As before, you’ll find thousands of load recipes for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Rifle shooters will find dozens of loads for their favorite Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester powders such as H4198, Varget, H4350, and IMR 8208 XBR. And Hodgdon’s Reloading Center is now faster and easier to use. Navigation is simplified and the whole interface is more user-friendly.
You’ll notice changes in the way the online Data Center works. Now you have more control over the results. After choosing a cartridge, you can pre-select specific bullet weights and powder types. That quickly delivers just the information you want and need. You won’t have to scroll through scores of entries for bullets or powders you don’t use.
Mobile users will notice that the updated/enhanced Reloading Center is much more “user-friendly” for smart-phone and tablet users. Controls have been optimized for touch-screens, and buttons are large and easy to use. Likewise the results are displayed in a large, easy-to read format.
Hodgdon tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Content of all kinds is going digital, and that includes Reloading manuals. Now Hornady is offering an eBook version of the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading (9th Edition). Priced at $18.99, the eBook version of the Hornady Reloading Manual is now available for iOS (Apple) devices, for Android devices, and for Kindle eReaders.
For Apple products such iPads and iPhones etc., you can source Hornady’s manual from the iTunes iBook store. For Android tablets and Kindle readers, you can get the Kindle edition from Amazon.com. (NOTE: Android users must install a free Kindle App.)
Hornady’s latest Handbook of Cartridge Reloading features over 900 pages of information, including much new data for the 9th Edition. For many cartridge types, load recipes for new propellants such as Power Pro Varmint, AR-Comp, and CFE-223 have been added in the 9th Edition. Cartridge additions include the 17 Hornet, .327 Federal, .356 Winchester, .416 Barrett and .505 Gibbs. You’ll also find expanded data on over 20 favorite cartridges including: .223 Rem, 300 Whisper/AAC Blackout, .308 Win, .25-06, .257 Wby Mag, and many more. And of course the load recipes provide cover popular Hornady bullets V-MAX, SST, InterBond, InterLock, A-MAX, XTP, NTX and more. Each cartridge write-up features applicable Hornady bullets along with velocity/powder charts for quick and easy reference.
In addition to the comprehensive reloading charts, this reference manual provides helpful explanations of internal, external and terminal ballistics. To learn more about the eBook versions of Hornady’s latest Reloading manual, visit iTunes or Amazon.com.
eBook Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Over the past few years, interest in F-Class competition has grown dramatically. At the 2013 SHOT Show we had a chance to talk about F-TR competition with U.S. National F-TR Team members Mike Miller and Stan Pate, two of America’s top F-TR shooters. We are reprising this interview for readers who may have missed it the first time around. If you shoot F-TR (even if you’re a High Master), we think you’ll learn a few things from this interview.
In this interview, Mike and Stan agreed to share their vast store of knowledge about long-range shooting. In a wide-ranging dialog, we discussed many topics of interest to F-Class shooters: position set-up, bipod shooting techniques (and hardware), gun-handling, and bullet selection. In addition, Mike and Stan offer some great advice on wind reading and precision reloading. These general tips will benefit all competitors, no matter what their discipline.
If you shoot F-TR or you are considering getting involved in this fast-growing shooting sport, definitely watch this 14-minute video interview from start to finish. Mike and Stan are true F-TR gurus whose knowledge of the F-TR game has been gleaned from years of top-level competition. If you shoot a .308 from a bipod, we guarantee you can learn much from Mike and Stan. If you follow their advice, we bet you’ll see your scores improve in future matches.
Watch Video for Tips from U.S. National F-TR Team Members Mike Miller and Stan Pate
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The new 2014 Hodgdon Annual Manual (the 11th Annual Edition) has just been released. The 2014 Hodgdon Manual now contains over 5000 loads — more load data than you’ll find in any other annual reloading resource. The 2014 manual has updates for 21 rifle and pistol cartridges. You’ll also find data for Hodgdon’s popular new CFE powders — including additional load info for 17 more cartridges. Varmint hunters will be pleased to see the addition of complete data for the popular 17 Hornet.
Along with comprehensive load data, the 2014 Hodgdon Annual Manual offers authoritative articles by top gun industry writers working with the editors of Shooting Times magazine. You can order the 2014 Manual directly from Hodgdon for $11.99 (that includes postage in the USA). That’s cheaper than we’ve seen it elsewhere. The link below takes you to Hodgdon’s online company store:
The last half-inch or so of your barrel is absolutely critical. Any damage (or abnormal wear) near the crown will cause a significant drop-off in accuracy. Here are ways you can check the end of your barrel, using a common Q-Tip.
Use Q-Tip for Barrel Inspection
To find out if you have a burr or damage to your crown, you can use an ordinary Q-tip cotton swab. Check the edges of the crown by pulling the Q-tip gently out past the edge of the crown. If you have a burr, it will “grab” the cotton and leave strands behind.
Larry Willis has another way to use a Q-Tip: “Here’s a neat trick that will surprise you with how well it works.” Just insert a Q-Tip into your barrel (like the picture below), and it will reflect enough light so that you can get a real good look at the last half inch of rifling and the crown of your barrel. In most cases you’ll find that this works much better than a flashlight. Larry tells us: “I’ve used this method about a jillion times. Q-Tips are handy to keep in your cleaning supplies anyway. This is a good way to judge approximately how well you are cleaning your barrel when you’re at the range. It’s also the best way to examine your barrel when you’re in the field.”
How much can you save reloading your own ammo? Well that depends on the cost of components and how much you have invested in your reloading gear. UltimateReloader.com has created a handy online Reloading Costs Calculator that lets you quickly compare the cost of reloaded ammo vs. factory ammo. Just enter the costs of powder, primers, bullets, and brass, and the Calculator will tell you the cost per round, per 20-rd box, per 50-rd box, and cost per thousand. Note — when setting the price of the brass you need to divide the initial cost by the number of predicted reloads. For example if you have 500 pieces of brass that cost $40/100 to buy ($200 total), but you get 8 reloads per case, then you put $25.00 in the Calculator ($200 total brass cost divided by 8).
True Reloading Cost Should Include Amortized Tool Expenses
Ah… but there is a catch. To understand the true cost of reloading, you also need to consider the costs of your tools and accessories, amortized over the tools’ loading lifespan. Let’s say you have $1000.00 invested in presses, dies, tumblers, measuring tools and other accessories, with a residual value of $500.00 (upon resale). If you load 5,000 rounds with those tools over their lifespan, you need to add $0.10 per round for tooling costs (your investment minus residual value, divided by the number of rounds loaded). The UltimateReloader.com Calculator does not include amortized tooling costs, but that’s something you can easily figure out on your own.
Excellent Resource for Reloading Videos
After you’ve tried out the Reloading Costs Calculator, check out the other content on UltimateReloader.com. This site features some of the best gun-related “how-to” videos on the internet. With sharp video and clear audio, the production quality is very high. If you use a progressive press (Dillon, Hornady, RCBS), you should definitely watch UltimateReloader.com’s videos — you’ll probably learn a new trick or two. In the sample video below, you can see how Hornady’s new Bullet Feeder works with its Lock-N-Load Progressive press.
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When you need ammo fast — lots of ammo, it’s hard to beat a progressive reloading press for output. We use progressive presses to load handgun ammo and .223 Rem cartridges for varmint safaris. With good dies, and proper press set-up, today’s progressive presses can produce surprisingly uniform and accurate ammo. No, you won’t see Benchrest Hall-of-Famers loading PPC cartridges on progressives. However, if you need 1000 rounds for your next prairie dog adventure, you should consider getting a progressive. Below you can see a Hornady Lock-N-Load AP configured to load .308 Winchester in bulk.
Proper Brass Prep
Just like a good paint job requires good prep work, great rifle ammo requires good brass prep. In order to make sure your rifle loading goes smoothly, make sure to perform the following brass prep steps:
Clean the brass (tumble, ultrasonic, etc.)
Inspect brass for cracks, deep dents, etc.
For military brass: de-prime, ream/swage primer pockets, size with small-base sizer die (small base usually optional).
Measure brass length — if too long, size and then trim.
Final inspection before loading.
Cleaning primer pockets may be something you’ll consider (I don’t clean primer pockets except for rare cases or match ammo).
Smooth and Steady Pace
Since you’re loading rifle ammunition on a progressive, you’re already saving a load of time, so there’s no need to rush things! Attention to detail is super-important for safety and for good results. Always keep an eye on powder level (goes down FAST) and what’s happening at each station.
The Right Press and Press Setup
Look for a heavy-duty, well-built press that will stand up to rifle loading. You’ll also want to make sure your powder measure will have the proper capacity (~25 grains for .223, ~50 grains for 308). If you are bulk reloading, ensure you have enough stations for sizing, charging, powder check, bullet feed, bullet seating, and (optional) bullet crimp.
More Ultimate Reloader Resources for Users of Progressive Presses:
Shooters who reload at the range, during the course of benchrest matches, or during load development sessions, can benefit from having a portable scale to weigh charges. Even if you throw charges, using click values, a scale allows you to double-check the accuracy of your throws. In addition, having a scale handy lets you weigh and sort components during load development.
Many reloaders prefer “old-fashioned” balance beam scales for range use. They are relatively inexpensive and simple to use. With a beam scale, unlike electronic scales, you don’t have to worry about weak batteries or finding AC power. The problem when using any scale at an outdoor range is wind. Wind can cause powder to blow out of the pan and even a light breeze can actually cause a beam scale to perform erratically.
Beat the Breezes with a Wind Box for your Scale
Forum member Boyd Allen has come up with a smart solution for reloaders who use scales outdoors — a windproof scale enclosure, aka “Wind Box”. This is something that can easily be built at home with common tools. Boyd explains: “Many guys have good set-ups for loading at the range, with clamping mounts for powder measure and press. But they lack a good enclosure for a scale. This is vitally important with beam scales because they have a lot of surface area to catch the wind. With much wind at all, the beam can oscillate to the point that is not really very usable. While a low-profile electronic scale may be less wind-sensitive, breezes DO affect weight read-outs on digital scales. And of course you always have the issue of blowing powder particles.”
Boyd Allen has used his Wind Box successfully for many seasons. He explains: “Some time ago, I got this idea, and was fortunate enough to have a friend, Ed Hellam, who liked the idea well enough to build us both one. He did a fine job, but since this was the prototype there was at least one lesson to learn. The original viewing pane was Plexiglass, and I discovered that it would hold enough static charge to throw the scale off 0.1 grains, so another friend, Bob Smith, modified my Wind Box, replacing the Plexiglass with a tempered glass faceplate. Thank you Ed and Bob….
The essence of the idea is to have a scale set up in a box with a clear cover that can be opened and closed. On one side the trickler handle/control emerges through a ‘just big enough’ hole. You raise the cover, add a sub-target-weight thrown charge to the pan, and then close the cover. With the cover secure, the set-up is protected from the wind, and you can now trickle up to your desired charge. It works very well. The scale in the photo is an old Ohaus that I picked up. It is actually more sensitive than my RCBS 10-10 and works fine. You can adapt this Wind Box design to any beam scale, or portable electronic scale. Simply adjust the dimensions to fit your particular scale and trickler.”
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When we first saw this product in 2010 at Cabela’s we thought: “Great idea… it’s amazing nobody else has offered a covered loading tray before”. Being able to cover your loading tray makes sense. With the cover in place, you can’t inadvertently drop something into the tray, or knock over cases filled with powder. Plus the covered cased eliminates the risk of contaminating cases with overspray from lubes or solvents. You can also keep loaded rounds protected from the elements before they’re packed into ammo carriers.
Now Midsouth Shooters Supply offers covered loading trays for just $8.62 (that’s a lot less than Cabela’s price). You can purchase the 50-round loading tray from Cabelas.com for $14.99 (item IK-215760) with a green base, or get the same thing with a red base from Midsouth for $8.62 (item 038-502032). Order Midsouth’s 30-45 cal model (item 038-502032) for 6BR and .308-sized rims. For loading .223 rounds, get the 9mm-223 model (Midsouth item 038-502033).
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In our Shooters’ Forum, many questions are asked about QuickLOAD software — how to get best results, how to use the advanced features, how to adjust for temperature and so on. To help answer those questions, here’s a short feature we first ran during SHOT Show 2012. You can also CLICK HERE for a very detailed explanation of QuickLOAD in our main site.
At SHOT Show, we had the chance to meet with German software engineer Hartmut Broemel, creator of QuickLOAD software. This software program, while not a substitute for conventional load manuals, allows shooters to evaluate a wide range of powders and bullets, comparing potential loads on the basis of predicted pressures, velocities, load density and projectile in-barrel time.
We took the opportunity, in the video below, to explain some of the fine points of QuickLOAD for our members. QuickLOAD, sold by Neconos.com, helps reloaders understand how changing variables can affect pressures and velocities. It can predict the effect of changes in ambient temperature, bullet seating depth, and barrel length.
In the video below we explain how to adjust the program for true case capacity, bullet seating into the lands, and other important factors. If you are a new QuickLOAD user, or are contemplating buying the $152.95 program, you should watch the video. The program isn’t perfect, but it can accelerate the load development process, and it can save you money by narrowing down the list of appropriate powders for your cartridge.
No other product currently available to serious reloaders offers as much predictive power as QuickLOAD, and you’ll find your money well spent just for the vast collection of data on bullets and cartridges. With a couple mouse-clicks you can instantly get the specifications of hundreds of bullets and cartridges. Likewise, in a matter of seconds, you can compare load density for a half-dozen powders, or compare the projected velocities of one cartridge versus another.
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Following the success of CFE 223, Hodgdon Powder Company has released a new addition to the CFE (“Copper Fouling Eraser”) line of propellants. Hodgdon’s new CFE™ Pistol, a general purpose handgun powder, is designed to deliver less copper fouling. CFE Pistol is a spherical (ball) powder that meters very well. Hodgdon hopes to have CFE Pistol available in January 2014.
When CFE 223 rifle powder was first introduced, people were skeptical about claims that CFE reduced copper fouling in barrels. In fact, field reports from our Forum members indicate that CFE 223 does deliver on the promise of reduced copper fouling. Our readers also found CFE 223 to be very accurate in a variety of cartridge types. Hopefully CFE PISTOL will perform as well in handguns.
The secret to CFE products’ reduced copper fouling is a proprietary “Copper Fouling Eraser” chemistry developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems. Better living (and less cleaning) through chemistry, as they say. Hodgdon states: “Whatever your game is… you will benefit significantly with longer periods of top accuracy with less barrel cleaning time and minimal muzzle flash.”
Load data for CFE Pistol should be available on Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center starting in December 2013. Hodgdon plans to provide over 100 available loads for 15 pistol cartridges, and 37 bullet weights. Load data will be offered for 9mm Luger, 38 Super, 40 S&W, .45 ACP and many other cartridge types. To find out more, visit Hodgdon.com, see Hodgdon’s upcoming 2014 Annual Manual, or call Hodgdon at 913-362-9455.
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What is the most-used piece of equipment on this editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check primer pockets, inspect meplats, and look for flaws on bullet jackets. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless. I keep one magnifier at my reloading bench and another in my range kit.
Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at FoldingMagnifier.com and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.95. To see the finest details, Widget Supply offers a powerful 17X/50X slide-out magnifier with a built-in, battery-powered LED light. With that gadget, you can easily see any minute flaws in your barrel crowns. That’s important because crown damage can cause hard-to-diagnose accuracy issues. We’ve known guys who spend weeks tinkering with loads, when the real problem was a worn-out or damaged crown.
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