September 8th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: 6mm Dasher Winner From Forum Classifieds

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

With the 6mm Dasher cartridge becoming popular with PRS/NRL competitors as well as the benchrest crowd, we thought it was time to re-visit a special rifle chambered for the 6mm Dasher wildcat. This gun has a great story behind it. Forum member Bob A. (aka “Killshot”) used his “Forum Classifieds Special” to beat all comers in the F-Class Division in the American-Canadian Match and the Long Range Regional Match in 2013 in Sacramento, CA.

Bob’s 6mm Dasher sports a blue-printed Rem 700 action. Who says you need a high-dollar custom action to run with the big dogs? In fact, this same gun, built with components sourced from AccurateShooter Forum Classified Ads, set a Sacramento F-Class range record of 200-17X a few years back. In this story, Bob talks about the build, and he explains his methods for loading ultra-accurate Dasher ammo.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

Bob’s Budget-Build Dasher F-Classer
I wanted to build a proper rifle for F-Open but needed to keep it simple and, well, cheap. I found a solid “base” to build on in the form of a Dave Bruno-built, “pre-owned” 6-6.5×47 Lapua that I located in the AccurateShooter Forum classifieds in late 2011. The base action was a trued and blue-printed Remington 700 receiver circa 1971 with a spiral-fluted bolt. It was in a Shehane ST1000 stock painted sky blue and had a Jewell 1.5-oz BR trigger. I sent the bolt to Greg Tannel (Gretanrifles.com) to have the firing pin hole bushed and sleeved, the ejector removed and the hole filled and the face trued. I upgraded to Tannel’s Light Steel firing pin assembly while it was out.

Having the working bits completed, I needed a barrel. So I went to the AccurateShooter classifieds again and found a 1:8″-twist, 30″ x 1.25″ (diam.) Bartlein with a 0.236″-land bore. I called Dave Kiff and explained my pursuit and he recommended his PT&G “world record” 6 Dasher reamer (.2704″ no-turn neck and .104″ freebore). A month or so later the reamer and gauges arrived.

I had the barrel chambered by Marc Soulie of Spartan Precision Rifles (510-755-5293, Concord, CA). Marc is a great builder and I’m pleased to call him a friend.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

The rifle got its good looks from a Pennsylvania artist named Kenny Prahl. His Prahl Designs shop (724-478-2538) added the white ghost-flames over the existing sky blue metallic paint.

Looks Great, Shoots Better
Fire-forming showed great promise — ten-shot groups of half an inch at 200 yards were typical. I lost only one case to a split neck and the “blow lengths” are good and consistent. This was followed up with load development which saw 100-yard, five-shot groups in the .1s and .2s as the rifle showed its preference for Reloder 15 over Varget powder, and for CCI 450s over all other primers. The bullet of choice was the ever-popular Berger 105gr Hybrid Target.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

In February 2012 I began shooting the Dasher in monthly club matches at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center, the home range of a number of excellent F-Class, Benchrest and High Power shooters. Using a Farley Coaxial rest up front (also picked up from a WTB ad on AccurateShooter’s Forum) and an Edgewood bag in the back, I gradually improved my gun-handling to the point where I could shoot a respectable score. This was very different from the bipod shooting I’d done in the past in F/TR.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness


Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March MadnessDasher Loading Tips
My chamber is set up for blue box Lapua 6mmBR brass. My case preparation is straight-forward. I fire-form with virgin cases right out of the box. I don’t size them but I will give the primer holes a good look and clean up the flash hole with a .058″ bit in a pin vise. To fire-form, I seat a Berger 108gr BT .030″ into the lands over a standard 6mmBR load of Varget.

For match loads, I use Alliant Reloder 15. While Varget is less sensitive to temp changes, RL15 has given me lower extreme spreads and better long range control. [Bob acknowledges that every barrel is unique, so a different powder, such as H4895 might work better for you.]

I clean my fired cases with stainless steel media in a Thumler’s rotary tumbler after every firing. I anneal after every other firing using a Bench-Source machine which is very well made and easy to operate. I use a Whidden full length bushing die with Redding bushings for sizing.

After sizing, I chamfer the inside of the neck with the K&M tool which has a pilot rod centered in the flash hole. Then I’ll give the neck and mouth a “once over” with some 0000 steel wool. I finish loading off with a Redding Competition Seating Die with the micrometer top.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March MadnessI use a carbide ball on the expander rod of the full length sizing die. I use a .266″ TiN-coated bushing and the ball just kisses the inside walls of the sized neck. I get very consistent neck tension this way and have had no issue with split necks.

Seating Depth Considerations
With fire-formed brass, the junction of the bullet’s bearing surface and boat-tail is above the neck/shoulder junction of the case, so I have no issues with donuts. You can see how a loaded round looks in the photo at left. For occasional trimming, I use a very nice little Possum Hollow trimmer that indexes on the case shoulder.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
June 12th, 2019

Powder Spotlight — Reloder 15 and Norma 203B

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

In response to a Bulletin story about Norma powders at Midsouth Shooters Supply, one of our Forum members asked: “I’m having trouble finding Reloder 15 for my 6.5×47 Lapua — should I consider running Norma 203B instead?” As we’ve explained before, these two powders, both made by Bofors in Europe, are very, very similar. Here are some hard numbers that should demonstrate how virtually identical these powders really are.

Target Shooter Magazine writer Laurie Holland compared Norma 203B and Reloder 15 using data from QuickLOAD. Laurie also checked load manuals to see how listed charge weights varied for the two propellants. Laurie concluded there was very little difference between Norma 203B and Reloder 15.

Laurie Holland RatonNorma 203B vs. Alliant Reloder 15
Commentary by Laurie Holland

Running [203B and RL15] through QuickLOAD doing a ‘charge table’ run for a 130gn Berger VLD at 2.700 COAL in 6.5X47 Lapua, gives very similar positions in the table [for both powders]. The charge required to achieve 62,000 psi estimated pressure varies by a mere 0.2 grains between the pair, Norma 203B being the heavier of the two. The estimated Muzzle Velocity (MV) also varies by a mere 2 fps, RL15 estimated to produce 2,946 fps MV compared to 2,944 fps for N203B at 62,000 psi (with the parameters I used).

If they aren’t the same thing, they’re so close as to make no difference and as Forum Boss points out, they’re made by the same people (Bofors) in the same plant.

[The Berger Reloading Manual includes data for both powders] for the .308 Winchester and heavier bullets (185 to 230 grains). Maximum charges and claimed MVs are not always identical, but are so close as to be marginally different production lots of the same thing, or maybe the result of minor testing variations.

.308 Win Max Charge Weights in Grains (RL15 / N203B) (Berger Manual)

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

MVs [for the four bullet types] are close but not identical, the largest difference being for the 210s which shows RL15 producing 2,428 fps MV v 2,383 for Norma 203B.

Norma 203B Chemistry
According to the Norma Reloading Handbook #1, Norma 203B has the following composition:

85% Nitrocellulose
7.5% Nitroglycerin
2.0% surface coating
4.6% Various chemicals
0.9% Water

3,957 J/g specific energy
890 g/l specific density

For comparison, the 7.5% NG component compares to 15% in Viht N500 series powders and 10% in Ramshot TAC / Big Game / Hunter.

Permalink News 1 Comment »
August 19th, 2018

6.5 Creedmoor Load Data with Popular Powders

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895

We’re told the 6.5 Creedmoor is now the best-selling chambering in new bolt-action rifles sold in the USA. Accurate, versatile, with moderate recoil, the 6.5 Creedmoor serves hunters, paper punchers, and PRS shooters equally well.

As part of its online Load Data Center, Nosler offers very complete load data for the popular 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This medium-sized cartridge has become one of the most popular chamberings for tactical and PRS shooters. The 6.5 Creedmoor combines excellent accuracy, good mag-feeding, good barrel life, moderate recoil, and reasonable component cost. That’s why this cartridge has caught on quickly. GET ALL 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data.

6.5 Creedmoor Velocity Test Rifleshooter.com barrel cut test Nosler Load Data
How does barrel length affect 6.5 Creedmoor Muzzle Velocity?
CLICK HERE for RifleShooter.com barrel cut-down velocity test.

According to the Sierra Load Manual: “Developed in 2007 by Dennis DeMille and Dave Emary, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a shortened and improved 30 TC cartridge case that was inspired by the .308 Winchester design. This short action design was created to maximize case capacity and a wide range of loading lengths, while still fitting in standard short action magazines. With the correct twist barrel, the versatile 6.5 Creedmoor can take advantage of the wide range of bullet weights available in 6.5 mm (i.e. .264 caliber). Reloaders should keep in mind that the 6.5 Creedmoor works best with medium to medium-slow powders such as H4350, Varget, Win 760, and RE-17.”

Click Each Image to Load PDF File for Listed Bullet Weights

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895 Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895
Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895

In addition to the data sheets shown above, Nosler offers 6.5 Creedmoor data for a 100 grain Ballistic Tip and Partition bullets.

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tactical 4 Comments »
July 2nd, 2017

6.5 Creedmoor Load Data from Nosler

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895

As part of its online Load Data Center, Nosler offers very complete load data for the popular 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This medium-sized cartridge has become one of the most popular chamberings for tactical and PRS shooters. The 6.5 Creedmoor combines excellent accuracy, good mag-feeding, good barrel life, moderate recoil, and reasonable component cost. That’s why this cartridge has caught on quickly. GET ALL 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data.

6.5 Creedmoor Velocity Test Rifleshooter.com barrel cut test Nosler Load Data
How does barrel length affect 6.5 Creedmoor Muzzle Velocity?
CLICK HERE for RifleShooter.com barrel cut-down velocity test.

According to the Sierra Load Manual: “Developed in 2007 by Dennis DeMille and Dave Emary, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a shortened and improved 30 TC cartridge case that was inspired by the .308 Winchester design. This short action design was created to maximize case capacity and a wide range of loading lengths, while still fitting in standard short action magazines. With the correct twist barrel, the versatile 6.5 Creedmoor can take advantage of the wide range of bullet weights available in 6.5 mm (i.e. .264 caliber). Reloaders should keep in mind that the 6.5 Creedmoor works best with medium to medium-slow powders such as H4350, Varget, Win 760, and RE-17.”

Click Image to Load PDF File for Listed Bullet Weights

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895 Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895
Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895

In addition to the data sheets shown above, Nosler offers 6.5 Creedmoor data for a 100 grain Ballistic Tip and Partition bullets.

Nosler 6.5 Creedmoor load data PRS Reloder 16 RL 17 H4350 Varget IMR 4895
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tactical No Comments »
March 31st, 2017

500-Round Group at 300 Meters — Now That’s a Test!

Sierra Bullets 500 round tunnel test

For load development, some guys shoot 3-shot groups. Other guys shoot 5-shot groups, or even 10-shot strings. But for testing its projectiles, Sierra Bullets takes it to another level entirely. A while back Sierra was testing its .30-Caliber 175gr HPBT MatchKing in the Sierra uynderground tunnel. The results are show above — a FIVE HUNDRED Round group!

The tunnel testers sent five full boxes of bullets down-range. Here are 500 Shots shot in a 300 meter tunnel. The group size is 2.82 inches (that’s edge to edge of the farthest shots, less the bullet diameter). This was a pressure/velocity test for a commercial customer. The Cartridge was .308 Win, loaded at 2.800″.The powder was Reloder 15. A 26″ barrel was shot from a return to battery rest. The gun was cleaned every 125 rounds and two foulers shot.

What do you think — could you beat this group from a bench for 500 rounds?

One Facebook poster joked: “500-round group? Everyone knows anything less than 1000-round groups are a waste of time and statistically irrelevant.”

Sierra Bullets Test Tunnel Barrels

Sierra’s 300 Meter Testing Tunnel
Ever wonder how (and where) Sierra tests its bullets? The answer is underground, in a 300-meter test tunnel located under Sierra’s factory in Sedalia, Missouri. The photo above shows the construction of the tunnel back in May, 1990. Like most bullet manufacturers, Sierra does live-fire bullet testing of its projectiles. Sierra’s 300-meter test range is the longest, manufacturer-owned underground bullet test facility in the world. Sierra offers free tours of the test tunnel as part of Sierra’s Factory Tour Program.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 5 Comments »
August 4th, 2016

Dasher Duo: One for 1K and a Second for Groundhog Matches

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Chuck’s Pair of Pennsylvania Dashers
There’s been a lot of interest in the 6mm Dasher cartridge lately, so we thought we’d showcase a matched pair of Dasher rifles belonging to a Forum member. The 6mm Dasher began as a wildcat improved version of the 6mmBR Norma cartridge. The 6mm Dasher has been very successful in competition, and now factory Norma-made Dasher cartridge brass is available from Bullets.com.

Forum Member Chuck L. (aka “Ridgeway”) has created a handsome duo of 6mm Dashers for competitive benchrest and varmint matches in Pennsylvania. Both guns are built on Kelbly Panda RBLP actions, with Bartlein 8-twist barrels, and Shehane Laminated Tracker Stocks. However, the two rifles are not exact twins, as you can see. One, which we’ll call the Big Dasher, is built on a Shehane ST1000 Tracker stock. The other gun, the Small Dasher, sports Shehane’s “Baby Tracker” stock — a design used with great success by Richard Schatz. The Big Dasher, optimized for 1000-yard competition, also has a slightly longer freebore — 0.136″ vs. 0.104″ for the Small Dasher.

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Specifications for the Dasher Duo:

Small Dasher (13.5-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with approximately .104 freebore and a .264 NK. (No way of knowing exactly since it freebore was done in a separate operation by Kelbly.) Components are: Shehane Baby Tracker stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ LV barrel at 26 ¾”, Kelbly Rings, Weaver T36, Jewell trigger. The barrel was chambered by Kelblys and the stock was bedded, glued and balanced by a shooting buddy (Forum Member johara1). I clear-coated the stock with auto urethane. Total weight is 13 lbs., 4 ounces.

Big Dasher (1K Light Gun, 17-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with a .136 freebore and .264 neck (PTG Reamer). Components are: Shehane ST-1000 stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ HV 5R barrel at 28″, Shehane +20-MOA rings, Nightforce NXS 12-42x56mm, Jewell trigger. The barrel work, pillar installation, and bedding was done by Dave Bruno. The stock was clear-coated by Chuck with auto urethane. Chuck also made the rear butt plate and balanced the rifle. Total weight: 16 lbs., 13 ounces.

Chuck tells us: “I don’t get out shooting competition as much as I want due to time and family, but when I do compete, I shoot a Groundhog match at Southfork Rifle Club in Beaverdale, PA. Info on Southfork Club events can be found at Southforkrifleclub.com. The Southfork match is basically a 100-, 300- and 500-yard match with one sighter the entire match and 5 shots at each yardage for score. The Small Dasher, with the shorter ‘Baby Tracker’ stock, was set up for the Southfork Rifle Club’s ‘Light Unlimited’ class which has a 13.5-lb max weight.” (Editor: ‘unlimited’ is a misnomer for a weight-limited category.)

Chuck adds: “The Big Dasher with the heavy ST-1000 stock is set up for 1000-yard benchrest matches in Light Gun class. I hope to shoot a couple 1K matches with it at Reade Range in southwest Pennsylvania. I am still in load development for this rifle since it was just finished in January. One ironic thing is, it shoots the same load I’m shooting out of the lighter gun rather well. The only difference between the two chambers is the freebore is roughly thirty thousandths longer on the 1K gun (Large Dasher). I will also shoot this at Southfork in the ‘Heavy Unlimited’ class.”

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Dasher Case-Forming: Neck-Turn then Fire-form with Bullets Hard in Lands
To fireform, I turn my cases down to fit the chamber and stop where the false shoulder makes snug contact with the chamber. Fire-forming rounds are loaded up with a 29-grain charge of H4895 or Varget and a 108gr Berger bullet seated hard into the lands about 0.020″ past initial contact with the rifling. It takes about three firings to make a nice clean Dasher case with a sharp shoulder. I anneal about every 3-4 firings. I have many cases that have about 10+ firings on them and they are still shooting well. The primer pockets are a little looser, but still hold a primer.

6mm Dasher case fire-forming fireform

Both Dashers Group in the Ones at 100 Yards
My main bullet for both rifles is the 107gr Sierra MK, loaded with Reloder 15 powder, Lapua cases and CCI 450 primers. My main load for the Small Dasher is 33.0 grains of Reloder 15. This load shoots in the ones at 100 yards. For the Big Dasher, I’m still working on a load, although the same 33.0 grain load shoots in the ones in the heavier gun as well. I’m still looking for more velocity and my ‘max’ node. So far, I’ve gone well above 33.0 grains of RL 15 without pressure signs, but that load produces vertical at 100 yards, so I’m going to tinker with the load until I see pressure or it starts to shoot.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 31st, 2015

A Very Accurate Dasher — By Way of the Forum Classifieds

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

With all the talk about the new Norma Dasher brass coming in the fall from Bullets.com, we thought it was time to feature a special rifle chambered for the 6mm Dasher wildcat. This gun has a great story behind it. Forum member Bob A. (aka “Killshot”) used his “Forum Classifieds Special” to beat all comers in the F-Class Division in the American-Canadian Match and the Long Range Regional Match in 2013 in Sacramento, CA. Bob’s 6mm Dasher sports a blue-printed Rem 700 action. Who says you need a high-dollar custom action to run with the big dogs? In fact, this same gun, built with components sourced from AccurateShooter Forum Classified Ads, set a Sacramento F-Class range record of 200-17X a few years back. In this story, Bob talks about the build, and he explains his methods for loading ultra-accurate Dasher ammo.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

Bob’s Budget-Build Dasher F-Classer
I wanted to build a proper rifle for F-Open but needed to keep it simple and, well, cheap. I found a solid “base” to build on in the form of a Dave Bruno-built, “pre-owned” 6-6.5×47 Lapua that I located in the AccurateShooter Forum classifieds in late 2011. The base action was a trued and blue-printed Remington 700 receiver circa 1971 with a spiral-fluted bolt. It was in a Shehane ST1000 stock painted sky blue and had a Jewell 1.5-oz BR trigger. I sent the bolt to Greg Tannel (Gretanrifles.com) to have the firing pin hole bushed and sleeved, the ejector removed and the hole filled and the face trued. I ugraded to Tannel’s Light Steel firing pin assembly while it was out.

Having the working bits completed, I needed a barrel. So I went to the AccurateShooter classifieds again and found a 1:8″-twist, 30″ x 1.25″ (diam.) Bartlein with a 0.236″-land bore. I called Dave Kiff and explained my pursuit and he recommended his PT&G “world record” 6 Dasher reamer (.2704″ no-turn neck and .104″ freebore). A month or so later the reamer and gauges arrived.

I had the barrel chambered by Marc Soulie of Spartan Precision Rifles (510-755-5293, Concord, CA). Marc is a great builder and I’m pleased to call him a friend.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

The rifle got its good looks from a Pennsylvania artist named Kenny Prahl. His Prahl Designs shop (724-478-2538) added the white ghost-flames over the existing sky blue metallic paint.

Looks Great, Shoots Better
Fire-forming showed great promise — ten-shot groups of half an inch at 200 yards were typical. I lost only one case to a split neck and the “blow lengths” are good and consistent. This was followed up with load development which saw 100-yard, five-shot groups in the .1s and .2s as the rifle showed its preference for Reloder 15 over Varget powder, and for CCI 450s over all other primers. The bullet of choice was the ever-popular Berger 105gr Hybrid Target.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

In February 2012 I began shooting the Dasher in monthly club matches at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center, the home range of a number of excellent F-Class, Benchrest and High Power shooters. Using a Farley Coaxial rest up front (also picked up from a WTB ad on AccurateShooter’s Forum) and an Edgewood bag in the back, I gradually improved my gun-handling to the point where I could shoot a respectable score. This was very different from the bipod shooting I’d done in the past in F/TR.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness


Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March MadnessDasher Loading Tips
My chamber is set up for blue box Lapua 6mmBR brass. My case preparation is straight-forward. I fire-form with virgin cases right out of the box. I don’t size them but I will give the primer holes a good look and clean up the flash hole with a .058″ bit in a pin vise. To fire-form, I seat a Berger 108gr BT .030″ into the lands over a standard 6mmBR load of Varget.

For match loads, I use Alliant Reloder 15. While Varget is less sensitive to temp changes, RL15 has given me lower extreme spreads and better long range control. [Bob acknowledges that every barrel is unique, so a different powder might work better for you.]

I clean my fired cases with stainless steel media in a Thumler’s rotary tumbler after every firing. I anneal after every other firing using a Bench-Source machine which is very well made and easy to operate. I use a Whidden full length bushing die with Redding bushings for sizing.

Permalink Competition, Reloading 1 Comment »
August 31st, 2015

Can’t Find Varget or Reloder 15? Then Try IMR 4320

IMR 4320 Varget Powder Hodgdon reloading 6mm Dasher

IMR 4320 Varget Powder Hodgdon reloadingWhile Varget and Reloder 15 remain in short supply, you can often find IMR 4320 powder back in the shelves of local gun stores. IMR describes IMR 4320 as follows: “Short granulation, easy metering, and perfect for the 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 250 Savage and other medium burn rate cartridges.” This older-generation powder is more temp sensitive than the Hodgdon Extreme propellants, but in the right application, it looks to be a viable alternative for folks who can’t source Varget, Reloder 15, and even H4895.

IMR 4320 Shoots Well in the .308 Winchester
A while back, German Salazar wrote an excellent Riflemans Journal article, IMR 4320 — the Forgotten Powder. German developed IMR 4320 loads for his .308 Win Palma rifle and competed with IMR 4320-powered ammo at long range matches. German concluded that: “[IMR 4320] appears to be a very useful alternative to some of the harder-to-get powders. The load is working extremely well at 1000 yards. In the [2009] Arizona Palma State Championship, several high placing competitors were using the 4320 load. We got sub X-Ring elevation at 1000 yards from several rifles, and that’s all I’m looking for in a Palma load.”

IMR 4320 Works for Dasher Shooter
Forum member FalconPilot shoots a 6mm Dasher with Berger 105gr Hybrids. Looking for an alternative to Varget, he decided to give IMR 4320 a try. The results were good. FalconPilot reports: “I’ve been looking for other options (besides Reloder 15, which I love, but it’s really dirty). While at a gun shop in Ohio, I ran across 8 pounds of IMR 4320. I had never even heard of it, much less tried it. Getting ready for upcoming mid-range shoots, I loaded five rounds with IMR 4320 to the exact same specs as my winning Varget loads for the 6mm Dasher. This recipe was 32.7 grains of powder, Wolf SMR primer, Berger Hybrid 105 jumped fifty thousandths.” Falcon pilot tested his IMR 4320 load at 600 yards:

As you can see from the photo at the top of this article, FalconPilot had good results — a 1.5″ group at 600 yards. He reports: “This group was shoot during the middle of the day, mirage bad, scope set to 25X. It looks like IMR 4320 is a [very close] replacement for Varget… with a tad bit slower burn rate.” FalconPilot tell us the accuracy with IMR 4320 rivals the best he has gotten with Varget: “This gun has always shot under 2 inches [for 5 shots] at 600 yards, and most of time shoots 1.5 to 1.7 inches.”

For comparison purposes, here are Heat of Explosion and Burn Rate values from QuickLOAD for IMR 4320, and for the popular Reloder 15 and Varget powders. You can see that these powders have similar characteristics “by the numbers”:

Manufacturer Powder Brand Heat of Explosion Burning Rate Factor
IMR 4320 3890 0.5920
Alliant Reloder 15 3990 0.5200
Hodgdon (ADI) Varget 4050 0.6150

WARNING — When changing from one powder to another, always start with manufacturer’s stated load data. Start low and work up incrementally. Never assume that loads will be equivalent from one powder to another, even powders with similar burn rates.

What Other Forum Members Say:

I was using IMR 4320 in the mid 70s in my .222 Rem. Darned great powder and I never had a load that was not accurate from the .222 to .30-06 with that powder. — 5Spd

A fine powder overshadowed by the nouveau wave of “gotta have the newest — make me a better shot” powders. Try 4320 in a 22-250 — what a well-kept secret! IMR 4320 meters very well and is a flexible alternative to many of the hard-to-find powders so much in demand. — AreaOne

IMR 4320 was my “go to” powder in my .223 for many many years. This powder and Winchester 55gr soft point bulk bullets (the cheapest bullet I could buy at the time) accounted for thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, and anything else that needed shooting. I still use IMR 4320 in some .223 loads and am very happy with it still. — pdog2062

I’ve been using it in a .308 Win for several years. I think it is very sensitive to temperature and always waited till the last minute to load my ammo with a close eye on the weekend forecast at the range. IMR 4320 Works pretty good for 155gr Palma and 168gr Hybrid [bullets] in my .308. — JayC

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 8 Comments »
November 20th, 2012

Barrel Depreciation and the True Cost of Shooting

reloading shot cost barrelHow much does it cost you to send a round downrange? Ask most shooters this question and they’ll start adding up the cost of components: bullets, powder, and primers. Then they’ll figure in the cost of brass, divided by the number of times the cases are reloaded.

For a 6BR shooting match bullets, match-grade primers, and 30 grains of powder, in brass reloaded ten times, this basic calculation gives us a cost per shot of $0.51 (fifty-one cents):

Bullet $0.33 (Berger 105 VLD) Grafs.com
Primer $0.02 (Tula/Wolf SmR magnum) PVI
Powder $0.08 (Reloder 15 @ $19.15/lb) PVI
Brass $0.08 (Lapua @ $82.30/100, 10 reloads)

Total = $0.51 per round

NOTE: If you shoot a larger caliber that burns more powder, and uses more expensive bullets and/or brass, your total cost per round will be higher than $0.51.

$1.00 Per Shot True Cost? Yikes!
OK, we’ve seen that it costs about $0.51 per round to shoot a 6BR. Right?

Wrong! — What if we told you that your ACTUAL cost per round might be closer to double that number? How can that be? Well… you haven’t accounted for the cost of your barrel. Every round you fire down that tube expends some of the barrel’s finite life. If, like some short-range PPC shooters, you replace barrels every 700 or 800 rounds, you need to add $0.60 to $0.70 per round for “barrel cost.” That can effectively double your cost per round, taking it well past the dollar per shot mark.

Calculating Barrel Cost Per Shot
In the table below, we calculate your barrel cost per shot, based on various expected barrel lifespans.

As noted above, a PPC barrel is typically replaced at 700-800 rounds. A 6.5-284 barrel can last 1200+ rounds, but it might need replacement after 1000 rounds or less. A 6BR barrel should give 2000-2600 rounds of accurate life, and a .308 Win barrel could remain competitive for 4,000 rounds or more.

The table below shows your barrel cost per shot, based on various “useful lives.” We assume that a custom barrel costs $540.00 total to replace. This includes $300.00 for the barrel itself, $200.00 for chambering/fitting (conservative number), and $40.00 in 2-way shipping costs. These are typical costs shooters will encounter when ordering a rebarreling job.

The numbers are interesting. If you get 2000 rounds on your barrel instead of 1000, you save $0.27 per shot. However, extending barrel life from 2000 to 3000 rounds only saves you $0.09 per round. The longer you keep your barrel the more you save, but the savings per shot decreases as the round count increases.

How to Reduce Your TRUE Cost per Round
What does this tell us? First, in figuring your annual shooting budget, you need to consider the true cost per round, including barrel cost. Second, if you want to keep your true costs under control, you need to extend your barrel life. This can be accomplished in many ways. First, you may find that switching to a different powder reduces throat erosion. Second, if you’re able to slow down your shooting pace, this can reduce barrel heat, which can extend barrel life. (A varminter in the field is well-advised to switch rifles, or switch barrels, when the barrel gets very hot from extended shot strings.) Third, modifying your cleaning methods can also extend the life of your barrel. Use solvents that reduce the need for aggressive brushing, and try to minimize the use of abrasives. Also, always use a properly fitting bore guide. Many barrels have been prematurely worn out from improper cleaning techniques.

Permalink - Articles, Reloading, Tech Tip 12 Comments »
May 25th, 2011

New AR-Comp Powder Starts Shipping This Week

AR-Comp Alliant PowderAlliant is introducing a new extruded powder, AR-Comp. AR-Comp is an advanced re-formulation of Reloder 15, a double-base Bofors powder. There are changes to internal and external chemistry to provide much better pressure/velocity stability across a wide range of temperatures. The main difference between AR-Comp and Reloder 15, is the AR-Comp has a slightly faster burn rate, and AR-Comp is much LESS Sensitive to temperature changes. AR-Comp is a small-kernel, double-base extruded powder like Reloder 15, so it will continue to meter just like Reloder 15. The load density should be the same as Reloder 15.

AR-Comp should be at Grafs.com in a Couple Weeks
Here’s the good news — Alliant will start shipping AR-Comp to Grafs.com later this week. Dick Quesenberry, Alliant Powder Product Manager, told us: “I just received the AR-Comp packaging labels and we hope to send off the first shipments to Grafs this week.” With transit time, expect the powder to be available from Grafs.com by the second week of June. You can go ahead and place advance orders for 1-lb and 8-lb containers of AR-Comp on the Grafs.com website.

AR-Comp Offers Uniform Velocities over a Wide Temp Range
Tests were done with .223 Rem and .308 Win ammo, loaded with AR-Comp and maintained at temps from -20° F to +160° F in a controlled test center. The ammo itself was heated or cooled to targeted temps before testing. Across that entire range of temperature, -20° F to +160° F, the ammo loaded with AR-Comp showed a variation of only 20 fps in muzzle velocity. The primary bullet type tested was a 77gr .224 bullet and the secondary was a 175gr .308 bullet.

Burn Rate Like Varget
Though this is a reformulation of Reloder 15, the burn rate of AR-Comp is slightly faster than Reloder 15. Alliant told us: “Reloder 15 is slightly slower, in burn rate, than Varget. The new AR-Comp, with the enhancements, ended up slightly faster than Reloder 15, so it is now very close to Varget in burn rate”. This is the result of the “tuning” of the powder to be much less temp-sensitive.

AR-Comp First in Series of New Alliant Temp-Stable Powders
AR-Comp will be the first in a series of “new generation” temp-stable powders from Alliant. Quesenberry noted: “Our goal was to provide a powder that offers stable pressures in all temperatures. Shooters want to be able to stay with the same load in winter and in summer, in cold or in hot conditions.” Quesenberry added: “We’ve been working on this quite a while. AR-Comp is the first example and we hope to extend this to other rifle powders. It’s a tough job. You have to balance the performance carefully. We worked very hard to do just that and we think shooters will be impressed with the results.”

Reloder 15 Will Stay in Production
Fans of Alliant’s Reloder 15 don’t need to worry. Alliant will keep Reloder 15 in production. “We don’t drop powder lines”, said Quesenberry.

Permalink New Product, Reloading 5 Comments »
March 1st, 2011

New AR-Comp Powder from Alliant — Details Revealed

AR-Comp Alliant PowderHere’s the latest info on Alliant’s new AR-Comp powder. We had a chance to talk with Dick Quesenberry of Alliant, who revealed more details about this new propellant. First, Dick explained that AR-Comp is an advanced re-formulation of Reloder 15, a double-base Bofors powder. There are changes to internal and external chemistry to provide much better pressure/velocity stability across a wide range of temperatures.

AR-Comp Offers Uniform Velocities over a Wide Temp Range
Tests were done with .223 Rem and .308 Win ammo, loaded with AR-Comp and maintained at temps from -20° F to +160° F in a controlled test center. The ammo itself was heated or cooled to targeted temps before testing. Across that entire range of temperature, -20° F to +160° F, the ammo loaded with AR-Comp showed a variation of only 20 fps in muzzle velocity. The primary bullet type tested was a 77gr .224 bullet and the secondary was a 175gr .308 bullet.

Burn Rate Like Varget: Though this is a reformulation of Reloder 15, the burn rate of AR-Comp is slightly faster than Reloder 15. Alliant told us: “Reloder 15 is slightly slower, in burn rate, than Varget. The new AR-Comp, with the enhancements, ended up slightly faster than Reloder 15, so it is now very close to Varget in burn rate”. This is the result of the “tuning” of the powder to be much less temp-sensitive.

Meters Like Reloder 15: AR-Comp is a small-kernel, double-base extruded powder like Reloder 15, so it will continue to meter just like Reloder 15. The load density should be the same as Reloder 15.

Loaded Ammo: We asked if any manufacturer will be using AR-Comp in loaded ammo. Dick told us that he is “not allowed to release that information at this time”. Draw your own conclusions, but remember that Alliant is owned by ATK, which makes Federal rifle ammo.

Available in Summer 2011: Allliant hopes to ship AR-Comp in “June or July” of 2011, provided the DOT Classification process moves at a normal schedule. The powder is ready to go, Alliant is just waiting on the DOT to provide shipping authorization.

Reloder 15 Will Stay in Production: Fans of Alliant’s Reloder 15 don’t need to worry. Alliant will keep Reloder 15 in production. “We don’t drop powder lines”, said Quesenberry.

AR-Comp First in Series of New Alliant Temp-Stable Powders
Alliant has been working on AR-Comp for quite some time. This represents a major evolution for Alliant’s powder line. AR-Comp will be the first in a series of “new generation” temp-stable powders from Alliant. Quesenberry noted: “Our goal was to provide a powder that offers stable pressures in all temperatures. Shooters want to be able to stay with the same load in winter and in summer, in cold or in hot conditions.”

Quesenberry added: “We’ve been working on this quite a while. AR-Comp is the first example and we hope to extend this to other rifle powders. It’s a tough job. You have to balance the performance carefully. If you tweak it one way, say to improve the low temp performance, you lose something at the upper end. If you tweak it for the top end, you loose something at the bottom. You have to hit that balance. We worked very hard to do just that and we think shooters will be impressed with the results.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product No Comments »
February 26th, 2011

New AR-Comp Powder from Alliant — Swedish Varget?

Alliant AR-Comp Powder SwedenHere’s important news for handloaders. Alliant Powder has introduced a new medium-burn-rate powder: AR-Comp™. This new powder was developed specifically for AR-style rifles. Alliant says that AR-Comp powder is “ideally suited for heavy .223 and .308 match bullets”. We presume, from that description, that the powder will have a burn rate similar to Varget. The AR-Comp powder, produced in Sweden by Bofors Nobel, is an enhanced temp-insensitive reformulation of Reloder 15. The burn rate is slightly faster than Reloder 15, according to Alliant.

Alliant Claims AR-Comp is NOT Temp-Sensitive
We have limited information about AR-Comp, and we have not yet been supplied with a test sample. We have confirmed is a double-base extruded powder, and is an upgraded version of the Reloder 15 formulation. Alliant claims the powder meters very well and delivers “consistent pressures and velocities across temperature extremes”. This new powder is supposed to be very uniform from lot to lot. That would be great — if it is true — but only time will tell.

We will try to get a sample of AR-Comp soon and test it in both .223 Rem and .308 Win rifles. We suspect, if AR-Comp suits both the .223 Rem and .308 Win, it should work well in the 6mmBR and 6.5×47 Lapua cartridges as well. Stay tuned — we hope to have more info next week. AR-Comp should be hitting the market in June or July, 2011, provided DOT Classification goes smoothly. It will be offered in both one-pound (#150664) and 8-lb (#150665) containers.

Permalink New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »