September 25th, 2020

Smarter Glassing for Hunters — Using Binoculars with a Tripod

Vortex Binoculars

With hunting season underway (or coming up soon), we know that many readers will be out in the field — with a set of binoculars. On most game hunts, you’ll speed a lot more time glassing with binocs than looking through your riflescope. With wide field of view and extended low-light capability, a good set of binoculars will be your most important game-finder. And with premium LRF binoculars, such as the new Vortex Fury, one tool serves both for spotting and laser ranging.

“Without the stabilization of your binoculars [provided by] a tripod … you will be missing a majority of the game you are glassing for.” — Outdoorsmans.com

In this article, Vortex Optics’ Mark Boardman, an experienced hunter, explains the benefits of using a tripod with high-magnification binoculars. Everybody knows that powerful spotting scopes work best when mounted to a stable tripod or otherwise secured to a steady mount. Yet when most folks use binoculars, they never even think of using a tripod, despite the fact that tripod adapters are available for many premium binoculars.

Vortex Binoculars


» READ FULL ARTICLE with More Tips for Hunters

Vortex BinocularsOutdoorsmans Tripod Adapters
Outdoorsmans.com sells tripod adapters for various kinds of binoculars. These really work: “Mounting your binoculars to a quality tripod is a must for the serious western hunter. Without the stabilization of your binoculars [by] mounting them to a tripod … you will be missing a majority of the game you are glassing for.”

A serious hunter should learn how to glass with tripod support, using methods outlined here. With binoculars offering more that 8X magnification, you can really benefit from a steady mount. You’ll be amazed at the difference the tripod will make.

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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September 23rd, 2020

Casting Better Bullets — Recommended DVD and Print Resources

bullet casting video Sinclair

We’ve done some bullet casting in the past, both for handgun bullets, and the large, heavy (400gr+) projectiles used with Black Powder Cartridge Rifles. We can say, unequivocally, that newbies should seek out the assistance of a skilled, experienced mentor, who is familiar with the important safety procedures that must be employed. Working with molten lead can be dangerous. And it also takes some skill to get good results (without visible casting flaws), particularly with very large bullets.

There are valuable resources that can help you get started with the casting process. Wolfe Publishing offers two DVDs that cover the bullet casting process from start to finish. Bullet Casting 101 takes you through the basics: showing you how to choose the correct alloy for your application, prep molds, maintain the optimal temperatures, and lube and size bullets. The important steps are laid out clearly. In addition, Bullet Casting 101 helps you select the right equipment and preferred molds for your particular application. (To create uniform rifle bullets that shoot accurately, you really do need high-quality molds.)

Casting Bullets Handgun

Casting Bullets HandgunWolfe Publishing offers a companion DVD, Casting Premium Bullets for Handguns, that covers more advanced techniques for high-volume pistol bullet production. This DVD covers both single-cavity molds and multiple-cavity “gang” molds. (Gang molds can be frustrating at first; it is harder to maintain perfect temp control and mold separation is more complex). The DVD also reveals the sources of most common casting flaws, and explains how to detect cracks, voids and other common problems.

You’ll save considerable time and effort if you really understand how to avoid common mistakes before you start pouring lead. And you’ll get the best results if you learn how to “blend” the optimal alloy for the job. Maintaining the right mold temperature is also critical for good results. These topics and more are covered in these two DVDs, priced at $20.00 each on Amazon.

Good Books about Bullet Casting

Along with these DVDs, there are some excellent print resources about bullet casting. Here are two good bullet casting books we recommend. Every serious bullet caster should own Lyman’s Cast Bullet Handbook, now in its 4th Edition. We also like Casting Premium Bullets for the Black Powder Cartridge Rifle by Paul Matthews (Wolfe Publishing).

We used the Matthews book to improve our cast bullets for a Pedersoli 45/70. Notably, with factory-made cast bullets, that rifle shot about 3″ groups at 100 yards. With custom cast bullets, accuracy was nearly twice as good. We were also able to choose a custom mold that produced bullets with a much higher BC, which helped with long-range matches.

bullet casting video Sinclair

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September 19th, 2020

Saturday at the Movies with Miculek

Jerry Miculek Saturday Movies Videos revolver pistol

About Jerry Miculek… The Man, The Myth, The Legend

The video above begins: “My name is Jerry Miculek. Guns are what I do.” Jerry Miculek is a true legend in the firearms community. Acknowledged as the best wheelgun speed-shooter in history, Jerry is also an accomplished rifle and shotgun shooter with many class victories in 3-Gun competition. He also has been a prolific YouTube Video creator. For this Saturday at the Movies story, we are featuring five notable Jerry Miculek videos. You will find over 200 more informative and entertaining videos on the Jerry Miculek Pro Shooter YouTube channel

1. Shooting Twin Double-Barreled M1911 Pistols Simultaneously

Here Jerry shoots two, double-barrel .45 ACP 1911 pistols (AF2011) at the same time, one in each hand. Jerry was the first-ever person to accomplished this 4-barrel feat with twin handguns. Employing the dual double-barreled pistols, Jerry send 20 rounds downrange in under 1.5 seconds. This amazing sequence is captured with hi-speed cameras for vivid slow-motion playback. There are some spectacular close-ups as the bullets leave the muzzles. Worth watching!

2. Take-Down and Full Cleaning of AR-15

If you want to keep your black rifle running smoothly and reliably, you must clean it regularly and follow the correct maintenance procedures. In this video, Jerry Miculek takes down and cleans an AR-platform rifle belonging to his daughter Lena. This is a good video because Lena’s rifle was “run hard and packed up dirty” so you can see where carbon and grease build up. This 35-minute video is very thorough. Jerry is one of the nation’s top action carbine shooters, so listen carefully to his advice on cleaning and lubrication.

3. Jerry Reviews Magnetospeed T1000 Target Impact Indicator

MagnetoSpeed makes more than barrel-mounted chronographs. The T1000 is a target hit indicator that illuminates a super-bright red light when you hit a steel target. The T1000 was designed to be mounted to the back side of AR500 steel targets. In this video Jerry tests the MagnetoSpeed T1000 indicator light system. We like the T1000, especially for longer ranges where impacts on plates may not be easily visible. And you never have to paint your steel targets again to show impacts!

4. Shooting 240 Yards with 85-Year-Old K-22 Rimfire Revolver

Jerry Miculek is probably the greatest (certainly speediest) revolver shooter in history. He has set multiple world records with Smith & Wesson wheelguns. Here he tests a true classic — an 85-year-old S&W model K-22 revolver chambered for the .22 LR rimfire cartridge. Jerry uses this handsome classic blued revolver to hit targets at 240 yards!

5. 80,000 Philippine M1 Garands in One Place

Last year Jerry Miculek recently the CMP where he looked at the vast inventory of military rifles, including 80,000+ M1 Garands recently received from the Philippines. CMP tech staff showed Jerry some rare Garands that had never been issued. If you’re interested in classic military arms, you should definitely watch Jerry’s video. Gina Johnson, CMP’s general manager, told Guns.com that: “We have roughly 86,000 rifles from the Philippines and roughly 13,000 rifles from Turkey in our possession”.

Along with the 80,000+ Philippines Garands, the CMP received 13,000 from Turkey. The arrival of these 99,000 M1 Garands is great news for rifle collectors. Garands have been in short supply in recent years. Garands were getting harder to acquire from the CMP. In fact, over the past two years, many common Garand varients have been “sold out” on the CMP site.

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September 17th, 2020

Weaver Rail vs. Picatinny Rail — What’s the Difference?

Picatinny Rail specifications 1913 Mil-std

Readers often ask “What’s the difference between a Weaver scope rail and a Picatinny Rail?” The answer is not as simple as it seems. The dimensions of a Picatinny Rail should be consistent (from one rail-maker to another), since there IS a government spec. Conversely, there is some variance in “Weaver-style” rails. The width of the groove is the most important difference between Picatinny Rails and Weaver-type rails. “Mil-spec” Picatinny rails will have a grove width of 0.206″ while Weaver rails typically have a narrower, 0.180″ groove width.

Weaver Rail BAT action
Does your rifle have a Weaver Rail or Picatinny Rail? Check the dimensions to be sure.

Brownell’s has a helpful GunTech™ Article that discusses the Picatinny Rail vs. Weaver Rail. That article explains:

What are the differences between the ‘Picatinny’ and the ‘Weaver’ systems? The profile of the two systems is virtually identical. Depending on the quality of the machining done by the manufacturer, the two systems should be indistinguishable from the profile. The key difference lies in the placement of the recoil grooves and with width of the grooves. MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) grooves are .206″ wide and have a center-to-center width of .394”. The placement of these grooves has to be consistent in order for it to be a true Picatinny MIL-STD system. Weaver systems have a .180” width of recoil groove and are not necessarily consistent in a center-to-center measurement from one groove to the next.

In many instances, a Weaver system has a specific application that it is machined for, so interchangeability is not necessarily an issue. A MIL-STD-1913 system must adhere to the specifications listed above in order for it to be considered MIL-STD, since the military desires uniformity in the recoil grooves to allow for different systems to be mounted on the weapon with no concern for compatibility.

Now, what does this mean? Boiled down, it means that accessories designed for a Weaver system will, in most cases, fit on a Picatinny system. The reverse, however, is probably not the case. Due to the larger recoil groove, Picatinny accessories will not fit a Weaver system. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but for a good rule-of-thumb, [full-width] Picatinny won’t fit Weaver, but Weaver accessories WILL fit Picatinny.

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September 16th, 2020

Lyman Offers Updated Reloading Manual for AR-Platform Rifles

AR ar15 ar10 reload reloading data handbook book volume second 2d 2nd edition amazon lyman

Lyman has just released an expanded, updated Second Edition of its AR Reloading Handbook. The original handbook was the first reloading manual dedicated exclusively to the most popular semi-auto rifle in the USA. The Second Edition of this comprehensive Lyman AR Reloading Handbook has been updated to include more cartridge types and significantly more load data. This provides AR shooters with reloading info for the vast majority of popular chamberings used in AR-platform firearms. GET BOOK HERE.

Reloaders will appreciate the extensive pressure-tested data covering a very wide selection of bullet types and powder types. The Second Edition provided data for newer cartridges such as the .224 Valkyrie, .22 Nosler, .24 Nosler, 350 Legend, as well as sub-sonic data. In addition, articles by well-known authorities are included, covering topics such as “Building An AR” and “AR15 Gas System Lengths”. This book is available right now direct from Lyman and will soon be avialable through Amazon.

Features of Lyman AR Reloading Handbook (Second Edition)
— Reloading data for popular AR-platform cartridge types, including the .223 Rem, .224 Valkyrie, 6.8 Rem, .300 AAC, 7.62×39, 350 Legend, 450 Bushmaster, .50 Beowulf and more.
— Many informative articles on specialty topics such as Reloading for Suppressors and Building ARs.
— Load Data covers all major brands of bullets and powders.
— Load Data for cast bullet data and sub-sonic loads.

AR ar15 ar10 reload reloading data handbook book volume second 2d 2nd edition amazon lyman

AR-Platform Insights — Operation and Maintenance Tips
Here are two helpful videos for AR owners. The first uses 3D computer animation to show how AR-platform rifles work — from the inside. The Cutaway views show the operation of the gas system and bolt while cycling. The second video, by legendary competitive shooter Jerry Miculek, provide helpful guidance on AR disassembly and maintenance.

Book publishing tip from EdLongRange. We welcome reader submissions.
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September 15th, 2020

Great Book: Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting II

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Modern Advancements Volume 2 II testing pre-order

If you buy one book about Long Range Shooting, this should be it. Based on sophisticated testing and research, this 356-page hardcover from Applied Ballistics offers important insights you won’t find anywhere else. Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting – Volume II, the latest treatise from Bryan Litz, is chock full of information, much of it derived through sophisticated field testing. As Chief Ballistician for Berger Bullets (and a trained rocket scientist), author Bryan Litz is uniquely qualified. Bryan is also an ace sling shooter and a past F-TR National Champion. Moreover, Bryan’s company, Applied Ballistics, has been a leader in the Extreme Long Range (ELR) discipline.

AUDIO FILE: Bryan Litz Talks about Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting, Volume 2. (Sound file loads when you click button).

Volume II of Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting ($39.95) contains all-new content derived from research by Applied Ballistics. Author Bryan Litz along with contributing authors Nick Vitalbo and Cal Zant use the scientific method and careful testing to answer important questions faced by long range shooters. In particular, this volume explores the subject of bullet dispersion including group convergence. Advanced hand-loading subjects are covered such as: bullet pointing and trimming, powder measurement, flash hole deburring, neck tension, and fill ratio. Each topic is explored with extensive live fire testing, and the resulting information helps to guide hand loaders in a deliberate path to success. The current bullet library of measured G1 and G7 ballistic coefficients is included as an appendix. This library currently has data on 533 bullets in common use by long range shooters.

Bryan tells us that one purpose of this book is to dispel myths and correct commonly-held misconceptions: “Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting aims to end the misinformation which is so prevalent in long range shooting. By applying the scientific method and taking a Myth Buster approach, the state of the art is advanced….”

Bullet Dispersion and Group Convergence
Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Modern Advancements Volume 2 II testing pre-order

Part 1 of this Volume is focused on the details of rifle bullet dispersion. Chapter 1 builds a discussion of dispersion and precision that every shooter will benefit from in terms of understanding how it impacts their particular shooting application. How many shots should you shoot in a group? What kind of 5-shot 100 yard groups correlate to average or winning precision levels in 1000 yard F-Class shooting?

Chapter 2 presents a very detailed investigation of the mysterious concept of group convergence, which is the common idea that some guns can shoot smaller (MOA) groups at longer ranges. This concept is thoroughly tested with extensive live fire, and the results answer a very important question that has baffled shooters for many generations.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Modern Advancements Volume 2 II testing pre-orderPart 2 of this Volume is focused on various aspects of advanced hand-loading. Modern Advancements (Vol. II) employs live fire testing to answer the important questions that precision hand loaders are asking. What are the best ways to achieve MVs with low ES and SD? Do flash hole deburring, neck tension, primer selection, and fill ratio and powder scales sensitivity make a difference and how much? All of these questions are explored in detail with a clear explanation of test results.

One of the important chapters of Part 2 examines bullet pointing and trimming. Applied Ballistics tested 39 different bullet types from .224 through .338 caliber. Ten samples of each bullet were tested for BC in each of the following configurations: original out of the box, pointed, trimmed, pointed and trimmed. The effect on the average BC as well as the uniformity in BC was measured and tabulated, revealing what works best.

Part 3 covers a variety of general research topics. Contributing author Nick Vitalbo, a laser technology expert, tested 22 different laser rangefinders. Nick’s material on rangefinder performance is a landmark piece of work. Nick shows how shooters can determine the performance of a rangefinder under various lighting conditions, target sizes, and reflectivities.

Chapter 9 is a thorough analysis of rimfire ammunition. Ballistic Performance of Rifle Bullets, 2nd Edition presented live fire data on 95 different types of .22 rimfire ammunition, each tested in five different barrels having various lengths and twist rates. Where that book just presented the data, Chapter 9 of this book offers detailed analysis of all the test results and shows what properties of rimfire ammunition are favorable, and how the BCs, muzzle velocities and consistency of the ammo are affected by the different barrels.

Chapter 10 is a discussion of aerodynamic drag as it relates to ballistic trajectory modeling. You will learn from the ground up: what an aerodynamic drag model is, how it’s measure and used to predict trajectories. Analysis is presented which shows how the best trajectory models compare to actual measured drop in the real world.

Finally, contributing author Cal Zant of the Precision Rifle Blog presents a study of modern carbon fiber-wrapped barrels in Chapter 11. The science and technology of these modern rifle barrels is discussed, and then everything from point of impact shift to group sizes are compared for several samples of each type of barrel including standard steel barrels.

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September 14th, 2020

Over-Shooting the Berm Is All Too Easy — Five Degrees of Doom

Gun Angle long range

In our Shooters’ Forum, there was an discussion about a range that was threatened with closure because rifle over-shoots were hitting a farm building over two miles from the firing line. One reader was skeptical of this, asking “how’s that possible — were these guys aiming at the stars?” Actually, you may be surprised. It doesn’t take much up-angle on a rifle to have a bullet land miles down-range. That’s why it’s so important that hunters and target shooters always orient their barrels in a safe direction (and angle). Shooters may not realize how much a small tilt of the barrel (above horizontal) can alter a bullet’s trajectory.

How many degrees of muzzle elevation do you think it would take to hit a barn at 3000 yards? Ten Degrees? Twenty Degrees? Actually the answer is much less — for a typical hunting cartridge, five to seven degrees of up-angle on the rifle is enough to create a trajectory that will have your bullet impacting at 3000 yards — that’s 1.7 miles away!

Gun Angle long range

Five degrees isn’t much at all. Look at the diagram above. The angle actually displayed for the up-tilted rifle is a true 5.07 degrees (above horizontal). Using JBM Ballistics, we calculated 5.07° as the angle that would produce a 3000-yard impact with a 185gr .30-caliber bullet launched at 2850 fps MV. That would be a moderate “book load” for a .300 Win Mag deer rifle.

Here’s how we derived the angle value. Using Litz-derived BCs for a 185gr Berger Hunting VLD launched at 2850 fps, the drop at 3000 yards is 304.1 MOA (Minutes of Angle), assuming a 100-yard zero. This was calculated using a G7 BC with the JBM Ballistics Program. There are 60 MOA for each 1 degree of Angle. Thus, 304.1 MOA equals 5.068 degrees. So, that means that if you tilt up your muzzle just slightly over five degrees, your 185gr bullet (2850 fps MV) will impact 3000 yards down-range.

Figuring Trajectories with Different Bullets and MVs
If the bullet travels slower, or if you shoot a bullet with a lower BC, the angle elevation required for a 3000-yard impact goes up, but the principle is the same. Let’s say you have a 168gr HPBT MatchKing launched at 2750 fps MV from a .308 Winchester. (That’s a typical tactical load.) With a 100-yard zero, the total drop is 440.1 MOA, or 7.335 degrees. That’s more up-tilt than our example above, but seven degrees is still not that much, when you consider how a rifle might be handled during a negligent discharge.

Think about a hunter getting into position for a shot. If careless, he could easily touch off the trigger with a muzzle up-angle of 10 degrees or more. Even when shooting from the bench, there is the possibility of discharging a rifle before the gun is leveled, sending the shot over the berm and, potentially, thousands of yards down-range.

Hopefully this article has shown folks that a very small amount of barrel elevation can make a huge difference in your bullet’s trajectory, and where it eventually lands. Nobody wants to put holes in a distant neighbor’s house, or worse yet, have the shot cause injury. Let’s go back to our original example of a 185gr bullet with a MV of 2850 fps. According to JBM, this projectile will still be traveling 687 fps at 3000 yards, with 193.7 ft/lbs of retained energy at that distance. That’s more than enough energy to be deadly.

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September 14th, 2020

Don’t Get Busted — Learn the Gun Laws in All 50 U.S. States

Gun Laws by State PewPewtactical.com Pew Pew Byran Ciyou attorney book

Gun Laws by State PewPewtactical.com Pew Pew Byran Ciyou attorney bookWill you be traveling to other states this winter? Are you concerned about the laws that might apply when you are transporting firearms across state lines? Or are you puzzled about the requirements for obtaining a carry permit in your own state? If you have any of these questions, you should definitely get expert guidance on State statutes and regulations controlling firearms. To do that, you can purchase Attorney Bryan Ciyou’s Gun Laws by State reference book. This is worth the money, and the $20 cost also includes access to an online legal database and other services.

Free State Law Summaries Online
If you don’t want to spend the twenty bucks, there is a FREE alternative. There’s a very helpful set of State Law Summaries on the web, presented by PewPewTactical.com. Despite the silly name, the PewPewTactical website has an abundance of information that is particularly beneficial for pistol shooters and CCW holders.

One of the best features of PewPewTactical.com is the Gun Laws by State online reference guide. We looked through four of these State Law Summaries and were impressed by the depth of the coverage. But we caution — if you have specific legal questions, particularly with recently-enacted statutes, you should consult a licensed attorney for your state (or the state to which you will travel). In addition, many of the State Law Summaries have not been updated for a year or two. But they are still a good place to start. Below are links to state law articles from PewPewTactical.com. To access any State summary, simply click the State name below:

Gun Laws by State — FREE Summaries

CLICK state name to access each article.

Alabama Gun Laws

Alaska Gun Laws

Arizona Gun Laws

Arkansas Gun Laws

California Gun Laws

Colorado Gun Laws

Connecticut Gun Laws

Delaware Gun Laws

Florida Gun Laws

Georgia Gun Laws

Hawaii Gun Laws

Idaho Gun Laws

Illinois Gun Laws

Indiana Gun Laws

Iowa Gun Laws

Kansas Gun Laws

Kentucky Gun Laws

Louisiana Gun Laws

Maine Gun Laws

Maryland Gun Laws

Massachusetts Gun Laws

Michigan Gun Laws

Minnesota Gun Laws

Mississippi Gun Laws

Missouri Gun Laws

Montana Gun Laws

Nebraska Gun Laws

Nevada Gun Laws

New Hampshire Gun Laws

New Jersey Gun Laws

New Mexico Gun Laws

New York Gun Laws

North Carolina Gun Laws

North Dakota Gun Laws

Ohio Gun Laws

Oklahoma Gun Laws

Oregon Gun Laws

Pennsylvania Gun Laws

Rhode Island Gun Laws

South Carolina Gun Laws

South Dakota Gun Laws

Tennessee Gun Laws

Texas Gun Laws

Utah Gun Laws

Vermont Gun Laws

Virginia Gun Laws

Washington Gun Laws

West Virginia Gun Laws

Wisconsin Gun Laws

Wyoming Gun Laws

Washington, D.C. Gun Laws

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September 13th, 2020

Neck-Turning Brass with Milling Machine — High-Speed Solution

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Here’s the super-speedy way to turn case-necks. Our friend Erik Cortina figured out how to turn his match cartridge case-necks using his milling machine. Erik told us: “While in Raton [a while back], Mid Tompkins told me that he turns his brass on milling machine. He said he could do about 500 in two hours, so I decided to try it.”

Erik fitted a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turner to the mill, and he used a modified 21st Century case holder to secure the brass. As you can see from this video, Erik was very successful with the process. The tool spins at 1500 rpm, turning Lapua 6.5-284 cases that have been necked up to 7mm.

Video Shows Eric Cortina Neck-Turning Cases with Milling Machine:

Cartridge Brass: Lapua 6.5-284 necked up to 7mm
Lubricant: Lithium grease inside and outside of neck
Neck-Turner: Nielson Pumpkin running at 1500 RPM

It’s hard to argue with Erik’s results. Here are his turned Lapua cases, which have neck-wall thickness consistent to two ten-thousandths of an inch. Think you could do better turning manually?

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Some of Erik’s Facebook friends had questions about this process:

Q: Who makes the shell-holder?

Erik Cortina: I did! The shell-holder you can get from 21st Century. I Tig-welded a punch as a handle.

Q: I love the idea of working smarter not harder! Any galling issues? What are your mitigation techniques?

Erik Cortina: No issues. I use lithium grease in spray can. Makes a foam that I dip necks into.

Q: Shouldn’t either the case or the cutter be floating to allow most precise neck turning?

Erik Cortina: Up until [I tried this] I believed the same thing. I was going to build a floating case holder but decided to try rigid setup on a few cases before I built it. Results were great. Neck thickness doesn’t vary more than .0002″, which is same as when I was doing it with floating case holder on the lathe.

Q: Any problems with the Pumpkin changing the cut as it heats up?

Erik Cortina: No — there were no issues with that.

NOTE: Erik Cortina is a very skilled machinist who custom-crafted fittings used for this process. This kind of neck-turning with a milling machine may not be for the everyday hand-loader!

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Nielson “Pumpkin” Neck-Turner

The circular orange cutting fixture on Erik’s Milling Machine is a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turning tool. Don designed this tool to be used by hand or with power. The Pumpkin boasts an eccentric mandrel that allows the cut to be adjusted easily in precise .0001″ increments. Benchresters like this as it allows for very precise control of cut depth and neck-wall thickness.

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina
Nielson Neck Turner with carbide mandrel. Photo Courtesy Butch’s Reloading.

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September 12th, 2020

Traveling by Air with Firearms — What You Need to Know

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA
Airport photo by Politikaner under Creative Commons License.

With hundreds of readers traveling to Raton, New Mexico next month for the 2020 F-Class Nationals (October 25 – November 1, 2020), and with many others planning hunting trips out of state, we thought we’d repeat an article providing important information about air travel with firearms. If you will be flying with firearms this fall, you should read this article. You need to familiarize yourself with current Federal Regulations on gun transport before you get anywhere near an airport. Thankfully, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a web page that states the important requirements for airline passengers traveling with firearms* and/or ammunition.

You’ll want to visit the TSA Firearms and Ammunition webpage, and read it carefully. In addition, before your trip, check the regulations of the airline(s) with which you will fly. Some airlines have special requirements, such as weight restrictions.

Here are the TSA’s key guidelines for travel with firearms:

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA

More Airline Travel Tips from Tom McHale
Tom McHale has written an excellent article for the Beretta Blog, Ten Things You Need to Know about Flying with Guns. We suggest you visit the Beretta Blog to read this informative story. Here are two of Tom McHale’s Travel Tips:

Weigh your gun case and ammunition
Most airlines will allow up to 11 pounds of ammunition. And, like any luggage, you will be charged more for any baggage weighing more than 50 pounds. This sounds like a lot, but when traveling to the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun competition last year, my case with shotgun, rifle, pistol and ammunition tipped the scale past the 50 pound mark.

Pack ammo in the same locking case
This is another area that’s misunderstood and full of internet myth. Your ammo just needs to be stored in some type of safe container and not loose. Technically, you can keep ammunition in magazines, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It meets the letter of the law storage requirement, but too many airline and TSA agents will give you grief. Use a plastic ammo box or original cardboard packaging and you’ll be fine carrying that in the same lockable case as your gun.

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA

*SEE United States Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44. A “firearm” is defined as: any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, or is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; and any destructive device. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm.

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September 12th, 2020

Resources for Hunting Season and Safety Tips

hunting safety 2019 checklist hunter license
Hunting Season has already started in some states, and is right around the corner in other locations. For readers who plan to hunt game this fall, we recommend you brush up on hunter safety and learn the laws in your jurisdiction. Here are some helpful resources for hunters: Safety Tips, Hunter Education, License Requirements, and Where-to-Hunt interactive map. Top photo courtesy Horn Fork Guides, Ltd., in Colorado.

Visit WhereToHunt.org

There’s a great online resource for hunters that will help you find game locations in your state and ensure you have all the proper permits and game tags. WheretoHunt.org features an interactive map of the country. For all 50 states, the NSSF has compiled information about hunting license and permits, where to hunt, hunter education classes, laws and regulations and more. For each state you’ll also find a link for required applications and license forms.

Where to hunt hunting license state information NSSF

Click Map to Get State-by-State Hunting INFO
Where to Hunt hunting license game location

Hunter Safety Tips
NRAFamily.org has a good article listing six salient safety tips for hunters. Anyone preparing for a fall hunt should read this article before heading into the field. Here are three key bits of advice:

1. Be Positive of Your Target before Shooting
This might sound overly simplistic, but the fact remains that, every year during whitetail season, farmers everywhere are forced to spray-paint their cattle or risk having them “harvested” by hunters who don’t bother confirming the species of the large ungulate in their sights. Why does this happen? The most likely explanation is “buck fever,” meaning that the hunter wants so badly to see a nice big buck that sometimes his eyes deceive him into thinking that there’s one there. When in doubt, don’t shoot.

2. Scopes Are Not Binoculars
Never use a riflescope as a substitute for binoculars. The temptation to do so is real, but when one does this, one is by definition pointing the muzzle of the gun at unknown targets.

3. Know When to Unload
When finished hunting, unload your firearm before returning to camp. You should also unload your gun before attempting to climb a steep bank or travel across slippery ground.

Hunting Affiliation Groups
There are many good organizations dedicated to promoting hunting and preserving our hunting habitats. These groups all offer valuable information for hunters:

Ducks Unlimited
Mule Deer Foundation
National Wild Turkey Federation
Pheasants Forever
Quail Forever
Rabbits Unlimited
Safari Club International
Squirrels Umlimited
Varmint Hunters Association
Whitetails Unlimited
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September 10th, 2020

Cartridge Comparions from Brownells Video Vault

Brownells video archive youtube channel AR15 6.5 Creedmoor Grendel SPC .308 Winchester 7.62x51

Brownells is a well-known retailer of guns, gun parts, tools, accessories, ammo, and pretty much everything gun related. Brownells has a very active video production department that releases new “how-to” and product information videos every week. These videos offer helpful advice on gun cleaning/maintenance, reloading, as well as selecting/assembling components for various kinds of rifles. There now over 1000 videos on the Brownells YouTube Channel, this really is a remarkable resource.

One of our favorite regular Brownells video features are the Quick Tip Cartridge Comparisons. Brownells tech staffers look at a pair of cartridge types and reveal the noteworthy differences. Here are three recent Cartridge Comparison videos from Brownells.

1. 6.5 Creedmoor vs. .260 Remington

Brownells Gun Tech Caleb Savant compares and contrasts the 6.5 Creedmoor rifle cartridge with the older .260 Remington. Both cartridges are often loaded to nearly the same overall length (OAL), but with more of the bullet inside the neck for the .260 Rem. The .260 Remington is basically a .308 Winchester necked down to 6.5mm (.264″). The 6.5 Creedmoor has a shorter case, with a more modern 30-degree shoulder angle. With the same cartridge OAL, that can make it possible to load longer-ogive, higher-BC bullets. However, with a long-freebore chamber, the .260 Rem can certainly run any high-BC 6.5mm bullet made.

The .260 Remington can, theoretically, generate a bit more velocity at the muzzle because its longer case holds a bit more powder. However, with high-quality Lapua brass, in the real world, the 6.5 Creedmoor comes pretty darn close to .260 Rem performance with any given bullet weight. Moreover, the 6.5 Creedmoor is available with small primer pocket brass from Lapua. This brass may give a higher number of reloading cycles before case-head expansion becomes a problem. For the hunter, both choices are good, but the older .260 Rem may feed a bit better from a magazine, given the .260’s case taper and longer body. Overall, we favor the 6.5 Creedmoor for its versatility and efficiency, but the .260 Rem is a good cartridge too.

2. 6.8 SPC vs. 6.5 Grendel

Brownells Gun Tech Caleb Savant compares two medium-caliber cartridges that can work in AR15-platform rifles: the 6.5 Grendel and the 6.8 SPC (aka 6.8mm Remington “Special Purpose Cartridge”). The 6.5 Grendel is typically loaded with a high-BC .264″ bullet, while the 6.8 SPC has a larger-diameter .277″ bullet. Both have the same 2.26″ OAL as the AR-15’s standard .223 Remington / 5.56 NATO round. The big difference is the 6.5 Grendel’s faster velocity and flatter trajectory. With the same bullet weight, Brownells says the 6.5 Grendel will be about 100 fps faster than the 6.8 SPC. Given a 100-yard zero, the 6.5 Grendel will drop about 8.5″ at 300 yards, while the 6.8 SPC will drop 10.5″ at the same range. The 6.5 Grendel is probably a better choice for long-range targets, at least when loaded with a higher-BC bullet. A big difference is brass. You can get superb Lapua brass for the 6.5 Grendel. Not so for the 6.8 SPC, which really has never developed into a widely popular accuracy round.

3. 7.62×51 NATO vs. .308 Winchester (Subtle differences)

Brownells Technician Caleb Savant talks about the .308 Winchester and 7.62x51mm NATO. Most shooters know that both rounds have the same external dimensions. In fact, the military 7.62×51 was developed from the civilian .308 Winchester. So… can they be used interchangeably? The 7.62×51 cartridge normally can be fired from any rifle chambered in .308 Winchester because the 7.62 is spec’d for a lower pressure than SAAMI max in the .308 Win. However, we have encountered some British and Austrian 7.62×51 NATO milsurp ammo that was VERY hot — more than a typical commercial .308 Win Load. Accordingly you should always be careful when shooting new 7.62×51 ammo in your rifles. Likewise you should be careful about shooting higher-pressure .308 Win in some 7.62 NATO rifles. The 7.62×51 NATO chamber is slightly longer, and the cartridge’s case is typically a bit thicker, so it will “flow” and expand into the extra space. NOTE: Some newer rifles with 7.62×51 NATO chambers ARE made to handle .308 Win ammo. Check the owner’s manual or contact your rifle’s manufacturer to find out for sure.

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September 9th, 2020

Hearing Protection: Bands, Muffs, and Plugs

Hearing Protection DB sound level ear plug muff

“Science tells us that exposure to continuous noise of 85 dB for eight hours is enough to cause permanent hearing loss, and worse, spikes of 130 dB and more can result in permanent hearing damage instantly.” Source: NRA Blog.

The Risk of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be progressive and irreversible. If you are a shooter, this is serious business. As the NRA Blog cautions: “You may not even realize you’re harming your hearing. Hearing loss occurs gradually, and can go effectively unnoticed until symptoms become severe. By then, the damage is done.”Effective hearing protection is a must whenever you are shooting firearms or when you are in the vicinity of gun-shots. For ultimate protection, we recommend a good set of tapered foam earplugs, topped by ear-muffs. However, there are situations when you may prefer lighter-weight hearing protection that can be quickly removed. For example, if you are standing well behind the firing line as an observer, or if you are working as a rangemaster or waddie some distance away from the shooters.

Sound Levels for Common Noises:

9mm Luger pistol: 160 dB

Jet aircraft engine (near): 140 dB

.22 LR pistol: 134 dB

Normal human pain threshold: 120 dB

Noisy Nightclub: 110 db

Riding Motorcycle at 65 mph: 103 db

Power Lawnmower: 95 dB

Hearing damage possible: 85 dB (sustained for 8+ hours)

Ringing Telephone: 80 dB

Normal conversation: 60 dB

1. Ear Bands — Quick On/Off, Lightweight, Inexpensive

Howard Light radians peltor ear bands NRR

Hearing bands are inexpensive, lightweight, and are handy for special situations, such using hedgetrimmers and noisy power tools, when you may need to frequently remove the protection. These banded products are a also a very good form of hearing protection for hunters. You can keep them handy around the neck while spotting game, and then insert the plugs before shooting. We have tried two types of banded hearing protection, the Howard Leight Quiet Band (shown above) (25 dB NRR), and the Radians Rad-Band (23 dB NRR). The Leight Quiet Band is quite durable and the plugs can be replaced.

Howard Light radians peltor ear bands NRR

Radians Rad-bad is very light-weight, with Jelli™ Plugs that are comfortable, washable, and reusable. Peltor also offers Sport Banded Earplugs but we think those are a bit flimsy and the NRR seems exaggerated.

2. Ear Muffs — Max Protection and Compact Options

AccurateShooter Deals of Week NRR 34 muffs ear protection 34dB

The highest current USA Noise Reduction Rating is 34 dB NRR. To get that kind of protection, you need pretty big muffs, but thankfully, you don’t have to spend big bucks. For under $15.00 you can buy quality ANSI-approved muffs with a 34dB Noise Reduction Rating. Chose the G&F Pro Muffs at $13.08 (Amazon’s Choice), or the dark green Walker EXT Range Muffs for $14.99. Both products have padded head-bands which retract.

Many hunters and competitive shooters prefer low-profile ear muffs. As these typically have a lower Noise Reduction Rating, perhaps NRR 22-24, we recommend running earplugs under muffs, particularly when you are at a busy range or shooting a match. If you use low-profile electronic muffs, such as Howard Leight Impact Sport Muffs, you should still be able to hear range commands even with plugs underneath.

3. Earplugs — Small, Inexpensive, but Essential

accurateshooter.com review Max-1 Howard Leight ear plugs

20 Pairs
50 Pairs

These Howard Leight NRR33 Max plugs are your Editor’s favorite foam earplugs. Between shooting, motorcycling and mowing lawns, I probably have Max plugs in my ears 3-4 days a week. These Leight Max plugs are very effective, easy to insert/remove (with the flared ends), and they seem to be less abrasive in the ear canal than some other brands. Right now you can get 50 pairs of these NRR33 Leight Max plugs for just $8.40 (with free shipping).

Note, if you prefer thin, light-weight earmuffs, we recommend running earplugs underneath for double protection while shooting firearms (or when you’re on the firing line). Sound experts tell us that running plugs and muffs together can effectively improve your effective noise reduction by 4-7 db NRR.

hearing protection db NRR deafness ear muffs plugs

Permalink Gear Review, Tactical, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
September 7th, 2020

Eye on Optics — How Riflescopes and Spotting Scopes Work

Accurateshooter.com optics rifle scope Swarovski

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

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.
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September 6th, 2020

Adjust Your Decapping Dies to Avoid Primer Pocket Problems

universal Decapping die sinclair lee redding

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

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

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

Universal decapping die

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

There are a variety of decapping dies currently on the market, with models available from Lee, Lyman, Hornady, RCBS, Redding, and Sinclair Int’l.

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

Lee universal decapping die

Decapping Dies for Cases with Smaller Flashholes

TAKE NOTE: Some Euro Small Flash Holes are spec’d at 1.5mm or 0.059″, and max out at about .062″, so these need a smaller die pin.

The low-cost Lee Universal Decapping Die will work with cartridges from 17 Fireball all the way up to big Magnums. However, NOTE that the decapping pin supplied with this Lee die is TOO LARGE for LAPUA 220 Russian, 6mmBR, 6.5×47, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win (Palma) and Norma 6 PPC flash holes. Because the pin diameter is too large for these brass types, you must either turn down the pin, or decap with a different tool for cases with .059-.062″ flash-holes.

Sinclair Int’l offers a Stainless Decapping Die that comes with both .080 and .060 Pins. The $34.99 die ships with three decap pins for standard .080″ flash holes, and two pins for .060″ flash holes

Redding makes a Universal Decapping Die with an optional smaller-diameter decapping rod for the smaller .059-.062″ flash holes found on the BR and PPC cases. The use of this die is explained in the video below:

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September 4th, 2020

Optics INFO: Mounting a Scope on Your Hunting Rifle

scope alignment tactical rifle scope level

Hunting season commences soon in many states. That means it’s time to inspect all your hunting gear, including your scope set-up. If you have a new optic, you’ll want to get it mounted correctly on your current rig. And if you have a new hunting rifle, you’ll need to mount the properly rings and install the riflescope so that you have the correct eye relief.

A proper scope installation involves more than just tensioning a set of rings — you need to consider the proper eye relief and head position, and it should be leveled correctly. This video shows a simple, quick method to mount a scope. The method assumes that the reticle (cross-hairs) are square without the turret. You’ll want to confirm that with a plumb line hanging straight down, a procedure you can do indoors.

scope alignment tactical rifle scope levelIn this NSSF video, Ryan Cleckner shows how to set up a scope on a hunting or tactical rifle. Ryan, a former U.S. Army Sniper Instructor, notes that many hunters spend a small fortune on equipment, but fail to set up their rifle to use the optics optimally. Cleckner likens this to someone who owns an expensive sports car, but never adjusts the seat or the mirrors.

Ryan notes that you want your head and neck to be able to rest naturally on the stock, without straining. You head should rest comfortably on the stock. If you have to consciously lift your head off the stock to see through the scope, then your set-up isn’t correct. Likewise, You shouldn’t have to push your head forward or pull it back to see a clear image through the scope. If you need to strain forward or pull back to get correct eye relief, then the scope’s fore/aft position in the rings needs to be altered. Watch the full video for more tips.

Tips on Mounting Your Scope and Adjusting Your Comb Height:
1. Normally, you want your scope mounted as low as possible, while allowing sufficient clearance for the front objective. (NOTE: Benchrest shooters may prefer a high mount for a variety of reasons.)

2. Once the scope height is set, you need to get your head to the correct level. This may require adding an accessory cheekpad, or raising the comb height if your rifle has an adjustable cheekpiece.

3. Start with the rifle in the position you use most often (standing, kneeling, or prone). If you shoot mostly prone, you need to get down on the ground. Close your eyes, and let you head rest naturally on the stock. Then open your eyes, and see if you are too low or too high. You may need to use a cheekpad to get your head higher on the stock.

4. If your scope has a flat on the bottom of the turret housing, this will help you level your scope. Just find a flat piece of metal that slides easily between the bottom of the scope and the rail. Slide that metal piece under the scope and then tilt it up so the flat on the bottom of the scope aligns parallel with the flats on the rail. Watch the video at 8:40 to see how this is done.

Video find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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September 2nd, 2020

BAT Machine Actions — Video Reveals How They Are Made

Gavin Gear ultimate reloader BAT machine Bruce Thom Idaho Machining CNC Machines

If you have ANY interest in custom rifle actions, you MUST watch this video from UltimateReloader.com. Folks, definitely watch the video — it is VERY informative! To produce this video, Ultimate Reloader’s Gavin Gear visited the BAT Machine facility in Post Falls, Idaho, and interviewed BAT owner Bruce Thom.

In the video Bruce Thom demonstrates how BAT Machine actions are created from start to finish. Bruce shows every stage of the process, employing multiple high-tech machines. It’s impressive — Forum members say that this is a “must-watch” video. Gunsmith Jackie Schmidt noted: “Great Video. Even though I have been in the machine shop business for 50 years, I still marvel at the new innovations in precision machining. Bruce has a very down-to-earth, common sense approach to explaining what to many seems like machining wizardry.” And Mark T. posted: “Watched it last night. Excellent video and excellent machining practices — precision from beginning to end.”

Click Arrow to Watch Video

For further explanation of the action production processes, with step-by-step listing of how receivers and bolt assemblies are created, read Gavin Gear’s full BAT Machine Article on UltimateReloader.com.

READ FULL BAT Machine Story HERE (More Photos) »

Gavin Gear ultimate reloader BAT machine Bruce Thom Idaho Machining CNC Machines

BAT Machine Company Was Started 29 Years Ago
Back in 1991, Bruce Thom started BAT Machine Company, which was incorporated later in 1996. Bruce’s shop stared with manual machines, quickly moving to CNC machines later in the 1990s. BAT Machine quickly achieved a following among benchrest shooters for crafting superb actions that exhibited flawless function and superb machining. Those qualities, benchrest competitors realized, helped produce tiny groups, win matches, and set benchrest records. BAT Machine now makes rifle actions for a wide variety of disciplines: F-Class, PRS, ELR, hunting, and of course short- and long-range benchrest.

Gavin Gear ultimate reloader BAT machine Bruce Thom Idaho Machining CNC Machines

BAT Action Body Machining Stages
As shown in the video, here are the major stages for the fabrication of a BAT Machine receiver body:

1. Start: raw 17-4 stainless round bar (higher toughness than typical barrel/receiver steel)
2. Heat treat
3. Bore central hole (for EDM wire), face ends
4. EDM machining (cut bore and raceways)
5. True OD, cut receiver threads and lug seats
6. Cut tang and related features
7. Finish machining including body OD, integral lug (if equipped)

Gavin Gear ultimate reloader BAT machine Bruce Thom Idaho Machining CNC Machines

Final Production Stages — Polishing and Deburring
After the receiver body and bolt are machined, they go through a deburring and polishing process.

In the image above you can see the stages. At left is a receiver body straight from machining. Some hand work is typically performed to break interior edges that are sharp from machining. In the center, the receiver shows can see the initial polish stage. During this stage, machining marks are removed by coarse polishing. Additionally for receivers that will be nitrided, that will be done next. But for actions that are NOT nitrided, a final polish brings the parts up to a high luster, as show on the right.

After polish (and nitriding if that applies) the bolts and receivers get a finish assembly, and testing for proper smooth functioning. The receivers are then registered with the ATF and shipped to the customer.

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September 1st, 2020

Measure Group Sizes Quickly and Easily with Ballistics-X App

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

Here’s something all shooters need — a smartphone App that calculates bullet-hole group sizes from your own photos. The Ballistic-X App is simple to use. Take a photo of your target, set some values (such as bullet diameter and distance to target), then use the touchscreen to place circles around each hole. The App will calculate group size (in MOA or Mils), distance to point of aim, and provide all the info in an overlay. Then click “save” to record your group for posterity!

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS
Ballistic-X Apple (iOS) version shown. There is also a Ballistic-X Android App.

This App works well, is relatively easy to set-up, and costs just $7.99. It is available for both Android devices and iOS (Apple) devices. There are other ways to measure group sizes from target images, such as the excellent On-Target program, which we have used for years. However On-Target requires a software installation on a Windows platform desktop or laptop. Ballistic-X is a simple, easy-to-install App with versions for both Android and iOS (Apple) Mobile devices.

Google Play app store source
Download Android App
Apple store Ios app store source
Download Apple App

The Ballistic-X App has a relatively easy-to-use interface. Of course you can choose either MOA or Milrad group values, and Inch or Metric dimensions. There are various labeling options that provide useful info for Load Development. There is even an ATZ (Adjustment To Zero) feature for adjusting your turrets.

How to Use Ballistic-X App

1. Select Photo Source — Choose Camera to take new photo or get image from Photo Library.

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

2. Set Reference Values — Select Bullet Diameter and enter Distance to Target.

3. Establish Scale on Image — Mark two points on target photo to set scale.
For example, if the target has a 1″-square grid lines, mark two points on grid for 1″ distance.

4. Mark Point Of Aim — Put the central X on the aim point.

5. Designate Shot Locations — Place the green circles around each shot.

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

6. Finalize Data Display — Position Overlay, select size/color options, and export file.

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

Android Options — Range Buddy FREE App
Along with Ballistic-X, there is another Mobile App, Range Buddy, that also measures shot groups. Range Buddy is currently offered for Android devices only. It is FREE, but has adverts. Range Buddy isn’t bad, but users complained about the program crashing, and there are compatibility issues with newer phones. We recommend you pay $7.99 and stick with Ballistic-X.

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

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August 30th, 2020

Four Vital Ammo Checks You Should Always Do Before Shooting

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

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

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

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

One: Check Your Cases with a Chamber Gage

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

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

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

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

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

Two: Double Check Your Primers

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

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

Three: Check Your Overall Cartridge Length

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

Four: Confirm All Cases Contain Powder

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

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

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

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

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August 30th, 2020

How to Kill a Barrel in One Afternoon — Firing Rate and Heat

barrel life test rapid fire cooling

Can sustained rapid-fire shooting with no cool-down period wear out a quality barrel more quickly? The answer is “Yes” according to Forum member LCazador, who did an interesting comparison test with two .243 Winchester barrels. He started off with two, identical, match-grade HV taper stainless barrels. Both were NEW at the start of testing, and LCazador shot the same load through each: 95gr match bullets with 38 grains of Hodgdon Varget. After giving both barrels the same, gentle 20-round break-in, 300 rounds were then fired through each barrel — in very different ways. Barrel condition and wear were monitored with a borescope.

Barrel One — Slow Fire, Cool Down Periods, Cleaning Every 50 Rounds
At the end of the 300-round test, Barrel One looked brand new. There was none of the severe fire cracking found in Barrel Two. This barrel was shot no more than 10 times without a cool down and firing was done at a much slower pace. Cleaning for this barrel was done every 50 shots.

Barrel Two — Fast Firing, No Waiting, Cleaning Every 100 Rounds
The second barrel, which received hard use and minimal cleaning, was severely damaged with severe fire cracking at the leade and throat. As a result, the barrel had to be re-chambered. This barrel was shot 100 rounds at time without cleaning and was shot up to 20 times in succession without a cool down.

LESSON LEARNED — Heat Kills Barrel Life
Don’t let your barrel get too hot, and keep it clean. One afternoon can ruin a barrel!

Hawkeye Borescope imageMonitoring Barrel Wear with Borescope
Some folks worry too much about what their borescopes reveal — many barrels do not have to be “squeaky clean” to perform well. In fact some barrels run better after ten or more fouling shots. However, a borescope can be very helpful when your barrel starts losing accuracy for no apparent reason. Forum member FdShuster writes:

“A borescope is a positive way of backing up your suspicions when the rifle starts to throw an occasional (soon followed by more frequent) wild shot. Using the scope is also an excellent way to determine that the cause is barrel wear and not simply a need for a concentrated cleaning session to remove built up copper and more importantly, carbon fouling.

I’ve had a few barrels that gave every indication of being shot out. But I ‘scoped them out and found the cause to be nothing more than requiring a good cleaning. They then returned to their usual performance. There’s no guessing involved when you are able to get ‘up close and personal’ using the scope. The borescope also provides an excellent view of the all-important condition of the crown. My borescope is one of the most valuable investments I’ve ever made.”

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