September 17th, 2021

Color Your Bullet Tips to Define Shot Groups at Long Range

sharpie felt marker bullet color tip painting group paper target

When shooting groups at long range on paper it can be difficult to distinguish which bullet holes belong to a particular sequence of shots. If, for example, you shot three 5-shot groups at 600+ yards on a paper target, you would have 15 bullet holes on the target (assuming no misses). But at that distance it would be difficult to see the holes on target (even with a spotting scope). Accordingly, when you inspected the target up close, it would be hard to tell which shots belonged to which group. You might have a vague idea, but couldn’t be sure, without a target camera recording the shot sequence.

Here is a method to separate multiple shots into specific groups so you can better evaluate your load and shooting skills. The trick is pretty simple — mark your bullets with a color from a Sharpie or other felt marking pen. If you are shooting three 5-shot groups, mark five with red, five with green, and five with blue (or purple). Then, when you inspect the target, you can identify the group placements by the colors that appear on the paper.

sharpie felt marker bullet color tip painting group paper target

Round Robin: Using colors you can shoot “Round-Robin” to evaluate seating depths, neck tension, or other variables without having the shot order (and barrel heating) affect group sizes unequally. For example you might have three different neck tensions, each marked with a different color on the bullets. Then shoot Red, Blue, Green in that sequence for five total shots per color.

Smart Tip to Show Colors More Vividly

If the bullet inks are not showing up on your target paper clearly, here is a simple trick that can make the colors “bleed” to be more visible. In your range kit, bring some alcohol solution along with some Q-tips. Then dab the shots on the paper target lightly with wet Q-Tips. Here is the front of a target before and after application of alcohol:

sharpie felt marker bullet color tip painting group paper target

Forum Member NewbieShooter explains: “Dabbing a bit of alcohol on the bullet holes with Q-Tips makes the color pop a bit… especially on the back side.” See below:

sharpie felt marker bullet color tip painting group paper target

In short order you will see the colors spread into the paper, clearly marking the shot holes by distinguishing colors. If you were shooting a dark bullseye, view the the BACK side of the target to see the colors on a light background.

Credits: Bullet Tips photo by Forum Member Dave Way; Target photos by Forum Member NewbieShooter; Story tip from Boyd Allen.

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September 16th, 2021

Pyramyd Air Resource for Hunting with Air Rifles

Pyramyd Air Hunting Map Game list permission

In recent years, airgun manufacturers have come out with increasingly potent air rifles capable of shooting hefty projectiles at serious velocities. Some of these new air rifles pack serious punch, making them viable for certain game hunting purposes. Did you know that hunting with an airgun is legal in most states?

Pyramyd Air Hunting Map Game list permission
Ataman M2R Tact Carbine Type 1 Air Rifle can launch a .357-caliber projectile at 900 fps MV with 144 ft-lbs of Muzzle Energy.

This Video Shows Squirrel Hunting with Air Rifles in the UK

Interactive Airgun Hunting Map from Pyramyd Air

In conjunction with the Airgun Sporting Association (ASA), Pyramyd Air has compiled state-specific rules and regulations for airgun hunting. These are displayed on an interactive map. The Airgun Hunting Map allows users to choose a type of game they want to hunt, or select a state and get complete and up-to-date information on the local airgun hunting laws. This map shows the states where it is legal to hunt with airguns, and also lists state restrictions on huntable species (each state is different). The resource lists 100+ species — everything from squirrels to elk and everything in between.

Pyramyd Air Hunting Map Game list permissionAirgun hunting by state: Simply click on the state, and it will list all the species that are allowed to be hunted in that state.
Airgun hunting by specific game: Choose any state, and click on the species name you want, and it will highlight all the states where that particular species can be legally hunted.

The interactive map has 8 categories: Big Game, Small Game, Furbearers, Nuisance Species, Exotic Species, Upland Bird, Predator Species, Waterfowl. To see the states which approve a particular category, click the applicable category on the Pyramyd Air Hunting Map.

Shown below are the results for Big Game and Small Game Species.

Pyramyd Air Hunting Map Game list permission

IMPORTANT: You MUST click on the state where you are planning to hunt, and see the specific species allowed for airgun hunting. Just because a state shows RED for “Big Game” does NOT necessarily mean you can hunt deer or elk or even groundhogs!

Read this again!! Each state has a specific list of game animals permitted to be hunted with an Air Rifle. You absolutely MUST look at the individual list for the particular State! For example, though California appears as a Big Game-approved red state, you may NOT hunt deer or feral hogs there with an air rifle. Only these species may be hunted with airguns in CA: Aoudad Sheep, Coyote, Jackrabbit, Opossum, Pigeons, Quail, Rabbit, Skunk, Squirrel, Sparrow, Starlings, Turkey, Weasel.

In other states, the list of allowed species is VERY different. So, you MUST check the list for the state where you will hunt!! To access the list, go to the Pyramyd Air Hunting Map Page and click on the particular STATE.

Pyramyd Air Hunting Map Game list permission

IMPORTANT: Because of the ever changing laws, use the Pyramyd Interactive Hunting Map as a guide, but always consult with your local state authorities to be sure there are no recent state changes impacting hunting laws and regulations in that particular state!

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September 15th, 2021

Watch and Learn — Five Great Shooting USA Videos

Shooting USA video parallax wind reading Sherri Gallagher scope mounting AR cleaning field-stripping

For decades, ShootingUSA has been a leading video resource for the shooting sports and hunting. This popular cable TV show covers shooting matches, and provides expert information on precision shooting, gun maintenance, optics, and defensive firearms use. Here are five interesting videos all worth watching. Learn about wind-reading, gun maintenance, and optics.

1. Reading the Wind — SGT Sherri Jo Gallagher of USAMU

Sergeant Sherri Jo Gallagher of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) shows us how to read the wind in given conditions, and how to apply your wind assessment when aiming down-range. During her time with the USAMU, Sherri won the National High Power Championship, and was the first woman in history to earn the U.S. Army “Soldier of the Year” honors. Sherri comes from a legendary family of shooters — she was raised by Ace Marksman Mid Tompkins and mother Nancy Tompkins, the first female to win the NRA National High Power Championship.

2. Field-Stripping and Cleaning AR-Platform Rifles

Let’s face it — Black Rifles run dirty. On AR-platform rifles, the gas system blows carbon and powder residues back into the action and bolt carrier group. Accordingly, you need to clean ARs early and often, and you should fully disassemble the bolt carrier to access parts and recesses which accumulate greasy lube and hard carbon. This helpful video shows how to field-strip and clean AR-platform rifles. If you own an AR, this is definitely worth viewing. With over 1.9 million views, this is the #1 most-watched video on Shooting USA’s YouTube Channel.

2. MOA Defined — Jim Scoutten Explains Minute of Angle

Minute of Angle (MOA) — this is the most common measurement of group size, and hence rifle accuracy. You hear about shooters hoping to shoot 1 MOA or “half-MOA”, but many folks could not give you a precise definition. In fact MOA is an angular measurement that equates to one-sixtieth of one degree of Arc. In this video, host John Scoutten defines MOA. He then demonstrates how MOA translates to accuracy on target. He demonstrates one-half-MOA accuracy with a Les Baer Custom rifle. This company offers a three-shot, half-MOA guarantee for its rifles.

4. How to Adjust for Parallax

Most precision rifle scopes have parallax adjustment, typically a knob on the left side of the scope. but what exactly is “Parallax” and why do you need to adjust optics to ensure the parallax setting is optimal? In this Shooting USA video, John Paul of JP Rifles defines parallax and explains why you need to set parallax correctly for the distance to your target. The video then shows how to adjust parallax correctly, a process which should start with the scope’s ocular focus.

5. How to Mount a Riflescope

When mounting a scope you want to use quality rings, and ensure that the scope is leveled properly. In addition, you need to adjust the fore/aft position of the scope so that eye relief is correct. Ideal scope position may be different when shooting from the bench vs. shooting prone. In this Shooting USA video John Paul of JP Rifles reviews scope mounting basics.

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September 14th, 2021

Yes You Need to Clean Muzzle Brakes — Here’s How to Do It

barrel cleaning muzzle brake break device port carbon removal

Many hunters and precision rifle competitors use muzzle brakes because these ported devices reduce felt recoil significantly. That make s real difference getting back on target for quick follow-up shots. While many rifle owners appreciate the benefits of muzzle brakes, they may also neglect their brakes, allowing hard carbon and powder residue to build up. Not good. You should regularly clean your muzzle brake to remove fouling and carbon build-up.

barrel cleaning muzzle brake break device port carbon removal

As Mark Edgreen posted: “Carbon build up on the crown and in the brake is a recipe for poor accuracy.” And another gunsmith reported that customers complained about guns that “shot out way too early” but they only needed to have the brakes cleaned.

Gunsmith and PRS/NRL competitor Jim See recently reminded his Facebook Fans about the importance of cleaning muzzle brakes: “How many times do I have to say it? You need to maintain your rifles. Clean your muzzle brakes people!”. Jim, who runs Elite Accuracy LLC, notes that hard carbon build-up in brakes can definitely harm accuracy. Look at this example:

barrel cleaning muzzle brake break device port carbon removal

Muzzle Brake Cleaning Methods
There are various methods for cleaning a brake, we list a variety of techniques, but we would start with NON-corrosive ultrasound. You’ll want to remove the muzzle device before doing these tasks.

1. Use Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine with cleaning solution. This may be the most efficient method: “I place my brake in the ultrasonic cleaner. Shiney as new.” (Jim Moseley).

2. Spray with commercial Carb Cleaner and brush. Then apply anti-corrosion coating.

3. Soak in half hydrogen peroxide and half vinegar. Suggestion: “Let sit over night and carbon melts off. Brush remaining carbon off, rinse and put the brake back on.” Apply anti-corrosive before mounting.

4. Soak in 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar and brush. (Be sure to apply anti-corrosion coating, such as Eezox, after soaking).

5. Tumble in liquid solution with stainless pins. Comment: “Comes out slightly faded, but perfectly clean on stainless, non-painted brakes though.” Warning — do NOT do this with threaded brakes — tumbling could affect threads of screw-on brakes. Also, tumbling can harm painted or Cerakote finishes.

Gunsmithing Tip: By fitting the muzzle brake so that the barrel crown is slightly forward, it is easier to wipe carbon fouling off the end of the barrel. See photo:

barrel cleaning muzzle brake break device port carbon removal

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September 14th, 2021

Mobile Power Sources for SmartPhones, Tablets, & LabRadars

LabRadar FosPower USB Battery pack charnging LED

Today’s precision shooter is connected. He or she is likely to bring a number of electronic items to the range, such as a smartphone, tablet computer, Kestrel, LabRadar chronograph, and more. These digital devices all require electricity to operate. Unfortunately, most ranges don’t include convenient charging stations for your gadgets. Therefore you need to bring battery back-up. Here are three good options, with storage capacities from 10200 mAh to 42000 mAh. The first unit is fully weather-proof, so it is good for hunters and tactical shooters exposed to the elements. The largest power pack, with AC outlet, is quite versatile and works well on car-camping trips.

1. FosPower 10200 mAh Waterproof Charger, $29.99

FosPower USB Battery pack waterproof shockproof LED

When you’re at the range or on a hunt, it’s smart to have a USB-output battery pack for smart phone, target-cam monitor, even a LabRadar. There are many battery packs available, but most are fairly fragile, with exposed ports. This “ruggedized” FosPower 10200 mAh charger is different. It is waterproof, dust-proof, and shock-proof. (IP67 certified: dust and water resistance for up to 3ft/1m for 30 minutes under water.) It can handle all that a PRS competitor or hunter can dish out. It even has a handy LED light. Right now it’s priced at $29.99 with FREE Shipping for Prime members.

2. EasyAcc 20000 mAh Battery Pack with Fast Charging, $42.99

USB

If you want to charge multiple devices, such as a tablet and a LabRadar, you need serious capacity. The EasyAcc 20000 mAh battery pack can charge up to four devices simultaneously. Notably, this $42.99 Battery Pack charges faster than most other 20K packs. It has two power input ports, allowing it to fully charge in 6-7 hours. (We have another 20000 mAh battery unit that takes over 16 hours to fully charge!). This unit will charge an iPhone 7 six times, a Samsung S8 four times or an iPad Mini two times. Note, 78% of Amazon purchasers rated this unit Five Stars (with 13% Four-Star reviews).

3. Jackery 240Wh USB, 110v AC, 12v DC Power Station, $199.99

USB

Many folks have asked us “How can I use a laptop, chronograph, or electronic powder dispenser that requires 110 volt AC power when I’m at the range?” Sure you can take power from your car’s 12 volt cigarette lighter jack, but you’ll still need a very long cable and a 12 volt to 110 volt step-up transformer. If you run a cable from the parking lot to the bench or shooting bay you’ll have to leave a window open in your vehicle and fellow shooters can trip over the long cord.

A better solution is to get a portable, combo USB + 110 volt + 12 volt power unit. This versatile 240Wh Jackery Power Station will drive a 110v device, 12v units, PLUS charge a USB tablet and cellphone, all at the same time. You can run a LabRadar for DAYS with this advanced Lithium Ion power-pack. It will also power CPAP machines and other 12v devices. One nice feature is rapid charging. Before your range session or camping trip, plug this into the wall. It will get fully charged in about 3.5 hours from a 110v outlet. Also this unit can recharge from a paired Jackery solar panel ($179.99 sold separately, see below). By itself (without solar panel) the Jackery portable power source is $199.99 on Amazon. See Jackery Product Store.

USB

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September 12th, 2021

Efficient 4-Shot Sight-in Procedure for Hunting Rifles

hunting zero zeroing sight-in easy NSSF boresighting
Photo courtesy Vortex Optics.

Hunting season is starting soon. We know many readers have acquired a new hunting rifles, or perhaps are using new ammo or a new optic. If you’ve got new gear, you’ll want to sight-in and zero your hunting rig properly. Here’s how…

Here’s a simple procedure that lets you get a solid zero in just four shots. Of course you probably want to fire a few more rounds to confirm your zero before you head off to your hunting grounds, but this will let you get on-target with a minimum amount of time and ammo expended. (This assumes your scope is securely mounted, and the bases are not drastically out of alignment.)

QUICK-TIP: The Key to this procedure is Dialing to Shot One Point of Impact (POI). Re-aim at center of target after SHOT ONE. Then with the rifle motionless, use the turrets to put the middle of the cross-hair (reticle) on the first shot location. Be sure NOT to move your rifle while clicking.

1. First, remove the bolt and boresight the rifle. Adjust the position of the rifle so that, looking through the bore, you can see the center of the target with your eyes. Secure the rifle in the rests to maintain its position as boresighted. Then, without moving the rifle, center the reticle. That should get you on paper. With the rifle solidly secured in front and rear rests or sandbags, aim at the center of a target placed at your zeroing distance (50 or 100 yards). Confirm there are no obstructions in the barrel! Then load and fire SHOT ONE. Then, return the gun to the exact position it was when you pulled the trigger, with the cross-hair centered on the target as before.

2. Locate, in the scope, where your first bullet landed on the target. Now, while you grip the rifle firmly so it doesn’t move, have a friend adjust the turrets on your scope. While you look through the scope, have your friend turn the windage and elevation turrets until the cross-hairs, as viewed through the scope, bisect the first bullet hole on the target. Use the turrets to move the center of the reticle to the actual position of shot number one. IMPORTANT: Dial the crosshairs to the hole — don’t move the rifle.

Watch NSSF Zeroing Video showing method of moving reticle to Shot 1 Point of Impact.

3. After you’ve adjusted the turrets, now re-aim the rifle so the cross-hairs are, once again, positioned on the target center. Keep the rifle firmly supported by your rest or sandbag. Take the SECOND SHOT. You should find that the bullet now strikes in the center of the target.

3-Shot Zero

4. Take a THIRD SHOT with the cross-hairs aligned in the center of the target to confirm your zero. Make minor modifications to the windage and elevation as necessary.

5. Finally, shoot the rifle from a field rest (shooting sticks, bipod, or rucksack) as you would use when actually hunting. Confirm, with SHOT FOUR, that your zero is unchanged. You may need to make slight adjustments. Some rifles, particularly those with flexy fore-arms, exhibit a different POI (point of impact) when fired from a bipod or ruck vs. a sandbag rest.

Don’t Rush the Process
One more important point comes from reader Bruce: “DO NOT rush the procedure. Hunting rifles need a cold zero. When you go for a walk in the weeds for that freezer-filler with a hat-rack your FIRST (and likely ONLY) shot will be from a COLD barrel. Bambi is not going to hang around while you fire warming shots”.

This Video Shows the Process Described Above:

Fouling Shots and Cold Bore Condition
If you recently cleaned your rifle, you may want to fire two or three fouling shots before you start this procedure. But keep in mind that you want to duplicate the typical cold bore conditions that you’ll experience during the hunt. If you set your zero after three fouling shots, then make sure the bore is in a similar condition when you actually go out hunting.

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September 11th, 2021

Do You REALLY Know MilliRadians? Intro to Mils and Mildots

mildot ranging milliradian Milrad

We first ran this article in 2012, and it was very well received. Since then, many Forum members have requested an explanation of MILS and mildots, so we decided to run this feature again…

1 Milliradian (Milrad or ‘Mil’) = 1/1000th of a radian | 1 Milliradian = 0.0573 degrees.

Mildot scope reticleIn this NSSF Video, Ryan Cleckner, a former Sniper Instructor for the 1st Ranger Battalion, defines the term “MilliRadian” (Milrad) and explains how you can use a mildot-type scope to range the distance to your target. It’s pretty simple, once you understand the angular subtension for the reticle stadia dots/lines. Cleckner also explains how you can use the milrad-based reticle markings in your scope for elevation hold-overs and windage hold-offs.

Even if you normally shoot at known distances, the hold-off capability of milrad-reticle scopes can help you shoot more accurately in rapidly-changing wind conditions. And, when you must engage multiple targets quickly, you can use the reticle’s mil markings to move quickly from one target distance to another without having to spin your elevation turrets up and down.

WEB RESOURCES: If you want to learn more about using Milliradians and Mildot scopes, we suggest the excellent Mil-dot.com User Guide. This covers the basics you need to know, with clear illustrations. Also informative is The Truth about Mil Dots by Michael Haugen. Mr. Haugen begins with basic definitions: 360 degrees = 2 x Pi (symbol π) Radians. That means 1 Radian is about 57.3 degrees. 1 Milliradian (Milrad or ‘Mil’) = 1/1000th of a radian. Thus 1 Milliradian = .0573 degrees.

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September 10th, 2021

Gone in SIX Seconds — The Brutal Truth of Short Barrel Life

Stopwatch barrel life

This thought-provoking article has been one of the most popular Daily Bulletin features in recent years. We are republishing this story today for readers who may have missed it the first time around…

Here’s a little known fact that may startle most readers, even experienced gunsmiths: your barrel wears out in a matter of seconds. The useful life of a typical match barrel, in terms of actual bullet-in-barrel time, is only a few seconds. How can that be, you ask? Well you need to look at the actual time that bullets spend traveling through the bore during the barrel’s useful life. (Hint: it’s not very long).

Bullet-Time-in-Barrel Calculations
If a bullet flies at 3000 fps, it will pass through a 24″ (two-foot) barrel in 1/1500th of a second. If you have a useful barrel life of 3000 rounds, that would translate to just two seconds of actual bullet-in-barrel operating time.

Ah, but it’s not that simple. Your bullet starts at zero velocity and then accelerates as it passes through the bore, so the projectile’s average velocity is not the same as the 3000 fps muzzle velocity. So how long does a centerfire bullet (with 3000 fps MV) typically stay in the bore? The answer is about .002 seconds. This number was calculated by Varmint Al, who is a really smart engineer dude who worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, a government think tank that develops neutron bombs, fusion reactors and other simple stuff.

On his Barrel Tuner page, Varmint Al figured out that the amount of time a bullet spends in a barrel during firing is under .002 seconds. Al writes: “The approximate time that it takes a 3300 fps muzzle velocity bullet to exit the barrel, assuming a constant acceleration, is 0.0011 seconds. Actual exit times would be longer since the bullet is not under constant acceleration.”

We’ll use the .002 number for our calculations here, knowing that the exact number depends on barrel length and muzzle velocity. But .002 is a good average that errs, if anything, on the side of more barrel operating life rather than less.

So, if a bullet spends .002 seconds in the barrel during each shot, and you get 3000 rounds of accurate barrel life, how much actual firing time does the barrel deliver before it loses accuracy? That’s simple math: 3000 x .002 seconds = 6 seconds.

Stopwatch barrel lifeGone in Six Seconds. Want to Cry Now?
Six seconds. That’s how long your barrel actually functions (in terms of bullet-in-barrel shot time) before it “goes south”. Yes, we know some barrels last longer than 3000 rounds. On the other hand, plenty of .243 Win and 6.5-284 barrels lose accuracy in 1500 rounds or less. If your barrel loses accuracy at the 1500-round mark, then it only worked for three seconds! Of course, if you are shooting a “long-lived” .308 Win that goes 5000 rounds before losing accuracy, then you get a whopping TEN seconds of barrel life. Anyway you look at it, a rifle barrel has very little longevity, when you consider actual firing time.

People already lament the high cost of replacing barrels. Now that you know how short-lived barrels really are, you can complain even louder. Of course our analysis does give you even more of an excuse to buy a nice new Bartlein, Krieger, Shilen etc. barrel for that fine rifle of yours.

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September 9th, 2021

Headspace Basics — What You Need to Know

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 Video, 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. 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

Problems Caused by Too Much Headspace
Excessive headspace issues can include: light primer strikes, failure to fire, bulged/blown cases, case separations, split shoulders, or unseated primers after firing. Case ruptures caused by excessive headspace can lead to catastrophic failures causing serious injury. That is why headspace is such an important measurement.

Problems Cause by Too Little Headspace
Insufficent (or excessively tight) headspace can prevent the firearm from going into battery, resulting in failure to fire or deformation of the cartridge case. Various feeding and functioning problems can be caused by cases with too little headspace, even if a round can be chambered (with effort).

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 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 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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September 9th, 2021

Mental Preparation for Shooting Competitions

randi rogers mental preparation

Randi Rogers is one of best female action shooters in the world. Randi has captured over 60 World and National Titles in seven different shooting disciplines for pistol, shotgun, and rifle. From her early wins in the world of Cowboy Action Shooting, to bringing home a Gold Medal from the 2011 IPSC World Shot in Greece, Randi is a winner. Competing as ‘Holy Terror’, Randi has won the ladies’ division at the SASS Cowboy Action World Championships so many times, they might as well retire the Ladies’ Trophy with her name on it. Randi, who started shooting at age 11, now competes in several disciplines including Cowboy Action Shooting, USPSA, Steel Challenge, IDPA, IPSC, and NRA Action Pistol. When Randi is not on the road or in the office (where she serves as Comp-Tac’s Marketing/Sales Manager), there’s a good chance you’ll find Randi on the range preparing for the next match. In this article from RandiRogersShooting.com, Randi talks about the “mental game” and how she gets ready for a big match.

randi rogers mental preparation


Preparing Mentally for a Shooting Competition by Randi Rogers

As I head to [a major match] I have a lot of tasks to complete. One of the most important [tasks] is preparing mentally. For an experienced shooter, the mental part of shooting is more important than knowing how to pull a trigger. The mind is an amazing thing and if you/it believes something, your mind will override all the skills you have. Example: if you think that you are bad at throwing a ball you will throw the ball badly.

Over the years I have formed a few techniques to help myself with my mental game:

1. Make Peace with your Current Skills. When I get on the plane is when my mental preperation really starts. This is when I decide that I am ready to shoot, confident in my skills and can achive the goals I set for myself. From this point forward I make peace with my shooting and tell myself that if I follow my plan I will achive my goals. There is no longer any time for me to become a better shooter.

2. Set a Goal and a Plan. When I attend a shooting competition I have a goal in mind and a plan for how I want to get there. This varies on what shooting sport it is. I may have the goal that I want to place in the top half of the shooters in my division. In order to achieve that goal I may have decided that I need to concentrate on accuracy. When you set goals and plans they need to reflect all of the work you have been doing. For instance, it does not make sense to say “I will win everything” if you haven’t practiced in four years. It is important to set achievable but still challenging goals.

3. Stay Positive! Whenever you set goals or “talk” to yourself mentally it is important to stay away from negative commands and negative words. I don’t tell myself “Don’t Miss,” because this is a negative command. It is like telling a child “Don’t spill the milk.” What are they going to do? Spill the milk.

4. Stick to the Plan. As I get ready and start competing in the match sometimes my mental voice goes haywire saying things like, “that wasn’t fast enough,” “that was a huge mistake,” “look how fast they are,” “they are going to beat you” and so on. It is hard but you have to banish these thoughts. You can’t change your plan now, there is nothing that you can do to suddenly become a better shooter. Instead think of your goal and plan and repeat it to yourself over and over again. For instance, “I am going to finish in the top half of my division and I am going to shoot accurately.”

As I head into a major competition my mental plan is to [remember] “Sights” and “Stay Aggressive.” I want to make sure I am remembering to look at my sights and shoot accurately, but I also want to make sure that I am not getting lazy. I need to move and shoot as fast as possible while still making my hits. As for my goal, I will keep that a secret for now.

5. Work on your Weak Points On her Facebook Page, Randi posted: “Fun fact — when I first started shooting, my left hand was so weak that the gun would jam up every single shot. So my grandfather made me shoot for a week straight with nothing but support hand. To this day I never sweat support hand stages even if they are limited!”

Have a great next match and remember Rise to the Challenge! — Randi Rogers, Team Ruger

Watch Randi Speed Through a Cowboy Action Competition Stage

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September 7th, 2021

INFO on PRIMERS — What You Need to Know

Primer Priming Tool Magnum primers foil anvil primer construction reloading powder CCI
Winchester Pistol Primers on bench. Photo courtesy UltimateReloader.com.

There is an excellent article about primers on the Shooting Times website. We strongly recommend you read Mysteries And Misconceptions Of The All-Important Primer, written by Allan Jones. Mr. Jones is a bona fide expert — he served as the manager of technical publications for CCI Ammunition and Speer Bullets and Jones authored three editions of the Speer Reloading Manual.

» READ Full Primer “Mysteries and Misconceptions” Article

This authoritative Shooting Times article explains the fine points of primer design and construction. Jones also reveals some little-known facts about primers and he corrects common misconceptions. Here are some highlights from the article:

Primer Priming Tool Magnum primers foil anvil primer construction reloading powder CCISize Matters
Useful Trivia — even though Small Rifle and Small Pistol primer pockets share the same depth specification, Large Rifle and Large Pistol primers do not. The standard pocket for a Large Pistol primer is somewhat shallower than its Large Rifle counterpart, specifically, 0.008 to 0.009 inch less.

Magnum Primers
There are two ways to make a Magnum primer — either use more of the standard chemical mix to provide a longer-burning flame or change the mix to one with more aggressive burn characteristics. Prior to 1989, CCI used the first option in Magnum Rifle primers. After that, we switched to a mix optimized for spherical propellants that produced a 24% increase in flame temperature and a 16% boost in gas volume.

Foiled Again
Most component primers have a little disk of paper between the anvil and the priming mix. It is called “foil paper” not because it’s made of foil but because it replaces the true metal foil used to seal early percussion caps. The reason this little disk exists is strictly a manufacturing convenience. Wet primer pellets are smaller than the inside diameter of the cup when inserted and must be compacted to achieve their proper diameter and height. Without the foil paper, the wet mix would stick to the compaction pins and jam up the assembly process.

Read Full Primer Story on ShootingTimes.com

VIDEOS about PRIMERS
Here are two videos that offer some good, basic information on primers:

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September 5th, 2021

Beat the Heat — Cool Your Barrels with BarrelCool Device

BarrelCool fan battery cooling safety chamber indicator flag heat pump

The popular BarrelCool is a compact barrel-cooling device that also serves as an empty-chamber safety flag. A small, battery-powered fan drives cooling air through the barrel’s bore. Yes it really works — manufacturer-provided data shows that BarrelCool significantly reduces the time it takes to cool down a hot barrel. Look at the chart above to see what to expect.

In the past, folks have tried various methods to cool barrels: water flushed through the bore, CO2 tanks, even battery-operated fish pumps. BarrelCool is a simpler, less costly, and much handier solution. Priced at $39.99, this small device can definitely save you time at the range. Potentially it can save you money by extending barrel life. To see how Barrelcool works, watch th videos below that show the BarrelCool units in both bolt-action and AR-type rifles.

BarrelCool fan battery cooling safety chamber indicator flag heat pump

BarrelCool Range Reports from Forum Members
Forum members have been impress with the BarrelCool device. Member Comrade Terry said: “At the range, I spend a good bit of time waiting for the barrel to cool between shot strings. I fired my usual 50 rounds today, and (though it was 85° today) I was able to leave the range 30-40 minutes earlier than usual thanks to the BarrelCool. I like it!” Another Forum member, J-Rod, reports “Did some load development on my new rifle. This used to take forever due to the barrel heating up outside in full sun (90° ambient). I’d say this little gem cut about two hours off my normal shooting time. I got home early and the wife was happy — what’s that worth?”

How and Why BarrelCool Was Invented
BarrelCool originated from the idea that cease-fire periods would be a great time to cool a barrel. During cease-fires, most ranges and matches require empty chamber flags in the gun so that the range officer and everyone on the firing line can see visually that the gun is in a safe condition. The BarrelCool does double duty — cooling the barrel while serving as an empty-chamber indicator.

BarrelCool inventor Bryan Sumoba explains: “Previous barrel-cooling methods required additional steps such as running patches down the bore, or a fan that gets in the way of a required empty-chamber flag. BarrelCool now allows the shooter to cool the barrel while having the empty-chamber flag in the firearm.”

BarrelCool fan battery cooling safety chamber indicator flag heat pump

Sumoba says BarrelCool significantly shortens the time needed to cool down a hot barrel: “In controlled testing, it took about half the time to cool the barrel from 140 degrees F to 100 degrees F. Our customers also report significant reductions in the time it takes to cool down a hot barrel. At an F-Class match in Sacramento, one shooter fired 25 shots out of his 7mm RSAUM and got the barrel to the point where it was too hot to touch. We placed BarrelCool in his firearm and within 30 minutes, the barrel was back to near-ambient temperature.”

Using three (3) CR123A batteries, a BarrelCool unit can operate for 7-10+ hours. BarrelCool fits both AR-style rifles as well as most bolt action rifles. The Hi-Viz yellow color stands out on the firing line and BarrelCool is small enough to fit in most range or gun bags. Manufactured in the USA, Barrelcool can benefit competition, precision, or recreational shooters who need to cool down their barrels more rapidly, while displaying “safe condition” on the firing line. For more information, or to order for $34.99, visit www.barrelcool.com.

BATTERY TIP: We recommend rechargeable CR123A batteries for use in the BarrelCool. These can last many seasaons and can be charged at home or in a vehicle. Keep a spare set in your range bag. A 4-pack of C123A Lithium Batteries with USB recharger unit is $29.99 on Amazon

DukeDuke says:

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September 5th, 2021

Handy 50-Yard Sight-In Target for .30-06 Vintage Military Rifles

Garand sighting 50 yard target

Take a look at that unusual target below. We bet you’ve never seen one of these before. It’s a 50-Yard Sighting Target for the M1 Garand (and other .30-06 Springfield vintage military rifles). It’s designed to allow a rifleman to confirm his zeros for multiple yardages all the way out to 1000 yards. But importantly, he can establish those zeros at a very “short” shooting facility, since the target is positioned at a mere 50 yards.

Garand sighting 50 yard target

Here’s how it works. The target is placed at fifty (50) yards. You start at the bottom, aiming at the black circle. Then check your come-up table and work your way up, clicking step-by-step to the various horizontal lines set for 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1000 yards. This is NOT “spray and pray” — you need to have a pretty good idea of the clicks you need, based on your ammo’s ballistics. This target is calibrated for the U.S. Military M72 Ball Ammo. The targets are available from Champion’s Choice ($0.75 each) or from Creedmoor Sports (12 for $5.95).

Kevin Thomas used this target to get zeroed for a D-Day Anniversary Match at the Talladega Marksmanship Park a few seasons back. Kevin used the target for both his M1 Garand as well as his M1903A1 Springfield, both chambered for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge.

Garand sighting 50 yard target

Zeroing at a Short Distance — How to Use the 50-Yard Sighting Target, by Kevin Thomas
As part of my preparation for the Garand Match at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park, I needed to zero my new M1 Garand, but I was crunched for time. I didn’t have time to get to my normal range and confirm zeros at actual yardages. But a 50-yard zero target came to the rescue. Made for M1s using the M72 National Match ammo, the target allows the shooter to establish fairly good zeros at 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1,000 yards if you’ve got access to a 50-yard range.

I have no idea when these 50-yard Sighting Targets were first developed, but they’ve been around for at least as long as I’ve been involved in this game (longer than I care to admit). It consists of a tall target, with a smallish black bullseye located at the bottom center. The bullseye is an aiming point only. Extending through the top of the target is a vertical line that runs directly up the center, to nearly the top of the paper. Across this, there are intersecting horizontal lines that are marked 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1,000.

The target was designed for the M1 Garand rifle using then-issued M72 National Match ammunition. This ammo launched a 173gr FMJBT bullet at approximately 2,640 FPS. It was a good load in its day, supersonic out to the 1,000-yard line. While that ammo is fairly scarce these days, this isn’t a problem for the handloader. My standard match load for the M1 Garand utilizes the 175gr Lapua Scenar HPBT, and delivers remarkably similar ballistic performance. Thus my normal Garand load translates nicely to this 50-yard target. Yes, this is by design. No point in reinventing the wheel when Lake City has already established what works!

Garand sighting 50 yard target

In use, the shooter sets the target up at a measured 50 yards, and (this is critical) checks the vertical line with a plumb bob or a carpenter’s level, to ensure that it is absolutely vertical. Once the target is set, the rifle is fired and the group noted. From there, it is a simple matter of zeroing it normally to bring the groups into alignment with the vertical line, at the elevation needed for a particular range. Once your group is hammering the intersection of the vertical line and the horizontal line marked “200”, you have established your 200-yard zero for that rifle. Record the number of clicks, and you’re good to go. Raise the impacts up to coincide with the line marked “300” and you now have a 300-yard zero as well. And so on, right up the target. Record those settings in your data book, and you’re ready to go to the range at the full distances. If done carefully, you may be in the X-Ring, but at the very least, you’ll be well-centered and ready to get some hard dope recorded for future shoots.

The same target can also be used with an M14/M1A, at least at the shorter distances. The ballistics of the M118 and the current M118LR are similar enough that this will get you on target at the full distances, probably requiring just a half MOA or so change from the 50 yard zero you recorded. Same bullets, moving at a slightly more sedate 2,550 fps, you’ll be in the ballpark at least.

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September 4th, 2021

Primer Blow-Out Danger — Yes Always Wear 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 … EVERY time you shoot. 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 [measured] 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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September 4th, 2021

Optics INFO: Mounting a Scope on Your Hunting Rifle

scope alignment tactical rifle scope level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 3rd, 2021

Barrel Break-In Methods — What Do the Experts Recommend?

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrels
Photo courtesy Sierra Bullets.

The question of barrel break-in is controversial. Some folks advocate an elaborate, lengthy cycle of shooting and brushing, repeated many times — one shot and clean, two shots and clean and so on. This, it is argued, helps barrels foul less and shoot more accurately. Others say minimal break-in, with patching and brushing after 10-15 rounds, is all you need. Still others contend that break-in procedures are a total waste of time and ammo — you should just load and shoot, and clean as you would normally.

We doubt if there will ever be real agreement among shooters concerning barrel break-in procedures. And one must remember that the appropriate break-in procedure might be quite different for a factory barrel vs. a custom hand-lapped barrel. This Editor has found that his very best custom barrels shot great right from the start, with no special break-in, other than wet patches at 5, 10, and 15 rounds. That said, I’ve seen some factory barrels that seemed to benefit from more elaborate break-in rituals.

What’s the best barrel break-in procedure? Well our friend Eric Mayer of Varminter.com decided to ask the experts. A while back Eric interviewed representatives of three leading barrel manufacturers: Krieger, Lothar-Walther, and Shilen. He recorded their responses on video. In order of appearance in the video, the three experts are:

Wade Hull, Shilen Barrels | Mike Hinrichs, Krieger Barrels | Woody Woodall, Lothar Walther

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrelsDo I Need to Break-In a New Rifle Barrel?
Eric Mayer of Varminter.com says: “That is a simple question, [but it] does not necessarily have a simple answer. Instead of me repeating my own beliefs, and practices, on breaking-in a new rifle barrel, I decided to answer this one a bit differently. While we were at the 2016 SHOT Show, we tracked down three of the biggest, and most popular, custom barrel makers in the world, and asked them what they recommend to anyone buying their barrels, and why they recommend those procedures. We asked the question, and let the camera run!” Launch the video above to hear the answers — some of which may surprise you.

Long-Term Barrel Care — More Experts Offer Opinions
Apart from the debate about barrel break-in, there is the bigger question of how should you clean and maintain a barrel during its useful life. Some folks like aggressive brushing, other shooters have had success with less invasive methods, using bore foam and wet patches for the most part. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. In reality, there may not be one solution for every barrel. Different fouling problems demand different solutions. For example, solvents that work well for copper may not be the best for hard carbon (and vice-versa).

CLICK HERE for Long Term Barrel Care Article »

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

Chip Lohman, former Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning: Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care. In this article, Chip shares the knowledge of a dozen experts including respected barrel-makers Frank Green (Bartlein Barrels), John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), Dan Lilja (Lilja Barrels), and Tim North (Broughton Barrels).

“Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing — the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion, and remove fouling — all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.” — Chip Lohman

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September 2nd, 2021

Cleaning Cartridge Brass & Reloading Dies — Methods Explained

Bill Gravatt Creedmoor Sports Sinclair cleaning polishing brass reloading dies

Creedmoor Sports is a leading vendor of products for competitive shooters and serious hand-loaders. Along with great gear, Creedmoor Sports provides informative content for its customers. The Creedmoor InfoZone provides Reloading Tips, Gear Reviews, Shooting News, and basic gunsmithing information.

Bill Gravatt, President of Creedmoor Sports, is an expert on reloading processes and gear. He developed many of the popular tools marketed by Sinclair Int’l, and he brings that expertise to Creedmoor Sports. Bill hosts a series of “how-to” videos produced for the Creedmoor InfoZone.

Cleaning Cartridge Brass — Multiple Options Explained

In this video, Bill Gravatt demonstrates several methods to clean your cases. Bill tells us: “Powder residue should be removed before you insert your cases into your reloading dies. There are several ways to clean your cases. Many shooters use a combination of various methods…”

1. Manual Cleaning — You can use 0000 Steel wool for the outside of the case and a Case Neck brush for the inside. A paper towel can remove any remaining residue. This is a handy way to clean if you load at the range.

2. Vibratory Tumbling — This traditional method works well, particularly for pistol brass. Experiment with both Corn Cob and Walnut media. You can get a brighter shine by putting a small amount of liquid brass polish in the media.

3. Wet Tumbling with Stainless Media — This process can get your brass clean inside and out. Do check to ensure no pins are stuck in the flash-holes. Watch for peening of case mouths that can occur over time.

4. Ultrasonic Cleaning — Ultrasonic cleaning works great for small parts as well as brass. The ultrasonic process removes all carbon and traces of lube, which can leave the inside of case necks too dry. To smooth bullet seating, try putting a tablespoon of Ballistol in the cleaning solution.

Cleaning Reloading Dies

Cleaning your reloading dies is something that many hand-loaders neglect. In this 60-second Tech Tip, Bill Gravatt provides some smart advice on cleaning your dies. Bill notes: “After heavy use, case lube and carbon can build up in your reloading dies. It’s important to keep them clean. Also, with new dies, give them a good cleaning before first use, because they ship with a corrosion inhibitor.”

1. Step 1 — Prior to cleaning, disassemble the die and spray it with a good degreaser. Do this with brand new dies too.

2. Step 2 – Take a patch and run it in the die to remove old lube and gunk. Don’t forget the decapping assembly and other internal parts.

3. Step 3 — After cleaning the die, but before reassembly, spray the die with a good corrosion inhibitor, such as Corrosion-X or Starrett M1.

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September 1st, 2021

Measure Groups Precisely with Ballistic-X App for Android & iOS

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

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

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

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

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

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

How to Use Ballistic-X App

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

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

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

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

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

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

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

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

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

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

Ballistic-X group measure measuring plot software Android Apple iOS

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September 1st, 2021

Bloody Disaster — Loading Pistol Powder in Rifle Case

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

This is a grim tale. A man almost lost the use of his right hand, and did suffer terrible injuries to his fingers. All because he picked the wrong bottle of powder off the shelf. We have run this story before, and we will continue to run it every year, as a caution to our readers. This mistake is easy to make, but the consequences can be dire. Always, always double-check your powder labels before you start the hand-loading process. If you don’t, you may not have a hand to load with next time…

Similar Labels, Disasterous Consequences
The shooter, Denny K., was assembling some rounds for his brand new 7mm-08 Savage hunting rifle. He thought he was loading with Hodgdon Varget. Instead he had filled his powder measure with Hodgdon TiteGroup, a fast-burning pistol powder. The labels are similar, so the mistake is understandable. But the results were devastating. Here’s what 41 grains of TiteGroup can do in a 7mm-08:

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

Posting on the Firing Line, in a thread entitled “Lucky to Be Alive”, Denny writes:

“This is the hardest post to post. I know if I had read it a week ago my comment would have been: ‘You have no business reloading’. I had everything perfect, except pouring the wrong powder in the powder measure. I type this slowly with my left hand, embarrassed but … possibly saving someone else a tragedy or, like me, a long drive to the Emergency Room and surgery to save my finger.”

CLICK HERE for bigger, more graphic photo of injury.
Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

The Still-Sealed Bottle of Varget
Denny did not initially comprehend exactly why the kaboom happened. He thought maybe his new Savage rifle was at fault. Then, on his return home, he discovered something…

Denny wrote: “The seven-hour period it took to go to ER, transport to Trauma Center and surgery made me think it was a Savage rifle issue. Brand new rifle, new brass, triple-checked loading data. The next day I was humbled when I realized the Varget powder was still sealed.

I knew what powder to use. I thought [Varget] was what I used. Not until the following day did I realize the Varget was still sealed.”

At that point, Denny realized what caused the accident — “operator error”. He knew he had to warn others about using the wrong powder: “I knew I needed to share my mistake, even though it is embarrassing, just to remind people. I’ve been reloading for 30 years…”

Editor’s Comment: Denny was not a novice reloader. His experience demonstrates that this kind of mistake can be made by any hand-loader, even one with decades of experience. Be safe guys, take your time when you load your ammo. Remove powders from measures after your loading sessions (pistol powders can look very similar to rifle powders). And by all means CHECK the LABEL on the jug. As the TiteGroup label says: “A little goes a long way.”

It’s not a bad idea to separate your pistol powders from your rifle powders, or perhaps even load for pistol in a separate part of your workshop.

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August 31st, 2021

Cartridge Cutaways — View INSIDE Loaded Ammunition

sliced cutaway ammo ammunition FOG diagram

Here’s something you don’t see every day — the inside of loaded cartridges, sliced halfway through. This lets you see how bullet core, jacket, cartridge case, powder, and primer all fit together. Give credit to the folks at FOG Ammunition for creating this interesting series of cut-through ammo images. We show four cartridges here: the .308 Winchester, 9mm Luger, 300 BLK, and .50 BMG. You’ll find two more (the .223 Remington and .45 ACP) at www.FogAmmo.com.

sliced cutaway ammo ammunition FOG diagram

This .308 Winchester model took on a different approach by only cutting the brass case and displaying the full bullet, primer and powder load. A spec amount of powder was used to create the model powder form. An estimated 10% volume was added during the forming process, along with an undetermined amount of air pockets.

sliced cutaway ammo ammunition FOG diagram

This bisection is a 9mm Luger Jacketed Hollow Point round with flake powder held together with super glue. After this self-defense round was cut by a trained professional the round was polished by hand. This might look like stick powder, but those are in fact flakes stacked up in cross-section. Designed in 1901 by Georg Luger, this popular cartridge is used by civilians, military, and law enforcement.

sliced cutaway ammo ammunition FOG diagram

For this model of the .300 AAC Blackout (aka 300 BLK), a Dremel tool was used to create a pie cut within the bullet and brass case. A measured amount of power, roughly 65% of spec charge, was placed inside the case with super glue. This cartridge was originally optimized for subsonic use with a suppressor, so the amount of powder used is small relative to the nominal case capacity. That leaves more room for the relatively large .30-caliber bullet.

sliced cutaway ammo ammunition FOG diagram

Last but definitely not least is the .50 Caliber BMG round (aka .50 Browning Machine Gun). Famed for its wartime use in the M2 Machine gun, the .50 BMG round is also used in civilian Long Range competitions. A typical .50 BMG cartridge holds over 225 grains of powder. That’s almost ten times the amount in a 5.56×45 NATO Round! To demonstrate the size of the .50 BMG, check out that .223 Rem for comparison.

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