Here is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out. It costs nothing and adds only a few seconds to the time needed to load a cartridge. Next time you’re loading ammo with a threaded (screw-in) seating die, try seating the bullet in two stages. Run the cartridge up in the seating die just enough to seat the bullet half way. Then lower the cartridge and rotate it 180° in the shell-holder. Now raise the cartridge up into the die again and finish seating the bullet.
Steve, aka “Short Range”, one of our Forum members, recently inquired about run-out apparently caused by his bullet-seating process. Steve’s 30BR cases were coming out of his neck-sizer with good concentricity, but the run-out nearly doubled after he seated the bullets. At the suggestion of other Forum members, Steve tried the process of rotating his cartridge while seating his bullet. Steve then measured run-out on his loaded rounds. To his surprise there was a noticeable reduction in run-out on the cases which had been rotated during seating. Steve explains: “For the rounds that I loaded yesterday, I seated the bullet half-way, and turned the round 180 degrees, and finished seating the bullet. That reduced the bullet runout by almost half on most rounds compared to the measurements from the first test.”
Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30BR brass using both the conventional (one-pass) seating procedure, as well as the two-stage (with 180° rotation) method. Steve’s measurements are collected in the two charts above. As you can see, the run-out was less for the rounds which were rotated during seating. Note, the change is pretty small (less than .001″ on average), but every little bit helps in the accuracy game. If you use a threaded (screw-in) seating die, you might try this two-stage bullet-seating method. Rotating your case in the middle of the seating process won’t cost you a penny, and it just might produce straighter ammo (nothing is guaranteed). If you do NOT see any improvement on the target, you can always go back to seating your bullets in one pass. READ Forum Thread….
This an older video from the YouTube archives but we expect many readers have still not seen it yet. It definitely teaches an important lesson — never underestimate the destructive power of rifle-launched projectiles. What appears a “safe distance” from steel may actually be well within the danger zone.
In this video a rather ignorant (yet lucky) fellow demonstrates what NOT to do with a large-caliber rifle (a 50 BMG apparently). He shoots at a steel target about 70 yards away and a bullet fragment comes back directly at him. He was lucky enough that the ricochet just smacked his left ear muff. Another inch to the right and he could have lost his eye… or worse.
If you have ever done much action pistol shooting at close range on steel targets, you’ll know about the hazards of ricochets and bullet splashback. That’s why you should only shoot low-velocity rounds with soft lead or frangible bullets when shooting at relatively close range.
How much does it cost you to send a round downrange? Ask most shooters this question and they’ll start adding up the cost of components: bullets, powder, and primers. Then they’ll figure in the cost of brass, divided by the number of times the cases are reloaded.
For a 6BR shooting match bullets, match-grade primers, and 30 grains of powder, in brass reloaded ten times, this basic calculation gives us a cost per shot of $0.51 (fifty-one cents):
NOTE: If you shoot a larger caliber that burns more powder, and uses more expensive bullets and/or brass, your total cost per round will be higher than $0.51.
$1.00 Per Shot True Cost? Yikes!
OK, we’ve seen that it costs about $0.51 per round to shoot a 6BR. Right?
Wrong! — What if we told you that your ACTUAL cost per round might be closer to double that number? How can that be? Well… you haven’t accounted for the cost of your barrel. Every round you fire down that tube expends some of the barrel’s finite life. If, like some short-range PPC shooters, you replace barrels every 700 or 800 rounds, you need to add $0.60 to $0.70 per round for “barrel cost.” That can effectively double your cost per round, taking it well past the dollar per shot mark.
Calculating Barrel Cost Per Shot
In the table below, we calculate your barrel cost per shot, based on various expected barrel lifespans.
As noted above, a PPC barrel is typically replaced at 700-800 rounds. A 6.5-284 barrel can last 1200+ rounds, but it might need replacement after 1000 rounds or less. A 6BR barrel should give 2000-2600 rounds of accurate life, and a .308 Win barrel could remain competitive for 4,000 rounds or more.
The table below shows your barrel cost per shot, based on various “useful lives.” We assume that a custom barrel costs $540.00 total to replace. This includes $300.00 for the barrel itself, $200.00 for chambering/fitting (conservative number), and $40.00 in 2-way shipping costs. These are typical costs shooters will encounter when ordering a rebarreling job.
The numbers are interesting. If you get 2000 rounds on your barrel instead of 1000, you save $0.27 per shot. However, extending barrel life from 2000 to 3000 rounds only saves you $0.09 per round. The longer you keep your barrel the more you save, but the savings per shot decreases as the round count increases.
How to Reduce Your TRUE Cost per Round
What does this tell us? First, in figuring your annual shooting budget, you need to consider the true cost per round, including barrel cost. Second, if you want to keep your true costs under control, you need to extend your barrel life. This can be accomplished in many ways. First, you may find that switching to a different powder reduces throat erosion. Second, if you’re able to slow down your shooting pace, this can reduce barrel heat, which can extend barrel life. (A varminter in the field is well-advised to switch rifles, or switch barrels, when the barrel gets very hot from extended shot strings.) Third, modifying your cleaning methods can also extend the life of your barrel. Use solvents that reduce the need for aggressive brushing, and try to minimize the use of abrasives. Also, always use a properly fitting bore guide. Many barrels have been prematurely worn out from improper cleaning techniques.
In a masterful piece of Madison Avenue magic, BMW portrays its M5 “super-sedan” as the four-wheeled equivalent of a speeding bullet. In this clever, CGI-enhanced marketing video, an M5 is “shot” from a giant barrel. It then speeds across the Bonneville Salt Flats towards a giant bullseye — just like a bullet heading toward a target. Along its path, the M5 shatters a giant apple, and then slices through three giant water balloons. Far-fetched? Yes. But the illusion is superbly-crafted, making for two very compelling minutes of movie-making.
Watch BMW Video
Measuring the BMW M5 in Bullet Terms
How does the M5 measure up compared to real bullets shot from real rifles? With a 66.9″ body width, the BMW M5 is a 1700mm projectile. When we convert the M5′s rather porky 4350-pound curb weight* to grains, we find the M5 weighs an astonishing 30,450,000 grains. (Yes that’s 30.45 MILLION). The M5′s electronically-governed top speed is 155 mph. That equates to 277.33 fps — pretty slow by ballistics standards. A typical hunting projectile flies ten times as fast. And even a 9mm handgun bullet travels four times as fast.
M5 ‘Knock-Down’ Power More Than Adequate for Big Game
When it comes to knock-down power, a speeding M5 beats even a 50 BMG bullet hands down. At 500 yards, a 750gr A-Max fired from a 50 BMG has about 8625 foot/lbs of retained energy (this assumes 2700 fps MV).
By contrast, with a terminal velocity of 277.33 fps, the 4350-lb BMW delivers 5.199 Million foot/lbs of retained energy. We think that’s more that enough “hitting power” to cope with any size North American game. But there are certainly some “Zombie” Hunters who might still wish for more power.
How about trajectory? Well we can’t answer that one for you. Last time we checked, Bryan Litz had not calculated the G1 or G7 BC for a BMW M5, so we can’t figure the car’s come-ups using JBM Ballistics. Still, we’re sure that, if BMW gave Bryan an M5 to play with, he’d be happy to spend a few months gathering “data”. But we do suspect it might be a bit challenging to get a 4350-lb sport sedan to fly through the sky-screens of Bryan’s chronographs.
A while back, Werner Mehl of Kurzzeit.com produced a 10-minute video for the 2010 SHOT Show. When syndicated via YouTube, this amazing video became an internet phenomenon. It has been watched over six million times! Employing cameras recording at up to 1,000,000 (one million) frames per second, Mehl’s bullet flight video has been called “astounding”, “mesmerizing”, and a “work of art.” If you haven’t seen it yet, sit back and enjoy!
LINK: Kurzzeit.com Video System and PVM-21 Chronograph
Click the link above to learn more about Werner Mehl and his super-sophisticated camera systems that can record at 1,000,000 frames per second. On the same linked page you can learn about the advanced PVM-21 chronograph designed by Werner. Operating “all-infrared, all the time”, the PVM-21 is the best chronograph we have tested for very low light conditions, or very tricky light conditions.
Two Sandia National Laboratories engineers, both hunters, have developed a patented design for a laser-guided bullet. The 4″-long laser-guided projectile has made hits at ranges up to 2000 meters. No this is NOT an April Fools’ joke. The projectile shoots from a smooth-bore rifle and uses small, movable fins to adjust its trajectory. The fins are controlled by micro-sized actuators in response to signals from a tiny, onboard laser-sensor. Plastic sabots provide a gas seal and protect the delicate fins while the projectile is in the firearm’s barrel.
Click Here for Video News Report on Sandia-developed Guided Bullet
Sandia researchers Red Jones and Brian Kast (and colleagues) have invented a dart-like, self-guided bullet for small-caliber, smooth-bore firearms that could hit laser-designated targets at distances of more than a mile. “We have a very promising technology to guide small projectiles that could be fully developed inexpensively and rapidly,” Jones said. Researchers have had initial success testing the design in computer simulations and in field tests of prototypes, built from commercially available parts, Jones said. While engineering issues remain, “we’re confident in our science base and we’re confident the engineering-technology base is there to solve the problems,” he said.
Sandia’s design for the four-inch-long bullet includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm in an eight-bit central processing unit to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.
Fin-Stabilization — Like on a Guided Missile
The guided projectile is shot from smooth bore barrel with no rifling. While conventional bullets are spin-stabilized, Scandia’s guided bullet doesn’t spin in flight. To enable the guided bullet to adjust its trajectory toward a target and to simplify the design, the spin had to go, Jones said. As on most guided missiles, fins both stabilize and steer the projectile. But on this projectile, the fins are tiny — just a few millimeters tall.
The bullet flies straight due to its aerodynamically stable design, which consists of a center of gravity that sits forward in the projectile and tiny fins that enable it to fly without spin, just as a dart does, he said. The four-inch-long bullet has actuators that steer tiny fins that guide it to its target.
Projectile Flies at 2400 fps — More Speed Is Possible
Testing has shown the electromagnetic actuator performs well and the bullet can reach speeds of 2,400 feet per second, or Mach 2.1, using commercially available gunpowder. The researchers are confident it could reach standard military speeds using customized gunpowder.
Sub-MOA Accuracy at 1000m — No Matter What the Wind Does
Computer aerodynamic modeling shows the design would result in dramatic improvements in accuracy, Jones said. Computer simulations showed an unguided bullet under real-world conditions could miss a target more than a half mile away (1,000 meters away) by 9.8 yards (9 meters), but a guided bullet would get within 8 inches (0.2 meters), according to the patent.
The prototype does not require a device found in guided missiles called an inertial measuring unit, which would have added substantially to its cost. Instead, the researchers found that the bullet’s relatively small size when compared to guided missiles “is helping us all around. It’s kind of a fortuitous thing that none of us saw when we started,” Jones said.
As the bullet flies through the air, it pitches and yaws at a set rate based on its mass and size. In larger guided missiles, the rate of flight-path corrections is relatively slow, so each correction needs to be very precise because fewer corrections are possible during flight. But “the natural body frequency of this bullet is about 30 hertz, so we can make corrections 30 times per second. That means we can over-correct, so we don’t have to be as precise each time,” Jones said.
Projectile Becomes More Stable After Launch
Researchers also filmed high-speed video of the bullet radically pitching as it exited the barrel. The bullet pitches less as it flies down range, a phenomenon known to long-range firearms experts as “going to sleep.” Because the bullet’s motions settle the longer it is in flight, accuracy improves at longer ranges, Jones said. “Nobody had ever seen that, but we’ve got high-speed video photography that shows that it’s true,” he said. (See below)
RCBS rolled out some handy new products at SHOT Show 2012. The first item will be welcomed by AR and Service Rifle shooters who reload inexpensive military .223 Rem (5.56×45) and .308 Win (7.62×51) brass. RCBS now has a Primer Pocket Swager Bench Tool that removes military primer pocket crimps quickly and easily. Watch the video and you can see how effortlessly it does the job in just seconds. A hardened steel rod supports the case from the inside allowing the case to float for perfect alignment with the swager head. The RCBS Swager comes complete wtih hardened steel small and large swaging heads and rods to accommodate cases 22-caliber and larger.
We think the RCBS Swager certainly rivals Dillon’s Super Swage 600 which performs the same task. The Dillon employs a vertical (up/down) lever, while the new RCBS Swager uses a horizontal lever arm, with a nice cushioned handle. MSRP on the RCBS Swager is $106.00 compared to $100.95 for the Dillon Super Swage. Either tool will pay for itself by allowing you to reload inexpensive milsurp brass.
RCBS Adds Universal Shell-Holder to Trim Pro
RCBS has also updated its popular Trim Pro® case trimmer with the addition of a spring-loaded universal shell holder. This has spring-loaded jaws that can hold anything from a 17 Fireball case up to the large magnums. No more fiddling around with cartridge-specific shell-holders — you just snap your cases (of any size) in and out of the spring-loaded jaws. The system works well and the jaws hold cases securely during the trimming process. Again, watch the video to see the system in action.
Pistol Bullet-Feeder Kit
Last but not least, RCBS has released an inexpensive, gravity-fed bullet feeding system. Much cheaper and simpler than a motor-driven feeder, this system, which combines a tube with a special die, reliably drops pistol bullets, one by one, as you operate your progressive press. Importantly, this manual bullet-feeder works with jacketed, plated, cast or swaged lead bullets. (Some other bullet feeders cannot handle lead bullets). This device should be a major time-saver for those who load a lot of pistol rounds.
This Editor was sufficiently impressed with the gravity-fed bullet feeder that I ordered one for my own RCBS Pro 2000 Progressive. Note, however, the RCBS feeders work on Dillon and Hornady presses also — these Bullet Feeder Kits are designed to be used with ANY 7/8″-14 threaded progressive press. Each clear tube holds 20-25 bullets depending on weight and profile. Two bullet tubes are included with each unit. Extra bullet tubes sold separately. MSRP is just $36.00.
RCBS 2012 Rebate — $10 Off $50.00 Order
RCBS has a “Get Green” Rebate Offer that runs through December 31, 2012. When you purchase $50.00 of any RCBS product, you qualify for a $10.00 mail-in rebate. Then, earn a bonus $5.00 mail-in rebate when you purchase one of the following: 5 sleeves of Federal Premium or CCI primers, 1 pound of Alliant Powder, 1 box of Speer Bullets, 1 bag of Federal Premium brass. There is also a $50.00 Rebate on a purchase of $300.00 worth of RCBS Products.
Waterloo Labs is a group of engineers from National Instruments and other self-declared “nerds” from Austin, Texas. These folks conducted an interesting demonstration using electronic accelerometers to plot bullet impacts from a suppressed Ruger MKIII .22LR pistol. The accelerometers respond to vibrations caused when the bullets hit a drywall target backer. By triangulating data from multiple accelerometers, each shot’s exact point of impact can be plotted with great precision. These point-of-impact coordinates are then fed into a computer and super-imposed into a Flash version of the Half-Life video game (which is projected on the drywall board). The end result is being able to “play” a video game with a real firearm.
Do-It-Yourself Electronic Target System?
Now, we are NOT particularly interested in shooting Zombies in a video game. However, the technology has interesting potential applications for real shooters. Waterloo Labs has published the computer code, used to triangulate bullet impacts from multiple accelerometers. Potentially, a system like this could be built to provide display and scoring of long-range targets. Sophisticated electronic target systems already exist, but they use proprietary hardware and software, and they are very expensive. The Waterloo Labs experiment shows that shooters with some computer and electronic skills could build their own electronic scoring system, one that can be adapted to a variety of target sizes and materials.
In addition, we imagine this system could be utilized for military and law enforcement training. The walls of structures used for “live-fire” room-clearing exercises could be fitted with accelerometers so the bullet impacts could be plotted and studied. Then, later, the impact plots could be combined with a computer simulation so that trainees could “replay” their live-fire sessions, viewing the actual location of their hits (and misses).
New Nosler Competition Bullets in 6.5mm, 7mm, and .308
For 2012, Nosler® is adding three (3) new projectile designs to its Custom Competition™ line of bullets: 6.5mm – 123gr, 7mm – 168gr and .308 – 140gr bullets. All three new bullet types will be offered in both 100- and 250-count boxes.
Nosler® has blended the accuracy of its Custom Competition™ bullet jackets with its own ultra-precise lead-alloy cores to create a match bullet design that should rival other premium bullets. These new Custom Comp bullets have a very small meplat for increased aerodynamic efficiency and a long boat tail for good BC and reduced drag.
Nosler Match Grade™ Ammunition
Nosler offer some new varieties of match ammo for 2012, and Nosler has re-packaged its Match Grade™ ammunition for 2012. All Nosler® Match Grade™ ammunition will now be sold in a black box. Here are the new-for-2012 cartridge/bullet combinations:
.223 Rem Match 60gr Ballistic Tip®
.223 Rem Match 69gr Custom Comp
.223 Rem Match 77gr Custom Comp
.308 Win Match 155gr Custom Comp
.308 Win Match 175gr Custom Comp
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Are factory rifles really more accurate than ever? This question is examined in the December issue of SHOT Business. In this issue you’ll also find a good discussion of modern bullet design. In his article Whatever Happened to Bad Bullets?, author David E. Petzal explores why and how bullet performance has improved in recent years. You’ll find plenty of other interesting content in SHOT Business magazine, including numerous gear reviews, retail selling advice, recent news briefs, ATF Q&A, and much more.
The latest issue of SHOT Business magazine is now available for FREE online. You can either read the feature stories in a conventional web layout at Shotbusiness.com, or view the magazine-style ePaper version. This takes longer to load, but you can see larger photos, and flip from page to page like a conventional print magazine.
Prices of bullets and brass have gone up dramatically in recent months. We are hearing from active shooters that cost considerations are influencing their decisions about what calibers and chamberings to shoot. There is a definite trend to smaller cartridges and lighter bullets.
One match shooter told us: “I’ve been debating between a 6.5×47 Lapua and a 6-6.5×47. After comparing the cost of 6.5mm vs. 6mm bullets, I decided on the 6mm. If I save $7 bucks a box, and shoot 4000 rounds a year (40 boxes of bullets), that’s $280.00 in savings–enough to buy a new barrel.”
Here are some comparative bullet prices for 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm, and 30-caliber bullets at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Prices are for a 100-count box. Note that the 6.5mm match bullets cost 25% more than the 6mms. For active shooters, the price difference adds up quickly. (Prices from current catalog listings; particular items may be out of stock.)
105gr VLD $30.15
140gr VLD $37.87
180gr VLD $44.12
190gr VLD $45.37
107gr MK $26.25
142gr MK $32.45
175gr MK $31.08
200gr MK $33.73
Here are brass costs for Lapua brass from Grafs.com. Prices are for 100-count boxes (or four 25-count boxes for the .338 Lapua Magnum). Generally speaking, the bigger the case, the higher the price (except for the .308 Win).
.338 Lapua Mag
Consider Barrel Life Also
Certainly, moving to a smaller caliber can often reduce what you have to pay for brass and bullets. On the other hand, you need to consider barrel life. Hot-loaded 6mms, such as a .243 Ackley, can burn up a barrel much more quickly than a .308 Winchester. In comparing the “operating costs” of various cartridges, you need to factor in barrel replacement costs as well as component prices. If you have to spend $550 (including smithing) to replace a custom 6mm barrel every 1500 rounds, you’re spending $1100 more than a guy who has a .308 Win which lasts 4500 rounds.
by Robert Whitley
I recently received some of the new Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid Match Bullets for testing. There is much interest in these new 6mm Hybrids, so I thought I’d share my initial observations. A couple of things are very striking about these new bullets:
1. They appear to be very long, sleek and aerodynamic, while they still maintain a good bearing surface length (full-diameter shank). I like bullets with a sufficient bearing surface length because I find that it makes for bullets that are easier to shoot and tune. I also feel a good bearing surface length makes for a bullet that has a better potential for consistent performance over bullets with a short bearing surface.
2. The published ballistic coefficient (BC) numbers on these bullets are quite high. They have a stated G1 BC of .547 and a G7 BC of .278. Looking at the bullets themselves it’s easy to see why these BC numbers are so high. The front end of the projectile is quite long and similar to what you see on long-range VLDs, but the transition to the bearing surface has a blended appearance (the Hybrid part) vs. the sharp transition you typically see with most VLDs and secant ogive bullets. The 105gr Hybrid bullets also have a long boat-tail.
3. The new Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets measure right around 1.261″ OAL. By comparison, the many other 105gr to 108gr bullets I’ve measured all seem to run in the range of 1.210″ to 1.225″ OAL. The Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets are thus a fair bit longer than the others, which is why a true 1:8″ or faster twist is recommended for them. The bearing surface diameter of the new Hybrids was dead on at 0.243″. So these bullets are neither “fat” nor “skinny”.
4. The tips on these bullets are quite uniform, with the meplats closed up nicely. The Hybrids have nice small tips similar those on the Berger 108s (reasonably tight in diameter). While I sometimes like to point my match bullets, I like to shoot bullets that are ready to go “out of the box”, and these are just that. I’m hoping they will perform very well without meplat trimming or pointing.
Berger’s 6mm 105gr Hybrids Slated to Go on Sale in Late October
Berger has done its own in-house testing on these bullets and found them to be accurate and appropriate for release for additional testing by shooters out in the field. Unless this additional field testing reveals something that no one anticipated (which I doubt), I suspect these new projectiles will be one of Berger’s most popular bullet offerings. The planned official release date for the new 6mm, 105gr Hybrids has been tentatively set for mid- to late-October of 2011. So, barring some last minute changes, these 105s should be on dealers’ shelves before Thanksgiving.