February 11th, 2016

Lube Choices for Case Sizing — Reviewing the Options

Cartridge Case lubrication imperial Die wax case sizing reloading

Sinclair International has a good article on Case Lubrication which shows the various products and application methods available. Part of Sinclair’s Step-By-Step Reloading series, the article shows how to apply Spray Lube, Die Wax, or conventional lube from a Pad. The story also explains how to use dry lube to slick up the inside of your case necks.

Spray Lubes
High-volume reloaders often turn to spray-on lubricants such as the RCBS Case Slick (#749-001-341) or the Hornady One Shot (#749-001-065) to quickly lubricate large numbers of cases at once. An indispensable piece of gear that helps make spray lubing easy is a lube rack (#749-011-550) — a polymer block that holds cases upright and arranged to maximize their exposure to the spray.

Hornady spray cartridge case Lube

Editor’s Note: Ballistol Aerosol is other good spray product for regular full-length sizing (not heavy case-forming). It goes on clear (no chalky residue), it is ultra-slippery, and it will remove the carbon from your case necks as you apply Ballistol with a patch. This is my primary spray lube — but many folks dislike the distinctive Ballistol smell. Try before you buy.

diewax1601Sizing Die Wax
Over the years, many benchrest shooters have come to trust Imperial Sizing Die Wax (#749-001-052) for their case lube needs. It offers high lubricity and easily wipes off with a paper towel. In fact, its lubricity makes it a popular choice for case forming, for those wildcat folks who need to form their own unique or obsolete cartridges. Unlike lube pads or spray lubes, sizing wax is applied more naturally. You just put a little on your fingers and transfer it to the cases by handling them. As simple and easy as Imperial Sizing Die Wax is to use, it’s probably best for low-volume applications.

Dry Lubricant
Redding’s Imperial Application Media (#749-001-166) is a dry neck lube used to lube the inside of the neck, whether you’re full-length sizing or neck-sizing only. It consists of ceramic spheres coated with a fine graphite-based powder. You simply dip the neck into the container for a second to pick up the right amount of lube. This lube enables the expander ball to work smoothly throughout the case neck –instead of “grabbing” or “chattering” — to minimize case neck stretching.

Cartridge Case lubrication imperisal Die wax case sizing reloading

Editor’s Note: Dry Lube is also very useful if you ultrasonically clean your cases. After the ultrasound process, the inside of the case neck can be so “squeaky clean” that bullets don’t seat smoothly. A quick application of dry lube will help bullets slide into the neck easier and the neck “grip” on the bullets should be more consistent from round-to-round. Consistent neck tension is key to accuracy and uniform velocities.

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 1 Comment »
February 10th, 2016

Keepin’ It Safe: Seven Tips for Reloading Safety

seven reloading safety tips powder primers brownells manual

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

Summary of the Seven Safety Tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  • Powder Type — Always double-check the label on your powder containers. After placing powder in the powder measure, put a piece of tape on the measure with the powder type written on it. Some guys write the powder type on a card and place that right in the hopper.
  • Scale Drift — Electronic balances can drift. If you are using a digital powder scale, calibrate the scale with a test weight every 50 rounds or so.
  • Case Fill — If you throw more than one charge at a time, look INSIDE every case before seating a bullet. Squib charges can be dangerous if you don’t notice them before firing the next round.
  • Progressive Presses — When using a progressive press, consider using an RCBS Lock-Out Die. This will detect a low charge and stop the machine. These dies will work with RCBS, Hornady, and Dillon progressives.
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February 9th, 2016

Giraud 3-Way Trimmer Works with a Power Drill

Giraud Tri Way Trimmer Case Cutter tool
Close-up of the Tri Way cutter with clear plastic chip guard removed.

When you hear the name Giraud Tool you probably think of big, heavy, bench-top motor-driven trimmers. Well Giraud also offers a handy case trimmer/chamferer that works with a power drill (or other power source). Giraud’s patent-pending Tri Way Case Trimmer is a self-contained unit powered by your drill or motor. Using a sharp carbide blade it will trim your cases to length, deburr, and cut both inside and outside chamfers — all in one pass. That’s pretty impressive for a $98.00 tool that fits in the palm of your hand.

Product Features
1. Fully adjustable for cartridge length (and depth of chamfer).
2. Tool includes carbide blade that cuts a 15° inside case mouth chamfer and 45° outside chamfer.
3. Case holder supported by sealed ball bearing raceway.
4. Tool includes removable, transparent plastic chip guard.
5. Tool can work in any orientation (vertical, horizontal, or any angle).

Giraud Tri Way Trimmer Case Cutter tool

The Giraud Tri Way Trimmer is designed to be powered by a portable hand drill, drill press, or other dedicated rotating power source. The tool indexes off the shoulder of your cases, but the blade adjusts so that cartridge overall length (COAL) can be controlled with precision. Constructed out of 6061-T6 aluminum and 303 stainless steel, the Tri Way tool should last a lifetime. Note: This tool is not universal. The Tri Way is dedicated to a single cartridge and “related” cartridges with similar body dimensions. Thus you need a specific tool for each cartridge family. For example, the .308 Win tool will also trim .243 Win, .260 Rem, and 7mm-08.

Cartridge Sizes Available for Giraud Tri Way Trimmer:
.223 Remington (Also trims .17 Remington, .204 Ruger, .222 Remington, .222 Remington Magnum)
7.62 x 39mm (Russian)
.300 Blackout (Also trims .17 Rem Fireball, .221 Fireball)
.308 Winchester (Also trims .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, 7mm-08)
.30-06 Springfield (Also trims .25-06, .270 Winchester, .280 Remington)
.300 Winchester Mag (Also trims .264 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Remington Magnum)

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gear Review 2 Comments »
January 13th, 2016

Try Rotating Cases During Bullet Seating to Reduce Run-Out

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.”

run-out bullet

run-out bullet

Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30BR 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 3 Comments »
January 12th, 2016

TECH Tip: Check Your Primer Tools If You Have Primer Problems

Priming Tool APS CCI magnum Primers Lee RCBS Priming

From time to time, we all encounter a primer that doesn’t go off. It’s normal to attribute the problem to a bad primer. But sometimes there are other explanations. George S., one of our Forum members, experienced a couple failures to fire, but he learned that the issue was his priming TOOL, not his primers. Here’s what George told us. There’s a lesson to be learned:

“I had issues with CCI 450s when I had my first 6BR barreled. I had probably three or four out of 20 rounds that failed to fire. the primers were dented but didn’t fire. I called CCI since I had bought a case of them. The tech was decent enough but had the audacity to tell me I was not seating the primers all the way in the pocket. I proceeded to let him know I had been reloading longer than he had been alive and I knew how to seat a primer.

Turns out that I did and I didn’t! I was using the RCBS primer tool I had used for years and the primers felt just fine to me. I finally decided to check the tool and since I had a new one I took the seating pins out and measured them. The seating pin on the tool I had been using for years was shorter by a few thousandths! I then used the pin from the new primer tool and darned if the primers that didn’t seat down to the bottom of the cup.

I switched to a K&M primer tool for seating the CCI primers and have not had a problem since. It was the combination of harder cup and lack of proper seating. I did call the CCI tech back and apologized for being an idiot.”

Another Forum member witnessed a problem cause by misuse of a priming tool: “I did … see a failure to fire on a Rem 9 1/2 primer only a week ago. That was in the new Rem muzzleloader that uses a primed case to ignite the pellets. After watching the muzzleloader’s owner seat his primers, I believe that it was operator error not the primer. He was seating the primer and then squeezing the priming tool so hard that his hands hurt after a few. We got that corrected.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
January 11th, 2016

Bargain Finder 17: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on 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. Cabelas.com — Rock Chucker Supreme Reloading Kit

Deals of Week RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Kit

Everything you see above can be yours for just $225.00, after manufacturer’s rebate. Right now, Cabela’s is selling the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for $300.00. That’s a good deal as this Reloading Kit sells elsewhere for up to $360.00. But he’s the real incentive — if you spend $300.00 on RCBS products in 2016, RCBS will send you a $75.00 rebate. That reduces your net cost to just $225.00 for the entire Kit.

2. Bullets.com — Bald Eagle Rest with Windage Top

AccurateShooter Deals Week Bullets.com Clearance Bald Eagle front rest windage top Sale
Bullets.com is offering aluminum-base front rests, with flex-shaft remote windage adjustment, for just $165.00! These front rests originally retailed for over $400.00 (with windage drive). But Bullets.com is having an “overstock” sale so you can get blow-out pricing on these rests.

3. Amazon — Minox 16-30x50mm Spotting Scope, $250.00

Deals of Week Minox Spotting Scope Compact

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to spotting scopes. For hunters, compact size and light weight are advantages. This little Minox MD 50 has sharp lenses yet weighs just 22 ounces. The max 30X magnification is plenty for seeing shot markers or watching mirage. Right now this compact Minox is on sale at Amazon.com for just $250.00. No it won’t match a $2300.00 Kowa Prominar, but for basic viewing tasks (and hunting duties) it will do a good job. It’s also an excellent choice for bullseye pistol shooters who need a lightweight, affordable spotting scope.

4. Hornady — 500 Free Bullets with Gear Purchase

Deal of Week Hornady Get Loaded  500 free bullets

Hornady has announced its “Get Loaded” Promotion for 2016. If you buy any of the qualifying products (listed above), you get 500 free bullets. We’ve taken advantage of these promos in the past. It’s a pretty good deal if need a reloading press, case prep center, or large ultrasonic cleaning machine. We’re impressed with the new pyramid-frame, open front iron press. 500 bullets is a nice incentive.

5. CDNN Sports — Remington .22 LR Bulk Ammo

Deal of Week Remington .22 LR Bulk Ammunition buck of ammo

Chose from a 525-round box for $54.88 or a jumbo 1400-round “bucket ‘o ammo” for $139.88. Both offerings feature 36-grain hollowpoint bullets. With the big bucket you get ammo for under ten cents ($0.10) per round. Yes we’d say that’s affordable .22 LR plinking ammo!

6. Brownells — Hornady V-Max Bullets on Sale

Deal of Week Hornady V-Max Varmint bullets sale Brownells.com

Here’s a super deal on plastic-tipped V-Max bullets — a favorite for varmint hunters. V-Max bullets are accurate and deliver plenty of “pop” on ground squirrels, prairie dogs and other small varmints. Brownells has clearance pricing on many types of V-Max bullets. For example, for just $14.98 per hundred, you can get the excellent 40-grain, .20-caliber V-Max or the equally good 50gr or 53gr, 22-cal V-Max. That’s a great price.

7. Natchez — CCI Blazer 9mm ammo, $9.99 for 50 Rounds

Deal of Week Hornady CCI Blazer 9mm Luger pistol ammo

This is the best price we’ve found this week on newly-manufactured 9mm pistol ammunition. And this is quality, CCI made-in-USA ammo with reloadable, brass casings. We have used this CCI-made Blazer 9mm ammo in Sig, HK, and Glock pistols and it performed very well. This stuff won’t last long at this price (less than $0.20 per round). If you need 9mm practice ammo, order soon.

8. Amazon — Best-Selling Nano LED Mini-Flashlight

Deal of Week Hornady CCI Blazer 9mm Luger pistol ammo

This handy Nano Keychain Light, an Amazon BEST SELLER, has a super-bright 5mm LED with a 100,000 hour lifetime. Verified purchasers say the Nano is “well-constructed” and “super-bright for its size”. Weighing just 0.36 ounces and measuring 1.47″ long, the Nano stows easily. A handy snap hook is included. Streamlight offers a limited lifetime warranty. Read the Amazon Reviews — people love this keychain Nano Light. It’s great for campers, and it’s a smart addition to a house emergency kit.

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January 10th, 2016

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.

Preliminary Load Development and Velocities
When developing a load for ones firearm, a chronograph is a very useful tool. Naturally, it tells the bullet speed, allowing ballistic calculations for wind deflection and trajectory, as well as velocity variation. It can also be used, in conjunction with recent handloading manuals, as an indirect indicator of pressure.

Differences between individual barrels, chamber throats, and powder lots, plus many other variables, can cause results to differ from those cited in the manuals. Thus, beware the notion of a “magical high-speed barrel.”

When Velocities Raise Pressure Concerns — Suppose the manual states that their 26-inch .260 barrel achieved 2900 fps with X bullet, Y powder, Z case, and W primer. If you achieve that speed with identical components in your 26-inch barrel while using five (5) grains less powder, that should raise a red flag. Pressures may be at or near maximum in your rifle, despite the higher “maximum” charge cited in the manual. Observe for pressure indicators as discussed in your manuals, and never exceed published maximum powder charges.

When working up a potential match load for your rifle, it is wise to survey at least 2-3 current factory sources of data for your powder/bullet combination. This will give you a sense of the variations possible due to random factors. Then, beginning at a safe, listed “starting” powder charge, work your way up in increasing powder increments while shooting over the chronograph. Also, assess your brass and rifle for signs of increasing pressure.

What size powder increments should be used? This depends on the case volume and powder chosen. A 0.3 grain or 0.5 grain increase in powder charge may be significant in a .223, but of little consequence in a .300 Magnum. Faster burning powders are more sensitive to small changes in powder charge, increasing pressures more rapidly than slow-burning powders.

Chronograph Sample Sizes — Factors to Consider
How many shots should one fire to obtain an accurate velocity for each powder charge increment when loading? That depends in part on the uniformity of velocities given by your particular powder/bullet/barrel combination.

For example: a 3- or 5-shot sample gives an extreme spread (ES) of 140 fps between the high and low velocities recorded. The lack of uniformity indicates that firing 1 or 2 shots over the chronograph to check a powder charge is likely to give a wide margin of error. In such a case, larger sample sizes will give a better idea of the true, average velocity. While approaching the loading manual’s listed maximum charge, track the ascending velocities per charge increment. One may well see that as charges approach maximum, velocities may become much more uniform. Moreover, velocity gains per increment of increase often become smaller. Ideally, one won’t encounter velocity variations this large. Changing primers and/or neck tension may increase uniformity. If wide variations persist, however, a different powder may offer great improvement.

Consider this: A 2-shot scan gives double the data of a one-shot sample. A 4-shot sample gives twice the data of a 2-shot scan. Larger samples are particularly useful if there is much velocity variation in the population.

On the other hand, one might already be familiar with a particular powder/bullet combination in one’s barrel. If it is known to have little variation, a 1 or 2-shot scan in the early stages while working up toward the maximum can be useful, while saving expensive bullets. As powder charges approach their maximum, some like to test accuracy while shooting over the chronograph. Although it’s a bit trickier to set up the bench, chronograph and target, this does yield more data per bullets expended. In such an instance, 5-shot or even 10-shot groups may be desirable at times.

Consider 20-Shot Sample for Long-Range Match Loads
Once one arrives at a load combination intended for competition use, one should chronograph at least a 10-shot sample. This gives a reasonable picture both of the load’s uniformity and its average velocity. For long range use, a 20-shot sample of ones finalized match load is even better. This accurately shows the uniformity of one’s velocities over time. It is more likely to reveal any rare shots that develop velocities significantly different from the average.

Thus ends Part 7 in our series on Accuracy Testing and Chronographing. Next week, we’ll conclude our section on Chronograph Testing. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the shooting sports!

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
January 9th, 2016

Cartridge Comparison Guide Covers 250+ Cartridges

Cartridge Comparison Guide

Cartridge Comparison GuideA unique, comprehensive Cartridge Comparison Guide is available as a 340-page, spiral-bound book. Covering over 250 cartridges, the updated Second Edition of the Cartridge Comparision Guide is the product of many years of labor by Andrew Chamberlain, a Utah-based hunter. Andrew says his Guide “compares every factory available cartridge from the 17 calibers up to the 50 caliber cartridges”. (Sorry, most wildcat cartridges are not covered.) Chamberlain’s Guide also compiles cartridge data from major ammunition manufacturers such as Barnes, Federal, Hornady, Norma, Nosler, Remington, Sierra, Swift, Weatherby, and Winchester. It shows the optimal velocity achieved for each bullet weight and calculates bullet energy, recoil, and powder efficiency. Large color photos illustrate handgun and rifle cartridges.

The Cartridge Comparison Guide provides data for thousands of cartridge/bullet/velocity combos. Quick reference data sheets and ballistics charts cover Trajectory, Velocity, and Energy out to 500 yards. The Cartridge Comparison Guide also offers a firearms lexicon, plus Appendices covering Cartridge Selection for Game Animals, Bullet Selection/Design, Bullet Expansion, Wound Channel Characteristics and more.

New Content in Second Edition of Cartridge Comparison Guide
The Cartridge Comparison Guide (Second Edition) costs $32.95 plus shipping and tax. CLICK HERE to visit the Online Store where you can order the 340-page book. Here’s what’s new in the Second Edition:

  • Addition of Shotgun Ammunition (Both Slug and Shot loads).
  • Momentum Calculation for all Rifle, Shotgun and Handgun loads.
  • Integration of Shotgun Slug Ammunition with Center Fire Rifle Data Tables.
  • Factory Load Summary Added (Shows manufacturers and loads produced).
  • One factory load and one hand load for every bullet weight available in each cartridge.
  • Over 90 pages of additional ballistics content (roughly 35% more than in First Edition).

Award-Winning Content
The Cartridge Comparison Guide has been awarded the POMA Pinnacle Award for Excellence. (POMA, the Professional Outdoor Media Association, is the trade association for outdoor writers).

Cartridge Comparison GuideGreat Resource for Hunters
One of Chamberlain’s main goals in creating the Cartridge Comparison Guide was to help hunters select the “right cartridge for the job.” According to Chamberlain: “This started as a personal project to gather information on the more popular cartridges commonly used for hunting. I began comparing cartridge performance, versatility, bullet selection, powder efficiency, recoil generation vs. energy produced, standing ballistic data for different environments, etc.” Chamberlain adds: “I wanted to find the best all-around performing cartridge and rifle that a guy on a budget could shoot.”

Giant Cartridge Poster for Computer Wallpaper (1665×1080 pixels)
Here’s a great illustration of hundreds of cartridges and shotshell types. For dedicated reloaders, this would work great as desktop “wallpaper” for your computer. CLICK HERE for full-size image.

cartridge poster

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
January 8th, 2016

How to Save Yourself Headaches at the Range (Part 1)

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Here’a useful article by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant. This story, which originally appeared in the Sierra Blog, covers some of the more common ammo problems that afflict hand-loaders. Some of those issues are: excessive OAL, high primers, and improperly sized cases. Here Mr. Pilant explains how to avoid these common problems that lead to “headaches at the range.

I had some gentlemen at my house last fall getting rifle zeros for an upcoming elk hunt. One was using one of the .300 short mags and every 3rd or 4th round would not chamber. Examination of the case showed a bulge right at the body/shoulder junction. These were new cases he had loaded for this trip. The seating die had been screwed down until it just touched the shoulder and then backed up just slightly. Some of the cases were apparently slightly longer from the base to the datum line and the shoulder was hitting inside the seating die and putting the bulge on the shoulder. I got to thinking about all the gun malfunctions that I see each week at matches and the biggest percentage stem from improper handloading techniques.

One: Utilize a Chamber Gage

Since I shoot a lot of 3-gun matches, I see a lot of AR problems which result in the shooter banging the butt stock on the ground or nearest solid object while pulling on the charging handle at the same time. I like my rifles too well to treat them that way (I cringe every time I see someone doing that). When I ask them if they ran the ammo through a chamber gage, I usually get the answer, “No, but I need to get one” or “I didn’t have time to do it” or other excuses. The few minutes it takes to check your ammo can mean the difference between a nightmare and a smooth running firearm.

A Chamber Gauge Quickly Reveals Long or Short Cases
Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Size Your Cases Properly
Another problem is caused sizing the case itself. If you will lube the inside of the neck, the expander ball will come out a lot easier. If you hear a squeak as the expander ball comes out of a case neck, that expander ball is trying to pull the case neck/shoulder up (sometimes several thousandths). That is enough that if you don’t put a bulge on the shoulder when seating the bullet, like we talked about above, it can still jam into the chamber like a big cork. If the rifle is set up correctly, the gun will not go into battery and won’t fire but the round is jammed into the chamber where it won’t extract and they are back to banging it on the ground again (with a loaded round stuck in the chamber). A chamber gage would have caught this also.

Bad_Primer_WallsOversizing cases also causes problems because the firing pin doesn’t have the length to reach the primer solid enough to ignite it 100% of the time. When you have one that is oversized, you usually have a bunch, since you usually do several cases at a time on that die setting. If the die isn’t readjusted, the problem will continue on the next batch of cases also. They will either not fire at all or you will have a lot of misfires. In a bolt action, a lot of time the extractor will hold the case against the face of the breech enough that it will fire. The case gets driven forward and the thinner part of the brass expands, holding to the chamber wall and the thicker part of the case doesn’t expand as much and stretches back to the bolt face. If it doesn’t separate that time, it will the next time. When it does separate, it leaves the front portion of the case in the chamber and pulls the case head off. Then when it tries to chamber the next round, you have a nasty jam. Quite often range brass is the culprit of this because you never know how many times it has been fired/sized and in what firearm.’Back to beating it on the ground again till you figure out that you have to get the forward part of the case out.

Just a quick tip — To extract the partial case, an oversized brush on a cleaning rod [inserted] and then pulled backward will often remove the case. The bristles when pushed forward and then pulled back act like barbs inside the case. If you have a bunch of oversized case that have been fired, I would dispose of them to keep from having future problems. There are a few tricks you can use to salvage them if they haven’t been fired though. Once again, a case gage would have helped.

Two: Double Check Your Primers

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Another thing I see fairly often is a high primer, backwards primer, or no primer at all. The high primers are bad because you can have either a slam fire or a misfire from the firing pin seating the primer but using up its energy doing so. So, as a precaution to make sure my rifle ammo will work 100% of the time, I check it in a case gage, then put it in an ammo box with the primer up and when the box is full, I run my finger across all the primers to make sure they are all seated to the correct depth and you can visually check to make sure none are in backwards or missing.

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Three: Check Your Overall Cartridge Length

Trying to load the ammo as long as possible can cause problems also. Be sure to leave yourself enough clearance between the tip of the bullet and the front of the magazine where the rounds will feed up 100%. Several times over the years, I have heard of hunters getting their rifle ready for a hunt. When they would go to the range to sight in, they loaded each round single shot without putting any ammo in the magazine. On getting to elk or deer camp, they find out the ammo is to long to fit in the magazine. At least they have a single shot, it could be worse. I have had hunters that their buddies loaded the ammo for them and then met them in hunting camp only to find out the ammo wouldn’t chamber from either the bullet seated to long or the case sized improperly, then they just have a club.

Four: Confirm All Cases Contain Powder

No powder in the case doesn’t seem to happen as much in rifle cartridges as in handgun cartridges. This is probably due to more handgun ammo being loaded on progressive presses and usually in larger quantities. There are probably more rifle cartridges that don’t have powder in them than you realize though. Since the pistol case is so much smaller internal capacity, when you try to fire it without powder, it usually dislodges the bullet just enough to stick in the barrel. On a rifle, you have more internal capacity and usually a better grip on the bullet, since it is smaller diameter and longer bearing surface. Like on a .223, often a case without powder won’t dislodge the bullet out of the case and just gets ejected from the rifle, thinking it was a bad primer or some little quirk. For rifle cases loaded on a single stage press, I put them in a reloading block and always dump my powder in a certain order. Then I do a visual inspection and any case that the powder doesn’t look the same level as the rest, I pull it and the one I charged before and the one I charged after it. I inspect the one case to see if there is anything visual inside. Then I recharge all 3 cases. That way if a case had powder hang up and dump in the next case, you have corrected the problem.

On progressive presses, I try to use a powder that fills the case up to about the base of the bullet. That way you can usually see the powder as the shell rotates and if you might have dumped a partial or double charge, you will notice as you start to seat the bullet if not before. On a progressive, if I don’t load a cartridge in one smooth stroke (say a bullet tipped over sideways and I raised the ram slightly to reset it) Some presses actually back the charge back adding more powder if it has already dumped some so you have a full charge plus a partial charge. When I don’t complete the procedure with one stroke, I pull the case that just had powder dumped into it and check the powder charge or just dump the powder back into the measure and run the case thru later.

I could go on and on but hopefully this will help some of you that are having these problems cure them. A case gage really can do wonders. Stay tuned for Easy Easy Ways to Save Yourself Headaches at the Range Part 2!

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 2 Comments »
December 29th, 2015

Hybrid Science: How to Load Hybrid Bullets for Best Accuracy

Berger Hybrid Bullet

SHOT Show 2016 kicks off in two weeks in Las Vegas. While at SHOT Show next month, we plan to get the “inside scoop” on new bullet designs from Berger, Hornady, Lapua, Nosler and Sierra.

A while back, at SHOT Show 2012 we chatted with Berger Ballistician Bryan Litz about Berger’s popular line of Hybrid bullets. Berger now offers a wide range of Hybrids in multiple calibers and weights. In fact, for .30-Caliber shooters, Berger now offers seven different Hybrid match bullets, with weights from 155 grains up to 230 grains. Two .338-caliber OTM Tactical Hybrids were introduced in 2012 (a 250-grainer and a 300-grainer).

Bryan tells us: “The hybrid design is Berger’s solution to the age old problem of precision vs. ease of use. This design is making life easier for handloaders as well as providing opportunities for commercial ammo loaders who need to offer a high performance round that also shoots precisely in many rifles with various chamber/throat configurations.”

For those not familiar with Hybrid bullets, the Hybrid design blends two common bullet nose shapes on the front section of the bullet (from the tip to the start of the bearing surface). Most of the curved section of the bullet has a Secant (VLD-style) ogive for low drag. This then blends in a Tangent-style ogive curve further back, where the bullet first contacts the rifling. The Tangent section makes seating depth less critical to accuracy, so the Hybrid bullet can shoot well through a range of seating depths, even though it has a very high Ballistic Coefficient (BC).

In the video we asked Bryan for recommended seating depths for 7mm and .30-Caliber Hybrid bullets. Bryan advises that, as a starting point, Hybrid bullets be seated .015″ (fifteen thousandths) off the lands in most barrels. Watch the video for more tips how to optimize your loads with Hybrid bullets.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 2 Comments »
December 23rd, 2015

Top 10 Reloading Fails — Do You Agree?

Shooting Times Reloading Failures Mistakes Top Ten 10

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

Top Ten Reloading Mistakes According to Shooting Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink Reloading 16 Comments »
December 23rd, 2015

Shooters’ Stocking Stuffers — Eight Budget Gifts

Christmas is almost here, so today we’re featuring a hand-picked collection of “stocking stuffers” for precision shooters. So as not to bust your holiday budget, all of our selections are priced under $10.00. These items are handy tools that you’ll use over and over again at the range and/or at your loading bench (so you’re allowed to buy them for yourself, even after Christmas). Our AccurateShooter staffers use most of these items, including the Loading Blocks, Ballistol, Mirage Shades, Crocogators, and Barrel Bags.

Gifts $1 to $5 


Surveyors Tape
$1.99
Shooting Glasses S&W Safety
Safety Eyewear
$1.99
Hood quick estimator group size gauge
Hood Kwik Estimator
$2.50
Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade
Barrel Mirage Shade
$4.95

Surveyors’ Tape. Always watch the wind when you shoot. Inexpensive, Day-Glo Surveyors’ Tape (aka “Flagging Tape”), attached to a stake or target frame, makes a good wind indicator. It will flutter even in mild breezes, alerting you to both angle and velocity shifts. This should be part of every range kit. Don’t leave home without it.

Safety Eyewear ANSI Z87.1. Yes you can get ANSI-approved Safety Eyewear for under two bucks. At that price you should pick up a half-dozen sets, just so you have extras. We recommend that shooters wear eye protection at all times when handling firearms. This eyewear special is offered by CDNN Sports. Call 800-588-9500 to order.

Hood Kwik Estimator. Here’s a very handy tool to measure your 6mm groups. Bracket the group within the diverging lines of the Kwik Estimator and you’ll instantly get a good approximation of the actual group size. No more trips to the tool box for calipers. The inexpensive Kwik Estimator fits in a shirt pocket. (Thanks to Boyd Allen for this suggestion.)

Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade. For high-volume varminters, and competitors who shoot fast in warm weather, a mirage shield is absolutely essential. This prevents hot air rising off the barrel from distorting the image in your scope. The aluminum Sinclair shield can be trimmed to fit, and comes with stick-on Velcro attachments. Two lengths are available: 18″ for short BR barrels, and 24″ for longer barrels.

Gifts $6 to $10 


Dewey Crocogator
$6.50
Ballistol multi-purpose gun lube
Ballistol Aerosol Lube
$8.99
Sinclair Barrel Storage Bag
Sinclair Barrel Bag
$9.95

Sinclair Load Block
$9.99

Dewey Crocogator. The Crocogator tool, with knurled “teeth” at both ends, is simple, inexpensive, and compact. Yet nothing zips though primer-pocket gunk faster or better. Unlike some cutter-tipped primer pocket tools, the Crocogator removes the carbon quick and easy without shaving brass. One end is sized for large primer pockets, the other for small.

Ballistol Aerosol Lube. Ballistol is a versatile, non-toxic product with many uses in the reloading room. We have found it is ideal for lubricating cases for normal full-length sizing. It is clear, not gooey or chalky like other lubes. It is very, very slippery, yet is easy to apply and just as easy to wipe off. As you lube your cases, the Ballistol will also clean powder fouling off the case necks. For heavy-duty case forming and neck expansion, we’ll still use Imperial die wax, but for every-day case sizing, Ballistol is our first choice. It also helps prevent your dies from rusting and it even conditions leather. Ballistol is a favored bore cleaner for Black Powder shooters because it neutralizes acidic powder residues.

Santa Christmas Stocking giftsSinclair Barrel Bag. If you run a switch-barrel rig, or take spare barrels to a big match, this simple but effective barrel bag will protect your valuable steel. The bag is moisture-resistant vinyl on the outside with a soft, quilted interior to protect the barrel’s finish and delicate crown. There are two sizes: one for barrels up to 26 inches, the other for barrels up to 31 inches. Both sizes are priced at $9.95 per bag. That’s cheap insurance for those priceless barrels.

Sinclair ‘Poly’ Loading Block. We’ve tried wood and injection-molded loading trays, and we prefer Sinclair’s white polyethylene loading blocks. They featured chamfered holes properly sized for the particular case you reload. The blocks are heavy enough to be stable on the bench, and the “dishwasher-friendly” material is easy to clean. The standard Poly Loading Block holds 50 cases, while the Competition Loading Block holds 25 cases with a tray for empties. For a bit more money, there’s also a Heavy-Duty 50-case model with an extra-thick 1″ base.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
December 22nd, 2015

New Case Gage Depth Micrometer from L.E. Wilson

L.E. Wilson Depth Case Gage Gauge Bump Shoulder Headspace

Here is an interesting new measuring device from L.E. Wilson, makers of precision hand dies, case trimmers, and other precision tools. This new Case Gage Depth Micrometer measures shoulder “bump”, so you can determine your headspace both before and after Full-Length sizing. With this Depth Micrometer, you can ascertain exactly how much your FL-sizing die is pushing back the shoulder during the sizing process. While you can measure shoulder setback with comparators on calipers, this Wilson Depth Mic is much more handy. Just place your sized round in the base gage and then slip the micrometer over the top. Take a measurement before FL sizing and then, after sizing, click the micrometer top to verify the amount of shoulder set-back. The measurement is quick and repeatable — very slick.

This is one more nice product from the folks at L.E. Wilson. The $110.00 tool comes with a Gage Block and micrometer top with .001 gradations. The Depth Mic top is compatible with all other Wilson case L.E. Wilson Gages (one size works for all).

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »
December 21st, 2015

Bargain Finder 14: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain Selections. Here are some of the best deals on 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. Optics Planet — Lyman BoreCam, $299.49

AccurateShooter Deals of Week Lyman Borecam Digital Borescope.

The Lyman BoreCam is an electro-optical borescope with a digital display. You can record “stills” on a SD card. This is one of the hottest products on the market right now — so hot that it sold out at Grafs, Midsouth, and MidwayUSA. But we found some in stock. Optics Planet has the BoreCam for $299.49 with free shipping. The Tactical Store, an Optics Planet outlet, also shows the product for $299.49.

The system really works. A few of our Forum members have the system and they say it functions very well and is “very easy to set up and use”. Here’s what an Optics Planet BoreCam buyer wrote: “I have used Hawkeye borescopes and know their quality. The Lyman worked as advertised and is a great tool for checking for leading, cleanliness of bore, and bore wear. The compact size, ability to take pictures, and store them are a big plus.”

2. Amazon — NRR 34dB Safety Ear Muffs

AccurateShooter Deals of Week NRR 34 muffs ear protection 34dB

Ear muffs with a NRR34 noise rating were the most popular items we’ve yet listed in our Deals of the Week. Now we’ve found two more ANSI-approved muffs, both with a 34dB Noise Reduction Rating — the best you can get. Chose the dark green Walker EXT Range Muffs for $13.30, or the Bright Yellow TR Industrial Muffs at $17.00. Both products have padded head-bands and fold into a compact size. If you prefer “basic black”, consider the $19.99 Sumsonic G47 Muffs which also carry a 34dB NRR.

3. WeatherFlow — Remote Bluetooth Weather Meter

AccurateShooter Deals of Week Weather Flow Weather Meter Wind Anemometer Air Pressure sensor

This handy, multi-function WeatherFlow Weather Meter provides key weather data to your iOS and Android Mobile devices wirelessly via Bluetooth. The unit measures temperature, humidity, air pressure and dew points. With its built-in impeller, the Weather Meter will also record wind speed (average and gust), and wind direction. Hand-hold it or attach it to a pole/tripod. This wireless Weather Meter is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and all major Android devices. This unit offers a lot of capabilities for $79.95 at Amazon.com.

4. MidwayUSA — Deluxe Competition Shooting Mat, $49.99

AccurateShooter Deals of Week MidwayUSA competition shooting mat bargain coupon

We have used MidwayUSA shooting mats, as have many Forum members. This Competition Mat is a good product. The 400 denier, PVC-coated material is durable, the overall size is good, and we like the front flap that can be staked down. MidwayUSA normally sells this mat for about $85.00. Currently, it is on sale for $49.99, the best price we’ve seen all year. It’s hard to find a better padded mat for anywhere near that price.

Unrolled Dimensions: 73-½” Long x 35-½” Wide (Does not count the front flap).
Rolled Dimensions: 8-½” Diameter x 35-½” Wide | Weight: 6.5 lbs.

5. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $17.79

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 1,500+ customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $17.79, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.

6. Eabco.com — Pillar-Bedded Laminated Stock for Savage

E Arthur Brown Eabco Savage Thumbhole Stock Laminated

For a Savage-based general purpose rifle, this Laminated Thumbhole Savage Stock is a good choice, and a fine value at just $175.00 including installed pillars. (Most bargain-priced laminated stocks do NOT include pillars). This stock fits Savage actions with detachable magazines. There are four color options: Camo laminate (shown in photo), Brown Laminate, Gray Laminate, and walnut color.

7. Powder Valley — Berger .308 High-BC Match Bullets

E Arthur Brown Eabco Savage Thumbhole Stock Laminated

Looking for High-BC .308-caliber match bullets? Well Powder Valley Inc. (PVI) has Berger .308 match bullets from 175 to 230 grains in stock at very attractive prices. Need Juggernauts or the latest 230gr Hybrids? PVI has them. If you are shooting a .308 Win in F-TR or a .300 WSM in F-Open, you may want to stock up now before demand picks up next spring. (PVI also has good inventories of Berger Bullets in lighter weights and other calibers.)

8. Monmouth Reloading — 1000 Lake City 5.56 Cases, $59.95

Monmouth deals of week ar15 5.56 brass .223 Rem once-fired Lake City LC

1000 pieces of Lake City brass for under sixty bucks? Yep, that’s a deal and a half. Monmouth Reloading is selling genuine, once-fired Lake City 5.56x45mm brass, thick-walled and sourced direct from the U.S. Military. Monmouth reports: “Our current stock of Lake City 5.56 looks to be all newer year Lake City head stamp but may contain a small percentage of other NATO headstamps. Lake City is a popular, reliable brass, normally capable of many reloads.” Monmouth includes 1% overage to account for any damaged brass. NOTE: Brass has crimped primers, so the pockets with need to be reamed or swaged prior to reloading.

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product 2 Comments »
December 17th, 2015

Shoot BR Cases from Your PPC Action with Rebated Rims

Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering provided this tip. Butch notes that many 6 PPC benchrest group shooters also enjoy shooting in score matches. But to be really competitive in the BR for score game, that means shooting a 30BR, which has a wider, .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter). Likewise, if you want to compete in 600-yard registered BR events or in varmint matches, you probably want to run a bigger case, such as the 6BR, 6mm Dasher, or 6-6.5×47. Those cartridges also have the larger 0.4728″ rims.

To convert a PPC-boltface action to shoot the bigger cases you can spend a ton of money and buy a new bolt. That can cost hundreds of dollars. The simpler solution is to turn down the diameter of the larger cases on a lathe. Butch explains: “We’ve seen plenty of interest in rebating case rims. This lets you shoot a 30BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle if you have a PPC boltface. Anyone who has access to a lathe can do this job pretty easily. Yesterday I turned 150 case in about an hour.” Below are photos of a rebated 6BR case, along with the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.

Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
December 13th, 2015

Mysteries Revealed — How Cartridge Brass is Made

When we first ran this story a while back, it generated great interest among readers. By popular request, we’re reprinting this story, in case you missed it the first time around. — Editor

Rifle cartridge brass manufacturingPrecision shooters favor premium brass from Lapua, Norma, or RWS. (Lake City also makes quality brass in military calibers.) Premium brass delivers better accuracy, more consistent velocities, and longer life. Shooters understand the importance of good brass, but many of us have no idea how cartridge cases are actually made. Here’s how it’s done.

The process starts with a brass disk stamped from strips of metal. Then, through a series of stages, the brass is extruded or drawn into a cylindrical shape. In the extrusion process the brass is squeezed through a die under tremendous pressure. This is repeated two or three times typically. In the more traditional “draw” process, the case is progressively stretched longer, in 3 to 5 stages, using a series of high-pressure rams forcing the brass into a form die. While extrusion may be more common today, RWS, which makes some of the most uniform brass in the world, still uses the draw process: “It starts with cup drawing after the bands have been punched out. RWS cases are drawn in three ‘stages’ and after each draw they are annealed, pickled, rinsed and subjected to further quality improvement measures. This achieves specific hardening of the brass cases and increases their resistance to extraordinary stresses.” FYI, Lapua also uses a traditional draw process to manufacture most of its cartridge brass (although Lapua employs some proprietary steps that are different from RWS’s methods).

RWS Brass Cartridge Draw process

Deep-Draw Ram Illustration from Demsey Mfg.
deep draw cartridge brass animated gif

After the cases are extruded or drawn to max length, the cases are trimmed and the neck/shoulder are formed. Then the extractor groove (on rimless cases) is formed or machined, and the primer pocket is created in the base. One way to form the primer pocket is to use a hardened steel plug called a “bunter”. In the photos below you see the stages for forming a 20mm cannon case (courtesy OldAmmo.com), along with bunters used for Lake City rifle brass. This illustrates the draw process (as opposed to extrusion). The process of draw-forming rifle brass is that same as for this 20mm shell, just on a smaller scale.

20mm cartridge brass forming

20mm Draw Set Oldammo.com

River Valley Ordnance explains: “When a case is being made, it is drawn to its final draw length, with the diameter being slightly smaller than needed. At this point in its life, the head of the draw is slightly rounded, and there are no provisions for a primer. So the final drawn cases are trimmed to length, then run into the head bunter. A punch, ground to the intended contours for the inside of the case, pushes the draw into a cylindrical die and holds it in place while another punch rams into the case from the other end, mashing the bottom flat. That secondary ram holds the headstamp bunter punch.

Lake City Brass bunter

The headstamp bunter punch has a protrusion on the end to make the primer pocket, and has raised lettering around the face to form the headstamp writing. This is, of course, all a mirror image of the finished case head. Small cases, such as 5.56×45, can be headed with a single strike. Larger cases, like 7.62×51 and 50 BMG, need to be struck once to form a dent for the primer pocket, then a second strike to finish the pocket, flatten the head, and imprint the writing. This second strike works the brass to harden it so it will support the pressure of firing.”

Thanks to Guy Hildebrand, of the Cartridge Collectors’ Exchange, OldAmmo.com, for providing this 20mm Draw Set photo. Bunter photo from River Valley Ordnance.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
December 3rd, 2015

Get Sierra Foam-Backed Counter Mat for $6.00

Sierra Bullets foam counter mat free

Six bucks — that’s less than the price of a burger and fries these days. But for the same small sum you can get something that will last a lot longer — a Sierra Counter Mat that displays the entire line of Sierra Bullets from .20 caliber up to .458 caliber. Right now Sierra is offering its foam-backed 16 ¼” x 21 ½” counter mat for just $6.00 (plus S&H). This displays over 160 bullet types (including 10 new bullets), complete with specifications, BCs and product codes. You can order online from the Sierra website or call 1-888-223-3006. Note, the last shipping day for 2015 will be Friday, December 18th.

This is a handy item for your reloading room or workshop. The mat provides a comfortable, non-marring surface for working on your rifles and pistols. It will also, to some degree, provide a barrier to oils and solvents, protecting your bench top.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo No Comments »
November 20th, 2015

Check Primer Pocket Diameter and Depth with Handy Tools

Primer depth diameter gauge brass cartridge

One side of this gauge is the “go” side which quickly tells you the depth of a primer pocket, whether any crimp is properly removed, and whether the primer pocket is loose. If it feels loose on the “go” side, use the other end of the tool, the “no go” side, to test to see if the primer pocket is too loose to hold a primer. If the no-go slides into the pocket, then you know to junk that brass.

Primer Pocket Growth and Useful Case Life
Repeated firings at stout pressures can cause primer pockets to grow in diameter. This can create an unsafe condition if your primers are not seating properly. Are your primer pockets “good to go”, or have they been pushed to the point of no return? Do you really know? Many guys try to gauge primer pocket tightness by “feel”, as they seat the primer. But that method isn’t precise. Now there’s a better way…

Primer depth diameter gauge brass cartridgeThe folks at Ballistictools.com have created a handy set of precision-machined gauges that let you quickly and accurately check your primer pockets. These gauges (aka “gages”) are offered in two sizes — for large and small primer pockets. A two-piece set of both large and small gauges costs just $19.99. These gauges let you quickly measure the depth of a primer pocket, and check if the crimp has been removed properly. Most importantly, the gauge tells you if the primer pocket has opened up too much. One side of the gauge has an enlarged diameter plug. If that “No-Go” side fits in the primer pocket, you should ditch the case — it’s toast.

CLICK HERE to order Small and Large Primer Pocket Swage Gage™ Set from Ballistictools.com.

Precision ground from O-1 tool steel, The Ballistic Tools primer pocket gauges serve multiple functions. The inventor of these tools explains: “I created the prototype of this tool for my own use in brass processing. I needed a way to quickly and easily measure primer pockets that was reliable and did not require wasting a primer. This tool has been indispensable for me and I would never go back to the old method of uncertainty and guessing.”

Product tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
November 16th, 2015

Reloading Tip for Coated Bullets — Adjust Loads Cautiously

Moly Danzac Bullet Coating Anti-friction HBN

Coating bullets with a friction-reducing compound such as Molybdenum Disulfide (Moly) offers potential benefits, including reduced barrel heat, and being able to shoot longer strings of fire between bore cleanings. One of the effects of reduced friction can be the lessening of internal barrel pressures. This, in turn, means that coated bullets may run slower than naked bullets (with charges held equal). To restore velocities, shooters running coated bullets are inclined to “bump up” the load — but you need to be cautious.

Be Careful When Increasing Loads for Coated Bullets
We caution shooters that when your start out with coated bullets in a “fresh barrel” you should NOT immediately raise the charge weight. It may take a couple dozen coated rounds before the anti-friction coating is distributed through the bore, and you really start to see the reduced pressures. Some guys will automatically add a grain or so to recommended “naked” bullet charge weights when they shoot coated bullets. That’s a risky undertaking.

Instead we recommend that you use “naked” bullet loads for the first dozen coated rounds through a new barrel. Use a chronograph and monitor velocities. It may take up to 30 rounds before you see a reduction in velocity of 30-50 fps that indicates that your anti-friction coating is fully effective.

We have a friend who was recently testing moly-coated 6mm bullets in a 6-6.5×47. Moly had not been used in the barrel before. Our friend had added a grain to his “naked” bullet load, thinking that would compensate for the predicted lower pressures. What he found instead was that his loads were WAY too hot initially. It took 30+ moly-coated rounds through the bore before he saw his velocities drop — a sign that the pressure had lowered due to the moly. For the rounds fired before that point his pressures were too high, and he ended up tossing some expensive Lapua brass into the trash because the primer pockets had expanded excessively.

LESSON: Start low, even with coated bullets. Don’t increase your charge weights (over naked bullet loads) until you have clear evidence of lower pressure and reduced velocity.

Procedure After Barrel Cleaning
If you shoot Moly, and clean the barrel aggressively after a match, you may want to shoot a dozen coated “foulers” before starting your record string. Robert Whitley, who has used Moly in some of his rifles, tells us he liked to have 10-15 coated rounds through the bore before commencing record fire. In a “squeaky-clean” bore, you won’t get the full “benefits” of moly immediately.

To learn more about the properties of dry lubricants for bullets, read our Guide to Coating Bullets. This covers the three most popular bullet coatings: Molybdenum Disulfide (Moly), Tungsten Disulfide (WS2 or ‘Danzac’), and Hexagonal Boron Nitride (HBN). The article discusses the pros and cons of the different bullet coatings and offers step-by-step, illustrated instructions on how to coat your bullets using a tumbler.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
November 12th, 2015

Coming Soon: New IMR 4955 Enduron Powder

IMR 4955 powder Hodgdon burn rate chart propellant Enduron New

IMR just announced its latest Enduron powder, IMR 4955, which features a medium-slow burn rate similar to Hodgdon H4831 or IMR 4831. The IMR Enduron powders are clean-burning, temp stable, and feature a proprietary coating that helps reduce copper fouling. We are looking forward to trying IMR 4955 based on our positive experience with IMR 4166. We have used Enduron 4166 and have seen excellent accuracy in .308 Winchester and 6mm BR rifles.

IMR 4955 lands between IMR 4451 and IMR 7977 on the burn rate chart. Hodgdon, which distributes IMR powders, says that IMR 4955 works very well for cartridges such as 25-06 Remington, .270 Winchester, and the .300 Winchester Magnum. Perhaps this will prove a good choice for the .284 Win and .300 WSM as well (F-Open shooters take note). If you are currently using H4831 or H4831sc you should probably give IMR 4955 a try.

Hodgdon says IMR 4955 offers some important advantages:

1. IMR 4955 has a small kernel size. This allows the powder to flow through powder measures easily and meter very accurately.
3. IMR 4955 is very insensitive to temperature changes, so shooters should see uniform velocities across a broad temp range.
3. IMR 4955 has very good load density for medium and big game hunting cartridges (such as the .270 Win and .300 Win Mag).
4. Like other Enduron powders, IMR 4955 boasts a special additive that helps reduce copper fouling as the rifle is fired.

IMR 4955 H4831 burn rate hodgdonIMR 4955 Should Be Available Early Next Year
— Load Data is Online Now

IMR 4955 will be available in early 2016 in one-pound and eight-pound containers. With the addition of IMR 4955 to the series of Enduron powders, reloaders have a new, advanced-formulation powder that should work for a wide variety of popular cartridges — from the .260 Rem up to big magnums. Reloading data for IMR 4955 is now available online in the Hodgdon Reloading Data Center. Below is a sample of Hodgdon/IMR load data for IMR 4955 as used in the .300 Win Mag cartridge.

IMR 4955 powder Hodgdon burn rate chart propellant Enduron New

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