April 29th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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April 25th, 2016

Bargain Finder 32: 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 Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Stocky’s Stocks — Composite Stock with Bedding Block

Stocky's Stocks Composite V-block stock

Here’s a killer deal on a versatile Stocky’s Long Range Stock with aluminum V-block bedding system. For just $199.99, order this for Rem/Rem Clone long actions or short actions, with either narrow or wide (varmint/tactical) barrel channel. This would be a good choice for a varmint rifle. This is also offered with a matte black, tan, or olive baked-on textured finish for $229.97.

2. RCBS — Buy Green, Get Green Rebate

RCBS Reloading Press Rebate Green

RCBS is running a very attractive Rebate Program currently. If you spend $300.00 on qualifying products you get a $75.00 rebate. Spend $50 and get a $10.00 Rebate. This program is limited to one (1) rebate redemption per calendar year, with a maximum of $75.00. CLICK HERE for more information. NOTE: To qualify, you must supply completed RCBS rebate coupon, original UPC barcodes from package, and original cash register receipt and/or dated, itemized sales invoice.

3. Midsouth — Nosler .308 Match Monster Bullets, $119.99 for 500

AccurateShooter Deals of Week Midsouth Shooters Nosler Monster Match Bullets .308 Sale

Looking for high-quality, name-brand .308-caliber bullets? You won’t beat the price on these Nosler bullets from Midsouth Shooters Supply. Five options are offered: 155 grain, 168 grain, 168 grain (with cannelure), 170 grain, and 190 grain. The 155s and 168s are just $119.99 for FIVE HUNDRED bullets. The 170s cost $131.28/500 while the big 190s cost $137.74/500. Those are insanely good prices, any way you cut it. The price on the 168s works out to just $23.99 per hundred. You could easily pay $40.00 per hundred for bullets of this quality. These are not seconds or blems — the are quality Nosler-made bullets produced for Midsouth’s Match Monster bulk sales program.

4. Sportsman’s Guide — Frankford Arsenal Case Tumbler Kit

AccurateShooter Deals of week bargain discount savings Frankford Arsenal Case Tumbler Kit Media Separator bargain sportmans Guide

For just $69.99, this Frankford Arsenal Kit provides everything you need to clean brass: Vibratory Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, Bucket, Corn Cob Media (3 lbs.), and Brass Polish. The Case Tumbler holds up to 600 9mm cases or 350 .223 Rem cases. The separator system is generous, with a 3.5-gallon bucket. NOTE: Sportsman’s Guide Buyers Club members can purchase for $62.99.

5. CDNN Sports — Ruger American Ranch Rifle (Tan), $389.99

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

Here’s a nice little varmint rifle from Ruger with some nice features at a very attractive price, $389.99. This .223 Rem rifle features a 16.5″ hammer-forged barrel barrel threaded 1/2″-28 at the muzzle for brake or suppressor. The action, which features a 70° three-lug bolt, and Picatinny-style scope rail, sits in an aluminum bedding block. The crisp trigger adjusts down to 3 pounds. With a weight (before optics) of 6.1 pounds, this is a handy carry-around varminter.

6. MidwayUSA — Padded Scoped Rifle Case, $24.99

MidwayUSA Padded Rifle Case Sale Scoped

This 48″-long, thickly-padded gun case will hold most tactical-style rifles and hunting rifles. At a fraction of the cost of a big, cumbersome drag bag, this case may be all you need. The heavy duty padding is over 1″ thick on both sides to protect your rifle and optics investment from rough handling. A large pocket will hold a couple boxes of ammo and other accessories. We like this bag much better than the typical gun-store soft cases. It offers much better padding and more room for large scopes. It is on sale this week at MidwayUSA for just $24.99 in four colors: black, tan, OD green, and gray. In addition to the 48″ case shown, 40″ and 44″ versions are available.

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April 23rd, 2016

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

stuck72

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

Western powders, ramshot, norma, accurate

Curing the Stuck Case Blues

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

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

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

Drill and Tap the Stuck Case
taping72drilling72

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

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

pulling72fingers72

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

wholekit72unstuck72

Article find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 21st, 2016

Why Does Load Data Vary Between Reloading Manuals?

load manual sierra reloading hornady data

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

Example of load data variances for two 168 grain bullets:

Sierra Reloading Manual Hornady Load Reloading

Here are five reasons why the load data varies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sierra Bullets Blog reloading information

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March 27th, 2016

Common Reloading Mistakes, and Their Cures — The Stuck Case

This article originally appeared in the Sinclair International Reloading Press.

We have all been there…..you place a piece of tumbled brass in the shell-holder of your press, raise it into the die, and suddenly it is like somebody hit the brakes. The case is stuck in the die. Your first instinct is to reverse it out. You crank on the handle, and BANG! The rim rips off the case head and you are looking at a piece of brass stuck in the die.

A stuck case is one of the boo-boos that all of us reloaders have faced from time to time. If proper lubrication is applied, then it should not be a problem. No matter if you are a seasoned reloader or new to it, this situation can happen. Take your time, use the proper procedures, and you will be back in business in no time! This article explains how to avoid stuck cases (through proper lubrication) and how to use a stuck case removal system.

What Causes Stuck Cases
One of the first common mistakes reloaders face is the stuck case. It can be caused by too much or too little lube. Too much and a vacuum can be formed causing the case to become suctioned into the die. Too little lube and friction is the culprit. So what is the cure? There is no exact cure, but the best lube that we have found so far is just a dab of Imperial Sizing Die Wax on your fingers and applied in a thin coat on the body of the case, not the shoulder or neck. Too much of this wax can cause the vacuum effect, or can eventually load your die up with gobs of residue. If it is applied to the shoulder area, or the leftover wax moves up into the shoulder region of the die, you will see dents or dimples in the shoulder. [AccurateShooter.com Editor’s Note: For normal full-length sizing of small cases such as 220 Russian/PPC, 6mmBR, 6.5 Grendel, or 6.5×47 Lapua we recommend Ballistol (aerosol) lube. It is very slippery, goes on very thin, and does not gum up the die.]

A great way to ensure that your dies are clean is to use a simple chamber mop with a dab of your favorite solvent on it and clean out the die. Be sure all of the solvent is out after cleaning by spraying the die out with Quickscrub III or use a clean chamber mop. If you are storing your dies, you can apply a thin coat of a good oil to protect the steel such as TM oil or Starrett M1 Spray.

Using a Stuck Case Removal Kit
If you do stick a case in your die there are a few good stuck case removal kits available. Each one works in a similar fashion. I have found the Hornady kit very effective and easy to use.

Basically what you do is remove the die from the press. Unscrew the decapping assembly and pull it out as far as you can. You then need to drill/tap threads into the stuck case head (this is why it is suggested to unscrew the decapping assembly as far as you can to get it clear of the drill bits). Once this is done screw the die back into the press. You then install the included shellholder attachment on the shellholder ram, and thread it into the case via a small wrench. With some elbow grease you can reverse the stuck case out of the die with the leverage of the press, and not damage the die.

However if the case is stuck….REALLY stuck, you may pull out the threads on the case and you are still left with a stuck case in the die without any way to pull it out. If the case is really difficult to remove even with the use of a stuck case removal kit, do not try to be Hercules with the press ram. Here is a trick that may work. Take the die with the stuck case and place it in your freezer for a couple of hours. Then repeat the removal with the cold die. The freezing temperatures may cause the brass to contract, and make removal easier. If this does not work it is recommended to send it to the die manufacturer. They will be able to remove the case without damaging the die.

Another fix if you can remove the decapping assembly completely is to use a tap hammer and a punch or small wooden dowel to knock the stuck case out. This isn’t the best way since it is very possible that you will damage the die internally or externally on the threads, or both. Send the die to the manufacturer to have this done properly. You will be happier in the long run.

This article appears courtesy Sinclair International. It first appeared in Sinclair’s Reloading Press Blog.

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March 26th, 2016

PMA Micro Die Adjuster — User Reports

PMA Tool Micro Die Adjuster .001 Shoulder Bump full length sizing lift shim

Wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly and easily adjust shoulder bump during the full-length sizing process, without struggling to move die lock-rings by trial and error (or fiddle with shims). Well you can. The PMA Micro Die Adjuster is a brilliant little device that replaces the lock ring on your FL sizing die. It allows you to move the die up and down in precise, tiny increments. The tool has .001″ index marks, but you can easily set your die between the marks to achieve .0005″ (half-thousandth) adjustments.

The affordable PMA Micro Die Adjuster is offered in two versions, an upgraded model with a handy thumb screw for $69.95 (photo above), as well as the original with set screw for $65.95 (photo below).

PMA Tool Micro Die Adjuster .001 Shoulder Bump full length sizing lift shim

To see how the PMA Micro-Die Adjuster works, watch this video by our friend Boyd Allen:

Many of our Forum members now use the PMA Micro Die Adjuster, and they give this specialty tool high praise. Here are actual reviews by Forum members and other verified tool buyers. Read more comments in this AccurateShooter Forum Thread.

PMA Micro Die Adjuster User Reviews

“No more ‘close enough’ for headspace[.] With this tool set-up it’s easy to put headspace exactly where you want it, then repeat it exactly for subsequent batches for the same cartridge.” — JohnF

“I have four of these Micro Adjuster rings and all I can say is that it works and it is repeatable. I bump my brass .0005″-.001″ and this die lock ring will do it without issue.” — TrapperT

“I size brass for four different 6.5×47 rifles (chambered with three different reamers) using a single die, set in the PMA Adjuster. I have to say… I should have bought one sooner. Adjusting it is very quick and repeatable to well under .001.” — /VH

“Great product. Shims used to drive me crazy, put a .002 in and get .0035 of change. With this if you want .0015 set it and that’s what you get.” — John B

“I’ve been using PMA’s lock ring for some time now and find it to be very easy to adjust to within .0005″ on a single piece of brass. Very quick to do as well. One thing I have found is that if you still need that half-thou adjustment I will run the brass once more at the same setting before I make that .0005″ adjustment and 50 percent of the time that does the trick. The marked increments are in .001″ scale so if you go half way in between there’s your half-thousandth.

PMA Micro-Adjuster vs. Shims: With respect to using shims, that requires you to completely remove the die. That gets old rather quickly after having used the PMA adjustable lock ring.” — Patch 700

“I like mine — adjustments are easy and it will adjust very fine. I used to use .001″ shims. Now can adjust my bump as fine as I want.” — Joe139

“The PMA adjuster works just like they say it does and is very simple to use and adjust. I use JLC inserts as well … as nice as they are you’re still hobbled by a click. However with the PMA you can go between what would be clicks. And you can use them … with any die.” — Dusty Stevens

PMA Micro die adjusterProduct Description from PMA Tool
The PMA Tool Micro Die Adjuster (MDA) replaces your existing lock ring and can be used with nearly any 7/8-14 full length sizing die. We successfully used this tool with sizing dies from Redding, RCBS, Hornady, Lee, Harrells Precision and those made from Newlon Precision die blanks. It allows you to easily make adjustments to your “shoulder bump” as fine as .0005″. The engraved marks on the MDA are equal to approximately .001 inches (true adjustment .000992″) of adjustment to the shoulder bump. Splitting the engraved marks is therefore approximately equal to .0005″. The design of the MDA does not allow it to work with the Forster Co-Ax press. Some custom dies for very short cartridges may require the use of an extended shellholder. Micro Die Adjuster shown in use installed on Custom Newlon/Scott 6mm PPC Die and Harrells Precision Compact Press.

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March 22nd, 2016

Vertical Fliers? Poor Ignition May Be the Cause…

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin
Top to bottom – Remington firing pin assembly with ISS, Tubb SpeedLock alloy-composite system without ISS (current versions have dual, opposite-wound springs), and Remington short action firing pin assembly without ISS.

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Last week’s “Handloading Hump Day” article covered mechanical issues and related ignition irregularities that can cause vertical fliers even with good ammunition in an otherwise excellent rifle. We highly recommend you read this article, which offers some important tech tips.

USAMU handloading hump day

Vertical Dispersion: Mechanical/Ignition Issues?

Poor or inconsistent ignition has long been known to be one of the “usual suspects” when one encounters vertical fliers that just shouldn’t be there. By having a sense of some of the basic principles involved, and a few basic areas to check, the shooter may avoid colsiderable frustration, not to mention time, expensive loading components and barrel wear.

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pinIs your well-built rifle of high-quality components plagued with vertical fliers across more than 1-3 handload combinations? Consider the bedding, crown and scope/sight mounts. Are they correct? If so, then you might check for ignition issues before boldly undertaking an extensive, expensive, and quite possibly fruitless quest for the “magic handload”.

SEEING IS BELIEVING: While the author had been aware for many years that poor ignition should be considered and ruled out when dealing with vertical fliers in an otherwise-excellent rifle, actually seeing the problem and its almost instantaneous cure really drove the lesson home.

He was working with a “dot” rifle – a .22 LR match rifle that really stacked bullets into little piles at 50 yards and beyond. With one lot of ELEY Tenex, it produced consistent “bughole” groups at 50, but with another, selected lot of Tenex, similar groups were regularly ruined by single, vertical fliers that did not appear in other rifles. Rather than spending days burning up expensive, select ammunition looking for “magic lots”, he contacted a well-respected rimfire gunsmith and explained the situation.

Without so much as batting an eye, the highly-experienced ‘smith tore into the rifle’s action, and quickly found the cause(s) of the problem. He discovered a demonstrably weak firing pin spring, plus a chip out of the face of the firing pin where it contacted the cartridge rim.

After replacing and tuning the offending parts, the rifle immediately began shooting tiny, bughole groups with the previously “unacceptable” lot of Tenex. Centerfire rifles can also benefit from ensuring positive, consistent ignition. A wise riflesmith is literally worth his weight in gold!

So, what are some issues we as shooters can inspect in our rifles to help determine if ignition woes could be part of our problem? At the club level, ask yourself if that “experienced” Remington, Winchester 70, or even Springfield-based match bolt gun you’re using is still running its’ original 40-80 year-old factory striker spring? If so, a new replacement is cheap insurance against current or future problems. (And BTW, it might be best to stick to the normal, factory-spec spring weight. A super-powerful spring can cause vertical, just as a weak one one can.) Along with that, a routine check for proper firing-pin protrusion is a quick preventive measure that can rule out potential issues.

Other areas to consider are the centering and consistency of the firing pin’s operation in the bolt. Admittedly, with the increasing use of precision-machined custom actions, this is becoming less an issue every day. Below is the firing pin assembly from a custom BAT action:

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin

However, particularly with factory actions, a very quick and easy check is to remove the bolt, let the firing pin go forward, and look at the firing pin tip through the firing pin hole. Is the tip off-center in the hole, and possibly striking it as it moves forward? Is the hole out-of-round or burred from being struck repeatedly? If so, a trip to the riflesmith is likely in order.

Similarly, machining issues in the bolt/firing pin system can lead to rough and erratic firing pin movement, in which the firing pin drags against an internal surface of the bolt. In high-quality rifles these issues are relatively rare, but not unheard-of, and it takes mere minutes to rule them out. It may be worthwhile to remove the cocking piece/firing pin/spring assembly and look for any unusual gouges, dings, peening, burrs or signs of abnormal wear.

This task is especially easy with Winchester 70s, Springfields, and the similar Mauser 98s, involving little more than the push of a button and unscrewing the cocking piece assembly. This is just one of the many reasons these tried-and-true actions have earned such a loyal following in the field, among hunters who must maintain their rifles away from a shop.

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin

Particularly with older rifles, watch for and remove excess grease (or even Cosmoline!) from both the firing pin assembly and inside the bolt. This can help improve firing pin speed and consistency. Other bolt-action designs may need a take-down tool or other measures.

As part of this inspection, AFTER ENSURING THE RIFLE IS UNLOADED, slowly cock the rifle, dry-fire, and repeat several times. Listen carefully near the action for inconsistency in the sounds it generates. Does the striker falling make the same sound each time? Do you hear or feel grinding upon operation? If so, where?

Be sure to check the operation of the cocking piece (bolt shroud), firing pin within the bolt shroud, the cocking piece cam and the rear of the bolt body where the cocking piece cam operates. As with our examination for abnormal wear marks discussed above, look for marks indicating roughness or a possible need for light polishing. Then, clean and lightly grease the bearing surfaces while you’re at it.

Remington 700 bolt shroud and cocking cam
Rem 700 bolt cocking cam

These are relatively easy checks that shooters can undertake to perform a preliminary inspection on their own. Other mechanical issues can also cause ignition issues, chiefly centered around the action of the trigger, sear and sear spring. If these are suspected, a trip to an experienced, qualified riflesmith for diagnosis is recommended. We hope you find this information helpful! Join us again next week, and in the meantime, enjoy the shooting sports safely!

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 1 Comment »
March 8th, 2016

Cost Per Round by Cartridge Type: .223, 6BR, 6XC, .308, 6.5-284

Shooting Cost by Cartridge Caliber type USAMU

Estimating Actual Cost per Round by Caliber
This article comes from the USAMU, which provide shooting and reloading tips on its Facebook Page. This week’s USAMU TECH TIP outlines a ballpark-estimate method of calculating the actual cost per round of different calibers. Some applications, and some shooters, by virtue of their high level of competition, require the very best ballistic performance available — “Darn the cost, full speed ahead!

If you are in serious contention to win a major competition, then losing even a single point to inferior ballistic performance could cost you a national title or record. However, this “horsepower” does come at a cost! Some calibers are barrel-burners, and some offer much longer barrel life. Look at this comparison chart:

Estimated Cost Per Round by Cartridge Type

Below are some estimated total expense per round (practice and competition) based on component costs, type used, expected barrel life and a standard, chambered barrel cost of $520.00 across calibers.

5.56x45mm: $0.46/round (barrel life 6,000 rounds)*

6mmBR: $0.81/round (barrel life 2800 rounds)

6XC: $0.97/round (barrel life 2200 rounds)

.308 Win: $0.80/round (barrel life 4500 rounds)

6.5-284: $1.24/round (barrel life 1100 rounds)

*Note the high round count estimate for 5.56x45mm. This is a bit deceptive, as it assumes a period of “lesser accuracy” use. The USAMU says: “Much of the difference you see here between 5.56 and .308 is due to using the 5.56 barrel for 100-200 yard training with less-expensive, 55gr Varmint bullets after its long-range utility is spent”.

Moreover, while some applications require specialized, high-cost components, others do not. And, if the shooter is still relatively new to the sport and hasn’t refined his skill to within the top few percentile of marksmen, a more economical caliber choice can help stretch a limited budget. Translation: More skill per dollar!

In this post, the prices for all items mentioned here were taken from a major component supplier’s current advertisements, and all brass was of top quality, except in the case of 5.56mm. There, 200 top-quality, imported cases were reserved for 600-yard shooting, and the other brass used was once-fired Lake City surplus.

Cartridge cases were assumed to be loaded 10 times each. [Your mileage may vary…] Bullet prices assumed the use of less-expensive, but good-quality match bullets for the bulk of shooting as appropriate.

The cost of top-tier, highly-expensive match bullets was also calculated for a realistic percentage of the shots fired, based on ones’ application. Barrel life by caliber was taken from likely estimates based on experience and good barrel maintenance.

Brass Costs Based on 10 Loads Per Case
Often, handloaders may calculate ammunition cost per round by adding the individual costs of primers, powder charges and projectiles. Many don’t consider the cost of brass, as it is reloaded several times. Here, we’ll consider the cost of enough top-quality brass to wear out a barrel in our given caliber, at 10 loads per case, except as noted above.

Don’t Forget Amortized Barrel Costs
Few shooters factor in the full, true cost of barrel life. Depending on caliber, that can dramatically increase the cost per round. For example, consider a long-range rifle in 6.5/284 caliber. This cartridge performs amazingly well, but at a cost. Ballpark estimated barrel life [in a top-quality barrel] is 1100 rounds. Some wear out faster, some last longer, but this gives a rough idea of what to expect.

Accurate barrels are a joy to use, but they are an expendable resource!
Shooting Cost by Cartridge Caliber type USAMU

A top-quality barrel plus installation was estimated at about $520.00. At 1100 rounds, barrel life adds $0.47 per round to our total cost. Thus, what had started out as an [components-only estimate, with brass cost] of $0.76/round now totals $1.24 per shot!

Cost Considerations When Choosing a Catridge Type
Some shooters might ask themselves if they could meet their present needs with a more economical caliber. If so, that equates to more practice and matches per available dollar, and more potential skill increase on the available budget.

Each shooter knows his skill level, practice needs, and shooting discipline’s requirements. Some might shoot NRA Service Rifle or Match Rifle using a 5.56mm with a long barrel life. Others might be Match Rifle shooters faced with choosing between, say, a 6mm BR vs. 6XC. A realistic assessment of ones needs, performance-wise, may help guide the shooter toward a caliber that’s most optimized to their needs at the moment.

Admittedly, the factors affecting cost for any individuals circumstances can vary significantly. However, hopefully this will provide one useful method of evaluating one’s training and competition choices, based on their skill, goals and needs.

USAMU reloading Facebook Page army tips tech

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February 26th, 2016

Whidden Explains How to Find the Optimal Neck Bushing Size

John Whidden Dies Neck Bushing diameter reloading

Whidden Gunworks makes great sizing and seating dies. The Whidden full-length sizing die with neck bushing is very popular because it allows you to “tune” the neck tension by using different bushings, with larger or smaller inside diameters. In this video, John Whidden explains how to choose a the right bushing size for use with your neck-sizing and full-length sizing bushing dies.

For most applications, John suggest starting with the caliper-measured outside diameter of a loaded cartridge (with your choice of bullet), and then SUBTRACT about three thousandths. For example, if your loaded round mics at .333, then you would want to start with a 0.330 neck bushing. John notes, however, that you may want to experiment with bushings, going down a thousandth and up a thousandth. With thin In addition, as your brass ages and the necks harden, you may want to change your bushing size.

John Whidden Dies Neck Bushing diameter reloadingQuick Tip: Try Flipping Your Bushings
You may also want to experiment with “flipping” your neck bushings to alternate the side that first contacts the neck of the case. (One side of the bushing is usually marked with the size, while the other side is unmarked.) So try “number side up” as well as “number side down”. Some folks believe that one side of the bushing may allow a smoother entry, and that this can enhance concentricity. Other people think they can get very slightly more or less neck tension depending on how the bushing is oriented. This is a subtle effect, but it costs nothing to experiment. If one bushing orientation proves better you can mark the “up” side with nail polish so that you can always orient the bushing optimally. NOTE: We have confirmed that some bushings are actually made with a slight taper. In addition, bushings may get distorted slightly when the brand name and size is stamped. Therefore there IS a reason to try both orientations.

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February 22nd, 2016

Bargain Finder 23: 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. Bud’s Gun Shop — Howa Mini Action .223 Rem

Howa Legacy Mini Action Buds Gun Shop Hogue Varmint Rifle .223 Rem

This is a great little rifle. I checked out the Howa Mini Actions at SHOT Show, and was so impressed I ordered one. The bolt opens and closes VERY smoothly (way better than most mass-produced bolt guns). The two-stage HACT trigger is excellent — it’s plenty light with a crisp release and no annoying spring-loaded blade in the middle. The Mini Action is nearly an inch shorter than a Rem 700 short action, making for a nice, compact carry-around varminter (OAL length is just 39.5″). The standard Howa Mini Action rifle weighs 6 pounds without scope. This particular model comes with a quality Hogue synthetic stock and 10-round detachable box magazine. The Howa Mini on sale is a .223 Remington, but other chamberings are available at a higher price. BudsGunShop.com has this rifle in OD Green for $380.07 or Matte Black for $384.19. That’s a very good deal — other online retailers are selling this same Howa Mini Action rifle for $510.00 or more.

2. Sportsmans Guide — Anderson AR Stripped Lower, $45.99

Anderson AR AR-15 stripped lower receiver

Have an AR project in the works? Maybe you’re building a new XTC rifle or an AR-based varmint slayer. Here’s a great deal on an Anderson Mfg. stripped lower — Just $45.99 at Sportsmans’ Guide. Just add your favorite aftermarket trigger and other drop-in parts. Anderson lowers are well-made, with good dimensional standards.

3. Midsouth — 195gr Berger EOL 7mm Bullets

Berger 7mm EOL Elite Hunter High BC 195 bullet

Midsouth has the impressive new 195-grain 7mm (.284) Berger EOL Elite Hunter bullet. While not designed for match purposes, we know some guys are using this new 195-grainer on paper with good results. The bullet has an ultra-high BC: “The 195gr EOL bullet has the highest ballistic performance of any 7mm bullet currently in existence, and is truly the first of its kind for a number of reasons. Typically, 180 grains is the heaviest weight available in 7mm. This bullet adds 15 grains to that. The additional weight is split between the bearing surface and longer nose. Compared to the 7mm 180 grain Target Hybrid, the bearing surface is 0.096″ longer, and the nose is 0.022” longer. With a sectional density of 0.345 lb/in², the performance of this bullet on game is impressive. By comparison, the Berger .30 caliber 210 grain Hunting VLD has a sectional density of 0.316 lb/in².”

4. Grafs.com — Hornady 17 HMR Ammo $10.99 for 50 Rounds

Hornady Varmint Express 17 HMR ammo

This is one of the best prices we’ve seen in recent years on 17 HMR ammo. We really like the V-Max bullets in 17 HMR ammunition — you get excellent accuracy plus the tipped design is very effective on small varmints. Grafs.com is having a big ammo sale right now, so you can get this quality Hornady 17 HMR ammo for just $10.99 per 50-round box. You could easily pay $16.00/box at a local gunstore. This is a GREAT deal — stock up while you can.

5. Cheaper Than Dirt — BX-Trigger for Ruger 10/22, $55.13

Ruger 10/22 owners should definitely consider a trigger upgrade. And now there is a superior, factory-made, drop-in trigger for the 10/22 that has earned rave reviews. Ruger’s new BX-Trigger has a pull weight of 2.5-3.5 pounds with a smooth, crisp break. Installation is easy. Many online vendors offer the Ruger BX-Trigger for around $70.00. The best price we found was $55.13 at CheaperThanDirt.com.

6. Bullets.com — NEW March Scope Rings $169.95 on Sale

March aluminum scope rings

March rings are made 7075-T6 Aluminum so they are HALF the weight of steel. They are precisioned machined in matched pairs to ensure perfect alignment. Each scope ring has a special groove cut on the inside that basically creates two “mini” rings in one. This provide four contact points to hold the scope securely. Often, lapping is eliminated due to the extremely precise matched machining. Right now these superb rings are being offered at an introductory SALE price of $169.95 per pair. They are available in a variety of heights, with either 30mm or 34mm interior diameter.

7. Buck Knives — Model 110 Folding Hunter

AccurateShooter Deals of week bargain discount savings Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter Knife Brass

Read the nearly 1000 customer reviews on Amazon.com, and you’ll understand why the Model 110 Folding Hunter is one of the most popular knives ever produced by Buck Knives. The USA-made, lifetime-warrantied Model 110 features a 3.75″ blade, Dymondwood handle, polished brass bolsters, and leather carrying sheath. It’s a bargain at $27.99.

8. Amazon — $4.95 Handgun Hangers 4-Pack

Save shelf space with these handy Handgun Hangers. These hangers provide the most efficient way to store a large handgun collection. Pistols hang below the shelf, opening up all the space above the shelf for other items. A four-pack of hangers costs just $4.95. WARNING: Before putting pistols on hangers, make sure your handguns are UNLOADED, with no round in the chamber.

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February 17th, 2016

Important Reloading Safety Tips from Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets Reloading Tips

Here are some really smart tips for hand-loaders compiled by Sierra Bullets. These suggestions were submitted by Sierra’s Facebook fans — and some are very valuable indeed. Some of these tips will help you load more accurate ammo. Other selections will help you stay SAFE — which should always be your #1 priority. For example, we concur with the advice to “Check and Double Check. Everything. Every Time”. Also definitely keep “One powder on the bench at a time” — that could be a life-saver. You may want to print these “words of wisdom” and place them on a wall in your loading room.

Reloading Safety Tips — Sound Advice

ALWAYS START LOW: “Just because a load manual says X grains of X powder with X bullet is max, your rifle could reach max pressure a grain or two before what the book says. Start low and work up.” — Walter Coats

BE SAFE: “Check and double check. Everything. Every time. Only one type of powder on the bench at a time.” — Glen Lundgren

DON’T RUSH: “Be patient, don’t be in a hurry, have fun and find your rhythm. Just tell your family you’re putting yourself in ‘time-out’. They will understand.” — Erik Dyal

POWDER RULE #1: “One powder on the bench at one time, it might save your life.” — James A. Kimery

STAY FOCUSED: “Relaxed but concentrated attention. Have fun enjoying a great hobby and pastime but stay focused.” — Jim Caldwell

POLICE LOADING AREA: “Keep your reloading bench area clean and put items away ASAP.” — Eric J. Ford

BE PATIENT: “Focus, Focus, Focus — be patient — it AIN’T a race.” — William Stanley

RECORD YOUR LOADS: “Write down on a small card what you’re loading – bullet weight, powder weight, type of powder, and primer. And put it in the powder hopper. I am unloading .45 FMJ because I forgot what type powder was in the hopper.” — Michael Conniff

HAVE a PROCEDURE for INTERRUPTIONS: “If, for any reason, you have to leave the bench while in the process of dropping powder charges, turn the next case to be charged upside down in the loading block so you know where you left off.” — Bill Tinsley

LABEL EVERYTHING: “OCD is a good habit to have with your loading bench. CLEARLY label everything!” — Andy Pynckel

HAVE a GOAL: “Never start reloading or developing a load without a specific goal in mind. Second keep meticulous records.” — Peter Eick

RESEARCH THE JOB: “Read all you can about it before you start!” — Keith Shively

KEEP TRACK: “I put all my primed brass upside down (primer up) and as I charge the casing, I (of course) flip it primer down.” — Mark Ewing

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February 15th, 2016

Bargain Finder 22 — 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. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, which is on sale for $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supply. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you many want to add an additional large heavy press, but this will get the job done. This kit includes an RCBS Powder Measure, Digital Scale, Powder Trickler, Hand Priming Tool, Load Manual, Loading Tray, and more. It’s hard to beat this combination of tools for under $200.00.

2. Sportsmans Outdoor Superstore — Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22

M&P 15-22 smith wesson

Smith & Wesson’s M&P 15-22 is designed and built as a true .22 LR semi-auto from the ground up, with ergonomics (and most controls) identical to a centerfire M&P 15 rifle. These rimfire AR clones are affordable. For example, right now Sportsmans Outdoor Superstore is offering the M&P 15-22 (black version) for just $359.99. (Find other M&P 15-22 deals with the SlickGuns.com search engine.) NRA reviewer Colon Noir tested the M&P 15-22 and was impressed: “This gun is unbelievably fun to shoot. This gun feels like a full-out AR-15 [and] makes for a great training companion. I’m picking one up, because it’s guns like these that make you truly realize how fun shooting is.”

3. Amazon — Bushnell 3-9x40mm Bushnell for $112.00

Bushnell 3-9x40mm Scope Amazon.com

No, that’s not a misprint. This 3-9x40mm Bushnell scope, optimized for .223 Rem rifles, is just $112.00 right now at Amazon.com. The price on this scope was slashed more than $140.00. Now it’s priced 56% below the regular price. Act soon as this offer won’t last long.

4. Amazon — Frankford Arsenal Master Tumbler Kit

Master tumbler reloading kit Frankford Arsenal

This Master Tumbler Kit contains everything you need to tumble rifle or pistol brass. Now on sale for $64.99 with free shipping, this Kit contains: Vibratory Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, Plastic Bucket, 3 lbs. Cleaning Media, and 4 oz. Brass Polish.

5. Grafs.com — Hornady 17 HMR for $10.59/50 Rounds

Hornady 17 HMR ammo ammunition V-Max

This is one of the best prices we’ve seen in recent years on 17 HMR ammo. We really like the V-Max bullets in 17 HMR ammunition — you get excellent accuracy plus the tipped design is very effective on small varmints. Grafs.com is having a big ammo sale right now, so you can get this quality Hornady 17 HMR ammo for just $10.59 per 50-round box. You could easily pay $16.00/box at a local gunstore. This is a GREAT deal — stock up while you can.

6. Natchez Shooters Supply — Lyman Gen6 Scale/Dispenser

Free Shipping Lyman Powder Scale Dispenser ChargeMaster Natchez Gen6 deals of week AccurateShooter

Like the RCBS ChargeMaster, this Lyman Gen6 Powder System will automatically dispense and weigh powder charges. This unit features a touch screen, rapid warm-up, anti-static/anti-drift technology, and electronic shielding to resist interference from other electronic devices. It’s a good deal at $202.49.

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. MidwayUSA — Free Shipping on Orders over $150.00

Free Shipping MidwayUSA

If you’re planning some big purchases, here’s a way to save $20, $30 or even more on your shipping costs. For the next three (3) days, MidwayUSA.com is offering FREE Shipping on all orders of $150.00 or more. To get your Free shipping, use CODE FS150216 when ordering online. NOTE, this applies to regular-price IN-Stock items only.

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February 14th, 2016

Case Prep Tips from Western Powders

Western Powders Case Preparation prep inspection flash holes primer pockets reloading

Western Powders (which sells Accurate, Ramshot, and Norma powders) has published an article on case inspection and preparation. There are many tips in this article that can be useful to precision hand-loaders. For example, every time you open a new box of cartridge brass (particularly from domestic makers), you should inspect each case for flaws.

TIP ONE: Visual Inspection — Finding Flaws
Cases are mass-produced items and malformed ones are relatively common. Inspect each case carefully looking for obvious defects. A bench-mounted magnifying glass with light is a real help for the over-40 crowd. The main defects will be cracks in the neck or case body, crushed shoulders or deep creases in the neck. Next check the primer pocket. It is also fairly common to find flash holes that are damaged or, more rarely, not concentric to the primer pocket.

Western Powders Case Preparation prep inspection flash holes primer pockets reloading

Imperfections like small dings in the case body, or necks that are not completely symmetrical do not have to be eliminated at this step. Damage of this sort is usually from loose packaging and usually has not seriously damaged the brass. [Running an expander mandrel in the neck] and fire-forming will iron out these largely cosmetic issues.

(more…)

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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 3 Comments »
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.
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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.”

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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!

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