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 20th, 2015

Check Primer Pocket Diameter and Depth with Handy Tools

Primer depth diameter gauge brass cartridge

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.

Primer Pocket Growth and Useful Case Life
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 (aka “gages”) 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.

CLICK HERE to order Small and Large Primer Pocket Swage Gage™ Set from Ballistictools.com.

Precision ground from O-1 tool steel, The Ballistic Tools 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.”

Product tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
December 28th, 2014

Tips for Loading Straighter Ammo with Less Run-Out

This article originally appeared in Sinclair Intl’s Reloading Press Blog, which has been merged into the Gun Tech Section on Sinclair’s website, www.SinclairIntl.com

Steps to Minimize Bullet Run-Out

Poor bullet run-out can cause poor and inconsistent accuracy, and variations in bullet velocities. The truer the loaded round, the more consistent your results will be on paper and across the chronograph.

Sinclair Concentricity gaugeMeasuring Concentricity
We all know that low run-out is the goal. But how can you tell if your run-out is high or low? Run-out is generally measured in thousandths of an inch with a concentricity gauge. There are many concentricity gauges to choose from that work well. Some work on loaded rounds only, some have a bullet straightening feature, and a few work on both loaded rounds and empty cases for checking case neck concentricity. The tool of choice for the Sinclair Reloading Tech Staff is the Sinclair Concentricity Gauge (Part # 09-175).

This tool is a mainstay on my bench, and it is used about as much as I use my reloading press! The tool uses two sets of bearings that are set on lateral, length-adjustable anodized aluminum blocks to accommodate cartridges from .221 Fireball-sized cases up to .50 BMG. The indicator is set on a height adjustable swiveling base on a stand that can be used for checking bullet or case neck run-out. The adjustable blocks ride aligned in a precision-milled slot. The entire set up is on an anodized base plate that gives excellent support during the process that is crucial to operation and accuracy. Basically the operation consists of placing a loaded round (for checking bullet run-out) or an empty case (for case run-out) on the bearings with the indicator end touching the chosen point to be measured. The case is easily spun with one finger as the indicator measures the amount of run-out. Once this process has been done a few times it is a fast and accurate means of measurement. In terms of indicator type being used, whether dial or digital, I actually prefer a standard dial indicator over the digital type. My reason for this choice is that you can see the needle jump when run-out is present. I believe this to be easier and faster than looking at digital numbers while measuring. In the video below, Sinclair’s Bill Gravatt shows how to use the Sinclair Concentricity Gauge correctly.

YouTube Preview Image

Sizing Steps to Minimize Run-Out
One of the most common steps in the reloading process that contributes to bullet run-out occurs is the sizing operation. If improper techniques are used or there are issues with the sizing die set up, a once perfectly concentric case can become out of whack. By using the proper dies for your application, properly setting up the die/shell holder or floating the de-capping/expander assembly, you can eliminate problems before they happen.

Sinclair Concentricity gaugeMany of us on the technical staff choose the Redding Type-S series of dies. These are full-Length or neck sizing dies that utilize a removable/changeable neck bushing (sold separately) to size the neck according to your application. These dies are machined with true precision and quality in mind. The Type-S dies come with a standard de-capping assembly with a caliber-specific expander ball in place. In addition to this an undersized retainer to hold the de-capping pin is included with the die. In my experience with these dies I use the standard expander ball with new, unfired brass on the initial re-size. I will then use the undersized retainer in place of the expander ball with brass that has been fired. I have found this step crucial in my reloading regiment to minimize bullet run out. The use of the expander ball can cause a few thousandths of run-out when the case is being pulled back out of the sizing die. With the undersized retainer in place the only thing that touches the neck of the case in sizing is the bushing. If you prefer to use an expander ball, Redding offers caliber specific carbide floating expander balls that fit on the de-capping rod. This free floating expander ball will self center on the case neck, and reduce the amount of run-out that can be caused by a standard expander ball.

When setting up a Type-S sizing die, set the neck bushing into the die with the numbers facing down toward the body of the die. Tighten the de-capping assembly until it contacts the bushing and then back it off ¼ of a turn. This allows the bushing to free float in the die. You should be able to hear the bushing rattle if you shake the die. Having the bushing free floating self centers the neck, and again minimizes any run-out that can occur.

If you prefer other brands of sizing dies there are a few tricks that people use to minimize run-out as well. Many reloaders claim that the use of an O-ring at the base of the de-capping assembly lock nut will float the assembly and help self center during sizing. Another trick that has been used is to remove the retaining pin on the shell holder slot on the press ram, and use an O-ring in its place to hold the shell holder in place. This allows the shell holder to self center during sizing as well.

Seating Steps to Minimize Run-Out
Run-out issues can arise during the bullet seating process. To reduce run-out during seating, use a high-quality die with a sliding sleeve. The sliding sleeve perfectly aligns the case with the bullet to be seated. Good examples of these dies are the Redding Competition Micrometer bullet seating dies, Forster Ultra Seaters, or RCBS Competition Seating dies. All of these dies utilize a micrometer top to precisely set seating depth. They are all very high quality dies that have tight tolerances to maximize bullet straightness during seating.

We receive many questions about seating long pointed bullets such as the Berger VLD or Hornady A-Max. One problem that the reloader faces with longer bullets is that they are so long that the standard seating stem is not machined deep enough to contact these bullets properly. The point of the bullet “bottoms out” in the stem and the result is off-center seating and/or rings and dents on the bullet nose. If you plan on using such bullets, you should purchase a “VLD” style seating stem, which is cut to accommodate the longer bullets. The use of this stem results in truer seating of the bullet without leaving a ring or marring the tip of the bullet.

Besides using a traditional press and threaded seating die, another great way to get a true bullet seat is by using an arbor press and Wilson chamber-type seating die. These dies are cut to very tight tolerances and have proven themselves as the main choice for bench rest enthusiasts. The design of the die positively aligns the case with the bullet as they are both captured by the die before the bullet is pushed straight into the case by the stem. These seating dies are available with the standard seating cap and stem or an additional micrometer top can be added for precise adjustment. Wilson also offers a stainless seating die with an integral micrometer seating head.

Finally another trick used by many in the seating process is to turn the case while the bullet is being seated. Some people claim this will keep things straight. What they do is raise the ram in increments while seating and rotate the case in the shellholder in increments of 90 degrees from the original starting while the bullet is being seated. Personally I have tried this and have seen no significant difference at all. However you may be the judge of this one. It makes sense, and maybe I should try this a little more before I rule it out.

After the Rounds Are Loaded — Batch Sorting by Concentricity Levels
No matter how meticulous you are, and no matter how good your components and tools are, run-out will still show up. Reloaders can drive themselves crazy trying to make each and every loaded round a true “0” in run-out. You will still see some minimal amount no matter what you do. Set yourself a standard of maximum allowable run-out for your loads. For instance for my Long Range 600- and 1000-yard F-Class loads I like to see .002” or less. I average .0015” and see a few in the range up to .004”. I spin each loaded round on my Sinclair Concentricity Gauge and sort them by run-out. Those that run over .002” I use for sighters or practice. Though achieving zero run-out (on every round) isn’t possible, minimizing run-out can definitely help your performance. Not only will your loads shoot better but you will have one less thing to worry about when you are lining up the sights on the target.

Permalink - Videos, Reloading, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
March 29th, 2013

New Spring-Tester Tool from Secure Firearm Products

Secure Products gun pistol spring testerSecure Firearm Products (SFP) has introduced a new Spring Tester that measures the “pull weight” of a wide variety of springs used in handguns and rifles. With this new Spring Tester you can measure recoil springs, mainsprings, firing pin springs, and much more. The SFP Spring Tester comes with a digital scale. The complete Spring Tester kit (Model # 11490-SR-D) retails for $40.99.

The Spring Tester, which comes complete with a compact digital pull-weight scale, is simple to use. Just insert the spring on bolt, insert that assembly in the red tool housing, then attach the coupler and scale. Pull until proper compression length* is achieved, and record your reading. Note: the Spring Tester Tool is marked with a line at 1.625″ which is the Mil-Spec compression length of a 1911 recoil spring. The SFP Spring Tester currently ships with an adapter that lets you test small springs such as mainsprings, firing pin springs or other small springs used in pistols, rifles or revolvers.

*NOTE: The appropriate compression length varies with the spring and the application. You may need to get this compression length specification from the manufacturer.

SFP Spring Tester Demo Video

Why do you need a spring tester? SFP’s David Surgi explains: “It’s important to be able to sort and organize all of them properly and know that when a spring needs replacing, that you are putting in the right one with the proper tension.” Dan Kidder of Sportsman’s Warehouse concurs: “The Spring Tester from SFP gave me the ability to take a drawer full of recoil, main springs, firing pin springs and others, and easily identify their tension. I no longer have to try to label springs or worry about them getting in the wrong spot.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product No Comments »
February 17th, 2010

New 8 oz. to 10-lb Trigger Pull Gauge from Timney

Timney Triggers has a new Trigger Pull Gauge. This spring-type tension scale measures pull weights from 8 oz. to 10 lbs. and is also calibrated for metric (kg) weights. The wide hook makes the gauge easy to use even with over-sized trigger guards. The Timney gauge features a “tattle-tail indicator” that stops at the highest resistance. This works as follows — as you pull back on the gauge, the sliding indicator will move towards the heavier side of the scale; once the sear releases the sliding indicator remains at the point where the highest amount of pressure was exerted on the trigger.

Timney trigger pull gauge

We still think the Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge is the best on the market, but it costs $52-55.00 compared to $28.49 for the Timney gauge. The Timney Trigger Pull Gauge will be available at MidwayUSA (item 969947) before the end of February.

Lyman trigger pull gauge

Permalink Gear Review, New Product No Comments »
November 15th, 2007

Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge on Sale

We’ve used this Lyman gauge, and believe that it is the best product of its kind on the market currently. It is accurate and repeatable, and easy to use (with a bit of practice). Using modern electronic strain gauge technology, the Lyman tool measures pull weights from 0 to 12 pounds, with accuracy of ± 0.10 ounces (one-tenth of an ounce.). The battery-powered gauge is equipped with a large, easy-to-read LCD display and is push-button operated for zero, clear, and averaging functions. We’ve tested this gauge back to back with conventional coil spring trigger scales made by other manufacturers. The Lyman electronic gauge is faster, and in our opinion, significantly more repeatable. Some of the metal spring gauges tend to “stick” in a position, which requires multiple attempts to avoid a reading that is slightly high or low. The Lyman is more fool-proof to operate by contrast.

Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge

Now through the end of November, MidwayUSA has the Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge on sale for $41.99, item 220725, Lyman product #7832248. This includes a vinyl storage case, but you have to purchase the required 9-volt battery separately.

Permalink Hot Deals 1 Comment »