April 3rd, 2018

Don’t Kill the Chrono! Setting up Chronos to Avoid Stray Shots

chronograph placement, shooting chrony, chrono, advisory, tech tip

There is nothing more frustrating (or embarassing) than sending a live round into your expensive new chronograph. As the photo below demonstrates, with most types of chronographs (other than the barrel-hung Magnetospeed), you can fatally injure your expensive chrono if it is not positioned precisely.

When setting up a chrono, we always unload the rifle, remove the bolt and bore-sight to ensure that the path of the bullet is not too low. When bore-sighting visually, set up the rifle securely on the sandbags and look through the bore, breech to muzzle, lining up the barrel with your aim point on the target. Then (during an appropriate cease-fire), walk behind the chronograph. Looking straight back through the “V” formed by the sky-screens, you should be able to see light at the end of the barrel if the gun is positioned correctly. You can also use an in-chamber, laser bore-sighter to confirm the visual boresighting (see photo).

Laser boresighter chronograph

Adjust the height, angle and horizontal position of the chronograph so the bullet will pass through the middle of the “V” below the plastic diffusers, no less than 5″ above the light sensors. We put tape on the front sky-screen supports to make it easier to determine the right height over the light sensors.

Use a Test Backer to Confirm Your Bullet Trajectory
You can put tape on the support rods about 6″ up from the unit. This helps you judge the correct vertical height when setting up your rifle on the bags. Another trick is to hang a sheet of paper from the rear skyscreen and then use a laser boresighter to shine a dot on the paper (with the gun planted steady front and rear). This should give you a good idea (within an inch or so) of the bullet’s actual flight path through the “V” over the light sensors. Of course, when using a laser, never look directly at the laser! Instead shine the laser away from you and see where it appears on the paper.

chronograph set-up

Alignment of Chronograph Housing
Make sure the chrono housing is parallel to the path of the bullet. Don’t worry if the unit is not parallel to the ground surface. What you want is the bullet to pass over both front and rear sensors at the same height. Don’t try to set the chrono height in reference to the lens of your scope–as it sits 1″ to 2″ above your bore axis. To avoid muzzle blast interference, set your chronograph at least 10 feet from the end of the muzzle (or the distance recommended by the manufacturer).

chronograph laser sky screens

Rifles with Elevated Iron Sights
All too often rookie AR15 shooters forget that AR sights are positioned roughly 2.4″ above the bore axis (at the top of the front sight blade). If you set your bullet pass-through point using your AR’s front sight, the bullet will actually be traveling 2.4″ lower as it goes through the chrono. That’s why we recommend bore-sighting and setting the bullet travel point about 5-8″ above the base of the sky-screen support shafts. (Or the vertical distance the chronograph maker otherwise recommends). NOTE: You can make the same mistake on a scoped rifle if the scope is set on very tall rings, so the center of the cross-hairs is much higher than the bore axis line.

Laser boresighter chronograph

TARGET AIM POINT: When doing chrono work, we suggest you shoot at a single aiming point no more than 2″ in diameter (on your target paper). Use that aiming point when aligning your chrono with your rifle’s bore. If you use a 2″ bright orange dot, you should be able to see that through the bore at 100 yards. Using a single 2″ target reduces the chance of a screen hit as you shift points of aim. If you shoot at multiple target dots, place them in a vertical line, and bore sight on the lowest dot. Always set your chron height to set safe clearance for the LOWEST target dot, and then work upwards only.

Other Chronograph Tips from Forum Members:

When using a chronograph, I put a strip of masking tape across the far end of the skyscreens about two-thirds of the way up. This gives me a good aiming or bore-sighting reference that’s well away from the pricey bits. I learned that one the hard way. — GS Arizona

A very easy and simple tool to help you set up the chronograph is a simple piece of string! Set your gun (unloaded of course) on the rest and sight your target. Tie one end of the string to the rear scope ring or mount, then pull the string along the barrel to simulate the bullet path. With the string showing the bullet’s path, you can then easily set the chronograph’s placement left/right, and up/down. This will also let you set the chrono’s tilt angle and orientation so the sensors are correctly aligned with the bullet path. — Wayne Shaw

If shooting over a chrono from the prone position off a bipod or similar, beware of the muzzle sinking as recoil causes the front of the rifle to drop. I “killed” my first chronograph shooting off a gravel covered firing point where I’d not given enough clearance to start with and an inch or two drop in the muzzle caused a bullet to clip the housing. — Laurie Holland

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March 31st, 2018

Wind Wizardry — How to Use a Kestrel Correctly

Kestrel Wind Meter Direction Vane Applied Ballistics

A lot of folks use a Kestrel Wind Meter every time at the range. That’s a good thing. However, many Kestrel owners may not be employing the Kestrel properly when seeking wind direction.

A Kestrel Wind Meter will record wind speed with its impeller wheel. However, to get the most accurate wind velocity reading, you need to have your Kestrel properly aligned with the wind direction. To find wind direction, first orient the Kestrel so that the impeller runs at minimal speed (or stops), and only then turn the BACK of the Kestrel into the wind direction. Do NOT simply rotate the Kestrel’s back panel looking for the highest wind speed reading — that’s not the correct method for finding wind direction. Rotate the side of the Kestrel into the wind first, aiming for minimal impeller movement. The correct procedure is explained below by the experts at Applied Ballistics.

How to Find the Wind Direction with a Kestrel Wind Meter

Here is the correct way to determine wind direction with a Kestrel wind meter when you have no environmental aids — no other tools than a Kestrel. (NOTE: To determine wind direction, a mounted Wind Vane is the most effective tool, but you can also look at flags, blowing grass, or even the lanyard on your Kestrel).

Step 1: Find the wind’s general direction.

Step 2: Rotate the Wind Meter 90 degrees, so that the wind is impacting the side (and not the back) of the wind meter, while still being able to see the impeller.

Step 3: Fine-tune the direction until the impeller drastically slows, or comes to a complete stop (a complete stop is preferred). If the impeller won’t come to a complete stop, find the direction which has the lowest impact on the impeller.

Step 4: Turn the BACK of the Kestrel towards the direction from which the wind is blowing. Then press the capture button, and record your wind speed.

Do NOT simply point the Kestrel’s back into the wind until you get the highest wind speed — that’s not the correct method.

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March 30th, 2018

TECH TIP: Use a Block to Maintain Front Bag Shape

John Loh Front Rest JJ Industries

front rest bag blockHere’s a simple solution for lumpy front sandbags. Cut a small block the width of your fore-end and place that in the front bag between matches. You can tap it down firmly with a rubber mallet. This will keep the front bag nice and square, without bunching up in the center. That will help your rifle track straight and true. Rick Beginski uses wood (see photo), while our friend John Southwick uses a small block of metal. The metal block might work a little better, but the wood version is easier to make with simple tools. John Loh of JJ Industries offers a slick Delrin block with a built-in bubble level. Loh’s block helps ensure that the actual top surface of your front bag is level, as distinct from the front rest assembly.

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March 27th, 2018

How to Tame Vertical Stringing — Tips from Speedy

Speedy Vertical Stringing Tech tip

One of our Shooter’s Forum members recently built a new benchrest rifle. He was concerned because his groups were stringing vertically. This is a common problem that all precision shooters will face sooner or later. In addition to ammo inconsistencies, many other factors can cause vertical stringing. Accordingly, it’s important that you analyze your gun handling and bench set-up systematically.

Hall of Fame benchrest Shooter Speedy Gonzalez has written a helpful article that explains how to eliminate mechanical and gun-handling problems that cause vertical spread in your groups. Speedy’s article addresses both the human and the hardware factors that cause vertical. CLICK HERE to read the full article. Here are a few of Speedy’s tips:

Front Bag Tension — Vertical can happen if the front sand bag grips the fore-arm too tightly. If…the fore-arm feels like it is stuck in the bag, then the front bag’s grip is too tight. Your rifle should move in evenly and smoothly in the sand bags, not jerk or chatter when you pull the gun back by hand.

Sandbag Fill — A front sandbag that is too hard can induce vertical. Personally, I’ve have never had a rifle that will shoot consistently with a rock-hard front sandbag. It always causes vertical or other unexplained shots.

Stock Recoil — Free-recoil-style shooters should be sure their rifle hits their shoulder squarely on recoil, not on the edge of their shoulder or the side of their arm. If you shoulder your gun, you need to be consistent. You can get vertical if your bench technique is not the same every shot. One common problem is putting your shoulder against the stock for one shot and not the next.

Front Rest Wobble — You will get vertical if the top section of the front rest is loose. Unfortunately, a lot of rests have movement even when you tighten them as much as you can. This can cause unexplained shots.

Stock Flex — Some stocks are very flexible. This can cause vertical. There are ways to stiffen stocks, but sometimes replacement is the best answer.

Rifle Angle — If the gun is not level, but rather angles down at muzzle end, the rifle will recoil up at butt-end, causing vertical. You may need to try different rear bags to get the set-up right.

Last Shot Laziness — If the 5th shot is a regular problem, you may be guilty of what I call “wishing the last shot in”. This is a very common mistake. We just aim, pull the trigger, and do not worry about the wind flags. Note that in the photo below, the 5th shot was the highest in the group–probably because of fatigue or lack of concentration.

CLICK HERE for Speedy’s full article with more tips and advice.

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March 24th, 2018

Wave Pattern POI — How Barrel Tuners Alter Point of Impact

Tuner Pascal Bukys Point of Impact shift test 6 PPC benchrest

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine waveHave a good look at the photos below — this may be one of the most noteworthy target strings we’ve ever published. What you can see is the effect of barrel tuner position on point of impact (POI). You can clearly see that the tuner position alters the up/down POI location in a predictable fashion.

This remarkable 15-shot sequence was shot by French benchrester Pascal Fischbach using his 6 PPC fitted with a CG (Carlito Gonzales) action and a Bukys barrel tuner.

Pascal reports: “After [bullet] seating and load validation, I put the Bukys tuner on, screwing it out 10 turns. According to Carlito, the CG’s super stiff action-to-barrel fit gives a faster vibration modulus that is detrimental below 10 turns [position of the tuner].” Pascal’s procedure was to screw out the tuner 1/4 turn progressively from one shot to the next. He shot one bullet at each tuner position, with a total of 15 shots.

15-Shot Sequence with Tuner Changes
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave
CLICK HERE to SEE Large Version of Complete Test Strip (All 15 shots in a row).

Left Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Right Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Pascal observed: “Note the point of impact displacement [from shot to shot] tracks clearly along a sinusoide (sine wave curve).” This is indeed notable and significant! This shows how the tuner’s ability to change barrel harmonics can alter the position of the muzzle as each bullet exits, resulting in a higher or lower POI. Pascal sent his results to Carlito Gonzales in Argentina for analysis.

Pascal poses this question to readers: “Guess which three positions Carlito recommends to try?”

Editor’s Note: While this target sequence clearly shows how tuner position can alter bullet point of impact, this, by itself, does not tell us which tuner position(s) are best for accuracy. That will require further multi-shot group testing, involving careful experimentation with tuner position (and powder charge weights). But for those folks who doubt that a tuner can make a difference on a short, fat barrel, just take another look at the photos. The up/down changes are undeniable, and noteworthy in the wave pattern they follow.

Shooting Set-up and Test Conditions:
Pascal did this test at an outdoor range under very good conditions: “This was shot at my home range, outdoors, with four Smiley flag. The range is a narrow cut in high woods. Wind was consistent with readable flags. I started testing the tuner from 10 turns out and on to 15. I recently… found a sweet spot very close to the rearmost position of the tuner, so the rigidity provided by this super long tenon (just short of 70mm) was not a reason to overlook the recommended Bukys tuning procedure.”

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
March 23rd, 2018

Primer Pocket Rocket — Another Reason to Use Eye Protection

Primer Blown Gas defect winchester casehead

Our friend Grant Guess recently had a “close encounter” with a bad primer. An apparently defective primer caused part of the casehead on one of his rounds to blow out. This, in turn, allowed high pressure gas to vent through the damaged primer pocket. Take a good look, boys and girls. This is yet another very good reason to wear safety glasses. The cartridge was a 6.5-06, 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 pinned the flash hole and it is not over-sized or under-sized. The primer clearly has an area where it had a defect. At [50,000 CUP], it doesn’t take much of a defect to cause issues. There was a slight bit of pucker-factor on the next shot….”

Primer Blown Gas defect winchester casehead

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
March 19th, 2018

Reloading Rooms and Fire Hazards — True Story

Electrical Fire Tumbler ExtinguisherA fire in the home is always to be feared. And a fire in your reloading room can be disastrous. Near your reloading bench you probably have flammable solvents, and maybe gunpowder. What would happen if an electrical fire started in your reloading room? Would you be alerted? Do you have a proper fire extinguisher at hand?

Here’s a true story from Forum Member Joe O. (aka “Joecob”) that provides a valuable safety lesson. After Joe started up his old tumbler, an internal connector worked loose, causing an arc which started a fire in his basement reloading area. Luckily Joe had a functioning smoke detector, and a fire extinguisher.

Very few of us would worry about fire when we plug in a tumbler or other AC-powered reloading tool. But there is always the possibility of a malfunction and a fire. Quick thinking (and a handy extinguisher) prevented serious damage to Joe’s reloading room and house — but things could have been worse (much worse), had Joe not responded quickly.

Fire in the Reloading RoomReport by Joecob
The day before ‘Sandy’ hit I was cleaning brass the way I always have. I set the vibratory tumbler on the back of my reloading bench in the basement. I loaded the media hopper with 40 fired empty brass cases (and walnut media), plugged the cord in, turned the tumbler on and went back upstairs to watch TV. I could hear the tumbler running in the background.

About half an hour later I heard the basement smoke alarm go off. I ran downstairs. Flames were licking from the melting plastic of the tumbler.

ABC fire extinguisherI grabbed the nearby ABC cannister extinguisher and squirted out the fire and soaked the charred bench areas with water. Good thing I had the extinguisher! And I was glad I religiously store powder and primers properly — away from the bench (and everything else).

What caused the fire? It looks like an internal AC connector finally vibrated loose enough to arc and ignite the plastic. WHEH! I had been using that thing for 25 years the same way without mishap. Guess I should have known to periodically check the guts of a thing that plugs in and vibrates for a living?

Today I went out and bought a new even bigger ‘Pro’ ABC extinguisher, plus a dual-detector smoke alarm, and an ultrasonic cleaner. That experience was scarier than the storm. I hope this true account might help someone else to avoid a bad experience.

In his account, Joe refers to an “ABC” cannister fire extinguisher. The “ABC” refers to the fire classification rating: Class A (trash, wood, and paper), Class B (liquids and gases), and Class C (energized electrical equipment) fires. There are many brands of ABC-rated extinguishers.

The rechargeable Kidde 210 unit (sku 21005779) contains four pounds of a multipurpose monoammonium phosphate dry chemical extinguishing agent. It has a discharge time of 13 to 15 seconds, a discharge range of 10 to 15 feet, and an operating pressure of 100 PSI. The seamless aluminum cylinder measures 4.5 inches in diameter and 15.7 inches tall. The Kidde 210 has a 6-year limited warranty. This is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller among Fire Extinguishers.

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March 18th, 2018

Build Your Own Target Stand with Inexpensive PVC or ABS Pipe

PVC target stand
Assembly Diagram: Here are all the components of the target frame. The overall maximum assembled dimensions are roughly 26″ wide, 41″ deep, and 66″ tall (the cardboard is 2 x 3 feet).

PVC target standOne of the easiest ways to build a portable target stand is to use PVC pipe and connectors. Utah .308 Shooter “Cheese” has created a simple yet sturdy target frame, and he’s shared his design so you can build a similar frame easily and at low cost. The components are wood furring strips, 2″-diameter PVC pipes (and connections), and a 2’x3′ sheet of cardboard. The PVC base can be glued together, or, for easier transport and storage, you can leave some or all of the connections free. “Cheese” tells us: “I didn’t glue any of it together so I could disassemble it, shove it in a bag and take it anywhere.”

“All the parts are just pushed together and not glued. That way I can break it down and carry it all in a bag. Also, if a buddy (not me!) happens to shoot the stand, I can easily replace just the damaged piece. The last 6 inches of the furring strips are wittled-down a bit so they can be pushed into the upright pipes with a little friction. The cardboard is 2 x 3 feet, and I use a staple gun to attach it to the furring strips. Then I just staple the target onto the cardboard and go at it.

Of course you can modify the dimensions as desired. I chose the black ABS pipe over white PVC simply for cost — black ABS is a little cheaper. You can also glue some or all of the parts together, it’ll just be larger for transporting. In windy conditions, the thing likes to come apart. Duct tape might work well.

For weight, I thought about filling the two end pipes with sand and gluing test caps on each of their ends. The test caps still allow the pipes to slip into the elbows.”

Add Anchors or Internal Weight for Stability
On a very windy day, a PVC stand can shake or even topple over. There are a couple solutions to this. Some people fill the PVC pipe sections with sand to add weight, or you can put short sections of Re-BAR inside the long legs. One GlockTalk forum member noted: “I built [a frame] almost identical to this. I also take four pieces of wire coathanger bent into an inverted “U” shape to anchor the frame to the ground. It is so light that wind will knock the stand over [without anchors].”

You can find photos of a similar home-made PVC target stand (with a slightly different rear section) on the Box of Truth website. This also employs a PVC tubing base with wood uprights. We’ve also seen all-PVC target stands, but we’ve found that it is easier to attach the cardboard to wood strips than to PVC pipe. Also, if the upper section is wood, you can fit different height targets, while using the same base.

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March 14th, 2018

TECH TIP: When and How to Use Bore-Snakes

Handloading USAMU Facebook Bore Cleaning

On Wednesdays, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit often publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. One “Handloading Hump Day” post covered bore-cleaning, specifically the use of pull-through style bore snakes. Visit the USAMU Facebook page each Wednesday for other helpful tips.

Today, we’ll shift from handloading to rifle bore cleaning and maintenance, with information courtesy of the USAMU’s Custom Firearms Shop. We recently had some inquiries about bore cleaning, and this seems a good opportunity to share. After all, even the best handloads won’t yield their full potential in a poorly-cleaned and maintained rifle.

BORE SNAKES: MIRACLE REPLACEMENT FOR THE CLEANING ROD?
The experiences of both our firearms test specialist and this writer have given no evidence that proper use of a clean bore-snake will damage a match barrel. Of course, one does not pull the bore-snake at an angle to the crown when removing it — pull it straight out, parallel to the bore’s direction, to prevent crown wear over time.

USAMU Handloading facebook page bore snake cleaningBore-snakes are very useful for some applications (primarily a hasty, interim wipe-down). In [my] experience they cannot replace a thorough cleaning with a proper rod and brushes. While the experiment cited here involves rimfire, it may help illustrate. Several years ago, the writer used his new, personal Anschutz to investigate the bore-snake issue. It had been fired ~350 rds with match ammo and had had 3 typical rod/brush cleanings.

Next, starting with a clean bore, the writer fired 300 more rounds without cleaning in order to build up a “worst-case” fouling condition. Afterwards, the writer examined the bore with a Hawkeye bore scope. There was a uniform, grey film down the entire barrel, with some small, intermittent lead build-up at and just forward of the throat.

A new bore-snake was then wet with solvent and pulled through the bore. The Hawkeye revealed that the grey fouling was gone, and much of the visible fouling at the throat was reduced. However, nine more passes with the bore-snake, checking after each with the Hawkeye, revealed no further improvement in cleaning. The writer then cleaned with two wet patches, observed, then one stroke of a new, wet bronze brush, and one wet patch to clean out residue.

USAMU Handloading facebook page bore snake cleaning

The Hawkeye showed a significant reduction in fouling at the throat; it was virtually gone. A second pass with a wet bronze brush and a wet patch removed the remaining fouling. Scrubbing the bore further, checking to see how much fouling was removed, revealed no significant improvement. The reason for this test was to learn what’s needed to get (and keep) this Anschutz clean with minimal cleaning rod use — and thus, minimal risk of bore damage/wear. Leaving fouling in the bore promotes corrosion over time.

Obviously, this applies to a nice, smooth rimfire match barrel, using good, well lubed ammo. It doesn’t apply directly to the use of copper-jacketed bullets, which leave a stubborn fouling all their own. However, it does suggest that while the bore-snake can be helpful and a useful field-expedient, to truly clean a rifle barrel one will still need a good quality rod, bronze brush and solvents. [Editor: Add a good-fitting cleaning rod bore guide

SO, WHAT ABOUT BORE SNAKES FOR BARREL BREAK-IN?
The goal of barrel break-in is to fire each shot through a clean barrel, preventing copper buildup and allowing the bullets their best chance at burnishing sharp edges. Thus, it seems this purpose would be best served by one’s usual rods, brushes and rod guides.

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March 10th, 2018

How to Make a Dummy Round — Greg Tannel Explains

Gre Tannel GreTan, Gre-Tan Rifles dummy round chambering gunsmith reamer chamber

How and Why to Create a Dummy Round
When you have a new custom rifle built, or a new barrel fitted to an existing rifle, it makes sense to create a dummy round. This should have your preferred brass and bullet types, with the bullet positioned at optimal seating depth. A proper dummy round helps the gunsmith set the freebore correctly for your cartridge, and also ensure the proper chamber dimensions.

Respected machinist, tool-maker, and gunsmith Greg Tannel of Gre-Tan Rifles explains: “I use the dummy round as a gauge to finish cut the neck diameter and throat length and diameter so you have [optimal] clearance on the loaded neck and the ogive of the bullet just touches the rifling.” He recommends setting bullet so the full diameter is just forward of the case’s neck-shoulder junction. “From there”, Greg says, “I can build you the chamber you want… with all the proper clearances”.

Greg Tannel has created a very helpful video showing how to create a dummy round. Greg explains how to measure and assemble the dummy and how it will be used during the barrel chambering process. Greg notes — the dummy round should have NO Primer and No powder. We strongly recommend that every rifle shooter watch this video. Even if you won’t need a new barrel any time soon, you can learn important things about freebore, leade and chamber geometry.

This has been a very popular video, with 244,000 views. Here are actual YouTube comments:

That is the best explanation I’ve ever seen. Thank you sir. — P. Pablo

Nice video. You do a very good job of making this easy for new reloaders to understand. I sure wish things like this were available when I started reloading and having custom rifles built. Once again, great job, and your work speaks for itself. — Brandon K.

Beautiful job explaining chambering clearances. — D. Giorgi

Another Cool Tool — The Stub Gauge

When you have your gunsmith chamber your barrel, you can also have him create a Stub Gauge, i.e. a cast-off barrel section chambered like your actual barrel. The stub gauge lets you measure the original length to lands and freebore when your barrel was new. This gives you a baseline to accurately assess how far your throat erodes with use. Of course, as the throat wears, to get true length-to-lands dimension, you need take your measurement using your actual barrel. The barrel stub gauge helps you set the initial bullet seating depth. Seating depth is then adjusted accordingly, based on observed throat erosion, or your preferred seating depth.

Stub Gauge Gunsmithing chamber gage model barrel

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March 8th, 2018

How NOT to Headspace a Barrel — Speedy’s Disturbing Discovery

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales
This barrel’s shoulder was 0.025″ off the action because Red Locktite had been used on the threads.

Gunsmith Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzales offered this interesting report about how NOT to headspace a barrel. Hopefully you never discover something like this…

“A good friend and customer sent this rig in for repair after FedEx damaged the rifle during inbound transport from another smith. After repairing the stock and rebedding it, I decided to re-polish the barrel to make the repair perfect. Well this just added insult to injury as the barrel did not want to come off. After a few choice words, the barrel finally broke free only to reveal something very disturbing. It seems the barrel had been ‘headspaced’ by using RED Loctite to hold it in place.” [Editor: That’s definitely NOT how barrels should be fitted.]

Speedy was not happy: “I hope the smith that did this sees the photos and realized what jeopardy he put my customer in or anyone who shot the rifle for that matter. When cleaned up, the shoulder on the barrel was over 0.0250″ (25 thousandths) away from the face of the receiver.” [Editor: That’s a lot in this business]. Check out the images below to see how much the barrel rotated further inward when cleaned up. The barrel spun in nearly another eighth-turn or more. Not good.

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 11 Comments »
March 7th, 2018

Try Ballistol Lube for Case Sizing, STP for Neck Turning

If you’re using a body die or a full-length sizing die, try using Ballistol (in the aerosol can) as a lube. It works GREAT without the tacky or gooey residue left by most case lubes. It will also clean off carbon residues on the neck as you lube the case. Just spray a little on a cotton patch (or your fingertips) and wipe each case before you run it up into the die. If you are using a steel neck bushing, be sure to wipe the neck as well. You can usually do a half-dozen BR-sized cases before you need to re-apply Ballistol on the patch. Ballistol is non-toxic, bio-degradeable, and will not harm your skin. It is very slippery, but can easily be removed with a rag or paper towel. Try it–you may retire your One-Shot. Ballistol can also be used to protect wood stocks.

Note, for heavy case-forming or necking up case necks, we still recommend a thicker lubricant, such as Imperial Die Wax. But for normal case sizing, after your neck has been expanded, Ballistol will do the job, and you won’t need to tumble the brass afterwards. All you need is a very thin layer of Ballistol, and this easily wipes off with a paper towel.

For Neck-Turning, Try STP Blend or Assembly Lube
For lubing the neck-turning tool mandrel while turning case necks, many folks use a blend of STP® Oil Treatment and Mobil 1 lube. Chuckw2 reports: “Try STP and Mobile 1 Synthetic oil in a 50/50 mixture. Very slick, you will need to tumble your cases after turning.” STP is a very thick lubricant, that flows and clings almost like honey. Jason reports the STP blend comes off easily in an ultra-sound bath, using a bit of detergent. STP is also now available in a convenient 7-ounce tube, so you don’t have to buy a large bottle.

Assembly LubeAnother even cheaper option is assembly lubricant. For turning his case necks, RStreich uses assembly lube from an auto parts store. He notes: “The brand I have is reddish in color and kind of sticky like honey. It’s far better than the Imperial die wax I was using before.” There are a variety of types, both with and without moly additive, and you can select the viscosity you prefer if you sample a few brands. Be sure to clean out any lube residue from the inside of your necks when you have completed your neck-turning.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
March 5th, 2018

Safety Tip for Loading With Coated Bullets

Moly Danzac Bullet Coating Anti-friction HBN

Coating bullets with a friction-reducing compound such as Molybdenum Disulfide (Moly) offers potential benefits, including reduced barrel heat, and being able to shoot longer strings of fire between bore cleanings. One of the effects of reduced friction can be the lessening of internal barrel pressures. This, in turn, means that coated bullets may run slower than naked bullets (with charges held equal). To restore velocities, shooters running coated bullets are inclined to “bump up” the load — but you need to be cautious.

Be Careful When Increasing Loads for Coated Bullets
We caution shooters that when your start out with coated bullets in a “fresh barrel” you should NOT immediately raise the charge weight. It may take a couple dozen coated rounds before the anti-friction coating is distributed through the bore, and you really start to see the reduced pressures. Some guys will automatically add a grain or so to recommended “naked” bullet charge weights when they shoot coated bullets. That’s a risky undertaking.

We recommend that you use “naked” bullet loads for the first dozen coated rounds through a new barrel. Use a chronograph and monitor velocities. It may take up to 30 rounds before you see a reduction in velocity of 30-50 fps that indicates that your anti-friction coating is fully effective.

We have a friend who was recently testing moly-coated 6mm bullets in a 6-6.5×47. Moly had not been used in the barrel before. Our friend had added a grain to his “naked” bullet load, thinking that would compensate for the predicted lower pressures. What he found instead was that his loads were WAY too hot initially. It took 30+ moly-coated rounds through the bore before he saw his velocities drop — a sign that the pressure had lowered due to the moly. For the rounds fired before that point his pressures were too high, and he ended up tossing some expensive Lapua brass into the trash because the primer pockets had expanded excessively.

LESSON: Start low, even with coated bullets. Don’t increase your charge weights (over naked bullet loads) until you have clear evidence of lower pressure and reduced velocity.

Procedure After Barrel Cleaning
If you shoot Moly, and clean the barrel aggressively after a match, you may want to shoot a dozen coated “foulers” before starting your record string. Robert Whitley, who has used Moly in some of his rifles, tells us he liked to have 10-15 coated rounds through the bore before commencing record fire. In a “squeaky-clean” bore, you won’t get the full “benefits” of moly immediately.

To learn more about the properties of dry lubricants for bullets, read our Guide to Coating Bullets. This covers the three most popular bullet coatings: Molybdenum Disulfide (Moly), Tungsten Disulfide (WS2 or ‘Danzac’), and Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN). The article discusses the pros and cons of the different bullet coatings and offers step-by-step, illustrated instructions on how to coat your bullets using a tumbler.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
March 4th, 2018

Valkyrie Velocity: Barrel Cut-Down Test with 60, 75, 90 grainers

224 .224 Valkyrie barrel cut-down test velocity 90gr Sierra MatchKing Fusion SP TMK

224 .224 Valkyrie barrel cut-down test velocity 90gr Sierra MatchKing Fusion SP TMKVelocity vs. barrel length — How much speed will I sacrifice with a shorter barrel? Hunters and competition shooters often ask that. Today we DO have solid answers to that question for many cartridge types thanks to Rifleshooter.com.

Rifleshooter.com has conducted a series of barrel cut-down tests for many popular chamberings: .223 Rem, 6mm Creedmoor, .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, .300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Magnum and more. And recently Rifleshooter.com added the new .224 Valkyrie cartridge to the list, cutting a 28″ Shilen barrel down to 16.5″ in one-inch increments. Rifleshooter.com measured the .224 Valkyrie’s velocities at each barrel length with four different types of factory ammo.

For its .224 Valkyrie test, RifleShooter.com sourced a Shilen Match Barrel and fitted it to a Rem 700 short action employing a one-piece PT&G bolt with the required .440″ (SPC-sized) bolt-face. The barreled action rides in a MDT LSS-XL Gen 2 Chassis.

READ .224 Valkyrie Barrel Cut-Down Test on Rifleshooter.com »

Bill, Rifleshooter.com’s Editor, explained his test procedure:

“I gathered four different types of factory Federal 224 Valkyrie ammunition, the 90gr Sierra MatchKing (SMK), 90gr Fusion soft point (SP) (referred to a Fusion MSR), 75gr Total Metal Jacket (TMJ) and 60gr Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint (NBT). After a brief barrel break in and zero, I fired 5 rounds of each cartridge at each barrel length (except the 75 TMJ, I fired 4 rounds at each barrel length due to limited resources). I recorded the average muzzle velocity and standard deviation for each ammunition and barrel length combination and cut the barrel back 1 inch and repeated the process. I recorded barrel lengths from 28″ to 16.5″ (I try to save these barrels as finished 16″ tubes so they don’t go to waste).”

224 .224 Valkyrie barrel cut-down test velocity 90gr Sierra MatchKing Fusion SP TMK

The Heavy Bullet 90gr Ammo Lost about 21 FPS per Inch
How did the test turn out? You’ll find all the results summarized in helpful tables with inch-by-inch velocity and SD numbers. For the two, 90gr ammo samples, results were similar. The 90gr SMK ammo started at 2782 fps (28″), finishing at 2541 fps (16.5″). That’s a loss of 241 fps, or 20.96 fps average per inch of length. The ammo loaded with 90gr Fusion SPs started at 2797 fps (28″) and ended at 2561 fps (16.5″), a drop of 236 fps. That’s 20.5 fps loss per inch. NOTE: Ambient temperature during the test was 45° F. You could expect the overall velocities to be a bit higher during hotter summer months.

See 90gr SMK Velocity/Length Test Chart | See 90gr Fusion SP Velocity/Length Test Chart

.224 Valkyrie Velocity Cut-Down Test

With a the smaller bullets, the effect was even more dramatic. As you’d expect they started out faster. The ammo with 60gr Nosler Ballistic Tips (NBT), a good choice for varminters, started at 3395 fps (28″), and declined to 3065 fps (16.5), a total velocity drop of 330 fps. Average velocity loss was 28.7 fps per inch of barrel length. Rifleshooter.com also tested Federal 75gr TMJ ammo.

About the .224 Valkyrie Cartridge

224 .224 Valkyrie barrel cut-down test velocity 90gr Sierra MatchKing Fusion SP TMK

The new .224 Valkyrie was introduced late last year as a Hot Rod cartridge that will work in AR15s. Designed to rival the .22 Nosler while still running well in ARs, the new .224 Valkyrie offers excellent long-range performance when loaded with modern, high-BC bullets. We expect some bolt-action PRS shooters might adopt the .224 Valkyrie. Why? Reduced recoil. With the 90gr SMK, the .224 Valkyrie offers ballistics similar to the 6.5 Creedmoor but with significantly less felt recoil. Check out this chart from Federal showing comparative recoil levels:

.224 Valkyrie Federal Rifleshooter.com cut-down barrel

.224 Valkyrie vs. .22-250 Remington
The Social Regressive explains: “There are two key reasons why the 224 Valkyrie is unique and desirable. First, it is specifically designed to fit the limitations of the AR-15 platform. It does so even when loaded with gigantic bullets, like the 90-grain SMK that Federal announced. .22-250 Rem is too long and too fat to work in the AR-15 platform; it needs an AR-10 bolt and magazine.”

Image from Social Regressive .224 Valkyrie Youtube Video.

The new .224 Valkyrie is basically a 6.8 SPC case necked down to .22-caliber. You can use your existing AR15 lower, but you will need a dedicated .224-Valkyrie upper, or at the minimum a new barrel, modified bolt with proper bolt face, and 6.8-compliant mags.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
March 3rd, 2018

Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge — Quick & Easy

Here’s a tip we feature every year or so, because it is something that costs nothing, yet can be very useful in the reloading process. With a simple, easy modification to a fired case, you can determine the length to lands in your rifle barrel. As long as you set the tension right, the measurements should be repeatable, and you’ve just saved yourself $32 — the price of a commercial OAL gauge.

case OAL gauge home made

To achieve best accuracy with a rifle, you must control bullet seating depth very precisely, so all bullets end up in the same place relative to the entrance of the lands, every time. There may be multiple cartridge OALs which prove accurate. However, with each, you first need to determine a “zero” point — a reliable, and repeatable OAL where the bullet is “just touching” the lands.

There are tools, such as the Hornady (formerly Stoney Point) OAL Gauge, that will help you find a seating OAL just touching the lands. However, the tool requires that you use a special modified case for each cartridge you shoot. And, while we find that the Hornady OAL Gauge is repeatable, it does take some practice to get in right.

Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge with a Dremel
Here’s an inexpensive alternative to the Hornady OAL tool — a slotted case. Forum member Andris Silins explais how to create a slotted case to measure length to the lands in your rifle:

“Here’s what I did to find length to lands for seating my bullets. I made four cuts into the neck of fire-formed brass. Then I pressed the bullet in lightly and chambered the entire gauge. As the cartridge chambers, the bullet slides back into the case to give you length to lands. It took less than five minutes to get it cut and working. A little light oil in the barrel just past the chamber helps ensure the bullet does not get stuck in the lands. It works great and is very accurate.

How to Adjust Tension — Length and Number of Neck Cuts
I made the cuts using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel. You can adjust tension two ways. First, you can make the cuts longer or shorter. Longer cuts = less tension. If you used only three cuts instead of four you would get more tension. The trick is to be gentle when you open and close the bolt. If you ram the bolt closed you may wedge the bullet into the lands. When you open the bolt it helps to keep a finger or two near by to guide the case out straight because the ejector wants to push it sideways.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
March 3rd, 2018

Tech Tip: Coping with Corrosive Ammo

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

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.

This video ahows the effects of Corrosive Ammo after one month without cleaning:

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.

Video Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Tech Tip 7 Comments »
March 1st, 2018

Great Deal on 24-Gun Fire-Resistant Stack-On Safe

Walmart Stack-On Bargain Safe Combination Lock
This safe has a simple, combination dial lock. While slower to open, mechanical dial locks are more trouble-free than battery-powered keypad locking systems.

This is the best deal we’ve seen in a long time on a medium-sized, fire-resistant gun safe. If you don’t have a decent safe yet, this is a very good value. You get a 24-gun, fire-rated safe delivered to your doorstep for $459.00. No extra shipping charge. Hard to beat that. This safe usually costs over $675.00. It measures 55″ tall x 29.25″ wide x 20.25″ deep. Weight is 418 pounds. While that’s heavy enough to deter a “smash and grab”, we strongly recommend you bolt the safe in place.

Word to Wise about Rated Capacity
While this safe is rated for 24 long guns up to 54″ tall, realistically you can store 10-12 scoped rifles comfortably. You can also split the interior, using the provided shelves. Put rifles on one side and other valuables (cameras, jewelry, electronics, photo albums) on the other side.

Stack-On 24 Gun Fire Resistant Safe — Product Description
With a combination lock that is reinforced with a steel plate, this hunter green gun security safe ensures that your guns will stay securely locked up. The gun safe with combination lock has been tested and is verified to be fire-resistant for 30 minutes up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. The door stripping on the safe expands when exposed to high temperatures, sealing the contents inside from harm during a fire. The Stack-On 24 Gun Fire Resistant Safe has reinforced steel doors that are filled with fire retardant material, creating a protective firewall. This gun security safe has 2-way locking 1″ steel live action locking bolts and up to 5 locking points. Inside, the gun security safe is fully carpeted with 4 adjustable shelves to give you ample storage space. This durable Stack-On Gun Fire Resistant Safe is especially designed to resist deterioration and compression over time.

Delivery Information
This item is shipped via a freight trucking service. The company will call you to schedule a delivery appointment, so ensure someone is home at the scheduled delivery time. Please note that this item is available for curbside delivery only, and will not be moved into your home or garage. We recommend you have help available to move the item to its final location. Safe Weight is 418 pounds. That requires a pretty sturdy dolly.

Permalink Hot Deals, Tech Tip No Comments »
February 28th, 2018

FREE Shooting Bench Plans — 14 Build Your Own Bench Designs

Free shooting bench plansFREE shooting Bench Plans
Do you like the Chris Byrne bench at left? For more details, CLICK HERE.

FREE Bench Plans on the Web

Building your own portable shooting bench is a great do-it-yourself project. You can build a sturdy bench for well under $100 in materials. Compare that to some deluxe factory-built benches which may cost $600.00 or more. You’ll find a wide assortment of home-built shooting bench designs (both portable and fixed) on the internet. Renovation Headquarters has links to FREE Plans and building instructions for fourteen (14) different shooting benches. There are all-wood shooting bench designs as well as benches that combine a wood top with a metal sub-frame or legs.

CLICK HERE for Shooting Bench FREE Plans Webpage »

Among Renovation HQ’s fourteen featured shooting benches, here are five designs we liked:

Larry Willis Shooting Bench

Sandwiched Plywood top, 1.5″ Galvanized Pipe Legs

Manuel Ferran’s
Steel Shooting Bench

Steel (welded) legs and frame, painted plywood top. Folds flat.

eHow Permanent All-Wood
Shooting Bench

Heavy-duty, very solid and sturdy, but easy to build. Good for right- or left-handed shooters.

Bill Clarke’s
Basic Shooting Bench

Restaurant table Cast Metal Pedestal Base, plywood top.

Missouri Hillbilly’s
All-Wood Bench

3/4″ ACX Plywood with 4×6 Beams and Legs

Heavy Wood Bench That Converts to Three Sections for Transport
In addition to the fourteen benches mentioned above, here is an interesting break-down bench design. Call it a “semi-portable” bench. The legs and frame are made from stout 4×4 post segments so the bench is fairly heavy. However, this bench can break down into three (3) sections for easier transport to and from the range. Dado-cut channels assure proper top alignment. This might be a good choice if you plan a multi-day excursion to a location without fixed benches. This three-leg bench design can be made from easy-to-locate materials. Note: The dimensions of this bench are are larger than typical fixed benches to accommodate 50 BMGs and other big rifles. CLICK HERE for more details.

FREE shooting Bench Plans

(more…)

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February 24th, 2018

Lyman Safety Recall for Black Powder Rifles and Pistols

Lyman recall muzzle loader black powder rifle pistol musket

Lyman Products is voluntarily recalling Lyman black powder rifles and pistols made in 2017. If you purchased one of these items, stop using it, check the serial number, and follow Lyman’s Recall Directions.

This recall includes black powder rifles and pistols regardless of caliber (including Deerstalker, Great Plains, Great Plains Hunter, Trade Rifle, Plains Pistol, Black Powder Kits, and replacement barrels; excluding Percussion Left Hand Great Plains and Left Hand Great Plains Hunter models) manufactured from March 1, 2017 to December 22, 2017. Barrels with the serial number in the range of A595960–A599026 are subject to this recall. If you bought one of the affected arms last year (2017), do not load and/or shoot it — you need to contact Lyman Products.

Check Your Serial Number

Owners of Lyman black powder rifles and/or pistols acquired at any time in 2017 or 2018 should immediately check the serial number:

Lyman recall muzzle loader black powder rifle pistol musket

What To Do Next — Instructions from Lyman

If you have a muzzle-loader that is involved in this recall, as confirmed by the serial number, do NOT use the gun. Instead, contact the Lyman Customer Service Department by emailing customerservice@lymanproducts.com or by calling 800-225-9626 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. EST. You will be asked to provide your contact information, serial number, and either the part number or model to process the return. CLICK HERE for Lyman Recall INFO Page.

Upon receipt of the information provided to customer service, Lyman will send instructions and packaging to ship the product to Lyman for replacement at no cost to the customer. Lyman will provide a replacement barrel and tang with instructions or will replace the barrel and tang at Lyman and return the firearm. Please only return your rifle, pistol, or barrel and tang with the provided shipping tags and boxes. NOTE: Anyone outside the U.S.A. who is in possession of a black powder rifle or pistol within the recall range should contact your local distributor immediately.

Safety Recall Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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February 24th, 2018

Mirage Shields — Make Your Own or Buy Carbon Fiber

Mirage Shield Venetian Blind Criterion

Mirage shields are useful for all shooters, not just hard-core competitors. A mirage shield helps you see your target better, without distortion caused by heat waves coming off your barrel. This isn’t rocket science — it’s a simple, inexpensive way to see better and shoot more accurately. We’ve advocated that varmint shooters give mirage bands a try on those hot summer groundhog and prairie dog expeditions. And we observed that practically every F-Class shooter at the recent Berger SW Nationals was using a mirage shield of some kind.

Make Your Own Mirage Shiels from Venetian Blind

Criterion Barrels shows how you can make your own mirage shield from an ordinary Venetion blind.

A mirage shield is an extremely cost-effective way to eliminate a commonly-encountered problem. Making your own mirage shield is easy. Using old venetian blind strips and common household materials and tools, you can construct your own mirage shield for under one dollar.
READ FULL Article

Materials Required:
1. Vertical PVC Venetian blind panel
2. Three 1”x1” pieces adhesive-backed Velcro
3. Ruler or tape measure
4. Scissors or box cutter
5. Pencil or marker

make mirage shield

Make Your Own Mirage Shield from X-Ray Film

Forum member Fabian from Germany, whose Sako 6BR rifle was featured as a Gun of the Week, has devised a clever and inexpensive mirage band option. Fabian is a radiologist by trade. He notes that many X-ray machines require a daily test film for calibration. These are normally just discarded in the trash, so you can get them for free.

mirage shield

Fabian explains: “I’m a radiologist, so I handle medical x-ray films every day. Modern X-ray machines use laser-based printers and they need to print a test-film every day. One x-ray film is about 43×35 cm (16.9″ x 13.7″). Made from polyester, the films are very stable and only 0.007″ inches thick. They are light-weight, semi-transparent, and very stable. Using normal scissors, you can easily cut four mirage shields from a single sheet of film. Then glue on some velcro to attach to your barrel. Try it, you will not be disappointed.”

mirage shield

High-Tech Carbon Fiber Mirage Shield
If you’re not into making your own mirage shield, aka “mirage band” or “mirage shade”, you can also purchase a cool carbon fiber mirage shield from Accurateshooter Forum member Mark Nagel. These custom Carbon-Fiber Mirage Shields start at $20.00. GET More INFO HERE.

Carbon Fiber Mirage Shield
Mirage Shield Venetian Blind Criterion

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 1 Comment »