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January 20th, 2016

Primer Seating Depth Uniformity and Accuracy

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Yesterday’s post covered primer seating depth. This article offers many useful tips — including a clever way to measure primer seating depth with ordinary jaw-type calipers. Visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.

USAMU reloading tip

Primer Seating Depth — Why Uniformity is Important
The first concern is for safety: for that reason, primers should be seated below flush with the case head. One primary cause of “slam fires” (which includes catastrophic failures from firing out of battery) is “high,” or protruding primers. These stand above the case head, are readily felt with simple finger-tip inspection, and may fire when slammed by the bolt face and/or a floating firing pin in feeding.

Here at the USAMU, we ensure our rifle primers generally run -0.003″ to -0.005″ below the case head. Maximum primer depth is -0.006″ and minimum is -0.002″. Upon inspection, any cases with high primers will be corrected before loading. Aside from improving ballistic uniformity, ensuring the primers have proper compression upon seating also helps reduce possible misfires. These can be caused by the firing pin’s expending part of its energy either seating the primer or having to deform the primer cup enough to reach the anvil.

SMART TIP: How to Measure Primer Seating Depth with a Set of Calipers
A zeroed, precision set of standard calipers will also measure primer seating depth. (You don’t really need a custom tool.) Merely close the jaws and place the calipers’ narrow end squarely across the center of the case head/primer pocket. Keeping the narrow end in full contact with the case head, gently open the jaws, and the center bar will extend until it reaches the primer face. Voilà! Primer depth is read on the dial. Taking a few measurements to ensure accuracy and repeatability is recommended until one is familiar with this technique.

Brass and Primer Defects Can Cause Seating-Depth Variances
Factors affecting variance of primer seating depth include brass maker and lot number — all primer pockets are not created equal! Another factor is the primer manufacturer and individual primer lot. We’ve encountered occasional primer lots by top-quality makers that included some primers with slight defects affecting seating. While finely accurate, these primers were out-of-round or had small slivers of cup material protruding which affected primer feeding or seating depth.

Has one’s brass been fired previously? If so, how many times and the pressures involved also affect future primer seating. Obviously, this is another factor in favor of segregating one’s high-accuracy brass by maker, lot number, and number of times fired, if possible.

Measuring Primer Seating Depth with Purpose-Built Gauge
The next question, “How do we measure primer depth?” happily can be answered using tools already owned by most handloaders. [See tip above on how to measure depth with calipers.] At the USAMU, we have the luxury of purpose-built gauges made by the talented machinists of the Custom Firearms Shop. One places the primed case into the gauge, and the dial indicator reads the depth quickly and easily. The indicator is calibrated using a squarely-machined plug that simulates a case head with a perfectly flush-seated primer, easily giving meaningful “minus” or “plus” readings. The gauge is usable with a variety of case head sizes.

Primer Seating with Progressive Presses
Methods of primer seating include hand-seating using either hand held or bench-mounted tools, vs. progressive-press seating. Progressive presses may either seat by “feel,” subjective to each operator, or by using a mechanical “stop” that positively locates primers nearly identically every time. Testing here has shown that we get more uniform seating with the latter type progressive press, than we do with a high-quality bench-mounted tool lacking a positive stop.

Primer stop depth adjustments on our main progressive presses involve turning a punch screw in and out. While the screw is not calibrated, fine “tick” marks added to the top of the press help users gauge/repeat settings by “eye” efficiently with practice. Then, once a sample of primed cases is run to confirm the range and accuracy of depths, the identifying lot number and maker is noted on the press for reference. When it’s necessary to switch brass/primer lots, changes are easy to make and settings are easily repeated when it’s time to switch back.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
January 6th, 2016

New Products Featured in Shooting Industry Magazine

Shooting Industry January product showcase 2016

You can see scores of new-for-2016 products in the free January digital edition of Shooting Industry magazine. The new product offerings are found in a 28-page feature article starting on page 76 and ending on page 104. In those pages you’ll find new items from leading companies such as: Alliant, Browning, Hodgdon, Hornady, Lyman, Nikon, Ruger, Vortex, and Weaver Optics.

Important New Products
You can also see the new products in Shooting Industry magazine’s regular website, on the New Product Showcase Page. As a teaser, here are three new products from that page — new Alliant Reloder 16 powder, a new Bench-top primer tool from Lee, and a handy Lyman maintenance mat. We are VERY interested in new Reloder 16 propellant. Alliant says RL16 has a burn rate similar to H4350/IMR4350, which would make RL16 ideal for many popular match cartridges.

NEW Product — Alliant Reloder 16 Powder

Alliant Reloder 16 Powder

Alliant Powder Reloder 16 is a propellant that performs consistently across temperature extremes. Its burn rate is slightly faster than Reloder 17’s — well within the 4350 burn speed band. This makes it ideal for traditional hunting cartridges as the .30-06 and .270 Win. It will work as well with 6.5mm target loads and tactical applications where temperature stability is required. The Alliant Powder Reloder 16 contains a de-coppering additive but no toxic DNT or DBP.

NEW Product — Lee Auto Bench Prime

Lee Precision Auto Bench Prime Priming Tool

The new Auto Bench Prime from Lee Precision is an easy-to-use bench-mounted priming tool with a large lever that provides good “feel” with plenty of mechanical advantage. The symmetrical design allows for right- or left-hand operation. The Auto Bench Prime includes priming assemblies for large and small primers and a folding tray with a built-in primer-flipping feature. This allows direct filling from large primer boxes. The unit uses special, but inexpensive priming tool shell holders.

NEW Product — Lyman Maintenance Mat

Lee Precision Auto Bench Prime Priming Tool

The new Essential Rifle Maintenance Mat from Lyman Products is a smart item that any gun-owner can use. This 10″ x 36″ cleaning/assembly mat features small compartments for tools, parts, and cleaning item. The mat’s firm yet cushioned synthetic rubber surface protects your firearms. The Mainteance Mat’s molded-in compartments keep small parts and screws handy, yet out of the way. The Lyman mat is chemically resistant and cleans up easily.

Permalink New Product, Reloading No Comments »
December 16th, 2015

How Changing Primers Can Affect Velocity in the .308 Win

primer CCI Wolf .308 Win Reloading

It may seem obvious, but you need to be careful when changing primer types for a pet load. Testing with a .308 Win rifle and Varget powder has confirmed that a primer change alone can result in noteworthy changes in muzzle velocity. To get more MV, you’ll need a more energy at some point in the process — and that potentially means more pressure. So exercise caution when changing primer types

We are often asked “Can I get more velocity by switching primer types?” The answer is “maybe”. The important thing to know is that changing primer types can alter your load’s performance in many ways — velocity average, velocity variance (ES/SD), accuracy, and pressure. Because there are so many variables involved you can’t really predict whether one primer type is going to be better or worse than another. This will depend on your cartridge, your powder, your barrel, and even the mechanics of your firing pin system.

Interestingly, however, a shooter on another forum did a test with his .308 Win semi-auto. Using Hodgdon Varget powder and Sierra 155gr Palma MatchKing (item 2156) bullets, he found that Wolf Large Rifle primers gave slightly higher velocities than did CCI-BR2s. Interestingly, the amount of extra speed (provided by the Wolfs) increased as charge weight went up, though the middle value had the largest speed variance. The shooter observed: “The Wolf primers seemed to be obviously hotter and they had about the same or possibly better ES average.” See table:

Varget .308 load 45.5 grains 46.0 grains 46.5 grains
CCI BR2 Primers 2751 fps 2761 fps 2783 fps
Wolf LR Primers 2757 fps 2780 fps 2798 fps
Speed Delta 6 fps 19 fps 15 fps

You can’t extrapolate too much from the table above. This describes just one gun, one powder, and one bullet. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) as they say. However, this illustration does show that by substituting one component you may see significant changes. Provided it can be repeated in multiple chrono runs, an increase of 19 fps (with the 46.0 grain powder load) is meaningful. An extra 20 fps or so may yield a more optimal accuracy node or “sweet spot” that produces better groups. (Though faster is certainly NOT always better for accuracy — you have to test to find out.)

WARNING: When switching primers, you should exercise caution. More speed may be attractive, but you have to consider that the “speedier” primer choice may also produce more pressure. Therefore, you must carefully monitor pressure signs whenever changing ANY component in a load.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 14th, 2015

Primer Pocket Rocket — Good Reason to Wear Safety Glasses

Primer Blown Gas defect winchester casehead

Our friend Grant Guess recently had a “close encounter” with a bad primer. An apparently defective primer caused part of the casehead on one of his rounds to blow out. This, in turn, allowed high pressure gas to vent through the damaged primer pocket. Take a good look, boys and girls. This is yet another very good reason to wear safety glasses. The cartridge was a 6.5-06, handloaded in necked-down Winchester-headstamp .270 Win brass. Grant reports:

“I had a blow through between the primer and the primer pocket today. The action was really smoking and I got a face full of gas. This was a reasonably light charge. Thank God for safety glasses.

I should also mention that it appears there is a 3/64 hole that is halfway between the primer and the primer pocket. Like it burned a small jet hole through both of them.”

Could this happen to you? It just might. On seeing this damaged case, one of Grant’s Facebook friends, Chris D., observed: “Search the internet, you will see a lot of these pin hole ‘in the corner’ failures. Obviously Winchester has some issues with the LR primers.”

Careful Examination Reveals Apparent Primer Defect
After this incident, Grant examined the damaged case: “I pinned the flash hole and it is not over-sized or under-sized. The primer clearly has an area where it had a defect. At [50,000 CUP], it doesn’t take much of a defect to cause issues. There was a slight bit of pucker-factor on the next shot….”

Primer Blown Gas defect winchester casehead

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 11 Comments »
June 3rd, 2015

LR Primer Types Tested for Velocity, ES/SD, Group Size and More!

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed
Click Photo to read full test results in Target Shooter Magazine.

If you shoot a .308 Win, or any cartridge that uses a Large Rifle (LR) primer, you should read an important new article by Laurie Holland in Target Shooter Magazine. Holland, a talented shooter from the UK, tested no less than sixteen (16) different large primer types using a custom F-TR target rifle shot from the bench. Laurie loaded .308 Win ammo* with 16 LR primer varieties and then tested for average velocity, ES/SD, and group size. This may be the most comprehensive and thorough LR primer test ever done. Here are the primer types tested:

CBC Magtech 9½
CCI 200 LR
CCI BR2 Match
CCI 250 Magnum
Federal 210
Federal 210M Match
Federal 215M Magnum Match
Fiocchi Large Rifle
Kynoch Large Rifle
Murom KVB-7 (PMC LR)
Norma Superflash LR
PMC LR Magnum
Remington 9½ LR
Remington 9½ M Magnum
Sellier & Bellot LR
Winchester WLR

LINK: READ Large Rifle Primer Test Complete (16 Primer Types)

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed
Test Rig: Osprey Rifles-built F-TR rifle with Savage PTA action, 32″ Bartlein 1:12″-twist ‘Heavy Palma’ barrel, and Dolphin Gun Company modular stock with an F-Open/Benchrest fore-end.

Some of Laurie’s results may surprise you. For example, would you guess that Sellier & Bellot primers had the lowest ES, by a significant margin? And get this, among ALL the primers tested, Rem 9½M Magnum primers produced the lowest velocity, while Rem 9½ LR (non-magnum) primers yielded the highest velocity. (The total velocity spread for all primers was 35 fps). That’s counter-intuitive and it’s odd that Rems were at opposite ends of the speed spectrum among ALL primers tested.

“The rationale for doing side-by-side tests is to see what effect primer choice has on ballistics, i.e. average velocities and MV consistency. There are a great many views on the subject, a few based on tests (including primer flame photography) but most apparently hearsay.” — Laurie Holland

Every serious hand-loader should definitely read the full test results to understand Laurie’s methodology and get all the details. This is an important test, with significant findings. But if you can’t spare the time right now, here are some highlights below:

Primer with Lowest Velocity: Remington 9½ M Magnum (2780 fps)
Primer with Highest Velocity: Remington 9½ LR (2815 fps)
Primer with Lowest ES/SD: Sellier & Bellot LR (12/3.1 fps)
Primer with Highest ES/SD: Remington 9½ M Magnum (47/14.0 fps)
Primer with Smallest Group Size: Remington 9½ LR (0.43″ average, three 5-shot groups)
Primer with Biggest Group Size: CBC Magtech 9½ (0.7″ average, three 5-shot groups)

Editor’s Comment: Laurie shot three, 5-shot groups at 100 yards with each primer type. The average group size for the top six primers varied by only 0.10″ (0.43″ to 0.53″), so one can’t conclude that one type is much better than another. Total group size variance (from best to worst) was 0.27″.

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed

“The biggest surprise to me … came from an elderly (at least 10 years) lot of Czech Sellier & Bellot standard caps with an ES of 12 and SD of 3.1 fps, way below those of the nearest competitor. By contrast to the Fiocchis, they were an almost slack fit in the cases and this may have contributed to their consistent performance.” — Laurie Holland

NOTE: Values in chart are based on 15-Shot strings. The ES/SD numbers will therefore be higher than is typical with five-shot strings.

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed

Testing 16 primer types was a huge task — we commend Laurie for his hard work and thoroughness. This extensive test is an important contribution to the “knowledge base” of precision shooting. Laurie’s findings will doubtless influence many hand-loaders who hope to produce more consistent ammunition, or achieve better accuracy. Credit should also be given to Target Shooter Magazine for publishing the results. Well done gentlemen…


*Reloading method for Test Ammo: “Test batches consisted of 16 or 17 rounds for each primer, charges thrown by an RCBS ChargeMaster and checked on lab-quality electronic scales, adjusted if necessary to within ± 0.04gn, so any charge weight variation would be under 0.1 grain which equates here to 5 fps.”
Permalink - Articles, Reloading 21 Comments »
May 28th, 2015

New Lever-Arm Precision Primer Press from Bullets.com

Bullets.com Grizzly Bald Eagle Precision Priming Primer tool press

Bullets.com has released a new, advanced handle-actuated primer seating device. Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia tells us: “We have designed a new bench-mounted Bald Eagle Primer Press. It seats primers very consistently and you can adjust the depth of the primer in .002″ increments. I have been using one for months. In fact, I used it for the Canada win and also during the Nationals last year where our Team won the National Championships.”

Bullets.com Grizzly Bald Eagle Precision Priming Primer tool press

(more…)

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 8 Comments »
April 15th, 2015

How It Works: Stunning 3D Animation Shows Ammo Being Fired

GECO Ruag Ammotec RWS ammo 3D animation videoHere’s a great video from German ammo-maker GECO (part of the Swiss RUAG group of companies). Employing advanced 3D rendering and computer graphics, this animation unveils the inside of a pistol cartridge, showing jacket, lead core, case, powder and primer. Next the video shows an X-ray view of ammo being loaded in a handgun, feeding from a magazine.

Then it really gets interesting. At 1:32 – 1:50 you’ll see the firing pin strike the primer cup, the primer’s hot jet streaming through the flash-hole, and the powder igniting. Finally you can see the bullet as it moves down the barrel and spins its way to a target. This is a very nicely-produced video. If you’ve ever wondered what happens inside a cartridge when you pull the trigger, this video shows all. They say “a picture’s worth a thousand words”… well a 3D video is even better.

For Best Viewing, Click Gear Symbol and Select HD Playback Mode

GECO Ruag Ammotec RWS ammo 3D animation video

GECO Ruag Ammotec RWS ammo 3D animation video

GECO Ruag Ammotec RWS ammo 3D animation video

GECO Ruag Ammotec RWS ammo 3D animation video

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 5 Comments »
January 6th, 2015

Chain Fire! What Happens When a Primer Column Detonates

What can happen when the bottom-most primer in a primer feed tube goes off? A big bang, that’s what. Some or all of the primers in the vertical feeding tube can go off in a chain detonation. That’s exactly what happened to Dustin Ellermann, Top Shot Season 3 Champion. Scary experience, but thankfully Dustin was not injured. He writes: “Super thankful that I was wearing my Wiley X eye protection this weekend when I was reloading some .223 rounds. My press detonated nearly 100 small rifle primers. Shown here is the magazine feed tube. Not fun but it could have been much worse. Stay safe!”

RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonation

When working with progressive reloading presses, you should definitely wear eye protection. Dustin’s chain detonation experience proves that — without a doubt. Remember you only have one set of eyes!

APS Strips — Alternative to Primer Tubes
RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonationWhen you stack a column of primers in a single metal tube, you’re asking for trouble. As Dustin Ellermann learned, when one primer fires, the entire column can follow suit in a chain detonation. Thankfully, you do have options when it comes to primer feeding on a progressive press. RCBS developed an innovative primer system for its Pro-2000 progressive press. Instead of being stored in a vertical tube, primers are placed in flat, plastic “APS” strips, with a ring of plastic separating each primer. Moving horizontally, primers are never stacked, so the chance of a chain detonation is reduced dramatically. The re-usable APS strips are color-coded for different primer types. You can buy CCI “pre-loaded” primer strips, or you can insert any brand of primers into strips using an RCBS strip-loader tool.

RCBS Pro-2000 with APS Strip Priming System

AccurateShooter.com Editor Uses Strip Primers
This Editor owns an RCBS Pro-2000 progressive press (manual-indexing version). The RCBS strip-priming system was one key reason I selected the RCBS Pro-2000 over similar-priced progressives from Dillon and Hornady. I believe the strip primer system is safer, more positive, and easier to use. Before I purchased my RCBS progressive, I “road-tested” the competition. I loaded hundreds of rounds on each of four different progressives: Dillon 550B, Dillon 650, Hornady Lock-N-Load, and RCBS 2000. I was concerned about the primer feed tubes on the Dillons, and I found the RCBS rotary powder measure was much more precise (and easier to adjust) than the sliding bar system on the Dillon machines. The RCBS priming system was definitely more fool-proof than the system on the Hornady press (a first-generation L-N-L that had issues with primer feeding). After “test-driving” blue, red, and green brand progressives extensively, I settled on the RCBS Pro-2000. A decade later, I still think I made the right choice. I like the APS strips for big jobs, and I can also use them in the RCBS hand-priming tool (shown below). With the strips, its easy to prime 20 or 40 cases at a time, and then switch to another type of primer for comparison testing.

RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonation

Permalink - Videos, Reloading 4 Comments »
November 29th, 2014

New Hand Depriming Tool from Frankford Arsenal

Many shooters prefer to deprime their fired cartridge cases before other operations (such as neck-sizing and full-length sizing). In addition, when cleaning brass with an ultrasonic system, it’s not a bad idea to remove primers first. That way the primer pockets get cleaned during the ultrasonic process.

To deprime cases before sizing or cleaning you can use a Depriming Die (aka “decapping die”). This pushes out the spent primer without changing the neck or body of a case. Such decapping dies work fine, but they do require the use of a press.

New Handheld Primer Removal Tool From Frankford Arsenal
Here’s a new tool that allows you to deprime cartridge cases without a press. This new hand-tool from Frankford Arsenal will deprime (and capture primers) conveniently. You can deprime your cases while watching TV or relaxing in your favorite chair.

deprime deprimer, de-prime decap decapper primer Frankford Redding Lee priming die

This handy depriming tool is very versatile. With a universal, cylinder-style cartridge-holder, the tool can deprime a wide variety of cartridge types from .20 caliber up to .338 caliber. Spent primers are captured in a removable spent primer catch tube. With die-cast metal construction, this tool should last through many thousands of depriming cycles. MSRP is $54.99.

Will This Tool Work with Small Flash Hole Brass?
This new depriming tool will be introduced at SHOT Show in January 2015. We have not been able to measure the decapping shaft diameter, so we do not know whether this hand tool will work with small flash-holes found on Lapua benchrest brass (such as 220 Russian and 6mmBR). We’ll try to answer that question at SHOT Show. This tool is so new the specs are not yet listed on Frankford Arsenal’s website.

Product find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader contributions.
Permalink New Product, Reloading 2 Comments »
August 5th, 2014

Don’t Bust Your Brass — Adjust Your Decapping Rod Correctly

One of our Forum members complained that he wasn’t able to set his primers flush to the rim. He tried a variety of primer tools, yet no matter what he used, the primers still didn’t seat deep enough. He measured his primers, and they were the right thickness, but it seemed like his primer pockets just weren’t deep enough. He was mystified as to the cause of the problem.

Well, our friend Boyd Allen diagnosed the problem. It was the decapping rod. If the rod is adjusted too low (screwed in too far), the base of the full-diameter rod shaft (just above the pin) will contact the inside of the case. That shaft is steel whereas your case is brass, a softer, weaker metal. So, when you run the case up into the die, the shaft can actually stretch the base of the primer pocket outward. Most presses have enough leverage to do this. If you bell the base of the primer pocket outwards, you’ve essentially ruined your case, and there is no way a primer can seat correctly.

The fix is simple. Just make sure to adjust the decapping rod so that the base of the rod shaft does NOT bottom out on the inside of the case. The pin only needs to extend through the flash hole far enough to knock the primer out. The photo shows a Lyman Universal decapping die. But the same thing can happen with any die that has a decapping rod, such as bushing neck-sizing dies, and full-length sizing dies.

Universal decapping die

Whenever you use a die with a decapping pin for the first time, OR when you move the die to a different press, make sure to check the decapping rod length. And it’s a good idea, with full-length sizing dies, to always re-check the height setting when changing presses.

Lee Universal Decapping Die on SALE for $9.89
Speaking of decapping tools, Midsouth Shooters Supply sells the Lee Universal Decapping Die for just $9.34 (item 006-90292), a very good deal. There are many situations when you may want to remove primers from fired brass as a separate operation (prior to case sizing). For example, if your rifle brass is dirty, you may want to de-cap before sizing. Or, if you load on a progressive press, things will run much more smoothly if you decap you brass first, in a separate operation. The Lee Universal Decapping Die will work with cartridges from 17 Fireball all the way up to 45-70. However, NOTE that the decapping pin supplied with this Lee die is TOO LARGE for LAPUA 6.5×47, 6BR, 220 Russian, and Norma 6 PPC flash holes. Because the pin diameter is too large for these brass types, you must either turn down the pin, or decap with a different tool for cases with .059″ flash-holes. Otherwise, the Lee Decapping Die works well and it’s a bargain.

Lee universal decapping die

Permalink Reloading 3 Comments »
May 2nd, 2014

Sinclair’s Reloading Video Series Is Worth Watching

Sinclair International has produced an eight-part video series on metallic cartridge reloading, hosted by Sinclair’s former President Bill Gravatt. The entire series can be viewed (for free) via Sinclair’s “How-To Videos” archive. While this set of videos starts with the basics, it covers many more advanced aspects of reloading as well. Accordingly, both novice and experienced reloaders can benefit from watching the eight videos. We think everyone should watch Video No. 2, which outlines the hazards of reloading and provides guidelines for safe reloading practices.

Sinclair International Reloading Videos

We also strongly recommend Video No. 4 to readers who are getting started in reloading. This “How Things Work” segment covers the sequence of events inside the chamber (and barrel) when the cartridge is fired. The video includes helpful graphics that show what happens to the primer, powder, cartridge, and bullet when the round is fired. The video also illustrates “headspace” and explains how this can change after firing. We think this video answers many common questions and will help reloaders understand the forces at work on their brass during the firing process.

Watch Firing Sequence Video

Permalink - Videos, Reloading No Comments »
November 16th, 2013

.308 Winchester — Large vs. Small Flash Hole Test

Conventional .308 Winchester brass has a large primer pocket with a large, 0.080″-diameter flash hole. Last year, Lapua began producing special edition .308 Win “Palma” brass that has a small primer pocket and a small flash hole, sized 1.5mm (.059″) in diameter. Tests by U.S. Palma Team members showed that the small-flash-hole .308 brass possibly delivers lower Extreme Spread (ES) and Standard Deviation (SD) with some bullet/powder/primer combinations. All things being equal, a lower ES should reduce vertical dispersion at long range.

Why Might a Small Flash Hole Work Better?
The performance of the small-flash-hole .308 brass caused some folks to speculate why ES/SD might be improved with a smaller flash hole. One theory (and it’s just a theory) is that the small flash hole creates more of a “jet” effect when the primer fires. Contributing Editor German Salazar sought to find out, experimentally, whether this theory is correct. German explained: “During one of the many internet forum discussions of these cases, Al Matson (AlinWA) opined that the small flash hole might cause the primer flash to be propagated forward more vigorously. In his words, it should be like shooting a volume of water through a smaller nozzle, resulting in a flash that reaches further up the case. Now that kind of comment really sparked my curiosity, so I decided to see what I could see.”

More Primer Testing by Salazar
You can read more about this test and other primer experiments on RiflemansJournal.com.

Salazar Primer Tests: Small Rifle Primer Study | Large Rifle Primer Study

Large and Small Flash Hole .308 Cases — But Both with Small Primer Pockets
To isolate the effect of flash hole diameter alone, German set up a test with the two types of .308 case that have a small primer pocket: Remington BR brass with a 0.080″ flash hole and Lapua Palma brass with a 0.062″ flash hole. NOTE: German reamed the Lapua brass to 0.062″ with a Sinclair uniforming tool, so it was slightly larger than the 0.059″ factory spec. The Remington brass has a .22 BR headstamp as this brass was actually meant to be re-formed into .22 BR or 6 BR before there was factory brass available for those cartridges.

.308 Winchester Flash Holes

German set up his primer testing fixture, and took photos in low light so you can see the propagation of the primer “blast” easily. He first tested the Remington 7 1/2 primer, a primer known for giving a large flame front. German notes: “I thought that if there was a ‘nozzle effect’ from the small flash hole, this primer would show it best. As you can see from the photos, there might be a little bit of a flash reduction effect with this primer and the small flash hole, the opposite of what we expected, but it doesn’t appear to be of a significant order of magnitude.”

Remington BR case, 0.080″ Flash Hole, Remington 7.5 Primer.

Lapua Palma case, 0.062″ Flash Hole, Remington 7.5 Primer.

Next German tested the Wolf .223 primer, an unplated version of the Small Rifle Magnum that so many shooters use. German notes: “This is a reduced flame-front (low flash) primer which has proven itself to be very accurate and will likely see a lot of use in the Lapua cases. With this primer, I couldn’t detect any difference in the flash produced by the small flash hole versus the large flash hole”.

Remington BR case, 0.080″ Flash Hole, Wolf .223 Primer.

Palma case, 0.062″ Flash Hole, Wolf 223 Primer.

German tells us: “I fired five or six of each primer to get these images, and while there is always a bit of variance, these are an accurate representation of each primer type and case type. You can draw your own conclusions from all this, I’m just presenting the data for you. I don’t necessarily draw any conclusions as to how any combination will shoot based on the pictures.”

Results of Testing
Overall, looking at German’s results, one might say that the smaller diameter of the small flash hole does not seem to have significantly changed the length or size of the primer flame front. There is no discernible increased “jet effect”.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 7 Comments »
June 4th, 2013

RCBS Hand Priming Tool with Universal Shell Holder

RCBS Universal priming toolMany careful reloaders prefer to use a hand-tool for seating primers. The majority of short-range benchrest shooters seat one primer at a time, using finely-machined hand tools, such as the Sinclair priming tool Such tools offer unrivaled “feel” during the seating process, but they are slow to use and require that you handle primers with your fingers. If you’re a fumble-fingers type like this Editor, you’ll drop a primer now and then. That’s why I prefer a hand tool that keeps the primers in a strip or a tray.

We think one of the best affordable priming tools on the market is the latest RCBS hand tool. RCBS’s Universal Hand Priming Tool boasts some many nice features. The tool now shares the Universal shell-holder we liked so much in the RCBS APS (strip-priming) hand tool. An opposed set of spring-loaded jaws allows you to prime nearly all sizes of cases, without the need for conventional shell-holders. This makes the tool faster and more convenient if you load a variety of calibers. And you’re never “out-of-luck” if you can’t find the right shell-holder. However, you do have to change the “pusher” shaft when you switch from small primers to large primers or vice versa.

The universal shell-holder has another important benefit. With opposing jaws holding the casehead, this allows the case to “float” and align itself as the primer is seated. This may help primers seat more consistently every time. With most other hand-priming tools, the case is held by a conventional shell-holder. This leaves about 40% of the rim unsupported on one side. If you actually look closely at cases as you seat primers with conventional tools, you’ll see the case tilt in the shellholder as the primer is inserted. In the RCBS, by contrast, the case stays straight as the primer goes in. The new unit also shares its ergonomic grip (with plenty of leverage) with the APS model. A redesigned primer tray accommodates all brands of primer packages–you can easily load 100 primers at a time without worrying about spills. A unique Primer Safety Gate shields the primer being inserted from the remaining primers in the tray. That’s an important safety feature. The RCBS Universal Priming Tool retails for under $60.00 at major vendors such as Grafs.com, product #RCBS90201.

RCBS Universal Hand Priming Tool Instructions (PDF File).

RCBS $10 CASH-BACK Rebate
RCBS is currently offering a $10 Mail-in Rebate good with the purchase of at least $50.00 in RCBS products. Purchase must be made between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013 and coupon must be received by Jan. 31, 2014. If you prefer, you can choose 100 Speer bullets rather than $10 cash back. CLICK HERE for RCBS $10 Mail-in Rebate Form.

Here are MidwayUSA user reviews for this tool:

“I have been reloading for 34 years and I don’t know why I didn’t buy one of these tools years ago. Everything about it is great. Changing from large primer to small primer was very easy. Ergonomic fit in the hand is good. Loading primers into the tray is no problem. The universal shell holder is a plus. I rate this product a 10″. — Keith McC., NH

“Primers flip as they should, and they are seated to a uniform depth. The universal shell holder is great! I reload .223 up to the Sharps 45-120 with no problem. Also as a few have said buy two and make each a seperate large and small primer unit. I happen to like it very much as it makes priming easy and portable.” — Tom H., NY

“This is a very well-made tool. I do not like the changing from small to large primers as it is a little bit of a time waster and a awkward. I think it is just a matter of time before one of the parts gets lost. If the price was a little lower I would just buy two. Much more substantial than the Lee which I have been using. I rate it 4 stars, deducting for price and the way you have to change between large and small. Works great however.” — Fred, FL

Permalink Gear Review 3 Comments »
May 10th, 2013

Large vs. Small Flash Holes in .308 Win Brass

Conventional .308 Winchester brass has a large primer pocket with a large, 0.080″-diameter flash hole. In 2010, Lapua began producing special edition .308 Win “Palma” brass that has a small primer pocket and a small flash hole, sized 1.5mm (.059″) in diameter. Tests by U.S. Palma Team members showed that the small-flash-hole .308 brass possibly delivers lower Extreme Spread (ES) and Standard Deviation (SD) with some bullet/powder/primer combinations. All things being equal, a lower ES should reduce vertical dispersion at long range.

Why Might a Small Flash Hole Work Better?
The performance of the small-flash-hole .308 brass caused some folks to speculate why ES/SD might be improved with a smaller flash hole. One theory (and it’s just a theory) is that the small flash hole creates more of a “jet” effect when the primer fires. German Salazar (Rifleman’s Journal Editor) sought to find out, experimentally, whether this theory is correct. German explained: “During one of the many internet forum discussions of these cases, Al Matson (AlinWA) opined that the small flash hole might cause the primer flash to be propagated forward more vigorously. In his words, it should be like shooting a volume of water through a smaller nozzle, resulting in a flash that reaches further up the case. Now that kind of comment really sparked my curiosity, so I decided to see what I could see.”

More Primer Testing by Salazar
You can read more about this test and other primer experiments on RiflemansJournal.com.

Salazar Primer Tests: Small Rifle Primer Study | Large Rifle Primer Study

Large and Small Flash Hole .308 Cases — But Both with Small Primer Pockets
To isolate the effect of flash hole diameter alone, German set up a test with the two types of .308 case that have a small primer pocket: Remington BR brass with a 0.080″ flash hole and Lapua Palma brass with a 0.062″ flash hole. NOTE: German reamed the Lapua brass to 0.062″ with a Sinclair uniforming tool, so it was slightly larger than the 0.059″ factory spec. The Remington brass has a .22 BR headstamp as this brass was actually meant to be re-formed into .22 BR or 6 BR before there was factory brass available for those cartridges.

.308 Winchester Flash Holes

German set up his primer testing fixture, and took photos in low light so you can see the propagation of the primer “blast” easily. He first tested the Remington 7 1/2 primer, a primer known for giving a large flame front. German notes: “I thought that if there was a ‘nozzle effect’ from the small flash hole, this primer would show it best. As you can see from the photos, there might be a little bit of a flash reduction effect with this primer and the small flash hole, the opposite of what we expected, but it doesn’t appear to be of a significant order of magnitude.”

Remington BR case, 0.080″ Flash Hole, Remington 7.5 Primer.

Lapua Palma case, 0.062″ Flash Hole, Remington 7.5 Primer.

Next German tested the Wolf .223 primer, an unplated version of the Small Rifle Magnum that so many shooters use. German notes: “This is a reduced flame-front (low flash) primer which has proven itself to be very accurate and will likely see a lot of use in the Lapua cases. With this primer, I couldn’t detect any difference in the flash produced by the small flash hole versus the large flash hole”.

Remington BR case, 0.080″ Flash Hole, Wolf .223 Primer.

Palma case, 0.062″ Flash Hole, Wolf 223 Primer.

German tells us: “I fired five or six of each primer to get these images, and while there is always a bit of variance, these are an accurate representation of each primer type and case type. You can draw your own conclusions from all this, I’m just presenting the data for you. I don’t necessarily draw any conclusions as to how any combination will shoot based on the pictures.”

Results of Testing
Overall, looking at German’s results, one might say that the smaller diameter of the small flash hole does not seem to have significantly changed the length or size of the primer flame front. There is no discernible increased “jet effect”.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 9 Comments »
January 8th, 2013

Outstanding Primer Seating Tool from 21st Century Shooting

The tool-makers at 21st Century Shooting have come up with a very slick new Precision Hand-Priming Tool. This extremely well-made, benchrest-grade unit raises the bar among single-primer seating tools. Feel is great, changing shell-holders is simple, and nothing else on the market offers better control over primer seating depth. The tool’s precision-adjusting head provides clicks in .0025″ increments for precise seating depth. The tool’s body, internals, and shell-holders are stainless, while the handle is anodized aluminum. Price is $118.00 for the tool itself. Shell-holders (sizes from 17 Remington up to .338 Lapua Magnum) cost $7.99 each.

21st Century Priming Tool Review
By Boyd Allen
I have been priming cases, with various hand-priming tools, for about three decades, and in the process have pretty much tried them all, from least to most expensive. When I found out that this new 21st Century tool was adjustable for seating depth, I wondered about that. After all, what do I, who believes in seating by feel, need with adjustable seating depth? Well…..I was wrong. Let me explain.

Why Adjustment for Primer Seating Depth Is Important
Most hand-seating tools do not have an adjustment for how far up the priming punch comes up into the shell holder. As a result, when priming a case with a deep pocket, especially if there has been some wear of the tool’s linkage, the finger/thumb lever may contact the tool’s body before the primer is fully seated. Having a primer seated too high can cause a myriad of problems. Prior to this, the only seater that I had used that had an adjustable linkage was the Sinclair tool, and adjusting its linkage requires disassembly — regular disassembly if you want to keep it perfect. That’s not convenient. The Sinclair is good tool, but a pain in the neck to adjust.

Precision Control Over Seating Depth — With Click Adjustment
The 21st Century Priming Tool offers quick and easy depth adjustment (unlike its rival from Sinclair). The 21st Century unit can be adjusted in precise increments (.0025”) more quickly than you can read this sentence. The knurled head of the tool is threaded onto the body, which has a very sturdy ball and spring detent indexing system that is easy to adjust and precise. Clicks are secure and positive. With this feature, you can set the tool so that the handle is in any position (distance from the tool body) that you find convenient, when the primer is fully seated. Additionally, since leverage increases as the handle approaches the tool body, different stopping points afford differing mechanical advantages (more or less effort required) and sensitivity. By doing a little experimenting, I have found a point of adjustment that give me better feel for when the primer hits the bottom of the pocket, without overshooting the mark, while keeping the force requirement within a range that is comfortable when priming a large number of cases.

Quick and Easy Shell-Holder Changing
Changing shell holders is easily accomplished. No extra hex-wrenches or tools are needed, and there are no tiny set screws to roll of the desk, to be lost forever in the carpet, never to be heard from again until you hear them rattling up the vacuum cleaner hose. To swap shell-holders, simply screw the head off of the body, lift off the one that you one that you are replacing, set the one that you intend to use in place (assuming that it used the same size primer) and screw the head back down to the setting that you want. Changing primer sizes is equally easy. NOTE: The tool requires 21st Century-made shell holders. These may be turned (relative to the handle) so that the loading slot opening faces whatever direction you prefer.

Fit, Finish, and Feel
The body and head of the tool, as well as the internal linkages, are all made from stainless steel. These closely-fitted parts are precisely machined, with an smooth, attractive finish. The handle is black anodized aluminum. Overall, the tool is well-shaped, and built like a stainless/aluminum brick.

Bottom Line: Great Tool That Works Exceptionally Well
I can’t imagine anyone, who uses a single-primer tool of this type, not liking this tool. When it comes to hand reloading tools, I can afford to have pretty much whatever I want (within reason). After testing and using this tool, I pulled my Sinclair tool from its case, and replaced it with this one. That should say it all. After using this tool, I will have to give serious consideration to other 21st Century reloading products the next time I need a new tool. One thing is for sure — we have an important new player in the design and manufacture of top end of reloading equipment. 21st Century’s Precision Priming Tool “raises the bar” among single-primer seating tools.

Tool Size Considerations
I wrote the review and then took the pictures, which, upon reflection, make the tool look smaller than it is, because of the size of my hands. I thought about putting a ruler in the pictures, but rejected that as visual clutter, so I will simply tell you that from tip of thumb to that of my little finger, my right hand measures a little over 10 inches, and the palm is 4 inches wide. The size of the tool is just right.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 14 Comments »
November 20th, 2012

Barrel Depreciation and the True Cost of Shooting

reloading shot cost barrelHow much does it cost you to send a round downrange? Ask most shooters this question and they’ll start adding up the cost of components: bullets, powder, and primers. Then they’ll figure in the cost of brass, divided by the number of times the cases are reloaded.

For a 6BR shooting match bullets, match-grade primers, and 30 grains of powder, in brass reloaded ten times, this basic calculation gives us a cost per shot of $0.51 (fifty-one cents):

Bullet $0.33 (Berger 105 VLD) Grafs.com
Primer $0.02 (Tula/Wolf SmR magnum) PVI
Powder $0.08 (Reloder 15 @ $19.15/lb) PVI
Brass $0.08 (Lapua @ $82.30/100, 10 reloads)

Total = $0.51 per round

NOTE: If you shoot a larger caliber that burns more powder, and uses more expensive bullets and/or brass, your total cost per round will be higher than $0.51.

$1.00 Per Shot True Cost? Yikes!
OK, we’ve seen that it costs about $0.51 per round to shoot a 6BR. Right?

Wrong! — What if we told you that your ACTUAL cost per round might be closer to double that number? How can that be? Well… you haven’t accounted for the cost of your barrel. Every round you fire down that tube expends some of the barrel’s finite life. If, like some short-range PPC shooters, you replace barrels every 700 or 800 rounds, you need to add $0.60 to $0.70 per round for “barrel cost.” That can effectively double your cost per round, taking it well past the dollar per shot mark.

Calculating Barrel Cost Per Shot
In the table below, we calculate your barrel cost per shot, based on various expected barrel lifespans.

As noted above, a PPC barrel is typically replaced at 700-800 rounds. A 6.5-284 barrel can last 1200+ rounds, but it might need replacement after 1000 rounds or less. A 6BR barrel should give 2000-2600 rounds of accurate life, and a .308 Win barrel could remain competitive for 4,000 rounds or more.

The table below shows your barrel cost per shot, based on various “useful lives.” We assume that a custom barrel costs $540.00 total to replace. This includes $300.00 for the barrel itself, $200.00 for chambering/fitting (conservative number), and $40.00 in 2-way shipping costs. These are typical costs shooters will encounter when ordering a rebarreling job.

The numbers are interesting. If you get 2000 rounds on your barrel instead of 1000, you save $0.27 per shot. However, extending barrel life from 2000 to 3000 rounds only saves you $0.09 per round. The longer you keep your barrel the more you save, but the savings per shot decreases as the round count increases.

How to Reduce Your TRUE Cost per Round
What does this tell us? First, in figuring your annual shooting budget, you need to consider the true cost per round, including barrel cost. Second, if you want to keep your true costs under control, you need to extend your barrel life. This can be accomplished in many ways. First, you may find that switching to a different powder reduces throat erosion. Second, if you’re able to slow down your shooting pace, this can reduce barrel heat, which can extend barrel life. (A varminter in the field is well-advised to switch rifles, or switch barrels, when the barrel gets very hot from extended shot strings.) Third, modifying your cleaning methods can also extend the life of your barrel. Use solvents that reduce the need for aggressive brushing, and try to minimize the use of abrasives. Also, always use a properly fitting bore guide. Many barrels have been prematurely worn out from improper cleaning techniques.

Permalink - Articles, Reloading, Tech Tip 12 Comments »
June 6th, 2012

New Product: High-Quality PT&G Bolt Heads for Savage Bolts

Pacific Tool & Gauge, has an outstanding new product, a precision-machined replacement bolt head for Savages. This product, available in a variety of bolt face sizes for $49.99 per unit, can benefit nearly everyone who shoots Savage bolt guns.

Pacific Tool PTG Savage Bolt Head

CLICK HERE for Full Product Review of PT&G Savage Bolt Head

When visiting German Salazar’s excellent Rifleman’s Journal website, we were pleased to see a recent, in-depth review of the PT&G Replacement Bolt Head for Savage Bolts. Written by Norm Darnell, this detailed review explains the benefits of the PT&G replacements, compared to the standard Savage bolt heads. After polishing, the factory bolt head can become slightly dished. According to Darnell: “The area around the firing pin hole sometimes has an indentation deep enough to allow the primer to flow into this void. This makes an unsightly blemish on a fired primer and can lead to hard extraction or worse. One [Savage] rifle I inspected had a continuing problem with pierced primers despite reasonably mild loads[.]” Even after machining the factory bolt face to make it flat, Darnell encountered problems: “The firing pin hole seemed to wear excessively which was of some concern. Material strength of the investment-cast bolt head* appears to be the source of these recurring problems.”

Pacific Tool PTG Savage Bolt Head

After testing out PT&G replacement bolt heads, Darnell found that his problems were solved. With the PT&G replacement bolt head, “the cartridge case heads and primers indicated no case-head rounding or primer damage”. Darnell was convinced, so he proceeded to fit PT&B bolt heads “on all three of my 308 bolts and one 223 with one spare bolt of each.” It appears that PT&G has a winner here — a smart, affordable new product that remedies a commonly-observed problem with factory Savage bolt heads.

* In the article, author Darnell writes that Savage factory bolt heads are investment cast. Fred Moreo of Sharp Shooter Supply says this is not correct: “Savage bolt heads were NEVER investment cast. From the get-go they were machined from solid stock. In 1988 they went to special profiled 41L40 bar stock to save machining operations and heat treated to 35-42 RC.”

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing 9 Comments »
October 6th, 2011

Surprising Results in Dept. of Defense Lead-Free Primer Tests

The Weapons System Technology Analysis Center (WSTIAC), part of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), recently conducted a comparison test between standard primers and lead-free primers. The test procedure, along with the surprising test results, are discussed in the WSTIAC Journal (Vol. 11, No. 2).

Key Findings of the WSTIAC Primer Study Were:

1. Lead-Free primers suffered from significant delays in ignition.

2. Lead-Free large rifle primers had a “a much larger variation in peak blast pressure” than did lead-based large rifle primers.

3. Field tests showed 7.62×51 rounds loaded with lead-free primers to be less accurate than rounds loaded with lead-based primers.

4. So-called “match-grade” primers were NOT always more consistent in pressure than standard primers.

Russian Lead-Free Primers Tested
WSTIAC scientists did some pretty sophisticated testing, measuring the blast waves of lead free primers vs. standard primers. The lead-free primers, denoted as DDNP for their “Diazodinitrophenol” active ingredients, were matched up against commercially-available primers containing lead. Eight models of widely-used, lead-based primers were tested along with two DDNP-based Russian-made primers, a large rifle primer (model KVB-7E) and a small pistol primer (model KVB-9E). Brief field tests were also conducted with large rifle primers in loaded ammunition. Testers measured primer ignition times, bullet muzzle velocities, and accuracy on 200m targets.

Lead-Free Primers Were Less Reliable, with Less Uniform Pressure
While you’ll need to read the study to understand the full results, in a nutshell, the DDNP (lead-free) primers proved somewhat less reliable than standard primers. The study observed: “The most obvious difference between the lead-based and DDNP-based primers was a perceptible delay between firing pin strike and ignition in 15 of 19 shots with the DDNP-based primers (and one misfire); in contrast, there were no misfires or perceptible delays in ignition with the lead-based primer.” The scientists theorized that: “The delay in ignition in 6 of the 10 shots with the DDNP-based primer suggests that this primer is at the low end of strength needed to reliably ignite 46 grains of an extruded powder.” The study also noted that: “DDNP-based KVB-7E has a much larger variation in peak blast pressure than other primers.”

Lead-Free Primers Were Less Accurate in 7.62×51 Ammo
One very interesting finding related to accuracy. In field tests, 7.62×51 ammo loaded with lead-free primers was tested against ammo with lead-based primers (other components were identical). At 200m, the average 10-shot group size of 7.62×51 ammo with lead-free primers was 2.5 MOA vs. 1.8 MOA for ammo with lead-based primers. That 0.7 MOA difference may well be meaningful (though we’d like to see the test repeated with multiple 10-shot groups, fired from a more accurate rifle). For precision shooters, this is a provocative finding because it suggests that a change in primer type, by itself, may have a dramatic impact on accuracy. The scientists surmised that: “ignition delay is the most likely cause of the larger average group size.”

“Match” Primers Are NOT Always More Consistent
One surprising collateral finding in the study challenges the widely-held notion that “Match Primers” are better, at least when judged by pressure uniformity. “Table 1 shows average peak pressures along with standard deviations from the mean for the primers in this study…. There are significant differences in the standard deviations observed for different primer types, and it is notable that so-called ‘Match’ primers are not always more consistent than non-match primers.” Readers should look at the bottom right of Table 1 below. Note that, as a percentage (%) of total pressure, the non-match CCI 450s have a significantly lower SD than the “Match” Fed 205m primers. On the other hand, the Federal 210M and 215M “Match” primers ARE more uniform in pressure than the non-match CCI Large Rifle primers.

ABSTRACT: Comparing Blast Pressure Variations of Lead-Based and DDNP (Lead-Free) Primers
This article describes the blast pressure waves produced by detonation of both lead styphnate and diazodinitrophenol (DDNP) based firearms primers measured with a high-speed pressure transducer located at the muzzle of a rifle (without powder or bullet). These primer blast waves emerging from the muzzle have a pressure-time profile resembling free-field blast pressure waves. The lead-based primers in this study had peak blast pressure variations (standard deviations from the mean) of 5.0-11.3%.

In contrast, lead-free DDNP-based primers had standard deviations of the peak blast pressure of 8.2-25.0%. Combined with smaller blast waves, these large variations in peak blast pressure led to delayed ignition and failure to fire in brief field tests.

Story Concept and Photos by German Salazar courtesy RiflemansJournal.com.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News, Reloading 11 Comments »
March 11th, 2011

Tannel Firing Pin Bushing Cures Primer Cratering

Shooters who convert factory actions to run 6BRs, 6PPCs or other high-pressure cartridges should consider having the firing pin bushed. These modern cartridges like to run at high pressures. When running stout loads, you can get cratering caused by primer flow around the firing pin hole in the bolt face. The reason is a little complicated, but basically the larger the hole, the less hydraulic pressure is required to crater the primer. A limited amount of cratering is normally not a big issue, but you can reduce the problem significantly by having a smith fit a bushing in the firing pin hole. In addition to reduced cratering, bushing the firing pin often produces more consistent ignition.

This is a highly recommended procedure that our editors have had done to their own rifles. Greg Tannel (Gre-Tan Rifles) is an expert at this procedure, and his turnaround time is fast — usually 2-3 days (shop time). Current price for a bushing job, which includes turning the firing pin to .062″, is $82.00 including USPS Priority Mail return shipping.

Gre-Tan Rifles firing pin bushing

If you have a factory rifle, a bushed firing pin is the way to go if you are shooting the high-pressure cartridges such as 6PPC, 6BR, 6-6.5×47 and 6.5×47. This is one of the most cost-effective and beneficial upgrades you can do to your factory rifle. For more info on the Firing Pin Bushing process, visit GreTanRifles.com, or email greg [at] gretanrifles.com. (After clicking the link for GreTanRifles.com, Click on “Services” > “Shop Services” > “Bolt Work”, and you’ll see a listing for “Bush Firing Pin Hole & Turn Pin”. Select “View Details”.)

Gre-Tan Rifles firing pin bushingFiring Pin Hole Bushing by Greg Tannel

Work Done: Bush firing pin hole and turn pin.
Functions: Fixes your cratering and piercing problems.
Price: $75.00 + $7.00 return shipping
Total Price: $82.00

Actions for which Bushing is Offered: Remington, Winchester, Savage, Sako, Kimber, Cooper, Nesika, Stiller, Bat, Kelbly, Lawton, Surgeon, Borden, Wichita, Hall, CZ, Ruger, Mauser, Howa, Weatherby, Dakota, Pacific Tool, Phoenix, RPA Quadlite, and Defiant bolt action rifle or pistol. Note: There may be extra tooling charges for case-hardened style bolts (Mauser, CZ, and similar) .

Actions for which Bushing is NOT Available: ARs, Accuracy International, Desert Tactical Arms, Big Horn, Rim fires, Falling block, Break open, Lever, Pump rifles.

How to send your bolt in to be bushed:
You can send your bolt snail mail, priority mail, UPS, Fed-Ex. What ever you prefer. Please include your name, phone number, and return shipping address. Turn around is normally 1 to 3 days shop time (plus shipping time). We usually do them the day that we get them in. Total cost is $82.00 for one bolt or $157.00 for two (this includes return shipping, priority mail.) Three or more will be sent back to you UPS and we will have to calculate extra shipping. We can overnight them at your expense. Check, money order, or credit card is fine with us.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
January 1st, 2011

Kelly Bachand Video Review of Forster Co-Ax® Press

Kelly BachandMost readers recognize Kelly Bachand from the popular Top Shot TV show on the History Channel. Kelly didn’t win the $100K grand prize, but he was a talented competitor who became an audience favorite with his accurate rifle shooting and “toughness under fire” (Kelly survived more one-on-one challenges than any other competitor). Last spring, with the cooperation of Forster Products, AccurateShooter.com supplied Kelly with a new Forster Co-Ax® Press. Kelly, a college student, had previously reloaded with a low-priced Lee Challenger Press — all that his “starving student” budget would allow. (In fairness to the Lee — it did produce some match-winning ammo for Kelly over the years.)

Kelly has been very impressed with the Co-Ax Press and he put together a video review for us. Kelly likes the ease with which dies can be swapped in and out of the press, and he also enjoys the added mechanical leverage provided by the coaxial design. Kelly favors the Forster’s straight-drop, spent primer-capture system. On other, conventional presses, spent primers and debris can collect around the base of the press, or end up on the floor, on your carpet, or on your bench-top.

YouTube Preview Image

Forster Co-Ax Press Design Features
The Co-Ax’s spring-loaded shell holder jaws float with the die, allowing cases to correctly center in the die. Dies snap easily in and out of the jaws so you can change dies in a couple of seconds. Many folks believe this improves die alignment, producing loaded rounds with less runout.

We really like the primer recovery system on the Co-Ax. Spent primers pass straight down into a cup — no more primers and carbon on the carpet. Every other single-stage press we’ve tried will toss a spent primer now and then, and primer residue builds up around the ram shaft.

PROS: Floating jaw shell-holder design delivers low run-out ammo. Smooth stroke without wobble. Best spent-primer collection system.

CONS: Clearance can be an issue with some very tall dies (but you can mill the yoke to accommodate). Dies must be equipped with cross-bolt style lock rings. We recommend the Hornady lock-rings.

If you need power for case sizing, the Co-Ax delivers three times the mechanical advantage of some conventional presses. The Co-Ax’s dual parallel guide-rod design also ensures that the ram movement is straight and smooth throughout the power stroke. With a center-mounted handle, the Co-Ax works equally well for both right- and left-handed reloaders.

Forster Co-Ax Press

The Co-Ax press accepts any standard 7/8″x14 threaded reloading die. You will need to use cross-bolt-style lock-rings on your dies. We recommend the Hornady rings. These are steel and have a hex-head cross-bolt. The Co-Ax requires no expensive shell-holders. The standard “S” jaw set supplied with the press fits nearly all common calibers except except: 22 Hornet, 378 Wby., 45-70, 256 Win. Mag., 44 S&W, 416 Rigby, 416 Rem., 45-90 and 348 Win. These calibers can be used if you purchase the optional “LS” Jaws.

Permalink Gear Review 3 Comments »