January 21st, 2020

Volquartsen Summit — Versatile Toggle-Action Rimfire Rifle

Volquartsen summit .22 LR rimfire 22LR straight pull biathlon toggle action 22Plinkster plinkster video

Ever shot a straight-pull (aka toggle-link) action rifle? We like these action types, which were developed for Biathlon competitors who needed to shoot fast, but were not allowed to use semi-auto actions. The biathlon-style toggle action features a lever on the side of the action. Pull the lever back with your index figure to open the bolt, then push forward with your finger to close the bolt*. It’s fast and efficient. With some practice, you can cycle the action in a couple of seconds — nearly as fast as a semi-auto.

Volquartsen summit .22 LR rimfire 22LR straight pull biathlon toggle action 22Plinkster plinkster video

The Volquartsen Summit .22 LR rifle is based on a concept originally developed by Primary Weapons Systems. Designed for both competition shooting as well as small game hunting, this unique rifle features a straight-pull, toggle-style action with a Ruger 10/22 profile. That means you can run 10/22 magazines, swap into stocks inletted for the 10/22, and even use after-market 10/22 barrels. The CNC-machined receiver features an integral 20 MOA Picatinny Rail. The Magpul stock adjusts for length of pull. Weight is 5.8 pounds, so this is easy to carry in the field.

The Summit features a lightweight carbon fiber-wrapped barrel, threaded 1/2×28 at the muzzle to be suppressor-ready. One of our favorite features on this little rifle is the trigger — which has a light, crisp 1.75-lb pull weight. Watch the video above to see the Summit .22 LR in action. The tester, 22 Plinkster, was impressed with the rifle’s ease of use and accuracy. The Summit delivered a 0.277″ group at 50 yards, shot from the bench.

Volquartsen summit .22 LR rimfire 22LR straight pull biathlon toggle action 22Plinkster plinkster video

Tech Analysis of PWS-designed Action as used in Summit

See the Summit at SHOT Show in Las Vegas
Volquartsen will have the new Summit straight-pull rifle on display, along with a wide variety of rimfire firearms, at its booth at SHOT Show in Las Vegas this week. You’ll find Volquartsen at booth #11129. This year, Volquartsen will unveil a new 17 WSM version of the straight-pull Summit rifle.

Volquartsen summit .22 LR rimfire 22LR straight pull biathlon toggle action 22Plinkster plinkster video


* Biathlon shooters cycle their Fortner toggle actions even faster, using their THUMB to close the bolt. This allows them to get the index finger on to the trigger blade faster. The whole process takes maybe a second — as fast as you can say “snick-snick”. To use the thumb effectively, you need a stock with a more vertical pistol grip. The Magpul stock on the Summit moves your thumb a bit too far back to use comfortably to close the lever without shifting the hand.

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January 19th, 2020

TOP TEN Methods to Dry Cartridge Brass after Wet Cleaning

Wet Tumbling Brass Drier

Many shooters these days clean their cartridge brass ultrasonically, or wet-tumble their cases with stainless media (above). Both methods get brass clean and shiny, inside and out. However, when those wet-cleaning processes are completed, you’re left with a pile of soaking wet brass. How do you dry your brass quickly and efficiently, without unsightly water spots? Read on for some great answers…

In our Shooters’ Forum, Forum Gold Member Terry asked: “How do you dry your brass after Ultrasonic cleaning?” In an interesting Reloading Forum Thread, many smart suggestions were posted. A dozen fellow members outlined a variety of effective case-drying procedures, which work equally well for both wet-tumbled brass and ultrasonically-cleaned cases. Here are the Top 10 brass-drying suggestions from our Forum members.

TOP TEN Ways to Dry Cartridge Brass After Wet Cleaning

1. Food Dehydrator — Shake the brass in towel to get the bulk of water off. Next leave in the food dehydrator for 45 minutes or until there are no signs of moisture inside the cases. — Lawrence97

2. Lyman 5-Level Case Dryer — Rinse off cleaning solution(s), then load brass by type into racks in Lyman Cyclone Case Dryer. This is easier to load/unload than food dehydrators and holds more cases.

Lyman Cyclone Case Drier

3. Hot Water + Compressed Air — Rinse all your cases as a batch using scalding hot water from the kitchen sink. Hot water evaporates off of brass very very quickly. Then hit them with compressed air. Takes 10 minutes. Simple. — SG4247

4. Oven Dry in Pre-Heated Oven — After pre-heating to 200° or so, turn off oven and put brass inside on a tray. Most important! Tell your wife what you are doing so she doesn’t crank it up to 425 to heat pizza! — MClark

NOTE: Many other members suggested oven drying at 150-200°. We recommend turning OFF the oven so you don’t cook your brass if you forget to remove the cases.

Dry Cartridge Brass heat gun5. Towel Dry then Warm with Heat Gun — Roll brass in a towel until no more water shakes out. Lay out on cardboard box top and blow off with Harbor Freight heat gun. $9.99 on coupon. Two minutes of heated air and about half hour of wait and they are good to go. This is with primers removed. — Shaggy357

6. Compressed Air, then Sun Dry Outside – I rinse the brass, then blow them out with compressed air. Then, dependent on the time of year, lay them on a towel in the sun. — HogPatrol

7. Dishwasher on Dry Cycle – In the winter, I drop my wet brass cases neck-down on the rack pegs in the dishwasher, then turn on the dry cycle. In the summer…well, I’m in Texas. They go to the porch for a bit. — Toolbreaker

8. Alcohol Rinse then Air or Oven Dry — Rinse in 90% Isopropyl alcohol and either let air dry or stick in 175° oven for half an hour. Alternatively, use a dehydrator. — Zipollini

9. Slow Air-Dry in Loading Blocks — I have a reloading block with holes drilled in it. I simply load the block up and let it air-dry in the cupboard for a couple of days. — JCS

10. Wipe with Towel Then Anneal Normally — This thread is stirring my OCD side. Seems complicated for just drying — my brass dries just fine when I anneal it. This entire process can’t take an hour per batch. When finished, the brass is cleaned, annealed, and ready to size. — CHLuke

  • Deprime, then tumble brass with stainless media, water, Lemishine, and dish detergent.
  • Shake them easily in a strainer to knock out most media then grab 4-5 pieces, shake them over the bucket for the last of the media then inside a towel.
  • Finally blow out the primer pockets and wipe with a towel, load in the Annealeez.

Wet Tumbling Brass Drier

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January 17th, 2020

Trouble-Shooting the Remington 700 and Rem Clones

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

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

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

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

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

Troubleshooting the Remington 700 Rifle with Nathan Foster

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

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

Nathan Foster Long Range Rifles Hunting Hunter

CLICK HERE to Download Remington 700 Owner’s Manual

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

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January 17th, 2020

Barrels Can Yield More Velocity After 100-150 Rounds

Barrel Velocity Increase Sierra Bullets Blog Speedy Gonzalez Jim See

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barrel Velocity Increase Sierra Bullets Blog Speedy Gonzalez Jim See

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January 16th, 2020

SIZING DIES: Full-Length Dies, Neck-Sizing Dies, Small Base Dies

Sizing dies brass sinclair redding full length neck neck-sizing small base

This article is part of Sinclair Int’l Step-By-Step Reloading Series. Most of the products mentioned in this article are sold through Brownells.com.

by Roy Hill, Brownells/Sinclair Copywriter
Making your own precision handloads is a meticulous journey with many steps, many important matters to consider, and many sets of measurements to calculate. For those who pursue the perfect group, the highest score, the really long accurate shot, the rewards more than outweigh the effort. Choosing the right cases, deburring the flash holes, making the primer pockets uniform, trimming the cases, and lubricating them are all familiar – and critical – steps along the journey. And now that your brass preparation is complete, you are at last ready to start running the cases through your press and fill them with primers, powder, and bullets. The very first die the brass encounters is the sizing die. You insert the case, work the press’s lever to return the case to its correct pre-fired dimensions – and the journey continues.

Sinclair International Int'l fL full-length sizing die bump die shoulder bump gauge

There are three types of sizing dies to think about: neck, full-length, and small base. All three have specific benefits and potential drawbacks, and you should choose the type of die you use by thinking very carefully about what kind of shooting you plan to do with your handloads. No matter which type you select, most sizing dies will also punch out the old spent primer with some sort of decapper assembly that uses a hardened steel rod. Many types of sizing dies use an expander ball inside the die to make sure the neck of the case will accommodate a bullet after being sized. With some size dies, the expanders are easily removable and interchangeable, letting you get exactly the neck tension you want. If you are reloading for pistol cartridges, carbide sizing dies allow you to quickly resize without applying any lube to the case. But rifle cases always need lube.

Neck-Sizing Dies
Sinclair International Int'l fL full-length neck size neck-sizing die bump die shoulder bump gaugeNeck-sizing dies resize only the neck of the case. The benefit of sizing only the neck is that the brass is “worked” very little, letting you reuse the same cases many times over. Also, cases that have already been fired in your rifle are perfectly fireformed to fit that rifle’s chamber, which can help accuracy. However, neck-sized cases will fit only the specific rifle they were originally fired in, and may still require a little extra force to chamber or extract.

Sinclair recommends that neck-sized-only cartridges should not be used any in other rifle besides the one they were originally fired from [unless they are also FL-sized], or in any action other than a bolt-action. Neck-sized-only rounds are great for the target range or the benchrest but should not be used in critical situations like military or police operations, or hunting. And if you fire them enough times, neck-sized cases will still need to be full-length sized periodically for you to keep using them.

Full-Length Sizing Dies
Full-length sizing dies do exactly what their name says: resize the full length of the case, not just the neck. Full-length sizing helps create handloads that will function in any rifle, not just the one from which the cases were originally fired. The potential downside of full-length sizing is that it may shorten case life because it works the brass more than neck sizing. But it’s possible to “tune” today’s full-length sizing dies so they barely work the brass at all, as this article by Sinclair Reloading Tech Ron Dague shows.

Illustration Shows How a Full-Length Sizing Die Works
Sinclair International Int'l fL full-length sizing die bump die shoulder bump gauge

Another way to reap the benefits of full-length sizing is to use Redding’s full-length bushing dies, which size the full length of the case but use a system of interchangeable bushings that enable you give the case neck the bare minimum of resizing needed. To see how finely adjustable bushing dies are, and how they resize the case while fully supported, CLICK HERE for Video. The neck bushing helps you precisely control the neck tension to help increase the consistency and accuracy of your handloads.

Redding Custom full length dies

Small Base Dies
A Small Base Die is just another type of full-length sizing die, but one that is typically used when reloading for semi-automatic rifles, like the AR-15, M14, or AR-style .308 rifles. (It may also work well for bolt guns that need extra sizing on the lower section of the case.) A small base die works exactly like a full-length sizing die, only it compresses the brass just a bit more, usually about .001″ more, and may even push the case shoulder back just a hair. Small base dies give that extra bit of compression to the brass to help make sure the case will properly extract from a semi-automatic firearm. The upside is that you get precision handloads that should work flawlessly in your semi-automatic. The downside is case life is really shortened, especially compared to brass used only in one bolt-action rifle, because the brass is worked more.

Shoulder Bump Gauges
A handy tool for setting up your full-length sizing dies as close as possible to your rifle’s chamber is the Sinclair bump gauge. The bump gauge lets you resize the case as little as possible, to extend case life and help your handloads fit your rifle almost like a neck-sized only die. You use deprimed cases fired in your rifle and bump gauge inserts to help you set up the die so it resizes the case only about .001″ to .004″, depending on what type of rifle you’re shooting.

Video shows how to use a shoulder bump gauge to set up your full-length dies

Sinclair International Int'l sizing die bump die shoulder bump gauge

Article Find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions
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January 14th, 2020

Corrosive Ammunition — How To Protect Your Firearms

Corrosive Ammo ammunition
Scary stuff — AK-74 after firing corrosive ammo and not being cleaned for a week.
Image courtesy
ADCOFirearms.com.

corrosive ammunition ammo BrownellsNo doubt you’ve heard the term “corrosive” used with respect to ammunition. But what exactly is “corrosive ammunition” (and how does it different from non-corrosive ammo)? What is the chemistry that leads to corrosion, and what cleaning procedures should you follow if you shoot corrosive ammunition? Brownells has come up with answers to these and other questions in a helpful TECH TIP video about corrosive ammo.

In this informative video, Brownells gun tech Steve Ostrem explains the primer-related chemistry that makes some ammo corrosive. The video then reviews suggested cleaning procedures you should follow after you have fired corrosive ammo through any firearms.

What Is “Corrosive” Ammunition?
What makes ammo “corrosive”? Generally speaking, primers are the problem. When corrosive ammunition is fired, the ignited primers leave a residue of corrosive salts. Typically these primers contain potassium chlorate, or sodium petrochlorate which, when burned, change into potassium chloride or sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is also known as common table salt.

Potassium chloride and sodium chloride are both very hygroscopic (i.e. they attract water). Because of that, these alkalis are rust generators. When exposed to the hydrogen and oxygen in the air (and moisture) potassium chloride and sodium chloride can form an acid that quickly causes metal rifle parts to rust and pit.

Given a choice, you may wish to avoid corrosive ammo altogether. However, for some types of fire-arms, particularly older military-style rifles, the most affordable ammunition may be corrosive. If you choose to use corrosive ammo, it is important to clean the gun thoroughly after use. After firing, you want to use an element that will neutralize the primer salts. Brownells suggests a water soak (see video above). Alternatively, Windex with ammonia can help neutralize the salts, but that doesn’t finish the job. After the salts have been neutralized and flushed away, basic anti-corrosion protectant (such as Eezox or other gun oil) should be applied to all metal parts.

This video ahows the effects of Corrosive Ammo after one month without cleaning:

To learn more about the proper procedures for cleaning rifles exposed to corrosive ammo, we suggest an article by Paul Markel on Ammoland.com. Markel, host of the popular Student of the Gun TV series, states that: “Windex (with ammonia) is the Corrosive Ammo shooter’s best friend. After you are done shooting your corrosive ammunition for the day, squirt the window cleaner liberally from the chamber down the barrel. Pull the bolt / bolt carrier / op rod if there is one and douse them as well. A couple of old cotton t-shirts will come in handy. A cotton barrel swab is a nice accessory but you can make do with patches. Some folks will rinse all of the ammonia and loosened corrosive salts off with hot water. Others prefer to wipe it all down and let the ammonia evaporate. Either way, once the corrosive salts have been tackled with the window cleaner, it is time for an all-purpose brush (old toothbrush) and some gun oil.” READ Full Article by Paul Markel.

Video Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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January 12th, 2020

Cartridge Headspace 101 — Understanding the Basicss

Brownells Headspace Gauge cutaway chamber drawing SAAMI ANSI

Do you know what the inside of a rifle chamber (and throat zone) really looks like? Do you understand the concept of headspace and why it’s important? If not, you should read the Brownells GunTech article Gauging Success – Minimum Headspace and Maximum COL. This article explains the basics of headspace and shows how to measure headspace (and length to lands) in your barrels with precision. The article also explains how to adjust your full-length sizing dies to “bump the shoulder” as needed.

Why is headspace important? The article explains: “Controlling headspace and setting proper C.O.L. also represent improved safety and reduced cost of handloading. Excessive headspace can cause case head separation and gases in excess of 60,000 PSI escaping from a rifle’s chamber. Too little headspace can result in a chamber forced bullet crimp and a bullet that becomes an obstruction more than a properly secured projectile. Excessive C.O.L. can result in a rifling-bound bullet, a condition that could result in spikes of excessive pressure.” [Editor’s NOTE: It is common for competitive benchrest shooters to seat bullets into the rifling. This can be done safely if you reduce your loads accordingly. With some bullets we often see best accuracy .010″ (or more) into the lands. However, this can generate more pressure than the same bullet seated .010″ away from initial lands contact. As with all reloading, start low and work up gradually.]

Brownells Headspace Gauge cutaway chamber drawing SAAMI ANSI

How is headspace specified? Most cartridges used within the United States are defined within ANSI/SAAMI Z299.3-4. Brownells explains: “In the case of the .243 Winchester, as an example, there are pressure specifications, cartridge drawings and, as pictured above, chamber drawings. Armed with a chamber drawing, each manufacturer producing a firearm for the .243 Winchester knows the proper standard dimension to cut chambers and set headspace. Notice there are two headspace reference dimensions for the chamber. The upper is a place in the chamber where the shoulder is .400″ in diameter; the “datum” or “basic” line. The lower is the 1.630″~1.640″ minimum – maximum dimension from the breech face (bolt face) to that point in the chamber that measures .400″.”

The actual headspace of any firearm is the distance from the breech face to the point in the chamber that is intended to prevent forward motion of a cartridge.

Finding Cartridge Length to Lands with OAL Gauge
Using a comparator on a set of calipers, you can quickly determine catridge base-to-ogive length. This is the measurement from the base of the case to the forward-most full diameter section of the bullet, typically called the ogive. Shown here, that ogive is 0.243″ diameter.

The next step is using a modified (threaded) case with a Hornady OAL tool to determine Length-to-Lands (LTL) in your rifle’s chamber. During this measurement process, the modified case, with a bullet in its neck, is inserted in the chamber. Go slow, take your time. Here are 5 tips that will help you get repeatable and reliable LTL measurements:

1. Start with a clean chamber and clean barrel throat.
2. Make sure the modified case is fully screwed down and seated on the OAL Gauge. It can sometimes unscrew a bit during repeated measurements.
3. Insert the modified case slowly and gently, but ensure the shoulder of the modified case is fully seated on the end of the chamber.
4. Push the gray plastic rod GENTLY. It is common for the bullet to be tilted a bit. You want to allow the bullet to self-center in the throat BEFORE you apply much pressure. Then tap a couple times and push until you feel resistance. Do NOT push too hard — that will jam the bullet in the lands.
5. Repeat the measurement at least 3 more times. If you follow our instructions, you should, typically, get a repeatable measurement, within 0.015″ or so, 3 out of 4 times.

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January 12th, 2020

TECH Tip: Reduce Electronic Scale Drift with Static Guard Spray

Digital Scale Static Guard Static Electricity

Digital Scale Static Guard Static ElectricityApparently reducing static charges on and around electronic scales can reduce their propensity to drift, lessening the problem of “wandering zero”. Just how and why static charges interfere with scale performance is unclear, but many shooters have noticed that static electricity can cause electronic scales to behave strangely. So how do you reduce static charges around your digital balance? GS Arizona, creator of the Rifleman’s Journal Blog, has found a very simple solution — an anti-static aerosol spray — that, by all indications, actually works. When this “spray-can solution” was suggested to GS by a fellow shooter, GS was skeptical. However, he tried the stuff and he says that it really does help the scale maintain zero over time, with much less observed drift.

Static Guard Reduced Scale Drift
GS Arizona explains that the use of “Static Guard” spray helped mitigate the problem of a drifting zero on his Ohaus Navigator electronic scale. He writes: “My electronic scale… suffers from drifting zero (as they all seem to). I’ve read dozens of forum posts about drift and how to minimize its occurrence, so I know this problem isn’t limited to my scale or my workshop. Sometime last year, John Lowther mentioned the use of anti-static spray as a solution to the drift problem. John stated that the spray had virtually eliminated drift for him.”

GS Arizona found that the Static Guard actually worked: “The spray works great, just as John said it would. I spray all surfaces that I touch with my hands and arms as well as the pan (top and bottom), the metal tray on which the pan rests and the table under the scale. In six months or so of using the spray I’ve re-applied it about two or three times; it certainly isn’t something that you need to do each time you sit down to load. Before using the spray, it was not uncommon for me to re-zero the scale 10 times in the course of loading 72 rounds; now it might need it once during a session.”

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
January 11th, 2020

Custom-Honed Full-Length Dies — Better than Bushings?

Honed FL Forster Whidden Full-length dies
For some applications, we prefer a non-bushing FL die over a bushing die. Shown here are three Forster full-length sizing dies, with necks honed to three different dimensions: 0.265″, 0.266″, and 0.267″.

The Honed Full-Length Sizing Die Option

There are many good options in full-length (FL) sizing dies. Most precision hand-loaders prefer FL dies with neck bushings. These let you adjust the “grip” on your bullet by using larger or smaller bushings. FL bushing dies are available from Whidden Gunworks, Forster, Redding and other makers.

Conventional, non-bushing full-length sizing dies can create ultra-accurate ammo with very low run-out. But many conventional non-bushing FL dies have an undersized neck diameter so you end up with excess neck tension, and you work the brass excessively.

There is another effective option, one that promises extremely low run-out. The honed FL die is a full-length sizing die that has the necked honed to provide a precise fit to the case-neck. When done right, honed FL dies produce extremely straight ammo — as there are no issues with bushing alignment (or bushings that are not perfectly concentric). This Editor owns honed dies from Forster, Redding, and Whidden. They all perform extremely well, delivering match ammunition with extremely low run-out measured with a 21st Century Concentricity Gauge.

In one of the most popular articles we’ve ever published, Bugholes from Bipod, California shooter “Froggy” explained why he prefers honed dies for his tactical ammo.

Q: Do you FL size every time? Do you use custom dies?

Absolutely, I full length resize all of my brass every time I reload. And guess what? I’ve never had a feeding problem.

I do use a modified sizing die, without bushings. My FL resizing die has been custom-honed in the neck area to give .0015″ press fit on the bullet. I also put a slightly larger radius at the neck shoulder junction. I feel that this helps to seal the chamber. With this die, I get consistent neck tension every time–without bushings. Bushings are useful when you’re fishing around for a good load. But once you find the right amount of sizing for ideal neck tension, you can do this better with a customized FL die.

6.5 Guys Review Forster Honed Full-length Dies
The 6.5 Guys have reviewed honed FL sizing dies from Forster, explaining the pros and cons of this type of reloading die. They explained that, if you load a wide variety of bullets from different manufacturers, you many want to stick with a Bushing FL die. However, if you have settled on a particular bullet and found the “ideal” neck tension, then a honed die may make sense.

In this Gear Update, the 6.5 Guys discuss a service offered by Forster Products to custom hone the neck diameter of its full-length sizing dies to the customer’s specifications (to the thousandth). Whidden Gunworks also offers custom-honed FL dies.

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January 10th, 2020

Do-It-Yourself Target Stand — Make it with PVC or ABS Pipe

PVC target stand
Assembly Diagram: Here are all the components of the target frame. The overall maximum assembled dimensions are roughly 26″ wide, 41″ deep, and 66″ tall (the cardboard is 2 x 3 feet).

PVC target standOne of the easiest ways to build a portable target stand is to use PVC pipe and connectors. Utah .308 Shooter “Cheese” has created a simple yet sturdy target frame, and he’s shared his design so you can build a similar frame easily and at low cost. The components are wood furring strips, 2″-diameter PVC pipes (and connections), and a 2’x3′ sheet of cardboard. The PVC base can be glued together, or, for easier transport and storage, you can leave some or all of the connections free. “Cheese” tells us: “I didn’t glue any of it together so I could disassemble it, shove it in a bag and take it anywhere.”

“All the parts are just pushed together and not glued. That way I can break it down and carry it all in a bag. Also, if a buddy (not me!) happens to shoot the stand, I can easily replace just the damaged piece. The last 6 inches of the furring strips are wittled-down a bit so they can be pushed into the upright pipes with a little friction. The cardboard is 2 x 3 feet, and I use a staple gun to attach it to the furring strips. Then I just staple the target onto the cardboard and go at it.

Of course you can modify the dimensions as desired. I chose the black ABS pipe over white PVC simply for cost — black ABS is a little cheaper. You can also glue some or all of the parts together, it’ll just be larger for transporting. In windy conditions, the thing likes to come apart. Duct tape might work well.

For weight, I thought about filling the two end pipes with sand and gluing test caps on each of their ends. The test caps still allow the pipes to slip into the elbows.”

Add Anchors or Internal Weight for Stability
On a very windy day, a PVC stand can shake or even topple over. There are a couple solutions to this. Some people fill the PVC pipe sections with sand to add weight, or you can put short sections of Re-BAR inside the long legs. One GlockTalk forum member noted: “I built [a frame] almost identical to this. I also take four pieces of wire coathanger bent into an inverted “U” shape to anchor the frame to the ground. It is so light that wind will knock the stand over [without anchors].”

You can find photos of a similar home-made PVC target stand (with a slightly different rear section) on the Box of Truth website. This also employs a PVC tubing base with wood uprights. We’ve also seen all-PVC target stands, but we’ve found that it is easier to attach the cardboard to wood strips than to PVC pipe. Also, if the upper section is wood, you can fit different height targets, while using the same base.

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January 9th, 2020

GUN INFO 101 — Headspace Defined and Illustrated

Ultimate Reloader Brownells headspacing go gage gauge barrel gunsmithing
This illustration shows headspace measurement for the popular .308 Winchester cartridge, which headspaces on the shoulder. Image copyright 2015 Ultimate Reloader.

In this Brownells Tech Tip, Brownells gun tech Steve Ostrem explains what headspace is and why it’s one of the most critical measurements for nearly all firearms. Even if you’re an experienced rifle shooter, it’s worth watching this video to refresh your understanding of headspace measurements, and the correct use of “GO” and “NO-GO” gauges.

Headspace Definition
In firearms, headspace is the distance measured from the part of the chamber that stops forward motion of the cartridge (the datum reference) to the face of the bolt. Used as a verb, headspace refers to the interference created between this part of the chamber and the feature of the cartridge that achieves the correct positioning. Different cartridges have their datum lines in different positions in relation to the cartridge. For example, 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition headspaces off the shoulder of the cartridge, whereas .303 British headspaces off the forward rim of the cartridge.

If the headspace is too short, ammunition that is in specification may not chamber correctly. If headspace is too large, the ammunition may not fit as intended or designed and the cartridge case may rupture, possibly damaging the firearm and injuring the shooter. (Source: Wikipedia)

Forster Headspace diagram belted magnum rimfire

Go gauge gage NOGO no-go field gaugesHeadspace Gauges
Headspace is measured with a set of two headspace gauges: a “Go” gauge, and a “No-Go” gauge. Headspace gauges resemble the cartridges for the chambers they are designed to headspace, and are typically made of heat-treated tool steel. Both a “Go” and a “No-Go” gauge are required for a gunsmith to headspace a firearm properly. A third gauge, the “Field” gauge, is used (as the name implies) in the field to indicate the absolute maximum safe headspace. This gauge is used because, over time, the bolt and receiver will wear, the bolt and lugs compress, and the receiver may stretch, all causing the headspace to gradually increase from the “factory specs” measured by the “Go” and “No-Go” gauges. A bolt that closes on “No-Go” but not on “Field” is close to being unsafe to fire, and may malfunction on cartridges that are slightly out of spec. (Source: Wikipedia)

To learn more, read Brownell’s longer article Headspace Gauges and How to Use Them. Among other things, this explains the relative lengths of “Go”, “No-Go”, and “Field” gauges. The “Field” is actually the longest: “The GO gauge corresponds to the SAAMI (Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute) minimum chamber length, while the FIELD gauge usually matches the maximum chamber depth, or slightly less. NO-GO gauges are an intermediate length between minimum and maximum, that, technically, is a voluntary dimension. A firearm that closes on a NO-GO gauge and does not close on a FIELD gauge may not give good accuracy and may have very short cartridge case life from the ammunition re-loader’s standpoint.”

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January 8th, 2020

Primer Pocket Rocket — Another Reason to Use Eye Protection

Primer Blown Gas defect winchester casehead

A few years back, Our friend Grant Guess had a “close encounter” with a bad primer. An apparently defective primer caused part of the casehead on one of his rounds to blow out. This, in turn, allowed high pressure gas to vent through the damaged primer pocket. Take a good look, boys and girls. This is yet another very good reason to wear safety glasses. The cartridge was a 6.5-06, handloaded in necked-down Winchester-headstamp .270 Win brass. Grant reports:

“I had a blow through between the primer and the primer pocket today. The action was really smoking and I got a face full of gas. This was a reasonably light charge. Thank God for safety glasses.

I should also mention that it appears there is a 3/64 hole that is halfway between the primer and the primer pocket. Like it burned a small jet hole through both of them.”

Could this happen to you? It just might. On seeing this damaged case, one of Grant’s Facebook friends, Chris D., observed: “Search the internet, you will see a lot of these pin hole ‘in the corner’ failures. Obviously Winchester has some issues with the LR primers.”

Careful Examination Reveals Apparent Primer Defect
After this incident, Grant examined the damaged case: “I pinned the flash hole and it is not over-sized or under-sized. The primer clearly has an area where it had a defect. At [50,000 CUP], it doesn’t take much of a defect to cause issues. There was a slight bit of pucker-factor on the next shot….”

Primer Blown Gas defect winchester casehead

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January 8th, 2020

Dollars and $ense — Bargain 9mm Ammo Vs. Handloading

Sig Sauer P210 Legend

Everyone should have a 9mm Luger (9x19mm) pistol. The 9mm Luger round feeds/cycles great, recoil is moderate, and a vast array of excellent 9mm handguns are available. And, perhaps most importantly, quality factory ammo is affordable. In fact because 9x19mm ammo is produced in such quantity, it is some of the cheapest centerfire pistol ammo you can buy. Today we’ve found some great 9mm Luger ammo deals for you, with big-name factory stuff for under 18 cents per round.

At that price, it may not be worth reloading. Consider this — typical 9mm component costs easily approach fifteen cents per round even with free brass: Bullet ($0.08 – $0.10), Powder ($0.02), and Primer ($0.04). Given the costs of bullets, powder, and primers, it may not be worth reloading 9mm Luger, especially if you value your precious time!

HK H&K Heckler Koch P7 PSP P7M8 9mm Luger pistol

Should You Reload 9mm Ammo? Run the Numbers, Then Decide…
While this Editor reloads almost all his .45 ACP and .44 Magnum ammo, I generally shoot factory ammo in my 9mm Luger pistols. Why? When you give some reasonable value to the time you spend setting-up and operating your reloading press, it is hard to beat factory ammo at around $10 per 50-count box (i.e. $0.20/round). While once-fired 9mm brass is plentiful (and cheap), you can easily spend 15-16 cents per round just on bullet, powder, and primer. So reloading may only save you 4 or 5 cents per round. Hence if you load 200 rounds per hour (including set-up time), you only recoup $8 to $10 per hour (at best) for all your effort. You may decide, as I did, that my time was worth more than that.

Great Deals on 9mm Luger (9x19mm) Factory Ammunition

Sellier & Bellot 115gr FMJ at Brownells
$186.99 for 1000-rd Case
$15 OFF $125.00 with CODE M9D
Net Cost: $171.99 for 1000 rounds

9mm 9x19mm factory ammo deal sale bargain

Browning 9mm 115gr FMJ at Grafs.com
$10.99 per 50-rd box ($0.22/rd)
Flat Rate Shipping $7.95

9mm 9x19mm factory ammo deal sale bargain

Fiocchi 9mm 115gr FMJ at Natchez
$9.79 per 50-rd box ($0.20/rd)
Shipping Extra

9mm 9x19mm factory ammo deal sale bargain

CCI Blazer 9mm 115gr at Midsouth
$9.08 per 50-rd box ($0.18/rd)
Shipping Extra

9mm 9x19mm factory ammo deal sale bargain

Pistolet levedev Russian 9mm

HK H&K Heckler Koch P7 PSP P7M8 9mm Luger pistol

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January 4th, 2020

Box to Bench Load Development and Scope Tracking Target

Box to Bench Precision Scope tracking load development target

Box to Bench Precision (B2B) has developed an oversize (23.5″ x 30″) precisely-scaled target designed for Load Development and Scope Testing. This waterproof target is very innovative. On the target you’ll find clusters of aim points for various tasks. Upper left are orange aiming spots for testing various powder charges. In the upper right quadrant are more red aim points to be used when testing bullet seating depth. Running down the center of the target is a vertical line with horizontal marks showing precise MOA and Mil heights at 100 yards — use this feature to verify your click values. ORDER HERE.

This waterproof 23.5″ x 30″ target costs $5.00 from BoxtoBenchPrecision.com:

Box to Bench Precision Scope tracking load development target

And there’s more. In the lower right quadrant (far right) are three black targets to be used for chrono work. With these you can record cold velocity, hot barrel velocity and a “Final Velocity”. Over in the lower left quadrant, in the left-most column, are three dot targets for zeroing and recording group size with load data. Finally, four more black/white targets can be used for a scope box test (aka “shooting the square”). With a box test, you move from target to target, clicking in sequence to each corner of the square in sequence, eventually returning to your original aim point. If your scope tracks correctly, the last box test shot should end up right on top of the first shot.

Record the Entire Load Development Process on One Target
For those used to shooting at conventional bulleyes or benchrest targets, this target may seem confusing, but it can really help organize and simplify the process of load development. We like the idea of having a single, durable target that performs double-duty — serving for load development as well as scope checking. And we like the fact that the target is pretty strong — the maker says: “The target is Tear-Resistant and Water-Proof”. We’d expect a maker based in the Pacific NW to design a target that can handle wet weather.

Box to Bench Precision Scope tracking load development target
Previous version of target shown in photo. Current version has a larger and centered box test, and Tracking lines that are labeled in IPHY/MOA/MIL.

How to Order

So how much does all this target technology cost? A single, 23.5″ x 30″ target costs $5.00. A pack of three targets costs $14.25, while a five-target pack runs $22.50 (which works out to $4.50 per target). There is also a 100 meter version of this target for $4.25 each or $20 for five. Targets ship in a durable cardboard tube. To order these targets, visit the Box To Box Precision Online Store.

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January 3rd, 2020

Co-Ax, Rock Chucker, Summit — Three Press Comparison Test

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Forster Co-Ax Coax Summit single-stage Press Hornady Laurie Holland Target Shooter

“The press is the heart of the handloading operation, also traditionally the most expensive single tool employed…” — Laurie Holland

British competitive shooter Laurie Holland has reviewed three popular, single-stage reloading presses for Target Shooter Magazine (targetshooter.co.uk). Laurie bolted up a Forster Co-Ax, RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme, and RCBS Summit to his reloading bench and put the three presses through their paces. These three machines are very different in design and operation. The venerable Rock Chucker is a classic heavy, cast-iron “O”- type press that offers lots of leverage for tough jobs. The smaller RCBS Summit press is an innovative “upside-down” design with a large center column and open front. It offers a small footprint and easy case access from the front. The Co-Ax is unique in many respects — dies slide in and out of the upper section which allows them to “float”. The cartridge case is held in the lower section by spring-loaded jaws rather than a conventional shell-holder.

READ Laurie Holland Reloading Press 3-Way Comparison Review

If you are considering purchasing any one of these three presses, you should read Laurie’s article start to finish. He reviews the pros and cons of each press, after processing three different brands of brass on each machine. He discusses ergonomics, easy of use, press leverage, smoothness, priming function, and (most importantly), the ability to produce straight ammo with low run-out. The review includes interesting data on case-neck run-out (TIR) for RWS, Federal, and Norma 7x57mm brass.

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Forster Co-Ax Coax Summit single-stage Press Hornady Laurie Holland Target ShooterReview Quick Highlights:

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
“My expectations of the antediluvian RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme’s performance weren’t over high to be honest as I mounted it in the place of the Summit. As soon as I sized the first of the stretched RWS cases though, I saw why this press has been such a long-running favorite. The workload was considerably reduced compared to the other two presses and doing 40-odd cases took no time at all with little sweat — it just eats hard-to-size brass.”

RCBS Summit Press
“Despite its massive build and long-stroke operating handle, [the Summit] took more sweat than I’d expected, even if it was somewhat less work than with the Co-Ax. Although the Summit is apparently massive, I noticed that the die platform would tilt fractionally under the heaviest strains[.] It is nevertheless a very pleasant press in use and bullet seating was a doddle — the few examples tried proving very concentric on checking them afterwards. The optional short handle would be valuable for this task.”

Forster Co-Ax
“[On the Co-Ax], the operating handle is above the machine, located centrally here [with] twin steel links at the top end of the press dropping down to the moving parts. The Co-Ax incorporates a number of novel features, principally its automatic and multi-case compatible shell-holder assembly with spring-loaded sliding jaws, very neat spent primer arrangements that allow hardly any gritty residues to escape and foul the moving parts and, the snap-in/out die fitment that allows rapid changes and also sees the die ‘float’ in relation to the case giving very concentric results. I own this press and it meets my handloading needs very well.”

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January 1st, 2020

Reloading Bench — How to Optimize Case Neck Tension

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
One thing that plays a major role in building an accuracy load is neck tension [one of the factors that controls the “grip” on a bullet]. I think a lot of reloaders pretty much take this for granted and don’t give that enough thought.

So, how much neck tension is enough?

Thru the years and shooting both a wide variety of calibers and burn rates of powder, I’ve had the best accuracy overall with .002″ of neck tension. Naturally you will run into a rifle now and then that will do its best with something different like .001″ or even .003″, but .002″ has worked very well for me. So how do we control the neck tension? Let’s take a look at that.

First of all, if you’re running a standard sizing die with an expander ball, just pull your decapping rod assembly out of your die and measure the expander ball. What I prefer [for starters] is to have an expander ball that is .003″ smaller than bullet diameter. So for example in a .224 caliber, run an expander ball of .221″. If you want to take the expander ball down in diameter, just chuck up your decapping rod assembly in a drill and turn it down with some emery cloth. When you have the diameter you need, polish it with three ought or four ought steel wool. This will give it a mirror finish and less drag coming through your case neck after sizing.

Tips for Dies With Interchangeable Neck Bushings
If you’re using a bushing die, I measure across the neck of eight or ten loaded rounds, then take an average on these and go .003″ under that measurement. There are other methods to determine bushing size, but this system has worked well for me.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Proper Annealing Can Deliver More Uniform Neck Tension
Another thing I want to mention is annealing. When brass is the correct softness, it will take a “set” coming out of the sizing die far better than brass that has become to hard. When brass has been work hardened to a point, it will be more springy when it comes out of a sizing die and neck tension will vary. Have you ever noticed how some bullets seated harder than others? That is why.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Paying closer attention to neck tension will give you both better accuracy and more consistent groups.

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December 31st, 2019

Great Range Transport Case Made from Horse Grooming Box

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case box

Folks who load at the range need to bring a lot of gear — reloading presses, powder dispensers, scales, funnels, sizing/seating dies, brass prep tools and more. And there may be other important items to transport — such as ammo caddies, LabRadar mounts, over-size rest feet, and even barrel fans.

A rifle case works fine for carrying your scoped rifle, but you still need to organize all your reloading tools and other gear, and transport them safely from home to range and back again. Some guys have built their own loading tool-boxes from wood. Other may stuff gear in a couple of plastic range boxes. But clever Chris Covell came up with an even better solution.

Chris sourced a handsome, sturdy metal Horse Grooming Box from eBay. Chris reports the multi-feature metal box “works perfectly for reloading. My ChargeMaster is now out of the wind.”

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case boxBullets, Trickler, and Priming Tool on Top
On top, below the hinged metal lid, is a large compartment that holds Covell’s funnels, scales, priming tool, trickler and other vital gear (photo on right). This top compartment is deep enough to handle wide-mouth funnels with no problem.

Slide-Out Drawer with Dividers
Below the top level is a handy sliding drawer with multiple dividers. This is perfect for holding Covell’s inline seating dies, case-neck deburring and chamfering tools, among many other smaller bits and pieces.

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case box

In the bottom of the Horse Grooming box is a large compartment that holds bigger gear. In the bottom section, Covell places his RCBS Chargemaster Lite, along with a case-trimming tool, an arbor press, and various other bulky tools. Check it out:

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case box

Chris Covell’s Range Box was featured on the Benchrest Shooting and Gunsmithing Private Group Facebook Page. You may want to sign up for this Group — with membership you can access a wealth of information for accuracy-oriented shooters.

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case box

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December 28th, 2019

Case-Neck Chamfer Tools — Choosing the Right Option

Neck case chamfer tools Redding Forster Rocket model 15-p
Shown is the Redding Model 15-P Competition Piloted Inside Chamfering Tool with pilot rod that centers in the case flash hole. Also shown is a Forster 45° Rocket Tool.

There are a wide variety of reloading tools designed to cut a slight chamfer in case necks and deburr the edge of the case mouth. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for an effective tool. A basic “rocket-style” 45° chamfering tool, such as the Forster, actually does a pretty good job taking the sharp edge off case mouths, particularly if you use a little scotch-pad (or steel wool) to smooth the edge of the cut. The Forster chamfer tool, shown below, is a nicely-made product, with sharper cutting blades than you’ll find on most other 45° chamferers. It costs $20.99 at Brownells.com.

forster rocket 45 degree neck chamferer chamfer tool

Redding sells a handy piloted chamfering tool with a 15° inside cutting angle and removable accessory handle. This Redding Model 15-P chamferer works really well, so long as you have consistent case OALs. The pilot rod (which indexes in the flash hole) is adjustable for different cartridge types (from very short to very long). This ensures the concentricity of the inside neck chamfer to the case mouth. This quality tool ($35.99 at Brownells) works with cases from .22 to .45 Caliber.

Neck case chamfer tools Redding Forster Rocket model 15-p

Sinclair International offers a 28° carbide chamferer with many handy features (and sharp blades). The $29.99 Sinclair Carbide VLD Case Mouth Chamfering Tool will chamfer cases from .14 through .45 caliber. This tool features a removable 28° carbide cutter mounted in the green plastic Sinclair handle. It is on sale right now for $24.99 at Brownells. NOTE: A hex-shaft cutter head power adapter can be purchased separately for $14.99 (Sinclair item 749-002-488WS). This can be chucked in a power screwdriver or used with the Sinclair Case Prep Power Center.

Neck inside chamfer chamferer case neck tool

Many folks feel they can get smoother bullet seating by using a tool that cuts at a steeper angle. We like the 22° cutter sold by Lyman. It has a comfortable handle, and costs just $11.54 at Midsouth Shooters. The Lyman tool is an excellent value, though we’ve seen examples that needed sharpening even when new. Blade-sharpening is easily done, however.

K&M makes a depth-adjustable, inside-neck chamferer (“Controlled Depth Tapered Reaper”) with ultra-sharp cutting flutes. The latest version, which costs $51.70 at KMShooting.com, features a central pin that indexes via the flash hole to keep the cutter centered. In addition, the tool has a newly-designed handle, improved depth-stop fingers, plus a new set-screw adjustment for precise cutter depth control. We caution, even with all the depth-control features, if you are not careful, it is easy to over-cut, slicing away too much brass and basically ruining your neck. We think that most reloaders will get better results using a more conventional chamfer tool, such as the Forster or Redding 15-P.

K & M K&M neck chamferer reamer controlled depth

One last thing to note — tools like the K&M and the Sinclair chamferer are often described as VLD chamferers. That is really a misnomer, as bullets with long boat-tails actually seat easily with very minimal chamfering. In reality, these high-angle chamferers may be most valuable when preparing brass for flat-base bullets and bullets with pressure rings. Using a 22° or 28° chamferer can reduce the risk of cutting a jacket when using VLD bullets though — so long as you make a smooth cut.

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December 28th, 2019

Variances in Load Data — Why Load Manuals Don’t Always Agree

load manual sierra reloading hornady data

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks
One of the first things new reloaders notice is that load data varies between reloading manuals. The Sierra Bullets Technicians frequently get inquiries asking us to explain why the load data appears to be inconsistent. This article explains five key factors that can influence published load data.

Example of load data variances for two 168 grain bullets:

Sierra Reloading Manual Hornady Load Reloading

Here are five reasons why the load data varies:

The Bullet
Basically, the similarities in the .30 caliber 168 grain Match bullets (for example) end with weight and diameter. The bullets likely have dimensional differences such as bearing surface length. Bearing surface has a large effect on pressure and velocity. There are also differences in boat tail, flat base, ogive and over-all lengths, which each help determine the cartridge over-all-length (COAL). With different COAL’s, we can expect changes in pressure and velocity also. In some calibers there are differences in bullet diameter with different bullet manufacturers.

It is also worth noting that bullet manufacturers do not all use the same copper alloy for their jackets. This produces more or less friction that results in load pressures and velocities. The solid copper bullets also vary quite a bit in comparison to a lead core and copper jacketed bullet.

The Gun
Each gun is unique, even if you are using the same make, model, and caliber. Special consideration should be used to consider that not all firearm chambers are the same either, creating more variables that need consideration. There can be drastic differences in the throat length. This controls the amount of “jump” that a bullet experiences when the cartridge is fired.

The Powder
Within normal manufacturing tolerances, you can see some variation in a given powders burn rate between different lots of the same powder. So naturally when two different Manuals are produced, it would be doubtful that the same lots would be tested.

The Cartridge Cases
New cases are almost always near minimum specs in dimension. A load fired in a new case would likely have slightly more pressure that when fired in a re-sized case. This would certainly be true if we were loading into fire-formed cases that have had minimal re-sizing done. Fired cases that are full length resized most of the time be slightly larger than the new unfired cases. This gives you differences in case capacity. The same powder charge placed within a new case and a full length resized case will produce different pressure levels and probably different velocities.

Conditions
Temperature can cause pressure increases or decreases. Hot temperatures tend to cause pressures to increase, while cold temperatures will usually do the opposite. Humidity and altitude can impact pressures and velocities likewise.

Conclusion
As you can see, an amazing number of variables effect any load combination. With the differences in the manuals, you’re just seeing firsthand examples of what took place when the data was collected with that particular set of components and firearm. Think of a reloading manual as a report. In essence, a reloading manual says, “We tried this particular component combination, and these are the results we obtained.”

Remember that you may or may not reach the same maximum load safely. There is no “one load fits all bullets.” The minimum load data offers a safe place to start. The maximum load data listed should always be regarded as a safety guideline and not necessarily a goal! Your gun should shoot accurately without breaching the maximum load data. The best advice is: always start low and work your load up!

If you have questions about variances in load data or other reloading questions, please call our ballistic technicians at 1-800-223-8799 or send us an email at sierra [at] sierrabullets.com.

Sierra Bullets Blog reloading information

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December 27th, 2019

Guide to Gun Metals — What You Need to Know

Sweeney Guide to Gun Metal

4140, 4150, 316, 17-4, 6061, 7075-T6 — What is the significance of these numbers? No, they’re not winning lottery numbers. These are all designations for metals commonly used in firearm and barrel construction. 4140 and 4150 are carbon steels, with 4150 often used in mil-spec AR15 barrels. 316 and 17-4 are grades of stainless steel. 316 is “marine grade” stainless, while 17-4 has 17% chromium and 4% nickel. 17-4 is a harder steel used in barrels and receivers. 6061 and 7075-T6 are aluminum alloys. 6061 is “aircraft grade” aluminum, often used for rings and trigger guards, while 7075-T6 is a much stronger, heat-treated aluminum commonly used in AR15 uppers.

Sweeney Guide to Gun MetalYou can learn about all these metals (and more) in the online archives of RifleShooter magazine.

Written by Patrick Sweeney, RifleShooter’s Guide to Gun Metal summarizes the primary types of steel and aluminum used in gun and barrel construction. Sweeney explains the nomenclature used to define metal types, and he outlines the salient properties of various steel and aluminum alloys. This is a useful resource for anyone selecting components or building rifles. We recommend you print out the page, or at least bookmark it.

Metals by the Number
The number system for steel classification came from the auto industry. Sweeney explains: “The Society of Automotive Engineers uses a simple designating system, the four numbers you see bandied about in gun articles. Numbers such as 1060, 4140 or 5150 all designate how much of what [elements are] in them. The first number is what class—carbon, nickel, chromium, and so forth. The next three numbers [list other elements in the alloy]. 4140, also known as ordnance steel, was one of the early high-alloy steels. It has about 1 percent chromium, 0.25 percent molybdenum, 0.4 percent carbon, 1 percent manganese, around 0.2 percent silicon and no more than 0.035 percent phosphorus and no more than 0.04 percent sulphur. That leaves most of it, 94.25 percent, iron.”

Aluminum Alloys
Numbers are also used to differentiate different types of aluminum alloys. Sweeny writes: “Aluminum is used in firearms in two alloys: 7075 and 6061. 6061 is commonly referred to as ‘aircraft aluminum’ and has trace amounts of silicon, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. 7075 is a much stronger alloy and has markedly larger amounts of copper, manganese, chromium and zinc.” 7075 Aluminum has significantly better corrosion resistance, and that’s why it is used for AR receivers. The “T6″ you often see appended to 7075 refers to a heat-treating process.

Aluminum (or “Aluminium” in the UK) is a chemical element in the boron group with symbol Al and atomic number 13. It is a silvery-white, soft, nonmagnetic, ductile metal. Aluminum is the third most abundant element, and the most abundant metal, in the Earth’s crust. (Wikipedia)

Aluminum alloy table chart Silicon Maganese Zinc Copper Magnesium

To learn more about the metals used in your firearms’ barrels, rings, receivers, and internal parts, read Sweeney’s article in RifleShooterMag.com. Taking the time to read the article from start to finish will expand your knowledge of metal properties and how metals are chosen by manufacturers and gunsmiths. CLICK to Read Guide to Gun Metal.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions. Aluminum Alloy chart courtesy AluminiumDesign.net.
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