On some internet shooting forums, self-declared “experts” advise new rifle shooters to stick to low-end factory rifles. These “experts” (many of whom don’t own a single really accurate rifle), claim that it will take years for a new shooter to learn how to shoot a rifle accurately. So, the argument goes, the accuracy offered by a precision-chambered rifle, with a custom barrel, is “wasted” on a new shooter.
We disagree with that viewpoint, at least when it comes to rifles shot from a rest. We’ve seen relatively new shooters, with help from a skilled mentor, do remarkably well with precision rifles right from the start. With a good bench gun, many new shooters can shoot well under 1 MOA on the first day. Certainly it takes time for a complete novice to learn how to handle the gun and to work the trigger smoothly. However, this editor has personally seen some inexperienced shooters try their hand at benchrest shooting, and within few month they are doing very well indeed at club shoots.
Accurate Rifles Reward Progress As Novices Build Skills
For bench shooting, we think a highly accurate rifle is a much better training device for a new shooter than a typical, cheap factory sporter. With a gun capable of 1.5-2.0 MOA at best, you can never really determine if a “flyer” is you or the gun. Conversely, when a novice shoots a gun that can put 5 shots through one ragged hole, if a shot goes way high or low, the shooter knows his aim, trigger control, or gun-handling is to blame. He (or she) can then correct the problem. And when the shooter does everything right, he or she will see a nice tight group on the target. The accurate rifle provides more meaningful feedback and it rewards progress. That helps the novice become a better shooter in a shorter period of time.
A while back, Forum Member Preacher and his “bunny hugger” niece from California proved this point. The young lady, with almost no shooting experience, took Preacher’s 6-6.5×47 and shot a sub-quarter-MOA, 3-shot group at 350 yards. Don’t tell her she needs to stick to a cheap factory rifle. Preacher reports: “My niece flew in from the west coast and came up to visit. When she saw a few of my full-blown varmint rifles, she wanted to shoot one. She did a super job even if she IS a ‘bunny hugger’. She pulled the 1.5 ounce Jewell on a few fired cases to check out the trigger pull and then got in behind the gun and put three shots into a 350-yard target with a one-inch circle.” We measured her group at 0.822″ (0.224 MOA). Don’t tell Preacher that accuracy is “wasted” on novices. He joked: “I sure don’t want her shooting at me ….”
Rifle Features BAT Action, Krieger Barrel, and Russo Laminated Stock:
For those who are interested, Preacher’s rifle features a BAT 3-lug action, 30″ Krieger 7.5-twist heavy contour barrel, and Russo stock (with clear coat by Preacher). Chambered in 6-6.5×47 Lapua, this gun “shoots the 108gr Bergers very well” according to Preacher. Yep, we agree with that — even when a novice “bunny-hugger” does the trigger-pulling.
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Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011
There’s a simple, inexpensive “miracle device” that can cut your groups in half. If you’re not using this device, you’re giving away accuracy. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Using windflags may actually improve your accuracy on target much more than weighing charges to the kernel, or spending your life savings on the “latest and greatest” hardware.
Remarkably, many shooters who spend $3000.00 or more on a precision rifle never bother to set up windflags, or even simple wood stakes with some ribbon to show the wind. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, a varminter, or someone who just likes to punch small groups, you should always take a set of windflags (or some kind of wind indicators) when you head to the range or the prairie dog fields. And yes, if you pay attention to your windflags, you can easily cut your group sizes in half. Here’s proof…
Miss a 5 mph Shift and Double Your Group Size
The table below records the effect of a 5 mph crosswind at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You may be thinking, “well, I’d never miss a 5 mph let-off.” Consider this — if a gentle 2.5 mph breeze switches from 3 o’clock (R to L) to 9 o’clock (L to R), you’ve just missed a 5 mph net change. What will that do to your group? Look at the table to find out.
Values from Point Blank Ballistics software for 500′ elevation and 70° temperature.
Imagine you have a 6mm rifle that shoots half-MOA consistently in no-wind conditions. What happens if you miss a 5 mph shift (the equivalent of a full reversal of a 2.5 mph crosswind)? Well, if you’re shooting a 68gr flatbase bullet, your shot is going to move about 0.49″ at 100 yards, nearly doubling your group size. With a 105gr VLD, the bullet moves 0.28″ … not as much to be sure, but still enough to ruin a nice small group. What about an AR15, shooting 55-grainers at 3300 fps? Well, if you miss that same 5 mph shift, your low-BC bullet moves 0.68″. That pushes a half-inch group well past an inch. If you had a half-MOA capable AR, now it’s shooting worse than 1 MOA. And, as you might expect, the wind effects at 200 and 300 yards are even more dramatic. If you miss a 5 mph, full-value wind change, your 300-yard group could easily expand by 2.5″ or more.
If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle with a good barrel, you are “throwing away” accuracy if you shoot without wind flags. You can spend a ton of money on fancy shooting accessories (such as expensive front rests and spotting scopes) but, dollar for dollar, nothing will potentially improve your shooting as much as a good set of windflags, used religiously.
If you asked a group of shooters to explain the difference between CUP and PSI, the majority would probably not be able to give a precise answer. But, for safety reasons, it’s very important that all hand-loaders understand these important terms and how they express cartridge pressures.
The ANSI / SAAMI group, short for “American National Standard Institute” and “Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute”, have made available some time back the voluntary industry performance standards for pressure and velocity of centerfire rifle sporting ammunition for the use of commercial manufacturers. [These standards for] individual cartridges [include] the velocity on the basis of the nominal mean velocity from each, the maximum average pressure (MAP) for each, and cartridge and chamber drawings with dimensions included. The cartridge drawings can be seen by searching the internet and using the phrase ‘308 SAAMI’ will get you the .308 Winchester in PDF form. What I really wanted to discuss today was the differences between the two accepted methods of obtaining pressure listings. The Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) and the older Copper Units of Pressure (CUP) version can both be found in the PDF pamphlet.
CUP Pressure Measurement
The CUP system uses a copper crush cylinder which is compressed by a piston fitted to a piston hole into the chamber of the test barrel. Pressure generated by the burning propellant causes the piston to move and compress the copper cylinder. This will give it a specific measurable size that can be compared to a set standard. At right is a photo of a case that was used in this method and you can see the ring left by the piston hole.
PSI Pressure Measurement
What the book lists as the preferred method is the PSI (pounds per square inch or, more accurately, pound-force per square inch) version using a piezoelectric transducer system with the transducer flush mounted in the chamber of the test barrel. Pressure developed by the burning propellant pushes on the transducer through the case wall causing it to deflect and make a measurable electric charge.
Q: Is there a standardized correlation or mathematical conversion ratio between CUP and PSI values?
Mahin: As far as I can tell (and anyone else can tell me) … there is no [standard conversion ratio or] correlation between them. An example of this is the .223 Remington cartridge that lists a MAP of 52,000 CUP / 55,000 PSI but a .308 Winchester lists a 52,000 CUP / 62,000 PSI and a 30-30 lists a 38,000 CUP / 42,000 PSI. It leaves me scratching my head also but it is what it is. The two different methods will show up in listed powder data[.]
So the question on most of your minds is what does my favorite pet load give for pressure? The truth is the only way to know for sure is to get the specialized equipment and test your own components but this is going to be way out of reach for the average shooter, myself included. The reality is that as long as you are using printed data and working up from a safe start load within it, you should be under the listed MAP and have no reason for concern. Being specific in your components and going to the load data representing the bullet from a specific cartridge will help get you safe accuracy. [With a .308 Winchester] if you are to use the 1% rule and work up [from a starting load] in 0.4 grain increments, you should be able to find an accuracy load that will suit your needs without seeing pressure signs doing it. This is a key to component longevity and is the same thing we advise [via our customer service lines] every day. Till next time, be safe and enjoy your shooting.
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Forum member Mike T. (aka “Watercam”), has cleverly adapted a tubegun cheek piece to conventional fiberglass and wood stocks. The cheek piece hardware comes from Competition Machine and is the same as used on Gary Eliseo’s tubegun stocks. Here is Watercam’s Project Report:
Installing Tubegun Cheek Piece on Conventional Gun Stock
All of my match rifles are equipped with thumb-wheel adjustable cheek pieces for the best of reasons — adjustments can be made while in position, on target. I’ve learned that variations in position, terrain, and vertical angle all demand adjustability to achieve optimal cheek weld.
I wanted a cheek piece for my hunting and tactical type stocks that gave the same adjustability without having to cut a chunk off of my butt stocks. It needed to be affordable and easy to install. I also wanted a unit that would not push my head laterally away from the centerline of the scope or iron sights. Turns out I already had what I needed on my Gary Eliseo B-1 tubegun. I ran the idea past Gary, who said: “If you’ll be the guinea pig I’ll send the hardware”.
Using Gary’s hardware, I mounted Eliseo alloy thumb-wheel adjustable cheek pieces on a Bell & Carlson Medalist hunting stock and a Boyd’s laminate tactical stock. Read Forum Discussion.
Building Version One on Bell & Calson Stock
I had a Bell & Carlson Medalist stock for a Mauser 98 chambered in 9.3×62. This test rifle was enough of a thumper to reveal if the metal cheek piece could handle strong recoil.
I started by drilling three 1/2″ holes into the top of the comb to match the two pillars and one threaded shaft on the cheek piece. I used aluminum tubing to make guides for each and epoxied them in place. Inletting the oval hole for the thumb wheel was reasonably straight forward and the fiber reinforced foam in the buttstock offered enough support. A large flat washer epoxied underneath where the thumbwheel lay gave a smooth bearing surface. Total adjustment (with 2.25″ pillars and shafts) is just about an inch. I chose to trim the bottom of the skirt of Gary’s cheek plate so as to allow better position behind the scope for me and allow maximum adjustment even with the cheek piece of the stock. Set screws could be used instead of the thumb-wheel or in conjunction with it. In the end it was exactly what I envisioned and works great! The only thing left to do is paint the metal to match the stock.
Version Two — Installed on Boyds Laminated Tactical Stock
Watercam’s second metal cheek piece installation was on a laminated tactical stock. This Boyds stock did have a movable comb, but the original adjustable cheek section was too awkward to adjust from position. So I adapted the Eliseo cheek piece to to the Boyds stock, as you can see:
Cheek piece installation for both stocks was straight-forward, and the new cheek pieces work every bit as well the systems on my match rifles. Aluminum tubes epoxied in place guide the rods and threaded shank. A matching-diameter flat washer epoxied under the wheel provides smooth bearing surface. The glass-filled filler of the butt stock is plenty strong enough to support the unit. A set screw and knob can be added to lock in changes if so desired.
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In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics focuses on training. Bryan says that training is key for success in Long Range shooting: “Training in the sense that you want to want to refine your fundamentals of marksmanship — your sight alignment, your trigger control. You should practice those things enough that they become second nature and you don’t have to think about them. Keep in mind, it’s not just good enough to train, you have to learn how to train. You need to learn how to practice effectively, to get the most out of everything you do.”
Bryan says that success in Long Range shooting is not just about the hardware. It’s what’s between your ears that really counts: “The most important element in Long Range shooting is your knowledge — your understanding and practice of fundamentals of marksmanship, as well as your understanding of ballistics. You have to be able to fire the rifle, execute good shots that will put your rounds on target, but you also need to make intelligent sight corrections that will accurately account for the effects of gravity drop, and wind deflection, to center your group on those targets”.
Litz Competition Shooting Tips
Competition TIP ONE. Improving your scores in long range competition is a constant process of self-assessment. After each match, carefully analyze how you lost points and make a plan to improve. Beginning shooters will lose a lot of points to fundamental things like sight alignment and trigger control. Veteran shooters will lose far fewer points to a smaller list of mistakes. At every step along the way, always ask yourself why you’re losing points and address the issues. Sometimes the weak links that you need to work on aren’t your favorite thing to do, and success will take work in these areas as well.
Competition TIP TWO. Select your wind shooting strategy carefully. For beginners and veterans, most points are typically lost to wind. Successful shooters put a lot of thought into their approach to wind shooting. Sometimes it’s best to shoot fast and minimize the changes you’ll have to navigate. Other times it’s best to wait out a condition which may take several minutes. Develop a comfortable rest position so you have an easier time waiting when you should be waiting.
Competition TIP THREE. Actively avoid major train wrecks. Sounds obvious but it happens a lot. Select equipment that is reliable, get comfortable with it and have back-ups for important things. Don’t load on the verge of max pressure, don’t go to an important match with a barrel that’s near shot out, physically check tightness of all important screws prior to shooting each string. Observe what train wrecks you and others experience, and put measures in place to avoid them.
Here’s a significant new addition to our knowledge base for Long-Range shooting. Hornady has released a new Ballistics Calculator that employs bullet profiles derived from Doppler radar testing and 3D projectile modeling. Hornady’s Patent Pending 4DOF™ Ballistic Calculator provides trajectory solutions based on projectile Drag Coefficient (not static G1/G7 ballistic coefficients) along with the exact physical modeling of projectiles and their mass and aerodynamic properties. This new 4DOF (Four Degrees of Freedom) calculator also accounts for spin drift and the subtle VERTICAL effects of crosswinds.
We strongly recommend you watch this video from start to finish. In greater detail than is possible here, this video explains how the 4DOF System works, and why it is more sophisticated than other commercially-offered Ballistics calculators. There’s a LOT going on here…
Aerodynamic Jump from Crosswind Calculated
According to Hornady, the 4DOF Ballistics Calculator “is the first publicly-available program that will correctly calculate the vertical shift a bullet experiences as it encounters a crosswind.” This effect is called aerodynamic jump. The use of radar-derived drag profiles, correct projectile dynamics, aerodynamic jump, and spin drift enable the Hornady® 4DOF™ ballistic calculator to provide very sophisticated solutions. Hornady says its 4DOF solver is “the most accurate commercially available trajectory program … even at extreme ranges.”
“Current ballistic calculators provide three degrees of freedom in their approach — windage, elevation, and range — but treat the projectile as an inanimate lump flying through the air,” said Dave Emary, Hornady Chief Ballistician. “This program incorporates the projectile’s movement in the standard three degrees but also adds its movement about its center of gravity and subsequent angle relative to its line of flight, which is the fourth degree of freedom.”
Using Doppler radar, Hornady engineers have calculated exact drag versus velocity curves for each bullet in the 4DOF™ calculator library. This means the 4DOF™ calculator should provicde more precise long range solutions than calulators that rely on simple BC numbers or drag curves based with limited data collection points. Emary adds: “The Hornady 4DOF also accurately calculates angled shots by accounting for important conditions that [other ballistic] programs overlook.”
“This calculator doesn’t utilize BCs (Ballistic Coefficients) like other calculators,” added Jayden Quinlan, Hornady Ballistics Engineer. “Why compare the flight of your bullet to a standard G1 or G7 projectile when you can use your own projectile as the standard?” That makes sense, but users must remember that Hornady’s 4DOF projectile “library” includes mostly Hornady-made bullets. However, in addition to Hornady bullets, the 4DOF Calculator currently does list seven Berger projectiles, six Sierra projectiles, and one Lapua bullet type. For example, Sierra’s new 183gr 7mm MatchKing is listed, as is Berger’s 105gr 6mm Hybrid.
This Video Explains How to Use Hornady’s New 4DOF Ballistics Calculator
Using the 4DOF™ Ballistic Calculator:
The Hornady 4DOF Ballistic Calculator provides trajectory solutions based on projectile Drag Coefficient (not ballistic coefficients) along with exact physical modeling of the projectile and its mass and aerodynamic properties. Additionally, it calculates the vertical shift a bullet experiences as it encounters a crosswind, i.e. “aerodynamic jump”. The use of drag coefficients, projectile dynamics, aerodynamic jump, and spin drift enable the 4DOF Ballistic Calculator to accurately measure trajectories even at extreme ranges. It is ideal for both long range and moderate distances and is available for the low-drag precision bullets listed in the drop down menu of the calculator. For calculating trajectories of traditional hunting and varmint bullets using BCs (ballistic coefficients), you can use Hornady’s Standard Ballistics Calculator.
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Our take on Bore-Store Gun sleeves is simple: They work great, so buy them and use them — for ALL your valuable firearms.
These thick, synthetic-fleece sacks cushion your guns, preventing nicks and scratches. The breathable fabric wicks away moisture, and the fibers are coating with corrosion inhibitors. I personally use Bore-Stores for in-safe storage with all my guns, and I have never had one of my guns rust inside a Bore-Store, even when I lived a stone’s throw from the ocean.
Bore-Stores are offered in a wide range of sizes, so you can find something to fit everything from a Snub-nosed revolver to a 32″-barrelled 50 BMG. Rifle-size Bore Stores can be purchased for $12.00 – $21.00 from Brownells. For long F-Class or tactical rifles, we recommend the 10″x52″ Scoped Shotgun Bag, Brownells item 132-000-003. You can also order direct from the Bore-Store manufacturer, Big Spring Enterprises, www.BoreStores.com. Big Spring will also craft custom sizes on request.
Get Your Guns Out of Foam-lined Cases — They Are Rust Magnets
For long-term storage, just about the worst thing you can do (short of leaving your rifle outside in the rain) is to store firearms in tight, foam-padded cases. The foam in these cases actually collects and retains moisture from the air, acting as the perfect breeding ground for rust.
Remember, those plastic-shelled cases with foam interiors are for transport, not for long-term storage. Don’t repeat the mistake of a wealthy gun collector I know. He stored four valuable Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers in individual foam-padded cases, and locked these away in his gun safe. A year later, every one of his precious SAAs had rusted, some very badly.
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It’s summer time. That means many of our readers are on the road (attending major shooting matches or enjoying summer vacations). How do you do your reloading chores while living like a Gypsy for a few weeks? Here’s a solution from Forum member Dave Gray (U.S. Army Retired).
Dave is a self-declared “full-time RVer” who spends most of his time on the road. Behind his Ram 3500 pickup, Dave tows a huge 41-foot Heartland Cyclone toy hauler featuring a 12X8 foot garage in the rear. In the rear garage area, which holds a Smart Car, Dave has set up a removable reloading bench complete with RCBS Rockchucker single stage press and Dillon progressive press.
Reloading Bench Mounts to RV Wall with Brackets
Dave explains: “I used a 2″X6″X5′ board for the bench. It’s perfect for my needs, and is easy to disassemble. I made it this small so that I can park my Smart Car in the garage during travel to my destinations. The bench, attached to the wall frames, is very solid. The presses’ centers are 3″ and 6.5″ from the brackets. [There are] four bolts on the wall into aluminum wall frame and 3 bolts in the bench. If I ever have to replace the current board, I’ll do so with oak or birch or hickory. When I’m not reloading, I remove the presses and store them in a protected space. I can easily attach other equipment to the bench by using C-Clamps.” Dave’s “rolling reloading room” looks very well thought-out. We commend Dave for his inventiveness.
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Are you a do-it-yourself kind of guy with a creative eye? Then you’ll love the Target Generator from the folks at ShooterShed.com. This free, interactive webpage allows you to design a variety of fun targets, including grids, benchrest-type Score Shooting targets, sight-in targets, and even playing card targets. Choose the paper size and orientation (vertical or horizontal), then select the number of target elements on the page. For example, you could have four (4) bulls or 52 playing cards. You can include a grid on the target, or tell the program to include load information blocks. For bullseye targets, you can control the number, color, and spacing (diameter) of the rings. LINK to TARGET GENERATOR.
The program provides a preview of each target you generate. If you like a particular design, save the file, and then print as many targets as you want. Check it out, this program is fun and handy to use. Here are four (4) targets your Editor created just for this article. With a bit of practice, you can be generating your own custom targets in minutes. Have fun.
About the Creator of the Target Generator
The excellent Target Generator program was created by Rod Brown of Sheridan, Wyoming. Rod tells us: “I build custom rifles and coach shooters. I’ve got a 100-yard range out my back door. I shoot short- and long-range benchrest competitively around the country. I’m a full-time software development consultant and an FFL holder. When I’m not developing custom software for my clients, I’m usually fiddling in the shop, building a custom benchrest rifle, traveling to a match, chambering a barrel, or reloading some ammunition.
Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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Think you can “get by” without protective eyewear? This story provides yet another example of why you should wear safety glasses every time you go shooting. You only have one set of eyes — they are much too precious to risk.”
Bad Primer Blasts Gas Through Side of Casehead
Our friend Grant Guess recently 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, hand-loaded 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….”
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Berger Twist-Rate Stability Calculator
On the Berger Bullets website you’ll find a handy Twist-Rate Stability Calculator that predicts your gyroscopic stability factor (SG) based on mulitiple variables: velocity, bullet length, bullet weight, barrel twist rate, ambient temperature, and altitude. This cool tool tells you if your chosen bullet will really stabilize in your barrel.
How to Use Berger’s Twist Rate Calculator
Using the Twist Rate Calculator is simple. Just enter the bullet DIAMETER (e.g. .264), bullet WEIGHT (in grains), and bullet overall LENGTH (in inches). On its website, Berger conveniently provides this info for all its bullet types. For other brands, we suggest you weigh three examples of your chosen bullet, and also measure the length on three samples. Then use the average weight and length of the three. To calculate bullet stability, simply enter your bullet data (along with observed Muzzle Velocity, outside Temperature, and Altitude) and click “Calculate SG”. Try different twist rate numbers (and recalculate) until you get an SG value of 1.4 (or higher).
Gyroscopic Stability (SG) and Twist Rate
Berger’s Twist Rate Calculator provides a predicted stability value called “SG” (for “Gyroscopic Stability”). This indicates the Gyroscopic Stability applied to the bullet by spin. This number is derived from the basic equation: SG = (rigidity of the spinning mass)/(overturning aerodynamic torque).
If you have an SG under 1.0, your bullet is predicted not to stabilize. If you have between 1.0 and 1.1 SG, your bullet may or may not stabilize. If you have an SG greater than 1.1, your bullet should stabilize under optimal conditions, but stabilization might not be adequate when temperature, altitude, or other variables are less-than-optimal. That’s why Berger normally recommends at least 1.5 SG to get out of the “Marginal Stability” zone.
In his book Applied Ballistics For Long-Range Shooting, Bryan Litz (Berger Ballistician) recommends at least a 1.4 SG rating when selecting a barrel twist for a particular bullet. This gives you a safety margin for shooting under various conditions, such as higher or lower altitudes or temperatures.
Story idea from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Many of our readers use AR-type rifles for Service Rifle matches, varmint hunting, 3-Gun competition, or defensive use. AR-platform rifles can be configured in a multitude of ways to suit the application. But if you plan to put together your own purpose-built AR rifle, how do you get started?
For AR Do-It-Yourselfers, we suggest reading Glen Zedicker’s book, the Competitive AR-15 Builders Guide. Following on Zedicker’s New AR-15 Competitive Rifle book (2008), the Builders Guide provides step-by-step instructions that will help non-professional “home builders” assemble a competitive match or varmint rifle. This book isn’t for everyone — you need some basic gun assembly experience and an aptitude for tools. But the AR-15 Builders’ Guide provides a complete list of the tools you’ll need for the job, and Zedicker outlines all the procedures to build an AR-15 from start to finish.
One of our Forum members who purchased the AR-15 Builders Guide confirms it is a great resource: “Much like any of the books Mr. Zediker puts out this one is well thought-out and is a no nonsense approach to AR building. I can not stress how helpful this book is from beginner to expert level.”
Along with assembly methods, this book covers parts selection and preparation, not just hammers and pins. Creedmoor Sports explains: “Knowing how to get what you want, and be happy with the result, is truly the focus of this book. Doing it yourself gives you a huge advantage. The build will honestly have been done right, and you’ll know it! Little problems will have been fixed, function and performance enhancements will have been made, and the result is you’ll have a custom-grade rifle without paying custom-builder prices.” Creedmoor Sports sells this Zediker AR-15 book and many other excellent shooting books. Visit www.creedmoorsports.com/category/Books or call 1-800-CREEDMOOR.
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We know you guys like do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. And we also know that our readers like anything that helps a rifle sit more securely in the bags, and track better on recoil. Here’s a little accessory you can make yourself for pennies that will help rifles with conventional (non-benchrest) stocks ride the rear bag better.
This DIY Bag-Rider is simple in design and easy to make. The invention of Forum member Bill L. (aka “Nomad47″), this is simply a short section of PVC pipe attached to the bottom of a wood stock with a couple of screws. The back half of the PVC tube is cut at an angle to match the lower profile of the stock. Nomad47 painted the PVC Bag-Rider black for sex appeal, but that’s not really necessary.
In the top photo you can see Nomad47’s bagrider attached to a Savage varminter. In the photo below, the PVC bag-rider tube is fitted to an F-TR style rig with a green, laminated thumbhole stock. This rifle also features a Savage action with a custom barrel and “wide-track” bipod. (Note: to be legal in F-Class competition, the muzzle brake would have to be removed.)
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Here’s a cool product that can help you level your front rest and rear bag, level your scope, align your target frame, and perform a myriad of tasks around the house. The Digital AngleCube (aka Electronic Level and Protractor Gauge) is basically a high-tech level that gives you exact angular read-outs to within 0.2 degrees. That’s a lot more precise than any bubble level.
Numerous Shooting-Related Applications
For you position shooters who like to run angled sights, this tool will help you set the rear sight and front tower to exactly the same angle. For High Power guys with 3-way and 4-way adjustable buttstocks, this digital angle gauge can help you quickly and precisely set buttstock angle and cast-off. Even tactical shooters and long-range hunters can use this device to confirm exact shot angle, with greater precision than a plastic protractor or even an expensive Angle Degree Indicator (ADI). Heck you can even use the thing as an anti-cant device (if you don’t mind the extra weight). We’re sure that our clever readers can find even more uses for a digital angle read-out tool.
The AngleCube Digital Level sells on Amazon.com for $29.95. It comes with magnets on the sides so you can attach the tool to any ferrous metal surface for a “hands-free” reading. You can find similar devices in hardware and home improvement stores. One of these square, magnet-equipped electronic protractor/levels is made by INSIZE. The illustration below shows how the INSIZE gauge can be used in the field.
Story Sourced by Edlongrange.
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A while back, the American Rifleman magazine published an excellent article showing how to construct a rock-solid Reloading Bench. This bench is very well-designed, with many deluxe features, such as an upper drawer with fitted slots for die boxes, and large lower drawers with 100-lb rated slides to store heavy materials or tools. If you have good wood-working skills this would be an excellent project. You can download a detailed set of Bench Blueprints showing all dimensions and listing all needed materials.
The author, Dave Campbell, offers good advice on building the bench top: “I ripped a sheet of 3/4″ AC plywood into two 24″ wide pieces and cut them to 72″ long. Then I glued them together to form a 72″ long, 1 1/24″ thick top. The trick here is to keep the edges smooth and flat so that the laminate will adhere properly and without voids. I chose a light grey laminate finish for the top because it’s easier to see what I am working on and keep clean. If you have never worked with laminate, remember it’s prudent to glue and rout the edges flush before gluing on the top. The top was attached to the carcass with eight steel L-shaped angle brackets and No. 10×1 1/4″ wood screws.”
Larry Medler has come up with another smart little invention–a simple, inexpensive Empty Chamber Indicator for rimfire rifles. It is made from a section of plastic “weed-wacker” line and a wooden ball from a hobby shop.
Larry explains: “At all Highpower rifle matches, silhouette matches, and other shooting events I have attended, Open Bore Indicators (OBI), or what are now called Empty Chamber Indicators (ECI) have been mandatory. The NRA’s yellow ECI for Highpower rifles is easy to use and has been well-received by the shooters. However, I had not seen a truely workable ECI for 22 rimfire rifles–until I visited Michigan’s Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club where I saw juniors using ECIs for their 17 Caliber Air Rifles. Someone at the club made the empty chamber indicators by attaching an 8″ piece of weed wacker line to a 1″-diameter wooden ball, painted bright yellow. I now make similar ECIs for the 22 rimfire silhouette matches I run.”
Construction Method: First, drill a 7/64” diameter hole all the way through the 1″-diameter wooden ball. Then enlarge half of that 1″-long hole using a 13/64” diameter drill. Next insert an 8″ piece of heavy duty (0.095″ diameter) weed wacker line through the ball, leaving about 2″ on the side with the bigger-diameter hole. Then, with the short end of the line, fold over the last half-inch so the line is doubled-over on itself. Then slide the line into the ball, stuffing the doubled-over section through the 13/64″ (large) hole. Finally, pull the longer end of the line until the doubled-over section is flush with the outside of the ball. This gives you a sturdy line attachment without messy adhesives. When the assembly’s complete, hold the ECI by the tail and dip the ball in yellow paint. If you’re making more than one ECI, you can drill horizontal holes in a spare block of wood and use that as a drying rack.
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Monitor Barrel Heat with Pocket Infrared Gauges
You never want to run the barrel of a precision rifle too hot. Excessive barrel heat kills accuracy, increases copper fouling, and can cause rapid barrel throat wear. Over the years people have devised various means to cool their barrels — from electric fans to dunking in tubs of ice water.
But how do you know if your barrel is too hot? Consider a “non-contact” thermometer that reads your barrel’s “infrared signature”. The RadioShack or Kintrex pocket-sized, non-contact IR thermometers are ideal for shooters at the range or in the prairie dog fields. Both are handy and inexpensive — costing about twenty bucks for the yellow RadioShack gauge, and $30 for the Kintrex.
Just 3.2″ long, and weighing a mere 1.3 ounces, the waterproof RadioShack and Kintrex thermometers are small enough to carry in your pocket, and will easily stow in any range bag/box. The Kintrex unit measures from -67 to 428 °F (-55 to 220 °C), while the cheaper RadioShack model measures from -27 to 230º F (-33º to 110º C). Kintrex is a respected manufacturer that also makes larger hand-held IR thermometers for industrial and shop applications. A little infrared thermometer like this is a gadget that every serious shooter should have. Given the cost of replacing barrels these days, can you afford NOT to have a temp gauge for your match or varmint barrel?
TECH TIP — How to Get More Consistent Readings
When using IR Themometers on shiny steel barrels, sometimes the polished surface throws off the beam, causing inconsistent readings. You can solve this problem by simply putting a piece of masking tape on the area where you take your reading. Some other folks use a grease pencil to create a non-reflective spot to read. Forum Member Jon B. says: “I used an Exergen infrared in the HVAC industry. Without the grease crayon they sold, you couldn’t get an accurate reading with shiny metals.”
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In our Shooters’ Forum, many questions are asked about QuickLOAD software — how to get best results, how to use the advanced features, how to adjust for temperature and so on. To help answer those questions, here’s a short feature we first ran during SHOT Show 2012. You can also CLICK HERE for a very detailed explanation of QuickLOAD in our main site.
At SHOT Show, we had the chance to meet with German software engineer Hartmut Broemel, creator of QuickLOAD software. This software program, while not a substitute for conventional load manuals, allows shooters to evaluate a wide range of powders and bullets, comparing potential loads on the basis of predicted pressures, velocities, load density and projectile in-barrel time.
We took the opportunity, in the video below, to explain some of the fine points of QuickLOAD for our members. QuickLOAD, sold by Neconos.com, helps reloaders understand how changing variables can affect pressures and velocities. It can predict the effect of changes in ambient temperature, bullet seating depth, and barrel length.
In the video below we explain how to adjust the program for true case capacity, bullet seating into the lands, and other important factors. If you are a new QuickLOAD user, or are contemplating buying the $152.95 program, you should watch the video. The program isn’t perfect, but it can accelerate the load development process, and it can save you money by narrowing down the list of appropriate powders for your cartridge.
No other product currently available to serious reloaders offers as much predictive power as QuickLOAD, and you’ll find your money well spent just for the vast collection of data on bullets and cartridges. With a couple mouse-clicks you can instantly get the specifications of hundreds of bullets and cartridges. Likewise, in a matter of seconds, you can compare load density for a half-dozen powders, or compare the projected velocities of one cartridge versus another.
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Well folks, it’s July 1st already — the means we’re moving into “peak heat” summer conditions. It’s vitally important to keep your ammo at “normal” temps during the hot summer months. Even if you use “temp-insensitive” powders, studies suggest that pressures can still rise dramatically when the entire cartridge gets hot, possibly because of primer heating. It’s smart to keep your loaded ammo in an insulated storage unit, possibly with a Blue Ice Cool Pak if you expect it to get quite hot. Don’t leave your ammo in the car or truck — temps can exceed 140° in a vehicle parked in the sun.
To learn more about how ambient temperature (and primer choice) affect pressures (and hence velocities) you should read the article Pressure Factors: How Temperature, Powder, and Primer Affect Pressure by Denton Bramwell. In that article, the author uses a pressure trace instrument to analyze how temperature affects ammo performance. Bramwell’s tests yielded some fascinating results.
For example, barrel temperature was a key factor: “Both barrel temperature and powder temperature are important variables, and they are not the same variable. If you fail to take barrel temperature into account while doing pressure testing, your test results will be very significantly affected. The effect of barrel temperature is around 204 PSI per F° for the Varget load. If you’re not controlling barrel temperature, you about as well might not bother controlling powder temperature, either. In the cases investigated, barrel temperature is a much stronger variable than powder temperature.”
Powder Heat Sensitivity Comparison Test
Our friend Cal Zant of the Precision Rifle Blog recently published a fascinating comparison test of four powders: Hodgdon H4350, Hodgdon Varget, IMR 4451, and IMR 4166. The first two are Hodgdon Extreme powders, while the latter two are part of IMR’s new Enduron line of propellants.
Reader Mike Etzel has come up with a simple, cost-effective way to apply moly or danzac coatings to your bullets. And you won’t need any expensive gear other than your regular vibratory tumbler and some small plastic containers.
Mike explains: “For a number of years I have been using a very convenient way of coating my projectiles with DANZAC in a tumbler. Instead of using a separate tumbler filled with DANZAC and stainless steel balls for coating applications, use small resealable plastic cake or pudding cups filled with stainless balls and DANZAC. Each cup will accommodate between 20 to 70 projectiles depending on caliber once the polishing balls and DANZAC are added. When I need to polish some cases, I insert the sealable plastic container(s) into the polishing material in the tumbler, add cases to the media, and in the process clean cases and coat the projectiles simultaneously in one tumbler. This does two operations in one session, saving on time and resources.”
While Mike uses DANZAC (Tungsten DiSulfide or WS2), you can use the same impact-tumbling-in-a-cup method to moly-coat your bullets, or to apply HBN (Hexagonal Boron Nitride).
TIPS for COATING your BULLETS, by “GS Arizona”
1. Start with Clean Bullets. This is simple enough, but some people overlook it and others overdo it. Get the bullets out of the box, wash them with warm water and dish soap and dry them. No need for harsh chemicals, after all, we’re only removing some surface dirt from shipping and maybe some left over lanolin from the forming process. Don’t handle them with bare hands once they’re clean, your skin oils will contaminate them.
2. Get Everything Hot — Real Hot. This is probably the single most important element in producing good-looking moly-coated bullets. I put the tumbler, the drum and the bullets out in the sun for at least 30 minutes before starting and then do all the tumbling in direct sunlight. On a summer day in Arizona, everything gets to the point that its uncomfortably hot to handle. If you are tumbling in the winter, you should heat the bullets in some form, a hair dryer can be useful, but they will cool off in the drum if you’re tumbling in cold temperatures. Your best bet is to plan ahead and do your coating in the summer. I coated about 3000 bullets in a couple of days recently to see me through our winter season (we’re a bit reversed from the rest of the country in terms of shooting season).
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