January 23rd, 2019

SHOT Show 2019 — The Doors Open

anschutz rimfire .22 LR fortner match rifles shot show 2019

SHOT Show 2019 kicked off Tuesday, with tens of thousands of exhibitors, media members, and invitees streaming into the Sands EXPO Center in Las Vegas. This firearms industry trade show just gets bigger every year. We visited many of our favorite vendors including Capstone Precision Group (Berger, Lapua, SK, Vihtavuori), McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Zeiss Optics, Redding Reloading, SIG Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Anschutz, and Target Vision/Longshot.

Here are some quick highlights from Day One of SHOT Show, a little bit of everything: Rifles, pistols, ammo, reloading gear, and some notable shooters.

Capstone Precision Group: Berger, Lapua, SK and Vihtavuori

Lapua brass ammo SK bullets scenar Capstone Precision shot show 2019

Capstone Precision Group showcased new products from its four companies: Berger Bullets, Lapua, SK, and Vihtavuori. Lapua showcases cartridge brass and loaded ammo, including new 6.5 Creedmoor ammo with the ultra-consistent Scenar-L bullets. Capstone also told us to expect large quantities of brass to be arriving in the USA soon, including the high-demand 6mmBR brass.

Berger bullets ELR solid match projectiles Capstone Precision shot show 2019

Berger will release new loaded ammo in Lapua brass. Options will include 6mm Creedmoor, which should be popular with the PRS crowd. In addition, Berger will offer an impressive new line of solid projectiles. These ultra-high-BC ELF Match Solids have optimal shapes to stay supersonic at longer ranges. They are an impressive option for the Extreme Long Range game.

McMillan — 6012-Yard Shot with ELR Rifle

McMillan Beast paul phillips elr rifle 6012 yard shot

At the McMillan booth, members of the Global Precision Group (GPG) Team showcased an impressive .416 Barrett ELR rifle. Team leader Paul Phillips explained how the team managed (on the 22nd shot) to hit a 48″x32″ target at the incredible distance of 6012 yards. Our friend Derek Rodgers, reigning F-TR World Champion, told us that this shows how the ELR sport has evolved. The rifle features a McMillan ELR Beast stock with a Bartlein Barrel on a massive BAT 50 action.The .416 Barrett rounds were loaded with 550 grain Cutting Edge bullets.

McMillan Beast paul phillips elr rifle 6012 yard shot

A Tacom Charlie/Delta TARAC prism system was fitted in front of the Nightforce scope, allowing the team to put over 625 MOA of elevation on the shot while still being able to see the target. The ballistics numbers for this 6012-yard shot are pretty mind-boggling: 625 MOA of elevation was required, and the bullet was in the air for 17.1 seconds!

New Products from LongShot Target Cameras (aka TargetVision)

TargetVision longshot camera system clay rhoden wife video cam

Our first stop at the show was at the LongShot Target Cameras booth. Here we met with company founder, Clay Rhoden, the bright young man who has created the best-performing wireless target cameras on the market. Most folks know Rhoden’s company as TargetVision, but Clay said they are re-branding as LONGSHOT Target Cameras, to help emphasize the extreme range capabilities of his latest systems (the top tier Longshot cameras can operate out to one mile and beyond). Clay showed us two new products, the latest target camera (with easy-to remove battery pack), and a special camera that will transmit video from a spotting scope to your mobile devices. See the latest products at www.longshotcameras.com.

Light-Weight Camo Hunting Rifles from Weatherby

Weatherby Mark V ultra lightweight rifle camouflage Cerakote Camo

Hunters can spend hundreds of dollars on the latest camouflaged clothing in order to blend in to their environment, so why do gun makers continue to produce shiny hunting rifles? Well, this is one thing Weatherby has gotten right with the latest Weatherby Mark V ultra lightweight rifles. The rifle has the option of a rugged, matte Cerakote finish on action, bolt, and barrel, effectively eliminating glare. And did I mention it’s light weight? The full rifle weights a mere 5.75 pounds for non-magnum calibers. Weatherby guarantees sub-MOA accuracy with factory ammunition out of the box. Add a decent lightweight scope and this rifle is ready for a long backcountry hunt.

Hot New Sub-Compacts from SIG Sauer, Kimber, Walther

Kimber Evo Walther CCP SIG P365shot show 2019

For shooters who carry concealed or simply prefer a more compact pistol, three new handguns really stood out at shot show 2019: the SIG Sauer P365, Walther CCP M2, and the Kimber EVO. All three guns had a similar weight and feel at roughly 1” width, 6” length, and 1 lb when empty. The P365 has an advantage with a 10 + 1 round capacity, compared to the 7/8 of the EVO and CCP M2, but the CCP M2 is more competitively priced with an MSRP starting at $469. Retail for the P365 starts at $599 and the Kimber a surprising $925. Expect to see these guns in stores between spring and summer of 2019.

Smith & Wesson — Handguns Galore and New T/C Performance Center LRR

Smith Wesson T/C LRR long range rifle revolver magnum shot show 2019

Smith & Wesson is not just a handgun company. It markets rifles under its own brand name as well as via its Thompson Center Arms (T/C) division. At SHOT Show 2019 we saw the T/C Performance Center LRR (Long Range Rifle). With a $1211.00 MSRP, this offers great “bang for the buck” for shooters competing in PRS production division. These rigs feature a modular aluminum chassis, 24″ barrel, and adjustable cheekpiece. Available chamberings include .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win. And of course S&W continues to make great wheelguns, include some very BIG magnum revolvers:

Smith Wesson T/C revolver magnum shot show 2019

At the Anschutz Booth with Company President, Jochen Anschutz

anschutz rimfire .22 LR fortner match rifles shot show 2019

The German company Anschutz remains a world leader in rimfire rifles. The company’s match rifles have captured countless Gold Medals in Olympic target shooting and biathlong competition. Here company President Jochen Anschutz (left) shows the latest Biathlon rifle, featuring the impressive Fornter straight-pull action. With Jochen is Steven Bolter, North America Custom Shop Director. We were pleased to hear that Anschutz will be offering a new line of 17 HM2 (Mach2) rifles soon. That is an effective varmint round that’s considerable less expensive than 17 HMR.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Handguns, News No Comments »
January 12th, 2019

GREAT Video on Making Brass and Precision Ammo — Watch Now

Norma factory ammo production video

Guys — honestly, if you do anything today on this site, watch this video. You won’t be disappointed. Guaranteed. This is a very informative (and surprisingly entertaining) video. Every serious hand-loader should watch this video to see how cartridge cases and loaded ammo are made. Your Editor has watched the video 5 times now and I still find it fascinating. The camera work and editing are excellent — there are many close-ups revealing key processes such as annealing and head-stamping.

VERY Informative Video Show Cartridge Brass and Ammunition Production:

Norma has released a fascinating video showing how bullet, brass, and ammunition are produced at the Norma Precision AB factory which first opened in 1902. You can see how cartridges are made starting with brass disks, then formed into shape through a series of processes, including “hitting [the cup] with a 30-ton hammer”. After annealing (shown at 0:08″), samples from every batch of brass are analyzed (at multiple points along the case length) to check metal grain structure and hardness. Before packing, each case is visually inspected by a human being (3:27″ time-mark).

The video also shows how bullets are made from jackets and lead cores. Finally, you can watch the loading machines that fill cases with powder, seat the bullets, and then transport the loaded rounds to the packing system. In his enthusiasm, the reporter/narrator does sometimes confuse the term “bullets” and “rounds” (5:00″), but you can figure out what he means. We definitely recommend watching this video. It’s fascinating to see 110-year-old sorting devices on the assembly line right next to state-of-the art, digitally-controlled production machinery.

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
September 10th, 2018

Bargain Finder 155: 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, optics, 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. Bullets.com — Norma Tac-22 Rimfire Ammo, $2.50 per Box

Norma Tac-22 Match 22 .22LR ammo bullets.com liquidation going out of business sale ammunition discount

This Norma .22 ammo is good stuff — no doubt about that. This Editor bought 1500 rounds of Tac-22 when it was on sale for $3.50/box, and now it is even cheaper. In all honesty, we don’t think you can find better rimfire ammo at anywhere near this $2.50 per 50ct box price. This is basically liquidation pricing, because Bullets.com is closing its doors for good at the end of September. This ammo is good for pistol plinking, and rifle fun shooting and rimfire cross training. NOTE: Many other products are still available at Bullets.com at crazy-low liquidation prices.

2. Natchez — Big Savings on Nikon Optics (Scopes, LRFs, Binocs)

Nikon natchez scope deal bargain refurbished sale discount

Need a scope or LRF for hunting season? Here’s a chance to save hundreds on a quality Nikon optic. Natchez Shooters Supply is offering exclusive deals on both new and refurbished Nikon riflescopes, rangefinders, and binoculars including camo finish hunting scopes for hunters. There are some truly excellent bargains, plus you can get $5 Flat Rate Shipping with Code 180910 (through 9/12/18). Here are some of the best deals on Nikon scopes at Natchez right now:

Nikon 2-10x50mm Monarch 5 scope (new), BDC Reticle
Now $319.99 (Reduced from $599.95 — Save $279.96)

Nikon 3.5-14x50mm ProStaff 5 scope (new), Illum. Nikoplex Reticle
Now $294.99 (Reduced from $579.95 — Save $284.96)

Nikon 4-12x40mm Active Target scope (new) , Realtree Camo, BDC Predator Reticle
Now $184.99 (Reduced from $329.95 — Save $144.96)

3. ARMorALLY.com — Nosler RDF Bullets, $24-$29 per 100

Monmouth Nosler RDF bullets 6mm 6.5 mm Creedmoor 140 175 105 reduced drag factor

Nosler’s line of RDF (Reduced Drag Factor) bullets have high BCs for their weight. Precision shooters are reporting outstanding accuracy. Given their high performance and consistency, RDF bullets represent a superior value. At ARMorAlly you can get Nosler RDFs for under $29 per 100 for popular 6mm and 6.5 mm sizes. That’s up to $25 less per box than some other premium brands. And the .22-Caliber RDFs are even cheaper. ARMorAlly also has great pricing on Nosler Ballistic Tip, Custom Competition, Accubond, ABLR, and Lead Free bullets. All Nosler Bullets HERE.

4. Precision Reloading — All Lee Products on Sale

Lee Precision Reloading Sale Case Press dies

Now through September 14, 2018, Precision Reloading has discounted all Lee Precision Products in stock. Lee has a reputation as a budget brand, but many of Lee’s products really stand on their own merits. For example the Lee Collet dies are popular with many hand-loaders because they produce very straight ammo with consistent neck tension. And this Editor uses a Lee Decapping Die and Lee pistol dies. Here are some of the recommend Lee products on sale now:

Lee Classic Cast Single Stage Press, $105.29 on Sale (Reg. $116.99)
Lee Auto Bench Prime Tool, $26.09 (Reg. $28.99)
Lee Universal Decapping Die, $12.59 (Reg. $13.99)
Lee 9mm Luger Carbide Die Set, $38.51 (Reg. $32.49)
Lee Universal Shell Holder Set (11), $31.94 (Reg. $35.49)

5. Midsouth — Hornady Progressive Press, $378.99

Hornady Lock N Load AP Progressive Press Sale Rebate Discount

If you need large quantities of pistol or rifle ammo, it makes sense to get a progressive press. This auto-indexing, 5-station press will give you one loaded round for every complete cycle of the loading handle. We’ve used this Hornady Lock-N-Load AP Progressive press and can confirm that it works well. We actually prefer the rotary powder measure to the sliding powder system on Dillon progressives. We find it much easier to change load weights with the Hornady system (which uses inserts), and it is more precise with certain types of powder. Right now you can save $113.00 with the $378.99 sale. Plus press purchasers qualify for 500 free bullets through the Hornady Rebate Program.

6. CDNN — Colt Competition AR15 Kit, $499.99

Colt AR AR15 match rifle upper lower kit discount CDNN
The Colt Kit does NOT include barrel, bolt carrier group, charging handle, or magazine.

This affordable Colt AR15 Kit includes upper, complete lower, handguard, and Magpul stock. To this, add your choice of barrel and optic. We like this option because the barrel is so important to accuracy and overall performance. This Colt package costs $499.99. Add a match-grade, finish-chambered barrel from Criterion or Krieger, plus bolt carrier group, and you’re in business. The Magpul PRS stock features a quick-adjustable cheek-piece and butt-plate — allowing you to easily adapt head position and LOP for your discipline of the day. The straight-toe PRS stock works great in a rear bag. This is a good platform for a PRS Gas Gun Division rifle.

7. Smith & Wesson SD9VE 9mm, $239.99 with Code M8Y

Smith Wesson SD9V 9mm carry pistol handgun bargain brownells

The two-tone Smith & Wesson SD9VE 9mm pistol features contrasting stainless-steel slide and barrel. Weighing just 22.7 oz, this DAO pistol ships with two 16-round magazines, offering plenty of fire-power. Overall length is 7.2″ with a 4″-long barrel. Both front and rear sights are drift-adjustable. This is a nice medium-sized pistol that shoots well. The Smith & Wesson SD9VE is on sale now at Brownells for just $249.99 (plus $10 FFL fee). SAVE MORE: During check-out at Brownells.com, you can use code “M8Y” to receive $20 Off and get FREE delivery. That lowers your net cost to just $239.99 shipped to your FFL.

8. Midsouth — New Lyman Reloading Presses on Sale

Lyman Ideal c-frone reloading press sale discount Midsouth

Midsouth Shooters Supply is running a big sale right on Lyman’s impressive new Brass Smith line of reloading presses. There are three models, each offering great performance and value for its class. You can save quite a bit of cash with this Midsouth Lyman Press sale. If you haven’t tried orange yet, we think you’ll be impressed. The little C-Frame is a steal at $69.99. And the new 8-station Lyman Turret press ($192.99 on sale) is very impressive — with more stations than the competition, a handier priming system, and extra strength.

9. Amazon — Jialitte Scope Bubble Level, $11.99

Scope Optic bubble level 30mm 1

If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This nicely designed Jialitte Scope Bubble Level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It features a 30mm milled inside diameter, plus an inner insert ring so it will also fit 1″-diameter main tubes — that dual-diameter versatility is a nice feature. We also like the way the unit is nicely radiused, and has a low profile in the middle. User reviews have been very positive. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product — almost all verified buyers have rated this five stars.

10. Amazon — Two Rolls of 3″ Neon Target Stickers, $14.95

Red Orange Neon 3

We like these bright, Neon 3″ target stickers. They are big enough to see easily at 600 yards, giving you a 1/2 MOA target center at that distance. For $14.95 at Amazon.com, you get 250 3″-diameter self-adhesive centers (125 targets per roll) that stick to almost any surface The high-contrast fluorescent red/orange color provides an excellent HI-VIZ aiming point, along with good contrast for bullet holes that fall within the 3″ circle. To help line up your reticle cross-hairs, the target centers feature black markers at 3, 6, 9, and 12 0’Clock. NOTE: These stickers may qualify for FREE Shipping with combined orders over $25.00.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Handguns, Hot Deals, Optics No Comments »
July 27th, 2018

Ammo Insights: The 6.5×55 Swedish Cartridge

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

Cartridge of the Month Norma USAIf you haven’t checked out NormaUSA’s website, you should. There you’ll find Norma’s Cartridge of the Month Archive. This great resource provides a detailed history of popular cartridges, along with a discussion of these cartridges’ hunting and target-shooting uses. There are currently 26 Cartridge of the Month articles, the latest featuring the impressive .458 Winchester Magnum hunting cartridge.

Also on Norma-USA.com you’ll find information on Norma cartridge brass, bullets, powder and factory ammo. The site also offers a video archive plus links to Norma Reloading Data.

Here is a selection from 6.5×55 Swede Cartridge of the Month Article:

History of the 6.5×55 Swedish

A mild cartridge by modern standards, the 6.5×55 has impressive credentials in both the hunting field and in competition. It was developed jointly by Sweden and Norway in 1894 – one of the very first smokeless, small-bore rounds for military rifles. When Sweden boosted 6.5×55 performance in Mausers, Norway stayed with original loads in the less robust Krag. The 6.5×55 defended Scandinavia for most of a century thereafter. In 1990 the National Rifle Association of Denmark, Norway and Sweden renamed this cartridge the 6.5×55 SKAN and standardized its specifications. Still hugely popular among moose hunters there, it has also excelled in 300-meter free-rifle competition.

The long tenure of this cartridge spanned the post-war wildcatting era. Unfortunately for shooters keen to make something new of the 6.5×55 hull, its head diameter is .01 greater than that of the 7×57 (and the .270 and .30-06). The rim is thicker too. At 2.16 inches, cases mike .15 longer than the .308’s and .08 shorter than those of the 7×57 – though as originally loaded, its overall length (3.15 inches) exceeds that of the 7×57. In fact, it falls just 0.1 inch shy of the finished length of the 7mm Remington Magnum! In my view, the 6.5×55 merits at least a mid-length action, such as on Melvin Forbes’s New Ultra Light rifles. Shorter (typical .308-length) actions require deep bullet seating that throttles performance.

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

You’ll look hard to find a better deer cartridge than the 6.5×55. Francis Sell, woodsman and rifle enthusiast whose book on blacktail deer hunting has no peer, favored the 6.5×55. Hunters coming of age in a magnum culture might question the round’s bona fides on animals as stout as elk and moose. But at modest ranges, with bullets like Norma’s factory-loaded 156-grain Oryx, it’s a sure killer. Modest recoil makes rifles pleasant to fire (read: accurate in hand!) and fast on follow-ups. In Africa the 6.5×55 – and similar 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer – felled much bigger game than moose long before anyone necked down the .375 H&H! While its compact case won’t let the Swede match the likes of the .270 ballistically, it is a fine all-around choice for big game in the Lower 48.

Permalink News 1 Comment »
March 24th, 2018

Humidity and Powder Burn Rates — What You Need to Know

Tech Tip Norma Powder gunpowder moisture temperature humidity

Most shooters realize that significant changes in temperature will alter how powders perform. That’s why you want to keep your loaded ammo out of the hot sun, and keep rounds out of a hot chamber until you’re ready to fire. But there are other factors to be considered — HUMIDITY for one. This article explains why and how humidity can affect powder burn rates and performance.

We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry”. Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.

Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).

Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”

Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”

What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.

Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from Amazon.com.

Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter

Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”

If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 11 Comments »
September 22nd, 2017

The Science of Annealing — Facts Uncovered, Myths Busted

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

The science behind annealing during the manufacture of new cases is well-established. What happens after that, when we repeatedly reload and anneal those same cases, has always been somewhat of a “dark art”. To help separate scientific fact from fiction, the creators of the Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) Annealer machine have conducted detailed studies of cartridge brass. The AMP Team’s studies offer some remarkable insights, while disproving a number of myths about annealing. Will annealing tighten your groups? The evidence of these studies shows it could.

The test results are fascinating. The team compared brands of brass, sectioning brass to examine both alloy composition and thickness from case mouth to case-head (bottom). They also examined how carbon build-up affects next tension. And they determined how brass changes over multiple loading cycles. They even did a series of bullet-pull tests to analyze factors affecting neck tension. Here are some of the key subjects in the reports:

Brand by Brand Analysis — How the cartridge brass alloy varies among different manufacturers.
Bullet Release and Neck Tension — Tensile Bullet-Pull tests show factors affecting neck tension.
Neck Tension and Carbon — How carbon build-up inside the neck affects “neck tension”.
SS Tumbling and Hardness – How tumbling with stainless media affects brass hardness.
Case Cleaning (Ultrasound and Tumbling) — How case cleaning affects annealing.
Multiple Loadings — How brass performs when annealed every reload over 10+ cycles.

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

You really should read the reports — there are some fascinating revelations. The AMP team made longitudinal sections of various cases to show different case wall thicknesses and head geometry. These examples also show how the hardness of the case varies from the case mouth to the case-head. Both virgin and used, annealed cases were examined.

Bullet-Pull Tests — Using advanced tensile test equipment, AMP experimented with different combinations of dies, reloading sequences, and neck hardness to ascertain the best practice.
Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Carbon Inside Your Case-Necks May Be a GOOD Thing
AMP’s testers found carbon in necks can be beneficial: “Even with identical interference fit and neck hardness, as the carbon layer increased (microscopically), the force to draw the bullet decreased. It would appear the carbon acted as a lubricant. Interestingly, the [pull force] standard deviation also improved, i.e. the case to case variation in the force required to draw the bullets decreased.”*

Read the Full Test Reports

The AMP team’s objectives were to clarify some misconceptions on just what annealing does and does not do, and also to establish the best practices for consistent results. They have consulted with three independent certified metallurgy laboratories to produce some definitive information. So far, the Stage 1 and Stage 2 reports have been released. The studies include a report on the general physical properties of cartridge brass, including grain structures, hardness scales, time/temperature annealing information, and what can cause de-zincification.

The FULL REPORTS, including comprehensive appendices, are found here:

Stage One: https://www.ampannealing.com/articles/40/annealing-under-the-microscope/

Stage Two: https://www.ampannealing.com/articles/42/annealing-under-the-microscope/

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Examining Different Brands of Brass — What the Tests Revealed

Is Lapua brass harder than Norma? Is Lake City better than Remington? You’ll find answers to these and other questions in AMP’s annealing studies. One of the key findings in Stage 2 of Amp’s research is that brass from different manufacturers does vary in the distribution of material in the walls of the case.

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Stage Two Conclusions:

— Different brands of the same cartridge cases can require different annealing power settings due to differing case wall thickness in the neck and shoulder region. The greater the mass of brass to be annealed, the greater the power requirement. Lot to lot variation within the same brand can occur for the same reason.

— The bushing die used in this set of tensile bullet pull tests gave significantly more consistent results than the standard neck die with expander ball.

— Cases should be annealed every reload in order to get the best repeatability.

Case Variations: Brand to Brand, and Lot to Lot

Here is a sample from AMP’s test report:

Analyzing Different Brands of Brass
In our Stage One report, we demonstrated that there is insufficient variation in alloy composition between brands to account for the variations we experience when annealing different brands of the same cartridge case. We therefore sought to confirm that it is the mass of brass to be annealed which accounts for the difference. Below are sectioned samples of four different brands of .223 Remington cases.

Both the Lapua and Norma neck walls are 314* microns (0.01236”) at the mouth. The Lapua neck wall thickens to 348 microns at the junction of the neck and shoulder, and the Norma neck thickens to 325 microns. Through the shoulder, however, the walls of both cases thicken to 370 – 380 microns. Once past the shoulder, they both taper back to 314 microns, before starting to thicken again, moving towards the case head.

The Lapua case requires AMP Program 47 to anneal correctly. It is the heaviest of the four cases tested through the shoulder region. The Norma case, which is only slightly lighter through the same region, needs Program 43.

The Remington case is very similar to the Lapua and Norma cases in the neck region, but it actually thins fractionally through the shoulder and front section of the body. The AMP program setting for Remington 223R is P32.

The Lake City case is the thinnest throughout of all four samples. It only requires Program 28.

The above samples clearly demonstrate that the mass of brass to be annealed is critical to the power requirement for correct annealing.

To see how the AMP Induction Annealing Machine works, watch this video:

* However, in Stage Two of AMP testing, the testers experimented with clean, carbon-free necks with dry lube. There was some indication of greater tensile pull consistency with dry-lube, but AMP plans to do more testing.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 7 Comments »
August 7th, 2017

Fascinating Facts from Norma’s Ammo Academy

Norma web site Ammo Academy

If you haven’t visited the Norma website recently, you should click over to www.norma.cc/us. There you will find Norma’s Ammo Academy, a technical resource that provides information on Ballistics, Powder Storage, Barrel Wear, and Bullet Expansion. In addition, the Ammo Academy now links to Norma’s Reloading Data Center, where you’ll find loads for nearly 70 cartridge types including: .223 Rem, .22-250, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, 260 Rem, 6.5-284, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, .270 Win, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Mag and dozens more.

The Ammo Academy’s Ballistics section contains some fascinating technical facts:

stopwatch

  • After the trigger is pulled, it takes around 0.005 seconds before the firing pin reaches the primer.
  • From the firing of the primer it takes 0.0015-0.002 seconds until the bullet exits the muzzle.
  • When the bullet leaves the muzzle, the hot gases surround and overtake the bullet, continuing the acceleration for a few centimeters.
  • Because the barrel is always angled slightly upwards, the bullet’s flight starts about 3-5 cm below the line of sight.

Norma also offers some good advice about Powder Storage:

To maintain the product quality for as long as possible, you have to keep the powder in a suitable place under suitable conditions. Where possible, store the powder at a constant temperature, ideally between 12 and 15°C (54°F to 59°F), and a relative humidity of 40–50%. If the air is too dry, it will dry out the powder, which will cause the pressure to be higher, thus affecting performance. Also make sure that you close the powder container properly afterwards. Cartridges should be stored under the same ambient conditions to maintain their quality.

Norma web site Ammo Academy

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
May 21st, 2017

Cartridge Comparison Guide is Great Resource

Cartridge Comparison Guide

Cartridge Comparison GuideA unique, comprehensive Cartridge Comparison Guide is available as a 340-page, spiral-bound book. Covering over 250 cartridges, the updated Second Edition of the Cartridge Comparision Guide is the product of many years of labor by Andrew Chamberlain, a Utah-based hunter. Andrew says his $36.95 Guide “compares every factory available cartridge from the 17 calibers up to the 50 caliber cartridges”. (Sorry, most wildcat cartridges are not covered.) Chamberlain’s Guide also compiles cartridge data from major ammunition manufacturers such as Barnes, Federal, Hornady, Norma, Nosler, Remington, Sierra, Swift, Weatherby, and Winchester. It shows the optimal velocity achieved for each bullet weight and calculates bullet energy, recoil, and powder efficiency. Large color photos illustrate handgun and rifle cartridges.

The Cartridge Comparison Guide provides data for thousands of cartridge/bullet/velocity combos. Quick reference data sheets and ballistics charts cover Trajectory, Velocity, and Energy out to 500 yards. The Cartridge Comparison Guide also offers a firearms lexicon, plus Appendices covering Cartridge Selection for Game Animals, Bullet Selection/Design, Bullet Expansion, Wound Channel Characteristics and more.

New Content in Second Edition of Cartridge Comparison Guide
The Cartridge Comparison Guide (Second Edition) costs $36.95 plus shipping and tax. CLICK HERE to visit the Online Store where you can order the 340-page book. Here’s what’s new in the Second Edition:

  • Addition of Shotgun Ammunition (Both Slug and Shot loads).
  • Momentum Calculation for all Rifle, Shotgun and Handgun loads.
  • Integration of Shotgun Slug Ammunition with Center Fire Rifle Data Tables.
  • Factory Load Summary Added (Shows manufacturers and loads produced).
  • One factory load and one hand load for every bullet weight available in each cartridge.
  • Over 90 pages of additional ballistics content (roughly 35% more than in First Edition).

(more…)

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
April 20th, 2017

Wicked Accurate Low-Cost Rimfire Ammo — Norma Tac 22

Norma Tac22 Tac-22 .22 LR rimfire 22LR ammunition ammo
Photo from Champion Shooters Supply. Groups shot with Anschutz 1913 match rifle at 50 yards.

Check out that group. That’s impressive accuracy at 50 yards. You’d expect to pay $10.00 or more per box for rimfire ammo that can shoot this well. But get this — you can now get the Norma Tac-22 for just $3.99 per box. That’s right, this is some of the lowest-priced “Big Name” rimfire ammo you can buy, yet it offers top-tier accuracy. Low cost with high performance — that’s hard to beat.

Norma Tac22 Tac-22 .22 LR rimfire 22LR ammunition ammo

The target photos above come from Champion Shooters Supply, which may have gotten an exceptional lot. This vendor tells us: “We have found this to run very well in Ruger rifles, handguns, and target pistols. These are 5-shot groups at 50 yards with an Anschutz 1913 rifle. This is an incredible value.”

We agree. We just ordered some Norma Tac-22 ourselves. Grab it while you can at these rock-bottom prices. The best deal we found on Norma Tac-22 ammo was $3.99 per box at Midsouth (Click below).

Norma Tac22 Tac-22 .22 LR rimfire 22LR ammunition ammo

Other vendors with this Norma Tac-22 .22 LR rimfire ammo:

Bullets.com, $5.25/box | Champion Shooters Supply, $4.80/box | Grafs.com, $6.29/box

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals 2 Comments »
March 4th, 2017

6.5 Creedmoor Ammo from Norma Tested in Ruger Precision Rifle

Gavin Gear 6.5 Norma Ammunition Scirocco II

Quality Factory Ammo for 6.5 Creedmoor

by Gavin Gear, UltimateReloader.com
Norma is known for its high-quality brass and ammunition. I’ve used Norma brass for precision reloading in calibers like .30-06 with great results. Recently, I saw that Norma had announced a new addition to their Professional Hunter lineup of ammunition: in 6.5 Creedmoor! I thought I should try some out with the Ruger Precision Rifle, and that’s what I’ll cover in this post.

As you saw in the video, this ammunition behaves more like match ammunition than it does hunting ammunition — I really wish it was deer season! Here are the chronograph results:

This article comes from the Midsouth Shooters Blog. You’ll find other helpful gear reviews, reloading tips, and technical articles at www.MSSBlog.com.

With an SD of 13.7 FPS, this ammunition is very consistent in terms of velocity. It’s not surprising that the first four shots went into a .5″ group. This new ammunition is built around the Swift Scirocco II 6.5mm Bullet, and here’s more info about this precision-oriented hunting projectile:

Technical Information

  • Caliber: 264, 6.5mm
  • Bullet Diameter: 0.264
  • Bullet Weight: 130 Grains
  • Bullet Length: 1.350″
  • Bullet Style: Polymer Tip Spitzer Boat Tail
  • Bullet Coating: Non-Coated

Ballistics Information:

  • Sectional Density: .266
  • Ballistic Coefficient:.571

Gavin Gear 6.5 Norma Ammunition Scirocco II

This is certainly a great choice of ammunition if you are hunting medium game with a rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. Can’t wait to sit down again with this ammunition to see if I can get that 3/8″ 5-shot group I know this ammo is capable of! If you want to try this Norma 6.5 Creedmoor Professional Hunter ammo yourself, you can purchase this excellent ammunition at Midsouth Shooters Supply.

Check out the Ultimate Reloader site HERE for more reviews, how-to’s, and much more!

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 7 Comments »
February 27th, 2017

6.5 Creedmoor — Norma’s Cartridge of the Month

Norma hunting africa elk deer eland 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge
6.5 Creedmoor (right) shown with .308 Win (left) and .243 Win (center) for comparison.

Though most popular for competition applications (PRS and XTC), the 6.5 Creedmoor is also a capable hunting cartridge. This month Norma spotlights the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge and outlines the game-harvesting capabilities of Norma 6.5 Creedmoor factory ammunition.

Origins of the 6.5 Creedmoor
Dave Emary, senior engineer at Hornady, asked fellow competitive shooters about their “wish list” for a mid-sized round with long-range potential. It needed to offer efficiency, good ballistics, fine accuracy, and reliable feeding from a magazine. To achieve these goals, Emary necked the .30 T/C to .264 caliber (6.5 mm). The shoulder on this case is well to the rear, so long bullets with high ballistic coefficients can be used in short actions. The efficient Creedmoor case and its modest powder charge deliver hard hits on big game while keeping recoil modest.

Norma hunting africa elk deer eland 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge

Hunting with the 6.5 Creedmoor

by Wayne van Zwoll
I learned about the 6.5 Creedmoor by way of a rifle from Todd Seyfert at Magnum Research. The Remington 700 action wears a carbon-fiber barrel with a Krieger stainless core. GreyBull Precision added a stock and a modified 4.5-14X Leupold scope. Its 1/3-minute elevation dial is calibrated specifically for 130-grain boat-tail spitzers at Creedmoor velocities. “Spin the elevation dial to the distance in yards, and aim dead-on.” said GreyBull’s Don Ward. Prone with a sling, I was soon banging steel at 500 yards.

By the charts, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a superb cartridge for deer-size game. But I caught only a late elk season with this new rifle. The 6.5×55 and .260 had taken elk for me; surely the Creedmoor would as well. Alas, the close shot I’d wanted, to ensure precise bullet placement, didn’t come. When on the final evening Don and I spied a bull far off, there was no approach. “Your call,” he shrugged. “The air is dead-still.” I snugged the sling, prone, and dialed to the yardage. Ribs spot-lit by a sinking sun, the bull paused. Craaack! The animal spun, sprinted and fell. That shot was twice as long as any I’d ever attempted at elk.

Whitetail hunting with a Ruger 77, then a trip to sub-Saharan Africa with a T/C Icon, kept the 6.5 Creedmoor in my ammo pouch. The T/C dropped a Vaal Rhebok at 250 yards, in stiff wind (photo below). Shorter pokes on a variety of game produced consistently quick kills. I found the Creedmoor’s limit with an eland.

Norma hunting africa elk deer eland 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge
A high ballistic coefficient helped a Creedmoor bullet slice stiff wind 250 yards to this Vaal Rhebok.

Since then, I’ve seen several animals brought to bag by the 6.5 Creedmoor. And I’ve used it in a variety of rifles on paper and steel targets to 1,200 yards. It has become one of my favorite cartridges for deer-size game. Its mild report and recoil make it easy to shoot accurately. It seems an inherently accurate cartridge too. I’ve punched half-minute groups from production-class rifles. The proliferation of hunting loads for the 6.5 Creedmoor includes none better than Norma’s 130-grain Scirocco. This sleek, polymer-nose bullet, with its 15° boat-tail and a G1 ballistic coefficient over .550, flies very flat. In expansion and penetration tests, it opens reliably down to 1,750 fps, and drives straight and deep. A bonded bullet, it stays in one piece after high-speed impact, routinely retaining more than 80 percent of its original weight.

READ FULL 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge of the Month Article >>>

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, News 4 Comments »
October 2nd, 2016

Norma Factory Tour Video is a “Must-Watch” for Hand-Loaders

Norma factory ammo production video

Guys — honestly, if you do anything today on this site, watch this video. You won’t be disappointed. Guaranteed. This is a very informative (and surprisingly entertaining) video. Every serious hand-loader should watch this video to see how cartridge cases are made. Your Editor has watched the video 5 times now and I still find it fascinating. The camera work and editing are excellent — there are many close-ups revealing key processes such as annealing and head-stamping.

VERY Informative Video Show Cartridge Brass and Ammunition Production:

Norma has released a fascinating video showing how bullet, brass, and ammunition are produced at the Norma Precision AB factory which first opened in 1902. You can see how cartridges are made starting with brass disks, then formed into shape through a series of processes, including “hitting [the cup] with a 30-ton hammer”. After annealing (shown at 0:08″), samples from every batch of brass are analyzed (at multiple points along the case length) to check metal grain structure and hardness. Before packing, each case is visually inspected by a human being (3:27″ time-mark).

The video also shows how bullets are made from jackets and lead cores. Finally, you can watch the loading machines that fill cases with powder, seat the bullets, and then transport the loaded rounds to the packing system. In his enthusiasm, the reporter/narrator does sometimes confuse the term “bullets” and “rounds” (5:00″), but you can figure out what he means. We definitely recommend watching this video. It’s fascinating to see 110-year-old sorting devices on the assembly line right next to state-of-the art, digitally-controlled production machinery.

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Reloading 1 Comment »
July 28th, 2016

Norma Cartridge of the Month: 6.5×55 Swedish

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

Cartridge of the Month Norma USAIf you haven’t checked out NormaUSA’s website, you should. There you’ll find Norma’s Cartridge of the Month Archive. This great resource provides a detailed history of popular cartridges, along with a discussion of these cartridges’ hunting and target-shooting uses. There are currently 26 Cartridge of the Month articles, the latest featuring the mighty .500/.416 Nitro Express cartridge.

Also on Norma-USA.com you’ll find information on Norma cartridge brass, bullets, powder and factory ammo. The site also offers a video archive plus links to Norma Reloading Data.

Here is a selection from 6.5×55 Swede Cartridge of the Month Article:

History of the 6.5×55 Swedish

A mild cartridge by modern standards, the 6.5×55 has impressive credentials in both the hunting field and in competition. It was developed jointly by Sweden and Norway in 1894 – one of the very first smokeless, small-bore rounds for military rifles. When Sweden boosted 6.5×55 performance in Mausers, Norway stayed with original loads in the less robust Krag. The 6.5×55 defended Scandinavia for most of a century thereafter. In 1990 the National Rifle Association of Denmark, Norway and Sweden renamed this cartridge the 6.5×55 SKAN and standardized its specifications. Still hugely popular among moose hunters there, it has also excelled in 300-meter free-rifle competition.

The long tenure of this cartridge spanned the post-war wildcatting era. Unfortunately for shooters keen to make something new of the 6.5×55 hull, its head diameter is .01 greater than that of the 7×57 (and the .270 and .30-06). The rim is thicker too. At 2.16 inches, cases mike .15 longer than the .308’s and .08 shorter than those of the 7×57 – though as originally loaded, its overall length (3.15 inches) exceeds that of the 7×57. In fact, it falls just 0.1 inch shy of the finished length of the 7mm Remington Magnum! In my view, the 6.5×55 merits at least a mid-length action, such as on Melvin Forbes’s New Ultra Light rifles. Shorter (typical .308-length) actions require deep bullet seating that throttles performance.

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

You’ll look hard to find a better deer cartridge than the 6.5×55. Francis Sell, woodsman and rifle enthusiast whose book on blacktail deer hunting has no peer, favored the 6.5×55. Hunters coming of age in a magnum culture might question the round’s bona fides on animals as stout as elk and moose. But at modest ranges, with bullets like Norma’s factory-loaded 156-grain Oryx, it’s a sure killer. Modest recoil makes rifles pleasant to fire (read: accurate in hand!) and fast on follow-ups. In Africa the 6.5×55 – and similar 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer – felled much bigger game than moose long before anyone necked down the .375 H&H! While its compact case won’t let the Swede match the likes of the .270 ballistically, it is a fine all-around choice for big game in the Lower 48.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
June 27th, 2016

Bargain Finder 41: 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 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. Bullets.com — 6mm Dasher Brass from Norma

NRA Life Membership Offer

It’s finally here, ladies and gentlemen — factory-made Dasher brass. That means no more fireforming! This 6mm Dasher brass has been custom crafted by Norma exclusively for Bullets.com. A special blend of brass together with special treatment of the primer pockets has produced casings that will last for many firings under normal use. The necks have been specially lengthened and are .290″ from shoulder. Overall length is 1.598″ and neck walls are approximately .013″ thick. Available in packs of 100 ($109.95) or 500 ($529.95).

NOTE: This extra-sturdy brass has a thicker rim which may not work in your standard shell holder. Custom shell holder item BL12100 is designed to accommodate the heavy rim of these cases.

2. CDNN Sports — 1911-Type .22 LR Target Pistol

GSG German model 1911 .22LR Rimfire pistol handgun

Everyone should have an accurate .22 LR target pistol. This German-made GSG 1911 22LR pistol shares the look, feel, and ergonomics of J.M. Browning’s classic model 1911 so it’s good for cross-training. We’ve tried this pistol and the trigger is pretty darn good — though don’t expect it be be as nice as a S&W Model 41. But consider that the GSG costs just $249.99. By contrast, MSRP on a new Model 41 is a steep $1369.00. For cross-training and target work the GSG is a very good value.

3. Monmouth Reloading — Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 LRF, $499.00

NRA Life Membership Offer

This excellent laser rangefinder rivals other premium LRFs selling for hundreds more. Head-to-head field tests with Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski LRFs proved that the new Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 can play in that league, but at a much more affordable price point. Sig accomplishes that with tight beam divergence and state-of-the-art DSP technology which allows the Kilo 2000 to range faster (and more reliably) at longer 
distances. Optic magnification is 7X. The Kilo 2000 weighs 7.5 oz and measures 3″ x 4.2″ x 1.3″.

SAVE MORE: Right now you can save an additional $110 off every Rangefinder Monmouth Reloading sells, including the Sig Kilo 2000. To save an additional $110, use Coupon Code LRF 110. That will lower your cost to $389.00 for the Kilo 2000, which is a total steal. (Time-Limited Offer!)

4. Cabelas.com — Rock Chucker Supreme Reloading Kit

Deals of Week RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Kit

Everything you see above can be yours for just $225.00, after manufacturer’s rebate. Right now, Cabela’s is selling the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for $300.00. That’s a good deal as this Reloading Kit sells elsewhere for up to $360.00. But he’s the real incentive — if you spend $300.00 on RCBS products in 2016, RCBS will send you a $75.00 rebate. With that REBATE, your net cost is just $225.00 for the entire Kit.

5. Amazon — Motorola Walkie Talkies, $42.56 per Pair

Deals of Week Motorola Walkie Talkie Radio Weather Channel

Walkie-Talkies are “must-have” items for long-range shooting. The 22-CH Motorola MH230R Two-Way Radio is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in FRS/GMRS Handheld Radios. This under-$45.00 set offers 22 channels with a claimed range up to 23 miles (We’ve used them and they worked at 3 miles line of sight). The kit includes: 2 radios, 2 belt clips, 1 dual drop-in charger, 1 charging adapter, 2 NiMH rechargeable battery packs. Run-time is about 10 hours — plenty for a full day of shooting. There is also a newer version, the Motorola T260 for $59.00.

6. Amazon — Nikon 1-4x20mm M-223 Scope with BDC, $212.46

Deals of Week Nikon 1-4x20mm M-223 Optic Scope CMP Service Rifle

Under the CMP’s new Service Rifle Rules, you can use an optic with up to 4.5X magnification and 34mm objective. If you have money to burn, you could purchase the excellent new Nightforce 4.5x24mm SR scope for $1950.00. Or, if you would rather put your money into barrels, bullets, and brass, you can spend a whole lot less. This little Nikon 1-4x20mm M-223 can do the job and right now it’s on sale for under $215.00! You could buy NINE of these Nikons for the price of one Nightforce SR. That certainly makes you think about priorities.

7. Grafs.com — NEW Nikon Wind Meter for SmartPhones, $28.99

Nikon spot on smart phone wind meter Ballistics App

Here’s a great new gadget for under $30.00. Nikon’s new Spot On™ Ballistic Wind Meter plugs directly into the headphone port on most popular smart phones. The Spot On Wind Meter reads both wind speed and direction and inputs the data directly into Nikon’s free Spot On Ballistics Mobile App (available for iOS and Android). This allows you to quickly determine and calculate wind drift corrections without needing a separate, dedicated wind meter. When not in use, the Nikon device easily fits in a pocket.

8. Amazon – Frankford Arsenal Master Tumbler Kit, $56.65

Master tumbler reloading kit Frankford Arsenal

This Master Tumbler Kit contains everything you need to tumble rifle or pistol brass. Now on sale for $56.65, this Kit contains: Vibratory Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, Plastic Bucket, 3 lbs. Cleaning Media, and 4 oz. Brass Polish. This product has received excellent reviews from verified purchasers.

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product 1 Comment »
October 26th, 2015

Tech Tip: Changes in Humidity Can Alter Powder Burn Rates

Tech Tip Norma Powder gunpowder moisture temperature humidity

We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry.” Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.

Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).

Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”

Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”

What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.

Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from Amazon.com.

Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter

Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”

If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 7 Comments »
October 9th, 2015

Norma Video Shows Production of Bullets, Brass, and Ammo

Norma has released a fascinating video showing how bullet, brass, and ammunition are produced at the Norma Precision AB factory which first opened in 1902. You can see how cartridges are made starting with brass disks, then formed into shape through a series of processes, including “hitting [the cup] with a 30-ton hammer”. After annealing (shown at 0:08″), samples from every batch of brass are analyzed (at multiple points along the case length) to check metal grain structure and hardness. Before packing, each case is visually inspected by a human being (3:27″ time-mark).

The video also shows how bullets are made from jackets and lead cores. Finally, you can watch the loading machines that fill cases with powder, seat the bullets, and then transport the loaded rounds to the packing system. In his enthusiasm, the reporter/narrator does sometimes confuse the term “bullets” and “rounds” (5:00″), but you can figure out what he means. We definitely recommend watching this video. It’s fascinating to see 110-year-old sorting devices on the assembly line right next to state-of-the art, digitally-controlled production machinery.

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 1 Comment »
September 13th, 2015

Alliant Reloder 15 Vs. Norma 203B — The Numbers Tell All

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

In response to our Bulletin story about the availability of Norma powders at Midsouth Shooters Supply, one of our Forum members asked: “I’m having trouble finding Reloder 15 for my 6.5×47 Lapua — should I consider running Norma 203B instead?” As we’ve explained before, these two powders, both made by Bofors in Europe, are very, very similar. Here are some hard numbers that should demonstrate how virtually identical these powders really are.

Target Shooter Magazine writer Laurie Holland compared Norma 203B and Reloder 15 using data from QuickLOAD. Laurie also checked load manuals to see how listed charge weights varied for the two propellants. Laurie concluded there was very little difference between Norma 203B and Reloder 15.

Laurie Holland RatonNorma 203B vs. Alliant Reloder 15
Commentary by Laurie Holland

Running [203B and RL15] through QuickLOAD doing a ‘charge table’ run for a 130gn Berger VLD at 2.700 COAL in 6.5X47 Lapua, gives very similar positions in the table [for both powders]. The charge required to achieve 62,000 psi estimated pressure varies by a mere 0.2 grains between the pair, Norma 203B being the heavier of the two. The estimated Muzzle Velocity (MV) also varies by a mere 2 fps, RL15 estimated to produce 2,946 fps MV compared to 2,944 fps for N203B at 62,000 psi (with the parameters I used).

If they aren’t the same thing, they’re so close as to make no difference and as Forum Boss points out, they’re made by the same people (Bofors) in the same plant.

[The Berger Reloading Manual includes data for both powders] for the .308 Winchester and heavier bullets (185 to 230 grains). Maximum charges and claimed MVs are not always identical, but are so close as to be marginally different production lots of the same thing, or maybe the result of minor testing variations.

.308 Win Max Charge Weights in Grains (RL15 / N203B) (Berger Manual)

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

MVs [for the four bullet types] are close but not identical, the largest difference being for the 210s which shows RL15 producing 2,428 fps MV v 2,383 for Norma 203B.

Norma 203B Chemistry
According to the Norma Reloading Handbook #1, Norma 203B has the following composition:

85% Nitrocellulose
7.5% Nitroglycerin
2.0% surface coating
4.6% Various chemicals
0.9% Water

3,957 J/g specific energy
890 g/l specific density

For comparison, the 7.5% NG component compares to 15% in Viht N500 series powders and 10% in Ramshot TAC / Big Game / Hunter.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 4 Comments »
September 1st, 2015

Affordable Norma .22 LR Rimfire Ammo is Available Now

Norma Tac-22 Match-22 rimfire .22LR ammunition ammo

People are still complaining that affordable .22 LR rimfire ammo can’t be found. Well folks, we found some. Just call Bullets.com or Midsouth Shooter’s Supply and get yourself some Norma Tac-22 or Match-22. This is good stuff, at reasonable prices. Check out this review of Tac-22 by rimfire specialist .22 Plinkster. This Norma ammo won’t win rimfire benchrest matches, but it is plenty good enough for fun shooting, offhand practice, and tactical rimfire games.

.22 Plinkster Review of Norma Tac-22 Ammunition

Summary by .22 Plinkster (see 4:30 time mark): “I’m pretty impressed with it … I think it’s a really good deal. For six dollars and fifty cents [per box] you can’t go wrong with a box of this ammo. Out of a good bolt gun, this ammo will drive tacks.”

Bullets.com

Bullets.com has Norma Tac-22 ammo in stock at $5.45 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL7819). In addition, Bullets.com offers Norma Match-22 ammunition at $7.50 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL11887).

Midsouth Shooters Supply

Midsouth Shooters Supply has Norma Tac-22 Ammo in stock at $5.95 per 50-rd box (Item 013-2318716), and Midsouth has Norma Match-22 Ammo in stock at $7.95 per 50-rd box (Item 013-2318980).

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals No Comments »
June 6th, 2015

Powder Storage Q & A — What Are Signs of Problems?

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders), publishes a Blog that covers all aspects of hand-loading and rifle maintenance. Recently the Western Powders Blog published a Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.

Proper Powder Storage

Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.

Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.

CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)

(more…)

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
March 23rd, 2015

Norma Debuts New Lead-Free “Ecostrike” Bullet

Silver Bullet Ecostrike Bullion NormaThe Lone Ranger used silver bullets… now you can too. Well, they’re not really silver, but they look like silver and they are lead-free. Norma’s new ECOSTRIKE™ bullet features a copper core with a proprietary silver-color plating to reduce fouling. Why is Norma offering a lead-free bullet? Well, in some locations, such as California, the use of traditional, lead-core bullets has been highly restricted. The Ecostrike give hunters the opportunity to shot hard-hitting, deep-penetrating projectiles, even where lead-cored bullets are banned. Norma explains: “The Ecostrike is designed to give… penetration deep enough to reach the vital organs even on large animals. The controlled expansion and a very high retained weight guarantee a consistent behavior and deep penetration.”

Being totally lead-free, Ecostrike bullets are California-compliant, and they can be used in other regions where lead ammo is restricted. Currently, Norma plans to offer Ecostrike bullets in four popular calibers: 7mm (.284), .308 (7.62 mm), 8mm, and 9.3 mm. Spanning the range from 7mm up to 9.3 mm, Ecostrike bullets will be available for the most popular big game cartridge types. Norma also plans to produce loaded ammunition featuring the new Ecostrike bullet.

Silver Bullet Ecostrike hunting projectile lead-free ecology Norma

Silver Bullet Ecostrike Bullion Norma
“Silver Bullet” Bullion cartridges are produced by the NW Territorial Mint. The Norma Ecostrike bullets contain no silver, just copper and a proprietary plating. But they do look like silver bullets.

Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 2 Comments »