What’s the next best thing to a stockpile of gleaming, freshly-loaded ammo? How about a movie showing gleaming, freshly-loaded ammo being made — from start to finish? The five-minute video below shows the ammunition production process at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, a division of ATK. Lake City is the largest producer of small arms ammunition for the U.S. military, producing roughly four MILLION small-caliber rounds every day.
This promotional video does go a bit overboard at times in a self-congratulatory sense. But the video is definitely worth watching — it is fascinating to watch the process of creating cartridges — from the drawing (or extrusion) of raw brass into casings to the placement of projectiles and primers.
Quick History of Lake City Ammunition Plant Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP) is a 3,935-acre government-owned, contractor-operated facility in Independence, Missouri that was established by Remington Arms in 1941 to manufacture and test small caliber ammunition for the U.S. Army. The facility has remained in continuous operation except for one 5-year period following World War II. As of July 2007, the plant produced nearly 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition per year. Remington Arms operated the plant from its inception until 1985, when operations were taken over by Olin Corporation. From April 2001 through the present, it has been operated by Alliant Techsystems (ATK), which in February 2015 split into two separate companies, Orbital ATK and Vista Outdoors.
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If you wonder how ammo is made, starting with raw metal, check out this video from Hornady. It shows how bullet jackets are formed from copper, followed by insertion of a lead core. The jacket is then closed up over the core with the bullet taking its final shape in a die (a cannelure is applied on some bullet types). Next the video shows how cartridge brass is formed, starting with small cups of brass. The last part of the video shows how cases are primed and filled with powder, and how bullets are seated into the cases, using an automated process on a giant assembly-line. CLICK Link below to watch video:
You probably know by now that the ATF is seeking comments on a proposed regulation that would ban the importation and sale of M855 steel-core 5.56x45mm ammunition. The ATF has proposed banning this “green-tip” ammo (and similar products) on the grounds that it is “armor piercing”.
Nobody knows whether the proposed ban will actually go into effect. The ATF is solicting comments through March 16, 2015. The mere possibility of a ban has spurred a feeding frenzy of ammo sales. If you are looking for genuine M855-type Green Tip ammo, suitable for use in AR-platform rifles, Creedmoor Sports recently obtained a large supply. Creedmoor just located quantities of Lake City-produced, American Eagle-brand XM855 in cardboard boxes: “Our team found another source for 5.56 mm XM855F Federal Lake City Green Tip Ammo. This ammo is becoming almost impossible to source the closer we get to the [March 16th end] of the ATF comment period.”
Lake City M855 5.56 62gr Green Tip Ammunition (300 Rounds)
High-quality 5.56x45mm ammo made in the USA by Lake City. This is “XM855″ ball ammo with a steel penetrator in the core, surrounded by a copper jacket. The projectile is color-coded with a green-painted tip as is traditional with US-made M855.
* Manufacturer: Federal / Lake City
* Model: XM855
* Caliber: 5.56 NATO (5.56x45mm)
* Grain Weight: 62 Grains
* Type: Full Metal Jacket with Penetrator
* Units per Case: 300 (in two 150ct boxes)
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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is seeking to ban commonly-used 5.56 M855 “green tip” ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition” and is seeking public comment on the proposal. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) urges target shooters and gun owners to contact ATF to oppose this proposed ban.
For decades, under the “sporting purposes” doctrine, commonly-available “green tip” M855 and SS109 rifle ammunition has been exempt from federal law banning armor-piercing ammunition. There is no question that this 5.56 ball ammo has been widely used by law-abiding American citizens for sporting purposes.
Winchester-brand 5.56X45 62gr NATO M855 FMJ Ammunition
The NSSF has an online form that makes it easy to voice your opinion on the proposed ban on 5.56 ball ammo. This form will direct your comments to Congress and/or the ATF. Click the button at right to navigate to the NSSF online form.
Commentary by Jim Shepherd, The Shooting Wire
Should the ATF reclassify surplus (and widely used) M855 and SS109 ammunition as armor-piercing, it would then be illegal for consumer consumption. This weekend, we received word that apparently many gun owners didn’t find this to be a compelling reason to record their objections with the federal government. With only a few days remaining in the ATF’s solicitation of comments, fewer than 6,000 shooters have registered their displeasure with the proposal.That, as one of my least-favorite instructors used to say, is simply unacceptable.”
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Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. Watch video review below.
Summary by .22 Plinkster (see 4:30 time mark): “I’m pretty impressed with it … I think it’s a really good deal. For six dollars and fifty cents [per box] you can’t go wrong with a box of this ammo. Out of a good bolt gun, this ammo will drive tacks.”
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Here’s an important technology for ranges concerned with over-flight risks. Regular Bulletin readers will recall that we recently warned of the dangers of bullets launched with a high trajectory. (READ Article.) With a muzzle elevation of just 5°, a conventional bullet can fly over 3000 yards, retaining enough energy to kill. General Dynamics has come up with a solution for live-fire training programs that don’t require long-range target engagements. General Dynamics’ Short Stop® ammunition launches bullets that literally drop out of the air within 600 meters. What’s the secret to the short flight? Read on…
Short Stop 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm Ammunition Trajectory
This illustration shows the trajectories of 5.56 and 7.62 Short Stop bullets (yellow zone) compared to conventional rifle projectiles (black lines). You can see the “flight cycle” is completely different.
Short Stop ammunition employs advanced polymer/copper composite bullets with molded “fins”. The bullets sort of look like the end of a Phillips screwdriver (except the fins have a slight twist near their base). This “twisted fin” design causes the bullets to yaw, and that, in turn induces aerodynamic drag — a lot of drag. The molded bullets are also much lighter than conventional bullets (of the same caliber). The reduced weight/density gives them less momentum, so they lose velocity more readily than normal bullets. The combination of the low mass and high drag makes these bullets drop from the air within 600m or so, living up to their “Short Stop” designation.
In an interview with NRABlog.com, General Dynamics Bus. Dev. Manager Ruben Regalado explained how the Short Stop ammunition works. With this design, he says, “You can do a lot of the training you would do with a ball round with no fear of overflight. It’s the fin that does it. Due to the nature of its composition [the bullet] is lighter than the standard projectile, but the magic is in the fin.”
There are many potential applications for Short Stop rounds according to NRABlog Editor Lars Dalseide: “Where do these rounds come into play? Anywhere. Anywhere there’s military training, law enforcement training, or basic target shooting taking place. And with the encroachment of communities surrounding your favorite neighborhood range, [projectiles] that drop out of the air at 600 meters means the risk of overflight is significantly reduced.” The polymer-composite bullets are also frangible, so there is less penetration of objects and less chance of ricochet.
“Smurf” Bullets for .50 Caliber AA Rifles
Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics has seen ammo similar to Short Stops used in .50-caliber rifles for training purposes. Bryan tells us: “Similar rounds have been available for .50 cal for many years. We find [the spent bullets] on the range at Camp Grayling (a Michigan National Guard training facility where we hold 1000-yard matches). The .50 cal rounds use blunt plastic things (we call them ‘Smurf’ bullets) and they use them for practicing anti-aircraft shooting. Instructors put up an RC target drone and the Guardsmen shoot at it with the .50s using the short range ammunition.”
Bryan says these “short flight” bullets have an important purpose, though the applications remain limited. “These kind of projectiles are a good tool for applications where an adequate SDZ (Surface Danger Zone) cannot be secured for the range location. I just hope the application remains confined to only those places where it’s necessary, i.e. where the SDZ presents a problem. I would hate to see our bullet options be limited to something like this under the guise of ‘range safety’, where the SDZ is properly secured.”
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What happens inside a rifle chamber and barrel when a cartridge fires can’t be seen by the naked eye (unless you are a Super-Hero with X-Ray vision). But now, with the help of 3D-style computer animation, you can see every stage in the process of a rifle round being fired.
In this amazing video, X-Ray-style 3D animation illustrates the primer igniting, the propellant burning, and the bullet moving through the barrel. The video then shows how the bullet spins as it flies along its trajectory. Finally, this animation shows the bullet impacting ballistic gelatin. Watch the bullet mushroom and deform as it creates a “wound channel” in the gelatin. This excellent video was commissioned by Czech ammo-maker Sellier & Bellot to demonstrate its hunting ammunition. The design, 3D rendering, and animation was done by Grafické studio VLADO.
Watch Video – Cartridge Ignition Sequence Starts at 1:45 Time-Mark
Video find by Seb Lambang. We welcome reader submissions.
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Get an inside look at the how ammunition is made with this step-by-step production guide from Hornady. The video begins by showing the stages in production of a lead-core jacketed bullet with exposed tip, such as the Hornady Interlock. Next, at the 1:38″ time-mark, the video shows how cartridge cases are made, starting with small brass cups (photo right). The brass is lengthened in a series of stages involving annealing, drawing, polishing, and the formation of the case head with primer pocket. Finally, at the 2:40″ time mark, the video shows how bullets and powder are seated into cartridge cases on the Hornady assembly line. In the final production stages, the completed ammunition is tested and packaged.
Watch Ammo Production Video
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Midsouth Shooters Supply is having a huge End-of-Year Sale. Hundreds of clearance items are marked down 40% (or more) through the end of 2014. For the next couple of days there are amazing deals to be had on ammo, optics, scope rings, gun cases, reloading dies, muzzle-loader rifles, cleaning supplies and much more. Below are some of the top deals we found this morning. (NOTE: This is just a tiny fraction of the hundreds of 40% OFF clearance items.) Remember, these deeply-discounted deals expire soon — you snooze, you lose.
What do you get for the shooter “who has everything”? How about a custom-crafted, laser-engraved ammo display case. Technoframes produces a series of ultra-sleek Ammo display units, and high-tech pistol racks. The CNC-machined display boxes, fitted to your choice of cartridge, look great. There are many varieties to choose from, including wood, metal, and plexiglass. We like the fact that many of the boxes are lockable.
Technoframes’ impressive billet-aluminum pistol racks, with magazine-style gun holders (fitted with Neodymium magnets in their bases) put ordinary plastic or wire-framed racks to shame.
Last but not least, Technoframes also makes a plexiglass-sided gun transport box and a double-tiered, two-pistol/six-magazine gun display box with removable inner tray. These units look like they were produced by “M” for James Bond.
Technoframes is the world’s leading producer of high-end CNC-machined ammo and handgun storage solutions. Along with display cases, Technoframes offers Snap Caps and historical replica ammunition. For more info, visit Technoframes.com.
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If you need rimfire ammunition, Powder Valley Inc. (PVI) just received a large shipment of SK .22 LR ammunition from Europe. This is good quality, German-made ammo, much better than the bulk-pack Federal and Winchester fodder. SK is run by the same parent company that owns Lapua. Right now the practice-grade 40gr .22LR SK Standard ammo is $5.50 per box of 50 cartridges, while the rifle Match grade ammo is $8.40 per box. Act quickly ladies and gents. This will probably sell out pretty quickly. To find this on the PVI site, click “Ammo” then “Rifle Ammo” then “Lapua”.
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If you’re a serious shooter, the latest 5th Edition of the Ammo Encyclopedia (released in August, 2014), belongs in your library. This 1008-page book is probably the most comprehensive and up-to-date book in print covering current and obsolete cartridges and shotshells. Bussard’s Ammo Encyclopedia is a massive resource work. The 5th Edition now boasts 105 chapters, covering thousands of handgun, rifle, and shotgun cartridges from the past century and a half.
One of the best features is a 12-page color section depicting actual size drawings of 265 current rimfire/centerfire cartridges and shotshells. You won’t find that many “life-size” cartridge drawings in one place even on the internet. Cartridge profiles and ballistic charts have been expanded to include all new factory cartridges. The authors have even included air rifle pellets and historical images and charts. Softcover, 1008 pages.
Comments from guys who bought the book:
“This book contains a vast array of information on many modern and even obsolete ammunition. Definately recommend for any modern reloader novice or experienced.” – Duggaboy460
“It’s a great reference book for individuals who reload their own ammunition. There is a lot more info in this Edition. Everyone who likes this information should have it in their library.” – Reloader
“I like the general and technical comments that are available for each and every cartridge. Information that predicts if a cartridge will stay in production for many more years or rapidly become obsolete.” – RSL1
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Hornady has just announced its new-for-2015 products — new ammo, new reloading equipment, new brass, and new shooting accessories. This is a big roll-out, with a slew of new products, including some very interesting reloading tools. CLICK HERE to See ALL NEW 2015 Hornady Products.
VIDEO PREVIEW: Hornady 2015 New Products Overview
New Hornady Rifle Ammunition
New rifle ammo to be introduced in 2015 includes: 17 Win Super Mag Rimfire (with 20gr VMax), Full Boar series with GMX bullets, .243 Win Superformance with 75gr V-Max, and .338 Lapua Magnum with 285gr A-Max. It appears that Hornady may also be expanding its Custom Int’l line of hunting ammo.
New Hornady Reloading Products
For 2015, Hornady is releasing a host of new reloading tools and accessories. Among the new reloading items this year are: Multi-Purpose Lock-N-Load® Quick Change Hand Tool (photo below), Lock-N-Load® Neck Turn Tool with power adapter (photo below), Lock-N-Load® Sonic Cleaner 7L, and Lock-N-Load® AP™ Primer Pocket Swage Tool (for Hornady L-N-L progressive press):
New Hornady Cartridge Brass — 15 New Varieties
This should make hand-loaders happy. Hornady will release 15 new types of Hornady-brand cartridge brass. Varminters should be happy with the new 22 Hornet, 220 Swift, and 6mm Rem offerings.
22 Hornet SKU 8602
220 Swift SKU 8615
6mm Rem SKU 8622
7mm-08 Rem SKU 8646
7x65R SKU 8641
300 Rem Ultra Mag SKU 87624
30-378 Weatherby SKU 8658
8×57 JRS SKU 8644
500-416 Nitro Express SKU 86877
In the “good old days”, if you needed rimfire ammo for fun shooting, you could just head over to Walmart (or a local sporting goods store) and find a wide variety of offerings, including low-cost bulk packs from Federal, CCI, and Remington. These days, there are “slim pickings”, even at Wally World. You need to “cast a bigger net” to find rimfire ammo these days.
One of the most efficient ways to locate rimfire ammunition nationwide is to use Ammoseek.com, a specialized search engine. On its home page, Ammoseek has a handy 22LR PAGE link. With just one click you can search dozens of ammo vendors.
If you click the 22LR Page link, Ammoseek instantly calls up current ammo inventories located by Ammoseek’s automated search bots. Then Ammoseek plots ALL the available rimfire ammo, sorted from least expensive to most expensive. Here are search results from this morning, October 6, 2014. We found some CCI Blazer at $4.99 per 50-rd box (40gr LRN). That’s just want we needed for a plinking session at the range.
Click Image to see full-screen version.
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When you need ammo fast — lots of ammo, it’s hard to beat a progressive reloading press for output. We use progressive presses to load handgun ammo and .223 Rem cartridges for varmint safaris. With good dies, and proper press set-up, today’s progressive presses can produce surprisingly uniform and accurate ammo. No, you won’t see Benchrest Hall-of-Famers loading PPC cartridges on progressives. However, if you need 1000 rounds for your next prairie dog adventure, you should consider getting a progressive. Below you can see a Hornady Lock-N-Load AP configured to load .308 Winchester in bulk.
Proper Brass Prep
Just like a good paint job requires good prep work, great rifle ammo requires good brass prep. In order to make sure your rifle loading goes smoothly, make sure to perform the following brass prep steps:
Clean the brass (tumble, ultrasonic, etc.)
Inspect brass for cracks, deep dents, etc.
For military brass: de-prime, ream/swage primer pockets, size with small-base sizer die (small base usually optional).
Measure brass length — if too long, size and then trim.
Final inspection before loading.
Cleaning primer pockets may be something you’ll consider (I don’t clean primer pockets except for rare cases or match ammo).
Smooth and Steady Pace
Since you’re loading rifle ammunition on a progressive, you’re already saving a load of time, so there’s no need to rush things! Attention to detail is super-important for safety and for good results. Always keep an eye on powder level (goes down FAST) and what’s happening at each station.
The Right Press and Press Setup
Look for a heavy-duty, well-built press that will stand up to rifle loading. You’ll also want to make sure your powder measure will have the proper capacity (~25 grains for .223, ~50 grains for 308). If you are bulk reloading, ensure you have enough stations for sizing, charging, powder check, bullet feed, bullet seating, and (optional) bullet crimp.
More Ultimate Reloader Resources for Users of Progressive Presses:
National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) takes place on Saturday, September 27, 2014. The annual celebration serves as a reminder that conservation succeeds because of leadership and funding from hunters, shooters and anglers. National, regional, state and local organizations will run thousands of “open house” hunting- and fishing-related events around the country. Events will include Fishing Derbys, Hunting Expos, Wing-shooting tournaments, and much more. Over four million Americans will participate. For information on NHF Day, visit www.nhfday.org. To find NHF Day events, click the link below.
If you’re looking for loaded ammunition at affordable prices, WikiArms.com can help you find a good deal. WikiArms constantly searches the listings of ammo vendors across the web. Then WikiArms ranks the offerings by cost per round, low to high. This way you can instantly compare prices from multiple vendors including Ammoland, Brownells, Cabelas, Lucky Gunner, MidwayUSA, Natchez, Sinclair Int’l, Slickguns, Sportsmans Guide, and Wideners. Search bots refresh pricing constantly so listed prices are normally current within five minutes. WikiArms even displays the amount of product currently in stock for each vendor.
Using WikiArms is easy. Just click your choice of caliber (such as 9mm, .22LR, or .308 Win) on the navigation bar, or hit the Good Deals link to see a variety of cartridge types all at one time. WikiArms is fast, and it is FREE to use. Check it out.
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Hunting season is right around the corner. For many of us, that means liberating a rifle that sits in a safe most of the year, grabbing a box of cartridges, and heading to the wilds. But this “once a year thing” carries with it potential risks.
It is all to easy to grab some rounds that may look right, but which are, in fact, a slightly different chambering. Likewise it is possible some hunting rounds got put in the wrong box after last year’s hunting trip. Be very careful when you get ready for a hunting trip — check the headstamp, cartridge dimensions, and bullet diameter of all your rounds. If you make an ammo selection mistake, the consequences can be disasterous, as this story reveals.
The .223 WSSM and 6mmBR Disaster Report by Dr. Jim Clary
Under most circumstances, shooters don’t have to worry about chambering the wrong cartridge into the wrong rifle. After all, the cartridges are well marked and we all know which rifle we are shooting on any given day. In many cases, incorrect cartridges cannot be chambered — larger cases will not fit in smaller chambers, for example. No problem! That being said, I can tell you that even an experienced, careful and normally safe shooter can make a mistake.
The following is an account of just such a mistake that could have resulted in death or dismemberment. Fortunately, the shooter was not hurt, but the rifle was completely destroyed.
Last year, a friend purchased a Savage Precision right bolt, left port, single shot bolt action in 6mmBR Norma. It was an incredible prairie dog gun and he spent the summer burning powder and busting dogs. In October, he purchased a stainless steel Browning A-Bolt Varmint in .223 WSSM. The weather in the upper Midwest turned sour by the time he got the brass tuned up and he only got to fire it a few times before he was “socked in” for the winter. Thus, he spent his evenings loading ammo for the spring thaw.
During a break in the weather, he grabbed both rifles and a couple of bags of .223 WSSM and 6mmBR cartridges and headed to the range to check out his new loads. In case you are not familiar, the 6mmBR is smaller in diameter and a mite shorter than the .223 WSSM. Because of this, it will chamber in a .223 WSSM, but the .243 caliber (6mm) bullet is too big for the .22 caliber bore. That is what happened to my friend.
The rest is history — when he squeezed the trigger, all hell broke loose. The entire bottom of the rifle blew out, including the magazine assembly. The explosion actually cut the stock into two pieces. However, the bolt held and amazing as it may seem, the .243 bullet was “swaged” right out of the .223 barrel.
6mmBR (left) and .223 WSSM (right) cartridges above the remains of Browning A-Bolt rifle.
One Small Mistake Is All It Takes
Now, realize that my friend has been shooting all manner of firearms, safely, for over half a century. He is meticulous, thorough and conscientious in his approach to reloading and shooting. However, he made one mistake. He put some lose 6BR cartridges in a baggie as he packed up from a prairie dog hunt last summer, without noticing that the baggie was marked .223 WSSM in black marker. Then, when the break in his winter weather came, he grabbed the bag, believing it to be the WSSM cartridges and didn’t check the head stamp.
Couldn’t happen to you? How many times have we emptied our pockets of cartridges and dropped them into a plastic container on the shooting bench? How many times have we set down to a marathon reloading session, loading several calibers in a row? How many times have we put the wrong bullets, cases or primers into the incorrect container? My point is that even the safest of us can make a mistake. So, look at the picture above and take a bit more time when you reload your ammunition at home or chamber a round in the field. It might save your life.
Creedmoor Sports will be producing high-quality loaded ammunition very soon. This will be crafted with top-quality bullets, and premium-grade Lapua brass. General Manager Dennis DeMille tells us: “We received four pallets of brass today and we have 13,005 pounds of powder waiting for production.”
Here’s a preview of what will be on the market very soon:
Oh, the beauty of it — all that Lapua brass. From Finland with love….
What does 13,005 pounds (6.5 tons) of powder look like? That would last most reloaders a few seasons. Hoarders, eat your hearts out….
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Need .223 Rem ammo for your early summer varmint safari? Grafs.com has you covered. Over the past few months, Graf & Sons has acquired a large supply of .223 Rem ammo from a variety of manufacturers. Now Grafs.com has a great selection of .223 Rem ammo, with many items marked down on sale. You’ll find name-brand ammo for as little as $9.99 per 20-ct box (American Eagle 50gr JHP). If you prefer heavier bullets for longer-range shooting, check out the PRVI Partizan ammo loaded with 75gr HPBT match bullets — this is just $10.99 per per 20-ct box.