September 17th, 2014

Ten Commandments for Use of Electronic Scales

Denver Instrument, maker of the MXX and Timberline Series of precision balances, has created a helpful guide explaining how to get the best performance from a digital scale. Denver Instrument knows that, to achieve and maintain a very high level of accuracy with digital scales, they must be calibrated regularly, leveled properly, and kept away from sources of interference. Unfortunately, some reloaders treat their electronic scales as if the machines were toasters — something to place on a tabletop, plug into an outlet, then “set and forget.” There’s a better way to set up your scale and keep it functioning optimally. Here are ten guidelines provided by Denver Instrument. Follow these “Ten Commandments” and you’ll benefit:

Denver Instrument MXX-123

Denver Instrument MXX-123ONE: Thou shalt choose the best resting spot. The performance of your balance depends greatly on the surrounding environment. Choose a location away from the main traffic flow of the room, especially doors. Also be aware of heating and cooling vents as these produce air movement. You can adjust the environmental settings on your balance to provide the best performance in the chosen location. Balances must be placed away from magnets as they affect the weigh cell performance.

TWO: Thou shalt avoid vibrations. Vibrations can come from large machinery in production environments and from fume hoods in laboratories. An alternative to fume hoods are Power Safety Workstations which are designed specifically for use with a balance.

THREE: Thou shalt watch temperature changes. On an analytical balance a one degree temperature change can cause a 1 digit (0.0001g) drift. Although Denver balances have temperature correction built-in, it is still important to calibrate your balance when the temperature changes significantly. Choosing to place your balance in a temperature controlled room, away from sunlight, and calibrating often helps minimize the effects of temperature.

FOUR: Thou shalt calibrate often. Upon installation and each time the balance is moved you should calibrate your balance. For example moving an analytical balance to a location that is only 13 feet higher changes the weight reading from 200.0000 g to 199.9997 g; which means the result is 0.0003 g lighter than the actual mass.

FIVE: Remember to check the level. The instrument should be leveled upon installation with all feet (two front feet for round pan units, four feet for square pan units) touching the countertop. If the level changes, the balance should be re-leveled and recalibrated. As an example, a 200g sample would weigh 0.0025 g less when tilted at an angle of 0.3°.

SIX: Honor thy weights. Keep in mind that weights are only as reliable as their quality and certification. Remember, a 1 g does not weigh precisely 1.00000 grams. Weights should be recertified annually. Denver Instrument offers recertification services on all weights 1 mg to 5 kg. Check to make sure you have selected the proper weight class for your balance. The weight tolerance should be better than balance readability. Always use tweezers or gloves when handling weights as smudges and indentations change the value of the weight. Keep weights in cases so they don’t get scratched or dusty.

Denver Instrument TimberlineSEVEN: Thou shalt always use a small container and weigh in the center of the pan. Especially when using an analytical balance, the effects of air buoyancy increase as the sample container size increases. Using a small sample container will minimize the effects. Items placed on the pan provide a downward force. Placing them directly in the center of the pan keeps corner loading errors at a minimum.

EIGHT: Thou shalt not unplug. To perform within published speci-fications, balances must have power applied for 30 minutes to 48 hours depending on the resolution of the balance. Denver balances have a standby mode which turn the display to standby but keep power cycling through the electronics.

NINE: Thou shalt not ignore static. Static is one of the most common weighing “noises”. It can cause reading to appear too high, too low or just be unstable. Denver balances include grounding methods to reduce the effects of static. However sometimes extra supplies are needed. Consider anti-static weigh dishes, anti-static brushes or low tech ways to increase the humidity of the chamber like placing damp cotton balls or glass wool in a small vial in the corner of the analytical draft shield.

TEN: Thou shalt clean often. Dirty weigh pans and powder in weighing chamber can contribute to static issues and lead to a wide variety of problems. Denver weigh pans are made from stainless steel and can be cleaned using a variety of household and laboratory chemicals. A small paint brush can be used to get power away from the edges of the draft shield for easy clean up.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
September 14th, 2014

RCBS Lock-Out Die Helps Prevent Faulty Charges on Progressives

RCBS Lock-out dieIf you load pistol or rifle ammo with a progressive press, we strongly recommend you get a Lock-Out Die from RCBS. This unique reloading die will prevent your progressive press from advancing if the dispensed powder charge is more or less than about 0.3 grains too high or too low. The Lock-Out Die really works. Your Editor uses it on his RCBS 2000 progressive press. I can affirm that a Lock-Out Die has “saved my bacon” a half-dozen times over the years when there was an over-charge (which could cause a Kaboom) or a low charge (which could cause a squib load).

The Lock-Out Die works by using a central die detection rod that sets its vertical position based on the height of the powder column in the case. Through an ingenious design, if the powder column height is too low or too high, the rod locks in place as you start to pull the press handle. This halts the press before the ram can lift and the cartridge plate can advance. Unlike a beeping alarm system (which can be ignored or defeated), the Lock-Out Die physically stops the movement of the press ram and prevents a bullet being seated in the “problem” case.

RCBS Lock-out dieIt takes a bit of tweaking to get the Lock-Out Die detection rod setting just right, but once it is correctly positioned, the Lock-Out Die works smoothly in the background. The Lock-Out Die won’t interfere with the loading process unless it detects a high or low charge — and then it positively stops the progressive loading cycle.

While crafted for use in RCBS progressive presses, the RCBS Lock-Out Die can also be used on a Dillon XL Progressive (see video below) or Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive — though it does take up one station which could otherwise be used for a final crimp die (after the seating die). The RCBS 2000 has one more station than a Dillon 550/650, so it’s an ideal platform for using the Lock-Out Die.

Learn More at UltimateReloader.com
On the UltimateReloader.com website, run by our friend Gavin, you’ll find an excellent two-part series on the function and set-up of the RCBS Lock-Out Die. Part One explains how the Lock-Out Die functions, using cut-away illustrations. Part Two shows how to install and adjust the Lock-Out Die on various progressive presses. The video below shows setup of the RCBS Lock-Out Die on the Dillon XL-650 progressive press.

Images © 2011 UltimateReloader.com, used by permission.
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September 10th, 2014

TECH TIP: Handy Accessories for Your Gun Safe

October’s just around the corner — that means temperatures will be dropping soon in Northern climes. In a month or two, many of you will be putting your guns into storage for many months. To prevent rust from forming on your valuable firearms, you’ll want to control the temperature and humidity in your safe. By maintaining a warm temperature you can keep the relative humidity (in your safe) above the dew point and prevent moisture from condensing on your guns. One popular way to keep a safe warm is to use a Goldenrod. Though marketed as a “de-humidifier”, the Goldenrod tube is actually a simple electric heater. Placed in the bottom of your safe, the Goldenrod can help keep the relative humidity above the dew point.

Goldenrod for gun safes

Rope Lights — Light and Heat for Your Gun Safe
While Goldenrods work, they only provide heat, and Goldenrods typically retail for $20.00-$30.00. There is a less expensive solution that provides both light AND heat. A section of incandescent Rope Lighting will light up your safe AND warm the air. A 6-foot section of rope lighting costs about $6.00 at Lowes. The 6-foot strands can be linked together in longer chains. Rope Lighting can easily be installed in your safe with clips or velcro fasteners. One 6-foot long incandescent Rope Light draws about 18 watts of power — the same as an 18″ Goldenrod. Sheathed in plastic tubing, the incandescent Rope Lighting is slightly warm to the touch. A single 6-foot long strand of incandescent Rope Lighting maintains this Editor’s 23-cubic-foot indoor safe comfortably above 65° F all the time. (If you live in a colder area, or keep your safe in the garage, you may need a longer Rope Light, or a Rope Light in combination with a Goldenrod. Incandescent Rope Lights draw about 0.25 watts per bulb or about 3 watts per foot. Goldenrods draw about 12 watts per foot of length.)

Not All Rope Lighting is the Same — Incandescent vs. LED
Thus far, we’ve been talking about incandescent Rope Lights. For more money, you can also purchase energy-efficient LED ropes. LED Rope Lights draw much less electricity, but they won’t provide as much heat as incandescent Rope Lighting. It you use LED strands, you need to string longer sections to warm your safe. Or, just use LED strings for interior lighting only and then add a Goldenrod for heat.

Monitor Temp and Humidity with Thermometer/Hygrometer
To ensure that your safe’s interior is staying warm and dry, you can place a small temp/humidity sensor inside the safe. You can use either an Analog (dial-type) Thermometer-Hygrometer, or a battery-powered Thermometer-Hygrometer with digital read-out. Both digital and analog units can be purchased for $10 to $15 from internet vendors. Some of the digital units have dual temp sensors, so you can monitor the temperature both inside and outside your safe. That lets you gauge how well your safe-warming system is working.

thermometer-hygrometerthermometer-hygrometer

WARNING: As with all electrical products, use caution with rope lighting. Follow manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid placing ropes in direct contact with paper or other flammable objects. Monitor surface temperatures.

Permalink Tech Tip 2 Comments »
September 8th, 2014

Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN) — How Well Does It Work?

For years, many shooters have coated bullets with Moly (molybdenum disulfide) or Danzac (tungsten disulfide or “WS2″). The idea was to reduce friction between bullets and barrel. In theory, this could lengthen barrel life and extend the number of rounds a shooter can fire between cleanings.

hexagonal Boron nitride bullets

Moly and WS2 both have their fans, but in the last couple of years, some guys have switched to Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN), another dry lubricant. The advantage of HBN is that it won’t combine with moisture to create harmful acids. HBN is very slippery and it goes on clear, so it doesn’t leave a dirty mess on your hands or loading bench. Typically, HBN is applied via impact plating (tumbling), just as with Moly.

hexagonal Boron nitride bullets

HBN Results — Both on Bullets and Barrel Bores
Many folks have asked, “Does Hexagonal Boron Nitride really work?” You’ll find answers to that and many other questions on gunsmith Stan Ware’s popular Bench-Talk.com Blog. There Paul Becigneul (aka Pbike) gives a detailed run-down on HBN use, comparing it to other friction-reducers. Paul also discusses the use of HBN in suspension to pre-coat the inside of barrels. Paul observes:

We coated our bullets … how we had been coating with WS2. Now our bullets have a slightly white sheen to them with kind of like a pearl coat. They are so slippery it takes a little practice to pick them up and not drop them on the trailer floor. What have we noticed down range? Nothing different from WS2 other than the black ring on your target around the bullet hole is now white or nonexistent. Our barrels clean just as clean as with WS2. Your hands aren’t black at the end of the day of shooting and that might be the most important part.

Interestingly, Becigneul decided to try a solution of HBN in alcohol, to pre-coat the inside of barrels. Paul had previously used a compound called Penephite to coat the inside of his barrels after cleaning. Paul explains:

If Penephite was used because it was slippery wouldn’t HBN be better? … We called Jon Leist again, and talked to him about mixing HBN and 90% alcohol for a suspension agent to pre-lube our barrels. He though it sounded great but that the AC6111 Grade HBN would be better for this use. It would stand up in the alcohol suspension and cling to the barrel when passed through on a patch. We got some from Jonn and mixed it in alcohol 90%. We use about one teaspoon in 16 ounces of alcohol.

We started using it this fall and what we have noticed is that now that first shot fired out of a clean and pre-lubed barrel can be trusted as the true impact point. We use tuners so now I got to the line, fire two shots judge my group for vertical, adjust the tuner as needed or not, and after tune has been achieved go to my record targets. This use has saved us in time at the bench and bullets in the backstop.

You really should read the whole article by Becigneul. He discusses the use of barrel lubes such as Penephite and “Lock-Ease” in some detail. Paul also provides links to HBN vendors and to the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the various compounds he tested.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 13 Comments »
September 6th, 2014

NSSF Video Provides Helpful Scope Mounting Advice

Rifle scope mountingThe National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has created a video with helpful tips on mounting scopes, and adjusting the position of scopes to suit the shooter. This video, hosted by Ryan Cleckner, a former U.S. Army Sniper instructor, is aimed primarily at “hard-holders” who shoot prone. The video should prove useful for tactical shooters, varmint hunters, and F-Class shooters. Ryan does explain that, if you plan to use your rifle in standing, sitting, and prone positions, you need to set the scope in a “happy medium” position that provides sufficient eye relief in all shooting positions.

Ryan has an interesting method for leveling a rail-mounted, flat-bottomed scope (i.e. one with a flat surface under the turret housing). He simply inserts a small metal bar between rail and scope, and aligns the straight edges along the bottom of the scope turret housing with the flats on the rail (see photo). Watch how he does this on the video — it’s pretty clever. One other highlight of the video is the segment where Ryan shows how to adjust the ocular on his Leupold scope to provide the best (sharpest) image of the reticle. Ocular/reticle adjustment is covered in minutes 11:00-13:00 of the video.

YouTube Preview Image

The video has some faults. Some of the advice, such as “always mount the scope as low as possible” is counter-productive for benchrest shooters who want to keep their heads OFF the stock. In addition, Ryan does not explain that, with a variable power scope, proper eye relief may change considerably with the level of magnification. If you have an 8-32X scope, for example, you can set everything up perfectly for 8X magnification, only to find that you need a LOT more eye relief at 32X. We recommend positioning the scope so it provides sufficient eye relief at the highest magnification you regularly use.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
September 4th, 2014

Harris Bipod Adapter for Flat-Bottomed Stocks

Harris #9 hb9 flat-bottom flat foreend stock adapter accurateshooter.comFlat-bottomed stocks are great for benchrest shooting, but their geometry is not ideal for mounting conventional Harris bipods, which were originally designed for stocks with a curved underbelly. Long-time Forum member Mark S. wanted to know if there is a way to make a stud-mounted bipod more secure on a flat-bottomed stock: “I have started shooting some steel matches that require shooting from bipods. My best gun for the job is a 6BRX in a MBR benchrest stock. I have installed a stud, but the bipod is still wanting to turn sometimes. What do you use?”

Here’s a solution for Mark and others using Harris bipods on flat-bottomed stocks with studs. Get the Harris-made #9 (HB9) adapter. Costing just $21.05 (at Midsouth), the HB9 adapter provides an extended contact surface with pads, so the bipod will fit securely on your flat fore-end.The HB9 adapter also has a center cut-out for the swivel stud so the bipod adapter aligns properly on the underside of your stock:

Harris #9 hb9 flat-bottom flat foreend stock adapter accurateshooter.com

Midsouth Shooters Supply sells the Harris #9 (HB9) flat-bottom stock adapter for $21.05, part number 053-9. CLICK HERE to order.

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
September 1st, 2014

Tuning Balance Beam Scales for Precision and Repeatability

While many folks enjoy the convenience of an electronic powder scale/dispenser such as the RCBS Chargemaster, some hand-loaders still prefer to use a traditional balance beam. Balance beam scales are simple, compact, and don’t suffer from electronic “glitches”. Morever, even if you use a digital dispenser at home, when you’re doing load development at the range, a balance-beam scale may be more convenient. A scale doesn’t require electrical power, so you don’t need to bring battery packs or string long power cables. Just bring some kind of box to shelter your beam scale from the wind.

Tuning Balance Beam Scale

While designs like the RCBS 10-10 are decent performers as built, they can be made much more precise (and repeatable), by “tuning” of key parts. Forum member Scott Parker optimizes a variety of popular beam scales, including the Ohaus 10-10 (USA-made model), RCBS 10-10 (USA-made model), RCBS 5-10, Lyman M5, Lyman D5, and others. You send Scott your scale, he tunes the key components, tests for precision and repeatability, and ships it back to you. The price is very affordable ($65.00 including shipping in USA).

Scott tells us: “I have tuned several 10-10s. They all have turned out very sensitive, consistent and hold linearity like a dream. If only they came that way from the factory. The sensitivity after tuning is such that one kernel of powder registers a poise beam deflection. For repeatability, I remove the pan and replace it for the zero 10 times. The zero line and the poise beam balance line must coincide for each of those 10 tries. I then set the poises to read 250.0 grains. I remove and replace the pan 10 times with the calibration weight. For linearity, the poise beam balance line and the zero line should coincide within the line width. This is roughly one half a kernel of powder. For repeatability, the poise beam balance line must return to that same balance point ten times. I then adjust the poises back to zero and recheck the zero. I have a master’s degree in chemistry, thus I am very familiar with laboratory balances. Email me at vld223 [at] yahoo.com or give me a call at (661) 364-1199.”

The video above, created by British shooter Mark (aka 1967spud), shows a 10-10 beam scale that has been “tuned” by Scott Parker. In the video, you can see that the 10-10 scale is now sensitive to one (1) kernel of powder. Mark also demonstrates the’s scale’s repeatability by lifting and replacing a pan multiple times. You can contact Mark via his website, www.1967spud.com. To enquire about balance-beam scale tuning, call Scott Parker at (661) 364-1199, or send email to: vld223 [at] Yahoo.com.

Video tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
August 25th, 2014

AR Ejector Mod For Improved Reliability with Larger Cartridges

TECH TIP by Robert Whitley, AR-X Enterprises LLC
Over the years, while working with various AR-15 cartridges that require a larger bolt-face bolt (i.e. bigger than a 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem bolt-face, like those cartridges that use a 6.8 SPC bolt or the bolt face suitable for the 6.5 Grendel-based cartridges), I have found that there is an increased potential for a certain type of jam if a modification to the standard “Mil-Spec”, square-edged ejector is not made.

The original AR-15 square-edged ejector design was made for a much smaller-diameter bolt face and the smaller diameter 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem case, and it works perfectly in that application. However, as people have adapted the AR-15 platform to shoot bigger cartridges, some parts have been modified to accept the larger cartridges (i.e. bigger bolt-face bolts for the 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel, and different extractors), yet other parts have been all but ignored. One of these “ignored” parts has been the ejector. Most of the larger-bolt-face AR-15 bolts still use the standard “Mil-Spec”, square-edged 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. ejector. That’s the problem. But there is a simple, reliable fix!

Robert Whitley AR-X Enterprises AR AR15 Bolt jam fix ejector mod

Chamfering AR Ejector for Improved Reliablity with 6mm, 6.5mm and 6.8mm Cartridges
With the larger bolt face and the larger-diameter AR cases, the old-style “Mil-Spec” ejector can cause infrequent but still annoying jams if the ejector is not modified. The jam can occur when a cartridge case feeds up and out of the right side of the magazine, and as it does so, the back of the case must slide across the bolt face and sideways over top of the ejector if it is to center up to the chamber and feed in. If the side of the case catches on the sharp-edged ejector you can get a jam. (See picture above).

Fortunately there is an easy fix for this. One way is to take the ejector out and spin it in a lathe or cordless drill and machine or grind it and round or chamfer the sharp edge. (See picture of rounded ejector next to square edged ejector).

Robert Whitley AR-X Enterprises AR AR15 Bolt jam fix ejector mod

Quick Fix Alternative — Bevel Your Ejector
Another “quick fix” is to leave the ejector in the bolt and chamfer the sharp edge with something like a Dremel tool. (See picture). This fix is easy to do and permanently resolves this potential feeding jam issue. There are no downsides to this modification if done right and I would recommend this modification for the ejectors in all larger bolt-face AR-15 bolts.

Robert Whitley AR-X Enterprises AR AR15 Bolt jam fix ejector mod

Robert Whitley AR-X Enterprises AR AR15 Bolt jam fix ejector mod

This gunsmithing tip provided by Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises LLC, 199 North Broad Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. Phone: (215) 348-8789. Website: 6mmAR.com.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
August 19th, 2014

Anschütz Will Open Importation and Service Center in Alabama

Anschütz now has its own importation hub in the USA. This new facility, located in Trussville, Alabama, will operate as a direct extension of the parent company, J.G. ANSCHÜTZ GmbH & Co.KG of Germany. Having its own importation facility will help Anschütz supply rifles to the American market more efficiently. Steven Boelter, President of Anschütz North American (NA) operations, tells us that that the new Alabama facility will allow Anschütz to import a wider range of products and carry a larger standing inventory. That’s good for rimfire and air rifle customers.

Anschutz rifle rimfire adjustable stock

The new importation/distribution center will soon be supported by an in-house Anschütz service center that will handle warranty repairs and custom upgrades. This will offer Anschütz after-sales service for all company products, as well as warranty support, repairs, spare parts, and tech info. (This new service center will operate as an adjunct to other existing target and air rifle service centers within the USA.) Learn more about the soon-to-be launched service center at www.anschutznorthamerica.com.

Anschütz NA does not sell directly to consumers, but if you are interested in a particular Anschütz product, you can contact the Anschütz’s staff in Alambama. They will answer your questions or connect you with a current Anschütz dealer. The established Anschütz distribution chain and main dealer network in the US will continue to operate as before.

Anschutz north america Anschütz rifle hunting

Anschütz North America
www.anschutznorthamerica.com
7661 Commerce Lane
P.O. Box 129
Trussville, AL 35173-2837
Phone: 205-655-7500

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August 19th, 2014

Why You Should Wear Safety Glasses

In response to a Bulletin article about Protective Eyewear, one of our Canadian readers posted a personal story. His account demonstrates the importance of wearing eye protection whenever you shoot — no matter what type of firearm you are using — even air rifles. We hope all our readers take this to heart. All too often at rifle matches we see shooters, even some top competitors, risking their vision by failing to wear eye protection.

Red Ryder BB Gun safetyEye Protection — Lesson Learned
by Nicholas from Canada
As a boy on a mixed farm on the plains the first shooting stick I owned was a Red Ryder BB gun. My Dad bought it for me as I showed a keen interest in the shooting and hunting sports. I was about 9 years old at the time.

We had literally thousands of sparrows in our large farm yard and they liked to roost on the steel railings in the barn loft. I took to slowly thinning out their ranks by flashlight at night as these little winged pests settled in the farm buildings.

One evening as I slayed sparrow after sparrow in the barn loft — with about a dozen farm cats following me to consume these easy meals, I fired at another bird centered in my flashlight beam.

However, my aim was a bit low — and the copper pellet hit the steel beam square on. Instantly I felt a sharp pain as the BB bounced back and hit me squarely between the eyes on the bridge of my nose – drawing blood from the partial penetration into the skin. A half inch either way and I’d have lost an eye!

Never, never, never shoot at any target with a steel background with any firearm, even a BB gun – is the hard lesson I learned, and wear the best shooting glasses that money can buy!

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT!!

Editor’s Comment: Among competitive pistol shooters, the use of safety eyewear is universal. You’ll never see Rob Leatham, Julie Golob, or Jerry Miculek competing without eye protection — for good reason. The handgun sports’ governing bodies effectively enforce mandatory eye protection policies. We wish the same could be said for competitive rifle shooting. We often see benchrest, High Power, and F-Class competitors shooting without eye protection. We’ve heard all the excuses, yet none of them trump the safety considerations involved.

We recommend that all shooters and hunters employ eye protection whenever they use firearms or are at a location where live fire is taking place. You only have two eyes. A tiny bullet fragment or ricochet is all it takes to cause permanent blindness in one or both eyes. As rifle shooters, we place our eyes a couple inches away from a combustion chamber operating at pressures up to 70,000 psi. I know quite a few guys who will religiously put on safety glasses when running a lathe or a drill press, yet the same guys won’t use eye protection when shooting their rifles — simply because it is “inconvenient”. That’s nuts. It doesn’t matter is you are a cub scout or a multi-time National Champion — you should wear eye protection.

Be wise — protect your eyes. To learn more about eyewear safety standards, and to learn about the latest options in ANSI Z87-certified protective eyewear, read our article on Eye Protection for Shooters.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
August 16th, 2014

Video Shows How to Hydro-Form 6 Dasher Cases

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

6 Dasher Case Hydro-Forming Demonstration:

6mm Dasher hydroforming case die hornday

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

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

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

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

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

Story tip from Body Allen. We welcome reader submissions.

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August 10th, 2014

Common Reloading Mistakes, and Their Cures — The Stuck Case

This article originally appeared in the Sinclair International Reloading Press.

We have all been there…..you place a piece of tumbled brass in the shell-holder of your press, raise it into the die, and suddenly it is like somebody hit the brakes. The case is stuck in the die. Your first instinct is to reverse it out. You crank on the handle, and BANG! The rim rips off the case head and you are looking at a piece of brass stuck in the die.

A stuck case is one of the boo-boos that all of us reloaders have faced from time to time. If proper lubrication is applied, then it should not be a problem. No matter if you are a seasoned reloader or new to it, this situation can happen. Take your time, use the proper procedures, and you will be back in business in no time! This article explains how to avoid stuck cases (through proper lubrication) and how to use a stuck case removal system.

What Causes Stuck Cases
One of the first common mistakes reloaders face is the stuck case. It can be caused by too much or too little lube. Too much and a vacuum can be formed causing the case to become suctioned into the die. Too little lube and friction is the culprit. So what is the cure? There is no exact cure, but the best lube that we have found so far is just a dab of Imperial Sizing Die Wax on your fingers and applied in a thin coat on the body of the case, not the shoulder or neck. Too much of this wax can cause the vacuum effect, or can eventually load your die up with gobs of residue. If it is applied to the shoulder area, or the leftover wax moves up into the shoulder region of the die, you will see dents or dimples in the shoulder. [AccurateShooter.com Editor's Note: For normal full-length sizing of small cases such as 220 Russian/PPC, 6mmBR, 6.5 Grendel, or 6.5x47 Lapua we recommend Ballistol (aerosol) lube. It is very slippery, goes on very thin, and does not gum up the die.]

A great way to ensure that your dies are clean is to use a simple chamber mop with a dab of your favorite solvent on it and clean out the die. Be sure all of the solvent is out after cleaning by spraying the die out with Quickscrub III or use a clean chamber mop. If you are storing your dies, you can apply a thin coat of a good oil to protect the steel such as TM oil or Starrett M1 Spray.

Using a Stuck Case Removal Kit
If you do stick a case in your die there are a few good stuck case removal kits available. Each one works in a similar fashion. I have found the Hornady kit very effective and easy to use.

Basically what you do is remove the die from the press. Unscrew the decapping assembly and pull it out as far as you can. You then need to drill/tap threads into the stuck case head (this is why it is suggested to unscrew the decapping assembly as far as you can to get it clear of the drill bits). Once this is done screw the die back into the press. You then install the included shellholder attachment on the shellholder ram, and thread it into the case via a small wrench. With some elbow grease you can reverse the stuck case out of the die with the leverage of the press, and not damage the die.

However if the case is stuck….REALLY stuck, you may pull out the threads on the case and you are still left with a stuck case in the die without any way to pull it out. If the case is really difficult to remove even with the use of a stuck case removal kit, do not try to be Hercules with the press ram. Here is a trick that may work. Take the die with the stuck case and place it in your freezer for a couple of hours. Then repeat the removal with the cold die. The freezing temperatures may cause the brass to contract, and make removal easier. If this does not work it is recommended to send it to the die manufacturer. They will be able to remove the case without damaging the die.

Another fix if you can remove the decapping assembly completely is to use a tap hammer and a punch or small wooden dowel to knock the stuck case out. This isn’t the best way since it is very possible that you will damage the die internally or externally on the threads, or both. Send the die to the manufacturer to have this done properly. You will be happier in the long run.

This article appears courtesy Sinclair International. It first appeared in Sinclair’s Reloading Press Blog.

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