May 22nd, 2017

Bargain Finder 87: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Brownells — Rock Chucker Supreme Reloading Kit, $199.99

Deals of Week RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Kit

Everything you see above can be yours for just $199.99, after manufacturer’s rebate. Right now, Brownells is selling the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for $269.99. That’s a great deal considering all the hardware you get. Heck, the Rock Chucker press alone is worth $150.00+. Next, you can save $20.00 and get Free Shipping with Brownells CODE M3T. (We confirmed that code works on 5/20/17). So the Brownells delivered price is $249.99 (using Code M3T). But here’s the real incentive — this Rock Chucker Supreme Kit qualifies for a Buck$ or Bullets Rebate — choose either $50 or 500 Speer bullets. If you take the fifty bucks ($50), that reduces your net cost to just $199.99 for the entire RCBS Reloading Kit. That’s a total steal.

Deals of Week RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Kit

2. EuroOptic — Vortex Viper 6-24x50mm PST FFP, $799.00

Eurooptic Vortex Viper FFP EBR First Focal tactical Scope Sale

Here’s a “killer deal” if you need a high-quality scope for PRS and tactical games. This Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50mm scope features an illuminated EBR-2C reticle with Mil-based hash marks. The tactical-style turrets have 0.1 Mil clicks with zero-stop. The 6X low-end magnification is wide enough for closer targets, while the 24X top end is plenty of magnification for long range. The 23 oz. scope, which features a rugged, 30mm one-piece main tube, carries Vortex’s full warranty. Note this is a First Focal Plane (FFP) scope. You can save hundreds with this deal — this optic sells elsewhere for up to $1049.00. NOTE: This item is showing “back-order”, but EuroOptic.com is expecting a big shipment this week — so place your orders now.

3. Amazon — Plano Double Rifle Case with Wheels, $114.92

Plano double scoped rifle case with wheels

This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case is an Amazon Best Seller for good reason. It offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is under $115.00, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00, so you can buy two Planos for the price of one SKB. The 51.5″ interior will fit most scoped competition rifles up to about 29″ barrels (measure your own rifle to make sure). The handles are convenient and beefy and the wheels make this case easy to move through airports and parking lots. This is a very tough, roomy case for the money. Plus Amazon is offering FREE Shipping.

4. Amazon — Steiner AX830 8x30mm Binoculars, $126.30

Steiner AZ830 binoculars 8x30 Military Marine sale Amazon $114.49

Need a good set of rugged, affordable binoculars for hunting or varmint work? Then check out the Steiner AZ830 at $126.30. These are essentially identical to the respected Steiner Military Marine binoculars which sell for $220 or more. The only differences are the color and the packaging. The AZ830s are a black “house brand” created for Amazon by Steiner. Other than the color (black vs. OD Green) everything is the same. Same bright glass, same auto focus system, some tough rubber armor, same rock solid Steiner Heritage Warranty. We highly recommend these AZ830 binoculars. For under $130.00, you can’t beat them.

Editor’s Note: With these AZ830 Steiner binoculars, once you adjust the eyepieces, everything from 20 yards to infinity is in focus. This is a huge advantage in the field. I own the virtually identical Steiner 8×30 Military Marine model which has the same focus system.

5. Aero Precision — Upper & Lower Kit, FDE Cerakote, $193.49

AR AR16 Upper and Lower Aero Precision Kit

Thinking of putting together an accurate AR for the new PRS Gas Gun series (or 3-Gun matches)? Here’s a good place to start. Aero Precision now offers a $193.49 kit with stripped Upper and Lower Receivers — both with a durable Flat Dark Earth (Magpul FDE) Cerakote finish. Just add barrel, buttstock, trigger group, controls, and your bolt carrier group. Note: This Kit will work with the .223 Rem and similar-length, larger-caliber cartridges such as the 6mmAR and 6.5 Grendel. If you want to shoot a 6.5 Creedmoor, you’ll need an AR10 platform rifle.

6. Midsouth — Hornady LnL Auto Charge Scale/Dispenser, $159.99

Hornady Lock and load auto charge scale powder dispenser sale discount

The Hornady Lock N Load Auto Charge Electronic Scale/Dispenser is now on sale for just $159.99 at Midsouth Shooters Supply, discounted way down from the regular $226.24 price. That’s the lowest price we’ve seen on this product in a long time, making this a real bargain. If you are looking for an affordable, combo digital scale and powder dispenser, this is a great deal. By comparison, the new RCBS ChargeMaster Lite sells for around $250.00 and is back-ordered at many vendors. That means you can save at least $90.00 by buying RED instead of GREEN.

7. CDNN — Remington RP9 9x19mm Pistol, $249.99 with Rebate

Remington RP9 9mm pistol handgun service Rebate sale discount

Here’s a killer deal on a modern, full-size, 9mm pistol. The striker-fired Remington RP9 is similar to Smith & Wesson’s popular M&P9, but we prefer the Remington’s grip ergonomics, and the RP9 is much less expensive. The RP9 comes with three (3) grip inserts and two (2) 18-round magazines. CDNN’s retail price is $299.99, but this pistol qualifies for a $50 mail-in Rebate from Remington. That knocks your net cost down to $249.99. That’s a heck of a bargain for a nicely-designed, American-made pistol. We’ve shot this Remington RP9 pistol and definitely prefer its ergonomics/controls over those of the full-size 9mm Glock 17.

8. Bass Pro — Federal Value Pack .22 LR, 325 Rds for $19.99

Federal .22 LR Rimfire Ammo ammunition auto-match Target Grade bulk pack

This Federal Auto-Match .22 LR ammo is just 6.2 cents per round — the kind of pricing on bulk rimfire ammo we used to see in the “good old days”. Act quickly, this $19.99 Federal .22 LR Ammo deal at Bass Pro Shops won’t last long. Each box contains 325 rounds — enough ammo for many sessions at the range. The bullets are 40 grains, solid lead.

9. Home Depot — 72″ Wood Workbench for $75.36

Folding Wood Work Bench Home Deport Reloading

This patented Home Depot workbench assembles in a few minutes. Simply unfold the legs, pop in the shelf, and you are ready to start your project. Made from Premium 2×4 Hemlock fastened with glue and screws, this workbench is a great value. The bench (72″ wide x 35″ high x 22″ deep) can easily be stored when not in use. NOTE: The wood is unfinished (can be painted or stained).

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics, Reloading 1 Comment »
May 15th, 2017

Bargain Finder 86: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. MidwayUSA — Bushnell 25% Rebates & MidwayUSA Optics Sale

Bushnell 25 25% rebate scope, rangefinder, binoculars, rebate June MidwayUSA

Save big bucks on Bushnell. Now through June 6, 2017, Bushnell is offering 25% OFF mail-in rebates. Combine that will special sale pricing now at MidwayUSA.com and you can save hundreds on popular optics. For example, the Bushnell 4.5-30x50mm Elite Tactical ERS Mildot scope retails for $979.00. That 25% rebate will save you $244.75, lowering your net cost to $734.25! In addition to riflescopes, the Bushnell Rebate knocks 25% off of Bushnell binoculars, laser rangefinders, spotting scopes, GPS units, and even trail cams. CLICK HERE for Bushnell 25% Rebate details.

2. Precision Reloading — 10% Off All Battenfeld Brands

Battenfeld Technologies Tipton Wheeler Goldenrod Caldwell Frankfor sale discount Precision Reloading

Now through May 23, 2017 Precision Reloading is running a great sale on all products from Battenfeld Technologies’ well-known brands: Caldwell, Tipton, Frankford Arsenal, Wheeler Accuracy and more. We own a number of these products, such as the Tipton Gun Vise, which has delivered years of great service. We like the Tipton Ultra nickle-plated jags, and the Caldwell “The Rock BR” front rest offers great “bang for the buck”.

Here are some recommended Battenfeld Technologies Brand Products on Sale:

Caldwell Ballistic Cam System, $332.99
Caldwell “The Rock” Benchrest Shooting Rest, $130.49
Tipton Gun Vise, $40.49
Tipton Nickle-Plated Ultra Jag Set, $15.29
Wheeler Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, $49.99
Golden Rod 18″ Dehumidifier Rod, $31.49

3. Brownells — Smith & Wesson Pistols with $75 Rebate

Brownells Smith Wesson S&W carry pistol 9mm .380 rebate bargain

If you need a carry pistol, now’s a great time to buy. Smith & Wesson is offering a $75.00 mail-in rebate on many of its most popular, compact handguns. In addition, a selection of small S&W semi-auto pistols is on sale now at Brownells.com. When you combine the sale discounts with Manufacturer Rebate, you can pick up an S&W pistol for as little as $239.99 after Rebate. That’s less than half what you’d pay for a Glock. CLICK HERE for S&W Specials at Brownells.

4. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

Looking for a great holiday gift for a family member getting started in metallic cartridge reloading? This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.

5. Amazon — Lyman Case Prep Xpress $103.99

Lyman Case Prep Xpress Express Brass Reloading PrpeDeals Week Accurateshooter

The Lyman Case Prep Xpress lets you chamfer inside and out, brush your necks, clean/uniform primer pockets, and ream military crimps. On sale at Amazon.com with $103.99 Prime pricing, this is a good deal. Lyman’s Case Prep Xpress sells elsewhere for $130.00 or more. Here is a review from a Verified Purchaser: “The unit is quiet, sturdy, and the attachments do what they are supposed to do. It already has made a difference in my reloading speed, and most importantly, my comfort. I highly recommend this unit.” (Strafer, 4/7/14)

6. CDNN — Browning Maple X-Bolt Medallion, $899.99

Browning X-Bolt Medallion

CDNN Sports has some of the nicest modern Browning rifles we’ve seen. These deluxe Maple-stocked X-Bolt Medallion Rifles are now on sale for $899.99, marked down from $1519.99. The machine-engraved receiver features a polished blued finish, and is glass bedded into the stock. The free-floating barrel is high-gloss blued, hand-chambered and finished with a target crown. The bolt has a 60° lift and the trigger is adjustable. The stock is a high gloss AAA maple with rosewood fore-end and pistol grip cap. These are very nice rifles that any shooter would be proud to own.

7. Amazon — 34 dB Noise Rating Ear Muffs, $17.45

34dB NRR 32 hearing protection earmuffs

These 34 dB NRR earmuffs provide excellent sound protection without being too heavy and bulky. At at $17.45, they are a great bargain. The lower section of the muff is trimmed for a narrower profile — that helps with rifle and shotgun stocks. The headband is adjustable and has comfortable padding. These Pro For Sho Muffs have earned a 4 1/2 star consumer rating, with over 1,600 Amazon customer reviews. NOTE: These fit pretty tight. If you have a very large hat size you might want a different brand.

8. Midsouth — Lee Auto Bench Priming Tool, $23.99

discount Lee Priming bench tool primer tray

This relatively new bench tool does the job very well, and it’s easy to change primer sizes and shell holders. The “feel” of this tool is very good (better than most other bench priming units). If you like to pre-prime cases before using a progressive — this $23.99 Lee Bench Priming Tool gets the job done fast. The tool includes a new folding tray with built-in primer-flipping feature that allows direct filling from common primer boxes. The tool mounting holes are spaced for the Lee Bench Plate system (#006-90251) or the device can be mounted directly to your workbench. REVIEWS by verified purchasers.

9. Amazon — Discovery Scope Level $13-$16 (1″, 30mm)

Optical Rifle Scope bubble level Discovery 30mm 1 inch 34mm Amazon

If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This Discovery scope level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It is available with inner diameters to fit scopes with either 1″ or 30mm main tubes. The 1″ version is just $12.99 while the 30mm model is $13.95. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product: 89% of verified buyers rated this five stars.

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics, Reloading No Comments »
May 13th, 2017

Forster Co-Ax Press — Unique Operation Showcased in Video

Forster Co-Ax Coax Reloading Press Grafs Grafs.com Sale Co-Axial rockchucker

In recent years, Forster Co-Ax® presses have been somewhat hard to find, as demand has out-stripped supply. However, right now Grafs.com has Co-Ax presses in stock, at just $299.99 — that’s six percent off the regular price. This sale price includes a set of jaws, and includes ground shipping (in the lower 48), after a single $7.95 (per order) handling fee. If you’ve been hankering for a Co-Ax press, now is definitely a good time to buy.

If you are not yet familiar with the many unique features of the Forster Co-Ax, we recommend you watch the video embedded below. This shows how the press operates and highlights the design elements which set the Co-Ax apart from every other reloading press on the market.

Video Shows Special Features of Forster Co-Ax Reloading Press

Forster Co-Ax Press Video Review
This is a very thorough review of the Forster Co-Ax done by Rex Roach. This 14-minute video shows the key Co-Ax features, explaining how the floating case-holder jaws work (3:30 time-mark), how the dies are held in place (4:40 time-mark), how spent primers are captured (6:10 time-mark), and how to set the primer seating depth (10:00 time-mark). We’ve used a Co-Ax for years and we still learned a few new things by watching this detailed video. If you are considering purchasing a Co-Ax, definitely watch this video start to finish.

Forster Co-Ax Coax Reloading Press Grafs Grafs.com Sale Co-Axial rockchucker

The Co-Ax case-holder features spring-loaded, floating jaws. These jaws have two sets of openings, small and large. This allows the system to adapt to various rim diameters. The jaw plates can simply be reversed to switch from small jaw to large jaw. In the photo above, the Co-Ax is configured with the large jaw openings in the center.

Photos are screen shots from Forster Co-Ax Review by Rex Roach on YouTube.

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May 9th, 2017

Watch Out for Bullet Nose Contact in Short Seating Stems

Seating Stem Glen Zediker

Clearance Check — Remove the seating stem and drop a bullet into it. The farther down the ogive or nose-cone the step recess grips the bullet, the better. If it’s only pressing down against the bullet tip, a crooked seat is assured, along with inconsistent seating depth. — Glen Zediker

Some folks acquire a new seating die and then are surprised to find their hand-loads show crooked bullets and/or inconsistent seating depth. The problem could be a mis-match between the bullet and the die’s seating stem. In some case, particularly with long, streamlined bullets, the bullet tip can actually touch the bottom inside of the stem. This can cause a variety of problems, as Glen Zediker explains…

Invest in a Good Seating Die
Reloading Tip by Glen Zediker
The bullet seating operation is the “last thing” that happens and it’s also the one thing that can corrupt the care and treatment given to the quality of the loaded round prior. A sleeve-style seater, well-machined, goes a whopping long ways toward preserving alignment, and, therefore, concentricity. Also make sure that the stem in yours comes to rest well down onto the bullet ogive, and, above all else, is not contacting the bullet tip! That will wreck a round.

If you have this problem, you should contact the die maker — some will offer a different seating stem expressly designed for longer, pointier bullets. This “long bullet stem” will normally drop right into your existing die. If you plan to run long, VLD-style bullets you should request the special seating stem right from the get-go.

This tip comes from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth Shooters Supply.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
May 5th, 2017

Bullet Concentricity Basics — What You Need to Know

Sinclair concentricity 101 eccentricity run-out reloading plans

Sinclair International reloading toolsSinclair International has released an interesting article about Case Concentricity* and bullet “run-out”. This instructional article by Bob Kohl explains the reasons brass can exhibit poor concentricity, and why high bullet run-out can be detrimental to accuracy.

Concentricity, Bullet Alignment, and Accuracy by Bob Kohl
The purpose of loading your own ammo is to minimize all the variables that can affect accuracy and can be controlled with proper and conscientious handloading. Concentricity and bullet run-out are important when you’re loading for accuracy. Ideally, it’s important to strive to make each round the same as the one before it and the one after it. It’s a simple issue of uniformity.

The reason shooters work with tools and gauges to measure and control concentricity is simple: to make sure the bullet starts down the bore consistently in line with the bore. If the case isn’t properly concentric and the bullet isn’t properly aligned down the center of the bore, the bullet will enter the rifling inconsistently. While the bore might force the bullet to align itself with the bore (but normally it doesn’t), the bullet may be damaged or overstressed in the process – if it even it corrects itself in transit. These are issues we strive to remedy by handloading, to maintain the best standard possible for accurate ammunition.

The term “concentricity” is derived from “concentric circle”. In simple terms it’s the issue of having the outside of the cartridge in a concentric circle around the center. That goes from case head and center of the flash hole, to the tip of the bullet.

Factors Affecting Concentricity

The point of using this term is to identify a series of issues that affect accurate ammunition. Ideally this would work best with a straight-walled case; but since most rifle cartridge cases are tapered, it equates to the smallest cross section that can be measured point by point to verify the concentric circle around the center. For the examples below, I’m working with .308 Winchester ammo.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 1: The cartridge.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 2: Centerline axis of the case, extending from flash hole to case mouth.

The case walls have to be in perfect alignment with the center, or axis, of that case, even if it’s measured at a thousandth of an inch per segment (in a tapered case).

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 3: Case body in alignment with its axis, or centerline, even in a tapered case.

The case neck must also be in alignment with its axis. By not doing so you can have erratic bullet entry into the bore. The case neck wall itself should be as uniform as possible in alignment and in thickness (see the M80 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge in Figure 5) and brass can change its alignment and shape. It’s why we expand the case neck or while some folks ream the inside of the neck and then turn the outside for consistent thickness, which affects the tension on the bullet when seated.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 4: Neck in alignment with center of the case axis.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 5: Variations in case neck wall thickness, especially on some military brass, can cause an offset of the bullet in its alignment. This is an M80 ball round. Note the distinct difference of the neck walls.

Having a ball micrometer on hand helps, especially with military brass like 7.62x51mm in a semi-auto rifle, where there are limits as to how thin you want the neck walls to be. In the case of 7.62 ball brass you want to keep the wall to .0145″.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 6: A ball micrometer like this RCBS tool (#100-010-268) can measure case neck thickness.

Turning the outside of the neck wall is important with .308 military cases regardless of whether you expand or ream the neck walls. There are several outside neck turning tools from Forster, Hornady, Sinclair, and others. I’ve been using classic Forster case trimming (#100-203-301) and neck turning (#749-012-890) tools for 40 years.

Bullet Run-Out
The cartridge, after being loaded, still needs to be in alignment with the center of the case axis. Figure 7 shows a bad example of this, a round of M80 ball. A tilted bullet is measured for what’s known as bullet “run-out”.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 7: An M80 round with the bullet tilted and not aligned with the axis. This will be a flyer!

Run-out can be affected by several things: (1) improperly indexing your case while sizing, which includes not using the proper shell holder, especially while using a normal expander ball on the sizing die (it also can stretch the brass). (2) The head of a turret press can flex; and (3) improper or sloppy bullet seating. This is also relevant when it comes to using a progressive press when trying to load accuracy ammo.

Mid Tompkins came up with a simple solution for better bullet seating years ago. Seat your bullet half way into the case, back off the seater die and rotate the case 180 degrees before you finish seating the bullet. It cuts down on run-out problems, especially with military brass. You also want to gently ream the inside of the neck mouth to keep from having any brass mar the surface of the bullet jacket and make proper seating easier. A tilted bullet often means a flyer.

Concentricity run-out cartridge case
Figure 8: Proper alignment from the center of the case head to the tip of the bullet.

CLICK HERE to READ FULL ARTICLE With More Photos and Tips


*Actually some folks would say that if we are talking about things being off-center or out-of-round, we are actually talking about “eccentricity”. But the tools we use are called “Concentricity Gauges” and Concentricity is the term most commonly used when discussing this subject.

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 4 Comments »
April 29th, 2017

Sinclair Int’l Offers 8-Part Series of Reloading Videos

free reloading videos sinclair international

Sinclair International has created a series of instructional videos illustrating the basics of metallic cartridge reloading. The 8-part series starts with reloading basics and provides step-by-step, how-to instructions that will help new reloaders get started. Detailed, animated illustrations show you what happens inside the chamber when shooting, and inside the dies during each step of reloading. The videos can be viewed on Sinclair Int’l’s YouTube page. Shown below is the first video in the series:

Each of the eight videos is hosted by Sinclair Int’l President Bill Gravatt. Bill doesn’t just show you “how”, he tells you “why”. The how-to segments cover case inspection, proper die set up, case sizing, primer installation, powder measuring, bullet seating, crimping, and even goes into the record keeping needed for the handloader. “We wanted to give shooters who haven’t reloaded a look at all the advantages of creating your own ammo and how easy it is to get started,” said Gravatt, “without telling them they had to have any certain brand or type of equipment to do the job.” The eight videos are:

Part 1 — Intro to Video Series
Part 2 — Intro to Reloading Safety
Part 3 — Metallic Cartridge Components
Part 4 — The Firing Sequence
Part 5 — Tools for Reloading
Part 6 — Loading Bottle-Neck Cartridges
Part 7 — Loading Straight Wall Cartridges
Part 8 — Reloading Series Conclusion

Reloading Tools
Shown below is Part 5 of the video series, covering the tools used for precision reloading.

Permalink - Videos, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
April 21st, 2017

Reloading at the Range — Smart Option for Load Development

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

Glen Zediker Reloading at RangeThe February 2013 edition of Shooting Sports USA magazine has an interesting feature by Glen Zediker. In this Transporting Success, Part I article, Zediker explains the advantages of loading at the range when your are developing new loads or tuning existing loads. Glen, the author of the popular Handloading for Competition book, discusses the gear you’ll need to bring and he explains his load development procedure. In discussing reloading at the range, Glen focuses on throwing powder and seating bullets, because he normally brings enough sized-and-primed brass to the range with him, so he doesn’t need to de-prime, re-size, and then re-prime his cases.

Zediker writes: “Testing at the range provides the opportunity to be thorough and flexible. You also have the opportunity to do more testing under more similar conditions and, therefore, get results that are more telling. Once you are there, you can stay there until you get the results you want. No more waiting until next time.”

Zediker starts with three-shot groups: “I usually load and fire three samples [with] a new combination. I’ll then increase propellant charge… based on the results of those three rounds, and try three more. I know that three rounds is hardly a test, but if it looks bad on that few, it’s not going to get any better.”

Glen reminds readers to record their data: “Probably the most important piece of equipment is your notebook! No kidding. Write it down. Write it all down.

RCBS Partner PressThere’s More to the Story…

Editor’s Note: In Zediker’s discussion of loading at the range, he only talks about throwing powder and seating bullets. In fact, Glen opines that: “there is little or no need for sizing.” Well, maybe. Presumably, for each subsequent load series, Zediker uses fresh brass that he has previously sized and primed. Thus he doesn’t need to de-prime or resize anything.

That’s one way to develop loads, but it may be more efficient to de-prime, re-size, and load the same cases. That way you don’t need to bring 50, 80, or even 100 primed-and-sized cases to the range. If you plan to reload your fired cases, you’ll need a system for de-priming (and re-priming) the brass, and either neck-sizing or full-length sizing (as you prefer). An arbor press can handle neck-sizing. But if you plan to do full-length sizing, you’ll need to bring a press that can handle case-sizing chores. Such a press need not be large or heavy. Many benchresters use the small but sturdy RCBS Partner Press, on sale now at Amazon for $77.99. You may even get by with the more basic Lee Precision Compact Reloading Press, shown in Zediker’s article. This little Lee press, Lee product #90045, retails for under $35.00.

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 2 Comments »
April 16th, 2017

Pin Vise with 1.5mm Bit Fits Lapua BR/PPC Flash Holes

Folks have asked if there is a tool that can remove obstructions from a Lapua small, BR-sized flash hole without opening the hole size. The Lapua PPC/BR flash hole is spec’d at 1.5mm, which works out to 0.059055″. Most of the PPC/BR flash-hole uniforming tools on the market use a 1/16″ bit which is nominally 0.0625″, but these often run oversize — up to 0.066″.

If you want to just clear out any obstructions in the flash hole, without increasing the flash hole diameter, you can use an inexpensive “pin vise” with an appropriate drill bit. For $1.00, eHobbyTools.com sells a 1.5mm pin vise bit, item 79186, that matches the Lapua flash hole exactly. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). An 0.0595″ bit is close enough. You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores.

Pin vises Lapua Flash hole

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
April 8th, 2017

Hand-Loading as Stress Relief for the Modern-Day Man

Sierra Bullets Blog handloading stress relief

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin for Sierra Bullets Blog
A lot of calls that come into the Sierra Customer Service Center are made by shooters [of retirement age]. Most of the time the shooter used to reload back when they were [younger] and stopped in order to raise a family, pursue a career, or both. Maybe their father or grandfather taught them back in the day and they are looking for an answer to the new whatchamacallit they found on the internet. The point is they are coming back to it because it was fun.

Reloading Can Provide Stress Relief
As a father of three, a husband, a brother, a son and son-in-law, and a friend and neighbor, I get pulled in a lot of directions. In all honesty, reloading and shooting has become a stress relief for me even though I work in the shooting industry.

Sometimes, the shooting gets put on hold for other more important things but there will always be another project or repair to accomplish. There are a lot out there that have found a way to balance the work life, the family life, and the play life. I would like to applaud you on your efforts because it is a hard thing to accomplish.

Remember to take time and relieve that stress. Do something fun, especially if it is shooting that special hand-load you just made.

AccurateShooter Comment — Hand-Loading and the Creative Process
Reloading your own precise ammo can be rewarding in many ways. First it allows you a temporary escape from work pressures, “Honey-Dos”, filing your taxes — whatever. It’s just you and Mr. Rockchucker spending quality time in the loading room. Second, hand-loading is a creative process that engages the mind. During load development, you are like an inventor, selecting a powder charge, choosing the bushing size, experimenting with seating depths, working to perfect your load.

Lastly, the process of hand-loading is rewarding because you are building something start to finish. You begin with components — bullets, brass, and powder, and end up with a finished product that (hopefully) is better than the best factory ammo you could buy. It is enormously satisfying to start with piles of bullets and brass and end up with beautiful hand-loads that can deliver great accuracy.

This post originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
April 3rd, 2017

Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass Performs Great in Tough Field Test

6.5 Guys 6.5 creedmoor Lapua brass cartridge casing filed test 20 reload cycles

The verdict is in — Lapua’s new 6.5 Creedmoor brass is ultra-tough and very consistent. So sayeth the 6.5 Guys, who recently field-tested the brass, loading it to very stout levels. Even after 20 reloadings, the Lapua 6.5 CM brass held up extremely well. This brass, with its small primer pocket and small flash hole, really does out-perform other 6.5 Creedmoor brass offerings. Yes the Lapua brass is pricey, but it outlasts the alternatives, and, if the 6.5 Guys test is any indication, you can run higher velocities with this brass compared to other brands. Watch the 6.5 Guys Lapua brass test in this video:

If you have a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, or are considering getting a gun chambered for this cartridge, we strongly recommend you watch the full 6.5 Guys Video. Ed and Steve spent a lot of time conducting this test, and the video includes helpful summaries of their findings.

The Evolution of the 6.5 Creedmoor
Over the last few years the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge has become increasingly popular among precision rifle enthusiasts. However, availability of brass cases was limited to only a few manufacturers. In early 2017 Lapua introduced to the market its own 6.5 Creedmoor case with a unique twist — the case has a small rifle primer pocket and small flash hole — like the 6mmBR Norma and 6.5×47 Lapua.

6.5 Guys 6.5 creedmoor Lapua brass cartridge casing filed test 20 reload cycles

Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass — Test Protocol
The 6.5 Guys tested a box of Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge brass supplied by Graf & Sons. The project involved two phases. First the 6.5 Guys weighed and measured the cases to assess weight uniformity and dimensional consistency (which was impressive). Then came phase II — the “torture test”. The 6.5 Guys loaded the brass with a very stout charge of H4350 pushing 140gr Hornady ELD bullets*. The brass was loaded and shot over 20 times. This durability test was conducted to see how many repeated firings and resizing/reloading cycles the brass could handle. Remarkably, after 20+ loadings, the brass was still holding up — no “blown-out” primer pockets. This stuff is tough. The 6.5 Guys note: “You can go at least 20 reloadings without a split neck…but brass spring-back may be another issue.”

After 20 Load Cycles — Going to the Extreme
Once the Lapua cases had been shot 20+ times, the 6.5 Guys tried something more extreme. They stuffed the brass with a very hot load — a powder charge weight well beyond a sensible maximum. Even with this “beyond max” load, the Lapua brass held up but there was some evidence of pressure on the primers: “You do see some cratering on the primer with a Remington 700 that you don’t see with a Defiance action, but nothing to indicate a potential pierced primer.”

6.5 Guys 6.5 creedmoor Lapua brass cartridge casing filed test 20 reload cycles
WARNING: The 6.5 Guys deliberately used a very stout load for testing. Do not attempt to duplicate. This load was shot in a faster-than-average barrel with a chamber set up for long 140gr bullets. You may not be able to achieve similar velocities — maybe not even close. As with all hand-loading, always start low and work up charges in small increments.

6.5 Creedmoor vs. 6.5×47 Lapua — Battle of the Middle-Weights
With this new brass, does the 6.5 Creedmoor enjoy an edge over the 6.5×47 Lapua? The 6.5 Guys answer: “That’s hard to say. From a market share standpoint, the 6.5 CM is more popular in the USA. From a technical perspective, 6.5×47 Lapua offers near identical performance with better barrel life. But from our tests, you can drive a 140-grain bullet much faster with 6.5 Creedmoor than you ever can (safely) with a 6.5×47 Lapua. That’s our non-answer answer….”

The 6.5 Guys concluded that the 6.5 Creedmoor will enjoy a velocity advantage: “We’ve had a number of discussions with RBros and other folks about this. It appears that 6.5×47 still has the edge as far as barrel life. But it also looks like you can push a 140gr bullet pretty fast with the 6.5 CM — speeds that are not obtainable with the 6.5×47 Lapua.”

* Why were the Hornady 140gr ELDs chosen for testing? The 6.5 Guys wanted a bullet in the 140gr weight range. Beyond that, the choice was fortuitous. Ed explained: “Our bullet selection was quite scientific — we sat down at my reloading bench and looked around. Saw the Hornady 140 ELD Match and decided to roll with that.”

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 18 Comments »
April 3rd, 2017

Bargain Finder 81: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Cabela’s — Winged 1/2″-Padded Shooting Mat, $44.99

Shooting Mat Cabelas custom wings large flaps

This is a very good, thickly-padded mat, with unique features — twin side wings for gear. Sale priced at $44.99 at Cabela’s, this offers great value for the money. With 1/2″-thick padding, this mat is comfortable, and the large side wings keep your gear off damp, mucky, or dusty ground. The left wing has a zippered compartment while the right wing has a large pouch that can hold ammo box, rangefinder, or other gear. Up front is a handy bipod stop. Deployed, the mat is an ample 73-1/2″ long x 35-1/2″ wide. The mat rolls up into a convenient package complete with adjustable shoulder strap. With a Lifetime Guarantee, this mat has earned very positive user reviews — 4.8 out of 5 stars. One owner declared: “This is a great shooting mat … rivals many other mats in a much higher price range. The added wing area has plenty of room for ammo, elbows and miscellaneous gear. It has two sewn-in bipod stops and the padding is just right. It is very well built, love it!” — LHeffy.

2. CDNN Sports –$1.50 Safety Eyewear and $10.00 Muffs

Earmuffs Eyewear CDNN Cheap Sale Clearance

CDNN is selling off all its remaining inventory of Safety Eyewear and Hearing Protection. Accordingly, you can purchase ANSI-Z87.1-Rated Eyewear for $1.50, and a set of NRR25 Muffs for just $10.00. At these prices, you can outfit the whole family, or donate a few sets to your local youth program. We’ve learned it’s always good to have spare eye and ear protection — keep extra sets in your range bags and vehicle glove boxes.

3. Aero Precision — Upper & Lower Kit, FDE Cerakote, $193.49

AR AR16 Upper and Lower Aero Precision Kit

Thinking of putting together an accurate AR for the new PRS Gas Gun series (or 3-Gun matches)? Here’s a good place to start. Aero Precision now offers a $193.49 kit with stripped Upper and Lower Receivers — both with a durable Flat Dark Earth (Magpul FDE) Cerakote finish. Just add barrel, buttstock, trigger group, controls, and your bolt carrier group. Note: This Kit will work with the .223 Rem and similar-length, larger-caliber cartridges such as the 6mmAR and 6.5 Grendel. If you want to shoot a 6.5 Creedmoor, you’ll need an AR10 platform rifle.

4. Midsouth — GECO .22 LR Bolt Action Ammo, $42 for 500 Rds

Shooting Mat Cabelas custom wings large flaps

This a very good deal on quality, European-made GECO .22 LR rimfire ammunition. This is optimized for use in bolt-action rifles. Test lots have proven reliable with much better than average ED and SD and solid accuracy. GECO is a good brand, part of the Swiss RUAG family of companies. The price, $42.00 for a 500-round Brick (10 boxes), is just 8.4 cents per round. Though still very affordable, this GECO .22 LR ammo is way better than typical domestic “bulk pack” rimfire ammo.

5. Grafs.com — Sightron SIIB Scope Clearance Sale, 46-47% Off

Sightron Graf's Grafs.com Scope Sale SIIB

As part of its Spring Inventory Clearance Sale, Grafs.com is offering Sightron SIIB scopes at rock-bottom prices. If you are looking for a reliable medium-power zoom optic for a varmint rig or hunting rifle, check out these bargains: Sightron 3-12x42mm Plex and Sightron 4-15x42mm Target AO Plex.

We like the 4-16x42mm Sightron SIIB with adjustable front objective for just $329.99. That’s 47% off the regular price. The 15X is enough power for most prairie dog shooting and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an adjustable front objective — these systems are very positive and “dead nuts” reliable.

6. CDNN Sports — Ruger 17 HMR American Compact $279.99

Ruger 17 HMR American Compact

With ballistics far superior to a .22 LR, the 17 HMR is ideal for Prairie Dogs and small varmints out to 180 yards or so. Now you can get a reliable, name brand 17 HMR rifle for a very attractive price. That’s right, CDNN Sports is selling the 17 HMR Ruger American Rimfire Compact, with 18″ barrel, for just $279.99. That includes two (2) comb units and a FREE padded carry sling. FFL required.

7. Amazon — Plano Double Rifle Case with Wheels, $113.99

Plano double scoped rifle case with wheels

This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case is an Amazon Best Seller for good reason. It offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is under $115.00, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00, so you can buy two Planos for the price of one SKB. The 51.5″ interior will fit most scoped competition rifles up to about 29″ barrels (measure your own rifle to make sure). The handles are convenient and beefy and the wheels make this case easy to move through airports and parking lots. This is a very tough, roomy case for the money (plus there’s Free Shipping for Prime Members).

8. Amazon — 630 1″-Diameter Target Spots, $9.65 Delivered

Amazon target dots discount free shipping sight-in target

We use 1″-diameter Target Spots for sight-in and practice at 100-300 yards. These bright red/orange self-adhesive dots are easy to see. At 100 yards the high-contrast black diamond centers provide precise aiming points. We found this 10-pack of target spots on Amazon at a rock-bottom price. You get 630 total stick-on dots for just $9.65 with FREE Shipping. You can also get 360 Birchwood Casey 1″ dots from Midsouth for just $3.15, but shipping is extra. If you’re already ordering something from Midsouth, you may want to add the dots to your order.

9. Amazon — Cotton Cleaning Patches, 800 for $9.99 – $17.99

Amazon bulk pack patches 800 cotton flannel

Got patches? Here’s a great deal on 100% cotton flannel patches. There are many sizes available, starting at $9.99 for 800 one-inch “17 Cal” patches. For 6mm rifles, we actually like the 1.25″ round “22/223″ sized patches priced at $11.99 for 800. Choose either round patches or square patches in most sizes. We generally like round patches for use with spire-tip jags, but some shooters prefer to wrap their patches around a jag or brush and square patches work better for wrapping. The large, 2″-square .30 Cal patches cost $17.99 for 800. These prices include FREE Shipping for Prime Members.

10. Amazon — Leight MAX NRR33 Earplugs, $7.45 for 50 Pairs.

Max NRR 33 db ear plugs

These Howard Leight NRR33 Max plugs are your Editor’s favorite foam earplugs. They seal out noise better than any others I’ve tried. Between shooting, motorcycling and mowing lawns, I probably have Max plugs in my ears 2-3 days a week. This is a very good price for a bulk pack of 50 pairs (100 plugs). And if you act soon, you can get free shipping to boot.

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March 29th, 2017

What You Need to Know About Primers — Explained by an Expert

Primer Priming Tool Magnum primers foil anvil primer construction reloading powder CCI
Winchester Pistol Primers on bench. Photo courtesy UltimateReloader.com.

There is an excellent article about primers on the Shooting Times website. We strongly recommend you read Mysteries And Misconceptions Of The All-Important Primer, written by Allan Jones. Mr. Jones is a bona fide expert — he served as the manager of technical publications for CCI Ammunition and Speer Bullets and Jones authored three editions of the Speer Reloading Manual.

» READ Full Primer “Mysteries and Misconceptions” Article

This authoritative Shooting Times article explains the fine points of primer design and construction. Jones also reveals some little-known facts about primers and he corrects common misconceptions. Here are some highlights from the article:

Primer Priming Tool Magnum primers foil anvil primer construction reloading powder CCISize Matters
Useful Trivia — even though Small Rifle and Small Pistol primer pockets share the same depth specification, Large Rifle and Large Pistol primers do not. The standard pocket for a Large Pistol primer is somewhat shallower than its Large Rifle counterpart, specifically, 0.008 to 0.009 inch less.

Magnum Primers
There are two ways to make a Magnum primer — either use more of the standard chemical mix to provide a longer-burning flame or change the mix to one with more aggressive burn characteristics. Prior to 1989, CCI used the first option in Magnum Rifle primers. After that, we switched to a mix optimized for spherical propellants that produced a 24% increase in flame temperature and a 16% boost in gas volume.

Foiled Again
Most component primers have a little disk of paper between the anvil and the priming mix. It is called “foil paper” not because it’s made of foil but because it replaces the true metal foil used to seal early percussion caps. The reason this little disk exists is strictly a manufacturing convenience. Wet primer pellets are smaller than the inside diameter of the cup when inserted and must be compacted to achieve their proper diameter and height. Without the foil paper, the wet mix would stick to the compaction pins and jam up the assembly process.

Read Full Primer Story on ShootingTimes.com:
http://www.shootingtimes.com/ammo/ammunition_st_mamotaip_200909

VIDEOS about PRIMERS
Here are two videos that offer some good, basic information on primers:

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March 27th, 2017

Bargain Finder 80: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Midsouth — Labradar Chronograph and Accessories

Labradar chronograph

Midsouth Shooters Supply is now carrying the advanced Labradar chronograph. This unique unit allows you to measure your shots without having to set up a tripod and skyscreens downrange. When you start using a Labradar, you’ll never want to go back to old-style chronographs. You can also purchase the Labradar from Bruno Shooters Supply. Price is $559.95 from either vendor. NOTE: Very soon Labradar plans to offer Bluetooth functionality, allowing you to control the machine remotely with your mobile device. This functionality will come via new software — the Bluetooth transceiver is built-in to all current Labradar units, so you can buy one now and use Bluetooth later (when the software is released).

2. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.

3. CDNN — Browning Maple X-Bolt Medallion, $849.99 with Rebate

Browning X-Bolt Medallion

CDNN Sports has some of the nicest modern Browning rifles we’ve seen. These deluxe Maple-stocked X-Bolt Medallion Rifles are now on sale for $899.99, marked down from $1519.99. Plus, through March 31st, you can get another $50.00 off with a Browning Rebate. The machine-engraved receiver features a polished blued finish, and is glass bedded into the stock. The free-floating barrel is high-gloss blued, hand-chambered and finished with a target crown. The bolt has a 60° lift and the trigger is adjustable. The stock is a high gloss AAA maple with rosewood fore-end and pistol grip cap. These are very nice rifles that any shooter would be proud to own. This Editor has ordered one as a gift to a family member — that should say something.

4. Amazon — Ammo Can/Gun Case/Range Bag System, $44.99

Plano 1612 X2 range bag ammo can gun case

This Plano 1612 X2 Range Bag System combines a plastic ammo can-type container with a two-pistol hardshell case, both enclosed in a durable, padded fabric cover with many pockets. This handy system lets you keep pistols in a separate locked compartment while still accessing ammo, muffs and other gear from the main compartment, which can also be secured with a padlock. This is a clever, versatile design, and owner reviews have been very positive:

The perfect range bag. It comes with a nice gun case, more pockets than shown, plenty of storage for earphones, several boxes of ammo and room to spare. Would buy again!” — Nate K

The problem with most range bags is that they are range ‘bags’. This is an ammo can with pockets for all your other gear. No more ‘saggy baggy’!” — MPowers

5. Sportsman’s Guide — 1000 Rds 9mm Ammo, $204.99 delivered

9mm Luger 9x19mm ammo deal case 1000 rounds Sportman's Guide

Everyone can use a 1000-round case of 9mm Luger Ammo. This Sellier & Bellot 124gr FMJ brass-cased ammo feeds and functions well. We’ve checked around and this $204.99/1000 price is one of the best deals on brass-cased 9mm ammo this week (for SG members, the cost is $194.99). Plus you can get FREE shipping with CODE SH2656 at checkout. We have shot this ammo in Glock, H&K, Sig Sauer, and S&W pistols. Rated at 1080 fps, this 9mm ammo was very reliable, and the boxer-primed cases are reloadable.

6. Cabelas — Simmons 20-60x60mm Spotter, $49.99 with Rebate

Simmons Spotting Scope Bargain Cave Cabelas 20-60x60mm

Let’s be realistic — this 20-60x60mm Simmons is NOT a great spotting scope. The sharpness is nowhere near as good as you’d get with a $1000+ spotter. However, you can now get this unit for under fifty bucks with manufacturer’s rebate. Cabela’s Sale Price is $59.99 and Vista Outdoor is offering a $10 Rebate. For basic work, such as viewing pistol targets, or spotting hits out to 250 yards, this bargain basement Simmons should suffice. Read the owner reviews — they have been surprisingly good. This scope will also work for general recreational use. Hard to beat for fifty bucks.

7. Amazon — 34 dB Noise Rating Ear Muffs, $17.45

34dB NRR 32 hearing protection earmuffs

These 34 dB NRR earmuffs provide excellent sound protection without being too heavy and bulky. At at $17.45, they are a great bargain. The lower section of the muff is trimmed for a narrower profile — that helps with rifle and shotgun stocks. The headband is adjustable and has comfortable padding. These Pro For Sho Muffs have earned a 4 1/2 star consumer rating, with over 1,600 Amazon customer reviews. NOTE: These fit pretty tight. If you have a very large hat size you might want a different brand.

8. Amazon — Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Manual, $19.99

Lyman 50th Reloading Manual

Here’s a good deal on the new Lyman 50th Ed. Reloading Manual. Our Forum members have rated this as the best Loading Manual for starting hand-loaders. This 50th Edition, the first to be produced in full color, includes more load data, and covers more cartridges than ever before. New Cartridges Include: 17 Hornet, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-284, 26 Nosler, 28 Nosler, 300 Blackout, 300 RCM, 338 RCM, 450 Bushmaster, 458 SOCOM, 50 Beowulf. Amazon has the Softcover version for $19.99 and Hardcover for $23.99. Notably, Lyman donates $1.00 to the NRA for every Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Handbook sold during the first year of publication.

9. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $16.45

Amazon Neiko Digital Caliper

Even if you have a good set of calipers, you may want to get one of these Neiko 01407A Digital Calipers. The #1 best-selling digital caliper on Amazon.com, this Neiko tool features a large LCD Screen and measures up to 6.0 inches. With over 2300 customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $17.74, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.

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March 22nd, 2017

Precision Handloading for Pistols — Tips from the USAMU

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice Reloading

Each Wednesday the USAMU offers tips for handloaders on the USAMU Facebook page. This article from the “Handloading Hump-Day” archives should interest pistol competitors, an any shooter who enjoys getting the best possible accuracy from their fine pistols. In this article, the USAMU’s experts share key tips that can help optimize your pistol ammo. Follow this tips to produce more consistent ammo, that can shoot higher scores.

Optimize the Taper Crimp
One often-overlooked aspect of handloading highly-accurate pistol ammunition is the amount of crimp and its effect on accuracy. Different amounts of taper crimp are used with various handloads to obtain best accuracy. The amount is based on bullet weight, powder burn rate and charge, plus other factors. It is not unusual for our Shop to vary a load’s crimp in degrees of 0.001″ and re-test for finest accuracy.

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice ReloadingUse Consistent Brass
Brass is also important to pistol accuracy. While accurate ammunition can be loaded using brass of mixed parentage, that is not conducive to finest results, particularly at 50 yards. It is important for the serious competitor/handloader to use brass of the same headstamp and ideally one lot number, to maximize uniformity. Given the volumes of ammunition consumed by active pistol competitors, using inexpensive, mixed surplus brass for practice, particularly at the “short line” (25 yards), is understandable. However, for the “long line” (50 yards), purchasing and segregating a lot of high-quality brass to be used strictly for slow-fire is a wise idea.

Importance of Uniform COAL
Uniformity of the Case Overall Length (COAL) as it comes from the factory is also important to achieving utmost accuracy. More uniform case lengths (best measured after sizing) contribute to greater consistency of crimp, neck tension, ignition/burn of powder charge, and so on. Cartridge case-length consistency varies from lot to lot, as well as by maker. Some manufacturers are more consistent in this dimension than others. [Editor’s note: It is easy to trim pistol brass to uniform length. Doing this will make your taper crimps much more consistent.]

Primers and Powders — Comparison Test for Accuracy
Pay attention to primer brands, powder types and charges. Evaluating accuracy with a Ransom or other machine rest at 50 yards can quickly reveal the effect of changes made to handload recipes.

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice Reloading

Bullet Selection — FMJ vs. JHP
Bullets are another vital issue. First, there is the question of FMJ vs. JHP. A friend of this writer spent decades making and accuracy-testing rifle and pistol bullets during QC for a major bullet manufacturer. In his experience, making highly-accurate FMJ bullets is much more difficult than making highly-accurate JHPs, in large part due to the way the jackets are formed. Small die changes could affect accuracy of FMJ lots dramatically.

The CMP now allows “safe, jacketed ammunition” in Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Service Pistol matches, although wadcutter ammunition is prohibited. Thus, the option to use very accurate JHP designs simplifies the life of CMP Service Pistol shooters in pursuit of the prestigious Distinguished Pistol Shot badge.

Hopefully, these tips will be helpful to any pistol shooters interested in accurate handloads, not just “Bullseye” shooters. Small tweaks to one’s normal routine can pay big dividends in improved accuracy and make practice and competition more rewarding.

Stay safe, and good shooting!

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March 22nd, 2017

Chronograph Testing — Tips from the USAMU

USAMU Marksmanship Unit Velocity Chronograph Testing Sample Sizes

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. This past week’s “Handloading Hump Day” article, the latest in a 7-part series, relates to chronograph testing and statistical samples. We highly recommend you read this article, which offers some important tips that can benefit any hand-loader. Visit the USAMU Facebook page next Wednesday for the next installment.

Chronograph Testing — Set-Up, Sample Sizes, and Velocity Factors

Initial Chronograph Setup
A chronograph is an instrument designed to measure bullet velocity. Typically, the bullet casts a shadow as it passes over two electronic sensors placed a given distance apart. The first screen is the “start” screen, and it triggers an internal, high-speed counter. As the bullet passes the second, or “stop” screen, the counter is stopped. Then, appropriate math of time vs. distance traveled reveals the bullet’s velocity. Most home chronographs use either 2- or 4-foot spacing between sensors. Longer spacing can add some accuracy to the system, but with high-quality chronographs, 4-foot spacing is certainly adequate.

Laboratory chronographs usually have six feet or more between sensors. Depending upon the make and model of ones chronograph, it should come with instructions on how far the “start” screen should be placed from one’s muzzle. Other details include adequate light (indoors or outdoors), light diffusers over the sensors as needed, and protecting the start screen from blast and debris such as shotgun wads, etc. When assembling a sky-screen system, the spacing between sensors must be extremely accurate to allow correct velocity readings.

Statistics: Group Sizes, Distances and Sample Sizes
How many groups should we fire, and how many shots per group? These questions are matters of judgment, to a degree. First, to best assess how ones ammunition will perform in competition, it should be test-fired at the actual distance for which it will be used. [That means] 600-yard or 1000-yard ammo should be tested at 600 and 1000 yards, respectively, if possible. It is possible to work up very accurate ammunition at 100 or 200 yards that does not perform well as ranges increase. Sometimes, a change in powder type can correct this and produce a load that really shines at longer range.

The number of shots fired per group should be realistic for the course of fire. That is, if one will be firing 10-shot strings in competition then final accuracy testing, at least, should involve 10-shot strings. These will reflect the rifles’ true capability. Knowing this will help the shooter better decide in competition whether a shot requires a sight adjustment, or if it merely struck within the normal accuracy radius of his rifle.

How many groups are needed for a valid test? Here, much depends on the precision with which one can gather the accuracy data. If shooting from a machine rest in good weather conditions, two or three 10-shot groups at full distance may be very adequate. If it’s windy, the rifle or ammunition are marginal, or the shooter is not confident in his ability to consistently fire every shot accurately, then a few more groups may give a better picture of the rifle’s true average.

(more…)

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March 5th, 2017

Wildcatter’s Road Map — Cartridge Conversion Book

handloaders guide cartridge conversion wildcat obsolete cartridges

Are you a confirmed wildcatter? Do you like to experiment with custom cartridge types? Or do you just like the extra performance you can get from a specialty cartridge such as a 20 Vartarg or 22-250 AI? Well, if you love wildcat cartridges, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Now available for the first time since 2003, The Handloader’s Manual of Cartridge Conversions explains the processes and tools needed to convert standardized brass into hundreds of different rifle and pistol cartridge types. A vast variety of case designs are covered — from vintage cartridge types to modern, cutting-edge wildcats.

handloaders guide cartridge conversion wildcat obsolete cartridges

This classic reference guide has been revised with an easy-to-search format, complete with a full index of hundreds of cartridges. This book belongs on the shelf of any hand-loader who enjoys making and shooting wildcat cartridges. However do note that much of the text is unchanged from earlier editions. For some cartridge types, the author recommends “parent” brass brands that are no longer available. In other situations, there may be more convenient conversions now offered. Nonetheless this is an important resource. As one verified purchaser explains: “Great reference for making the cartridges that are hard to get or no longer in production. Offers an alternative to the the time, expense and effort of having to re-chamber a classic. Saves ‘Grandpa’s shooters’ from becoming safe queens.”

wildcat cartridge case forming Killer Bee Hydraulic
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March 2nd, 2017

The Great Debate — Weight vs. Volume in Powder Dispensing

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. Volume

When we first ran this story a while back, it spurred a hot debate, with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Some guys argued vehemently that volumetric powder dispensing was best — citing the experience of short-range benchresters, most of whom still throw their charges. Others say weighing your charges is best, so long as you have a very precise, and very repeatable scale. We know some of the top 1000-yard shooters weigh their charges to the kernel.

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. VolumeMost competitive long-range shooters weigh powder charges for their handloads. Some even use ultra-precise magnetic force restoration scales to load to single-kernel tolerances. But is weight-based measuring always the best way to fill a case with powder? Another option is volumetric charging. This method fills a precisely-sized cavity with powder and then dumps the charge into the case. A Harrell’s rotary powder measure works this way, as does the sliding powder filler on a Dillon progressive press.

For long-range applications, most people believe that precise weighing of powder charges is the best way to achieve optimal accuracy and low ES/SD. However, those short-range Benchrest guys do pretty darn well with their thrown charges, at least at 100 and 200 yards.

Our friend Dennis Santiago recently observed something that made him scratch his head and wonder about weighing charges. His AR-15 match rifle shot better with volumetric (cavity-measured) charges than with weighed charges dispensed by an RCBS ChargeMaster. Here’s what he reports:

Cavity vs. Dribble (Dennis Santiago Report)
I had the chance to compare nominally identical ammunition loaded two ways. These were all .223 Remington match loads using 77gr Sierra Match Kings over 23.4 grains of Hodgdon Varget. Same gun. However I loaded some ammo with charges dispensed with a Lee cavity-style powder measure while other rounds were loaded with powder weighed/dispensed by an RCBS Chargemaster. The cavity-drop ammo (with powder dropped from the Lee unit) was consistently better than the weighed-charge ammo. I have no idea why…

So, ladies and gentlemen — what do you think? Why did Mr. Santiago’s volumetrically-charged ammo shoot better than ammo filled with weighed charges? What’s your theory? Gary Eliseo suspects that Dennis’s Chargemaster might have been drifting. What do you think? Post your theories in the comments area below.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 15 Comments »
February 24th, 2017

TECH TIP: How to Remove a Stuck Cartridge Case from a Die

stuck72

To err is human… Sooner or later you’ll probably get a case stuck in a die. This “fix-it” article, which originally appeared in the Western Powders Blog, explains the procedure for removing a firmly stuck cartridge case using an RCBS kit. This isn’t rocket science, but you do want to follow the directions carefully, step-by-step. Visit the Western Powders Blog for other helpful Tech Tips.

Western powders, ramshot, norma, accurate

Curing the Stuck Case Blues

decapstem72Sticking a case in the sizer die is a rite of passage for the beginning handloader. If you haven’t done it yet, that’s great, but it probably will eventually happen. When it does, fixing the problem requires a bit of ingenuity or a nice little kit like the one we got from RCBS.

The first step is to clear the de-capping pin from the flash hole. Just unscrew the de-capping assembly to move it as far as possible from the primer pocket and flash hole (photo at right). Don’t try to pull it all the way out. It won’t come. Just unscrew it and open as much space as possible inside the case.

Place the die upside down in the padded jaws of a vise and clamp it firmly into place. Using the supplied #7 bit, drill through the primer pocket. Be careful not to go too deeply inside the cartridge once the hole has opened up. It is important to be aware that the de-capping pin and expander ball are still in there and can be damaged by the bit.

Drill and Tap the Stuck Case
taping72drilling72

Once the cartridge head has been drilled, a ¼ – 20 is tap is used to cut threads into the pocket. Brass is relatively soft compared to a hardened tap, so no lube is needed for the tapping process. RCBS says that a drill can be used for this step, but it seems like a bit of overkill in a project of this nature. A wrench (photo above right) makes short work of the project.

RCBS supplies a part they call the “Stuck Case Remover Body” for the next step. If you are a do-it-yourselfer and have the bit and tap, this piece is easily replicated by a length of electrical conduit of the proper diameter and some washers. In either case, this tool provides a standoff for the screw that will do the actual pulling.

pulling72fingers72

With an Allen Wrench, Finish the Job
Run the screw through the standoff and into the tapped case head. With a wrench, tighten the screw which hopefully pulls the case free. Once the case is free, clamp the case in a vice and pull it free of the de-capping pin. There is tension here because the sizing ball is oversized to the neck dimension as part of the sizing process. It doesn’t take much force, but be aware there is still this last little hurdle to clear before you get back to loading. Don’t feel bad, everyone does this. Just use more lube next time!

wholekit72unstuck72

Article find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
February 21st, 2017

Why Does Load Data Vary Between Reloading Manuals?

load manual sierra reloading hornady data

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks
One of the first things new reloaders notice is that load data varies between reloading manuals. The Sierra Bullets Technicians frequently get inquiries asking us to explain why the load data appears to be inconsistent. This article explains five key factors that can influence published load data.

Example of load data variances for two 168 grain bullets:

Sierra Reloading Manual Hornady Load Reloading

Here are five reasons why the load data varies:

The Bullet
Basically, the similarities in the .30 caliber 168 grain Match bullets (for example) end with weight and diameter. The bullets likely have dimensional differences such as bearing surface length. Bearing surface has a large effect on pressure and velocity. There are also differences in boat tail, flat base, ogive and over-all lengths, which each help determine the cartridge over-all-length (COAL). With different COAL’s, we can expect changes in pressure and velocity also. In some calibers there are differences in bullet diameter with different bullet manufacturers.

It is also worth noting that bullet manufacturers do not all use the same copper alloy for their jackets. This produces more or less friction that results in load pressures and velocities. The solid copper bullets also vary quite a bit in comparison to a lead core and copper jacketed bullet.

The Gun
Each gun is unique, even if you are using the same make, model, and caliber. Special consideration should be used to consider that not all firearm chambers are the same either, creating more variables that need consideration. There can be drastic differences in the throat length. This controls the amount of “jump” that a bullet experiences when the cartridge is fired.

The Powder
Within normal manufacturing tolerances, you can see some variation in a given powders burn rate between different lots of the same powder. So naturally when two different Manuals are produced, it would be doubtful that the same lots would be tested.

The Cartridge Cases
New cases are almost always near minimum specs in dimension. A load fired in a new case would likely have slightly more pressure that when fired in a re-sized case. This would certainly be true if we were loading into fire-formed cases that have had minimal re-sizing done. Fired cases that are full length resized most of the time be slightly larger than the new unfired cases. This gives you differences in case capacity. The same powder charge placed within a new case and a full length resized case will produce different pressure levels and probably different velocities.

Conditions
Temperature can cause pressure increases or decreases. Hot temperatures tend to cause pressures to increase, while cold temperatures will usually do the opposite. Humidity and altitude can impact pressures and velocities likewise.

Conclusion
As you can see, an amazing number of variables effect any load combination. With the differences in the manuals, you’re just seeing firsthand examples of what took place when the data was collected with that particular set of components and firearm. Think of a reloading manual as a report. In essence, a reloading manual says, “We tried this particular component combination, and these are the results we obtained.”

Remember that you may or may not reach the same maximum load safely. There is no “one load fits all bullets.” The minimum load data offers a safe place to start. The maximum load data listed should always be regarded as a safety guideline and not necessarily a goal! Your gun should shoot accurately without breaching the maximum load data. The best advice is: always start low and work your load up!

If you have questions about variances in load data or other reloading questions, please call our ballistic technicians at 1-800-223-8799 or send us an email at sierra [at] sierrabullets.com.

Sierra Bullets Blog reloading information

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
February 20th, 2017

Bargain Finder 75 — AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Brownells — Remington 700 SA Receiver with Trigger, $399.99

Rem Remington 700 Short Action SA sale receiver X-Mark Pro

Here’s a genuine Remington short action receiver with X-Mark Pro trigger for $399.99 (or just $364.50 with coupon M3J). You can use this blued Short Action (SA) for your next hunting or varmint rifle. These Rem actions will also work with many third-party modular chassis systems. DOES NOT include receiver plug screws, recoil lug, triggerguard, triggerguard screws, and magazine components. NOTE: The sale price is $399.99, but you can save $35.00 with code M3J, good for Today Only, 2/20/2017.

2. Amazon.com — 34 dB Noise Rating Ear Muffs, $17.97

34dB NRR 32 hearing protection earmuffs

These 34 dB NRR earmuffs provide excellent sound protection without being too heavy and bulky. The lower section of the muff is trimmed for a narrower profile — that helps with rifle and shotgun stocks. The headband is adjustable and has comfortable padding. These Pro For Sho Muffs have earned a 4 1/2 star consumer rating, with over 1,600 Amazon customer reviews. NOTE: These fit pretty tight. If you have a very large hat size you might want a different brand.

3. Midsouth — Nosler Blem Bullets at Big Discounts

nosler blem seconds bullet sale

Nosler Factory Seconds are available at deep discounts from Midsouth Shooters Supply. These have correct weights/dimensions but may have minor cosmetic blemishes — such as tip discolorations or jacket water spots. The Accubond and Ballistic Tip bullets work great for hunting — your prey won’t care about water spots. And the RDF match bullets in .224 (70 grain) and .308 (175 grain) calibers can definitely do the job. But you need to act soon — quantities are limited. Once these factory seconds are gone, they’re GONE! Order now and save up to 53%.

4. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

Looking for a great holiday gift for a family member getting started in metallic cartridge reloading? This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.

5. CDNN Sports — Ruger American Ranch Rifle (Tan), $349.99

Ruger American Ranch Rifle 5.56 .223 223 Remington Varmint Bolt Action

Here’s a nice little varmint rifle from Ruger with good features and performance at a killer price: $349.99. You could pay that much just for a barrel. This .223 Rem rifle features a 16.5″ hammer-forged barrel barrel threaded 1/2″-28 at the muzzle for brake or suppressor. The action, which features a 70° three-lug bolt, and Picatinny-style scope rail, sits in an aluminum bedding block. The crisp trigger adjusts down to 3 pounds. With a weight (before optics) of 6.1 pounds, this is a handy carry-around varminter. We like this rifle. For $349.99 it’s a steal.

6. Midsouth — 17 HMR V-Max Ammo, $9.95 for 50 rounds

17 HMR Hornady Midsouth V-Max Vmax Sale

Need 17 HMR ammo for your planned 2017 varmint safaris? Then grab this Hornady V-Max ammo while you can at $9.95 for a 50-round box. This is a great price. Other vendors are selling the same Hornady ammo for as much as $15.00 per box. We’ve used this ammo and it was very accurate out of both semi-auto (Savage A17) and bolt-action (CZ 455) 17 HMR rifles.

7. Able Ammo — 247 Rounds .223 Rem, HP Bullets

.223 Remington Rem Hornady XTP bullet ammo ammunition varmint sale

Here you go — instant varmint safari. This Hornady-made .223 Rem ammo features quality hollowpoint bullets, rather than the not-so-accurate FMJ bullets with most bulk .223 ammo. This stuff is much more accurate (with lower ES/SD) than other low-priced ammo. Users report sub-MOA accuracy with this stuff. If you’re planning a varmint safari this spring but don’t have the time (or gear) to reload, pick up a couple boxes of this stuff and you’re good to go. There are 247 rounds in each polymer ammo “can”. This ammo usually comes loaded with Hornady’s XTP (eXtreme Terminal Performance) bullets which work great on varmints.

8. NRA & MidwayUSA — NRA Life Membership, $600.00

NRA Life Membership $600.00 Offer discount

Here’s the best deal going right now on an NRA Life Membership. This normally costs $1500.00, but if you CLICK HERE, you can get a life membership for just $600.00, thanks to an NRA/MidwayUSA promotion. You can also save on 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year NRA memberships. Note: This is a limited-time offer.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »