June 22nd, 2019

Reloading Basics: Neck Tension, Expander Balls, and Bushings

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
One thing that plays a major role in building an accuracy load is neck tension. I think a lot of reloaders pretty much take this for granted and don’t give that enough thought.

So, how much neck tension is enough?

Thru the years and shooting both a wide variety of calibers and burn rates of powder, I’ve had the best accuracy overall with .002″ of neck tension. Naturally you will run into a rifle now and then that will do its best with something different like .001″ or even .003″, but .002″ has worked very well for me. So how do we control the neck tension? Let’s take a look at that.

First of all, if you’re running a standard sizing die with an expander ball, just pull your decapping rod assembly out of your die and measure the expander ball. What I prefer is to have an expander ball that [can give] you .002″ in neck tension [meaning the inside neck diameter is about .002″ smaller than the bullet diameter after passing the expander through]. If you want to take the expander ball down in diameter, just chuck up your decapping rod assembly in a drill and turn it down with some emery cloth. When you have the diameter you need, polish it with three ought or four ought steel wool. This will give it a mirror finish and less drag coming through your case neck after sizing.

Tips for Dies With Interchangeable Neck Bushings
If you’re using a bushing die, I measure across the neck of eight or ten loaded rounds, then take an average on these and go .003″ under that measurement. There are other methods to determine bushing size, but this system has worked well for me.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Proper Annealing Can Deliver More Uniform Neck Tension
Another thing I want to mention is annealing. When brass is the correct softness, it will take a “set” coming out of the sizing die far better than brass that has become to hard. When brass has been work hardened to a point, it will be more springy when it comes out of a sizing die and neck tension will vary. Have you ever noticed how some bullets seated harder than others? That is why.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Paying closer attention to neck tension will give you both better accuracy and more consistent groups.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 7 Comments »
June 21st, 2019

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
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 14th, 2019

TECH Tip: How to Reduce Run-Out with Seating Dies

USAMU Hump Day Reloading TIR run-out concentricity seating die stem

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. A while back the USAMU’s reloading gurus looked at the subject of cartridge run-out and what can be done to produce straighter ammo. Tasked with producing thousands of rounds of ammo for team members, the USAMU’s reloading staff has developed smart methods for improving concentricity, even with budget=price dies. For other hand-loading tips, visit the USAMU Facebook page.

Minimizing Runout with Standard Seating Dies

This USAMU article explains how to set up standard bullet seating dies dies to minimize Total Indicated Run-out (TIR). The loading process is described using a single-stage press since most handloaders have one. A high-quality run-out gauge is essential for obtaining consistent, accurate results.

Having sized, primed, and charged our brass, the next step is bullet seating. Many approaches are possible; one that works well follows. When setting up a standard seating die, insert a sized, trimmed case into the shellholder and fully raise the press ram. Next, back the seating stem out and screw the die down until the internal crimping shoulder touches the case mouth.

Back the die out ¼ turn from this setting to prevent cartridge crimping. Next, lower the press ram and remove the case. Place a piece of flat steel (or window glass, which is quite flat) on the shellholder and carefully raise the ram.

Place tension on the die bottom with the flat steel on the shellholder. This helps center the die in the press threads. Check this by gently moving the die until it is well-centered. Keeping light tension on the die via the press ram, secure the die lock ring. If one were using a match style, micrometer-type seating die, the next step would be simple: run a charged case with bullet on top into the die and screw the seating stem down to obtain correct cartridge OAL.

However, with standard dies, an additional step can be helpful. When the die has a loosely-threaded seating stem, set the correct seating depth but don’t tighten the stem’s lock nut. Leave a loaded cartridge fully raised into the die to center the seating stem in the die. Then, secure the stem’s lock nut. Next, load sample cartridges and check them to verify good concentricity.

USAMU Hump Day Reloading TIR run-out concentricity seating die stem

One can also experiment with variations such as letting the seating stem float slightly in the die to self-center, while keeping correct OAL. The run-out gauge will show any effects of changes upon concentricity. However, this method has produced excellent, practical results as evidenced by the experiment cited previously. These results (TIR Study 2) will reproduced below for the reader’s convenience.

First, however, let’s examine run-out figures of some factory-loaded match ammunition. This should give readers who are new to TIR gauges some perspective about the TIR ranges one might encounter.

TIR Study 1: 50 rounds Lake City M852 Match 7.62mm
(168 gr. Sierra MatchKings)
0.000” – 0.001” = 2%
0.001” – 0.002” = 30%
0.002” – 0.003” = 16%
0.003” – 0.004” = 22%
0.004” – 0.005” = 14%
0.005” – 0.006” = 14%
0.006” – 0.007” = 0%
0.007” – 0.008” = 2%

TIR Study 2: 50 rounds of .308 match ammo loaded using carefully-adjusted standard dies, vs. 50 using expensive “Match” dies from the same maker.

Standard dies, TIR:
0.000” — 0.001” = 52%;
0.001”– 0.002” = 40%;
0.002”– 0.003” = 8%.
None greater than 0.003”.

Lesser-quality “Match” dies, TIR:
0.000”– 0.001” = 46%;
0.001” — 0.002” = 30%;
0.002” — 0.003” = 20%;
0.003” — 0.004” = 4%.

Note: both samples were loaded using the O-Ring method, i.e. with a rubber O-Ring placed under the locking ring of the Full-length sizing die to allow that die to float.

These tips are intended to help shooters obtain the best results from inexpensive, standard loading dies. Especially when using cases previously fired in a concentric chamber, as was done above, top-quality match dies and brass can easily yield ammo with virtually *no* runout, given careful handloading.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
June 14th, 2019

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 »
June 6th, 2019

Neck-Turning Brass on Milling Machine with Erik Cortina

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Here’s the super-speedy way to turn case-necks. Our friend Erik Cortina figured out how to turn his match cartridge case-necks using his milling machine. Erik told us: “While in Raton, Mid Tompkins told me that he turns his brass on milling machine. He said he could do about 500 in two hours, so I decided to try it.”

Erik fitted a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turner to the mill, and he used a modified 21st Century case holder to secure the brass. As you can see from this video, Erik was very successful with the process. The tool spins at 1500 rpm, turning Lapua 6.5-284 cases that have been necked up to 7mm.

Video Shows Eric Cortina Neck-Turning Cases with Milling Machine:

Cartridge Brass: Lapua 6.5-284 necked up to 7mm
Lubricant: Lithium grease inside and outside of neck
Neck-Turner: Nielson Pumpkin running at 1500 RPM

It’s hard to argue with Erik’s results. Here are his turned Lapua cases, which have neck-wall thickness consistent to two ten-thousandths of an inch. Think you could do better turning manually?

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Some of Erik’s Facebook friends had questions about this process:

Q: Who makes the shell-holder?

Erik Cortina: I did! The shell-holder you can get from 21st Century. I Tig-welded a punch as a handle.

Q: I love the idea of working smarter not harder! Any galling issues? What are your mitigation techniques?

Erik Cortina: No issues. I use lithium grease in spray can. Makes a foam that I dip necks into.

Q: Shouldn’t either the case or the cutter be floating to allow most precise neck turning?

Erik Cortina: Up until [I tried this] I believed the same thing. I was going to build a floating case holder but decided to try rigid setup on a few cases before I built it. Results were great. Neck thickness doesn’t vary more than .0002″, which is same as when I was doing it with floating case holder on the lathe.

Q: Any problems with the Pumpkin changing the cut as it heats up?

Erik Cortina: No — there were no issues with that.

NOTE: Erik Cortina is a very skilled machinist who custom-crafted fittings used for this process. This kind of neck-turning with a milling machine may not be for the everyday hand-loader!

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Nielson “Pumpkin” Neck-Turner

Don Nielson Pumpkin neck turning toolThe circular orange cutting fixture on Erik’s Milling Machine is a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turning tool. Don designed this tool to be used by hand or with power. The Pumpkin boasts an eccentric mandrel that allows the cut to be adjusted easily in precise .0001″ increments. Benchresters like this as it allows for very precise control of cut depth and neck-wall thickness.

Jason C., commenting on Erik’s YouTube video stated: “I have a couple of those too. Nothing cuts like a Pumpkin. [Don Nielson] made the best cutter tool ever.” These are still available if you ask around. The photo shows Don with a case-holder mounted to a power assembly. A talented machinist and tool-maker, Don has also been a successful short- and long-range benchrest shooter, who has won NBRSA 600-Yard Championships. CLICK HERE to read about Don’s success with the 6.5×47 Lapua.

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina
Nielson Neck Turner with carbide mandrel. Photo Courtesy Butch’s Reloading.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
June 3rd, 2019

Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge — Quick & Easy

Here’s a tip we feature every year or so, because it is something that costs nothing, yet can be very useful in the reloading process. With a simple, easy modification to a fired case, you can determine the length to lands in your rifle barrel. As long as you set the tension right, the measurements should be repeatable, and you’ve just saved yourself $42 — the price of a commercial OAL gauge and Modified Case.

case OAL gauge home made

To achieve best accuracy with a rifle, you must control bullet seating depth very precisely, so all bullets end up in the same place relative to the entrance of the lands, every time. There may be multiple cartridge OALs which prove accurate. However, with each, you first need to determine a “zero” point — a reliable, and repeatable OAL where the bullet is “just touching” the lands.

There are tools, such as the Hornady (formerly Stoney Point) OAL Gauge, that will help you find a seating OAL just touching the lands. However, the tool requires that you use a special modified case for each cartridge you shoot. And, while we find that the Hornady OAL Gauge is repeatable, it does take some practice to get in right.

Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge with a Dremel
Here’s an inexpensive alternative to the Hornady OAL tool — a slotted case. Forum member Andris Silins explais how to create a slotted case to measure length to the lands in your rifle:

“Here’s what I did to find length to lands for seating my bullets. I made four cuts into the neck of fire-formed brass. Then I pressed the bullet in lightly and chambered the entire gauge. As the cartridge chambers, the bullet slides back into the case to give you length to lands. It took less than five minutes to get it cut and working. A little light oil in the barrel just past the chamber helps ensure the bullet does not get stuck in the lands. It works great and is very accurate.

How to Adjust Tension — Length and Number of Neck Cuts
I made the cuts using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel. You can adjust tension two ways. First, you can make the cuts longer or shorter. Longer cuts = less tension. If you used only three cuts instead of four you would get more tension. The trick is to be gentle when you open and close the bolt. If you ram the bolt closed you may wedge the bullet into the lands. When you open the bolt it helps to keep a finger or two near by to guide the case out straight because the ejector wants to push it sideways.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
June 2nd, 2019

Go with the “O” — O-Rings May Reduce Run-Out When Sizing

reloading die O-ring
reloading die O-ring

Here’s an inexpensive procedure that can help you load straighter ammo, with slightly better measured concentricity (i.e. less run-out) on the case necks and bullets. Simply use a Rubber O-Ring on the underside of the die locking ring. This allows the die to self-align itself (slightly) to the case that is being sized. Without the O-Ring, if the flat surface on the top of your press is not perfectly square with the thread axis, your die can end up slightly off-angle. This happens when the bottom of the locking ring butts up tight against the top of the press. The O-Ring allows the die to float slightly, and that may, in turn, reduce the amount of run-out induced during case sizing.

Top prone shooter GSArizona has tried this trick and he says it works: “Go to your local hardware store and get a #17 O-Ring (that’s the designation at Ace Hardware, don’t know if its universal). Slip the O-Ring on the die and re-adjust the lock ring so that the O-Ring is slightly compressed when the die is at the correct height. Size and measure a few more cases. You will probably see a slight improvement in neck concentricity as the die can now float a bit as the case enters and leaves it. This isn’t going to be a dramatic improvement, but it’s a positive one.”

We want to stress that adding O-Rings to sizing dies may help some reloaders, but we don’t offer this as a panacea. Try it — if using the O-Ring reduces measured runout that’s great. If it doesn’t, you’ve only spent a few pennies to experiment.

reloading die O-ring

Lee Precision makes die lock rings with built-in O-Rings. Lee’s distinctive lock ring design allows the same kind of self-alignment, which is good. However, Lee lock rings don’t clamp in place on the die threads, so they can move when you insert or remove the dies — and that can throw off your die setting slightly. By using an O-Ring under a conventional die lock ring (that can be locked in place), you get the advantages of the Lee design, without the risk of the lock ring moving.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
May 31st, 2019

Eyeball Your Brass — How to Diagnose Flawed Cases

Case Diagnostics 101 Sierra Bullets .223 Rem 5.56 brass cartridge safety

Ever wondered what caused a particular bulge or marking on a case? And more importantly, does the issue make the case unsafe for further use? Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks offers some insight into various issues and their causes in this article from the Sierra Blog.

Incipient Case-Head Separation
This is a Winchester .308 Win case that has a real issue. This case has a very obvious incipient case head separation in the process of becoming a complete failure.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

This is most commonly caused by over-sizing the case causing there to be excess headspace on the case. After a few firings and subsequent re-sizing, this case is just about ready to come completely apart. Proper die adjustment is certainly a requirement here. Of course this case is not safe to reuse.

Excessive Pressure (Load Too Hot)
If you will notice in the picture of the case rim, there are two pressure signs to notice. First, look at the primer. It is basically flattened to about the max of what could be considered safe. If this was the only pressure sign noted, I would probably be fine with this load, but would constantly keep an eye on it especially if I was going to use this load in warmer temperatures. This load could easily cross into the “excess pressure” realm very quickly.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

There is another sign of pressure that we cannot ignore. If you’ll notice, there is an ejector mark apparent that is located over the “R” of the R-P headstamp. This absolutely tells us that this load would not have been in the safe pressure range. If there were any of these rounds loaded, they should not be fired and should be dis-assembled. This case should not be reloaded.

Split Case-Neck
Here we have an R-P .22-250 case that has died the death. Everything looks fine with this case except the neck is split. This case must be tossed.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

A split neck is a normal occurrence that you must watch for. It is caused by work-hardening of the brass. Brass cases get harder with age and use. Brand new cases that are stored for a period of time can become hard enough that they will split like this case within one to two firings. I have had new factory loads do the same thing. Then as we resize and fire these cases repeatedly, they tend to get harder and harder. Eventually they will split. The life of the case can be extended by careful annealing practices. This is an issue that would need to be addressed in an article by itself. Of course this case is no longer usable.

In the classes that I teach, I try to use examples like this to let the students see what they should be looking for. As always, if we can assist you, whether you are new to reloading or very experienced, contact us here at Sierra Bullets by phone at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra@sierrabullets.com.

Dented Case Body
Here we have a Lake City 7.62×51 (.308 Win.) case with two heavy marks/dents in the case body.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

This one may be a bit of a mystery. It appears as if this case may have been caught in the action of a semi-auto rifle when the firearm jammed or the case failed to clear during the cycling process. I probably would not reload this case just to prevent any feeding problems. This also appeared to be a factory loaded round and I don’t really see any pressure issues or damage to the case.

CLICK HERE for MORE .223 Rem Case Examples in Sierra Blog

It is very important to observe and inspect your cases before each reloading. After awhile it becomes second nature to notice the little things. Never get complacent as you become more familiar with the reloading process. If ever in doubt, call Sierra’s Techs at 1-800-223-8799.

Sierra Bullets Case Diagnostics Blog

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
May 28th, 2019

Will Carbon Build-Up Inside Cases Raise Load Pressure?

Carbon fouling case cartridge interior Pressure volume ultrasonic

As a cartridge case is reloaded multiple times, burnt powder residue and carbon builds up on the inside of the case. Unless the case interior is cleaned in some fashion, eventually you’ll see a slight reduction in case capacity. One of our Forum members from Australia wonders about the effects of reduced case capacity: “If the capacity of the case decreases as the crud builds up, then it effectively reduces the size of the cartridge (inside). Wouldn’t that change the pressure produced from that of an equivalent clean case?”

Interesting Test of Case Capacity Changes
Forum member Fred Bohl has actual test results that can help answer the above question. Fred proved that, over a 20-reload cycle, the case capacity of uncleaned cases did decline a small amount. However, surprisingly, this did not seem to affect the actual chronographed velocity of the load. Extreme Spread (ES) did increase, but Fred believes the higher ES was due to changes in case-neck tension, rather than due to the slight reduction in case capacity. Fred reports:

“Back when beginning to use ultrasonic case cleaning, part of the motivation was to get the inside clean based on the assumption that allowing burnt residue to build up inside cases would affect capacity, and, ultimately, performance. An experiment was done to test this hypothesis. The load used, 30.5 grains of RL15 behind 107gr SMKs in a 6mmBR, was selected for best group and lowest ES in prior load development. It turned out to be 92% of initial case capacity and neither “full” or compressed. (I would suspect that different powders, load weight, and total case capacity might produce very different results.)

We took 30 cases of identical initial capacity and tracked three lots of 10 each:

LOT 1: No Internal cleaning
LOT 2: Cleaned with media in tumbler
LOT 3: Cleaned with Ultrasound machine

Each case (in each lot) was shot and reloaded 20 times. The simplified results after 20 reloads of each lot were as follows:

Lot 1 (not cleaned) – 0.3 to 0.4 gr. loss of capacity, 5 to 8 fps greater ES.
Lot 2 (tumble cleaned) – 0.1 to 0.3 gr. loss of capacity, 4 to 6 fps greater ES.
Lot 3 (ultrasonic cleaned) – no loss of capacity, no detectable change in ES.

FINDINGS
There was no detectable correlation of velocity change to the lots. An oddity was that on very hot days Lot 1 velocities were, occasionally, slightly higher. From results of another ongoing test, I believe the above differences in ES are probably due more to variance in bullet grip tension than case capacity. The ultrasound cleaned cases (LOT 3) did maintain the lowest ES, but we are not 100% sure of the reasons why. More consistent bullet seating might be the reason.”

Carbon fouling case cartridge interior Pressure volume ultrasonic

Editor’s NOTE: Fred’s results do suggest that carbon build-up inside the uncleaned cases might cause a slight increase in pressure that shows up on hot days. Fred has posted that: “A local shooter reported doing the 20 reload, no-clean test on a .308 that gave a loss of capacity of 2.0 grains, doubled ES and significant velocity changes. However, I don’t have any details on his load weight or powder.” Obviously a lot of carbon can build up with 20 reloads. Many shooters retire their brass before then.

Ultrasonic Cleaning and Neck Lube
Some time ago, Jason Baney did a lengthy test on ultrasonic cleaning. Jason found that with his ultrasonically-cleaned cases, the inside of the necks got so “squeaky clean” that he needed to use dry lube in the necks. Jason uses the $10.95 dry lube kit from Neconos.com. This applies ultra-fine Moly powder to the neck using small carbon steel balls.

Neconos.com moly neck lube

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
May 25th, 2019

Doh! Make Sure Your Ammo Fits Your Chamber!

Ruptured Cartridge Case

If you don’t match your ammo to your chamber, bad things can happen, that’s for sure. A while back, Forum member BigBlack had an experience at the gun range that reminds us of the importance of safety when shooting. He encountered evidence that someone had fired the wrong cartridge in a 7mm WSM rifle. The problem is more common than you may think. This Editor has personally seen novices try to shoot 9mm ammo in 40sw pistols. BigBlack’s story is along those lines, though the results were much more dramatic. It’s too bad a knowledgeable shooter was not nearby to “intervene” before this fellow chambered the wrong ammo.

7mm-08 is Not the Same as a 7mm WSM
BigBlack writes: “I know this has probably been replayed a thousand times but I feel we can never be reminded enough about safety. This weekend at the range I found a ruptured case on the ground. My immediate thoughts were that it was a hot load, but the neck area was begging for me to take a closer look, so I did. I took home the exploded case and rummaged through my old cases until I found a close match. From my investigative work it appears someone shot a 7mm-08 in a 7mm WSM. Take a look. In the above photo I’ve put together a 7mm WSM case (top), the ruptured case (middle), and a 7mm-08 case (bottom).”

The photo reveals what probably happened to the 7mm-08 case. The shoulder moved forward to match the 7mm WSM profile. The sidewalls of the case expanded outward in the much larger 7mm WSM chamber until they lacked the strength to contain the charge, and then the case sides ruptured catastrophically. A blow-out of this kind can be very dangerous, as the expanding gasses may not be completely contained within the action.

Can’t Happen to You? Think Again.
This kind of mistake — chambering the wrong cartridge — can happen to any shooter who is distracted, who places even a single wrong round in an ammo box, or who has two types of ammo on the bench. One of our Forum members was testing two different rifles recently and he picked up the wrong cartridge from the bench. As a result, he fired a .30-06 round in a .300 Win Mag chamber, and the case blew out. Here is his story:

“I took two of my hunting rifles I have not used for over 25 years to the range yesterday to get new scopes on paper, a .30-06 and .300 Win Mag. I had four boxes of old Winchester factory ammo (two of each cartridge), which had near identical appearances. I accidentally chambered a .30-06 round in the Sako .300 Win Mag rifle. It sprayed powder on my face and cracked the stock at the pistol grip. If I had not been wearing safety glasses I might be blind right now.

Safety eyewear glasses
You should always wear protective eyewear, EVERY time you shoot.

“I feel lucky and am very thankful for being OK — other than my face looks funny right now. I am also grateful for learning a valuable lesson. I will never put two different cartridges on the bench at the same time again.”

READ More about this incident in our Shooters’ Forum.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
May 19th, 2019

Blood and Gore — Injury After Pistol Powder Loaded in Rifle Case

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

This is a grim tale. A man almost lost the use of his right hand, and did suffer terrible injuries to his fingers. All because he picked the wrong bottle of powder off the shelf. We have run this story before, and we will continue to run it every year, as a caution to our readers. This mistake is easy to make, but the consequences can be dire. Always, always double-check your powder labels before you start the hand-loading process. If you don’t, you may not have a hand to load with next time…

Similar Labels, Disasterous Consequences
The shooter, Denny K., was assembling some rounds for his brand new 7mm-08 Savage hunting rifle. He thought he was loading with Hodgdon Varget. Instead he had filled his powder measure with Hodgdon TiteGroup, a fast-burning pistol powder. The labels are similar, so the mistake is understandable. But the results were devastating. Here’s what 41 grains of TiteGroup can do in a 7mm-08:

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

Posting on the Firing Line, in a thread entitled “Lucky to Be Alive”, Denny writes:

“This is the hardest post to post. I know if I had read it a week ago my comment would have been: ‘You have no business reloading’. I had everything perfect, except pouring the wrong powder in the powder measure. I type this slowly with my left hand, embarrassed but … possibly saving someone else a tragedy or, like me, a long drive to the Emergency Room and surgery to save my finger.”

CLICK HERE for bigger, more graphic photo of injury.
Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

The Still-Sealed Bottle of Varget
Denny did not initially comprehend exactly why the kaboom happened. He thought maybe his new Savage rifle was at fault. Then, on his return home, he discovered something…

Denny wrote: “The seven-hour period it took to go to ER, transport to Trauma Center and surgery made me think it was a Savage rifle issue. Brand new rifle, new brass, triple-checked loading data. The next day I was humbled when I realized the Varget powder was still sealed.

I knew what powder to use. I thought [Varget] was what I used. Not until the following day did I realize the Varget was still sealed.”

At that point, Denny realized what caused the accident — “operator error”. He knew he had to warn others about using the wrong powder: “I knew I needed to share my mistake, even though it is embarrassing, just to remind people. I’ve been reloading for 30 years…”

Editor’s Comment: Denny was not a novice reloader. His experience demonstrates that this kind of mistake can be made by any hand-loader, even one with decades of experience. Be safe guys, take your time when you load your ammo. Remove powders from measures after your loading sessions (pistol powders can look very similar to rifle powders). And by all means CHECK the LABEL on the jug. As the TiteGroup label says: “A little goes a long way.”

It’s not a bad idea to separate your pistol powders from your rifle powders, or perhaps even load for pistol in a separate part of your workshop.

Permalink News, Reloading, Tech Tip 12 Comments »
May 14th, 2019

Precision Expander Mandrels from 21st Century Shooting

21st Century Shooting expander mandrels die body precision

You can benefit from these precision mandrels, trust us…

Controlling cartridge neck tension is a critical aspect of accurate reloading. A very small change in the amount of grip on the bullet can actually have a noticeable effect on accuracy (and group size). You can tune neck tension with different size bushings used with FL-sizing or neck-sizing dies. You can also adjust neck “grip” by annealing your brass, or turning your necks for reduced neck-wall thickness.

But perhaps the most precise way to tune neck grip on the bullet is to use Precision Expander Mandrels. Many top shooters size their case necks down pretty far with a full-length sizing die then use a precision neck mandrel as a final step. This expands the neck back to the precisely-desired neck diameter. Because you are working from the “inside out”, variances in neck-wall thickness become less important. This also ensures you have a perfectly-round internal neck geometry for seating your bullet. (Yes, unfortunately some neck bushings are not perfectly round inside.)

For guys who want ultra-precise control over neck tension (and “grip” on the bullet), 21st Century Shooting now offers Precision Expander Mandrels in .0005 (one-half thousandth) increments. These will be available for most popular match calibers including: .224, 6mm, .25, 6.5mm, .270, 7mm, .308, and .338 calibers. These mandrels cost $17.99 each, or you can get a complete set of nine mandrels in .0005 increments (for one caliber) for $144.99. Listed below are the nine 6mm mandrels:

21st Century Shooting expander mandrels die body precision

John Perkins, owner of 21st Century tells us: “Finally! We have our expander mandrels up and ready to order on our website here: http://www.xxicsi.com/expander-mandrels.html.” This is a big deal. James Crofts, past National F-TR Champion, says “WooHoo — great news!”

To get best results with these precision mandrels, John recommends using the 21st Century Expander Die Body, part #904. Watch video for set-up tips:

John adds: “We are still in the midst of turning all of these so some calibers will ship when they are completed. Should have them all done by end of next week or so! Thanks for your patience while we got these set up and in process!”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
May 7th, 2019

Time in the Reloading Room Can Provide Stress Relief

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 - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
May 2nd, 2019

Loading at the Range — Why It Works for the Benchrest Game

Benchrest IBS Shooting Reloading Chargemaster tuning load
Shown are funnel with ultra-long drop tube (which helps get more kernels in the cases), RCBS Chargemaster (in wood box), and Hood Press (similar to Harrell’s Combo press).

Loading at the range remains important in the Benchrest for Group discipline. In a Special Report below, IBS President Jeff Stover explains how loading methods (and hardware) have evolved over the years. The advent of accurate, affordable electronic powder dispensers, such as the RCBS ChargeMaster and Frankford’s new Intellidropper, have changed the game and made it easier to load efficiently at the range. And quality manual powder measures are fast and can be very consistent, with a little practice. Loading at the range permits competitors to tune their load to the conditions, change seating depths, or even choose different bullets to suit the barrel’s preferences on any given day.

IBS Benchrest

Although pre-loading is not uncommon, most 100/200-yard group shooters usually load at the match, often between relays. The goal is to shoot smaller groups by staying “in tune”. In a game where 5-shot groups “in the 1s and Zeros” is the goal, tuning loads for the conditions helps deliver match-winning accuracy. Nearly all competitors in this short-range discipline shoot the 6mm PPC cartridge, or a PPC variant.

IBS Benchrest loading at range Jeff Stover

Loading at the Range — Then and Now

IBS Benchrest Shooters International Memorial Match Weikert PA Jeff Stover

In benchrest shooting for group, loading at the range has been de rigueur for decades. In the Score discipline, preloading is usually the custom. The main reason is that, in Score competition, only one Aggregate (warm-up match and five record targets) per day is usually shot. That would be less than 50 shots, assuming a few sighter shots. Also, the 30BR, the dominant Benchrest-for-Score cartridge, is very amenable to pre-loading.

By contrast, the Group discipline includes 21 targets (two warm-ups and twenty record targets) over a weekend, usually shot with 6PPC-chambered rifles. Many times, the 6PPC shooters may tweak their loads through the day given changing atmospheric conditions or simply trying to find the correct tune to “dot up”. This term, “Dot up”, means the shots are essentially going through the same hole, or closely so.

IBS Benchrest Shooters International Memorial Match Weikert PA Jeff Stover

Loading at the range was a bit different when benchrest competition was in its infancy. The 1951 book, Modern Accuracy by Bob Wallack, is the best of the early benchrest books. Copies can be found, from time to time, on eBay or Alibris. It is a fascinating survey of benchrest as it existed more than six decades ago. There’s even coverage of a controversial target that was argued over at the time. In it, there is a photo of Wallack using the rear bumper of a car at the bench to clamp his reloading tools. Things have come a long way compared to the range loading set-ups of modern shooters. Here you can see Bob Wallack way back in 1950:

IBS Benchrest Shooters International Memorial Match Weikert PA Jeff Stover

Modern loading bench set-ups shown in this Special Report belong to top shooters Howie Levy, Bob Hamister, and Kent Harshman.
Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 2 Comments »
April 29th, 2019

Bargain-Finder 188: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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

1. Bud’s Gun Shop — Howa American Flag Chassis Rifle, $1180.38

Howa HCR APX American Flag Cerakote 6.5 Creedmoor PRS .308 Win Tactical Rifle

Legacy Sports offers a special American Flag Chassis Rifle with a USA flag-theme red, white, and blue Cerakote finish and 3-chamber muzzle brake. Components include APC modular chassis and Luth-AR adjustable butt-stock. This special edition is sold with a Nikko 4-16x50mm scope and shipped in a hard case. Choose from the .308 Win version ($1180.38 at Bud’s GunShop) or 6.5 Creedmoor version ($1239.00 at GunPrime.com). Note: Act soon — these special editions are almost sold out!

2. Costco — Cannon 72-Gun Executive Safe, $749.99 Delivered

Cannon CS72 Executive 72-gun safe vault delivered sale $749.99

Right now CostCo is offering the Cannon CS72 Executive Series 72-Gun Safe for just $749.99 DELIVERED! That’s a great price for a HUGE safe with 43.8 cubic feet of internal space. This 649-pound behemoth measures 59″H x 45″W x 28″D and weight 696 pounds (over 1/3 of a ton!). This is built strong with 1″ thick composite door, six 1″-diameter locking bolts, and 60-minute fire rating. NOTE: The $749.99 price includes “Standard shipping via common carrier” to the lower 48 states. This is a great value. You could easily pay $1600 or more for a safe this size from a local vendor.

3. MidwayUSA — Bullseye AmmoCam, $199.99 or $299.99

remote target camera SME Ammocam bullseye sale discount long range

Want a wireless Target Camera but short on cash? You can now get the Bullseye AmmoCam basic system for just $199.99, a $100.00 savings. We suggest you go with the Long Range version for $299.99, which has an external antenna. The Long Range model should work to 1000 yards and beyond in flat terrain. The system generates its own WIFI Hotspot so you do not need Internet or Cellular service! Works anywhere, all you need is an iPhone, iPad, or Android Device. The external antenna on the Long Range version allows you to shield the box without disruption of the WIFI signal. COMMENT: AccurateShooter.com recommends TargetVision systems over these AmmoCams. However, for shooters on a limited budget, these Bullseye systems should suffice, and you’ll save hundreds of dollars.

4. Graf’s — Platinum Case Prep & Trim + EZ Tumbler, $179.99

case prep and trim sale

If you want to step up your brass preparation game, here’s a great deal. Graf’s is offering the Frankford Arsenal Case Prep & Trim PLUS the EZ Tumbler for only $179.99. That’s an amazing deal considering you could pay $199.99 or more for the Prep & Trim unit by itself, and the EZ Tumbler is regularly $50 or more. This Grafs.com combo deal represents a savings of nearly $70.00.

5. Harbor Freight — Rolling Security Case (Carry-On Size), $69.99

carry-on foam transport pelican apache case spotting scope

How would you like to be able to carry your Spotting Scope, Laser Rangefinder, Kestrel, Binoculars, Camera, Target Cam, and other valuables in a secure, lockable, foam-filled hard-case? Or use that case to hold your front rest and other vital hardware. And wouldn’t it be great if that same rugged case worked as carry-on luggage, so you could bring it with you onboard airline flights, rather than risk it with baggage handlers. Harbor Freight now offers the Apache 5800 rolling hard-case with “pluckable” foam. Sized 22″ x 14″ x 9″ (like a carry-on), this costs just $69.99 with coupon. The equivalent rolling Pelican 1510 case costs $189.95. The Apache 5800 case lists for $89.99 but you can get it for just $69.99 with COUPON Code 89000237. Enter Code #89000237 during online checkout to save $20.00.

6. Amazon — Nikon Buckmaster II Scope Bundle, $142.95

Nikon Bushmaster II ii scope optic deal sale 4-12x40 amazon

Need a good, basic, reliable name-brand scope for your deer rifle or varmint rig? Here’s one of the best scope deals we’ve seen in 2019. You get a nice 4-12x40mm Nikon Buckmaster II by itself for just $121.90 with FREE shipping. Or get the same 4-12x40mm Nikon optic PLUS lens covers, Nikon Lens Pen, Nikon micro-fiber lens cleaning cloth, AND a Lumintrail keychain light for $142.95 with FREE Shipping. That’s still less than you might pay for a deluxe set of rings. These scopes are new production optics, fully covered by the Nikon no questions asked warranty. If you prefer less magnification, you can get the 3-9x40mm Buckmaster II for $129.95 with all the same accessories.

7. Midsouth — Aguila .22 LR Ammo, 500 Rds $17.99

aguila .22 LR 22LR rimfire HP high velocity ammo ammunition sale Midsouth

Plinking is fun. Especially when your ammo is really cheap. If you need low-cost .22 LR rimfire ammo for range sessions with friends and family, check out this crazy good deal from Midsouth. You get 500 rounds of Aguila 38gr HiVel .22 LR ammo for just $17.99 (marked down from $32.99). That works out to 3.6 cents ($0.036) per round. We’ve used this stuff. It’s not match-grade, but it’s more than adequate for .22 LR handguns and rifles with fun targets, such as dueling trees and rimfire poppers.

8. CDNN — Zebra Muffs and Fashion Safety Glasses Set, $4.99

Champion Zebra Muffs tortoise shell sunglasses safety glasses eyewear

Guys, here’s just what you need (maybe) to convince the significant other to join you for a day at the range — a combo set of “high-fashion” ear muffs and ANSI-rated safety glasses. The comfortable, zebra-print muffs provide 21 dB of noise reduction (we recommend running plugs underneath them). The stylish, tortoise-shell pattern Bella Ballistica™ shooting eyewear has passed MIL-PRF-31013 ballistic tests and meets ANSI Z87+ high-velocity requirements with a chic designer appearance. The lady in your life just might appreciate the stylish eyewear and distinctive muffs, earning you “bonus points”. And she’ll never suspect you only spent five bucks!

9. Cabela’s — Lyman 36″ x 10″ Maintenance Mat, $14.99

Lyman synthetic rubber cleaning maintenance mat

Here’s something we all can use — a chemical-resistant cleaning mat. This Lyman 36″ x 10″ mat provides a cushioned surface for your fine firearms. Multiple dividers hold small parts. The molded, raised edges help contain spills and excess solvents. Chemical-resistant design won’t break down with use and is easy to clean with soap and water. Made from synthetic rubber, this handy mat rolls up for easy storage. Cabela’s is offering a great price ($14.99) — this very same mat sells for $24.76 on Amazon.

10. Amazon — Two Rolls of 3″ Neon Target Stickers, $14.99

Red Orange Neon 3

We like these bright, Neon 3″ target stickers. They are big enough to see easily at 600 yards, giving you a 1/2 MOA target center at that distance. For $14.99 at Amazon.com, you get 250 3″-diameter self-adhesive centers (125 targets per roll) that stick to almost any surface The high-contrast fluorescent red/orange color provides an excellent HI-VIZ aiming point, along with good contrast for bullet holes that fall within the 3″ circle. To help line up your reticle cross-hairs, the target centers feature black markers at 3, 6, 9, and 12 0’Clock. NOTE: These stickers may qualify for FREE Shipping with combined orders over $25.00.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Handguns, Hot Deals, Optics, Reloading 1 Comment »
April 25th, 2019

RCBS Reloading Videos — How to Load Better Ammo Safely

RCBS reloading equipment instruction video series chargemaster progressive rock chucker press case prep

RCBS makes some of the most rugged and durable reloading products you can buy. The RCBS Rock Chucker press is legendary — for good reason. The Editor uses one that has been in my family over twenty years. I also own an RCBS 2000 progressive press that has loaded many thousands of rounds, and features the excellent APS strip priming system. RCBS is serious about reloading, so this company has created a very complete series of instructional videos showing reloading precedures and equipment. You’ll find over 60 videos on the RCBS Video Resources Page and RCBS YouTube Channel.

We encourage readers to check out the RCBS Videos. They can help you master the basics of handloading — case prep, priming, sizing, and bullet seating. In addition, these videos can help you select the right equipment for your loading bench. Videos show presses, case tumblers, ultrasonic cleaning machines, powered case prep centers, and more.

Here are three of our favorite RCBS Reloading videos, along with links to a dozen more:

Basic Safety Precautions for Reloading

Every novice hand-loader should watch this video. It covers the key safety principles you should follow, such as “Don’t use components of unknown origin”. We would add — always double check the labels on your powder bottles, and if you don’t know 100% what powder is in your powder measure — dump it out. Some of the most serious injuries have occurred when reloaders put pistol powder in rifle cases.

Setting Up the Sizing Die Correctly

This video address the common complaint some novices have when their hand-loadeed cartridges won’t chamber properly. Kent Sakamoto explains how to set up the sizing die properly to size the case body and bump the shoulder.

Choosing a Case Cleaning System

Here Kent Sakamoto looks at the three main types of brass cleaning systems: Vibratory Tumbler, Wet Tumbler (with media), and Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine. Kent reviews the pros and cons of each system.

More RCBS Reloading Videos

Here are twelve more helpful videos from RCBS. These cover both reloading techniques and reloading equipment. There are currently over 60 videos on the RCBS YouTube Channel.

Reloading How-To Videos
Case Trimming, Deburring, Chamfering
Measuring Case Length
Crimping — When and How to Crimp
Primer Pocket Cleaning
Priming with a Hand Tool
How to Use an Ultrasonic Machine

Reloading Equipment Videos
Rock Chucker Supreme Kit
RCBS ChargeMaster Lite
RCBS Pro 2000 Progressive Press
Universal Case Prep Center
Summit Single-Stage Press
RCBS Turret Press

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
April 23rd, 2019

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!

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
April 23rd, 2019

For Less Run-Out, Try Rotating Your Cases During Bullet Seating

Bullet Seating Reloading rotate cartridge Run-out TIR

Here is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out (as measured on the bullet). This procedure costs nothing and adds only a few seconds to the time needed to load a cartridge. Next time you’re loading ammo with a threaded (screw-in) seating die, try seating the bullet in two stages. Run the cartridge up in the seating die just enough to seat the bullet half way. Then lower the cartridge and rotate it 180° in the shell-holder. Now raise the cartridge up into the die again and finish seating the bullet.

Steve, aka “Short Range”, one of our Forum members, recently inquired about run-out apparently caused by his bullet-seating process. Steve’s 30BR cases were coming out of his neck-sizer with good concentricity, but the run-out nearly doubled after he seated the bullets. At the suggestion of other Forum members, Steve tried the process of rotating his cartridge while seating his bullet. Steve then measured run-out on his loaded rounds. To his surprise there was a noticeable reduction in run-out on the cases which had been rotated during seating. Steve explains: “For the rounds that I loaded yesterday, I seated the bullet half-way, and turned the round 180 degrees, and finished seating the bullet. That reduced the bullet runout by almost half on most rounds compared to the measurements from the first test.”

READ Bullet Seating Forum Thread »

run-out bullet

run-out bullet

Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30 BR brass using both the conventional (one-pass) seating procedure, as well as the two-stage (with 180° rotation) method. Steve’s measurements are collected in the two charts above. As you can see, the run-out was less for the rounds which were rotated during seating. Note, the change is pretty small (less than .001″ on average), but every little bit helps in the accuracy game. If you use a threaded (screw-in) seating die, you might try this two-stage bullet-seating method. Rotating your case in the middle of the seating process won’t cost you a penny, and it just might produce straighter ammo (nothing is guaranteed). If you do NOT see any improvement on the target, you can always go back to seating your bullets in one pass. READ Forum Thread..

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
April 22nd, 2019

Bargain-Finder 187: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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

1. Sportsman’s Guide — Ruger 10/22, $189.99 with CODE

Ruger 10/22 sale

If there’s one gun that’s synonymous with shooting sports, it’s the Ruger 10/22. This classic rimfire rifle is inexpensive to buy, yet very reliable. If you’ve been looking to pick one up or buy your kid his or her first rifle, here’s your chance to get a wood- or synthetic-stocked 10/22 from Sportsman’s Guide. Member Price is $199.49 while non-member price is $209.99. But it gets better — use Code GUNSNGEAR to save an additional $20.00. With that Code, SG members can snag one for just $179.49! The non-member price is $189.99 with Code. NOTE: The GUNSNGEAR $20 OFF Code works with or without a membership.

2. Grizzly Industrial — Bald Eagle Mini Arbor Press, $74.95

bald eagle arbor press

Have you been looking for a low-cost arbor press to get started with in-line seating? Perhaps you’d like to load your bullets long initially, and then adjust the bullet seating depth during load development (or even at matches). Arbor presses are great for bullet seating tasks at the range. If you need a compact arbor press for your loading duties — here is really good deal. Grab a Bald Eagle Mini Arbor press and you’ll be off and running for the low price of $74.95.

3. Midsouth — RCBS ChargeMaster Lite, $229.99

Chargemaster Lite Midsouth Sale

Do you need an electronic powder scale and dispenser? Check out this great deal at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Suggested retail for the ChargeMaster Lite is $299.99. Amazon’s best price for this unit is $269.49. But now you can get it for just $229.99 at Midsouth. So you can save at least $40 with this Midsouth sale. Put the money saved into bullets or powder. The RCBS ChargeMaster Lite is the modern second generation Scale/Dispenser, descended from the original ChargeMaster. The ChargeMaster Lite features an easy-to-use LCD touchscreen. Dispenser precision is plus/minus 0.1 grains. The unit comes with twin check weights and a convenient plastic cover for the powder pan.

4. Graf’s — Platinum Case Prep & Trim + EZ Tumbler, $179.99

“case

If you want to step up your brass preparation game, here’s a great deal. Graf’s is offering the Frankford Arsenal Case Prep & Trim PLUS the EZ Tumbler for only $179.99. That’s an amazing deal considering you could pay $199.99 or more for the Prep & Trim unit by itself, and the EZ Tumbler is regularly $50 or more. This Grafs.com combo deal represents a savings of nearly $70.00.

5. Bruno Shooters Supply — Labradar w/ FREE SHIPPING

labradar sale

Labradar is considered the class leader in shooting chronographs. The ultra-accurate, state-of-the-art Labradar chronos have become so sought-after that they’re hardly ever discounted. While that may be true, Bruno’s is doing the next best thing and offering the Labradar with FREE SHIPPING as well as any accessories you buy along with it. This is a great time to grab the most advanced chrono on the market, along with genuine Labradar accessories.

6. Midsouth — 350 Rds 9mm FMJ in Container, $74.99

350rds 9mm FMY ammo

Nearly all gun guys (and gals) own one or more 9mm pistols. Here is some very cost-effective Aguila 9x19mm ammo that lets you train more often. Right now Midsouth is offering 350 rounds of 9mm FMJ plus a nice ammo can for the low price of $74.99, a great deal. At that price you can may want to buy 1000 rounds or more. We’ve shot this ammo. It is reliable and the brass is reloadable.

7. Black Widow — Refurbished Trim-II with Die, $79.50

case trimmer

Trimming your brass to length can be a chore with manual trimmers. There are high-end motorized trimming systems, but some of these cost hundreds of dollars. Fear not as Black Widow Shooters now has the refurbished trim-II w/ free die for only $79.50! That’s a savings of over 50% off the normal price. The beauty of this unit is that you simply attach it to any drill, adjust it to length and start trimming. It’s just that easy. Once you use a tool like this you may never go back to manual trimmers.

8. Midway USA — Wheeler Scope Mounting Kit, $79.99

wheeler scope kit sale

Does the thought of mounting your own scope scare you but you’re tired of paying someone else to do it? With the help of the Wheeler Engineering Scope Mounting Kit your fears will be put at ease. This $79.99 Kit includes everything you need including a torque wrench, alignment bars, levels and more. All of this comes packaged in convenient transport case.

9. Amazon — Champion Precision Sight-In Target, $12.52

Sight-In Targets

Have you ever been ready to run to the range and blow off a few rounds only to find that you’re out of targets? If you’re like us that’s one of the most frustrating things that can happen when heading to the club and nobody likes using printer paper and a marker to make a target. Pick up this 100 count set of sight-in targets and you won’t have to run to the store last minute or dig through the range trash cans hoping to find a barely-used target. This is a great value — only 13 cents per target! Great deal.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Reloading No Comments »
April 18th, 2019

Smart Reloading: How to Set Optimal Case Neck Tension

USAMU handloading Neck Bushing Die tension springback interchangeable bushings

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. A while back, the USAMU’s reloading gurus addressed a question frequently asked by handloaders: “How much neck tension is optimal, and how should I select a neck bushing size?” The USAMU offers a straight-forward answer, suggesting that hand-loaders start with a neck bushing that sizes the neck so that it is .003″ less than the loaded outside diameter with bullet in place. From there, you can experiment with more or less tension, but this is a good starting point for many popular cartridge types.

USAMU Reloading

Determining Optimal Case-Neck Tension

This week, we examine determining the correct case neck tension for optimum accuracy. Our method is simple, but relies on the use of case sizing dies which accept interchangeable neck diameter bushings graduated in 0.001″ increments. (Those readers using fixed-diameter dies with expander balls aren’t forgotten, however. Methods of tailoring these dies for proper neck tension will be found below.)

In our experience across many calibers, sizing case necks 0.003″ under the loaded-case neck diameter usually yields excellent accuracy. In other words, the sized case neck expands 0.003″ when the bullet is seated.

USAMU handloading Neck Bushing Die tension springback interchangeable bushings

USAMU handloading Neck Bushing Die tension springback interchangeable bushingsBushing Choice for Optimal Sizing
Over the years, we have periodically experimented with increasing neck tension to possibly improve accuracy. In testing with machine rests at 300/600 yards, accuracy often deteriorated as neck tension increased; thus, 0.003″ expansion (from sized neck to loaded neck) is where we usually start.

Using the .260 Remington as an example, our loaded cartridge case necks measure 0.292”. Simply subtract 0.003” from that, and use a bushing that sizes necks to 0.289” (after springback). There are exceptions — sometimes, brass may be a bit soft or hard. Some case necks might need, say, 0.001” more tension, but in general, this works well.

This .003″ standard of neck tension works very well for single-loaded, long range cartridges. Depending on your caliber and firearm, it MAY also work very well for magazine-fed cartridges. If this neck tension proves inadequate for your purpose, one can increase neck tension as needed while monitoring for possible accuracy changes.

Special Considerations for Coated Bullets: If you are using moly-coated bullets, this significantly reduces the “grip” of the case neck on the bullet, and you can expect to have to tighten your case necks accordingly — particularly for magazine-fed ammunition. In any event, we do not crimp rifle cartridges, and advise against it for accuracy handloads.

Tips for Using Expander Balls
Many savvy handloaders avoid the use of expander balls in high-accuracy reloading, if possible. These can stretch cases and/or disturb the concentricity of the case neck vs. case body. If using a die with an expander ball, tapering both ends of the ball and polishing it to a mirror finish can significantly reduce these effects. (Special carbide expander ball/decapping stem sets are available for this as well.)

The typical dies used with expander balls are intended to take any cases the user may find, and size them down well below the ideal “spec” to ensure any cases will give good neck tension. The necks are then expanded up to provide heavy to medium neck tension as the expander ball exits the neck. The brass is over-worked, leading to premature work-hardening, and seated-bullet concentricity may suffer. However, the cartridges produced are perfectly adequate for most handloaders. Those who seek finest accuracy generally prefer not to over-work their brass if possible.

Another Option — Custom-Honed FL Dies
There are companies which offer to convert one’s standard dies to accept neck bushings, and that gives excellent flexibility. Another, more “old-school” approach, is to have the neck of one’s FL die honed out to the desired diameter for sizing, based on one’s case neck thickness. The expander ball may then be reduced until it barely touches the case necks after sizing, or it may be eliminated entirely. However, once performed, this modification is permanent and leaves fewer options than the bushing route, if one later changes case neck thickness.

Those shooters who turn their case necks for optimum neck wall thickness uniformity, or for a tight-neck chamber, will want to take the reduced neck wall thickness into consideration. For example, when setting up a 7mm match rifle to use a standard hunting die without an expander ball, the slightly thinner necks resulted in a perfect 0.003″ reduction in the fired-neck diameter. The result was a low-cost die that fit with custom precision and yielded excellent, match accuracy!

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 3 Comments »