 700 Owner’s Manual

The Remington 700 is the most popular bolt-action rifle in America, according to Gunbroker.com sales figures for new and “previously-owned” rifles. So, chances are that you (or a family member) have a Rem 700 of some vintage sitting in the gunsafe. Click the link above for a PDF version of the Remington 700 Owner’s Manual (also covers models Seven, and 673).

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip No Comments »
June 24th, 2018

Cleaning Rod Bore Guide for 17 HMR Rifles

Roy Bertalatto RVB Precision 17 HMR Cleaning Rod Bore Guide
The Bertalotto 17 HMR Cleaning Rod Bore Guide is actually made from aluminum arrow shafts.

When Hornady (and CCI) developed the 17 HMR cartridge, they really hit a home-run. And the rifle manufacturers quickly marketed some nice rifles to chamber this 17-cal rimfire round. But unlike .22 LR rifles which, typically, require very little cleaning, 17 HMRs demand frequent bore cleaning to maintain good accuracy. That’s because 17 HMRs shoot copper-jacketed bullets at 2550 fps velocities.

17-Cal Bore Guides — The Challenge
The problem is, it’s hard to find a well-designed, quality bore guide for 17-caliber rimfire rifles. With many 17 HMR (and 17 Mach 2) rifles, you encounter mechanical interference when you try to use a standard bore guide to protect the delicate chamber edge and the bottle neck area of the chamber. A fixed ejector is in the way. On many 17 HMR rifles, this little “shark fin” ejector is right in line with the chamber and is fixed — it doesn’t retract. Therefore the kind of bore guide you might use for centerfire rifles won’t work in 17 HMRs — it will hang up on the ejector.

Polymer bore guides exist for this type of action, but they are typically open-bottom designs that do not enter and seal the chamber. These open-bottom designs don’t protect the delicate chamber edge or the bottleneck area of the chamber, and they also allow some seepage of solvents out of the chamber. That’s why Roy Bertalotto created his RVB Precision Bore Guide for 17 HMR rifles. The 7075 aluminum tube on his Bore Guide is thin enough to pass by the ejector, yet it is extremely rigid. (Photos below.)

Roy explains: “My bore guide is made of 7075 anodized aluminum tubing, which is totally unaffected by any type of cleaning solution. One end is swagged down to fit completely into the chamber of a 17 HMR rifle. This guides your cleaning rod perfectly to the bore without touching the chamber walls or front edge of the chamber. The tight fit of the bore guide in the chamber also stops cleaning solvents from getting into the action, magazine, and trigger housing.” (Editor: Solvent seepage can do damage. We had a 17 Mach 2 rifle that rusted internally because solvents leaked past an open-bottom bore guide.)

Roy Bertalatto RVB Precision 17 HMR Cleaning Rod Bore Guide

Using the RVB 17 HMR Guide – Once the bore guide is in place, slide the supplied aluminum bushing over the tube, and gently push the bushing into the rear of the action. This centers the guide rod in the action to keep the guide rod tube aligned. Once the guide rod and bushing are in place, you can use a 17-caliber cleaning rod* with patches and/or brushes to clean the barrel. Use the rod normally, but make sure your patches are quite small and don’t apply too much pressure as these small-diameter rods can kink if you try to force over-size patches down the bore.

The RVB Precision 17 HMR Bore Guide costs $19.95 plus $5.00 shipping. To order, email Roy Bertalotto via rvb100 [at] comcast.net. Roy will then send you shipping/payment details.

Roy tells us: “Yes, I make the bore guides out of 1616 aluminum arrow shafts. The only material on earth that fits EXACTLY what is needed. I buy the shaft material as simple tubing from Easton. It is hard anodized, the perfect wall thickness and doesn’t look too bad either.”

* NOTE: You really do need a dedicated .17-cal cleaning rod for this job. Most other rods are too fat to pass through the barrel. Dewey Mfg. makes a decent 17-caliber cleaning rod that is reasonably stiff and doesn’t kink too readily. It is available in 7″, 11″, 18″, 26″, and 36″ lengths, either bare stainless steel or with a nylon coating. For use with the Bertalotto Bore Guide, we prefer the nylon-coated version, in either 26″ or 36″ lengths, depending on barrel length.

Dewey 17 cal caliber bore guide

If you have a high comb on your rifle, you may need extra length to avoid interference with the rod handle. Use this formula to determine correct rod length: Length of barrel + action or breech rod guide length + 2-3″ clearance + high comb if applicable = total rod length needed.

There are other quality 17-cal cleaning rods, but we’ve used the Dewey and it functioned well. The nylon coating cleaned easily and was gentle on the throat and crown. You should clean the coating before and after each use to ensure it does not embed grit or other contaminants.

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip No Comments »
June 22nd, 2018

How to Improve Case Concentricity with Standard Seating Dies

USAMU Handloading Hump Day Seating Die Adjustment Stem TIR Concentricity Run-out

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. This USAMU “Handloading Hump Day” article, the second in a series on improving concentricity, has many useful tips. If you use standard (non-micrometer) seating dies when loading some cartridge types, this article is worth reading. And visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.

Once again, it’s time for USAMU’s “Handloading Hump-Day!” Last week, we addressed achieving very good loaded-cartridge concentricity (AKA “TIR”, or Total Indicator Runout) using standard, “hunting grade” reloading dies.

We explained how to set up the Full-Length Size die to float slightly when correctly adjusted for desired case headspace. We also cited a study in which this method loaded ammunition straighter than a set of [higher grade] match dies from the same maker. [One of the keys to reducing TIR with both sets of dies was using a rubber O-ring below the locking ring to allow the die to float slightly. READ Full-Length Sizing Die TIP HERE.]

Now, we’ll set up a standard seating die to minimize TIR — the other half of the two-die equation. As before, we’ll use a single-stage press since most new handloaders will have one. A high-quality runout gauge is essential for obtaining consistent, accurate results.

Having sized, primed and charged our brass, the next step is bullet seating. Many approaches are possible; one that works well follows. When setting up a standard seating die, insert a sized, trimmed case into the shell-holder and fully raise the press ram. Next, back the seating stem out and screw the die down until the internal crimping shoulder touches the case mouth.

Back the die out one-quarter turn from this setting to prevent cartridge crimping. Next, lower the press ram and remove the case. Place a piece of flat steel on the shellholder and carefully raise the ram. Place tension on the die bottom with the flat steel on the shellholder. This helps center the die in the press threads. Check this by gently moving the die until it is well-centered. Keeping light tension on the die via the press ram, secure the die lock ring.

USAMU Handloading Hump Day Seating Die Adjustment Stem TIR Concentricity Run-out

If one were using a micrometer-type seating die, the next step would be simple: run a charged case with bullet on top into the die and screw the seating stem down to obtain correct cartridge OAL.

However, with standard dies, an additional step can be helpful. When the die has a loosely-threaded seating stem, set the correct seating depth but don’t tighten the stem’s lock nut. Leave a loaded cartridge fully raised into the die to center the seating stem. Then, secure the stem’s lock nut. Next, load sample cartridges and check them to verify good concentricity.

One can also experiment with variations such as letting the seating stem float slightly in the die to self-center, while keeping correct OAL. The runout gauge will show any effects of changes upon concentricity. However, the first method has produced excellent, practical results as evidenced by the experiment cited previously. These results (TIR Study 2) will reproduced below for the reader’s convenience.

TIR Study 2: Standard vs. Match Seating Dies

50 rds of .308 Match Ammo loaded using carefully-adjusted standard dies, vs. 50 using expensive “Match” dies from the same maker.

Standard dies, TIR:
0.000” — 0.001” = 52%;
0.001”– 0.002” = 40%;
0.002”– 0.003” = 8%. None greater than 0.003”.

“Match” dies, TIR:
0.000”– 0.001” = 46%;
0.001” — 0.002” = 30%;
0.002” — 0.003” = 20%;
0.003” — 0.004” = 4%.

AccurateShooter Comment: This shows that, with careful adjustment, the cheaper, standard dies achieved results that were as good (or better) than the more expensive “Match” Dies.

These tips are intended to help shooters obtain the best results from inexpensive, standard loading dies. Especially when using cases previously fired in a concentric chamber, as was done above, top-quality match dies and brass can easily yield ammo with virtually *no* runout, given careful handloading.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 13 Comments »
June 20th, 2018

Chrono Comparison Test: LabRadar, Magnetospeed, & Oehler 35P

labradar chronograph test magnetospeed V3 oehler 35P 6mmBR Ackley BRA

We see comparison tests of cars, cameras, and other hardware. But how about chronographs? What could we learn by setting up three different chronographs, and running a 20-shot string over all three at the same time. One of our Forum members, Randy S. (aka AAA) did that very test with three of the best chronographs you can buy: LabRadar, MagnetoSpeed, and an Oehler model 35P. The MagnetoSpeed was attached to the barrel of an F-Class rig, with the LabRadar placed on the left side of the shooting bench. The Oehler 35P was positioned about 23 feet downrange. The photo above shows the set-up. A 20-shot string was recorded with the results in a spreadsheet.

AAA talks about this interesting experiment in a Shooters’ Forum Thread. Here is his report:

Comparison Testing Three Chronographs

We all have our favorite chronograph. Each gives a number, but how would that number compare to the same round fired with another chronograph? I wanted to know so a friend and I set up the following test with three chronographs: LabRadar, MagnetoSpeed V3, and Oehler Model 35P.

For the test we fired Berger 105gr VLDs over the three chronographs simultaneously. The test rifle was my 6mm BR Ackley (BRA) F-class rig with fire-formed brass and 200 rounds on the new barrel.

Chronogaphs Tested
LabRadar
MagnetoSpeed V3
Oehler Model 35P
Temperature: 86 deg. F
Elevation: 854 feet
Cartridge: 6mm BRA (105gr Berger VLD)
Time between shots: 45 seconds

To start off, five rounds were fired to make sure all systems were recording and to warm the barrel. Then the test was 20 shots fired across all three instruments with 45 seconds between shots. The Oehler was set 7.5 yards from the muzzle so 12 FPS was added to the recorded value.

We were using the internal trigger on the LabRadar. The manual says the Vo indicated is the actual muzzle velocity when using the internal trigger, but not if using the Doppler. The 12 FPS Oehler adjustment (back to MV) was based on the Berger Ballistics Calculator.

Results of the Triple Chronograph Shoot-Out:

labradar chronograph test magnetospeed V3 oehler 35P 6mmBR Ackley BRA

LR-M is FPS variance between LabRadar and MagnetoSpeed V3. LR-O is FPS variance between LabRadar and distance-adjusted Oehler 35P. You can see all three chronos were very consistent. SD was identical with the LabRadar and MagnetoSpeed. CLICK HERE for spreadsheet.

The tester, Randy S. (aka AAA) says: “Judge for yourself, but I was impressed by all.”

Comments by Forum Members
Our Forum members expressed interest in this Triple Chronograph test. Some confirmed that the LabRadar and Magnetospeed give very similar FPS numbers, based on their own tests:

“Great test and thanks for sharing. I’ve tested my MagnetoSpeed and LabRadar together and results are always within 2-4 FPS of one another.” — Big D

“Very happy to see your numbers support my decision to buy a MagnetoSpeed. Had read reports comparing it to the Oehler and the numbers I get seem to be supported by my long range shooting results. Many thanks for taking the time and effort [to perform] this comparative test. Always good to get actual test results.” — Texas10

“I did a 4-shot test with my MagnetoSpeed and another shooter’s LabRadar a couple of days ago. The results were within 4 fps with the LabRadar being optimistic.” — Pat Miles

Forum Member Powderbreak studied AAA’s original spreadsheet from the chronograph trio test, then figured out the shot-by-shot FPS variance between the machines. He concluded that all the machines performed very well. Powderbreak posted:

Analyzing the Triple Chronograph Test — What Can We Conclude?

AAA did a great job of comparing the 3 chronos. What conclusions can be drawn?

1) I have not checked the manufacturer’s claims of accuracy, but the three chronos are very close to one another. There is no way for us to determine the actual true velocities, but we do not need to do so. Any of the chronos would be more than adequate for an accurate shooter.

2) The resolution of the three chronographs is actually pretty astounding. One foot per second (FPS) is a resolution of 0.033%.

3) AAA did a great job of reloading a very consistent round. With an extreme spread of 33 fps out of 3014 for 20 rounds, that is only 1.09% total spread of velocities.

4) There is a closer velocity match between the MagnetoSpeed and the LabRadar, but that does not mean the Oehler is less accurate. There is simply an offset between the Oehler and the other two. This could be due to the greater distance, the location, or the internal working of the Oehler.

5) Believe your chronograph, it is probably the most accurate reloading tool that you own.

Brian Litz of Applied Ballistics carefully explained the operation, set-up, accuracy and comparison of AB’s chronographs in his books. [Those books] are well worth the money, and give great insight into the workings of chronographs.” — Powderbreak

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