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.
The 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” 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.
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In January, during SHOT Show, Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia inked a contract with Norma to produce ultra-high-quality .284 Winchester and 6mm Dasher brass. This was great news for competitive shooters. The .284 Win is the caliber to beat in F-0pen competition and the 6mm Dasher holds most of the records in the 600-yard benchrest game.
We’ve just learned that the new Norma .284 Win brass is in production and should be available in five to six weeks. Shiraz tells us: “Production is in full swing in Sweden and the picture below shows the very first .284 Win case that came off the line. They [.284 Win cases] are in testing and we expect to have them here in USA by the end of April.”
Bullets.com should start taking pre-orders in the near future. Shiraz explained: “As far as pre-orders for the Norma .284 Win brass go, we are waiting for final pricing. When we have that, we will make the .284 Win brass active on our Bullets.com website and will take orders. Those orders will be shipped in the order they were received.”
NOTE: This is just a QuickDESIGN drawing, NOT the Norma brass blueprint. Dimensions may vary slightly, so do not use this to spec reamers or other tools. Wait until you can measure the actual brass.
What about 6mm Dasher Brass from Norma?
Dasher fans will have to wait a little longer. Shiraz Balolia says: “It may be months for the Dasher brass. We will keep on them, but if I were to guess, it will be late summer 2015″.
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Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. Watch video review below.
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.”
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Bullets.com has contracted with Norma to produce 1,000,000 pieces of .284 Winchester and 6mm Dasher brass (500,000 of each type). This is big news for competitive shooters. The .284 Win cartridge is a proven winner in F-Class competition and the 6 Dasher is a record-setting mid-range benchrest cartridge. It’s tough to beat the Dasher at 300-600 yards, and the .284 Win is probably the most successful cartridge for F-Open shooters.
Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia (left) and Norma Managing Director Paul-Erik Toivo “ink the deal”.
Shooters should be excited about these new offerings. Bullets.com’s contract with Norma calls for advanced production methods to make sure the new brass is truly “match-grade” and long-lasting. To ensure that primer pockets stay tight for many firings, the caseheads on the new brass will be double-stamped for improved hardness and strength. Additionally the new brass will go through an additional draw stage to ensure ultra-uniform casewall thickness. With these extra manufacturing steps, this new 6mm Dasher and .284 Win brass should be the best brass Norma has ever produced, as Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia explains in the video below:
Shiraz Balolia Explains the Qualities of the New Brass
Shiraz reports: “Normally, Norma has about 25 steps of quality control (QC) during the production process of brass. They told us that our first shipments will have almost 30 steps to make sure that the brass is absolutely flawless when it leaves the factory.”
For illustration only — actual specifications may be slightly different.
6mm Dasher without Fire-Forming Hassles
Until now, if you wanted to shoot a Dasher, you had to go through the time-consuming and laborious process of forming brass from the parent 6mmBR Norma case. You had to blow the shoulder forward, either through fire-forming or hydro-forming. Now that’s all changed — you will soon be able to take perfect 6mm Dasher brass out of the box, and “load and shoot”.
The Deal is done. New Norma .284 Win brass will start arriving in the USA in March, 2015, while the new Dasher brass is expected in late summer 2015.
IMPORTANT — The above diagrams were made 4 years ago with QuickDESIGN. They are for illustration purposes ONLY. These are NOT reamer prints, and there may be small differences compared to the Norma .284 Win and 6mm Dasher brass ordered by Bullets.com. Do NOT spec reamers based on the above illustrations. Wait ’til we have the actual Norma brass to measure.
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If you haven’t visited the Norma website recently, you should click over to www.norma.cc/en/ (the ‘en’ is for English version). 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:
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 and Cartridge 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 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.
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USAMU Service Rifle shooter/instructor SSG Brandon Green set a new national record this past week, shooting a 500-33X in the individual Aggregate, National Match Course (NMC) with metallic sights. Green was near-perfect in the 200-yard Rapids, shooting an amazing 100-9X. Green was shooting a Tubb 2000 bolt-action rifle chambered in 6XC. He set the new record using Norma factory ammo. Yep, this was factory 6XC ammo, right out of the box.
National Record Score Card of SSG Brandon Green
SSG Green is the current NRA High Power National Champion and Interservice Rifle Champion. He and the rest of the USAMU rifle team have trained hard for the 2014 season. Yet Brandon joked about his record-setting performance, noting that the record was shot with his “back-up” gun. On his Facebook page, Brandon posted: “500-33X NMC. Not positive, possibly a record [Editor: Yes it was.] Not too bad for a #2 gun.” Not too bad indeed, Brandon. Congratulations on this achievement. This bodes well for Green’s goal to win a second straight National High Power Championship at Camp Perry this summer.
Note: After setting a National Record with 500-33X during the individual match with his Tubb 2000, SSG Green followed with a 498 the following day using a Service Rifle during the team match. Remarkable.
File photo of Green with Service Rifle (posed publicity photo).
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On the Norma website, in the products area, you’ll find dozens of illustrated cartridge profiles. Many of these have been augmented with “Caliber Histories” providing background information, both historical and practical. These entries will benefit those interested in the origins and development of popular hunting and match cartridges. Many of the “Caliber Histories” also include information on bullets and twist rates.
CLICK HERE to access the Hunting Products page on Norma’s website. There, on the left, you’ll see a vertical list of 58 different cartridges. Click on any cartridge name and you’ll see an illustrated “overview”. For most (but not all) listed cartridges, there is also a gray tab labeled “Caliber History”. Click that tab to see a cartridge diagram and a few paragraphs explaining the cartridge’s lineage and design features. For example, the .280 Remington Caliber History explains: “This cartridge was constructed in 1957 for Remington’s model 740 Autoloader. It is basically a .30-06 necked down to accept 7mm bullets, but the shoulder was moved forward a little in order to prevent the cartridge from being loaded into .270 Win. rifles by mistake.” Many of the Caliber History entries offer recommended bullet weights and barrel twist rates. Shown below is the 6.5×55 Swede’s Caliber History:
Article tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Here’s good news for short-range benchrest shooters. The two most popular powders for the 6PPC, Vihtavuori N133 and Accurate LT-32, are now in-stock at Powder Valley Inc. (PVI). In fact, Powder Valley even has the hard-to-find 8-lb jugs of N133. If you need LT-32 or VV N133, visit PowderValleyinc.com.
– PVI has 1-lb containers of LT-32 for $24.90
— PVI has 1-lb containers of N133 for $30.35
— PVI has 8-lb jugs of N133 for $196.50.
Consider Norma Powders for Large Cartridges
Can’t get H4350 or H4831sc? If you need slower-burning powders for your .260 Rem, .284 Win, 7mm WSM, or magnum caliber, consider Norma powders. While the popular Alliant and Hodgdon medium-to-slow burn-rate powders are still very hard to find, you can get similar Norma powders from many vendors right now, no waiting.
Powder Valley has Norma 204, 217, MRP, and URP in stock. MidwayUSA.com has 204, 217, MRP, and URP in stock. MidsouthShootersSupply.com has Norma 204 in stock. The Lapua Burn Rate Chart (shown below) places URP in the burn range of H4350 and Vihtavuori N150, and Norma says “burning rate for URP is close to our 204 but on the quick side.” Norma 204 is slower than H4350 but a little faster than H4831sc. MRP is close to the original H4831. Download Chart as PDF.
Norma 217 does not show on the Lapua chart, but it is a good powder for the heavy magnums. Norma says that “Norma 217 is slightly slower than the discontinued MRP2. It was developed for the 30-378 Weatherby from start. Matches the .338 Norma Mag and .338 Lapua Mag perfect with heavy bullets. It is also a good candidate for [overbore cartridges] such as 7mm Rem Mag[.]”.
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Norma is making a big push to expand its presence in the North American market. As part of this effort, Norma is introducing seven (7) new types of cartridge brass for 2014. We’re pleased to report that Norma-USA will be importing top-quality brass for the 6.5 Grendel, and 6.5 Creedmoor, two popular target cartridges. In addition, for 2014, Norma will offer 7mm RUM, 7mm Blaser Magnum, 300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK), .300 RUM, and the .338 Blaser Mag. The Norma brass we have shot in other chamberings (6 PPC, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, .243, 7mm RSAUM) has all been excellent, giving good accuracy. Case weights were very consistent and the neck-wall thickness was very uniform, particularly with the PPC and BR brass. The new 300 BLK brass is an important offering for AR shooters. (NOTE: You can also make 300 BLK cases from Norma or Lapua .221 Fireball brass).
Though the annealing “shadow” may not be as visible as with Lapua brass, the case necks of Norma brass cartridges are indeed annealed near the end of the manufacturing process. This assures more consistent neck tension — something critical to accuracy. Most of the new cartridge brass offerings should be be available at vendors by early April, 2014. You can get Norma brass from Bullets.com, Grafs.com and Midsouth Shooters Supply, as well as many other online vendors.
New Norma-USA Brass Offerings for 2014:
7mm Blaser Magnum
300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK)
.338 Blaser Magnum
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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We know many readers have been searching high and low for components and high-quality ammunition, particularly for popular chamberings such as the .308 Winchester. Well Santa delivered something nice for you .308 shooters. Bullets.com received a large shipment of Norma-brand Tac .308 ammo. This is good stuff — Norma brass loaded with a quality 150gr Norma FMJ bullet. This Tac-308 ammo is now in stock and On Sale for $53.50 for fifty (50) rounds at Bullets.com. If you can find this elsewhere, you’ll pay $65.00 or more per box. And remember, you’ve got quality Norma brass that will last for many reloadings after the ammo is fired. When you consider the value of the brass for reloading, this deal is even more attractive.
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Norma USA has released the new Norma Reloading Manual Expanded Edition. To mark Norma’s 110 years in the ammunition industry, Norma is publishing its second reloading handbook (the first was released in 2004). The Norma Reloading Manual has been updated with new cartridges, components, and recipes. This hard-back book now covers hundreds of cartridges for hunters and target shooters. Load data (using Norma bullets and powders) is presented for most American cartridges and many European cartridges. In addition, you’ll find an extensive discussion of the history and science of smokeless powders. The new Norma Reloading Manual is designed for all handloaders — from novice to advanced. Inside the book you’ll find solid reloading advice, plus a history of Norma, one of the world’s leading producers of brass, bullets, and loaded ammunition. If you employ Norma brass or bullets or use Norma powders, this new Reloading Manual can be the “go-to” reference book on your loading bench. Priced at $34.99, the Norma Reloading Manual is available from Norma-USA’s authorized dealers. It is not yet listed on Amazon.com, but we to see it there within a few months.
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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.
Norma 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)
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:
2.0% surface coating
4.6% Various chemicals
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.
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Norma announced that Paul-Erik Toivo will take over as CEO of Norma Precision AB, replacing Torb Lindskog who is retiring after 17 years at Norma’s helm. Toivo is a well-respected executive with decades of international industrial experience. He has held senior positions within Cloetta, and the SAKO- Metso- and latest the Isku concerns. Toivo states that Norma, a division of RUAG, is looking to expand its market in the United States: “We will intensify the efforts to grow in the world, and especially in the US. The cooperation with our sister company within RUAG Ammotec will also be strengthened”
Torb Lindskog retires after leading Norma for 17 years. “I am very grateful for these fantastic years at Norma, together with wonderful colleagues and I now look forward to a somewhat less hectic routine, even though I will be part of the Norma board, and keep my Presidency of AFEMS (Assoc. of European Mfgs. of Sporting Ammunition) until 2015. I wish both Norma and Paul-Erik all the best for the future.”
Norma Precision AB, which is part of the Swiss RUAG concern, has annual revenues of 270 Million Swedish Kroner ($41,068,890 USD). With a workforce of 190 employees, Norma markets cartridge brass, bullets, powders, and loaded ammunition. All production, from raw material to finished product, takes place in Åmotfors of Värmland, Sweden.
News Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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We all know that reloading components are in very short supply these days — bullets, brass, powder — you name it. Every day we get calls and emails from guys trying to find these items. Here’s a tip for those of you who need high-quality brass: Midsouth Shooters Supply carries Norma Brass, and Midsouth has this brass for many popular cartridge types IN STOCK now. Here’s a partial list of unprimed Norma brass available for purchase at Midsouth as of April 12, 2013:
NECO a vendor of specialty reloading products include QuickLOAD software, recently revealed some impressive 6.5 mm bullet offerings — a new CNC-turned solid brass 107gr bullet and the hard-to-find Norma 130gr bullet (in both naked and moly-coated versions).
Solid Brass DaVinci 6.5mm Bullets
The new solid brass NECO DaVinci Match Grade 6.5mm burner is an interesting High BC VLD-style design. Precision-machined on Swiss CNC machines, these bullets show exceptional dimensional and weight uniformity. And you won’t ever need to “tip” these bullets. The DaVinci 107-grainers feature a precision-drilled drilled hollow point and machined meplat. The DaVinci 107s are made from high-grade free machining brass. This is softer than copper but much harder and more durable than lead. If you’re wondering about the milled grooves in the body of the bullet, those are there to reduce the bearing surface area — a common design feature on solids. NECO is claiming: “Great lubricity resulting in less pressure than a solid copper or a jacketed bullet.” We haven’t tested this milled bullets yet but we hope to try them out soon in a 6.5×47 we have in the works. Initial tests by the manufacturer have soon good accuracy.
Thanks to a promotional offer from NECO, these new .264 caliber, 107gr bullets are more affordable than most other lathe-turned designs. Now through January 14, 2013, a 100-ct box of solid brass DaVinci 6.5mm bullets is $75.00. That’s not cheap, but it’s not outrageous when you considers some jacketed match bullets now run close to $50.00 per box. Currently only 107gr DaVincis are for sale, but NECO plans to offer 120gr 6.5mm solids in the future.
Norma 6.5mm 130gr Match Bullets
In Europe, High Power-style shooting with 6.5mm rifles is extremely popular. In Germany and throughout Scandinavia, thousands of shooters compete in matches with 6.5×55 target rifles, notably the Sauer STR 200. One of the most popular projectiles is Norma’s 130gr match bullet. NECO now sells this bullet design in both naked (Golden Target) and moly-coated (Diamond Line) versions. Diamond Line 130s are moly-coated by Norma at the factory under license with NECO.
Both naked and coated Norma 130-grainers are affordable, priced at $34.95 per 100ct box, or $164.95 per 500ct box. Shooters have praised Norma’s 6.5mm 130gr match bullets. Check out these user reviews from MidwayUSA.com:
“Bullet has an excellent Litz G7 BC and a shorter ogive than the 130gr Bergers, making them more magazine friendly. Experience in my 26″ 1:8 barrel shows peak accuracy around 2900 fps with H4350, with another small node around 2960 fps.” — Paul, Sellersberg, IN
“Bought a box of 500 since the Berger 130s were in short supply due to competition season. First impressions: very well made, consistent weight, ogive, and bearing length. Loaded some up for my Savage 6.5×47 Bartlein 1:8″-twist 28″ and during load development at 200 yards I could shoot very small groups… with .409″ nice 5-shot clusters on a windy day. They seem to like just kissing the lands and you do not have to hot-rod them. Will buy another box of 500, these are very good mid range competition bullets and will use them in my next club match. Highly recommend!” — Steve, Nashville, TN
To see a 6.5×55 Sauer STR 200 rifle in action, watch the video. In this ‘Stangskyting’ competition, shooters have just 25 seconds to hit the target [at] 200-300m distance as many times as possible. In the video, a shooter named Børklop, using his Sauer STR 200, puts 16 rounds on target in just 25 seconds. (He starts with a round in the chamber and cycles through three, 5-round magazines). Børklop’s performance, with just a sling and iron sights, is impressive. Note that Børklop manipulates the Sauer’s bolt with his thumb and index finger, while pulling the trigger with his middle finger.
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions
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As you may know, Norma is working hard to make its products more readily available in the USA. Norma has put a new distribution system in place, and quality Norma ammunition and cartridge brass is now carried by many major vendors. Leading the way is Midsouth Shooters’ Supply, which now stocks a full selection of Norma brass and a large inventory of Norma loaded ammunition. Most of the Norma cartridge brass types now come in 25-unit boxes. This allows you to try out the Norma brass without breaking the bank. For example, 25 pieces of Norma 6mm PPC brass (item 013-10260105) costs just $20.25. You can “buy it and try it” without a big up-front investment.
SAVE 5% on Norma Brass and Ammo Orders! Midsouth Shooters Supply has announced a special discount just for Accurateshooter.com readers. Just enter PROMO CODE 6mmNORMA during check-out to get 5% off select Norma merchandise. Listen to the Audio clip below to learn more about this special discount!
HOW TO GET 5% OFF CLICK “PLAY” to hear Midsouth’s Michael Ryan explain how to use the 6mmNORMA Promo Code. Save 5% on your order!
Target shooters will be pleased to find Norma cartridge brass in these accurate calibers: .222 Rem, .223 Rem, 6mm PPC, 6mmBR, 6XC, .260 Rem, 6.5×284, .308 Win, .300 RSAUM, and .300 WSM. Varmint Hunters should consider these other offerings: .204 Ruger, .220 Swift, 22-250, and .243 Winchester. Big game hunters will find a huge selection of cartridge types — everything from .25-06 to .375 H&H. Of course Norma offers nearly all the popular deer-hunting cartridges, such as 6.5×55, .270 Win, .270 WSM, 7mm-08, 7mm Rem Mag, .280 Rem, .30-06, and .300 Win Mag.
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German Salazar, a top small-bore and centerfire shooter, uses the 6XC cartridge in some long-range matches. German has tried a variety of different types of brass for this cartridge, including necked-up 22-250 brass and Norma 6XC brass from David Tubb’s (Superior Shooting Systems). German’s measurements reveal significant differences in water capacity, as well as neck-wall thickness.
6XC Source Brass Dimensions
Case Capacity and Pressure Issues
German has noted significant variances in capacity among the different “flavors” of brass. Norma-headstamp 6XC brass has 49.3 grains of H20 capacity, while Norma 22-250 brass holds only 47.8 grains of H20. Third-generation Tubb-brand 6XC brass is somewhere in the middle, with 48.6 grains of capacity. German did not have a chance to measure the high-quality Lapua 22-250 brass introduced in 2010. NOTE: These differences in case capacity are large enough that you MUST adjust your load to the brass type.
We ran a 6XC QuickLOAD simulation with 115gr bullets and H4350 powder. QuickLOAD predicted that the observed difference in case capacity can result in pressure differentials as much as 4,500 psi! In other words, if you switch from Norma 6XC brass to a lesser-capacity brass type, your pressures could rise 4,500 psi (using H4350 and 115gr bullets).
We recommend sticking with the Norma 6XC brass. It is available from DavidTubb.com for a reasonable $69.00 per 100 cases. These days, that’s cheaper than many other types of premium imported cartridge brass.
Neck Thickness and Chambering Issues
German noted that the different types of available brass varied quite a bit in neck-wall thickness — from 0.0121″ (Norma 22-250) to 0.0140″ (Tubb 3rd Gen). Consequently the diameter of loaded rounds also varied. Depending on the brass you chose, your loaded rounds could be 0.267″ at the neck or 0.271″ (with no-turn brass). That’s a huge difference and it’s something you need to take into account when you have your chamber cut for a barrel. For a cross-the-course rifle, you might want a chamber with at least .003″ total clearance over a loaded round. Obviously, to achieve that clearance, you’ll need to set chamber dimensions base on your preferred type of brass.
NOTE: The research for this story was conducted in 2010. Dimensions may have changed with more recent production, so you should double-check the case capacity of your own 22-250 or 6XC brass.
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American Rifleman Magazine is now available in a web-friendly online version. The eZine version of American Rifleman navigates like a conventional print magazine — so you start with an index at the front and you can flip pages from front-to-back. You can also navigate with thumbnails (on the left) and zoom in and out if you find items of interest. Those who prefer reading articles in a magazine-style format should enjoy the American Rifleman digital eZine.
Excellent Article about Norma
In the lastest April digital edition of American Rifleman (on page 122), you’ll find “A Century of Bullets and Brass”, a fascinating 20-page history of the Norma company. Founded by the Enger brothers from Norway, Norma started producing boat-tail 6.5mm bullets in 1902. Using once-fired brass, Norma began loading 6.5×55 ammunition in 1914, and the company started making its own Norma-headstamp cartridge brass in 1917.
Other highlights of the April 2012 edition include:
Interviews with Top Shot Winners Dustin Ellermann and Chris Reed (p.144).
Review of the new Sig Sauer 224 compact pistol by Field Editor Wiley Clapp (p. 94).
Discussion of the “Castle Doctrine” which allows citizens to defend home and family (p. 30).
Previews of new Guns, Optics, and Gear at NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in St. Louis.
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