September 29th, 2014

You Can’t Shoot What You Can’t See

“All dressed up and nowhere to go” was the comment our IT guy, Jay Christopherson, sent with this photo. This is Jay’s testing set-up at his home range, complete with PVM-21 chronograph and wireless target-cam. The camera signal is sent, via WiFi, to Jay’s laptop computer. However, even with all that high-tech electronic gear, you can’t make the shot if you can’t see the target through the rifle-scope. On this morning, heavy ground fog completely obscured the target. Jay told us: “I ended up waiting a little over an hour for the fog to burn off enough so that I could see the 600-yard target. What was funny was that I had a perfectly clear picture of the target via the target-cam and monitor. But there was no way to aim the rifle since the riflescope showed nothing but fog.”

PVM-21 Target Cam Camera Labradar Video Fog F-class Washington Jay

This photo was taken by Jay at the Cascade Shooting Facility in Ravensdale, WA. The rifle is Jay’s .284 Shehane F-Class rifle. Jay was testing primers for Extreme Spread (ES) variation around 9:00 am. Nature was not cooperating. Jay was running Hodgdon H4831sc and testing various primers to see which provided the best numbers.

The chronograph is the Kurzzheit PVM-21. Equipped with infrared sensors, the PVM-21 is our “go-to” chron for most velocity testing, with an Oehler 35P for “back-up”. The PVM-21 (now updated with Kurzzheit’s BMC-19 model) sets up quickly and gives reliable results in any light conditions. But there is something even more sophisticated on the horizon — the new Labradar, a “stand-off” chronograph that uses Doppler radar to measure bullet speed.

PVM-21 Target Cam Camera Labradar Video Fog F-class Washington Jay

Jay explains: “I am (somewhat) patiently waiting for the new Labradar to release. The PVM-21 works pretty well most of the time and is easy to setup. I do get odd readings out of it every so often, but they are pretty obvious when they occur.” The advantage of the Labradar (if it ever comes to market) is that the unit sits to the left or right of the rifle. The Labradar is situated out of the bullet path, so there is no chance of shooting the chronograph by accident. Another advantage of the Labradar is that you can set it up without needing to go forward of the firing line, which would require a safety break.

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
September 28th, 2014

Tech Tip: Coping with Corrosive Ammo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Tech Tip No Comments »
September 28th, 2014

Find and Download MIL-STD Spec Sheets for FREE

Looking for authentic U.S. Military Specification Standards (MIL-STD) for gun parts, safety products, or other hardware? Log on to EverySpec.com. This website provides FREE access to the complete archive of U.S. Government spec sheets and technical manuals. You can quickly access and download thousands of public domain U.S. Government documents. For example, we searched for “Picatinny” and came up with MIL-STD-1913 “Dimensioning of Accessory Mounting Rail for Small Arms Weapons”. With one click we downloaded the file as a PDF. Then a search for “M118″ yielded the engineering drawing for 7.62×51 M118 LR Match ammo. Pretty cool.

Using EverySpec.com is fast and easy. And everything you find and save is FREE. Search as often as you like — there are no limits on search requests or downloads. You can either search by keyword, or Federal Supply Class Code (FSC). CLICK HERE for a complete list of FSCs for all products.

Here are FSCs for a few common product types. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of other FSCs — for everything from Office Supplies (FSC 7510) to Nuclear Projectiles (FSC 1110).

1095 — Miscellaneous Weapons (incl. Knives)
1240 — Optical Sighting and Ranging Equipment
1395 — Miscellaneous Ammunition (incl. Small Arms)
3455 — Cutting Tools for Machine Tools
6140 — Batteries, Rechargeable
6230 — Electric Portable Lighting Equipment
7640 — Maps, Atlases, Charts and Globes
8340 — Tents and Tarpaulins
8405 — Outerwear, Mens

Credit Gunsmith Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzales for finding this resource. Thanks Speedy!
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
September 24th, 2014

Eye Protection — LuckyGunner Labs Field Tests

If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t wear eye protection, you need to check out the LuckyGunner Labs Eye Protection Test. For those who DO wear safety glasses — don’t assume that everything is OK. Just because you purchased name-brand “safety glasses” doesn’t mean that you are getting truly effective protection. In fact, many forms of protective eyewear sold today are flimsy, or poorly made. Consequently, they won’t stop even low-energy, slow-velocity fragments.

CLICK HERE to Read Complete Eyewear Test Report by LuckyGunner Labs.

Lucky gunner eyewear testTwo years ago, LuckyGunner Labs conducted very extensive field tests of 28 types of eyewear, ranging in price from $7 to $220. Remarkably, some of the most expensive safety eyewear performed no better than $10 items. Many of the products failed shockingly — with the lenses coming right out of the frames when hit with pellets. LuckyGunner recorded these kind of failures even with ANSI Z87-”approved” eyewear. The reason is that the Z87 test is not tough enough: “The basic ANSI standard is referred to as Z87, and you’ll see this marked in a number of locations on most eye protection marketed to shooters. However, the Z87 impact standard involves a .25″ steel ball traveling at 150 fps — this is fine for protecting eyes from debris that might fall or be thrown, but is not extremely relevant to shooters, who are dealing with objects traveling at much higher velocities.”

Standard Impact speed Caliber/Size
ANSI Z87.1-2003
High Velocity
150 feet/second
45 meters/second
0.25″ diameter steel ball
(25 caliber)
Mil-PRF-31013
Vo ballistic test
640-660 feet/second
195 meters/second
0.15 inch diameter steel projectile (15 caliber)

The testers recommend you select eyewear that meets military specification (above and beyond ANSI Z87). The MIL-PRF-31013 Standard covers projectiles up to 650 feet per second. This is much more stringent. Additionally, you want to replace often-used protective eyewear every year or so. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can weaken polycarbonate and lessen its ability to withstand impacts.

SUMMARY — What to Look for in Protective Eyewear

THE GOOD — Eyewear Protects Against Direct Hit with .22 Short Bullet
APEL Revision Sawfly eyewear was shot with a .22 Short, pushing a 29 grain bullet at 710 fps. That’s not powerful by modern firearm standards, but this might be fairly representative of a ricochet bullet fragment. The Sawfly lens stopped this 29gr bullet with minimal damage to the cheek area.


Lucky gunner eyewear test
THE BAD — Remington Eyewear Lenses Separate. Right Lens Enters Eye Socket
The most gruesome example was the cheap Remington eyewear which shed both lenses back towards the eyes, one of which embedded itself into the eye socket. The real-world implications of this action are disturbing to say the least.


Lucky gunner eyewear test

THE UGLY — Prescription Glasses Failed Miserably
Many ranges don’t see any need for protective eyewear beyond prescription glasses. However, most prescription lenses offer little if any protection. If the prescription lenses are glass, this can create more problems. As shown below, these prescription glasses offered no ballistic protection, and, in fact, proved more dangerous to the eyes due to the flying glass shards.

Lucky gunner eyewear test

_blank
Results Chart, Video Clips, and Photos copyright Luckygunner.com.

Summary and Conclusions:
For faster-moving projectiles such as ricochet fragments, you need high quality, tested eye protection. LuckyGunner recommends eyewear with a single (one-piece) lens for any activity where your face might be struck by small, fast-moving objects. Individual lenses detach from the frames once a certain level of force is reached, and they are driven back into the eye sockets, where considerable damage may be done. There are good examples of protective eyewear with two separate lenses, but a broad, one-piece lens distributes force much better.

Lucky gunner eyewear testA wide, comfortable, and preferably soft rubber nosepiece is critical. Along with good “arms”, this will serve to keep the eye protection in place and will also reduce the chances of the lens being driven down or back into the face with enough force to damage the orbital bones.

A frame that connects across the top of the lens, not individual arms which attach to the outside corners of the lens, is recommended. This will reduce the chances of the lens detaching from the frame under impact (it’s still possible, just less likely). Some types of eye protection actually use the frame to absorb impact and distribute force.

NOTE: Andrew, the author of the LuckyGunner Eyewear report, was a former Navy Corpsman. Accordingly, he is familiar with health and safety matters.

Permalink - Videos, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
September 22nd, 2014

Practical Thoughts About Transonic Bullet Stability and Accuracy

One of our Forum Members has a .308 Win load that dips into the transonic speed range at 1000 yards. He is concerned that his bullets may lose accuracy as they slow to transonic speeds: “My target is at 1000 yards. How important to accuracy is it to keep the bullet supersonic (Mach 1.2) all the way to the target? How does slowing to transonic speeds in the last 100 yards or so affect accuracy?”

TargetShooter Magazine and AccurateShooter.com contributor Laurie Holland offers some practical answers to this important question, based on his his experience with .223 and .308-caliber bullets.

Thoughts on Accuracy and Transonic Bullet Speeds by Laurie Davidson.
There is no simple answer to the question “How do transonic speeds affect accuracy”. Some bullets manage OK, some not so well, some fail entirely, and I’ve never seen a guide as to which models do and which don’t. But we do have the ‘boat-tail angle rule’, anyway. Bryan Litz says the ideal boat-tail angle is 7-9°. Go much above 10° and it’s too steep for the air to follow the bullet sides around to the base. This seems to manifest itself as much increased drag and turbulence leading to instability in transonic flight.

It is this effect that has led to the common advice of “Don’t use 168gr 30-caliber bullets at 1000 yards”. That is misleading advice as it resulted from use of the 168gr Sierra ‘International’ (aka MatchKing) bullet with its 13-deg BT angle. (This was, originally, a specialized 300m design — there are various near copies on the market from Speer, Hornady and Nosler.) By contrast, Berger 168-grainers are designed as long-range bullets with 8.9, 8.5 and a really nice 7° angle on the BT, VLD and Hybrid respectively. Hornady A-Max 30-cal projectiles (other than the 208-grainer) fall into this enforced shorter-range bracket too thanks to their 12.6° (and greater) boat-tail angles. (155gr = 13.5°, 168gr = 12.87°, and 178gr = 12.6°.)

Supersonic bullet shadowgraph

Even this boat-tail angle ‘rule’ doesn’t always seem to apply. Many older long-range Service Rifle shooters talk about good results at 1000 yards with some batches of 7.62mm match ammo in their 20″-barreled M14s using the 168gn SMK. I’ve successfully used Hornady and Sierra 168s at 1000 yards in 30-cal magnums which drive the bullets fast enough to keep out of trouble at this distance. This is still not recommended of course thanks to their low BCs compared to better long-range speciality bullets.

Supersonic bullet shadowgraph 7.5mm Swiss
These four photos show the substantial changes in the shock ware and turbulence patterns for the same bullet at different velocities. The “M” stands for Mach and the numerical value represents the velocity of the bullet relative to the speed of sound at the time of the shot. Photos by Beat Kneubuehl.

Transonic Issues with .223 Rem in F-TR
I was much exercised by [concerns about transonic instability] in the early days of F-Class, when I was shooting a .223 Rem with 80-grainers at 2,800 fps MV or even a bit less. Even the optimistic G1 ballistic charts of the time said they’d be subsonic at 1000 yards. (Bryan Litz’s Point Mass Ballistic Solver 2.0′s program says 1,078 fps at 1000 yards at 2,800 fps MV in standard conditions for the SMK; below 1.2 MACH beyond a point somewhere around 780 yards.) In fact they shot fine in a large range of conditions apart from needing around 60% more windage allowance than 6.5mm projectiles [shot with a larger cartridge]. The biggest problem apart from my wind-reading skills was constantly getting out of the rhythm to call to have the target pulled as the pits crew didn’t hear the subsonic bullets and had trouble seeing their little holes.

In the early days of F-TR I used a 24″ barrel factory tactical rifle that was billed as F-TR ready — it wasn’t! The much touted 175gr Sierra MatchKing, as used in the US military M118LR sniper round, was allegedly good at 1000 yards at .308 velocities — but it wasn’t! It would group OK in [some calm] conditions, but any significant change would cause a much greater deflection on the target than the ballistic charts predicted, so transonic flight was obviously making it barely stable. I also suspect conditions on the day had a big effect as Litz’s program says [the 175gr SMK] is just subsonic at 2,650 fps MV at 1,000 in standard conditions. Throw in MV spread and there was a risk of some round remaining supersonic, while others went transonic. Plus warmer or colder air moving onto the range under some conditions might change things.

I used the combination on Scotland’s notorious Blair Atholl range at 1000 yards in one competition in a day of cold headwinds from the north and frequent rain squalls. The temperatures plummeted during the squalls (and the wind went mad too!) and what was an ‘interesting group pattern’ outside of squall conditions changed to seeing me do well to just stay on the target frame at all. On ranges other than Blair (which is electronic, so no pits crew), target markers reported they heard faint supersonic ‘crack’ and saw round holes on the paper, so the bullets appeared to remain stable and just supersonic in summer shooting conditions.

Transonic Problems with M118LR 7.62×51 Ammo
Confirmation of this transonic performance phenomenon has since come from USMC snipers who say the M118LR’s performance ‘falls off a cliff’ beyond 800m (875 yards), which is just what I found when shooting the bullet at slightly higher than M118LR muzzle velocities. A move to the 190gr SMK with Vihtavuori N550 keeping the MVs reasonable gave a vast improvement in 1000-yard performance.

Practical Advice — Use a Bullet That Stays Supersonic
The ‘easy’ / better answer to all this is to use a design such as the 30-caliber, 185gr Berger LRBT with a reputation for good long range performance and to load it to achieve or exceed 1,350 fps at 1000 yards. If I can get the combination I’m using to be predicted to hold 1,400 fps at this range in a G7-based program calculation, I’m happier still.

Incidentally, the old long-range, 30-cal Sierra bullets (the venerable 190gr, 200gr, and 220gr MatchKings), with their extra length boat-tail sections, have a superb reputation for stable transonic / subsonic flight. They were used by GB and British Commonwealth ‘Match Rifle’ shooters at 1000, 1100, and 1200 yards for many years before the current bunch of 210gr and up VLDs and Hybrids appeared.

Supersonic space shuttle waveTransonic vs. Supersonic

The term “Transonic” refers to velocities in the range of Mach 0.8 to 1.0, i.e. 600–768 mph. It is formally defined as the range of speeds between the critical Mach number, when some parts of the airflow are supersonic, and a higher speed, typically near Mach 1.2, when the vast majority of the airflow is supersonic. Instability can occur at transonic speeds. Shock waves move through the air at the speed of sound. When an aircraft goes transonic and approaches the speed of sound, these shock waves build up in front of it to form a single, very large shock wave. This is dramatically illustrated in this Space Shuttle photo.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
September 21st, 2014

Solvent-Resistant Cleaning Jags Eliminate “False Positives”

Brass jags perform well for their intended purpose — with one hitch. Strong copper solvents can actually leech metal from the jag itself, leaving the tell-tale blue tint on your patches. This “false positive” can be frustrating, and may lead shooters to over-clean their barrels.

Nylon JagGunslick Nylon Spire-Point Jags
There are now some good alternatives to brass jags. The best may be the Gunslick® Nylon Snap-Lock™ jags shown at right. These never leave a “false positive”. A while back, Larry Bartholome, past USA F-Class Team Captain told us: “The best spear-type jags I have used are the GunSlick black nylon tips. I have used the model 92400 for the last couple years in my 6BR and 6.5-284s. Unlike the white plastic jags, these are strong and there’s no brass to worry about.” You can purchase these nylon jags directly from GunSlick just $1.49 each. At that price, they’re worth a try.

#92400 for 22 through 270 calibers: $1.49
#92421 for 30 through 375/8mm calibers: $1.49
#92423 for 38 through 38/9mm calibers: $1.49


MidwayUSA Nickel Cleaning JagsTipton Nickel-Coated Jags
If you prefer a metal jag, consider the Tipton Nickel-coated Ultra Jags, sold both individually and as a boxed set. All Tipton nickel-plated jags have 8-32 thread, except for the .17 caliber jag which has a 5-40 thread. The vast majority of user reviews have been very positive. A few guys have complained that the nickel-plated Tipton jags run oversize, but we use a .22-caliber jag in our 6mms anyway, so this hasn’t been a problem for us. The 6mm (.243 caliber) nickel-plated jag (MidwayUSA item 259834) costs $4.79. The complete 12-jag set, covering .17 to .45 calibers, including a flip-top carry case, is offered by Midsouth Shooters Supply for $17.56 (Midsouth item 094-500012).

For a couple dollars more, you can get the new-style, 12-Jag Kit from MidwayUSA (Midway item, 812503, $19.99). This features an easy-to-use, clear-topped fitted caddy that can lie flat on your bench, or be attached vertically (to save space).

MidwayUSA Nickel Cleaning JagsMidwayUSA Nickel Cleaning Jags


Clear-Coating Your Brass Jags
If you’re reluctant to give up your collection of brass jags (after all they’ve worked pretty well so far), try covering the jag itself with a thin, transparent coating. Forum Member BillPA says: “I give the brass jags a coat of clear lacquer or acrylic; that works for me”. You may need to experiment to find a coating that stands up to your favorite solvent. BillPA says: “The only solvent I’ve found that eats the lacquer off is TM Solution. Butch’s, Shooter’s Choice, or Wipe-Out don’t seem to bother it. Most of the time I use rattle-can clear lacquer”. If you’re feeling creative, you could even color-code your jags by adding tints to the clear-coat.

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
September 17th, 2014

Ten Commandments for Use of Electronic Scales

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

Denver Instrument MXX-123

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RCBS Lock-Out Die Helps Prevent Faulty Charges on Progressives

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

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

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

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

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

Images © 2011 UltimateReloader.com, used by permission.
Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
September 10th, 2014

TECH TIP: Handy Accessories for Your Gun Safe

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

Goldenrod for gun safes

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

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

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

thermometer-hygrometerthermometer-hygrometer

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

Permalink Tech Tip 2 Comments »
September 8th, 2014

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

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

hexagonal Boron nitride bullets

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

hexagonal Boron nitride bullets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NSSF Video Provides Helpful Scope Mounting Advice

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

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

YouTube Preview Image

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

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

Harris Bipod Adapter for Flat-Bottomed Stocks

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

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

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

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

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 4 Comments »