January 20th, 2014
It’s official. Representatives of Lapua announced at SHOT Show 2014 that Nammo has purchased Vihtavuori, acquiring the “VV” line of propellants, and, most importantly, taking over Vihtavuori’s powder production facility in Vihtavuori, Finland.
This means that Vihtavuori is now officially under the Nammo umbrella as is Lapua, producer of brass, bullets, and loaded ammunition. Lapua engineer Tommi Tuuri has visited the Vihtavuori plant in person. Tommi says all operations are going well and the plant is running at normal capacity (but Nammo does plan some upgrades in the months ahead). Vihtavuori powders will continue to be imported into the United States as before and the powders will be made available through existing distribution channels.
Learn More about Nammo Purchase of Vihtavuori Powder Factory
The Vihtavuori Powder factory is located in Vihtavuori, Finland. Click marker to zoom.
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December 28th, 2013
E. Arthur Brown Company, Eabco.com, has been a faithful sponsor of this site for many years. Right now, EABCO is giving back to its customers, with a special 15% Off discount on all inventory in stock — that’s right, all inventory on the shelves (no back-orders). Eabco carries a wide selection of shooting accessories, reloading tools and dies, plus a full line of reloading components, including Lapua brass, and bullets from Barnes, Berger, Hornady, Lapua, Nosler, and Swift. EABCO also offers popular rimfire and centerfire ammunition. This special year-end Inventory Reduction Sale is good through 8:00 am CST on December 30th, 2013. So you have two more days to enjoy the 15% Store-wide Savings. To qualify for the 15% discount, use Promo Code 15EAB at check-out.
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December 19th, 2013
Since 2010, Lapua has shipped its quality cartridge brass in sturdy blue plastic boxes. Here’s a handy tip for you — don’t toss the plastic boxes when you load up your brass! These are double-duty containers. If you’re not familiar with “Blue Box” Lapua brass, you may not realize that the boxes are designed to serve as 50-round carriers for your loaded ammo and fired cases. (Yes we know some folks who’ve been tossing out their blue boxes without knowing how the boxes work as caddies.)
Snapped in place under the box lid is a rectangular plastic grid that fits in the bottom of the box. Pop the grid loose and slide it into the box with the smooth side facing up. Side supports molded into the lower section hold the grid in place.
Voilà, instant Ammo Box! Each grid contains holes for fifty (50) loaded rounds or empty cases. The convertible plastic container/ammo box is a great idea that Lapua executed very nicely. Now you have even more motivation to purchase your cartridge brass from Lapua.
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December 16th, 2013
Kirsten Joy Weiss is one of America’s top smallbore shooters. Her many titles include the 2012 NRA National Women’s Smallbore 3P Championship. Using her Anschütz target rifle and Lapua ammunition, she has competed at top-level national and international events. To help demonstrate the fun of shooting, Kirsten has started her own YouTube Channel, Facebook Page, and her own website, www.KirstenJoyWeiss.com. There you’ll find shooting tips, gear reviews, and videos. Each week Kirsten does a new trick shot video. Here are three of our favorites.
Here Kirsten Drills the Center of Two Apples with One Shot:
In this Video, Kirsten Shoots from Pilates Position with Rifle Held Upside-Down (Wow!):
For this Trick Shot, Kirsten Shoots the Lead Tip off a Pencil without Breaking the Wood:
Kirsten Joy Weiss Competition Highlights
Kirsten is from Pennsylvania. A 3-time All-American in smallbore, Kirsten led the Univ. of Nebraska Cornhuskers to a 4th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Weiss was an NRA Second-Team All-American and was named to the CRCA All-Collegiate Team twice. In 2012, Kirsten was the top USA athlete-shooter at the Munich World Cup. She won the 2012 NRA Three-Position Women’s Smallbore Championship and also won the Standing Position, while finishing as the National Overall Woman Champion.
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December 14th, 2013
Lapua just dropped a bombshell — multiple bombshells, in fact. Lapua just announced that it will be producing .221 Fireball brass and .50 BMG brass starting early 2014. This will be the first truly match-grade brass ever offered for the .221 Fireball. That’s great news for varminters, who can use Lapua’s new .221 Fireball brass “as is” or neck it down to .20 Vartarg or 17 Fireball. Tactical shooters can also use the .221 Fireball brass to make the .300 Whisper and 300 Blackout sub-sonic cartridges. At the other end of the spectrum, ultra-long-range shooters now have a new ultra-premium brass source for the mighty .50 BMG. This is potentially a “game-changer” for fifty-cal shooters who have had to “make do” with military surplus brass for the most part. Lapua says the new brass, both .50 BMG and .221 Fireball, should be in the USA by early April, 2014. Sorry, no pricing info is yet available.
Here is the Lapua Product Announcement for .221 Fireball and .50 BMG Brass:
New 180-Grain and 150-Grain 7mm Scenar-L Bullets
The other big news from Lapua is the release of two new 7mm (.284 caliber) Scenar-L target bullets. Recognizing the popularity of 7mm cartridges among F-Class Open Division shooters, Lapua will offer a high-BC, 180-grain bullet. As part of the “L” series, this new 180-grainer bullet should exhibit extreme consistency in base-to-ogive measurements and bullet weight. We expect this new 180gr projectile to be extremely accurate in the .284 Winchester, .284 Shehane, 7mm WSM, and 7mm RSAUM — popular chamberings for F-Class and long-range benchrest shooters. No BC information has been released yet, but we expect the BC number to be quite high, giving this bullet great wind-bucking capability. In addition to the new 180gr 7mm Scenar-L, Lapua will offer a new 150gr 7mm bullet. This is optimized for medium range competition in Silhouette and Across-the-Course competition. It should offer great accuracy, but with less felt recoil than its 180-grain bigger brother.
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November 16th, 2013
Conventional .308 Winchester brass has a large primer pocket with a large, 0.080″-diameter flash hole. Last year, Lapua began producing special edition .308 Win “Palma” brass that has a small primer pocket and a small flash hole, sized 1.5mm (.059″) in diameter. Tests by U.S. Palma Team members showed that the small-flash-hole .308 brass possibly delivers lower Extreme Spread (ES) and Standard Deviation (SD) with some bullet/powder/primer combinations. All things being equal, a lower ES should reduce vertical dispersion at long range.
Why Might a Small Flash Hole Work Better?
The performance of the small-flash-hole .308 brass caused some folks to speculate why ES/SD might be improved with a smaller flash hole. One theory (and it’s just a theory) is that the small flash hole creates more of a “jet” effect when the primer fires. Contributing Editor German Salazar sought to find out, experimentally, whether this theory is correct. German explained: “During one of the many internet forum discussions of these cases, Al Matson (AlinWA) opined that the small flash hole might cause the primer flash to be propagated forward more vigorously. In his words, it should be like shooting a volume of water through a smaller nozzle, resulting in a flash that reaches further up the case. Now that kind of comment really sparked my curiosity, so I decided to see what I could see.”
More Primer Testing by Salazar
You can read more about this test and other primer experiments on RiflemansJournal.com.
Salazar Primer Tests: Small Rifle Primer Study | Large Rifle Primer Study
Large and Small Flash Hole .308 Cases — But Both with Small Primer Pockets
To isolate the effect of flash hole diameter alone, German set up a test with the two types of .308 case that have a small primer pocket: Remington BR brass with a 0.080″ flash hole and Lapua Palma brass with a 0.062″ flash hole. NOTE: German reamed the Lapua brass to 0.062″ with a Sinclair uniforming tool, so it was slightly larger than the 0.059″ factory spec. The Remington brass has a .22 BR headstamp as this brass was actually meant to be re-formed into .22 BR or 6 BR before there was factory brass available for those cartridges.
German set up his primer testing fixture, and took photos in low light so you can see the propagation of the primer “blast” easily. He first tested the Remington 7 1/2 primer, a primer known for giving a large flame front. German notes: “I thought that if there was a ‘nozzle effect’ from the small flash hole, this primer would show it best. As you can see from the photos, there might be a little bit of a flash reduction effect with this primer and the small flash hole, the opposite of what we expected, but it doesn’t appear to be of a significant order of magnitude.”
Remington BR case, 0.080″ Flash Hole, Remington 7.5 Primer.
Lapua Palma case, 0.062″ Flash Hole, Remington 7.5 Primer.
Next German tested the Wolf .223 primer, an unplated version of the Small Rifle Magnum that so many shooters use. German notes: “This is a reduced flame-front (low flash) primer which has proven itself to be very accurate and will likely see a lot of use in the Lapua cases. With this primer, I couldn’t detect any difference in the flash produced by the small flash hole versus the large flash hole”.
Remington BR case, 0.080″ Flash Hole, Wolf .223 Primer.
Palma case, 0.062″ Flash Hole, Wolf 223 Primer.
German tells us: “I fired five or six of each primer to get these images, and while there is always a bit of variance, these are an accurate representation of each primer type and case type. You can draw your own conclusions from all this, I’m just presenting the data for you. I don’t necessarily draw any conclusions as to how any combination will shoot based on the pictures.”
Results of Testing
Overall, looking at German’s results, one might say that the smaller diameter of the small flash hole does not seem to have significantly changed the length or size of the primer flame front. There is no discernible increased “jet effect”.
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October 20th, 2013
In our Shooters’ Forum, there was an interesting discussion of the 6.5×47 Lapua case necked down to .22 caliber. Forum members discuss the pros and cons of a “22×47 Lapua” wildcat versus the classic 22-250 or a 22-250 AI.
Forum member SkeetLee asked: “I am considering a 22x47L or a 22-250 AI. I like the Lapua brass and I have heard some good accuracy reports from the 6.5×47 Lapua case whether it be chambered as a 6.5mm or necked down to 6mm or even 22 caliber. I don’t know too much about the 22-250 AI except that it’s pretty popular and it’s fast…. I don’t see much offered for reloading dies for the 22x47L. I know I can use a bushing die to neck size but what about full length sizing and seating dies? Does it make better sense to just go with the 22-250 AI?”
Respected Savage Gunsmith Fred Moreo, posting as “Medicineman”, offered this interesting advice: “Why not get the best of both worlds? I built a 22×47 Improved for my coyote gun. It is easy as just running the 22-250 AI reamer in .050″ short, and trimming the same amount off the dies. It is actually a little more efficient than the 22-250 AI. My best load for coyotes is a 65gr Sierra GameKing pushed by 39.4 grains of H4350 for 3750 fps. The Lapua brass will take more pressure than any 22-250 brass available, and last four times as long. The 65 Sierra GKs hit like a sledge-hammer, and were originally designed for shooting red kangaroos — they’re pretty tough from what I hear.”
Forum member Vic C. from Oklahoma has experience with the 22-250 AI, and has recently built a 22×47 Lapua. Comparing the 22-250 AI with the 22x47L, Vic tells us: “Accuracy should be very good from either caliber in custom barrels.” Vic continues: “I have two 22-250 AI barrels and a new 22X47 Lapua barrel that I’ve just started load testing. The 22X47 Lapua case capacity is slightly more than a standard 22-250 Rem and less than the 22-250 AI (fireformed). The advantage of the 22X47 L, of course, is the availability of Lapua brass. I have Remington, Winchester and Federal brass for the 22-250 AIs and prefer Remington which I’ve found to be quite good, but not up to Lapua standards of course.
Recently I’ve been shooting some reformed Norma 6XC brass in the 22-250 AI and find it to be of excellent quality. [Editor's Note: Lapua also now makes 22-250 brass though it is currently hard to find.] Dies for the 22-250 AI are much easier to come by than for the 22X47 Lapua. For a coyote rifle, if you’re not saving the hides, I think either caliber would be a great choice. For a PD rifle I would go with the 22-250 AI because of much less work prepping the hundreds of cases needed.”
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October 19th, 2013
In a world where too many companies have down-graded product quality and durability, we’re lucky there are some fanatical Finns who build great stuff for shooters. For serious handloaders, the cartridge brass of choice is made by Lapua in Finland. Lapua brass lasts longer than most other brands of cartridge brass, with industry-leading case-to-case uniformity. How do the Finns manage to make such good brass and loaded ammo? This informative video provides insights into Lapua’s “passion for precision”. This “must watch”, 12-minute video contains a surprising amount of “hard” info on Lapua products, with segments showing Lapua brass and rimfire ammo being produced. Watch carefully and you’ll see most of the processes used for forming and loading brass. Another short segment shows a Lapua technician inspecting a case for run-out.
The video spotlights some of the important American and international records set with Lapua ammo. You’ll see top 300m and Olympic rifle shooters in action, and there are also short comments from many champions, including American Benchrest legend Tony Boyer.
NOTE: This is long video — you may need to let it buffer (pre-load) for 10 seconds before playback. If that doesn’t work, let the entire video load, then hit the replay button.
Yes, this video is first and foremost a marketing tool, but that doesn’t lessen that fact that it is fascinating to watch. Lapua’s video also does a great job making our sport seem important and exciting — NRA take note! We suspect many of you will want to save the video to your computer for future viewing. That’s easy to do. Just click on the link below. (Note: After downloading, we suggest that PC users play it back through Windows Media Player. You can then drag the Media Player corners to expand the video viewing size.)
CLICK HERE to download Lapua Video (Lo-Res, 24 megs).
CLICK HERE to download Lapua Video (Hi-Res, 258 megs, fast connection recommended).
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September 22nd, 2013
Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises, LLC builds match-grade uppers for AR-platform rifles. Many of Robert’s favorite chamberings are based on the 6.5 Grendel case necked-down to 6mm. Until 2011, Lapua was the only source for 6.5 Grendel brass. As you’d expect, Lapua’s Grendel brass is truly excellent, but it is also pricey, and sometimes hard to find. Now Hornady is producing USA-made 6.5 Grendel brass. Robert Whitley has worked with the Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass for over a year now and he is able to assess its performance compared to the original Lapua version. Writing in our Shooters’ Forum, Robert reveals: “It’s decent brass but hot loads will loosen the primer pockets fast. With moderate loads you will get good case life and service from the brass and it can deliver excellent accuracy as well. Not Lapua but not bad either.”
Robert reports: “I was able to get my hands on some of Hornady’s 6.5 Grendel brass. My big question was how it would measure up, particularly the loaded necks, and whether it would be compatible with our existing 6mmAR and Turbo 40 die sets. As it turns out, this brass looks like a perfect fit for our existing die sets (and obviously 6.5 Grendel die sets too). Accordingly, folks with existing die sets will be able to use the Hornady brass without any issues.” However, as the loaded neck on the Hornady brass is .001″ (one-thousandth) slimmer than Lapua brass, you may want to try a smaller bushing when sizing Hornady Grendel brass.
The Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass has a LARGE Flash Hole, about .078″ versus .0591″ for Lapua brass. Dimensionally, the biggest difference is the shoulder diameter, with the Hornady brass measuring 0.428″ vs. 0.424″ for the Lapua brass. The Hornady is actually a better fit for 6mmAR chambers which are about 0.432″ at the shoulder. Interestingly, case H20 capacity is virtually identical. Water capacity of new, unfired Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass is 35.1 grains, while new, unfired Lapua Grendel brass holds 35.0 grains of H20. Both brands of Grendel brass increase to about 36.0 grains H20 capacity after firing and full-length sizing.
Here are some of the particulars of the Hornady cases:
|Hornady 6.5 Grendel Brass
||Lapua 6.5 Grendel Brass
|Flash hole diameter: ~ .078″
OAL of brass: Average 1.515″
Weight of cases: 111.7 to 113.0 grains
Web diameter, unfired: 0.4375″
Shoulder diameter, unfired: 0.428″
Loaded neck diameter: 0.2895″
6mmAR loaded neck: 0.270″
|Flash hole diameter: 1.5mm (0.0591″)
OAL of brass: Average 1.515″
Weight of cases: 111.0 to 112.5 grains
Web diameter, unfired: 0.4385″
Shoulder diameter, unfired: 0.424″
Loaded neck diameter: 0.290″
6mmAR loaded neck: 0.271″
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September 12th, 2013
Folks have asked if there is a tool that can remove obstructions from a Lapua small, BR-sized flash hole without opening the hole size. The Lapua PPC/BR flash hole is spec’d at 1.5mm, which works out to 0.059055″. Most of the PPC/BR flash-hole uniforming tools on the market use a 1/16″ bit which is nominally 0.0625″, but these often run oversize — up to 0.066″.
If you want to just clear out any obstructions in the flash hole, without increasing the flash hole diameter, you can use an inexpensive “pin vise” with an appropriate drill bit. For $1.00, eHobbyTools.com sells a 1.5mm pin vise bit, item 79186, that matches the Lapua flash hole exactly. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). An 0.0595″ bit is close enough. You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores.
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August 23rd, 2013
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
Precision 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’ methods).
Deep-Draw Ram Illustration from Demsey Mfg.
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.
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.
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.
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