The Nammo Group, parent of Lapua and Vihtavuori, has announced the acquisition of Berger Bullets, one of the USA’s leading bullet makers. With Berger Bullets joining the Nammo Group, this teams America’s ultra-premium bullet-maker with what is arguably the world’s most respected cartridge brass and ammunition-maker. This is huge news. For competition shooters this may be a “marriage made in heaven”. Many top shooters, including champions like Bryan Litz and John Whidden, are already shooting Berger bullets in Lapua brass. This merger will make it easier for the two companies (Berger and Lapua) to optimize the performance of factory ammo, as well as to optimize brass for use with Berger match projectiles.
A spokesman for Lapua said that Lapua will continue to make bullets in Europe while Berger will conduct its regular operations in the USA: “Lapua will still make bullets, and it will be ‘business as usual’ for Berger at this time. There are no plans to change production sites to consolidate product lines. Berger will continue to operate as an independent business, just under the Nammo umbrella.” NOTE: This acquisition will be subject to regulatory approvals by U.S. governmental authorities.
On firearm industry analyst believes this merger is a “win-win” for both Berger and Nammo: “This will help Berger export more product to the European market while it will give Nammo a stronger connection to the huge U.S. firearms market, expanding Nammo’s North American customer base”. Nammo president/CEO Morten Brandtzæg concurred, stating: “Having Berger Bullets on board is the perfect match for Nammo. Their products, which are complementary to our other premium brands, will strengthen our group’s strategic position in the U.S. commercial ammunition market.” This acquistion WILL include Berger’s ABM Ammunition and J-4 Jackets product lines.
Here is the press release issued by the Nammo Group, which is headquartered in Norway and has 2,100 employees in 12 countries:
I would like to emphasize a couple of things before you read on. The [acquisition of Berger Bullets by Nammo] CHANGES NOTHING. Production will remain in the same facility, by the same people, to the same quality. Berger Bullets will remain the highest-quality bullets on the market. What this merger does, is it gives these companies [the opportunity] to work together, to provide the highest-quality ammunition.
Lapua is well known for its high-quality brass, VihtaVuori makes high-quality powder, and Berger makes high-quality bullets. When you put the three together, you have the possibility of unmatched, premium … factory ammunition. To be clear, this will not affect the quality or way that Berger bullets are produced.
Q & A about Berger Bullets Joining Nammo Group
Q. What are Nammo’s plans concerning Berger Bullets?
A. Nammo plans on operating Berger Bullets as a stand-alone brand with support from the Nammo Group in a number of areas. First, they would like to help Berger improve the availability of many of their bullets that are in high demand.
Q. Are you going to eliminate any specific bullets? In other words, do they need to stock up!
A. We have no immediate plans to discontinue any of our bullets. We will continue as a part of our normal business practice to discontinue bullets that have been replaced by a superior product or those that do not have a demand sufficient to warrant allocating time in our production schedule. This is just what we have always done as part of our process.
Q. Is Bryan Litz still going to be the ballistician for Berger Bullets?
A. Yes. Bryan is an important part of the Berger Bullet team and our plans definitely include keeping Bryan on as our lead ballistician.
Q. Is Eric Stecker going to remain in charge of Berger Bullets?
A. Eric Stecker will continue as President of Berger Bullets
Q. Are the same dealers going to carry Berger Bullets?
A. Yes, we have no plans to change the way we distribute Berger Bullets to the shooting community.
Q. Does this mean ABM Ammo will have direct access to components like powder and brass?
Doc Beech – Applied Ballistics
www.abmediaresources.com – www.appliedballisticsllc.com
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Vihtavuori’s Rifle Reloading Database is now very comprehensive. Many of the popular modern match cartridges such as the 6.5×47 Lapua and 6.5 Creedmoor are now included, and of course you’ll find the 6mm PPC, 6mmBR, and 6XC. (There is no .284 Win or 7mm RSAUM data unfortunately.) You will find recommended load recipes for all the following cartridges:
.221 Remington Fireball
.240 Weatherby Magnum
6.5 x 47 Lapua
6,5 x 55 Swedish Mauser
6,5 x 55 Swedish Mauser/ SKAN
.270 Weatherby Magnum
7 mm-08 Remington
7 x 57
7 x 64
7 mm Remington Magnum
7 mm WSM
7 mm RUM
7 x 57R
7 mm Weatherby Magnum
7,5 x 55 Swiss GP31
.300 AAC Blackout
7,62 x 39
7,62 x 53R (7,62 Russian)
.300 Lapua Magnum
.300 Remington Ultra Magnum
.300 Winchester Magnum
.300 Weatherby Magnum
.30-.378 Weatherby Magnum
.300 H&H Magnum
8 x 57 IRS
8 x 57 IS (8 mm Mauser)
.338 Winchester Magnum
.338 Lapua Magnum
9,3 x 62
9,3 x 66 Sako
9,3 x 74R
.375 H&H Magnum
.458 Winchester Magnum
Even with high-quality brass from Lapua, Norma, and RWS, occasionally you may find one or two cases per box which have a small flake or obstruction in the flash-hole. This will appear like a thin crescent on one side of the flash hole (see photo). You should inspect ALL new brass before loading to identify any pieces with a partially-obstructed flash hole. It’s a good idea to remove any flake or thin crescent left as an artifact of the flash-hole forming process. Because the flash-hole itself is normally centered and of the correct diameter, it is not necessary to ream the flash-hole to a larger diameter. All you really need to do is remove the small obstruction(s). This can be done quickly with inexpensive tools.
Use a Small Pin Vise to Remove Flash-Hole Obstructions
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 drill bit, item 79186, that matches the Lapua flash hole exactly. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise drill bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). An 0.0595″ bit is close enough. You can find pin vises and these small-diameter drill bits at hobby stores.
For quite some time, Sinclair Int’l has sold a similar device for small (PPC and BR-size) flash holes. Like the 07-3081 unit for large flash holes, the 073000 Reamer for small flash holes works from the outside, so it can index off the primer pocket. It reams to .0625″, and also costs $39.99. The standard dimension for Lapua 220 Russian and 6mmBR flash holes is 1.5mm or .0590″. This tool will permit standard-size decapping rods with .0625″ tips to work without binding. However, note that both Forster and Redding normally supply .057″ decapping pins with their PPC and BR dies. So, it is NOT necessary to ream your Lapua BR/PPC flashholes, unless you prefer to do so for uniformity. It IS, however, a good idea to check BR/PPC flash holes for burrs before loading the first time.
NOTE: If you purchase either the 073081 or 073000 Sinclair Flash Hole Reamer tools, we recommend you mic the cutter tip before you process a bunch of cases. Sometimes a tip comes through that is oversize. This will ream the flash holes larger than you may intend.
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Our friend Kirsten Joy Weiss is a modern-day Annie Oakley. A very successful competitive shooter in the collegiate ranks, Kirsten now produces a popular YouTube Channel focusing on the “Joy of Shooting”. In her videos, Kirsten offers shooting tips and performs a variety of trick shots — such as splitting cards with a .22 LR rimfire. This young lady can shoot, that’s for sure.
In this video, Kirsten shoots at some tiny reactive targets — “Pop-Its”. These pea-sized targets “pop” audibly when hit. They make a very challenging target, even when bunched together. Kirsten secured three (3) Pop-Its with a clothespin, and then placed the clothespin in the ground.
It took a couple tries, but Kirsten did manage to light off a Pop-It or two. Kirsten reports: “Basically a small exploding target, Pop-Its, also known as ‘Bang Snaps’, snaps, snappers, party snaps, etc., are a fun firework trick noisemaker — but will they make a good target? Let’s put it to the test to see if these poppers are gun range-worthy targets. These little Pop-Its make for some challenging shots with reactive targets.” Enjoy the video:
Equipment Report: For this video, Kirsten shot Lapua .22 LR ammo in a Volquartsen Ultra-lite semi-auto .22 LR rimfire rifle, fitted with a C-More Red-Dot sight. She was using Oakley eye protection.
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Chuck’s Pair of Pennsylvania Dashers
There’s been a lot of interest in the 6mm Dasher cartridge lately, so we thought we’d showcase a matched pair of Dasher rifles belonging to a Forum member. The 6mm Dasher began as a wildcat improved version of the 6mmBR Norma cartridge. The 6mm Dasher has been very successful in competition, and now factory Norma-made Dasher cartridge brass is available from Bullets.com.
Forum Member Chuck L. (aka “Ridgeway”) has created a handsome duo of 6mm Dashers for competitive benchrest and varmint matches in Pennsylvania. Both guns are built on Kelbly Panda RBLP actions, with Bartlein 8-twist barrels, and Shehane Laminated Tracker Stocks. However, the two rifles are not exact twins, as you can see. One, which we’ll call the Big Dasher, is built on a Shehane ST1000 Tracker stock. The other gun, the Small Dasher, sports Shehane’s “Baby Tracker” stock — a design used with great success by Richard Schatz. The Big Dasher, optimized for 1000-yard competition, also has a slightly longer freebore — 0.136″ vs. 0.104″ for the Small Dasher.
Specifications for the Dasher Duo:
Small Dasher (13.5-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with approximately .104 freebore and a .264 NK. (No way of knowing exactly since it freebore was done in a separate operation by Kelbly.) Components are: Shehane Baby Tracker stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ LV barrel at 26 ¾”, Kelbly Rings, Weaver T36, Jewell trigger. The barrel was chambered by Kelblys and the stock was bedded, glued and balanced by a shooting buddy (Forum Member johara1). I clear-coated the stock with auto urethane. Total weight is 13 lbs., 4 ounces.
Big Dasher (1K Light Gun, 17-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with a .136 freebore and .264 neck (PTG Reamer). Components are: Shehane ST-1000 stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ HV 5R barrel at 28″, Shehane +20-MOA rings, Nightforce NXS 12-42x56mm, Jewell trigger. The barrel work, pillar installation, and bedding was done by Dave Bruno. The stock was clear-coated by Chuck with auto urethane. Chuck also made the rear butt plate and balanced the rifle. Total weight: 16 lbs., 13 ounces.
Chuck tells us: “I don’t get out shooting competition as much as I want due to time and family, but when I do compete, I shoot a Groundhog match at Southfork Rifle Club in Beaverdale, PA. Info on Southfork Club events can be found at Southforkrifleclub.com. The Southfork match is basically a 100-, 300- and 500-yard match with one sighter the entire match and 5 shots at each yardage for score. The Small Dasher, with the shorter ‘Baby Tracker’ stock, was set up for the Southfork Rifle Club’s ‘Light Unlimited’ class which has a 13.5-lb max weight.” (Editor: ‘unlimited’ is a misnomer for a weight-limited category.)
Chuck adds: “The Big Dasher with the heavy ST-1000 stock is set up for 1000-yard benchrest matches in Light Gun class. I hope to shoot a couple 1K matches with it at Reade Range in southwest Pennsylvania. I am still in load development for this rifle since it was just finished in January. One ironic thing is, it shoots the same load I’m shooting out of the lighter gun rather well. The only difference between the two chambers is the freebore is roughly thirty thousandths longer on the 1K gun (Large Dasher). I will also shoot this at Southfork in the ‘Heavy Unlimited’ class.”
Dasher Case-Forming: Neck-Turn then Fire-form with Bullets Hard in Lands
To fireform, I turn my cases down to fit the chamber and stop where the false shoulder makes snug contact with the chamber. Fire-forming rounds are loaded up with a 29-grain charge of H4895 or Varget and a 108gr Berger bullet seated hard into the lands about 0.020″ past initial contact with the rifling. It takes about three firings to make a nice clean Dasher case with a sharp shoulder. I anneal about every 3-4 firings. I have many cases that have about 10+ firings on them and they are still shooting well. The primer pockets are a little looser, but still hold a primer.
Both Dashers Group in the Ones at 100 Yards
My main bullet for both rifles is the 107gr Sierra MK, loaded with Reloder 15 powder, Lapua cases and CCI 450 primers. My main load for the Small Dasher is 33.0 grains of Reloder 15. This load shoots in the ones at 100 yards. For the Big Dasher, I’m still working on a load, although the same 33.0 grain load shoots in the ones in the heavier gun as well. I’m still looking for more velocity and my ‘max’ node. So far, I’ve gone well above 33.0 grains of RL 15 without pressure signs, but that load produces vertical at 100 yards, so I’m going to tinker with the load until I see pressure or it starts to shoot.
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Derek Rodgers, the only shooter to win both the F-Open and F-TR National Championships, has done it again. While shooting the Santa Fe Trail LR Regional match in Raton, New Mexico, it looks like Derek set a new 1000-yard record. Derek nailed his 1000-yard target, recording a 200-14X score — that’s twenty (20) shots for record, all tens with 14 in the X-Ring. Derek told us: “Yesterday at Raton New Mexico’s Whittington Center, I shot a 200-14X, which should be a new pending F-TR National Record at 1000 yards.” Derek took special pride in this accomplishment, as he held the F-TR record before: “I’m happy to have the record back. I have had three of the last four records”. Well done Derek!
Derek Rodgers .308 Win F-TR Rifle Equipment List:
McMillan Xit stock, Kelbly Panda LBLP action, Bartlein .308 Win barrel (32″, 1:11.25″ twist), Nightforce NXS 8-32x56mm scope. Note that Derek shoots right-handed, but with a LEFT BOLT. This allows him to stay in position better while cycling the bolt with his LEFT hand.
This impressive performance by Derek shows that the best F-TR rifles can rival the big F-Open rigs for pure accuracy, even though the favored F-Open chamberings, such as .284 Win and .300 WSM, are still ballistically superior to the venerable .308 Winchester used by nearly all F-TR competitors. For his record-breaking load, Derek used Berger 200gr Hybrid Target bullets in Lapua .308 Win (small primer pocket) brass, pushed by Hodgdon Varget powder.
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With the increased interest in the 6.5 Grendel cartridge and Grendel-based wildcats (such as the 6mmAR and 30 Major), today we’ve re-released a review by Robert Whitley.
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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Social Media fans take note — Lapua is now on Facebook. Lapua recently launched its official Facebook page focusing on Lapua sport shooting components and ammunition. The page will feature shooting news, match results, product info, shooter profiles, videos, tech tips, and other Lapua-related material. You can follow Lapua on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/LapuaAmmunition.
Lapua Products and Company History
Lapua (officially Nammo Lapua Oy), is part of the large Nordic Nammo Group. Lapua’s main products include premium cartridge brass, bullets, small caliber cartridges, rimfire cartridges, and reloading components for civilian and professional use. The Lapua cartridge factory was established in 1923. From a modest and practical beginning, Lapua has grown into one of the most respected brands in the industry. The best shooters in the world choose Lapua cartridges and components. In 2014, Nammo acquired the Vihtavuori smokeless powder factory.
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Take a look at that unusual target below. We bet you’ve never seen one of these before. It’s a 50-Yard Sighting Target for the M1 Garand. It’s designed to allow a rifleman to confirm his zeros for multiple yardages all the way out to 1000 yards. But importantly, he can establish those zeros at a very “short” shooting facility, since the target is positioned at a mere 50 yards.
Here’s how it works. The target is placed at fifty (50) yards. You start at the bottom, aiming at the black circle. Then check your come-up table and work your way up, clicking step-by-step to the various horizontal lines set for 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1000 yards. This is NOT “spray and pray” — you need to have a pretty good idea of the clicks you need, based on your ammo’s ballistics. This target is calibrated for the U.S. Military M72 Ball Ammo. The targets are available from Champion’s Choice ($0.75 each) or from Creedmoor Sports (12 for $5.95).
Lapua’s Kevin Thomas used this target to get zeroed for the recent D-Day Anniversary Match at the Talladega Marksmanship Park. Kevin used the target for both his M1 Garand as well as his M1903A1 Springfield, both chambered for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge.
Zeroing at a Short Distance — How to Use the 50-Yard Sighting Target, by Kevin Thomas
As part of my preparation for the Garand Match at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park, I needed to zero my new M1 Garand, but I was crunched for time. I didn’t have time to get to my normal range and confirm zeros at actual yardages. But a 50-yard zero target came to the rescue. Made for M1s using the M72 National Match ammo, the target allows the shooter to establish fairly good zeros at 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1,000 yards if you’ve got access to a 50-yard range.
I have no idea when these 50-yard Sighting Targets were first developed, but they’ve been around for at least as long as I’ve been involved in this game (longer than I care to admit). It consists of a tall target, with a smallish black bullseye located at the bottom center. The bullseye is an aiming point only. Extending through the top of the target is a vertical line that runs directly up the center, to nearly the top of the paper. Across this, there are intersecting horizontal lines that are marked 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1,000.
The target was designed for the M1 rifle using then-issued M72 National Match ammunition. This ammo launched a 173gr FMJBT bullet at approximately 2,640 fps. It was a good load in its day, supersonic out to the 1,000-yard line. While that ammo is fairly scarce these days, this isn’t a problem for the handloader. My standard match load for the M1 Garand utilizes the 175gr Lapua Scenar HPBT, and delivers remarkably similar ballistic performance. Thus my normal Garand load translates nicely to this 50-yard target. Yes, this is by design. No point in reinventing the wheel when Lake City has already established what works!
In use, the shooter sets the target up at a measured 50 yards, and (this is critical) checks the vertical line with a plumb bob or a carpenter’s level, to ensure that it is absolutely vertical. Once the target is set, the rifle is fired and the group noted. From there, it is a simple matter of zeroing it normally to bring the groups into alignment with the vertical line, at the elevation needed for a particular range. Once your group is hammering the intersection of the vertical line and the horizontal line marked “200”, you have established your 200-yard zero for that rifle. Record the number of clicks, and you’re good to go. Raise the impacts up to coincide with the line marked “300” and you now have a 300-yard zero as well. And so on, right up the target. Record those settings in your data book, and you’re ready to go to the range at the full distances. If done carefully, you may be in the X-Ring, but at the very least, you’ll be well-centered and ready to get some hard dope recorded for future shoots.
The same target can also be used with an M14/M1A, at least at the shorter distances. The ballistics of the M118 and the current M118LR are similar enough that this will get you on target at the full distances, probably requiring just a half MOA or so change from the 50 yard zero you recorded. Same bullets, moving at a slightly more sedate 2,550 fps, you’ll be in the ballpark at least.
Bryan Litz has recently popularized the short-range zeroing methods once again, reintroducing it to a new generation of shooters that may not have been aware of the old M72 short-range zero target. The same principles apply, and with the advent of the myriad computer ballistics programs and chronographs on the market today, any shooter can rapidly develop his own zero targets to accomplish the same result. But in the meantime, especially with the M1’s resurgent popularity, it’s nice to know that there’s an easy way to do things without a trip to a full-length range. The modestly-priced 50-Yard Sighting Targets can be ordered through Champion’s Choice or Creedmoor Sports.
Oh, and when I arrived in Talladega, yes, my zeros were good! All’s well that ends well. Safe Shooting! — Kevin Thomas
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Lapua Supports U.S F-TR Rifle Team
Lapua continues its support of the U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR) by donating Lapua factory-loaded .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition as part of a raffle package to raise funds for the Team. The raffle will take place this evening, on March 8, 2016.
The U.S. Rifle Team is raffling off a .338 Lapua Magnum Tactical Rifle donated and built by Kelbly’s Rifles. The raffle package includes a Nightforce Optics ATACR 5-25x56mm scope, 100 rounds of .338 Lapua Magnum 300gr OTM Scenar ammunition, plus a Gemtech Arrow suppressor
The total package value is over $9,000!
All of the proceeds from this raffle will be used to train and equip the U.S. Rifle Team as the team prepares for the 2017 World Championships in Canada.
About the U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR):
The U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR) is the two-time, Farquharson Target Rifle (F-TR) discipline World Championship winning squad. The U.S. Rifle Team competes regularly against other nation’s F-TR squads. At the 2013 World Championships, 17 nations were represented. The next World Championships will be held at Connaught Range near Ottawa, Canada in 2017. All of the rifles used in the F-TR class are chambered in either the .308 Winchester or .223 Remington calibers. This ensures a level playing field for all competitors. Every match winner can rightly say that it was their skill, not their caliber, that won the day. Most of our team events are fired at targets 1000 yards away. The inner-most scoring ring on our target is five inches in diameter. The next ring is ten inches in diameter. These shooters manage to put the vast majority of their shots inside that 10-inch ring at 1000 yards! Learn more about the US Rifle Team at www.USRifleTeam.com.
The U.S. F-TR Team Raffle, report by Ray Gross, Team Captain
Our raffle has been a huge success thanks to a number of sponsors who stepped forward to help out. A special thank you goes to Ian Kelbly, who offered to help out before I even asked. Kelbly’s became the first new sponsor of our team after I became Captain. Nightforce has been a long-time sponsor of our team and has been a huge help this cycle. Bryan Litz is a member of the team and his company, Applied Ballistics, is a sponsor. Bryan contacted Applied Ballistic Munitions and they happily donated ammo to our prize. Adam Braverman of Lapua, also a long-time team sponsor, sought us out, to help with our raffle.
What’s great about all of these companies is that we were already using their products, they didn’t have to sponsor us to get us to use them. We are in the business of winning and we have to use the best products. It speaks very highly of each of them that they are committed to supporting the shooting sports.
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In some parts of the country, hunters are now required to use lead-free bullets. Expect restrictions on lead-based ammo to become more widespread in the years to come. Recognizing this, Lapua has upgraded its line of Naturalis bullets. Fitted with a distinctive green polymer tip, Naturalis bullets employ lead-free 99% copper construction. A hollow cavity provides reliable, uniform expansion, and the solid copper bullet body offers excellent knock-down power and weight retention.
The latest lead-free Naturalis bullets boast less drag and enhanced expansion. These third-generation Naturalis projectiles have been streamlined for better aerodynamics. In addition, Lapua has lowered the velocity threshold for consistent expansion by roughly 100 fps. This significantly broadens the velocity range in which the bullets will reliably expand.
Naturalis bullets feature extremely high weight retention, as demonstrated in the video above. (Note: the video has graphic sequences showing game flesh). The mushrooming of the bullet starts immediately on impact. The expansion process is started by the green polymer “valve” at the tip of the bullet, leading the bullet to expand symmetrically and without fragmentation. Watch the video for a demonstration of Naturalis bullet performance in ballistic media and game animals.
Naturalis lead-free bullets are available as components for handloaders, or loaded into Lapua factory-made cartridges. The Naturalis bullet line ranges in weight from 90 grains (6mm) up to 250 grains (9.3 mm). Bullets are offered in most popular calibers: 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm, .308 (7.62mm), 8mm, .338, and 9.3 mm. Naturalis bullets and factory ammo are available from major retailers such as Grafs.com.
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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’s methods).
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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Trimming and chamfering brass are tasks hand-loaders grow to hate. Those chores are time-consuming and tiresome. Thankfully there are faster, better alternatives to manual trimming/chamfering. In this article, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to use the Giraud tool which trims and chamfers in one operation. Erik has his own YouTube Channel dedicated to precision reloading and accurizing. Here we feature Erik’s video about the “mother of all brass trimmers”, the Giraud powered case trimmer. Erik says: “If you do volume reloading… this is the only trimmer to get. It not only trims to length but it also chamfers your case mouth inside and out.” In his video, Erik offers some very clever and useful tips that will help you get the most from your Giraud.
The Giraud trimmer is very precise. When set up correctly, it can trim brass with amazing consistency. In the video, Erik trims five pieces of brass in 15 seconds (6:32 mark). He then measures all five with precision calipers (7:00-8:08). All lengths are exact within .0005 (half a thousandth). Erik notes that the Giraud trimmer indexes off the case shoulder. As long as you have fire-formed brass with consistent base-to-shoulder dimensions, you should get very consistent trim lengths.
The secret to the system is a 3-way cutting head. This cutter can be swapped in and out in a couple minutes with wrenches provided with the kit. Erik has three different heads; one each for 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber. The video shows how to adjust the cutting heads to match caliber diameter (and to get the desired amount of inside/outside chamfer).
To trim and chamfer cases, you simply insert them nose-first into the cartridge-specific case-holder. Erik offers a smart tip — He uses a die locking ring to position the cartridge holder (3:15). This can be locked in place. Erik says die locking rings work much better than the hex-nuts provided by Giraud (with the hex-nut, one must re-set cut length each time you change case-holders.)
The Giraud can be used in either horizontal or vertical modes. Erik prefers to have the trimmer aligned vertically, allowing him to push cases down on the trimmer head. But the trimming unit has twin sets of rubber feet, allowing horizontal or vertical orientation.
Improved Case-Holder Made with Chamber Reamer:
For his .284 Shehane, Erik had to create his own case-holder (Giraud does not make one for that wildcat cartridge). Erik used his chamber reamer. To his surprise, Erik found that the brass was easier to trim in the custom case holder (compared to the Giraud-made spring-loaded holders). With a perfect fit, trimming and case extraction went more smoothly and the process was easier on his hands. (See 9:00-10:00). Based on Erik’s experience, you may want to create your own custom case-holder.
Trim Bullet Meplats Also
With a special bullet-holder fitting and meplat cutter head, the Giraud power trimmer can be used to trim bullet meplats. Trimming meplats can help make the Ballistic Coefficents of a batch of bullets more consistent. Uniforming meplats is also often done as a first step in the process of “tipping” bullets to improve BC.
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Here’s a valuable web resource our readers should bookmark for easy access in the future. ShootForum.com offers a vast Bullet Database, which includes roughly 3900 bullet designs in all. We counted nearly 200 different 6mm bullets! The bullet info comes from the makers of QuickLOAD Software. Access to the online database is FREE. Most database entries include Caliber, Manufacturer, Stated Bullet Weight, True Bullet Weight, Length, Sectional Density (SD), and Ballistic Coefficient.* In many cases multiple BCs are provided for different velocity ranges.
The database is great if you’re looking for an unusual caliber, or you want a non-standard bullet diameter to fit a barrel that is tighter or looser than spec. You’ll find the popular jacketed bullets from major makers, plus solids, plated bullets, and even cast bullets. For those who don’t already own QuickLOAD software, this is a great resource, providing access to a wealth of bullet information.
Values for Changed Bullet Designs
Some of our readers have noted some variances with BCs and OALs with recently changed bullet designs. In general the database is very useful and accurate. However, as with any data resource this extensive, there will be a few items that need to be updated. Manufacturers can and do modify bullet shapes. Kevin Adams, one of the creators of the database, explains: “Thanks for mentioning this database. It took us a long time to collate this information and have agreement to publish it. Please keep in mind that individual batches of bullets will differ from the manufacturers’ stated standards. This is more a reflection on the manufacturers’ tolerances than the database ‘accuracy’. We will continue to add to the database as more manufacturers’ figures come available.”
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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:
We congratulate Rebecca Richards of Australia for her incredible shooting in the recent RBA Benchrest Grand Prix at the Sydney International Shooting Centre. Consider this, out of the five (5) benchrest classes competing (two air rifle, and three rimfire) Rebecca won four classes outright while placing third in the fifth class. Wow — that represents complete and total domination. Remarkably, Rebecca dropped only 10 points in four days of shooting.
Rebecca’s amazing 4-day performance was near perfection. Overall, she scored 2740 out of a total of 2750 possible points. She shot four of 11 targets with perfect 250/250 scores, and six more with 249/250. Over the course of the event she hit 152 “dots” (center bulls) out of a total possible 275. That’s pretty amazing if you understand how small those center bulls really are. Take a look at the target photo below — the center dot is tiny.
All in all, this was a performance for the ages — one of the best combined airgun/rimfire benchrest performances in Southern Hemisphere history. Kudos to Rebecca for her brilliant performance.
Here’s the modern Sydney International Shooting Centre…
The NBRSA short-range Group Benchrest Nationals commenced this week at the St. Louis Benchrest Club Range in Wright City, Missouri. This will be followed, next week, by the World Benchrest Shooting Federation (WBSF) Championships at the same venue. Lapua staffer (and Forum member) Kevin Thomas trekked to Missouri for this combined National/International event. Kevin reports: “The best benchrest shooters [on the planet] will fight it out over the next two weeks to see who can shoot the smallest groups possible. And I’ve got to say, many of these shooters are truly amazing. It doesn’t hurt a bit that virtually all of them are shooting Lapua brass, either.”
The WBSF event has attracted shooters from around the world. Benchrest aces from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and South Africa are already in St. Louis, with other international competitors set to arrive next week. On Monday, Day One of the NBRSA Nationals, the Unlimited Class rigs showed off their capabilities. As shown below, these heavy rail guns represent the pinnacle of precision in the 100/200-yard benchrest game.
Here’s living legend Walt Berger, founder of Berger Bullets. Now in his late 80s, Walt is still competing at a very high level. Walt is proof that Benchrest shooting is truly a “sport for a lifetime”.
Here’s a beautiful Missouri sunrise captured as Kevin Thomas drove to St. Louis for the 2015 NBRSA Benchrest Championships.
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If you have a rifle chambered in .260 Remington, you may be wondering if the Lapua .260 Brass is worth the money compared to domestic-made brass. Well, the answer is “yes” if you demand consistent weight and dimensional uniformity (including neckwall thickness).
Mike Harpster of Dead Center Sports took the time to weigh and measure Lapua .260 Rem brass. His test show this brass to be extremely uniform. Weight variance was less than one (1) grain in a 20-case sample. And case neckwall thickness was very consistent.
Report by Mike Harpster: Lapua .260 Rem Brass Test Results (with Comparisons)
I pulled twenty (20) pieces randomly from one Lapua box to do some measurements. I weighed them on my Mettler-Toledo digital lab scale and here are the individual weights of each case. Remarkably, the Lapua brass had less than one grain total weight variance among all 20 cases!
While checking the Lapua brass I remembered I had just received some Winchester brand .308 brass, so I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison between the two brands. I again pulled 20 cases at random from a bag of 50 and repeated the same measurements. The results are shown in the right half of the table below.
Weight Variance Lapua .260 Rem Brass vs. Winchester-Brand .308 Win Brass
LAPUA .260 Rem Brass
Winchester .308 Win Brass
Average: 172.20 grains
ES: 0.94 grains
Average: 158.49 grains
ES: 2.64 grains
Winchester Brass Further Inspection
The flash holes on the majority of the Winchester brass were not round or centered and they had large burrs inside. The neck wall thickness was pretty consistent, varying only .0015″ (.0125″ – .014″). As you can see in the photo (right) many of the Winchester cases were badly dented while the Lapua brass showed very few minor dents. The annealing on the necks of the Lapua brass was clearly evident while the Winchester showed no signs of being annealed. [Editor’s note: Winchester tumble-polishes its brass before shipping — so you would not notice annealing coloration if annealing had been done.]
Lapua Brass Further Inspection
With sample Lapua .260 Rem cases, I also measured the neck wall thickness in four places with calipers, not the most accurate method but I feel confident that the thickness did not vary more than .001″ over the 20 cases (.0145-.0155). The inside diameter of the neck measured .260 which would give .004 of neck tension out of the box. I visually checked the flash holes and I did not find any flakes of brass or burrs inside, the holes were round and centered.
Summary — This Lapua Brass is Impressive
I have never done these measurements on any other brass so I don’t know how they compare, but I am very impressed with the overall quality of the Lapua .260 brass. If they prove to hold up to the repeated firings I get from my Lapua 6BR brass I believe .260 shooters will be very happy.
Mike Harpster — Dead Center Sports
105 Sunrise Drive
Spring Mills, PA 16875
phone: 814-571-4655 www.deadcentersports.com
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With so much action going on at Camp Perry, Ohio this August (including the Fullbore Worlds), you might not realize that another NRA rifle championship was taking place simultaneously in Pennsylvania. The NRA High Power Hunter Rifle Silhouette Championship was held 6-8 August at the Ridgway Rifle Club, in Ridgway, Pennsylvania. This event attracted the nation’s top silhouette shooters.
At this year’s Silhouette Championship, Team Lapua shooters Cathy Winstead-Severin and Mark Pharr finished first and second overall. The match went down to the wire, with Cathy edging out Mark in a shoot-off for the overall title. Earlier in the competition, Cathy set a new Woman’s National Record in a 120-shot course with a stunning 97/120, breaking the previous record of 90 by seven points. Another record was broken by the Hunter Rifle Team of Cathy Winstead-Severin, Mark Pharr, and Mallory Nichols. This talented Team Lapua threesome set a new national record of 295, besting the mark set in 2004. Team Lapua also took second place in the Standard Rifle Team Division.
16-Year-Old Girl Finishes Fourth in Hunter Class
Team Lapua’s youngest member, 16-year old Mallory Nichols, was incredibly impressive as she entered the competition as an AA shooter and blasted her way through AAA into Master class in finishing fourth overall in Hunter Rifle. (She was in the running for third place overall, until a shoot-off with Eric Boos of Washington, who finished third). Nichols also set new national records for Long Run for Women and Intermediate-Junior hitting 18 pigs in a row. The previous Intermediate-Junior record was 14 set by Luke Johnson in 2011.
Winning Silhouette Loads
2015 Overall Silhouette Champion Cathy Winstead-Severin was shooting a 6-6.5×47 Lapua with 90-grain and 105-grain OTM Scenar bullets, pushed by Vihtavuori N135 powder. Mark Pharr and young Mallory Nichols were both shooting the regular 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge with 108-grain and 139-grain OTM Scenar bullets and Vihtavouri N140 powder.
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