June 25th, 2015
It’s vitally important to keep your ammo at “normal” temps during the hot summer months. Even if you use “temp-insensitive” powders, studies suggest that pressures can still rise dramatically when the entire cartridge gets hot, possibly because of primer heating. It’s smart to keep your loaded ammo in an insulated storage unit, possibly with a Blue Ice Cool Pak if you expect it to get quite hot. Don’t leave your ammo in the car or truck — temps can exceed 140° in a vehicle parked in the sun.
To learn more about how ambient temperature (and primer choice) affect pressures (and hence velocities) you should read the article Pressure Factors: How Temperature, Powder, and Primer Affect Pressure by Denton Bramwell. In that article, the author uses a pressure trace instrument to analyze how temperature affects ammo performance. Bramwell’s tests yielded some fascinating results.
For example, barrel temperature was a key factor: “Both barrel temperature and powder temperature are important variables, and they are not the same variable. If you fail to take barrel temperature into account while doing pressure testing, your test results will be very significantly affected. The effect of barrel temperature is around 204 PSI per F° for the Varget load. If you’re not controlling barrel temperature, you about as well might not bother controlling powder temperature, either. In the cases investigated, barrel temperature is a much stronger variable than powder temperature.”
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June 25th, 2015
OK, admit it — you’ve always wondered how they get those color swirls and camo patterns in McMillan stocks. (You’ll be surprised at the answer). And how does McMillan manage to inlet stocks so precisely for so many different action types?
McMillan Stocks is one of the leading fiberglass stock producers, cranking out 8,000-10,000 stocks every year for hunters, target shooters, and members of the military. McMillan employs state-of-the-art, high-tech machinery. At the same time, many processes are still done by hand — such as applying colors to the stocks.
In the videos below, Kelly McMillan hosts Bob Beck of Extreme Outer Limits TV in a tour of the McMillan stock-making facility. We think all avid “gun guys” will be fascinated by these high-quality videos.
McMillan Custom Stock Production
The first video shows the stock-building operation from start to finish — You’ll see the lay-up, color application, molding, and “stuffing”. Watch carefully at 0:16 to see colors being applied.
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June 18th, 2015
Readers who have just recently discovered the Daily Bulletin may not realize that AccurateShooter.com has hundreds of reference articles in our archives. These authoritative articles are divided into mutiple categories, so you can easily view stories by topic (such as competition, tactical, rimfire, optics, shooting skills etc.). One of the most popular categories is our Technical Articles Collection. On a handy index page (with thumbnails for every story), you’ll find over 100 articles covering technical and gunsmithing topics. These articles can help you with major projects (such as stock painting), and they can also help you build more accurate ammo. Here are five popular selections from our Technical Articles archive.
Complete Precision Case Prep. Jake Gottfredson covers the complete case prep process, including brass weight sorting, case trimming, primer pocket uniforming, neck-sizing, and, case-neck turning.
Stress-Free Pillar Bedding. Richard Franklin explains how to do a top-quality bedding job, start to finish.
OnTarget Software Review. Our Editors test free software that measures shot groups with great precision. We explain how to use the program and configure advanced features.
Savage Action Tuning. Top F-TR shooter Stan Pate explains how to enhance the performance of your Savage rifle by optimizing the torque settings of the action screws.
Stock Painting Instructions. Step-by-step guide for stock painting by expert Mike Ricklefs. Mike shows both simple coverage and fancy effects.
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June 15th, 2015
At long range, small bullet holes are much easier to see “in the white” than in the black center of the normal High Power target. When you’re practicing at long range using a scoped rifle, one way to enhance your ability to see your bullet holes is to print a “negative” version of the regulation bullseye target so that your black center is now white.
How do you create a “negative” of a target image? Many image programs, including the FREE Irfanview software, have a “Negative” function in the pull-down menu. If you don’t see a “Negative” menu option in your program, look for a “substitute colors” option. Many printers also have a “reverse colors” function. If you can’t find a solution with your computer or printer, just take a normal bullseye target to a copy shop, and the staff can easily print you a set of targets with white centers in black fields.
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June 14th, 2015
The .260 Remington and the 6.5×55 Swedish (aka 6,5x55mm SE) are both very popular cartridges with hunters and target shooters. The 6.5×55 has a long military heritage and a great record as a hunting round. The .260 Rem, essentially a .308 Win necked down to .264 caliber, is a more recent cartridge, but it grows in popularity every year, being one of the top cartridges for tactical/practical competitions. It offers better ballistics and less recoil than the parent .308 Win cartridge. In our Shooter’s Forum, respected UK gun writer Laurie Holland provided a good summary of the differences between the two chamberings. Laurie writes:
The 6.5×55 case has 6 or 7% more capacity than the .260s, even more in practice when both are loaded to standard COALs with heavy bullets, which sees them having to seated very deep in the .260 Rem using up quite a lot of powder capacity. So loaded up for reasonable pressures in modern actions, the 6.5×55 will give a bit more performance.
The issue for many is what action length is available or wanted, the 6.5×55 requiring a long action. So sniper rifle / tactical rifle competitors will go for the .260 Rem with the option of the many good short-bolt-throw designs around with detachable box magazines (DBMs). If a bit more performance is needed, the .260 AI (photo right) can yield another 100-150 fps velocity, depending on bullet weight.
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June 14th, 2015
Berger Twist-Rate Stability Calculator
LIVE DEMO BELOW — Just enter values in the data boxes and click “Calculate SG”.
On the updated Berger Bullets website you’ll find a handy Twist-Rate Stability Calculator that predicts your gyroscopic stability factor (SG) based on mulitiple variables: velocity, bullet length, bullet weight, barrel twist rate, ambient temperature, and altitude. This very cool tool tells you if your chosen bullet will really stabilize in your barrel.
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June 11th, 2015
Those of us over-50 types can use some help when shooting iron sights. As one gets older, your eyes lose the ability to rapidly adjust to different points of focus. In practice, when shooting a rifle, this means the target image may be sharp but the sights are blurry, or vice-versa. Or you may be able to see the target and front sight reasonably well, but the rear sight is a complete blur. (That is this Editor’s problem when shooting a rifle, such as a Swedish Mauser, with a notched blade rear sight.) Even if you are using a rear peep sight, you may see a blurry rear circle (or two circles if you have astigmatism). Placing a diopter sight (sighting disc) on your shooting glasses can help many people see open sights better, when shooting both handguns and rifles.
Merit Corp. in Schenectady, NY, offers an adjustable optical disc that attaches to shooting glasses with a rubber cup. Though primarily intended for pistol shooters, the Merit optical attachment can also be helpful when shooting rifles with open sights, such as military bolt actions. Priced at $65.00, the Merit device features a shutter-style, adjustable aperture iris.
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June 7th, 2015
You never want your barrel to get too hot. Accuracy suffers when barrels over-heat, and excessive heat is not good for barrel life. So how do you monitor your barrel’s temperature? You can check if the barrel is “warm to the touch” — but that method is not particularly precise. There is a better way — using temperature-sensitive strips. McMaster.com (a large industrial supply house) offers stick-on temp strips with values from 86° F to 140° F. A pack of ten (10) of these strips (item 59535K13) costs $10.71. So figure it’ll cost you about a buck per barrel for strips. That’s cheap insurance for your precious barrels.
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June 6th, 2015
Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders), publishes a Blog that covers all aspects of hand-loading and rifle maintenance. Recently the Western Powders Blog published a Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.
Proper Powder Storage
Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.
Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.
CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)
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June 1st, 2015
On some internet shooting forums, self-declared “experts” advise new rifle shooters to stick to low-end factory rifles. These “experts” (many of whom don’t own a single really accurate rifle), claim that it will take years for a new shooter to learn how to shoot a rifle accurately. So, the argument goes, the accuracy offered by a precision-chambered rifle, with a custom barrel, is “wasted” on a new shooter.
We disagree with that viewpoint, at least when it comes to rifles shot from a rest. Certainly it takes time for a complete novice to learn how to handle the gun and to work the trigger smoothly. However, we’ve seen relatively new shooters, with help from a skilled mentor, do remarkably well with precision rifles right from the start. With a good bench gun, many new shooters can shoot well under 1 MOA on the first day. This editor has personally seen some inexperienced ladies try their hand at benchrest shooting, and within a month or two they are shooting on a par with the “good old boys” in serious competition.
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May 27th, 2015
You have to admire someone with serious do-it-yourself skills. Not just hammer and nail skills, but formidable design and fabrication skills. Well Forum Member Dave D. (aka “AKShooter”) has a DIY skill set that might put some trained machinists to shame. You see, “DIY Dave” crafted his own pedestal front rest from scratch, using his own design and about $100.00 in materials (not counting the Edgewood front bag). Dave estimates he put 20 hours of labor into the project, but the end result was worth it: “This Do-It-Yourself rest drives like a dream. I’ve played with the Caldwell and a Sinclair, they have nothing on this one.”
Dave tells us: “Here is my Do-It-Yourself front rest. I wanted to show other folks who are handy that a solid front rest is doable with a bit of time — and you don’t need to spend $1000.00. (You could say this is a design for shooters with more time than money.) This is for F-Class. I was originally overwhelmed by the equipment needed, so I decided to make my own rest. I didn’t have the money for a SEB or Farley Coaxial. This is what I’ll run this season (my second as an F-Class competitor).”
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May 23rd, 2015
Here’s a great Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project from Martin Tardif. Build your own height-adjustable ammo caddy for under ten bucks. This is a great project for F-Open competitors as well as anyone who shoots with a pedestal front rest, either on the ground or from a bench. The ammo caddy attaches, via a flexible arm, to your front rest. The flexy arm allows you to position your ammunition close to your rifle’s feeding port. That makes it easy to grab cartridges and load them into the chamber without shifting your shooting position. Nice job Martin!
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May 21st, 2015
As a cartridge case is reloaded multiple times, burnt powder residue and carbon builds up on the inside of the case. Unless the case interior is cleaned in some fashion, eventually you’ll see a reduction in case capacity. One of our Forum members from Australia wonders about the effects of reduced case capacity: “If the capacity of the case decreases as the crud builds up, then it effectively reduces the chamber size. Wouldn’t that change the pressure produced from that of an equivalent clean case?”
Ultrasonic Cleaning Example:
Interesting Test of Case Capacity Changes
Forum member Fred Bohl has actual test results that can help answer the above question. Fred proved that, over a 20-reload cycle, the case capacity of uncleaned cases did, indeed, decline a small amount. However, surprisingly, this did not seem to affect the actual chronographed velocity of the load. ES did increase, but Fred believes the higher ES was due to changes in case-neck tension, rather than due to the slight reduction in case capacity.
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May 17th, 2015
“Shooting Chrony” is a product name. “Shooting Chrony” should not describe (post-mortem) what you have been doing to your chronograph. Sooner or later all of us may make a mistake, and ventilate our chronograph. With luck, the bullet just “wings” your chronograph, and the damage is minor. But if you hit the unit smack dab in the middle, you may have to retire your chrono for good.
A while back, Forum member Jeff M. (aka “JRM850″) experienced a “low blow” that put his Shooting Chrony out of commission. With tongue firmly in cheek, Jeff started a Forum thread entitled Chronograph Not Picking Up Shots in Bright Sunlight Anymore. Looking at the photo below, the problem is obvious.
This was Jeff’s first chrono kill in 23 years of use, so we shouldn’t be too critical. Jeff explained: “I didn’t realize a friend was shifting from a 300-yard target to 100 yards.” The agent of destruction was a low-traveling 58gr V-Max running at 3415 fps. What happened? Well, when one is shooting at 300 yards, the trajectory will be higher than at 100 yards. We should say, however, that this may have been a low shot, or the 100-yard aiming point may have been placed lower to the ground (closer to the bottom of the target frame), as compared to the 300-yard aiming point.
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May 17th, 2015
The last half-inch or so of your barrel is absolutely critical. Any damage (or abnormal wear) near the crown will cause a significant drop-off in accuracy. Here are ways you can check the end of your barrel, using a common Q-Tip.
Use Q-Tip for Barrel Inspection
To find out if you have a burr or damage to your crown, you can use an ordinary Q-tip cotton swab. Check the edges of the crown by pulling the Q-tip gently out past the edge of the crown. If you have a burr, it will “grab” the cotton and leave strands behind.
Larry Willis has another way to use a Q-Tip: “Here’s a neat trick that will surprise you with how well it works.” Just insert a Q-Tip into your barrel (like the picture below), and it will reflect enough light so that you can get a real good look at the last half inch of rifling and the crown of your barrel. In most cases you’ll find that this works much better than a flashlight. Larry tells us: “I’ve used this method about a jillion times. Q-Tips are handy to keep in your cleaning supplies anyway. This is a good way to judge approximately how well you are cleaning your barrel when you’re at the range. It’s also the best way to examine your barrel when you’re in the field.”
Larry Willis is the inventor of Innovative Technologies’ Belted Magnum Collet Resizing Die. Larry explains how this die works, and offers other reloading tips on LarryWillis.com.
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May 15th, 2015
Gunsmith Nat Lambeth (“RustyStud” on our Shooters’ Forum) offers the following advice for readers who need to ship rifles or major gun components (actions, barrels etc.) to gunsmiths or repair facilities.
You have several options when shipping your guns to and from a gunsmith. Nat Lambeth has tried them all and had problems with them all. Here are some pointers:
1. Always package your unloaded firearm so that it is not loose and can’t work itself loose during transport. I recommend, at minimum, you use a hardcase inside a cardboard box. You can order a hard case from any of the major gun gear web vendors or get one at Walmart. It will come in a nice cardboard box. Just open the end and slide it out. Put your gun in the plastic hard case (after oiling the metal parts) and slide it back into the box. Then tape and relabel the box. Make sure marking on the box does NOT identify the contents as a gun. (You may be required to identify the contents to the shipping company or U.S. Postal Service clerk however.) For a very expensive gun, consider using a wood shipping crate. I will be making some shipping cases from plywood and foam line them. I will have to charge my customer a deposit and when they return the shipping crate I will return their deposit.
2. Pack individual components carefully, and enclose them in separate bubble wrap (or styrofoam) if there is any chance the parts can contact one another. Your editor had an experience where the finish of a fine, blued handgun was ruined because the repair facility had placed old, replaced trigger parts loosely in a foam-lined case with the handgun. During shipping these spare parts worked back and forth, gouging and scratching the pistol.
3. Confirm the recipient’s address BEFORE you ship. Individuals and businesses change locations all the time. Don’t assume an address you used a few months ago is still valid. It’s tempting to use old addresses that are pre-configured in the UPS or Fedex web-based shipping programs, but you should always confirm address validity prior to shipping.
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May 14th, 2015
Let’s say you’ve purchased a new scope, and the spec-sheet indicates it is calibrated for quarter-MOA clicks. One MOA is 1.047″ inches at 100 yards, so you figure that’s how far your point of impact (POI) will move with four clicks. Well, unfortunately, you may be wrong. You can’t necessarily rely on what the manufacturer says. Production tolerances being what they are, you should test your scope to determine how much movement it actually delivers with each click of the turret. It may move a quarter-MOA, or maybe a quarter-inch, or maybe something else entirely. (Likewise scopes advertised as having 1/8-MOA clicks may deliver more or less than 1 actual MOA for 8 clicks.)
Reader Lindy explains how to check your clicks: “First, make sure the rifle is not loaded. Take a 40″ or longer carpenter’s ruler, and put a very visible mark (such as the center of an orange Shoot’N’C dot), at 37.7 inches. (On mine, I placed two dots side by side every 5 inches, so I could quickly count the dots.) Mount the ruler vertically (zero at top) exactly 100 yards away, carefully measured.
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May 12th, 2015
With the end summer, the shooting season in full swing. When you head to the range you’ll want to be prepared. That means collecting all the gear you’ll need at the range. It’s easy to forget small, critical items, so we’ve provided a checklist of the small “extras” you should pack before you head out to the range. In addition to rifle, rests, ammo, targets, and cleaning gear, here are a dozen essentials you should include in your range bag.
• Shell-Holder — If you don’t have calipers, you can use a shell-holder to check for excessive case expansion from hot loads. If a fired case doesn’t slip into the shell-holder easily, your load is definitely TOO HOT.
• Extra Earplugs — Always use ear protection when shooting. We bring a 35mm film canister with extra sets of foam earplugs.
• Hex Wrench or Screwdriver for action screws — Action screws can work loose with time. Always bring the appropriate hex wrench or screwdriver whenever you go to the range.
• Small Wrench for Scope Rings — Check the tension of your scope base and ring fasteners before you go. Bring along a small Torx wrench for the ring screws (or other tool that fits your fasteners).
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April 30th, 2015
This is an interesting technical article prepared by Action Target, a leading steel target manufacturer based in Provo, Utah. With technical data provided by the American Iron and Steel Institute in Washington D.C., this report is designed to cut through the recent hype and establish a basis of fact for accurate evaluation and comparison.
What Is Steel?
Steel is an alloy metal composed of iron and varying amounts of carbon and/or other elements such as chromium, nickel, tungsten, manganese, and so on. Steel with specific properties and characteristics is created by adjusting the overall chemical composition or by altering the various production processes such as rolling, finishing, and heat treatment. Because each of these factors can be modified, there is potentially no limit to the number of different steel recipes that can be created. Currently, there are over 3,000 cataloged grades or chemical compositions of steel available. Steel can utilize a wide variety of alloying elements and heat treatments to develop the most desirable combination of properties.
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April 23rd, 2015
The experts at ELEY Limited, top rimfire ammo-maker, have posted a helpful guide to cleaning rimfire barrels. We reprint highlights of the article below, but we suggest you read the full article on the Eley website: How to Clean Your Rifle the ELEY Way.
Editor’s Comment: This is not the only way to clean a rimfire barrel. There are other procedures. This is the method recommended by ELEY based on decades of experience with the top smallbore shooters in the world, including many Olympic Gold Medalists. Some shooters have been very successful cleaning less frequently, or using different types of solvents. The ELEY method is a good starting point.
Rimfire Barrel Cleaning
1. Clean the extension tube with a 12 gauge brush and felt or tissue moistened with solvent.
2. Smoothly insert a cleaning rod guide into the receiver.
3. Apply a dry felt to the cleaning rod adapter and push it through the barrel to the muzzle in one slow steady movement. As the felt is dry it may feel stiff.
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