November 12th, 2017

Primer Pocket Gauge — Cool Tool Checks for Loose Pockets

Repeated firings at stout pressures can cause primer pockets to grow in diameter. This can create an unsafe condition if your primers are not seating properly. Are your primer pockets “good to go”, or have they been pushed to the point of no return? Do you really know? Many guys try to gauge primer pocket tightness by “feel”, as they seat the primer. But that method isn’t precise. Now there’s a better way…

Primer depth diameter gauge brass cartridgeThe folks at Ballistictools.com have created a handy set of precision-machined gauges that let you quickly and accurately check your primer pockets. These gauges are offered in two sizes — for large and small primer pockets. A two-piece set of both large and small gauges costs just $19.99. These gauges let you quickly measure the depth of a primer pocket, and check if the crimp has been removed properly. Most importantly, the gauge tells you if the primer pocket has opened up too much. One side of the gauge has an enlarged diameter plug. If that “No-Go” side fits in the primer pocket, you should ditch the case — it’s toast.

Primer depth diameter gauge brass cartridge
CLICK HERE to order Primer Pocket Gauge Set from Ballistictools.com.

Precision ground from O-1 tool steel, these primer pocket gauges serve multiple functions. The inventor of these tools explains:

I created the prototype of this tool for my own use in brass processing. I needed a way to quickly and easily measure primer pockets that was reliable and did not require wasting a primer. This tool has been indispensable for me and I would never go back to the old method of uncertainty and guessing.

One side of this gauge is the “go” side which quickly tells you the depth of a primer pocket, whether any crimp is properly removed, and whether the primer pocket is loose. If it feels loose on the “go” side, use the other end of the tool, the “no go” side, to test to see if the primer pocket is too loose to hold a primer. If the no-go slides into the pocket, then you know to junk that brass.

Product tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Reloading 5 Comments »
November 10th, 2017

Cutaway Ammo Samples for Training — AmVIEWnition

Amviewnition cutaway ammo samples cartridge shotshell

Ever wondered what pistol, rifle, and shotgun ammo really looks like on the inside? Well, thanks to two clever friends, you can NOW see exactly what’s on the inside. Bernard Martinage and David Swanson, fellow NRA-certified firearms instructors, have created a new kind of training tool — cutaway ammo samples. The two men call their line of cutaways, AmVIEWnition. The sliced cartridges and shotshells are employed as visual/tactile training aids. These cutaways help new shooters understand ammo components and how cartridges and shotshells are engineered.

Amviewnition cutaway ammo samples cartridge shotshell
Bernard Martinage (L) and David Swanson (R) are the inventors of AmVIEWnition products — cutaway ammo samples for training.

Bernard told the NRA Blog: “In order to make teaching easier and increase trainee comprehension, I simply decided to cut bullets lengthwise and show them [students] what’s inside. It certainly sped up their understanding and it was cool to look at! I always liked inventing and creating things that solved problems or made life easier. So, doing it with firearm training was no different.” To learn more about the history of AmVIEWnition, read the NRA Blog’s Interview with Bernard Martinage.

Amviewnition cutaway ammo samples cartridge shotshell

Bernard and David also produce Barrel Cutaways and “Solo-Blast” 3-D Ballistics Models of projectile wound channels. Visit www.AmVIEWnition.com to see these products as well as the full line of pistol, rifle, and shotgun AmVIEWnition cutaways.

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November 7th, 2017

Wall Poster Illustrates Hunting Cartridges and Game Species

game hunting species poster ammunition cartridge hunting ammo wall illustration
Click to View Large Size Poster.

Need something for the walls of your “man cave” or reloading room? The creators of the Cartridge Comparison Guide offer a nice poster showing 85 classic varmint and hunting cartridges. Along with cartridges (from 17 Mach2 all the way up to the 517 Nitro Express), this full-color 18″ x 24″ wall poster shows dozens of game animal types, including all the great African species. This unique Game & Ammo Hunting Poster opens reveals the range and breadth of game animals that can be hunted on the world stage, while providing a comprehensive sampling of proven cartridges for hunting these animals. Priced at $14.99, this poster was developed in cooperation with Hunter Education instructors.

In addition to the Game & Ammo Poster, ChamberIt.com offers 15 other large wall posters that display a variety of cartridge types. For example, the Rifleman’s Classic Poster, a full 38 inches wide and 27 inches tall, is the most comprehensive. This $15.99 poster displays 272 rifle cartridge types at true size (within 4/1000 of an inch). Cartridges shown range from .17 caliber all the way up to the big boomers (including some cannon shells). The Rifleman’s Classic Poster includes all American Standardized Rifle Cartridges (as of 2013) and many European rifle cartridges.

Rifleman’s Classic Poster
Big Bore Cartridge Comparison Guide Poster
Click to view large size poster.

Ammunition Performance Specifications Poster
There is also an interesting Ammo Performance Specs poster. This shows dozens of popular hunting cartridges with the velocity, energy, momentum and recoil for each cartridge displayed in a bar graph.

Ammo Ammunition Comparison Guide Poster

This shows the actual size of the Ammo Performance Poster as displayed on a wall.
Ammo Ammunition Comparison Guide Poster

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
April 5th, 2017

TECH Tip: Video Shows How to Hydro-Form Cartridge Brass

6mm Dasher hydroforming case die hornday

Can you form a wildcat cartridge such as the 6 Dasher without expending primer, powders, and bullets? Absolutely. Using the hydro-forming method you can form improved cases in your workshop with no firing whatsoever, so there is no wear on your precious barrel. Watch this video to see how it’s done:

6 Dasher Case Hydro-Forming Demonstration:

Forum member Wes J. (aka P1ZombieKiller) has produced a helpful video showing how to form Dasher cases use the Hornady Hydraulic forming die kit. This includes a two-part die (body and piston), and a special shell holder. To form the case, you insert a primer in your virgin brass, top the case off with with a fluid (water or alcohol), then run the case up into the Hydro-forming die. A few stout whacks with a hammer and your case is 95% formed.

6mm Dasher hydroforming hydraulic 6mmBR hornadyHydro-Forming Procedure Step-by-Step:
1. Insert spent primer in new 6mmBR brass case.
2. Fill with water or alcohol (Wes prefers alcohol).
3. Wipe excess fluid off case.
4. Place case in special Hornady shell-holder (no primer hole).
5. Run case up into Hydraulic forming die.
6. Smack top piston of forming die 3-4 times with rubber mallet or dead-blow hammer.
7. Inspect case, re-fill and repeat if necessary.
8. Drain alcohol (or water) into container.
9. Remove primer (and save for re-use).
10. Blow-dry formed case. Inspect and measure formed case.

Wes achieves very uniform cartridge OALs with this method. He measured ten (10) hydro-formed 6 Dasher cases and got these results: two @ 1.536″; 2 @ 1.537″; and 6 @ 1.538″.

Three or Four Whacks Produces a 95%-Formed Case
With a Hornady hydro-forming die, hydraulic pressure does the job of blowing out the shoulders of your improved case. The process is relatively simple. Place a spent primer in the bottom of a new piece of brass. Fill the case with water, and then slip it into a special Hornady shell-holder with no hole in the middle. Then you run the case up into the forming die. Now comes the fun part. You gently insert a plunger (hydraulic ram) from the top, and give it three or four stiff whacks with a mallet (or better yet, a dead-blow hammer). Remove the plunger and you have a 95% formed case, ready to load.

Walter Queen Hydraulic Hornady DieHornady supplies a shell holder made specifically for the hydro die; there’s no hole in the bottom of it. Just insert a spent primer into the primer pocket and you’re ready to go. The spent primer combined with the solid shell holder, keeps the water from seeping out of the primer pocket. The primer pushes out a little bit during this process, but it’s impossible for it to come out because of the way the shell holder is designed. The shell holder has a grove which allows the case to slide out of the shell holder even when the primer protrudes a bit.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink - Videos, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
December 31st, 2016

How Guns Work — An Inside Look

Firearms infographic NRA Blog Outdoor Hub

The NRA Blog has produced an interesting graphic guide to firearms function. This “How Guns Work” infographic shows the basics of bolt-action rifle operation and how a centerfire cartridge propels a bullet through a barrel during the “firing sequence”. There’s some good artistry here, with cutaway drawings letting you look inside an action and cartridge.

Enjoy this technical graphic. The NRA Blog says: “In celebration of cartridges big and small, we partnered with OutdoorHub to bring you a detailed look into how guns work. While the infographic will be most instructive to newcomers, we think avid shooters will find it interesting, too.”

Firearms infographic NRA Blog Outdoor Hub

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 2 Comments »
November 4th, 2016

Mysteries Revealed — How Cartridge Brass is Made

deep draw cartridge brass animated gif
Deep-Draw Ram Illustration from Demsey Mfg.

When we first ran this story a while back, it generated great interest among readers. By popular request, we’re reprinting this story, in case you missed it the first time around. — Editor

Rifle cartridge brass manufacturingPrecision shooters favor premium brass from Lapua, Norma, or RWS. (Lake City also makes quality brass in military calibers.) Premium brass delivers better accuracy, more consistent velocities, and longer life. Shooters understand the importance of good brass, but many of us have no idea how cartridge cases are actually made. Here’s how it’s done.

The process starts with a brass disk stamped from strips of metal. Then, through a series of stages, the brass is extruded or drawn into a cylindrical shape. In the extrusion process the brass is squeezed through a die under tremendous pressure. This is repeated two or three times typically. In the more traditional “draw” process, the case is progressively stretched longer, in 3 to 5 stages, using a series of high-pressure rams forcing the brass into a form die. While extrusion may be more common today, RWS, which makes some of the most uniform brass in the world, still uses the draw process: “It starts with cup drawing after the bands have been punched out. RWS cases are drawn in three ‘stages’ and after each draw they are annealed, pickled, rinsed and subjected to further quality improvement measures. This achieves specific hardening of the brass cases and increases their resistance to extraordinary stresses.” FYI, Lapua also uses a traditional draw process to manufacture most of its cartridge brass (although Lapua employs some proprietary steps that are different from RWS’s methods).

RWS Brass Cartridge Draw process

After the cases are extruded or drawn to max length, the cases are trimmed and the neck/shoulder are formed. Then the extractor groove (on rimless cases) is formed or machined, and the primer pocket is created in the base. One way to form the primer pocket is to use a hardened steel plug called a “bunter”. In the photos below you see the stages for forming a 20mm cannon case (courtesy OldAmmo.com), along with bunters used for Lake City rifle brass. This illustrates the draw process (as opposed to extrusion). The process of draw-forming rifle brass is that same as for this 20mm shell, just on a smaller scale.

20mm cartridge brass forming

20mm Draw Set Oldammo.com

River Valley Ordnance explains: “When a case is being made, it is drawn to its final draw length, with the diameter being slightly smaller than needed. At this point in its life, the head of the draw is slightly rounded, and there are no provisions for a primer. So the final drawn cases are trimmed to length, then run into the head bunter. A punch, ground to the intended contours for the inside of the case, pushes the draw into a cylindrical die and holds it in place while another punch rams into the case from the other end, mashing the bottom flat. That secondary ram holds the headstamp bunter punch.

Lake City Brass bunter

The headstamp bunter punch has a protrusion on the end to make the primer pocket, and has raised lettering around the face to form the headstamp writing. This is, of course, all a mirror image of the finished case head. Small cases, such as 5.56×45, can be headed with a single strike. Larger cases, like 7.62×51 and 50 BMG, need to be struck once to form a dent for the primer pocket, then a second strike to finish the pocket, flatten the head, and imprint the writing. This second strike works the brass to harden it so it will support the pressure of firing.”

Thanks to Guy Hildebrand, of the Cartridge Collectors’ Exchange, OldAmmo.com, for providing this 20mm Draw Set photo. Bunter photo from River Valley Ordnance.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
August 1st, 2016

How Rifle Ammunition Works — Amazing CGI Animation

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.

3D animation bullet ammunition in rifle

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.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 2 Comments »
May 19th, 2016

Hodgdon Goes Hollywood, Releasing How-To Reloading Videos

Hodgdon Reloading Center Video

Hodgdon Reloading Center VideoHodgdon Powder Company (Hodgdon) offers a series of professionally produced how-to videos on its popular Reloading Data Center. These 3.5-minute videos present rifle, pistol, and shotshell reloading basics in an easy-to-understand,step-by-step format. These mobile-friendly, informative videos can also be viewed on a smart phone or tablet.

To watch the reloading videos go to the Reloading Data Center at hodgdon.com. Click to the right/left of the displayed video to switch between pistol, rifle, and shotgun videos. Or, for your convenience, we have embedded the Rifle and Pistol videos here. Just click to watch!

Click to Watch Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Video:

Click to Watch Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Video:

In addition to these videos, Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center (RDC) provides a wealth of information on Hodgdon®, IMR®, and Winchester® propellants. Along with reliable load data, you’ll find explanations of reloading basics, safety procedures, plus answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Permalink - Videos, Reloading 3 Comments »
March 26th, 2016

Defining “Overbore” Cartridges — The Great Debate

What is “Overbore”? That’s a question rifle shooters can debate to no end. This article from our archives proposes one way to identify “overbore cartridges”. We think the approach outlined here is quite useful, but we know that there are other ways to define cartridges with “overbore” properties. Whenever we run this article, it stimulates a healthy debate among our readers — and that is probably a good thing.

Forum Member John L. has been intrigued by the question of “overbore” cartridges. People generally agree that overbore designs can be “barrel burners”, but is there a way to predict barrel life based on how radically a case is “overbore”? John notes that there is no generally accepted definition of “overbore”. Based on analyses of a wide variety of cartridges, John hoped to create a comparative index to determine whether a cartridge is more or less “overbore”. This, in turn, might help us predict barrel life and maybe even predict the cartridge’s accuracy potential.

John tells us: “I have read countless discussions about overbore cartridges for years. There seemed to be some widely accepted, general rules of thumb as to what makes a case ‘overbore’. In the simplest terms, a very big case pushing a relatively small diameter bullet is acknowledged as the classic overbore design. But it’s not just large powder capacity that creates an overbore situation — it is the relationship between powder capacity and barrel bore diameter. Looking at those two factors, we can express the ‘Overbore Index’ as a mathematical formula — the case capacity in grains of water divided by the area (in square inches) of the bore cross-section. This gives us an Index which lets us compare various cartridge designs.”

OVERBORE INDEX Chart

Overbore Index Chart

So what do these numbers mean? John says: “My own conclusion from much reading and analysis is that cartridges with case volume to bore area ratio less than 900 are most likely easy on barrels and those greater than 1000 are hard on barrels.” John acknowledges, however, that these numbers are just for comparison purposes. One can’t simply use the Index number, by itself, to predict barrel life. For example, one cannot conclude that a 600 Index number cartridge will necessarily give twice the barrel life of a 1200 Index cartridge. However, John says, a lower index number “seems to be a good predictor of barrel life”.

John’s system, while not perfect, does give us a benchmark to compare various cartridge designs. If, for example, you’re trying to decide between a 6.5-284 and a 260 Remington, it makes sense to compare the “Overbore Index” number for both cartridges. Then, of course, you have to consider other factors such as powder type, pressure, velocity, bullet weight, and barrel hardness.

Overbore Cases and Accuracy
Barrel life may not be the only thing predicted by the ratio of powder capacity to bore cross-section area. John thinks that if we look at our most accurate cartridges, such as the 6 PPC, and 30 BR, there’s some indication that lower Index numbers are associated with greater inherent accuracy. This is only a theory. John notes: “While I do not have the facilities to validate the hypothesis that the case capacity to bore area ratio is a good predictor of accuracy — along with other well-known factors — it seems to be one important factor.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
February 8th, 2016

Pursuit of the Perfect Cartridge Book by Mic McPherson

We are often asked, “Can you recommend a good reloading book that picks up where the typical reloading manual leaves off — something that goes into more detail about the processes involved.” There is such a book, and it’s fairly recent: Metallic Cartridge Handloading: Pursuit of the Perfect Cartridge, by M.L. (“Mic”) McPherson. Released in 2013, this 425-page book goes into greater depth than McPherson’s popular intro reloading guide, Metallic Cartridge Reloading. McPherson’s latest reloading treatise covers all aspects of the reloading process: the cartridge case; maintaining, improving and loading the case; the seating and reading of primers; the loading of propellant; bullets and the loading of bullets; accurate load development; internal and external ballistics; bullet making and casting; and reloading presses.

Metallic Cartridge Handloading Mic McPherson

With hundreds of photos and illustrations, this book is a good reference for shooters getting started in precision reloading for accuracy. Compared to some other books on reloading procedures, McPherson’s new resource is more up-to-date, so it references more modern reloading tools and techniques. NOTE: This is NOT a reloading manual containing specific load data. Rather, it is a how-to book that covers the process of cartridge reloading from start to finish.

Reviews by actual book buyers:
A great resource for handloaders although a little technical for beginners. I have been reloading for 40+ years and picked up some good ideas. — Loren R.

This is a book intended for people who have been reloading for a while. The book contains very detailed information about reloading. — Kaj H.

About the Author, M.L. (“Mic”) McPherson:
Mic McPherson, Technical Editor of Hand Loader’s Digest, is the author of numerous firearms resource books including Metallic Cartridge Reloading and Accurizing the Factory Rifle. He has written scores of articles for leading gun periodicals including Precision Shooting, The Accurate Rifle, Rifle Shooter, and Varmint Hunter Magazine. Mic also served as an Editor of the 8th and 9th Editions of Cartridges of the World.

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January 11th, 2016

Nosler Introduces New 30 Nosler Cartridge

Nosler 30 new Cartridge magnum hunting

Here’s an item of interest to hunters (and maybe a few F-Open shooters). Nosler has just introduced a new magnum-type cartridge, the 30 Nosler. Sharing the same parent case as the 26 and 28 Nosler® cartridges, the 30 Nosler® has the case capacity to launch big 30-caliber bullets at impressive velocities (3000 FPS for a 210-grainer). Nosler says the 30 Nosler combines the best qualities of other 30-cal magnums: “The 30 Nosler® easily meets the velocity of the 300 Weatherby, headspaces on the shoulder like a 300 RUM, has an efficient powder column like the 300 WSM and fits in the same standard length action of a 300 Winchester Magnum.”
Nosler 30 new Cartridge magnum hunting
30 Nosler Will Function in a Standard Length Action
The 30 Nosler has a C.O.A.L. of 3.340″ allowing this cartridge to be operated in a standard length action for lighter weight and shorter bolt throw when compared to magnum-length actions.

The 30 Nosler is a SAAMI-standardized cartridge so there will be standardized dimensions for brass, dies, and chamber reamers. Nosler will support this new cartridge with Nosler Brass, Trophy Grade™ Ammunition and a series of M48 hunting rifles. The initial offerings in Nosler’s Trophy Grade™ Ammunition will be:

Nosler® Trophy Grade™ Ammunition: 180gr AccuBond® 3200 fps
Nosler® Trophy Grade™ LR Ammunition: 210gr AccuBond® LR 3000 fps

Nosler 30 new Cartridge magnum hunting

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, New Product 13 Comments »
November 25th, 2015

Lapua Brass on Sale at Brownells

Lapua Brass Sale

Here’s something you don’t see very often — Lapua cartridge brass on sale. As part of its Back-to-Black promotion, Brownells has deeply discounted its inventories of Lapua Brass. For most cartridges/calibers, the price has been reduced at least $10.00 per 100-count box. Here are the sale prices, good through the end of the week:

.222 Rem – $53.99 (reg. $61.99)
.223 Rem – $53.99 (reg. $61.99)
220 Russian – $89.99 (reg. $99.99)
.22-250 – $89.99 (reg. $99.99)
6mmBR – $81.99 (reg. $91.99)
.243 Winchester – $89.99 (reg. $99.99)
6.5 Grendel – $89.99 (reg. $99.99)
6.5×47 Lapua – $99.99 (reg. $109.99)

260 Remington – $89.99 (reg. $99.99)
6.5×55 Swedish – $71.99 (reg. $81.99)
6.5-284 – $109.99 (reg. $124.99)
7.62×39 – $54.99 (reg. $59.99)
.308 Winchester – $69.99 (reg. $79.99)
.308 Win Palma – $76.99 (reg. $86.99)
.30-06 Springfield – $99.99 (reg. $109.99)
.338 Lapua Magnum – $239.99 (reg. $269.99)

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October 23rd, 2015

Cartridge Efficiency Basics from the USAMU

USAMU Handloading Guide Facebook cartridge efficiency

Efficient cartridges make excellent use of their available powder and case/bore capacity. They yield good ballistic performance with relatively little recoil and throat erosion.

USAMU Handloading Guide Facebook cartridge efficiency

Cartridge Efficiency: A Primer (pun intended!) by USAMU Staff

Each week, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) publishes a reloading article on its Facebook Page. In this week’s article, the USAMU discusses cartridge case efficiency and its benefits. While this is oriented primarily toward NRA High Power Rifle and Long Range (1000-yard) competition, these factors also apply to medium/big game hunters. Assuming one’s rifle and ammunition are accurate, key considerations include ballistic performance (i.e., resistance to wind effects, plus trajectory), recoil, and throat erosion/barrel life.

Efficient cartridges make excellent use of their available powder and case/bore capacity. They yield good ballistic performance with relatively little recoil and throat erosion. A classic example in the author’s experience involved a featherweight 7x57mm hunting/silhouette rifle. When loaded to modern-rifle pressures, just 43-44 grains of powder pushed a 139gr bullet at 2900 fps from its 22” barrel. Recoil in this light rifle was mild; it was very easy to shoot well, and its performance was superb.

An acquaintance chose a “do everything” 7mm Remington Magnum for use on medium game at short ranges. A larger, heavier rifle, it used ~65 grains of powder to achieve ~3200 fps with similar bullets — from its 26″ barrel. Recoil was higher, and he was sensitive to it, which hampered his shooting ability.

Similarly efficient calibers include the 6mm BR [Norma], and others. Today’s highly-efficient calibers, such as 6mm BR and a host of newer developments might use 28-30 grains of powder to launch a 105-107gr match bullet at speeds approaching the .243 Winchester. The .243 Win needs 40-45 grain charges at the same velocity.

Champion-level Long Range shooters need every ballistic edge feasible. They compete at a level where 1″ more or less drift in a wind change could make the difference between winning and losing. Shooters recognized this early on — the then-new .300 H&H Magnum quickly supplanted the .30-06 at the Wimbledon winner’s circle in the early days.

The .300 Winchester Magnum became popular, but its 190-220gr bullets had their work cut out for them once the 6.5-284 and its streamlined 140-142gr bullets arrived on the scene. The 6.5-284 gives superb accuracy and wind performance with about half the recoil of the big .30 magnums – albeit it is a known barrel-burner.

Currently, the 7mm Remington Short Action Ultra-Magnum (aka 7mm RSAUM), is giving stellar accuracy with cutting-edge, ~180 grain bullets, powder charges in the mid-50 grain range and velocities about 2800+ fps in long barrels. Beyond pure efficiency, the RSAUM’s modern, “short and fat” design helps ensure fine accuracy relative to older, longer cartridge designs of similar performance.

Recent design advances are yielding bullets with here-to-fore unheard-of ballistic efficiency; depending on the cartridge, they can make or break ones decision. Ballistic coefficients (“BC” — a numerical expression of a bullet’s ballistic efficiency) are soaring to new heights, and there are many exciting new avenues to explore.

The ideal choice [involves a careful] balancing act between bullet BCs, case capacity, velocity, barrel life, and recoil. But, as with new-car decisions, choosing can be half the fun!

Factors to Consider When Evaluating Cartridges
For competitive shooters… pristine accuracy and ballistic performance in the wind are critical. Flat trajectory benefits the hunter who may shoot at long, unknown distances (nowadays, range-finders help). However, this is of much less importance to competitors firing at known distances.

Recoil is an issue, particularly when one fires long strings during competition, and/or multiple strings in a day. Its effects are cumulative; cartridges with medium/heavy recoil can lead to shooter fatigue, disturbance of the shooting position and lower scores.

For hunters, who may only fire a few shots a year, recoil that does not induce flinching during sight-in, practice and hunting is a deciding factor. Depending on their game and ranges, etc., they may accept more recoil than the high-volume High Power or Long Range competitor.

Likewise, throat erosion/barrel life is important to competitive shooters, who fire thousands of rounds in practice and matches, vs. the medium/big game hunter. A cartridge that performs well ballistically with great accuracy, has long barrel life and low recoil is the competitive shooter’s ideal. For the hunter, other factors may weigh more heavily.

Cartridge Efficiency and Energy — Another Perspective
Lapua staffer Kevin Thomas explains that efficiency can be evaluated in terms of energy:

“Cartridge efficiency is pretty straight forward — energy in vs. energy out. Most modern single-based propellants run around 178-215 ft/lbs of energy per grain. These figures give the energy potential that you’re loading into the rifle. The resulting kinetic energy transferred to the bullet will give you the efficiency of the round. Most cases operate at around 20-25% efficiency. This is just another way to evaluate the potential of a given cartridge. There’s a big difference between this and simply looking at max velocities produced by various cartridges.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
September 8th, 2015

Tuesday Tumble — How to Make Lake City Brass Shine Again

Dennis Santiago Lake City Gracey Trimmer Case Prep Military Crimp Wilson

“Once-fired, lot-number-traceable Lake City 7.62×51. This has been de-primed, pocket-swaged, small base body die’d, full-length sized, trimmed with a Gracey Trimmer, and tumbled. Now it’s shiny again. It’s like gourmet macaroni for shooters!” — Dennis Santiago

Our friend Dennis Santiago shoots a variety of disciplines, including Vintage Military Rifle. He burns through a lot of brass, some of it run through gas guns, so he often saves money by acquiring once-fired Lake City Arsenal brass. But that stuff is often pretty ugly when it arrives. For his “previously-owned” Lake City Brass, Dennis does a complete case prep operation and a thorough cleaning/tumbling operation. Special attention is paid to the primer pockets — they are swaged to remove the military crimp. The cases are trimmed and chamfered in one operation using a Gracey Powered Case Trimmer.

Dennis likes once-fired Lake City brass for some applications. The price is right, and with proper attention to detail during case prep, Lake City brass can shoot exceptionally well indeed. You may want to sort Lake City brass by weight. To remove the military crimp you have a variety of options — you can swage it out with a special tool like Dennis does, or you can ream out the crimp. For Wilson trimmer owners, Wilson makes a special Primer Pocket Reamer to remove military crimps. It works very well, as shown below:

Military crimp primer pocket reamer salazarMilitary crimp primer pocket reamer salazar

Case Processing with the Gracey Trimmer
Designed by Doyle Gracey 30 years ago, the Gracey machine trims, deburs and chamfers in one operation, indexing off the case shoulder. The manufacturer claims the Gracey will process 20 cases per minute while holding .002″ tolerances on trim length. Two steel cutters are employed — one cutter trims the case to length and puts a chamfer on the inside of the case mouth. The second cutter removes the burr from the outside of the case-mouth. A 1/15 hp motor turns 1550 rpm. Interestingly, a clamped rubber hose serves as the “drive shaft” to turn the cutting head.

Dennis Santiago Lake City Gracey Trimmer Case Prep Military Crimp Wilson

Trey Tuggle, writing in Shooting Sports USA, reviewed the Gracey Trimmer, giving it generally high marks, though it lacks some of the refinements of the more modern Giraud Trimmer:

“This model may have a piece of wood for a base, no on-off swith and a piece of bent sheet metial to contain brass shavings — but it does trim, debur and chamfer with great speed and accuracy at a nice price. The [Gracey] two-bladed cutter requires a little more patience to adjust than the one-piece cutter on the Giraud, but it gets the job done superbly. [The Gracey] does the job for less money, if you’re willing to tinker with the cutter blade adjustment.” Gracey machines are still available new from MatchPrep.com for $335.00 (or $235.00 without motor).

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
April 22nd, 2015

FREE Chart Lists Bullet and Primer Sizes for 320+ Cartridges

OK, guys, it’s time to practice your downloading skills. Here’s a very handy cartridge information sheet you will definitely want to save for future reference. Shown below is Page One of the Primer Size and Bullet Diameter Chart created by Graf & Sons. This chart shows the bullet diameter and primer size for more than 320 popular cartridges*. The full three-page chart is available in PDF format for easy printing.

DOWNLOAD Graf’s Cartridge Primer Size and Bullet Diameter Chart

Grafs.com cartridge primer chart bullet diameter resource PDF

NOTE: If you have the PDF reader installed in your browser, the Graf’s Chart may open in a new tab when you click on the image above. To save the three-page PDF file to your computer or device, click the Floppy Disc icon that appears in the lower right (after the PDF file opens). Here is the direct link: http://www.grafs.com/uploads/technical-resource-pdf-file/12.pdf.

Note: There are a few mistakes. If you are making 22 BR from Lapua brass, you’ll want a small rifle primer. Likewise with 25-20 WCF, you want a small primer.

Resource Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 1 Comment »
December 4th, 2014

New Lapua Brass for 2015: 300 BLK, 7mm-08, 8x57mm JS

Every year we anxiously await the new product announcement from Lapua. In 2014, Lapua brought out new bullets and new cartridge brass — .221 Fireball and .50 BMG. For 2015, Lapua once again brings out new brass offerings, this time three new flavors of cartridge brass, all made to Lapua’s exacting standards. First, Lapua will introduce factory 300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK) brass. This promises to take this highly-efficient, AR-friendly .30-caliber cartridge to another accuracy level. Second, Lapua will offer premium brass for the 7mm-08 cartridge, a very popular round among hunters and silhouette shooters. Lastly, in 2015, Lapua will produce 8x57mm JS brass. That’s good news for fans of this classic Mauser cartridge.

Lapua 2015 cartridge brass casing 300 blackout blk 7-08 7mm-08 Remington 8x57mm JS 8x57

300 AAC Blackout Brass

Lapua’s Press release states: “Few cartridges have generated as much immediate interest as the 300 Blackout. Standardized by AAC, this diminutive cartridge is derived from the 223 Remington. Intended specifically for use in suppressed firearms, the versatility of the Blackout has appealed to a much broader range of shooters than just the audience for which it was originally designed. [Originally] intended to drive 220 grain bullets at subsonic velocities, the switch to lightweight bullets such as the 125 grain offerings delivers performance very similar to the venerable 7.62×39 cartridge. This makes the 300 Blackout potent enough for a wide range of shooting tasks, from certain tactical applications to many short range hunting situations involving medium-sized game. The ability for many 5.56mm/223 systems to be switched over to the 300 Blackout, merely by changing barrels, makes this an incredibly versatile combination. Lapua brings over nine decades of case manufacturing knowledge, precision and quality to the new Blackout, assuring the shooter of the very best performance.”

Lapua 2015 cartridge brass casing 300 blackout blk 7-08 7mm-08 Remington 8x57mm JS 8x57

7mm-08 Remington Brass

Lapua 2015 cartridge brass casing 300 blackout blk 7-08 7mm-08 Remington 8x57mm JS 8x57Lapua notes that it’s new 7mm-08 brass is made to very high standards, benefiting hunters as well as competitors: “The 7mm-08 came to dominate the High Power Silhouette rifle game shortly after its introduction, offering a superb combination of power, light recoil and accuracy. Since then, it has also been used to win National Championships in High Power competition, and become a staple for hunters as well. With ballistic performance exceeding that of the time honored 7x57mm Mauser, but suited to a shorter action, the 7mm-08 is an ideal cartridge for most big game hunting. Lapua brings… state-of-the-art manufacturing methods, combined with old world craftsmanship, to the production of these cases. Primer pockets and flash holes are held to strict tolerances to withstand repeated firings and reloadings. After final necking of the case, they are finished with the proper anneal [for] accuracy and durability.” Lapua also notes that it offers two new 7mm Scenar bullets, which will work very well in the new 7mm-08 cartridge brass.

8x57mm JS Brass

Last but not least, Lapua is producing 8x57mm JS brass. Lapua notes that: “When the 8x57mm JS cartridge was introduced in 1905, its innovative use of a high velocity and relatively light weight pointed bullet design revolutionized infantry combat. An outgrowth on the original 8x57J military round, the 8x57mm JS round served the German military in both world wars, and became a popular sporting cartridge in any area where there was a strong German influence. From African plains game to European stag and boar, the 8mm Mauser has earned an enviable reputation as a big game round in a wide array of conditions. Accurate, versatile and powerful, the 8x57mm JS still serves the sporting community well for a host of hunting applications. In answer to the requests of the many devotees of this fine cartridge, Lapua is pleased to announce our introduction of the new 8x57mmJS case. The new 8x57mmJS will deliver the same accurate, reliable performance for which Lapua cases are world renowned. This means tough, durable cases that will not only withstand repeated loadings, but retain their accuracy shot after shot. [Lapua’s 8x57mm JS brass offers] very tight tolerances in neck wall concentricity and overall uniformity.”

Lapua 2015 cartridge brass casing 300 blackout blk 7-08 7mm-08 Remington 8x57mm JS 8x57

See Lapua’s New Products at SHOT Show 2015
If you plan to attend SHOT Show in Las Vegas, stop by and visit the Lapua Exhibit (booth #11929). With luck, samples of the new 7mm-08, 300 BLK, and 8×57 JS brass will be available to view. Lapua engineers will be on hand to talk about Lapua brass and bullets, and explain the production processes that make Lapua brass so durable and consistent. In recent years, in the world of centerfire competition, Lapua brass has absolutely dominated the winner’s circles as well as the record-books.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 16 Comments »
August 3rd, 2014

Big, Full-Color Wall Posters Show Cartridges at 100% Scale

Need something for the walls of your “man cave” or reloading room? Check out these jumbo-size cartridge posters. The creators of the Cartridge Comparison Guide now offer three very large full-color printed posters. These can be tacked to a wall or matted/framed to hang like paintings. Three different posters are available.

Rifleman’s Classic Poster (38″ x 27″)
The Rifleman’s Classic Poster, a full 38 inches wide and 27 inches tall, is the most comprehensive. This $19.95 poster displays 272 rifle cartridge types at true size (within 4/1000 of an inch). Cartridges shown range from .17 caliber all the way up to the big boomers (including some cannon shells). The Rifleman’s Classic poster includes all American Standardized Rifle Cartridges (as of 2013) and many European rifle cartridges. The poster is a good representation of military cartridges dating back to WWI and includes cartridges such as the 13X92mm MSR and the .55 Boys.

CLICK Image to Enlarge:
Big Bore Cartridge Comparison Guide Poster

American Standard Cartridge Poster (Rifle, Handgun, Shotgun) — $15.95
The 36″ x 24″ American Standard Poster displays 165 rifle cartridges, 55 handgun cartridges, and 9 different shotgun gauges. This includes all American Standardized Cartridges (rifle, handgun, and shotgun) available as of January 2012. All cartridge types are displayed in full color, actual size. The rifle selection includes all standard hunting cartridges from the 17 Mach 2 through the .505 Gibbs and .577 Nitro. Bonus cartridges include the .375 and .408 Chey-Tac, .416 Barrett, .50 BMG, 50-20 and 20mm. The Handgun section covers cartridges from the 17 HMR to the 500 S&W. Shotgun cartridges include the .410 and 32 gauge up to the 8 gauge. NOTE: Wildcat, proprietary, and obsolete-historic cartridges are NOT included in this poster.

CLICK Image to Enlarge:
Big Bore Cartridge Comparison Guide Poster

BIG BORE Cartridge Poster (215 Cartridges) — $15.95
The 36″ x 24″ Big Bore Poster illustrates over 215 large=caliber rifle cartridges, all shown actual size in full color. These include Standard, Historic, Military, Proprietary and Wildcat rifle cartridges side by side. Cartridges illustrated range from the subsonic .338 Spectre up to the monstrous .729 Jongmans. The poster also includes historically significant cartridges such as the 12 Gauge Paradox, 4 Bore, 1″ Nordfelt, 50 BAT Spotter, .50 BMG, .5 Vickers, 12.7×108 Russian, 20mm, 25mm, 30mm and more.

CLICK Image to Enlarge:
Big Bore Cartridge Comparison Guide Poster

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 2 Comments »
April 6th, 2014

Can Carbon Build-Up Inside Cases Alter Pressure?

As a cartridge case is reloaded multiple times, burnt powder residue and carbon builds up on the inside of the case. Unless the case interior is cleaned in some fashion, eventually you’ll see a reduction in case capacity. One of our Forum members from Australia wonders about the effects of reduced case capacity: “If the capacity of the case decreases as the crud builds up, then it effectively reduces the chamber size. Wouldn’t that change the pressure produced from that of an equivalent clean case?”

Ultrasonic Cleaning Example:

Interesting Test of Case Capacity Changes
Forum member Fred Bohl has actual test results that can help answer the above question. Fred proved that, over a 20-reload cycle, the case capacity of uncleaned cases did, indeed, decline a small amount. However, surprisingly, this did not seem to affect the actual chronographed velocity of the load. ES did increase, but Fred believes the higher ES was due to changes in case-neck tension, rather than due to the slight reduction in case capacity.

Fred reports: “Back when beginning to use ultrasonic case cleaning, part of the motivation was to get the inside clean based on the assumption that allowing burnt residue to build up inside cases would affect capacity, and, ultimately, performance. An experiment was done to test this hypothesis. The load used, 30.5 grains of RL15 behind 107gr SMKs in a 6mmBR, was selected for best group and lowest ES in prior load development. It turned out to be 92% of initial case capacity and neither “full” or compressed. (I would suspect that different powders, load weight, and total case capacity might produce very different results.)

We took 30 cases of identical initial capacity and tracked three lots of 10 each:

LOT 1: No Internal cleaning
LOT 2: Cleaned with media in tumbler
LOT 3: Cleaned with Ultrasound machine

Each case (in each lot) was shot and reloaded 20 times. The simplified results after 20 reloads of each lot were as follows:

Lot 1 (not cleaned) – 0.3 to 0.4 gr. loss of capacity, 5 to 8 fps greater ES.
Lot 2 (tumble cleaned) – 0.1 to 0.3 gr. loss of capacity, 4 to 6 fps greater ES.
Lot 1 (ultrasonic cleaned) – no loss of capacity, no detectable change in ES.

FINDINGS
There was no detectable correlation of velocity change to the lots. An oddity was that on very hot days Lot 1 velocities were, occasionally, slightly higher. [Editor’s note: That does suggest that the carbon build-up inside the uncleaned cases might cause a slight increase in pressure that shows up on hot days. Fred has posted that “A local shooter reported doing the 20 reload, no clean test on a .308 that gave a loss of capacity of 2.0 grains, doubled ES and signficant velocity changes. However, I don’t have any details on his load weight or powder.”]

NOTE: From results of another ongoing test, I believe the above differences in ES are probably due more to variance in bullet grip tension than case capacity. The ultrasound cleaned cases (LOT 3) did maintain the lowest ES, but we are not 100% sure of the reasons why. More consistent bullet seating might be the reason.

[Editor’s comment: Jason found that with his ultrasonically-cleaned cases, the inside of the necks got so “squeaky clean” that he needed to use dry lube in the necks. Jason uses the $10.95 dry lube kit from Neconos.com. This applies ultra-fine Moly powder to the neck using small carbon steel balls]

Neconos.com moly neck lube

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
March 25th, 2014

The ‘Old Warhorse’ .30-06 Cartridge is Not Dead Yet

The “Old Warhorse” .30-06 Springfield cartridge is not dead. That’s the conclusion of Forum member Rick M., who recently compared the 1000-yard performance of his .30-06 rifle with that of a rig chambered for the more modern, mid-sized 6.4×47 Lapua cartridge. In 12-16 mph full-value winds, the “inefficient and antiquated” .30-06 ruled. Rick reports:

“I was shooting my .30-06 this past Sunday afternoon from 1000 yards. The wind was hitting 12-16 mph with a steady 9 O’clock (full value) wind direction. My shooting buddy Jeff was shooting his 6.5×47 Lapua with 123gr Scenar bullets pushed by Varget. Jeff needed 13 MOA left windage to keep his 6.5x47L rounds inside the Palma 10 Ring. By contrast I only needed 11.5 MOA left windage with my .30-06. I was shooting my ’06 using the 185gr Berger VLD target bullet with H4350. I managed the same POI yet the .30-caliber bullet only needed 11.5 MOA windage. That’s significant. From this experience I’ve concluded that the Old Warhorse ain’t quite dead yet!”

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

Rick likes his “outdated” .30-06 rifle. He says it can deliver surprisingly good performance at long range:

“To many of the younger generation, the Old Warhorse .30-06 is ‘outdated’ but I can guarantee that the .30-06 Springfield is a VERY ACCURATE cartridge for 1000-yard shooting (and even out further if need be). With some of the advanced powders that we have today, the .30-06 will surprise many shooters with what it’s capable of doing in a good rifle with the right rate of twist. My rifle has a 1:10″ twist rate and I had it short-throated so that, as the throat erodes with time, I could just seat the bullets out further and keep right on shooting. My recent load is Berger 185gr Target VLDs pushed by IMR 4350. This is a very accurate load that moves this bullet along at 2825 fps.”

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tactical 13 Comments »
March 20th, 2014

Trim-It Case Trimmer Features Micrometer Cut-Length Control

This new tool trims cases quickly, with precision control over case length via a micrometer-type dial. The folks at ACT Tactical have developed an easy-to-use compact case trimmer called the TRIM-IT. Crafted from 6061-T6 aluminum, this sturdy case trimmer comes with a 100% lifetime guarantee. The $97.50 TRIM-IT features a micrometer that’s built into the unit itself. Caliber-specific inserts (called “Caliber Dies”) index off the case shoulder.

Trim-it Case Trimmer Micrometer Cartridge Brass

The TRIM-IT can work with any hand-drill or drill press. Once you get the hang of it, you can trim a case in 7-8 seconds — that gives you a production rate of 400+ cases per hour. The TRIM-IT delivers repeatable precision to plus/minus one-thousandth. This unit also holds its cut-length setting, unlike some other trimmers which require frequent adjustment.

Trim-it Case Trimmer Micrometer Cartridge Brass

The basic unit ships with two caliber dies, for .223 and .308. Other listed caliber dies include 6.8 SPC, .300 BLK, .30-06, 30-30 Win, 300 Win Mag, 7MM REM, 7.62x54R, and 8MM Mauser. Other cartridge types can be custom-ordered from EZTrimit.com. To change dies, simply loosen the set screw on the TRIM-IT, take the caliber die out, add another one, and tighten the screw — quick and easy.

The built-in micrometer is great. The handy dial gives you a positive, repeatable length setting quickly — no fiddling with locking rings or spacers. Once you get the ring set properly, the cut lengths are consistent from the first case to the last. Expect your case OAL spread to be about +/- .001″ (starting with full-length-sized cases with uniform rim to shoulder lengths). For more information, email sales [at] eztrimit.com or call (562) 602-0080. You can see how the Trim-It device works in the video below.

Video Shows Trim-it Set-Up and Operation

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 9 Comments »