November 23rd, 2016

TEN Worst Reloading Mistakes — Do You Agree with This List?

Shooting Times Reloading Failures Mistakes Top Ten 10

Last fall, Shooting Times released an article entitled “Ten Most Common Reloading Mistakes”. Listed below are the Top Ten mistakes hand-loaders can make, at least according to Shooting Times. What do you think of this list — does it overlook some important items?

Top Ten Reloading Mistakes According to Shooting Times:

1. Cracked Cases — Reloaders need to inspect brass and cull cases with cracks.

2. Dented Cases — Dents or divets can be caused by excess case lube.

3. Excessive Powder Charge — Overcharges (even with the correct powder) can be very dangerous.

4. Primers Not Seated Deep Enough — “High” primers can cause functioning issues.

5. Crushed Primers — Some priming devices can deform primers when seating.

6. Excess Brass Length — Over time, cases stretch. Cases need to be trimmed and sized.

7. Bullets Seated Too Far Out — If the bullet is seated too long you may not even be able to chamber the round. Also, with hunting rounds, bullets should not engage the rifling.

8. Burrs on Case Mouths — Ragged edges on case mouths can actually shave bullet jackets.

9. Excess Crimp — This is a common problem with pistol rounds loaded on progressives. If case lengths are not uniform some cases will get too much crimp, others too little.

10. Inadequate Crimp — This can be an issue with magnum pistol cartridges in revolvers.

Do you agree with this list? We think some important things are missing, such as not adjusting full-length sizing dies properly. This can cause the shoulder to be pushed back too far (or not far enough). Another common mistake is using brass that is worn out, i.e. stretched in the case-head area from multiple cycles of hot loads. We also think the #1 error a reloader can make is using the wrong powder altogether. That can be a fatal mistake. See what happens when you load pistol powder in a rifle.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
November 10th, 2016

Widener’s Guide to Smokeless Powders

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener’s Reloading & Shooting Supply recently published a helpful introduction to reloading powders. Widener’s online Guide to Smokeless Powders shows the various types of powders, and explains how the differences in powder kernel/flake size and shape, and burn rate affect performance. We recommend you visit Widener’s website and read the Powder Guide in full.

Take a close look at these illustrations which show the key differences between the four main powder types: extruded (stick) powder, ball (spherical) powder, flattened ball powder, and flake powder.

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Burn Rate Basics

Widener’s Guide to Smokeless Powders also has a useful discussion of Burn Rate (a confusing topic for many hand-loaders). Wideners explains: “While a gun powder explosion in the cartridge seems instantaneous, if you slow it down you will actually find that each powder has a different ‘burn rate’, or speed at which it ignites.” This video shows powders with two very different burn rates. Watch closely.

Different burn rates suit different cartridge types notes Widener’s: “In general a fast-burning powder is used for light bullets and low-speed pistols and shotguns. Medium-rate powders are used for magnum pistols, while high-velocity, large bore rifle cartridges will need slow powders[.]

It should be noted that burn rate does not have a standardized unit of measurement. In fact, burn rate is really only discussed in comparison to other powders; there is no universal yardstick. Specifics will change by cartridge and bullet types[.]”

Permalink - Videos, Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
October 17th, 2016

Case-Trimming 101: Tips from PMA Tool

Wilson Micrometer Case Trimmer

The folks at PMA Tool, makers of arbor presses, neck-turning tools, and other case-prep tools, offered some good advice about case trimming on the PMA Tool Website. Here we reprint a PMA article that explains case trimming basics and helps you choose the right case-trimming tool for your needs.

Case Trimming Basics
Trimming the cartridge case to the proper length is a crucial step in case preparation that should not be overlooked or underestimated. The cartridge case or the rifle can be damaged, or even worse you get badly injured. In most instances cases should be trimmed after firing and sizing. Trimming new brass is necessary for a lot of wildcats and can be beneficial in some instances, but by and large, trimming new brass is not necessary for most situations (unless you are neck-turning). Cases should be trimmed after you have sized the case, because the expander ball on the decapping pin can (and will) stretch the neck. Those of us who neck size should get into the habit of trimming after sizing as well. This is a good rule of thumb to go by, and hopefully it will keep you safe during the reloading and shooting process.

Forster Case Trimmer

There are so many case trimmers out there that work, deciding which one is right for you can be confusing. Even though I have trimmed thousands of cases, using about every method possible, I can’t answer the question of what case trimmer is right for you because of all the variables that may be involved. I can, however shed some light on the subject.

The two most popular designs of trimmers either index (1) off the base or the head of the case, (2) off the shoulder or datum line of the case. There are pros and cons to each and it all depends on what you are willing to live with.

Indexing off the Base (Case Head)
Let’s talk about the first one I have listed, indexing off the base, or the head of the case. The pros to this method are that you can achieve a very accurate over all length and that is after all, what it is all about. The cons to this method are that you can get some variation doing it this way. Let me explain, the base is not always square to the body or can be damaged during firing especially if it is fired through a military style rifle with a very aggressive ejector. These cases should be discarded, but sometimes they can be overlooked. This condition can lead to an over all length that is incorrect. The case head being out of square will be corrected upon firing, however that case will wind up being shorter than the rest of your cases, possibly creating a difference in the neck tension on the bullet. The more you can do to eliminate variables in your reloads the better off you are going to be. This method can also be very slow, and if the user gets careless the result will be a inconsistent over all length.

Little Crow WFT

Indexing off the Shoulder (Datum Line)
The second method I mentioned, trimming off the shoulder or the datum line of the case, has its pros as well. I have found this to be the quickest of the methods and very accurate as well. After the case has been sized through the die the dimensions (particularly the headspace) of the cases are usually very uniform and exact, this allows the case to be trimmed by indexing off the shoulder. This method can be done very quickly, by hand, or by powering either the case, or the trimmer. You also don’t have to worry about the case heads being out of square with the body using this method. Generally the trimming time is cut in half, and this leads to greater focus on the job, without becoming careless. [Editor’s Note: The World’s Finest Trimmer (WFT) is one power device that indexes off the shoulder datum. It works fast and is very precise. The new WFT 2 Model with interchangeable trim chambers works with multiple cartridge types.]

Summary
The choice is yours to make. I hope that this was some help to you, whether you are looking for your first trimmer or looking to replace the trimmer you have. Just remember to always put safety first and accuracy second, and you will start making little bug holes in no time.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. User Submissions are welcome.
Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
October 12th, 2016

Follow These Safety Fundamentals When Hand-Loading Ammo

seven reloading safety tips powder primers brownells manual

You can never be too safe when hand-loading your own ammunition. This helpful Brownells video outlines the Seven Fundamental Reloading Safety Tips. This is important information for novice hand-loaders and a good refresher for those with reloading experience!

Summary of the Seven Safety Tips:

1. Store your reloading supplies in a safe and dry location, away from children and away from any possible source of ignition. This includes keeping your powder and primers separate.

2. Get and use respected reloading manuals, especially for new cartridges. Start low and work up slowly while watching for warning signs of pressure and/or case fatigue.

3. Locate your reloading activity where you will not be distracted. If you get interrupted, stop. (Distractions will eventually lead to mistakes.)

4. Do NOT mix powders. Keep your powders clearly marked and dated. You can use masking tape to write the date on the container.

5. If you load the same cartridge type for different firearms, make sure your ammo headspaces properly in each gun.

6. Check cases frequently. Look for split necks, case head separation or other signs of fatigue and excessive pressure.

7. If reloading military brass, be aware that case capacity is usually reduced, and initial loads should be at least 10-15% lower than published data.


Here are some other tips that will help your avoid making costly mistakes (such as using the wrong powder, or undercharging a case):

  • Powder Type — Always double-check the label on your powder containers. After placing powder in the powder measure, put a piece of tape on the measure with the powder type written on it. Some guys write the powder type on a card and place that right in the hopper.
  • Scale Drift — Electronic balances can drift. If you are using a digital powder scale, calibrate the scale with a test weight every 50 rounds or so.
  • Case Fill — If you throw more than one charge at a time, look INSIDE every case before seating a bullet. Squib charges can be dangerous if you don’t notice them before firing the next round.
  • Progressive Presses — When using a progressive press, consider using an RCBS Lock-Out Die. This will detect a low charge and stop the machine. These dies will work with RCBS, Hornady, and Dillon progressives.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 16th, 2016

Vihtavuori Powders Loading Information Online

vihtavuori reloading guide
Click image for Online Reloading Data. CLICK HERE for Printable PDF Reloading Guide.

Vihtavuori has updated and enhanced its reloading information, adding VV powder load recipes for many more cartridge types. Data is now online for 64 rifle cartridge types and 26 pistol cartridge types. You’ll find the updated reloading data on the Vihtavuori Website. Bookmark this link: www.vihtavuori.com/en/reloading-data/about-reloading.html.

The updated online information supplements the Vihtavuori Reloading Guide (2016 Edition) available in PDF format. The online Reloading Database has dedicated sections for Rifle Cartridges, Pistol Cartridges, and Cowboy Action. There is also a handy, FREE Reload Mobile App for iOS and Android.


Rifle Reload DATA | Handgun Reload DATA| Mobile Reload App

vihtavuori reloading guide

Rifle Reloading Data

Vihtavuori’s Rifle Reloading Database is now very comprehensive. Many of the popular modern match cartridges such as the 6.5×47 Lapua and 6.5 Creedmoor are now included, and of course you’ll find the 6mm PPC, 6mmBR, and 6XC. (There is no .284 Win or 7mm RSAUM data unfortunately.) You will find recommended load recipes for all the following cartridges:

.204 Ruger
.221 Remington Fireball
.222 Remington
.22 Hornet
.22 PPC-USA
.223 Remington
.22-250 Remington
.223 WSSM
.243 Winchester
.243 WSSM
6mm PPC-USA
6mmBR Norma
6 XC
6mm Remington
.240 Weatherby Magnum
6.5 Grendel
6.5 x 47 Lapua
6.5 Creedmoor
6,5 x 55 Swedish Mauser
6,5 x 55 Swedish Mauser/ SKAN
6.5-284 Norma
.25-06 Remington
.260 Remington
.270 Winchester
.270 WSM
.270 Weatherby Magnum
7 mm-08 Remington
7 x 57
7 x 64
7 mm Remington Magnum
7 mm WSM
7 mm RUM

7 x 57R
7 mm Weatherby Magnum
7,5 x 55 Swiss GP31
.30 Carbine
.30-30 Winchester
.300 AAC Blackout
7,62 x 39
.300 Savage
7,62 x 53R (7,62 Russian)
.308 Winchester
.30-06 Springfield
.300 Lapua Magnum
.300 Remington Ultra Magnum
.300 Winchester Magnum
.300 Weatherby Magnum
.30-.378 Weatherby Magnum
.300 H&H Magnum
.300 WSM
.303 British
8 x 57 IRS
8 x 57 IS (8 mm Mauser)
.338 Winchester Magnum
.338 Lapua Magnum
9,3 x 62
9,3 x 66 Sako
9,3 x 74R
.375 H&H Magnum
.416 Rigby
.444 Marlin
.45-70 Government
.458 Winchester Magnum
.50 Browning

Handgun Reloading Data

Likewise, VV’s Handgun Reloading Database is extensive. These pistol cartridges are covered:

.32 S&W Long N.P.
.32 S&W Long Wadcutter
.357 Remington Maximum
.357 Magnum
.357 SIG
.38 Super Lapua
.38 Super Auto
.38 Special
7 mm GJW
7 mm TCU
7 mm BR Remington
7,62 x 25 Tokarev
9 mm Luger

9 x 21
9 x 23 Winchester
.40 S&W
10 mm AUTO
.41 Remington Magnum
.44 S&W Special
.44 Remington Magnum
.45 ACP
.45 Colt
.45 Winchester Magnum
.454 Casull
.500 S&W Magnum
.50 AE

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 1st, 2016

Humidity and Powder Burn Rates — What You Need to Konw

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.

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August 19th, 2016

New Temp-Stable Alliant Reloder 16 Now Available

Reloder Reloader 16 Alliant Powder Propellant Bofors TZ temperature stability temp stable H4350

Here’s an important announcement for anyone who uses a powder in the 4350 range. Alliant is now shipping the all-new Reloder 16 powder. The burn rate is slightly faster than Reloder 17, and a bit slower than Varget or Reloder 15. Notably, this new Reloder 16 powder is very temp stable. AccurateShooter.com was shown “top secret” test results comparing Reloder 16 with other popular propellants, including Hodgdon Extreme series powders. The results for Reloder 16 were remarkable. Reloder 16 showed extremely constant velocities even with very high ambient temps — so this is a powder you can shoot even on hot Arizona summer days.

CLICK HERE for Reloder 16 Suggested Load Recipes

This is NOT just a slower version of Alliant’s double-based Reloder 15 (which words great in the 6mmBR and Dasher cartridges). Reloder 16 is a completely new formulation, produced in Sweden by Bofors for Alliant. Reloder 16 utilizes TZ technology, which manipulates the response of the propellant and resists the natural tendency to generate more pressure at higher temperatures and less pressure at lower temperatures.

Reloder Reloader 16 Alliant Powder Propellant Bofors TZ temperature stability temp stable H4350

As a result, Reloder 16 offers outstanding temperature stability. Based on the test results we’ve seen, if you are using H4350 or IMR 4451 currently, you should definitely give Reloder 16 a try. The powder also boasts excellent lot-to-lot consistency and contains a proprietary de-coppering additive.

Reloder Reloader 16 Alliant Powder Propellant Bofors TZ temperature stability temp stable H4350

Match and Hunting Cartridge Applications:
Alliant tells us that Reloader 16 “is ideal for traditional hunting cartridges, such as .30-06 Springfield and .270 Winchester, as well as 6.5mm target loads and tactical applications wherein temperature stability is required.” We also think the powder may work very well in these popular match cartridges: 6XC, .243 Win, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem, .284 Win, and .300 WSM. For example, Alliant’s Load Data Sheet shows a 2772 FPS load with 142gr SMKs in the .260 Rem.

Permalink New Product, News, Reloading 2 Comments »
July 2nd, 2016

TECH TIP: How to Get Optimal Results with QuickLOAD Software

In our Shooters’ Forum, many questions are asked about QuickLOAD software — how to get best results, how to use the advanced features, how to adjust for temperature and so on. To help answer those questions, here’s a short feature we first ran during SHOT Show 2012. You can also CLICK HERE for a very detailed explanation of QuickLOAD in our main site.

At SHOT Show, we had the chance to meet with German software engineer Hartmut Broemel, creator of QuickLOAD software. This software program, while not a substitute for conventional load manuals, allows shooters to evaluate a wide range of powders and bullets, comparing potential loads on the basis of predicted pressures, velocities, load density and projectile in-barrel time.

READ Full QuickLOAD Review

We took the opportunity, in the video below, to explain some of the fine points of QuickLOAD for our members. QuickLOAD, sold by Neconos.com, helps reloaders understand how changing variables can affect pressures and velocities. It can predict the effect of changes in ambient temperature, bullet seating depth, and barrel length.

In the video below we explain how to adjust the program for true case capacity, bullet seating into the lands, and other important factors. If you are a new QuickLOAD user, or are contemplating buying the $152.95 program, you should watch the video. The program isn’t perfect, but it can accelerate the load development process, and it can save you money by narrowing down the list of appropriate powders for your cartridge.

No other product currently available to serious reloaders offers as much predictive power as QuickLOAD, and you’ll find your money well spent just for the vast collection of data on bullets and cartridges. With a couple mouse-clicks you can instantly get the specifications of hundreds of bullets and cartridges. Likewise, in a matter of seconds, you can compare load density for a half-dozen powders, or compare the projected velocities of one cartridge versus another.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
April 22nd, 2016

IMR® Powders introduces IMR 4955 Enduron Powder

Hodgdon IMR Enduron 4955 temperature stable powder reduced fouling

In 2015, IMR® Powder introduced a new line of powders with Enduron® Technology. These powders are designed to address several performance gaps as powder technology has advanced. Here are key features of the Enduron line of propellants:

  • Enduron powders contain an additive that drastically reduces copper fouling in the gun barrel. Copper fouling should be minimal, allowing shooters to spend more time shooting and less time cleaning a rifle to retain accuracy.
  • The new Enduron line is insensitive to temperature changes. Whether a rifle is sighted in during the heat of summer, hunted in a November snowstorm or hunting multiple locations with drastic temperature swings, point of impact with ammunition loaded with Enduron technology will be very consistent.
  • Enduron powders provide optimal load density, assisting in maintaining low standard deviations in velocity and pressure, a key feature for top accuracy.
  • Enduron technology is environmentally friendly, crafted using raw materials that are not harmful to the environment.

Hodgdon IMR Enduron 4955 temperature stable powder reduced fouling

New IMR 4955 for Larger Cartridges
For 2016, IMR has introduced IMR 4955, a new Enduron extruded powder that is a top performer with popular cartridges such as 270 Winchester, 25-06 Remington, 280 Remington, 300 Winchester Magnum and many more. This new powder falls directly between the new IMR 4451 and IMR 7977 in burn speed, providing excellent performance for most big-game cartridges. Like all Enduron Technology powders, IMR 4955 is temperature insensitive, as shown below.

Hodgdon IMR Enduron 4955 temperature stable powder reduced fouling

Adding this propellant to the Enduron line filled in an important place on reloading benches. IMR 4955, plus the original three Enduron powders, provide excellent loading solutions for cartridges from 223 Remington to the massive 500 Nitro Express Magnum. Further, in these days of powder shortages, these new Enduron powders can fill a gap by providing comparable performance to select Hodgdon® powders. Specifically, IMR 4955 is a great choice for cartridges that work well with Hodgdon H4831.

Hodgdon IMR Enduron 4955 temperature stable powder reduced fouling

IMR Enduron 4955 is available in one-pound (1 lb.) and eight-pound (8 lb.) containers from quality reloading retailers.

Permalink New Product, Reloading No Comments »
March 13th, 2016

AmmoSeek.com Finds Ammunition and Reloading Components

Here’s a great search service that can help you locate hard-to-find ammunition and reloading components — while saving money in the process. Ammoseek.com monitors more than a dozen online vendors — checking current pricing and available inventory, for pistol, rifle, and shotgun ammunition. Need .45 acp ammo for your 1911? Just select “.45 ACP” from the “Quick Seek” list on the right. Likewise you can find .223 Rem and .308 Win Rifle ammo with one click.

Ammoseek search engine ammuntion reloading supplies

Find .22 LR Ammo Quickly
Looking for hard-to-find .22 LR rimfire ammunition? Well AmmoSeek makes it easy — you don’t even have to enter any search words. Simply click on the highlighted links for AmmoSeek’s 22LR Page.

CLICK HERE for AmmoSeek.com .22 LR Ammo Search Results

Use Ammoseek.com to Find Reloading Components Too
Ammoseek.com also lets you search for reloading components, including powder, primers, brass, and bullets. This is a huge time-saver. You can instantly check a dozen or more vendors to see if a particular type of powder is in stock. Likewise, you can quickly check for primer availability. If you have a big match coming up and are short on primers — this could solve the problem.

Ammoseek search engine ammuntion reloading supplies

Story Tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 4 Comments »
February 17th, 2016

Important Reloading Safety Tips from Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets Reloading Tips

Here are some really smart tips for hand-loaders compiled by Sierra Bullets. These suggestions were submitted by Sierra’s Facebook fans — and some are very valuable indeed. Some of these tips will help you load more accurate ammo. Other selections will help you stay SAFE — which should always be your #1 priority. For example, we concur with the advice to “Check and Double Check. Everything. Every Time”. Also definitely keep “One powder on the bench at a time” — that could be a life-saver. You may want to print these “words of wisdom” and place them on a wall in your loading room.

Reloading Safety Tips — Sound Advice

ALWAYS START LOW: “Just because a load manual says X grains of X powder with X bullet is max, your rifle could reach max pressure a grain or two before what the book says. Start low and work up.” — Walter Coats

BE SAFE: “Check and double check. Everything. Every time. Only one type of powder on the bench at a time.” — Glen Lundgren

DON’T RUSH: “Be patient, don’t be in a hurry, have fun and find your rhythm. Just tell your family you’re putting yourself in ‘time-out’. They will understand.” — Erik Dyal

POWDER RULE #1: “One powder on the bench at one time, it might save your life.” — James A. Kimery

STAY FOCUSED: “Relaxed but concentrated attention. Have fun enjoying a great hobby and pastime but stay focused.” — Jim Caldwell

POLICE LOADING AREA: “Keep your reloading bench area clean and put items away ASAP.” — Eric J. Ford

BE PATIENT: “Focus, Focus, Focus — be patient — it AIN’T a race.” — William Stanley

RECORD YOUR LOADS: “Write down on a small card what you’re loading – bullet weight, powder weight, type of powder, and primer. And put it in the powder hopper. I am unloading .45 FMJ because I forgot what type powder was in the hopper.” — Michael Conniff

HAVE a PROCEDURE for INTERRUPTIONS: “If, for any reason, you have to leave the bench while in the process of dropping powder charges, turn the next case to be charged upside down in the loading block so you know where you left off.” — Bill Tinsley

LABEL EVERYTHING: “OCD is a good habit to have with your loading bench. CLEARLY label everything!” — Andy Pynckel

HAVE a GOAL: “Never start reloading or developing a load without a specific goal in mind. Second keep meticulous records.” — Peter Eick

RESEARCH THE JOB: “Read all you can about it before you start!” — Keith Shively

KEEP TRACK: “I put all my primed brass upside down (primer up) and as I charge the casing, I (of course) flip it primer down.” — Mark Ewing

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January 17th, 2016

New Vihtavouri Reload App for Mobile Devices

Vihtavuori RELOAD Android iOS Apple iphone smartphone App Application Play Store

Are you a 6 PPC shooter who relies on Vihtavuori N133? Or maybe you’re a .45 ACP Bullseye shooter who uses N310 or N320. Or perhaps you favor N150 in your 6mmBR or .308 Winchester. If you are a Vihtavuori powder user (or are considering trying these fine Finnish powders), then check out Vihtavuori’s new FREE mobile App.

The new Vihtavuori Reload App lets you keep track of your favorite reloading recipes, and manage load development. You can log load recipes for as many firearms and cartridge types as you want. The App holds all relevant data — cartridge class, bullet, loads specs. The Vihtavuori Reload App also provides instant access to the latest Vihtavuori Reloading Data as well as other Vihtavuori information. If you want hard copy of your load recipes, just email the recipe(s) to your personal e-mail account and then you can print out the info with a networked printer.

Download for iOS from Apple App Store | Download for Android from Google Play Store

Vihtavuori RELOAD Android iOS Apple iphone smartphone App Application Play Store

For over 90 years, Vihtavuori has been known for producing high-quality propellants with reliable ballistic performance, long shelf-Life, and a wide selection of burn rates. Vihtavuori powders are manufactured to very high standards, and many world records have been set with Vihtavuori propellants. For more information, visit www.Vihtavuori.com.

Permalink New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
January 4th, 2016

Updated Hodgdon and IMR Relative Burn Rate Chart

Hey guys, you’ll probably want to download this new Powder Burn Rate Chart issued by Hodgdon/IMR. This new table shows the latest IMR powders including the Enduron series (IMR 4166, 4451, 4955, 7977), shown in green below. This chart provides useful information for all hand-loaders. When doing load development, and testing one powder versus another, it’s generally wise to choose propellants that share the same relative burn rate, as least for starters. NOTE: Hodgdon powders are shown in blue, while IMR standard powders are shown in yellow. DOWNLOAD Chart HERE.


NEW POWDER BURN RATE TABLE from IMRPowder.com

Hodgdon IMR Winchester Burn Rate Powder speed table relative table chart

CLICK HERE to Download Chart as PDF File.

Story find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
November 3rd, 2015

Tune and Tweak Your ChargeMaster for Better Performance

Do you own an RCBS electronic powder dispenser? If you do, take the time to watch this ChargeMaster Tuning video from 8541 Tactical. This nine-minute video demonstrates how to re-program your Chargemaster to “tune” the dispensing process. The video shows the exact programming procedures to follow, step-by-step. Some folks want a faster powder flow — others tune their machines for a more reliable drop (with fewer over-runs). One cheap and popular modification is to insert a 1″-long section of a McDonald’s straw in the ChargeMaster’s silver dispensing tube. This works surprisingly well to smooth kernel drop and prevent “clumping” that can cause an over-charge. The McDonald’s straw MOD is demonstrated in this video, starting at the 6:22 mark.

Large-Diameter Dispensing Tube Mod
Many folks have had success with the McDonald’s straw modification demonstrated in the above video. However, some folks would like to get even better flow performance (with virtually no clumping). Forum Member Frank B. has come up with a new option using a brass hose fitting with a large outside diameter. The hose fitting (with tape wrapped around the barbed nose section) is placed inside the RCBS dispensing tube (be sure to have some kind of wrap — you don’t want metal-on-metal). Here’s how the unit looks installed:

ChargeMaster tuning tweak brass fitting powder dispenser

Frank tells us: “I have found a cure for the over-throw problem. It is a simple 1/4″ barbed hose nipple. I wrapped a couple layers of tape around the barbed end for a snug fit. With this in place, I have thrown 100+ charges of Varget without a single overthrow. The ID of the barbed end needs to be approximately 3/16″ to feed a steady flow. This works because of the larger ID at the drop.”

Frank adds: “You can see in the photo that the powder is not stacking up. You can watch it drop one grain at a time. Hope this will take the aggravation out of your case charging.” For best performance with this brass fitting MOD, we recommend de-burring and smoothing out the front edge of the brass fitting over which the kernels drop.

Brass fitting mod suggested by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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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 »
May 17th, 2015

NEW! Noble Sport VECTAN Powders Now at Grafs.com

Noble Sport Vectan gunpowder propellant stick powder tubal powder

Shooters rejoice — we now have new propellant options for rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Noble Sport is now importing its VECTAN series of powders, which are available now at Grafs.com. What’s even nicer, the VECTAN bottles contain 1.1 pounds of powder, so you get a little extra for your money (compared to traditional 1-pound containers). Check the VECTAN Reloading Data Page to see what Nobel Sport powders best suit your needs.

Noble Sport Vectan gunpowder propellant stick powder tubal powder

CLICK Here for VECTAN Load Data and Burn Rate Chart (PDF)

(more…)

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March 12th, 2015

Precision Reloading Has Popular Powders in Stock Now

precision reloading powder in-stock Hodgdon IMR Norma Alliant

Looking for powder? Precision Reloading just received a pretty large shipment of Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester Powders. This vendor also has popular Accurate, Alliant, Norma, and Vihtavuori Powders in stock. Sorry, no Varget or H4350 arrived, but Precision Reloading does have many popular propellants now. Powders currently IN STOCK at Precision Reloading (as of 9:00 am, 3/12/2015):

Hodgdon: H4831sc, H4831, H4198, H414, H335, H380, Hybrid 100V, H50BMG, Titegroup, 800X, Superformance, LeveRevolution (and others).
IMR: 4166 (New Enduron), 4227, 4320, 4350, 4451 (New Enduron), 4895, 7828SSC,
Alliant: RL33, RL50, 4000MR, PowerPro Varmint
Norma: 200, 201, 202, 203B (like RL15), 204, MRP, URP
Accurate: 4064, 4350, 5744, Magpro
Vihtavuori: N133, N135, N160, N340, 20N29

Reloading tip: If you currently use Alliant Reloder 15, Norma 203 B is very, very close. It is made by the same manufacturer, in the same plant, with the same burn rate and kernel size. Of course, for safety, you should still start low and work up your load incrementally.

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February 21st, 2015

Rick Jensen Temp-Tests New IMR 4451

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Rick Jensen, Captain of the U.S. F-Open Rifle Team, recently tested some of the new IMR 4451 powder. Rick and other team members were looking for a good powder that could replace Hodgdon 4350 which is difficult to obtain currently. The makers of IMR 4451 claim that it is not sensitive to temperature and that it delivers competitive accuracy. So far, Rick’s tests, done with a .284 Winchester and 180gr Berger Hybrids, appear to confirm those claims. Rick posts:

“I did a little informal powder comparison of H4350 versus the new IMR 4451. Rifle used was a Kelbly Panda with a 30″, 1:8.75″ twist 5R Bartlein barrel [chambered in .284 Win]. All charge weights were 50.0 grains using CCI BR2 primers. I was very impressed with this new powder and I believe it to be equal to H4350 as far as temperature sensitivity.

I did not test for accuracy but I will tell you my groups were pretty much equal between the two and all were in the .2-.3 MOA range. I will defiantly be shooting more of this powder in the weeks to come, assuming the supply chain will allow. It looks very encouraging to finally have a alternative to H4350 that we might actually be able to buy.”

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Chronograph Results with Temps from 23° F to 101°
Here are chronograph results of a comparison test between IMR 4451 and H4350. Rick’s rifle was cleaned and allowed to cool between each test. Five fouling shots were fired before each test. Important: Note that for both Test #1 and Test #2, the powder order is reversed in the mid-temp fields (IMR 4451 first, then H4350). For the low and high temp entries, H4350 is listed first.

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Here are the IMR 4451 fired cases, displayed Left to right, coldest to the hottest (in terms of case temp when fired). All charge weights were the same: 50.0 grains.

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 15 Comments »
January 29th, 2015

Reloading 101: Seven Fundamental Safety Guidelines

seven reloading safety tips powder primers brownells manual

You can never be too safe when hand-loading your own ammunition. This helpful Brownells video outlines the Seven Fundamental Reloading Safety Tips. This is important information for novice hand-loaders and a good refresher for those with reloading experience!

Summary of the Seven Safety Tips:

1. Store your reloading supplies in a safe and dry location, away from children and away from any possible source of ignition. This includes keeping your powder and primers separate.

2. Get and use respected reloading manuals, especially for new cartridges. Start low and work up slowly while watching for warning signs of pressure and/or case fatigue.

3. Locate your reloading activity where you will not be distracted. If you get interrupted, stop. (Distractions will eventually lead to mistakes.)

4. Do NOT mix powders. Keep your powders clearly marked and dated. You can use masking tape to write the date on the container.

5. If you load the same cartridge type for different firearms, make sure your ammo headspaces properly in each gun.

6. Check cases frequently. Look for split necks, case head separation or other signs of fatigue and excessive pressure.

7. If reloading military brass, be aware that case capacity is usually reduced, and initial loads should be at least 10-15% lower than published data.


Here are some other tips that will help your avoid making costly mistakes (such as using the wrong powder, or undercharging a case):

  • Powder Type — Always double-check the label on your powder containers. After placing powder in the powder measure, put a piece of tape on the measure with the powder type written on it. Some guys write the powder type on a card and place that right in the hopper.
  • Scale Drift — Electronic balances can drift. If you are using a digital powder scale, calibrate the scale with a test weight every 50 rounds or so.
  • Case Fill — If you throw more than one charge at a time, look INSIDE every case before seating a bullet. Squib charges can be dangerous if you don’t notice them before firing the next round.
  • Progressive Presses — When using a progressive press, consider using an RCBS Lock-Out Die. This will detect a low charge and stop the machine. These dies will work with RCBS, Hornady, and Dillon progressives.
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December 30th, 2014

Life and Death of a Barrel — Can Barrel Useful Life Be Predicted?

We can predict, with some certainty, how long a light bulb will last (in use), or a shingle roof, or even a nuclear reactor. But how about barrels? Is there a way to reliably estimate barrel life based on known characteristics? This article explains one effort to quantify barrel life…

Rifle Barrel Life CalculatorHow long will a barrel last before the accuracy “goes south”? There are so many variables involved (powder type, bore diameter, bullet coatings etc.) that it’s hard to predict. You might say “Well, my buddy has a .243 and he got 1500 rounds before the throat was shot out” — those kind of comparisons can be useful, but they’re not very scientific, and they won’t help much if you’ve got a gun in a new chambering (such as the 6.5×47) for which long-term test results are lacking.

Is there a more reliable way to predict barrel life — one that will work for a broad range of calibers? Well, Forum member MikeCr has developed an Excel spreadsheet that accounts for a number of variables, and gives a pretty good estimate of useful barrel life, whether you’re shooting a .223 Rem or a 338 Lapua Magnum. Mike’s program predicts barrel life using five variables: 1) Bullet Diameter; 2) Powder Charge weight; 3) Powder Heat Potential (KJ/kg); 4) Pressure (in psi); and 5) Bullet Coating (yes/no). Mike provides a table with Heat Potential ratings for most popular powder types. The user needs to know the pressure of his load. This can be estimated with QuickLOAD.

You can download the lastest version of Mike’s spreadsheet below. You’ll need Excel or an Excel viewer to open the file.

Click to Download Spreadsheet: Barrel Life Spreadsheet (Latest Version)

Shown below is Mike’s Spreadsheet, with variables for a 6BR shooting 105gr “naked” bullets with 30.3 grains of Hodgdon Varget powder. The formula predicts 2401 rounds of barrel life. That corresponds pretty well to what we’d expect for a 6BR — about 2500 rounds.

Barrel Life ProgramBarrel Life Program

Mike observes: “There has been a lot of discussion lately related to cartridge design and resulting barrel life. This is a really important factor to consider amongst a myriad of choices. Barrel life is controversial, and subjective. There are no clear-cut standards for comparison. But a few years ago, I put together a spreadsheet based on Bart Bobbit’s rule of thumb. It worked pretty good, only occasionally failing some tests when validated against posted barrel lives.

According to Ken Howell, I had to account for pressure. And Henry Child’s powder temperature testing provided another piece needed. So, I’ve tweaked it here and there to pass more tests. From 223 Rem to 300 UltraMagnum. Another element added, but turned off, is shot interval. I would need way more tests to lock in on this. But everyone knows, the faster you shoot, the worse the barrel life.

Anyway, another factor hard to define is ‘accurate’ barrel life. This cannot be quantified without standards. Barrels are replaced when expectations are no longer met. I feel that a [barrel] passes peak potential in a finite period due to throat erosion. But that don’t mean it’s toast, if it still shoots well enough. It’s just as likely that many of us never see that peak potential anyway. It’s a slippery thing. Point-blank BR competitors will toss a barrel when it leaves the 1s. I could get another 4000 rounds from it, and be content with its performance, I’m sure.”

NOTE: Mike says: “This spreadsheet may show a lower barrel life than you prefer. But it pretty well spotlights cartridges to stay away from if you plan much time at the range or in dog town.”

Editor’s Comment: Mike’s spreadsheet is a helpful tool, but it is NOT a definitive “take-it-to-the-bank” indicator of barrel life. Mike cautions that predicting barrel life involves so many different factors (including how hot the barrel is run), that the task is a bit like predicting tread life on car tires. Still, the spreadsheet is very helpful. It can certainly warn us that some chamberings (such as the 6-284) are likely to be barrel burners. That can help you make a smart decision when choosing a chambering for your next rifle.

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