December 8th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: The Modern F-Open Rifle

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Emil Kovan is one of the top F-Class shooters in the world. He won the 2014 United States F-Open Championship, and finished second in F-Open Division at the 2016 Canadian National F-Class Championship in Ontario. He is a great shooter and a great gun-builder as well.

The Anatomy of a Modern F-Class Open Rifle

Report by Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

“What are the best components for an F-Open class rifle, and why?” That’s a question that I get asked all the time and will try to answer in this article. Two months ago, I was contacted by Duane, a gentleman I met at the 2015 F-Class Nationals. He was interested in building a rifle with the new Master Class Low Profile F-Open Stock, created by Carl Bernosky and Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks.

I have known Alex Sitman for many years, and use his stocks exclusively, but was not very familiar with his new Low Profile F-Open stock. After a brief conversation with Alex, I placed an order, and had the stock inletted and bedded at my shop in a month. My first impression was “Wow that’s a long stock” — the forearm is significantly longer than on the original Master Class F-Class prone stock. I bolted the barreled action in, and squeezed the end of the forearm and barrel together, the stock flexed a little bit, but not as much as other designs that I have tested. I think that’s due to having “more meat” in the receiver area. The full stock depth continues farther forward that on some other “low profile” designs. That makes the stock stiffer in the vertical plane, reducing the hinging effect forward of the action. The stock was finished in gloss black per the customer’s request. Interestingly, I found that the multiple layers of paint and clearcoat stiffened the stock up quite a bit.

CLICK IMAGE below for full-screen version
.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Low Center of Gravity Tames Torque
Compared to the original Master Class F-Open stock, the barrel sits about an inch lower. Lower center of gravity equals less torque, and that is very important when shooting heavy bullets in fast twist barrels. Another significant improvement is that the toe of the stock is flat and parallel to the forearm. I added a 3/4″ track rail in the rear, and milled the underside of the fore-end to create two parallel “rails” in the front to help the stock track better.

One of the biggest reasons why I like Master Class stocks, is the pistol grip. I don’t shoot “free recoil” and a comfortable pistol grip is super important to me when selecting a stock. The new Master Class Low Profile stock shares the same grip as the old model. This allows the stock to accommodate either a “hard hold” style or a more free-recoil style of shooting — whatever the rifle’s owner prefers. This design versatility is one reason I recommend Master Class stocks. Shooters may experiment with either shooting style to find what suits them best.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Cartridge Choice — A 40° .284 Win Improved
Duane decided to have the barrel chambered for my 284 KMR IMP (Improved) wildcat. What is .284 KMR IMP and why choose it over the straight .284 Winchester? Improved by definition means “made better”, I took a great cartridge, and modified it to increase capacity, reduce pressure, and increase brass life.

There are many “improved” variants of the original .284 Winchester: 7mm Walker, .284 Shehane, .284 Ackley and so on. My version, the 284 KMR IMP, shares the .010″ blown-out sidewalls of the .284 Shehane, but I have further increased the case capacity by changing the shoulder angle from 35 to 40 degrees. The 284 KMR IMP allows you to almost match magnum cartridge velocity in a standard-bolt-face action. If you want to run 180gr-class 7mm bullets over 2900 FPS, it is cheaper and more convenient to have a barrel chambered in 284 KMR IMP than to spend $650 for a magnum bolt.

Tuning Loads for the .284 Win Improved Cartridges
The 284 KMR IMP seems to have two nodes, one around 2820 fps and other at 2940 fps. My match load clocks at 2935 fps with single-digit ES. Note –I selected that load based on accuracy, NOT raw speed. A lot of novice (or hard-headed) shooters make the mistake to push their cartridges to the max, and disregard more accurate loads at lower velocity.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

The sport of F-Class is rapidly growing, and the equipment used is improving constantly. I remember that only few years ago, an F-Open rifle that could shoot sub-one-inch of vertical at 300 yards was considered competitive. Now, we are pursuing sub-one-inch vertical at 600 yards! It takes a great rifle to approach that goal, but it is also up to the shooter to learn and experiment as much as possible in order to achieve success.

Dies for an Improved .284 Win Cartridge
One of the biggest challenges in campaigning a wildcat cartridge has been obtaining great dies. When searching for custom dies, it almost seems like that the odds are stacked against us. The most common problem is wait-time — custom die orders can take months to be completed. Also, most custom die makers want you to send them two or three cases, each fire-formed three times. I find that funny because if could somehow properly size the cases for three fire-forming cycles, I would not need a sizing die.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Custom-made dies should size the case just right, but sometimes the die’s internal dimensions are slightly off, and this leads to problem number two: dies sizing too much (or even worse) too little. I had a one “custom” die that would not size the bottom of the case enough. This made the extraction of fired cases very difficult. I feel that the best option (if available) for shooters interested in wildcat chambers is to have their gunsmiths make the dies. I offer that die-making service in addition to barrel chambering.

BAT Machine “M” Action
Duane decided to use a BAT M action for this rifle, and I think that he could not have made a better choice. We are blessed with many good match-quality receivers: Barnard, BAT, Borden, Kelbly, Nesika, and Stiller just to mention a few. These are all very well-made and suitable for F-Class. Among BAT Machine Co.actions, I like BAT models M, MB, and 3LL best. I prefer these because because of their size (large bedding footprint) smoothness, timing, options available, and last but not least visual appearance.

Trigger: I recommend and use Jewell triggers. Other good options are: Kelbly, CG Jackson (good 2-Stage) Anschutz (best 2-Stage for Bat and Kelbly actions), Bix’N Andy, and David Tubb.

Barrel: Duane made another good choice here. He decided to go with a Brux 1:8.5″-twist, 4-groove cut-rifled barrel. If you look at the F-Class and Long Range benchrest equipment lists, you will see that cut-rifled barrels are currently dominating. Many records have been shot with both button-rifled, and cut-rifled barrels. I have shot both, and prefer cut-rifled barrels. I am not saying that button-rifled barrels are not capable of shooting as well as cut-rifled barrels, but on average, in my experience, four out of five cut-rifled barrels (from top makers) will shoot well, vs. three out of five buttoned barrels. YMMV, but this is what I’ve observed.

Brux Barrels is not the only company that produces very accurate cut-rifled barrels. We know that Krieger, Bartlein, Satern, and Hawk Hill Custom all make fine cut-rifled barrels as well.

Scope: Duane’s rifle was fitted with a Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition scope with DDR-2 reticle. This optic is ultra clear, reasonably lightweight (28 oz.), super reliable, and has 1/8 MOA clicks — what you want for long range F-Class competition. In this 15-55X NF model, I like the DDR-2 reticle best, because fine cross hairs (FCH) are hard to see in heavy mirage. The DDR-2 has a heavier horizontal line, with a center dot. March scopes are also very popular and very well-made.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Thanks for reading, and keep ‘em in the middle…

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2016 F-Class Open Canadian Championship, Silver Medal (tied for first on score)

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
May 18th, 2019

TECH Tip: How to Adjust FL Dies for Correct Shoulder Bump

Sinclair full length sizing die should bump set-back case
CLICK HERE for Sinclair Int’l 3-part video series on using Full-length Sizing Dies.

How Much Shoulder Bump Do You Want?

Some of our readers have questioned how to set up their body dies or full-length sizing dies. Specifically, AFTER sizing, they wonder how much resistance they should feel when closing their bolt.

Forum member Preacher explains:

“A little resistance is a good, when it’s time for a big hammer it’s bad…. Keep your full-length die set up to just bump the shoulder back when they get a little too tight going into the chamber, and you’ll be good to go.”

To quantify what Preacher says, for starters, we suggest setting your body die, or full-length sizing die, to have .0015″ of “bump”. NOTE: This assumes that your die is a good match to your chamber. If your sizing or body die is too big at the base you could push the shoulder back .003″ and still have “sticky case” syndrome. Also, the .0015″ spec is for bolt guns. For AR15s you need to bump the shoulder of your cases .003″ – .005″, for enhanced reliability. For those who have never worked with a body die, bump die, or Full-length sizing die, to increase bump, you loosen lock-ring and screw the die in further (move die down relative to shell-holder). A small amount (just a few degrees) of die rotation can make a difference. To reduce bump you screw the die out (move die up). Re-set lock-ring to match changes in die up/down position.

That .0015″ is a good starting point, but some shooters prefer to refine this by feel. Forum member Chuckhunter notes: “To get a better feel, remove the firing pin from your bolt. This will give you the actual feel of the case without the resistance of the firing pin spring. I always do this when setting up my FL dies by feel. I lock the die in when there is just the very slightest resistance on the bolt and I mean very slight.” Chino69 concurs: “Remove the firing pin to get the proper feel. With no brass in the chamber, the bolt handle should drop down into its recess from the full-open position. Now insert a piece of fire-formed brass with the primer removed. The bolt handle should go to the mid-closed position, requiring an assist to cam home. Do this several times to familiarize yourself with the feel. This is how you want your dies to size your brass, to achieve minimal headspace and a nearly glove-like fit in your chamber.”

We caution that, no matter how well you have developed a “feel” for bolt-closing resistance, once you’ve worked out your die setting, you should always measure the actual amount of shoulder bump to ensure that you are not pushing the shoulder too far back. This is an important safety check. You can measure this using a comparator that attaches to your caliper jaws, or alternatively, use a sized pistol case with the primer removed. See Poor Man’s Headspace Gauge.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 4 Comments »
April 23rd, 2019

For Less Run-Out, Try Rotating Your Cases During Bullet Seating

Bullet Seating Reloading rotate cartridge Run-out TIR

Here is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out (as measured on the bullet). This procedure 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.”

READ Bullet Seating Forum Thread »

run-out bullet

run-out bullet

Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30 BR 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..

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
March 27th, 2017

Bargain Finder 80: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Midsouth — Labradar Chronograph and Accessories

Labradar chronograph

Midsouth Shooters Supply is now carrying the advanced Labradar chronograph. This unique unit allows you to measure your shots without having to set up a tripod and skyscreens downrange. When you start using a Labradar, you’ll never want to go back to old-style chronographs. You can also purchase the Labradar from Bruno Shooters Supply. Price is $559.95 from either vendor. NOTE: Very soon Labradar plans to offer Bluetooth functionality, allowing you to control the machine remotely with your mobile device. This functionality will come via new software — the Bluetooth transceiver is built-in to all current Labradar units, so you can buy one now and use Bluetooth later (when the software is released).

2. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.

3. CDNN — Browning Maple X-Bolt Medallion, $849.99 with Rebate

Browning X-Bolt Medallion

CDNN Sports has some of the nicest modern Browning rifles we’ve seen. These deluxe Maple-stocked X-Bolt Medallion Rifles are now on sale for $899.99, marked down from $1519.99. Plus, through March 31st, you can get another $50.00 off with a Browning Rebate. The machine-engraved receiver features a polished blued finish, and is glass bedded into the stock. The free-floating barrel is high-gloss blued, hand-chambered and finished with a target crown. The bolt has a 60° lift and the trigger is adjustable. The stock is a high gloss AAA maple with rosewood fore-end and pistol grip cap. These are very nice rifles that any shooter would be proud to own. This Editor has ordered one as a gift to a family member — that should say something.

4. Amazon — Ammo Can/Gun Case/Range Bag System, $44.99

Plano 1612 X2 range bag ammo can gun case

This Plano 1612 X2 Range Bag System combines a plastic ammo can-type container with a two-pistol hardshell case, both enclosed in a durable, padded fabric cover with many pockets. This handy system lets you keep pistols in a separate locked compartment while still accessing ammo, muffs and other gear from the main compartment, which can also be secured with a padlock. This is a clever, versatile design, and owner reviews have been very positive:

The perfect range bag. It comes with a nice gun case, more pockets than shown, plenty of storage for earphones, several boxes of ammo and room to spare. Would buy again!” — Nate K

The problem with most range bags is that they are range ‘bags’. This is an ammo can with pockets for all your other gear. No more ‘saggy baggy’!” — MPowers

5. Sportsman’s Guide — 1000 Rds 9mm Ammo, $204.99 delivered

9mm Luger 9x19mm ammo deal case 1000 rounds Sportman's Guide

Everyone can use a 1000-round case of 9mm Luger Ammo. This Sellier & Bellot 124gr FMJ brass-cased ammo feeds and functions well. We’ve checked around and this $204.99/1000 price is one of the best deals on brass-cased 9mm ammo this week (for SG members, the cost is $194.99). Plus you can get FREE shipping with CODE SH2656 at checkout. We have shot this ammo in Glock, H&K, Sig Sauer, and S&W pistols. Rated at 1080 fps, this 9mm ammo was very reliable, and the boxer-primed cases are reloadable.

6. Cabelas — Simmons 20-60x60mm Spotter, $49.99 with Rebate

Simmons Spotting Scope Bargain Cave Cabelas 20-60x60mm

Let’s be realistic — this 20-60x60mm Simmons is NOT a great spotting scope. The sharpness is nowhere near as good as you’d get with a $1000+ spotter. However, you can now get this unit for under fifty bucks with manufacturer’s rebate. Cabela’s Sale Price is $59.99 and Vista Outdoor is offering a $10 Rebate. For basic work, such as viewing pistol targets, or spotting hits out to 250 yards, this bargain basement Simmons should suffice. Read the owner reviews — they have been surprisingly good. This scope will also work for general recreational use. Hard to beat for fifty bucks.

7. Amazon — 34 dB Noise Rating Ear Muffs, $17.45

34dB NRR 32 hearing protection earmuffs

These 34 dB NRR earmuffs provide excellent sound protection without being too heavy and bulky. At at $17.45, they are a great bargain. The lower section of the muff is trimmed for a narrower profile — that helps with rifle and shotgun stocks. The headband is adjustable and has comfortable padding. These Pro For Sho Muffs have earned a 4 1/2 star consumer rating, with over 1,600 Amazon customer reviews. NOTE: These fit pretty tight. If you have a very large hat size you might want a different brand.

8. Amazon — Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual, $19.99

Lyman 50th Reloading Manual

Here’s a good deal on the new Lyman 50th Ed. Reloading Manual. Our Forum members have rated this as the best Loading Manual for starting hand-loaders. This 50th Edition, the first to be produced in full color, includes more load data, and covers more cartridges than ever before. New Cartridges Include: 17 Hornet, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-284, 26 Nosler, 28 Nosler, 300 Blackout, 300 RCM, 338 RCM, 450 Bushmaster, 458 SOCOM, 50 Beowulf. Amazon has the Softcover version for $19.99 and Hardcover for $23.99. Notably, Lyman donates $1.00 to the NRA for every Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Handbook sold during the first year of publication.

9. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $16.45

Amazon Neiko Digital Caliper

Even if you have a good set of calipers, you may want to get one of these Neiko 01407A Digital Calipers. The #1 best-selling digital caliper on Amazon.com, this Neiko tool features a large LCD Screen and measures up to 6.0 inches. With over 2300 customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $17.74, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Hunting/Varminting, Reloading No Comments »
January 7th, 2016

Case Lube Readers Poll — Spray Lubes Are Number One

Mobil 1 reloading case lube

What kind of case lubricant do you use. If you’re like most hand-loaders, you prefer some kind of thin, spray-on lube. Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com surveyed his readers, with the results displayed in the chart below. Thin spray-type lubes took the top spot, followed by waxy-type lubes.* CLICK HERE to Vote in the Case Lube Poll.

case lube survey poll ultimatereloader.com Gavin Gear Hornady one-shot

Gavin explains: “Over the years, I’ve talked quite a bit about different case lube products and techniques for both rifle and pistol reloading. Depending on your goals, the cartridge being reloaded, and what you have on-hand, your options will typically be honed down to a few ‘best options’. But the more you talk with seasoned reloaders, the more options you’ll discover.”

Mobil 1 reloading case lubeSynthetic Motor Oil for Special Tasks
One new lubrication option Gavin has tried is synthetic motor oil “I’ve started using another product for rifle case lube: synthetic motor oil. In particular, I’ve been using this oil to ‘prime’ rifle sizing dies when starting a loading session. This priming combined with fresh spray lube (Dillon DCL recently) has been a good combination for .223/5.56 and .308/7.62x51mm loading sessions.

I just pour a bit of synthetic motor oil into the quart jug cap, dip my finger into the cap, and apply about one drop to the outside of the case with my fingers. I then dip the end of a Q-Tip into the oil cap (just a drop applied), and roll the end of the Q-Tip between my fingers. The Q-Tip is then ‘rolled’ inside the case mouth to provide lube for the expander ball. I’m wondering how many thousands of applications I could get out of one quart of motor oil!

READ more case lubrication tips at UltimateReloader.com


*This Editor’s own perference follow this ranking. For regular case-sizing with benchrest cases (and close-fitting dies), I use Ballistol aerosol (active ingredient is mineral oil). Not chalky or gummy, Ballistol is very, very slippery. A thin sheen lubricates extremely well yet wipes off easily. For heavy case-forming duties I use Imperial Die Wax.

Clean and Lube
One advantage of Ballistol is that, wiped on a patch, it will remove carbon residue from case necks. That way you can clean and lube your case in one step before running your case into the Full-length sizing dies. Just spray a little on a cotton patch. After cleaning the case-neck flip the patch over and lube the case body.

Permalink Reloading 5 Comments »
December 17th, 2012

Full-Length Sizing Die Set-Up — Tip from Sinclair International

How to Set Up Your Full Length Sizing Die
by Ron Dague, Sinclair International Technician
From Sinclair’s Reloading Press Blog

At Sinclair International, we are often asked for a fool-proof method to set up a full-length sizing die, and begin reloading our fired cases. The method used by many target shooters today is to set up your full length die to closely match your rifle chamber and minimally full-length size your cases –as little as .001″ for bolt-action rifles. I prefer to use this method for all of my bolt-action cartridges.

STEP ONE
I like to de-prime five (5) cases (de-prime only, do not full length resize) and measure from the base of the case to the shoulder with our Sinclair Comparator Body (09-1000) and Bump Gage Insert(09-10200). We refer to this as our headspace measurement. Our Electronic Caliper (#MIC-14) works well and may be pre-set at .000” making this headspace measurement easy to capture. The Sinclair Comparator/Gauge Body and Bump Gage Inserts make this task fairly simple. L.E. Wilson Tools & Gages, Hornady Manufacturing, and RCBS all make similar units to achieve your headspace measurement.

-"HornadySTEP TWO
With your full-length die threaded into your reloading press, loosen the lock ring and run the press ram up toward the full length die with a shell holder in place (with no case). Then, screw the die toward the shell holder until it stops. Back the die out of the press and away from the shell holder one full turn and set the lock ring finger tight.

STEP THREE
Lubricate each of the cases with your favorite sizing lube (my favorite is Imperial Sizing Die Wax) and resize a case. Again, take a headspace measurement from base to shoulder. [When running the case up into the die, be sure the press ram moves the full limit of its upward travel.] If there’s no change in the measurement from the fired dimension, loosen the die lock ring and turn the full length sizing die downward 1/8 of a turn. [Editor’s Note: You’ll need to use smaller turn amounts as you get close to the desired amount of bump. We suggest moving just a few degrees of die rotation at a time once you’ve reached the point where the die hits the shoulder without moving it back.] Now repeat the sizing process with a second lubricated case and take the measurement again. Keep rotating the die downward gradually (in small increments) and repeat the case sizing process until you see approx-imately .001”-.002” reduction to your fired headspace measurement. We prefer a headspace reduction of approximately .001″ – .002″ for bolt action rifles and .003″ – .005″ for semi-auto rifles. You can adjust to your rifle as to what works best. Don’t forget to load 10 rounds or so and try them from the rifle’s magazine to make sure they function properly.

Full-length Sizing vs. Neck-Sizing
Just a quick word on neck sizing…..I have personally never been a big fan of neck sizing. Often times when I put neck sized cases back in the rifle, the bolt would close with some drag, or it would be a bit “snug”. This was mostly recognized with factory rifles. I didn’t have any problems with accuracy, just with cycling the action for a follow up shot. If your rifle is custom chambered with the action straightened and trued, neck sizing will work well on 4-5 firing’s and then you will need to full length size or use a body die to set the shoulders back when the cases begin to “stick”. Hope these tips help make the use of a headspace gauge and full length die set up much easier.

Ron Dague
Sinclair Tech and Reloading Instructor
800-717-8211
rond@sinclairintl.com

Reloading Tip Courtesy Sinclair Int’l; Story Sourced by Edlongrange
Permalink - Articles, Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
November 15th, 2012

Bushing Dies and Honed Full-Length Sizing Dies

Redding Titanium TiNi BushingsWe were recently asked: “What size neck bushing is best for Lapua 6mmBR brass in a ‘no-turn’ chamber?” The questioner planned to purchase a Redding Type ‘S’ full-length sizing die with neck bushings. The quick answer is that one should probably get 0.265, 0.266, and 0.267 bushings and see what works best.

Using current “Blue Box” Lapua brass, a loaded 6BR round with an unturned neck will typically run about 0.2680-0.2685 (depending on the bullet). A 0.266 neck bushing, after springback, will give about 0.0015 tension which can work well in a bolt gun. NOTE: With the older “Brown Box” Lapua Brass, the neckwalls are slightly thicker, so you may want to start with a .267 bushing. Remember, however, that with either older or newer Lapua brass you may want to experiment. Some bullets prefer more tension than others. And, you may find that it is useful to tweak neck tension slightly if you make major changes in seating depth during load development. In a gas gun, such as an AR15, you probably want .003 or more tension.

Alternative to Bushings — Honed Full-Length dies
Conventional, non-bushing full-length sizing dies can create ultra-accurate ammo with very low run-out. For some applications, we prefer a non-bushing FL die over a bushing die — so long as the neck tension is correct. But many FL dies have an undersized neck diameter so you end up with excess neck tension, and you work the brass excessively. Forster offers a simple, inexpensive solution — honing the neck diameter to whatever size you want.

If you purchase a Forster non-bushing, full-length sizing die, Forster will hone the neck dimension to your specs for $12.00 extra (plus shipping). This way you can have a FL die that provides the right amount of tension for your particular load. (The max amount of diameter change Forster can do is about .008″) Forster dies are relatively inexpensive so you can afford to have a couple of FL dies with necks honed to different diameters — such as 0.266″ and 0.267″ for a no-turn 6mmBR. The die itself is fairly inexpensive — currently Sinclair Int’l charges $33.99 for a Forster 6mmBR full-length sizing die (Forster Part # 018121).


Forster FL dies, necks honed to .265″, .266″, and .267″.

Steve Rasmussen of IowaHighPower.com gave this a try. In fact, he had three dies made — each with a different neck dimension. Here’s his report: “My original Forster 6BR FL die sized the necks down a lot [to about 0.260″]. I sent my die in and asked if they could supply two more FL dies (for three total) to have the necks honed to 0.265″, 0.266″, and 0.267″.” In addition to the purchase cost of two more FL-sizing dies, Steve paid $36 ($12 per die) for the three dies to be honed, plus about $12 for return shipping.

The table below shows the neck diameter range of 10 sized cases using each die. [NOTE: This is with older “Brown Box” Lapua brass!] Brass springback after sizing is running 1 to 1.3 thousandths. My loaded rounds are running 0.2697-0.2699 using Lapua I bought last year. So far the dies are working well. I sized 80 cases with the 0.266″ necked die. The shoulder is running 0.4582″ and 0.300″ up from the base is 0.4684". I spun 20 of ‘em and 16 had a runout of one thousandth (0.001) and the other 4 at 1.5 thousandths (0.0015).”

Die Diameter Sized Brass Springback Neck Tension
0.267 Die 0.2683-0.2684 0.0013 0.0014
0.266 Die 0.2672-0.2674 0.0013 0.0025
0.265 Die 0.2659-0.2660 0.0010 0.0039
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 8 Comments »
March 6th, 2012

Optimizing Neck Tension with Bushing and Non-Bushing Dies

Redding Titanium TiNi BushingsWe are often asked: “What size neck bushing is best for Lapua 6mmBR brass in a ‘no-turn’ chamber?” The questioner planned to purchase a Redding Type ‘S’ full-length sizing die with neck bushings. The quick answer is that one should probably get both 0.265 and 0.266 bushings and see what works best. With the current “blue box” Lapua brass, a loaded 6BR round with an unturned neck will typically run about 0.268″ (depending on the bullet). A 0.266″ neck bushing, after springback, will give about 0.0015″ tension which can work well in a bolt gun. In a gas gun, we recommend running .003″ (or more) neck tension.

Alternative to Bushings — Honed Full-Length dies
Conventional, non-bushing full-length sizing dies can create ultra-accurate ammo with very low run-out. For some applications, we prefer a non-bushing FL die over a bushing die — so long as the neck tension is correct. But many FL dies have an undersized neck diameter so you end up with excess neck tension, and you work the brass excessively. Forster offers a simple, inexpensive solution — honing the neck diameter to whatever size you want.

If you purchase a Forster non-bushing, full-length sizing die, Forster will hone the neck dimension to your specs for about $10.00 extra. This way you can have a FL die that provides the right amount of tension for your particular load. Forster dies are relatively inexpensive so you can afford to have a couple of FL dies with necks honed to different diameters — such as 0.265″ and 0.266″ for a no-turn 6mmBR. The die itself is very affordable — currently Sinclair Int’l charges $33.95 for a Forster 6mmBR full-length sizing die (item FP6BRFL).


Forster FL dies, necks honed to .265″, .266″, and .267″.

Steve Rasmussen of IowaHighPower.com gave this a try. In fact, he had three dies made — each with a different neck dimension. Here’s his report: “My original Forster 6BR FL die sized the necks down a lot, less than 0.260″, .256″ if I recall correctly. I sent my die in and asked if they could supply two more FL dies (for three total) to have the necks honed to 0.265″, 0.266″, and 0.267″. The cost was $10 for my supplied die and $38.50 plus $10.00 honing fee for each additional die. Return shipping was $11.00 via USPS Priority Mail.”

The table below shows the neck diameter range of ten (10) sized cases using each die. Brass springback after sizing runs 1 to 1.3 thousandths. Steve was using the older, “brown box” Lapua brass with thicker necks so he needed the .267″ bushing. The older Lapua 6mmBR brass measures about 0.2695″ with bullet in place. Steve explained: “My loaded rounds are running 0.2697-0.2699 using [brown box] Lapua 6BR brass. So far the dies are working well. I sized 80 cases with the 0.266″ necked die. The shoulder is running 0.4582″ and 0.300″ up from the base is 0.4684″. I spun 20 of ‘em and 16 had a runout of one thousandth (0.001) and the other 4 at 1.5 thousandths (0.0015).” That shows that these honed Forster FL dies produce exceptionally straight sized cases.

Die Diameter Sized Brass Springback Neck Tension
0.267 Die 0.2683-0.2684 0.0013 0.0014
0.266 Die 0.2672-0.2674 0.0013 0.0025
0.265 Die 0.2659-0.2660 0.0010 0.0039
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May 27th, 2011

Speedy’s Guide to Benchrest Competition

Benchrest Hall of Famer Speedy Gonzalez has prepared a comprehensive Guide to Benchrest Competition. It covers all aspects of the game: gear selection (hardware), reloading methods and tools, plus shooting skills and strategies. All of this is available on the web for free, thanks to Speedy and the Swedish Benchrest Shooters Association (SBRSA).

CLICK HERE to read Speedy’s Guide to Benchrest Shooting.

Benchrest Speedy PPC

Speedy’s article is a gold-mine of info on shooting components and specialized reloading tools. It is also richly illustrated with high-quality photos showing gun components and reloading gear. Many of the photos show tools that have been sectioned so you can view the internal components.

Speedy also covers bullet design, and load tuning. There are thoughtful sections on Time Management and Target Management that will benefit all competitive shooters, no matter what their discipline.

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May 13th, 2010

Hornady Offers Free Bullets with Purchase of New Dimension Dies

Now through the end of 2010, Hornady is offering a FREE 100-ct box of bullets when you purchase any New Dimension Die Set with Zip Spindle™ System (Series I, II or III). Those FREE bullets are worth up to $30.00, making this an attractive deal. Hornady makes good dies. This Editor uses Hornady New Dimension dies for most of my handgun cartridge reloading, as well as for reloading my 45/70 cases. The Hornady dies I’ve used have been dimensionally correct, well-finished, and durable. When I did manage to break a decapping pin tip on a stubborn primer, Hornady promptly sent me not one but two replacements at no charge. To claim your free bullets (after purchasing a die set), you need to download and fill out Hornady’s redemption form (PDF). Submit that with Proof of Purchase, and wait 8-10 weeks for delivery. You must choose a box of bullets from the list below. (Bullet MSRPs are shown in right column.) CLICK HERE to download Hornady 2010 ‘Get Loaded’ Redemption Form.

Free Bullets Hornady

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January 22nd, 2010

SHOT Show Report: New 'National Match' Die Sets, New Calibers, and Versa Pak Reloading Kit

Gas gunners take note — for 2010 Redding has created new “National Match” reloading sets in .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, and 30-06 Springfield. These new three-die sets are designed expressly for the AR15, M1A, and M1 Garand used in High Power comps and Garand matches. These kits include a full-length sizing die, a Competition Seater Die, and a taper crimp die. Previously these dies were only offered individually. If you’re shooting an AR, Garand, or M1A, these new sets may be just what you need.

In addition to the National Match die sets, Redding has added new calibers to its die catalog for 2010. Complete die sets will now be offered for the popular 6.5 Creedmoor, the 260 Rem Improved 40° (also know as the 260 Ackley), and the 458 Socom. This should please the growing numbers of High Power shooters using the 6.5 Creedmoor, and the tactical guys looking for more velocity than a standard 260 Rem can deliver.

New Complete Basic Reloading Set
For shooters just getting started in reloading, Redding has put together a new basic reloading package that contains virtually everything you need except a press and dies. Redding’s new Versa Pak includes a reloading scale, powder measure, case trimer, powder trickler, case lube pad, funnel, deburring tool, and other case prep tools. In addition, the Versa Pak comes with the Hodgdon Reloading Manual and Redding’s excellent Advanced Handloading DVD. The Versa Pak will retail for about $350.00. That may sound like a lot, but if you add up the cost of all the gear included in the Versa Pak, it is a good value. You’ll also save time (and shipping costs) by acquiring all the essential tools at one time.

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November 5th, 2009

Care and Maintenance of Reloading Dies

Sinclair Int'l ReloadingIn this feature, Bill Gravatt, President of Sinclair International, explains how to clean and maintain precision reloading dies. This article first appeared in Sinclair’s online Blog, The Reloading Press, where you’ll find many other useful Product Spotlights and ‘How-to’ articles.

Reloading dies if taken care of properly will provide years of service to their owner. Most dies are hardened and then micro-polished for that mirror internal finish many of the dies exhibit. Many of them are also treated with some type of rust preventative before they leave the factory floor. But dies still need some attention before they are put to use.

Clean Your Dies Before First Use
The first step in taking care of your dies starts when you receive them. We advocate cleaning all new dies before you begin to use them. Beginning with your sizing dies; take the decapping assembly completely out of the die body. Flush the decapping assembly with a good degreaser (such as Hornady One-Shot Cleaner & Dry Lube, Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber or Shooter’s Choice Quickscrub III) and wipe the expander ball clean.

Sinclair Int'l ReloadingThe only part of the decapping assembly that should come in contact with your brass is the expander ball and the decapping pin. Pay particular attention to the decapping ball as it determines the final interior dimension (bullet grip) of your case neck. Make sure you inspect it after cleaning to make sure that the surface is clean and free of burrs.

Next, flush the interior of the die body out with some more degreaser. Using a pistol cleaning rod or a dowel rod, push a couple of wet patches all the way through the die. Then run a couple of dry patches through. Reassemble your sizing die and you should be good to go.

Seating Die Cleaning and Maintenance
Taking apart your seater is fairly simple depending on the complexity of your seating die. A standard seater just requires you to turn the seating stem out of the die body exposing the interior of the seater. Flush and clean both the body and seater as described above. Benchrest sliding sleeve seaters such as Forster or Redding Competition Dies have a few more parts involved. Just make sure as you take them apart you know how the spring is oriented and how any other parts such as chamber sleeves or seating plugs are arranged. Any springs or threads can be wiped down with a very rag or patch lightly coated with a fine oil. Make sure you inspect the opening in the seating stem for debris. You can twist a patch and use the end to clean out the smaller caliber stems/plugs.

Sinclair Int'l ReloadingRegular Cleaning and Storage Advice
Regular maintenance of your dies should include their routine cleaning. Sizing dies collect excess lube off the cases and this lube can begin to build up. We have seen dents formed in the case shoulder from the hydraulic compression of the excess lube in the die when the case was sized. We recommend cleaning the dies every 500 to 1000 rounds depending on how frequently they are used and the cleanliness of your reloading area. For longer term storage of your dies, I recommend putting a light oil or rust preventative on them, especially if you have a shop that has a humid environment.

My reloading area is in the same building (different room) as my woodshop and I have to watch the dust so I keep most of my reloading dies covered or stored away. I keep a cover over my press and scales as well.

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January 21st, 2009

SHOT Show Report: Forster, Krieger, and Norma Highlights

Many of the companies at SHOT Show had just a few new products or operational changes to report. Here’s a quick summary of news from Forster, Krieger, and Norma.

Forster Products
The only all-new product design from Forster is a collet bullet puller for the Forster Co-Ax press. Conventional screw-in bullet pullers won’t work with the Co-Ax because of the unique jaw design.

.338 NORMA DIES — The new .338 Norma is big news in the long-range tactical game (see separate report in the Bulletin). Forster will have .338 Norma dies available within a few weeks, pretty much “as soon as the Norma brass is in the country.”

Forster has acquired new, advanced die-making machines. This gives the company increased custom die-making capacity. Forster reps noted that Forster can now use any customer-supplied finish reamer to make a custom bushing bump die.

Forster will also roll out a completely redesigned and updated website in mid-February. Visit ForsterProducts.com next month to check it out.

Krieger Barrels
Krieger Barrels has acquired two (2) additional Pratt and Whitney cut-rifling machines. This will give Krieger additional capacity and help them keep up with the high demand for their cut-rifled barrels.

Krieger barrels

Shown in photo, left to right: Neil Leppla, Mike Hindrichs, John Krieger, Helmut Kiesling

AR10 BARRELS — Krieger also announced it will be producing AR10-type barrels in both Krieger-brand cut-rifled and ‘Criterion’-brand button-rifled versions. Krieger will provide AR10 barrels for Fulton Armory, DPMS, and Armalite.

NORMA
NEW 202 POWDER for 6mmBR Ammo — Norma revealed something interesting about its loaded 6mmBR ammunition. Norma has traditionally used Norma 203B powder for 6BR ammo. However, it has found that 203B has gotten progressively slower over the years, so Norma has switched to Norma 202… but not just any 202. Norma has selected the slower batches of 202 for use in its factory 6mmBR ammo. We don’t know if this applies to ALL bullet weights. Norma will continue to use Berger Bullets in its 6mmBR and 6XC match ammunition.

.338 Norma brass

.338 NORMA BRASS Coming Soon — There’s lots of interest in the new .338 Norma cartridge among the military and tactical community. Initial testing has demonstrated outstanding accuracy with 300gr Sierra MatchKing bullets. Many of the folks working with early versions of the .338 Norma believe that, given the case’s superior efficiency, it can rival the ballistics of the larger .338 Lapua Magnum, though the .338 Norma has less capacity. Both cases are derived from the .416 Jeffreys, but the .338 Norma will fit in a shorter action.

Norma is now producing .338 Norma cartridge brass. It is supposed to be in the USA within two to three weeks. It will be distributed though Black Hills Shooters Supply, BHShooters.com. This stuff is in high demand so get your orders in soon.

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May 29th, 2008

TECH TIP: Use Rubber O-Rings with Sizing Dies for Less Run-Out

Here’s an inexpensive tip that can help you load straighter ammo, with slightly better measured concentricity (i.e. less run-out) on the case necks and bullets. Simply use a rubber O-Ring on the underside of the die locking ring. This allows the die to self-align itself (slightly) to the case that is being sized. Without the O-Ring, if the flat surface on the top of your press is not perfectly square with the thread axis, your die can end up slightly off-angle. This happens when the bottom of the locking ring butts up tight against the top of the press.

reloading die O-ring

Top prone shooter German Salazar has tried this trick and he says it works: “Go to your local hardware store and get a #17 O-Ring (that’s the designation at Ace Hardware, don’t know if its universal). Slip the O-Ring on the die and re-adjust the lock ring so that the O-Ring is slightly compressed when the die is at the correct height. Size and measure a few more cases. You will probably see a slight improvement in neck concentricity as the die can now float a bit as the case enters and leaves it. This isn’t going to be a dramatic improvement, but it’s a positive one.”

reloading die O-ring

Lee Precision makes die lock rings with built-in O-Rings. Lee’s distinctive lock ring design allows the same kind of self-alignment, which is good. However, Lee lock rings don’t clamp in place on the die threads, so they can move when you insert or remove the dies — and that can throw off your die setting. By using an O-Ring under a conventional die lock ring, you get the advantages of the Lee design, without the risk of the lock ring moving.

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