April 15th, 2014

TECH TIP: Use Mirror and Magnifier with Beam Scales

When he chooses to measure his loads or sort bullets by weight, Forum Member Boyd Allen likes his trusty RCBS 10-10 scale. He finds that it works predictably, time after time, and it doesn’t suffer from the drift and calibration issues that plague some of the less-expensive electronic scales on the market.

RCBS 10-10 Scale

To make it easier to see the balance point, Boyd has adapted a magnifying glass with a mirror. This makes the end of his balance beam easier to view from his normal position on the bench. Boyd explains: “This set-up uses a cheap magnifier with positioning arms that was probably designed to hold and magnify small objects while soldering them. I think that it came from Harbor Freight many years ago. The mirror lets you look at the scale as if is was at eye level, and of course the magnifier makes the image easier to see.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
April 11th, 2014

Pre-Season Maintenance On Your Rifles

This Article Originally Appeared in Sinclair International’s The Reloading Press.

Pre-Season Gun Maintenance,
by Ron Dague, Sinclair International
Firearms SafetyI give my rifles a pre-season check before the shooting season starts. This starts with a general inspection starting with the butt-plate or recoil pad and making sure that all the screws and adjustable parts (on an adjustable butt-plate) move freely up or down and side to side. If you got caught in rain some of these screws and adjustable parts may not move when needed. I disassemble parts as needed and put rust preventative or a light oil and/or grease on threads and sliding parts. On rifles with recoil pads and fixed butt-plates, make sure the screws are tight and that holes in the stock aren’t stripped out. Make sure there are no cracks in the stock and around the butt-plate. If the recoil pad is glued-on, just make sure it hasn’t come loose.

Next I take the action out of the stock and check for cracks and wear marks. I look at the bedding to make sure that oils and cleaning solvents have not damaged the bedding. While the action is out of the stock, I look for any surface rust or dirt/dust in the recoil lug area and magazine well. Clean as needed and repair or re-bed if needed.

Trigger Assembly and Action
Jewell trigger Remington 700With the barreled action out of the stock, it is a good time to spray out the trigger with cleaner. I use Ronson oil or lighter fluid. [Editor's Note: Some trigger-makers advise against using any kind of lubricant, grease or oil -- so plain lighter fluid is preferred.] After the trigger is cleaned you may want to check the trigger pull weight. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, take it to a gun smith and have it checked. It is worth every penny to not have a trigger issue and/or a safety malfunction. I also take the bolt apart and clean the firing pin spring and bolt housing with Gun Scrubber or automotive brake cleaner. Then lube the firing pin-spring and firing pin with light oil. I use Kel Lube and/or Butch’s gun oil. Put a small dab of gun grease on the [bolt locking lugs] and cocking ramp.

I will also spray the outside of the action and barrel and give that a light coating of oil for rust prevention. I clean the action with Sinclair’s action cleaning tool. Don’t forget to clean the bore. Even though you didn’t fire the rifle, this makes sure nothing obstructs your barrel.

Checking Metal Fixtures and Fasteners
rifle scope ringsNext I look at the trigger guard and hinged floor plate and make sure it works as designed. Make sure there are no cracks in the trigger guard from an accidental drop. Check guard screws and /or action screws for tightness and tighten to proper spec. There are torque specs for this, but on wood stocks the wood can crush and this should be checked throughout the year as weather change can affect this. My entire collection of rifles are bedded and I just tighten them just snug with screw driver or Allen wrench. The rimfire rifles have a spec of 55 to 74 inch/lbs and I think would carry over to center fire as well. I would caution you about torque wrenches as you need a good quality wrench, and read the directions on how to use it. You can over torque if not careful. Check the swivel studs and bipod to make sure there tight as well. You may want to take scope off and check the base screws and check the rings.

Test Fire the Rifle After Maintenance
After all cleaning and is done and everything is reassembled, take a few rounds out to the range and test fire to make sure everything works as it should. Don’t forget to run 3-5 rounds through the magazine at least two times for function. I look at this as preventive maintenance on the rifle. If you give it a look over you shouldn’t have any trouble during the rifle matches or hunting trip.

Ron Dague
Certified Reloading Instructor
Certified Range Safety Officer
Email: rond [at] sinclairintl.com
Phone: 800-717-8211

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
April 8th, 2014

TECH TIP: Clean Your Chamber and Lug Recesses

Most competitive shooters are pretty good about bore cleaning (some may even clean their bores too aggressively). However, we’ve found that many shooters neglect the chamber area and the bolt lug recesses. It’s too easy to clean the bore, slip out the guide rod and say “I’m done.” Sinclair Int’l explains why it’s important to clean the action interior: “Shooters use a lot of grease and oil on their bolts to reduce friction and to prevent wear[.] Unfortunately, both of these compounds attract grit, powder and primer residues. Cleaning your receiver is especially critical [with] custom actions where the fit between the action and bolt is held to very tight tolerances. Routine cleaning of the action will prevent unnecessary wear on the bolt body, locking lugs, and the action raceways/guide rails. Frequent action cleaning is also essential to keeping the trigger area free of debris which can cause trigger hang-ups and failures.” Below, we present action cleaning advice from Sinclair’s Reloading Press Newsletter.

Cleaning the Chamber
Combustion by-products, lubricants, and solvent residues can collect in your chamber. Severe build-up of grease and carbon can interfere with chambering. Also some solvents will promote corrosion. You need to keep your chambers clean.

Bolt Action Cleaning

1) Install a clean cotton mop of the correct size on the end of a chamber rod and insert the mop into the chamber. Rotate the mop several times to remove any brush bristles left behind and any excess solvent that was between the rod guide snout and the end of the chamber. Make sure the chamber is dry. Prior to storing a rifle you can oil the chamber but make sure the oil is removed prior to firing the rifle.
2) Alternatively, install an old bore brush on a chamber rod, overlap a couple of patches on the brush bristles, and wrap them around the brush completely. Then insert the patch-covered brush into the chamber while rotating it to remove the excess solvent and debris. Push it firmly into the neck area of the chamber. A similar method is to pierce a large patch on the end of the brush loop and insert it into the action, again rotating the brush as you push the patch up against the breech.

Cleaning the Lug Recess Area
The action lug recess area is one of the dirtiest places on a bolt-action rifle. To properly clean this area, always use a tool designed for the task, such as the $21.50 Sinclair Action Cleaning Tool (part # ACT1) which is part of the Sinclair Action Cleaning Tool Kit (now on sale for $29.99, part #ACT2).

Bolt Action Cleaning

1) Insert a cotton roll or cleaning felt into your lug recess cleaning tool and wet both ends and the face of the cotton roll/felt with solvent.
2) Insert the tool into the action and push it forward until it is positioned fully in the lug recess area and rotate the tool head several times. Then reverse the rotation for another few turns. While rotating the tool move it slightly in and out to cover the entire recess area and to also clean the breech face.
3) Remove the tool from the action and inspect the surface of the felt or cotton roll. If there is quite a bit of residue on both sides of the felt/roll, then repeat with another wet felt/roll.
4) When you feel the recess area is completely clean, insert a dry cotton roll into the tool and rotate the tool head to remove any remaining solvent and debris. If necessary, use a second dry cotton roll.
5) You can follow this step up with another pass of a mop or patches into the chamber to get any debris or solvent that pushed forward out of the lug recess area.

Bolt Action Cleaning

Cleaning Tips from The Reloading Press, used courtesy Sinclair Int’l, All Rights Reserved.

Permalink Tech Tip 2 Comments »
April 6th, 2014

Tech Tip: How to Cast your Chamber using Cerrosafe

by Bill Gravatt
(This article was written when Bill was President of Sinclair International, Inc.
)
Chamber casting is an easy task for the handloader to perform. A chamber casting is valuable if you run across a firearm that you believe has a custom barrel on it and you want to find out the dimensions of the chamber. Some gunsmiths will chamber a barrel and not mark it properly with the neck dimension or the exact cartridge name or specifications. We also get calls from some customers that have military firearms without cartridge stampings on the barrel; this will help these shooters identify their chambering.

cerrosafe

Another reason to make a chamber casting would be for a die manufacturer to manufacture custom dies for you. A chamber casting is often required when fired cases are not available. Some reloaders will make a chamber casting that shows them the exact configuration of the throat and leade so they can determine what bullets to try. Shooters using cast bullets will make a cast so they can choose a mould that better fits their throat taper and grove/lands diameter.

A product called Cerrosafe is the most common, reliable, and the safest material to use for making chamber castings. Cerrosafe is a metal alloy that has some unique properties which make it ideal for chamber casting. First, it has a relatively low melting point of 158 to 190° Fahrenheit. This makes it easy for the handloader to melt the Cerrosafe in his home shop. Second, it shrinks slightly during cooling which allows it to be extracted from the chamber easily. It then re-expands to the chamber’s original size after about one hour at room temperature. After cooling for about 200 hours, the chamber cast will expand to about .0025″ larger than the actual chamber size. Most good reloading die makers are used to working from Cerrosafe chamber casts.

As we said, using Cerrosafe is fairly easy and comes with complete instructions.

Making a Cerrosafe Chamber Cast — Step by Step:

1. First, clean and dry the chamber and barrel thoroughly.

2. Disassemble the firearm as necessary to gain access to the chamber.

3. Insert a tight fitting cleaning patch with a jag into the bore from the muzzle end to form a plug for the Cerrosafe. The patch should be positioned in the bore, just forward of the throat by approximately ½” to 1”.

4. Heat a Cerrosafe ingot in a small ladle. A heavy cast iron bullet caster’s ladle works fine or a plumber’s ladle. Any source of heat will do (a small propane torch will work fine).

5. Pour the Cerrosafe into the chamber until a little mound forms at the rear of the chamber. Too much and it can become more difficult to remove the cast from the chamber. If this happens, simply heat the barrel a little and re-melt the Cerrosafe. Don’t worry, your barrel gets a bit hotter than 190 degrees during firing.

6. The chamber can be difficult to access, so some people find it easier if they make a pouring tube out of steel, brass, or aluminum tubing to funnel the Cerrosafe into the chamber.

7. After the Cerrosafe has hardened, the chamber casting can be pushed out of the chamber coming from the muzzle end using a cleaning rod or a wooden dowel. It is recommended that you push it out within a half-hour of casting the chamber. We usually push our cast out within a few minutes. If the cast does not push out easily, insert a cleaning rod from the muzzle and tap the rod handle with the palm of your hand to start the cast out of the chamber. You can put a paper towel in the action to catch the cast or lay the rifle on the bench with a towel or bench mat underneath it to catch the cast as it falls from the action. This will prevent damage to the cast.

8. Take your measurements shortly after one hour of cast, and then put the casting away until you need it again. A medicine container or something similar makes a great container. If you are going to keep the cast be sure to mark the cast or the storage container so you know which rifle it came from. If you have no need to keep the cast you can re-melt the Cerrosafe and use it again when you need to make another cast.

This article originally appeared in Sinclair International’s The Reloading Press Blog.
Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
April 3rd, 2014

Swarovski Tech Blog Reveals How Scopes Work

The Swarovski Optik website features a blog with interesting technical articles. In the “On Target” series of blog stories, Swarovski has provided a handy explanation of how optics systems work, with exploded diagrams of rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and binoculars. CLICK HERE for Swarovski Optics Blog.

Accurateshooter.com optics rifle scope Swarovski


Accurateshooter.com optics rifle scope Swarovski

Scope Terminology
Focusing Lens
The focusing lens is an adjustable lens inside the optical system for focusing the image at different distances…. In the case of rifle scopes, apart from focusing, the focusing lens also facilitates parallax compensation.

Diopter Adjustment
For rifle scopes, the reticle can be focused using the diopter adjustment on the eyepiece, thereby correcting any visual impairment. [Editor's Note: Movable eyepiece diopter adjustment is not offered on all rifle scopes. It is a useful feature on Swarovski and other premium scopes. This allows shooters who need eyeglasses to get a sharply focus image even without wearing corrective lenses. Of course shooters should always wear ANSI-certified eye protection. With the diopter, folks who need correction can use inexpensive, non-Rx safety eyewear instead of expensive prescription safety glasses.]

Reversal System
The purpose of the reversal system is to reverse the image by means of prisms in binoculars and telescopes, and lenses in rifle scopes….The lens reversal system is needed in rifle scopes to control the variable magnification and move the exit pupil[.]

Resource tip by EdLongRange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
April 1st, 2014

Tech Tip: Keep Cartridges Horizontal During Long-Term Storage

Ever wonder why fine wine is always stored on its side? That’s not just for looks, or easier access when the sommelier (wine steward) visits the wine cellar. Wine bottles are stored horizontally, at a slight angle, to prevent the wine from oxidizing:

By intentionally storing a wine on its side, you will help keep the cork in constant contact with the wine. This will keep the cork moist, which should keep the cork from shrinking and allowing the enemy of wine, oxygen, to seep into the bottle. When oxygen comes into contact with wine the result is not good – the wine starts to oxidize and the aromas, flavors and color all begin to spoil“. — About.com

wine rack ammo storage

Ammunition Should Also Be Stored Horizontally
So what does wine have to do with shooting? Well, it may surprise you, but over time, our cartridges can spoil, just like wine can — though not for the same reason. We don’t have the issue of oxygen seeping past the bullet (the “cork” as it were). However, when ammunition is stored nose-up or nose down, problems can arise. In a nose-up or nose-down configuration, over a long period of time, the powder column will compress, and the powder kernels can actually break down. This can lead to erratic ignition and/or dangerous pressures.

wine rack ammo storage

To avoid the problems associated with powder column compression and kernel break-down during long-term storage, take the time to orient your cartridges like wine bottles, i.e. placed flat on their side. Of course, this really isn’t necessary if you burn through your ammo relatively quickly. But, if you are storing cartridges “for the long haul”, take the time to arrange them horizontally. That may require a little extra effort now, but you’ll reap the rewards down the road.

This tip courtesy Anette Wachter, www.30CalGal.com.
Permalink Tech Tip 16 Comments »
March 30th, 2014

Salazar Reviews Modern Exterior Ballistics by Robert McCoy

AccurateShooter.com Contributing Editor Germán Salazar regularly reviews important shooting books on his RiflemansJournal.com website. One of the notable treatises reviewed by German is Modern Exterior Ballistics by Bob McCoy, the respected expert from the U.S. Army Ballistics Research Laboratory.

German tells us: “We hope to cover a very wide range of books related to accurate rifles; some will be familiar to experienced students of the rifle, some will be quite obscure. There is no specific time frame for the books, so you may see something from the 19th century one month and a new book hot off the press the next. The only common factor is that these will all be books that have appeal to the serious student of rifle accuracy.” Here is a segment of Salazar’s review of Modern Exterior Ballistics:

Modern Exterior Ballistics – Robert L. McCoy
Review by Germán A. Salazar

Bob McCoy is widely and properly regarded as the dean of modern ballisticians and this book is his most accessible work. For those who are not familiar with McCoy’s work, I can think of no better introduction than these words, written after McCoy’s death, which appear as a dedication to the book over the signatures of 54 of his fellow ballisticians at the U.S. Army Ballistics Research Laboratory:

“This book on exterior ballistics represents the life work and passion of Bob McCoy. It was his wish to leave a historical perspective as well as an accurate technical treatise for both the engineering community and the sporting arms industry. Bob was in fact an aerospace engineer, but he always referred to himself as a ‘ballistician’. He was very proud to have worked for and served the American people for 30 years at the U.S. Army Ballistic Research Laboratory while truly enjoying his passion. Bob was one of the most respected members of the staff of the U.S. Army Ballistics Research Laboratory and had an international reputation in aeroballistics. We will always remember his professionalism, his enthusiasm, his boisterous laugh, his passion for ballistics, and most of all, his friendship. We his students, his co-workers, his peers, and his friends dedicate this book to the memory of the last true ballistician of the 20th century.”
CLICK HERE to read full review….

Modern Exterior Ballistics
Author: Robert L. McCoy
1999, Schiffer Publ., Ltd.
ISBN: 0-7643-0720-7

Corrections for Modern Exterior Ballistics PDF

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
March 28th, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action — Commence Fire

If you own a modern smart-phone, you have a shooting coach in your pocket. What we mean is that the video-recording capability of your smart phone can help improve your shooting. Have you ever watched yourself shooting, under match conditions? Well you may be shocked (and surprised) by what you see. Video reveals all. If you are flinching, you’ll see it. If you’re not returning your rifle to the same place on the rests after each shot, you’ll see it. If you are not maintaining a consistent cheek weld from shot to shot, you’ll see it.

If you are a serious competitive shooter (or aspire to be one), you should take a camera to the range next time you practice. Have a friend film you while you are shooting in “match-like conditions”, i.e. with time limits and a specific course of fire. After the filming session, review the video carefully.

Our IT guy, JayChris, has improved his shooting skills by filming his practice sessions and watching for gun-handling errors or other mistakes. Recently Jay won the F-Open division at the TCSA (Rattlesnake) match. Jay says his progress has been aided by video analysis:

“Video-tape yourself in match conditions (or under mock match conditions when practicing). I have video from my first season of shooting at a long range match some years ago. I can compare that to video shot in 2014. Going back to year one, I could see how much moving around I was doing. The video camera is a useful tool. I video myself every so often at the practice range, just to make sure I’m consistent. When reviewing the video, I’ve caught myself dropping a shot right after re-settling into a new position where I didn’t even notice I was doing it while shooting.”

Video analysis has helped our IT Guy, JayChris, shoot better and make fewer mistakes.
JayChris Video

Watch Your Position on Video
Jay continues: “Watching myself and other shooters on video has shown me how important it is to establish a comfortable shooting position. I used to move all over the place between shots. I spent some time getting a feel for a position where I could eject and load without breaking my cheek/shoulder weld, and that I could hold through a 20-shot string. It’s probably not as super critical as sling shooting positions, but I think it makes a big difference. It also helps ensure that your view through the scope remains the same. If you have parallax, changing your cheek weld has consequences. This includes making sure your rifle is set on the bags at a comfortable height — too high or too low and you are straining yourself and adding muscle tension into the equation.”

Use Video To Analyze Mistakes After Matches
Video can help you identify inconsistent holds and gun-handling mistakes. A video review can be part of the regular “post-mortem” you should do after every match. Bryan Litz says: “After each match, carefully analyze how you lost points and make a plan to improve. Beginning shooters will lose a lot of points to fundamental things like sight alignment and trigger control. At every step along the way, always ask yourself why you’re losing points and address the issues.”

Video can help you spot problems (such as inconsistent head position or bad trigger technique) that cost you points. We had one friend who was complaining about “mysterious horizontal” at matches. A post-match video session revealed that he was yanking the trigger to the side, rather than pulling straight back. He then consciously worked on his trigger control and his scores improved noticeably.

Video Equipment — What You Need
If you own a digital point-and-shoot camera made within the last four years, chances are you can shoot video. It may not be HD video, but it will suffice for the task of analyzing your shooting technique. Apple iPhones and iPads (and some Android phones) can take excellent video as well, but you’ll have to figure out a mounting system if you’re out by yourself. If you don’t currently own any device that can shoot video, consider one of the choices below. You can get a great camera for under $250.00 these days. The selections below all feature wide-angle capability, so you can position the camera close to the shooter. That’s important when shooting at crowded ranges. The Panasonic Lumix ZS20 has built-in GPS functionality, so you can tag your photos/videos with latitude and longitude.

One tip — you do NOT need to record at 1920×1080 Full HD resolution. It’s nice that some of the latest cameras (including the GoPro) offer this resolution, but 1920×1080 files will be HUGE, and older computers may have trouble playing back the video. For your range movies (to be viewed on a computer), we suggest you record at 720p HD.

Recommended Cameras with Video Capability

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
March 28th, 2014

BYOB — Build Your Own Bench with Free Plans

Serious shooters spend lots of time in the reloading room. If you want to produce great ammo, start with a good, solid bench with a very rigid working surface and plenty of storage space. Here we present three sets of FREE workbench plans. Any one of these bench designs can be a good summer do-it-yourself project for those with basic word-working skills.

Easy-to-Build Basic Bench
Simpson, maker of Strong-Tie fasteners, offers FREE Workbench Plans for a sturdy, 48″-wide bench with a pegboard backing and both upper and lower shelves. A complete list of fasteners and cut lengths is provided. For use as a loading bench with mounted presses, double-up the bench-top for extra ridigity. Without much difficulty, the plans can be adapted to build a wider bench if you prefer. The same downloadable document also contains plans for an 80″-high 6-shelf unit, a 72″-high heavy-duty shelving unit (with 4 shelves), and a 48″-wide heavy-duty table.

FREE Strongtie Bench Plans (.pdf file).

Corner Bench with Swinging Doors
The next design is rather unique — a corner bench with swing-out cabinets. This reloading bench is based on plans by M. L. McPherson as published in the October 1993 American Rifleman. The compact footprint that makes good use of corner space that is usually poorly utilized. This set of plans originally came from Ray-Vin.com. The folks who started Ray-Vin have retired, but you can still purchase many Ray-Vin products at SB Sales & Distributing.

Reloading bench plans

FREE Corner Bench Plans (330kb .pdf file)

Classic NRMA Bench with Cabinets
The last bench design is a large, versatile bench with a full set of enclosed overhead cabinets. A National Reloading Manufacturers Association (NRMA) design, this bench requires many hours to build, but it will house all your reloading gear and provide a very stable platform for your presses.This bench was designed to be as versatile as possible to meet the needs of most reloaders. However, the bench design can easily be customized. For instance, it can be made larger or smaller to meet space requirements or quantities of equipment and components. As it is currently designed, the work area is about waist-high for a 6’2″ person. This can be adjusted to fit your height simply by making the legs longer or shorter.

NRMA reloading bench

FREE NRMA Reloading Bench Plans (2.42 megabyte .pdf file).

Permalink - Articles, Tech Tip No Comments »
March 27th, 2014

Beat the Heat with Barrel Temp Strips

You never want your barrel to get too hot. Accuracy suffers when barrels over-heat, and excessive heat is not good for barrel life. So how do you monitor your barrel’s temperature? You can check if the barrel is “warm to the touch” — but that method is not particularly precise. There is a better way — using temperature-sensitive strips. McMaster.com (a large industrial supply house) offers stick-on temp strips with values from 86° F to 140° F. A pack of ten (10) of these strips (item 59535K13) costs $11.86. So figure it’ll cost you about a buck per barrel for strips. That’s cheap insurance for your precious barrels.

Barrel Heat Temp Temperature gauge strip McMaster Carr

Forum member Nomad47 says: “I have temperature strips (bought at McMaster-Carr) on all my barrels. I try not to shoot when the barrel gets to 122 degrees or higher[.]” Here are photos of the McMaster-Carr temp strips on Nomad47′s customized Savage. (This rifle is currently for sale in our Forum Marketplace. It has two Criterion barrels: 6XC, .243 AI.)

Barrel Heat Temp Temperature gauge strip McMaster Carr

Barrel Heat Temp Temperature gauge strip McMaster Carr

Bad things can happen if your barrel gets too hot. First, with some barrels, the point of impact (POI) will shift or “walk” as the barrel heats up excessively. Second, even if the POI doesn’t change, the groups can open up dramatically when the barrel gets too hot. Third, if the barrel is very hot, the chamber will transfer heat to your loaded cartridge, which can lead to pressure issues. Finally, there’s considerable evidence that hot barrels wear out faster. This is a very real concern, particularly for varmint shooters who may shoot hundreds of rounds in a day. For this reason, many varminters switch among various guns, never letting a particular barrel get too hot.

Neconos.com offers Bar-L Benchrest strips that visually display heat readings from 86 to 140 degrees. Think of these strips as compact, unbreakable thermometers. With adhesive backing, they can also be used to monitor barrel heating. Put a strip on the side of the barrel and the barrel’s temp will be indicated by a stripe that changes from black to green. There is also a “general purpose” strip that reads to 196 degrees (bottom row). The Benchrest strip (86F to 140F) is in the middle. Bar-L temp strips cost $9.00, or $25.00 for a 3-pack.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
March 26th, 2014

ABCs of Neck Turning — Salazar Shows How It’s Done

On our main AccurateShooter.com site, you’ll find an excellent article by German Salazar on the Basics of Neck Turning. If you’re new to the neck-turning game, or are just looking for good tips on improving your neck-turning procedures, you should read German’s article. Below we offer some highlights and photos from the article, but you’ll need to read the whole story to view all the illustrations and follow all the procedures step by step.

Why Should You Consider Neck Turning?
Let’s assume that your rifle doesn’t have a tight neck chamber that requires neck turning; if you have a tight neck chamber, of course, the answer to the question is “because you have to”. For the rest of us, and that includes the vast majority of Highpower shooters, neck turning isn’t a requirement, but it can be a useful way to bring your ammunition a small but meaningful step closer to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: perfection. I’m not talking about a theoretical improvement, but a real one, an improvement that lies in equalizing and optimizing the neck tension of your loaded rounds. Inconsistent neck tension is a real contributor to increased muzzle velocity variance which itself is a significant factor in increased elevation dispersion at long range. So there’s our basic reason for neck turning: to equalize and optimize neck tension in order to reduce elevation dispersion.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

The Tools of the Trade
Here you see everything I use and a bit more. The press, a cordless screwdriver (always plugged in, turning is tough on the old battery), a couple of K&M neck turners (one set up for 6mm, the other for .30 caliber) an expander for each size, some Imperial lube, an old toothbrush or two to keep the cutter clean, a handle with a caseholder (for those emergencies when the screwdriver dies and there’s just one more case to go!), steel wool and a tubing micrometer finish the list of tools. Hey, I left the dial calipers out of the picture! They’re always handy, keep them around, but they are useless for measuring neck thickness, so don’t try. I usually use an Optivisor magnifier while I turn necks, very handy for a clear view of what’s happening on the neck.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

Expanding the Neck
Put some lube on the inside of the case neck and run it into the expander. Really, this isn’t hard. I prefer to expand each case immediately before turning it as opposed to expanding all the cases and then turning them. Brass is somewhat springy and will tend to go back toward its original size; therefore, by expanding and turning immediately, you are more likely to have all cases fit the mandrel with the same degree of tightness and to get a more consistent depth of cut.

Cutter Adjustment for Cut Depth and Length
All the tools I’ve seen have pretty good adjustment instructions. The only thing they don’t tell you is that you should have five to ten spare cases to get it right initially. Anything of the right diameter will do while you learn, for instance, just use that cheap surplus .308 brass to do initial setup and save the precious .30-06 for when you know what you’re doing. Be patient and make your adjustments slowly; you’ll need to set the cutter for thickness as well as length of cut (just into the shoulder). The depth of cut (brass thickness) takes a bit of fiddling, the length of the cut is generally easy to set.

The Finished Product — A Perfectly Uniform Neck
If you read the whole article, and follow the procedures using quality tools, you should get very good results — with a little practice. To demonstrate, here’s an example of my finished, neck-turned brass. You’ll see there is a perfect, 0.0125″ thick neck. It’s very uniform around the circumference, usually I only see 1 or 2 ten-thousandths variance. Now, with the necks uniformed like this, we can select the bushing size that will give us our preferred neck tension and experiment with various levels of tension, secure in the knowledge that all of the cases will actually have the desired neck tension.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
March 16th, 2014

Super-Wide Forearms Add Stability to Benchrest Rifles

Most long-range benchrest stocks are three inches wide because that used to be the max width under the rules for Light Gun Class. Many folks may not realize that the IBS, the NBRSA, and the Williamsport organizations have all modified their Light Gun rules to allow wider forearm widths in registered competition. A wider stock provides increased stability and resists rotation (torquing) as the gun is fired. If you’re building a new Light Gun, you may want to consider a 4″-wide or 5″-wide forearm. Do check the rules of your local club or regional organization to ensure the wider width is allowed in the matches you attend. And if you plan to shoot F-Class as well, stick to 3″. Under F-Class (Open) rules, “the width of the rifle’s forend shall not exceed 76mm (approximately 3 inches)”.

Wider Forearm Stock Options
Most stock-makers still only offer a 3″-wide forearm width with their Light Gun long-range benchrest stocks. However, there are some other options. On request, Joel Russo, Russo Rifle Stocks, can cut a stock with 4″-wide forearm, but that’s not a standard pattern.

If you want a 4″-5″ wide version of the popular MBR Tooley-style long-range stock, Bill Shehane offers a ‘Big Dawg’ version of his MBR Tracker stock. This features a longer, deeper, and wider fore-end for added stability and more resistance to torque with the heavy calibers. Along with having a wider forearm, the Big Dawg stock is cut 4″ longer than a standard Shehane ST-1000 Tracker. This provides a “longer wheelbase” for better balance with very long (30″+) barrels. (The ST-1000 itself is 3″ longer than most benchrest stocks.) The Big Dawg is available with a 4″-wide or 5″-wide forearm, and will handle barrels up to 40″ in length and 1.5″ in diameter. In the top photo, taken by Forum member Preacher, you see a 4″-wide Big Dawg next to a normal ST-1000 Tracker. (Both stocks are symmetrical; there is distortion caused by wide-angle lens.)

This color pattern is what Bill calls “Prairie Dog Camo”, a Rutland laminate in orange and dark gray, with olive ‘accent’ layers. The price for a ‘Big Dawg’ in Rutland laminate is $625. In African Obeche wood (any color choice), the price is $855.00. For more info, contact Bill Shehane at (704) 824-7511, or visit his website, www.ScopeUsOut.com.

Wide Stocks for Rimfire Benchrest
Ultra-wide stocks are also legal in many rimfire benchrest disciplines. Shown below is a rimfire rifle built with a 4″-wide Shehane Big Dawg stock. This gun is used in ARA Unlimited competition. Extra-wide stocks like this can also be used in the IR 50/50 Unlimited Class and RBA Unlimited Class.

Why use a wide stock for rimfire where recoil is not an issue? The extra width definitely provides more stability in the bags. This is noticeable when cycling the action during the loading process — the gun shows less “wiggle” when opening and closing the bolt. The larger mass of wood also, potentially, provides additional vibration damping. A wider stock design carries more weight (per inch of length) and more mass is distributed outboard. Initial testing shows that the wide stocks work well for rimfire shooters who like to grip their gun — the gun feels “planted” with less wobble when the stock is gripped or cheeked by the shooter.

Joe Friedrich Big Dawg rimfire rifle Shehane tracker

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