August 1st, 2017

Flash-Hole Fix — Clearing Flash-Hole Obstructions in Your Brass

Flash-hole reamer

Even with high-quality brass from Lapua, Norma, and RWS, occasionally you may find one or two cases per box which have a small flake or obstruction in the flash-hole. This will appear like a thin crescent on one side of the flash hole (see photo). You should inspect ALL new brass before loading to identify any pieces with a partially-obstructed flash hole. It’s a good idea to remove any flake or thin crescent left as an artifact of the flash-hole forming process. Because the flash-hole itself is normally centered and of the correct diameter, it is not necessary to ream the flash-hole to a larger diameter. All you really need to do is remove the small obstruction(s). This can be done quickly with inexpensive tools.

Use a Small Pin Vise to Remove Flash-Hole Obstructions
Folks have asked if there is a tool that can remove obstructions from a Lapua small, BR-sized flash hole without opening the hole size. The Lapua PPC/BR flash hole is spec’d at 1.5mm, which works out to 0.059055″. Most of the PPC/BR flash-hole uniforming tools on the market use a 1/16″ bit which is nominally 0.0625″, but these often run oversize — up to 0.066″.

If you want to just clear out any obstructions in the flash hole, without increasing the flash hole diameter, you can use an inexpensive “pin vise” with an appropriate drill bit. For $0.99, eHobbyTools.com sells a 1.5mm drill bit, item 79186, that matches the Lapua flash hole exactly. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise drill bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). An 0.0595″ bit is close enough. You can find pin vises and these small-diameter drill bits at hobby stores.

Pin vises Lapua Flash hole

For quite some time, Sinclair Int’l has sold a similar device for small (PPC and BR-size) flash holes. Like the 07-3081 unit for large flash holes, the 073000 Reamer for small flash holes works from the outside, so it can index off the primer pocket. It reams to .0625″, and also costs $39.99. The standard dimension for Lapua 220 Russian and 6mmBR flash holes is 1.5mm or .0590″. This tool will permit standard-size decapping rods with .0625″ tips to work without binding. However, note that both Forster and Redding normally supply .057″ decapping pins with their PPC and BR dies. So, it is NOT necessary to ream your Lapua BR/PPC flashholes, unless you prefer to do so for uniformity. It IS, however, a good idea to check BR/PPC flash holes for burrs before loading the first time.

AccurateShooter Sinclair Flash Hole Reamer

NOTE: If you purchase either the 073081 or 073000 Sinclair Flash Hole Reamer tools, we recommend you mic the cutter tip before you process a bunch of cases. Sometimes a tip comes through that is oversize. This will ream the flash holes larger than you may intend.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
November 4th, 2016

Mysteries Revealed — How Cartridge Brass is Made

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

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

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

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

RWS Brass Cartridge Draw process

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

20mm cartridge brass forming

20mm Draw Set Oldammo.com

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

Lake City Brass bunter

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

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

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
January 31st, 2015

Have Barn, Will Shoot — Barn Benchrest in Luray, VA

APO Ashbury smallbore .22 LR rimfire benchrest poultry

Low-BC bullets launched from a .22 LR gun are easily blown around by the wind. That’s why it’s a smallbore shooter’s dream to shoot indoors, where fickle wind currents are less likely to spoil your shots. Not many folks have the opportunity to shoot indoors at all, must less compete in an indoor match. However, a crew from Ashbury Precision Ordnance recently got the chance to try out their rimfire rifles in a indoor setting, a converted poultry barn to be precise. And today they’ll be competing in a smallbore “Barn Benchrest” match at that same barn. Looks like fun!

APO Ashbury smallbore .22 LR rimfire benchrest poultry

Could this be the beginning of a new “Barn Benchrest” league? The folks at Ashbury tell us: “Rube, Gary, and Matt headed over the mountains to Luray, Virginia, to get in some practice for [Saturday’s] .22 Cal Benchrest Rifle Match. It’s colder than a well diggers’ butt outdoors, but shooting a match indoors, in a converted poultry barn, is nice. As always, we’re shooting great RUAG/RWS ammo!”

APO Ashbury smallbore .22 LR rimfire benchrest poultry

Poultry Barn aka Piney Hill Benchrest Facility
The official name of this converted barn is the Piney Hill Benchrest facility. Virginia State 3-Gun Rimfire BR Championships will be held there February 20-21, 2015, while the IR50/50 Indoor Sporter Nationals are scheduled for Piney Hill in March. If you’re curious, the benches are made from cement blocks with wood tops, so they’re very solid. Here’s a panorama photo of the Piney Hill Barn.

Click image for full-screen version:

Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »
June 1st, 2014

How Cartridge Brass is Made — The Inside Scoop

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

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

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

RWS Brass Cartridge Draw process

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

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

20mm cartridge brass forming

20mm Draw Set Oldammo.com

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

Lake City Brass bunter

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

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

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
April 14th, 2012

.22 LR Ammunition Accuracy — 55 Ammo Types Tested

In 2010, the staff of AccurateReloading.com Forum completed a massive .22LR Rimfire Ammunition Testing Project. Some 55 different types of ammo were tested, using a highly-accurate Swiss-made Bleiker rifle, with a 2-stage trigger. All ammo varieties were tested at 50 yards, 75 yards, and 100 yards, shooting five, 5-shot groups at each distance. Though these tests were completed some time ago, many readers have requested a “reprint” of the ammo rankings, so we’ve republished this data below.

The results are fascinating to say the least (and perhaps eye-opening). The tester observed: “I got some amazing groups, and some which are, frankly, absurdly bad! This has re-enforced what I had experienced with 22 ammo in the past — that is being consistently inconsistent.”

While we strongly caution that .22LR rimfire ammo may work well in one gun and not another, and ammo performance can be improved through the use of barrel tuners, the AccurateReloading.com research provides invaluable guidance for smallbore shooters. Overall, the testers burned through over 4,000 rounds of ammo, and you can see the actual test targets online. To read all the test reports, and view target photos visit AccurateReloading.com.

Bleiker .22LR Rifle

The lists below rank the average accuracy (by brand) of five, 5-shot groups shot at 50, 75, and 100 yards. CLICK HERE for Complete Test Results with target photos.

50-Yard Results 75-Yard Results 100-Yard Results
0.162 Eley Tenex Ultimate EPS
0.164 Lapua Midas Plus
0.177 Lapua Polar Biathlon
0.187 Eley Match EPS
0.193 Eley Match
0.203 Lapua Midas M
0.215 Lapua Center X
0.216 Western Value Pack
0.229 Lapua Signum
0.241 Lapua Master L
0.243 Eley Pistol Match
0.256 Olin Ball
0.256 Akah X-Zone
0.261 Lapua Midas L
0.261 Lapua Master M
0.263 Eley Tenex Semi Auto
0.270 Lapua Super Club
0.272 Eley Tenex
0.303 Lapua Standard Plus
0.312 CCI Standard Velocity
0.319 RWS R 50
0.319 Eley Standard
0.328 SK High Velocity
0.339 Eley Club Xtra
0.340 Winchester T22
0.356 Federal Champion
0.362 Eley Subsonic HP
0.371 CCI Mini Mag
0.376 Federal American Eagle
0.377 Norinco Target
0.380 Sellier & Bellot Club
0.384 Eley Club
0.387 Eley Sport
0.388 Totem
0.392 Swartklip Match Trainer
0.398 Federal Gold Medal
0.403 Swartklip HV
0.409 Eley Match Xtra Plus
0.424 Sellier & Bellot Std
0.443 Remington Target
0.461 Lapua Crow HP
0.475 Eley Silhouex
0.479 Magtech
0.498 Eley High Velocity
0.513 Winchester Super X
0.516 Kassnar Concorde
0.539 CCI Blazer
0.560 Winchester Supreme Pistol
0.576 Norinco Pistol Revolver
0.593 SK Standard
0.611 Sellier And Bellot HP
0.626 SK Standard HP
0.686 Logo HV
0.956 Pobjeda Target
0.274 Lapua Center X
0.283 Lapua Standard Plus
0.295 Eley Tenex Ultimate EPS
0.307 Lapua Midas M
0.329 Lapua Master M
0.346 Eley Match
0.373 Lapua Polar Biathlon
0.399 RWS R 50
0.432 Lapua Midas L
0.448 Eley Tenex Semi Auto
0.467 Eley Match EPS
0.474 Lapua master L
0.491 Eley Match Xtra Plus
0.494 CCI Standard
0.496 Eley Subsonic HP
0.507 Eley Sport
0.512 Federal American Eagle
0.513 SK High Velocity
0.514 Eley Standard
0.516 Eley Tenex
0.516 Lapua Crow HP
0.532 Western Value Pack
0.533 Fed. Champion Target
0.535 Lapua Midas Plus
0.564 Akah X Zone
0.566 Olin Ball
0.573 Eley Club Xtra
0.616 Lapua Signum
0.631 Winchester T22
0.639 Swartklip HV HP
0.641 Eley Club
0.642 Eley Silhouex
0.647 CCI Mini Mag
0.679 Eley Pistol Match
0.682 Swartklip Match Trainer
0.690 Federal Gold Medal
0.692 Remington HV
0.703 Lapua Super Club
0.720 Winchester Super X
0.738 Eley High Velocity
0.759 Kassnar Concorde
0.765 Sellier And Bellot Club
0.770 Winch. Supreme Pistol
0.770 Norinco target
0.775 CCI Blazer
0.802 Norinco Pistol Revolver
0.841 LVE Logo HV
0.855 Sellier & Bellot Std
0.871 Magtech
0.923 Sellier & Bellot HP
0.934 SK Standard HP
1.017 Remington Target
1.257 Totem Standard
1.442 SK Standard
1.578 Pobjeda target
0.455 Eley Match
0.510 Lapua Midas Plus
0.549 Lapua Midas M
0.611 Lapua Polar Biathlon
0.611 Eley Tenex Ultimate EPS
0.619 Eley Match EPS
0.622 Eley Club
0.630 Lapua Center X
0.631 RWS R50
0.679 Eley Tenex Semi Auto
0.694 Lapua Midas L
0.729 Eley Tenex
0.739 Lapua Master L
0.753 Lapua Super Club
0.785 Lapua Master M
0.831 Eley Sport
0.851 Eley Match Xtra
0.859 Lapua Standard Plus
0.867 Akah X-Zone
0.877 Eley Pistol Match
0.907 Norinco Target
0.924 Eley Silhouex
0.939 CCI Standard
0.952 Eley Subsonic HP
0.963 Magtech
0.970 Olin Ball
0.978 Kassnar Concorde
0.995 Eley Club Xtra
1.009 Western Value Pack
1.032 Federal Champion
1.087 Norinco Pistol Revolver
1.100 CCI Mini Mag
1.112 Lapua Crow HP
1.143 Winchester T22
1.142 Federal Gold Medal
1.144 federal American Eagle
1.156 Swartklip Hollo Point
1.165 Lapua Signum
1.170 Swartklip Match Trainer
1.175 Fed. Champion Value Pk
1.182 SK high Velocity
1.201 Totem
1.224 Winchester Super X
1.358 Eley Standard
1.367 Remington High Velocity
1.375 CCI Blazer
1.414 Eley High Velocity
1.450 Remington Target
1.504 LVE Logo
1.813 SK Standard
1.879 S&B Club
1.947 S&B Hollow Point
2.073 SK Standard HP
2.221 S&B Standard
2.266 Pobjeda Target
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, News 21 Comments »
April 9th, 2012

New High Impact .177 and .22 Pellets from Gamo

Here’s a interesting new ammo option for air rifle shooters. Gamo Outdoor USA has introduced new Bone Collector® lead pellets featuring dome tips and grooved skirts. Gamo claims that the rounded nose and grooved skirt makes these pellets more aerodynamic (with a higher ballistic coefficient), so they retain more energy at longer distances. That’s good news for Airgun varmint hunters. The .177 pellet weighs 7.56 grains while the larger .22-caliber version weighs 15.43 grains. Gamo claims that the high weight-to-caliber ratio and higher BC gives Bone Collector® pellets “more terminal penetration than standard lead pellets” and a stable flight trajectory. MSRP is $8.95 per tin (150 pellets/tin in .177 and 100 pellets/tin in .22). Whether the Bone Collector pellets really live up to the marketing hype remains to be seen, but it’s still good to see some new offerings among pellet-makers.

Dome Top Gamo Bone Collector Pellets

RWS Superdome pellet .22Nothing New Under the Sun?
While Gamo is claiming that its domed and skirted pellet design is an innovative new aerodynamic design, sharp-eyed Bulletin reader Julio from the UK points out the the Gamo Bone Collector is a dead-ringer for the RWS Superdome pellet, which has been available for quite some time. Check out the photos and you’ll see the similarity.

The RWS Superdome is available in three sizes: .177, .22, and .25. The Gamo Bone Collector pellets are a bit heavier in .22 caliber: Gamo’s .22-cal Bone Collector is 15.43 grains compared to 14.5 for the .22-cal Superdome. But the RWS .177-cal Superdome is 8.3 grains compared to 7.56 grains for the bone Collector. And Gamo has nothing to match the jumbo 31.0 grain .25-caliber Superdome.

RWS Superdome pellet .155

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, New Product 2 Comments »
July 22nd, 2010

Williamsport Winner Reveals 6.5×284 Reloading Secrets

John Hoover of Accuracy One Shooting Supplies is the 2010 Williamsport World Open Two-gun Overall Champion. Shooting a 6.5×284 in both Light Gun (LG) and Heavy Gun (HG) classes, John shot consistently, placing 3rd in Light Gun class, and 6th in Heavy Gun to win the overall Two-Gun with 34 rank points. It was a solid win. The next closest shooter was Paul Chackan with 59 rank points.

John Hoover Accuracy One

John Hoover Accuracy OneHoover’s Reloading Tips
We interviewed John after his World Open victory, and he shared his World Open-winning load, and some of the reloading secrets that allow him to craft ultra-accurate long range ammo. For his 6.5x284s, John loaded was Sierra 142gr MatchKings pushed by 48.0 grains of Hodgdon H4350, in “white box” Winchester .284 brass. Both rifles used exactly the same load. John revealed: “I have 9 match rifles, and they all shoot 48.00 grains of H4350.” John pointed his 142gr SMKs, using his own Accuracy One bullet-pointing tool: “I don’t shoot anything that isn’t pointed. All the loads we shoot use pointed bullets. I find that bullet pointing, combined with meplat trimming, reduces vertical dispersion at 1000 yards.”

Hoover’s Secret Ingredient? RWS Primers
Hoover lit his loads with RWS primers — the “Holy Grail” of rifle primers. Where did John get these superior German-made RWS primers, which are virtually unobtainable in the USA these days? John explained: “I bought those primers a long time ago, as a stocking dealer. I had about 100,000 at one time before they quit importing them, I kept a fair amount for us to use. I’m down to about 8000. When they’re gone I’ll have to change to something else.”

Hoover Now Anneals Brass “Early and Often”
Recently Hoover has changed his brass annealing procedure; he now anneals his Winchester brass earlier and more frequently: “I anneal more often now. I used to shoot my cases five to six times before annealing. Now before I shoot a case the very first time, I anneal it. That has help keep the ES and SD down. I anneal before I shoot the first time, and then every third firing. I use the Ken Light annealing machine.”

Ace Smiths Built Hoover’s Winning Rifles
John’s heavy gun was chambered by Al Warner of Warner Tools, while the light gun was chambered by 8-time National High Power Champion Carl Bernosky. Both light and heavy guns had Bartlein 1:8.5″ twist 5R barrels. All the stock work was done by Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks. John credited these smiths: “I had good equipment from top to bottom, I had good smithing help from Alan, Carl, and Alex, who all did excellent work. When you’re walking to the firing line you get peace of mind from having the best equipment.”

READ MORE: To learn more about John Hoover’s successful 6.5-284s, read this Gun of the Week article.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
March 16th, 2010

RWS 34P Air Rifle, Just $227.99 with Scope

Here’s a good deal from AirGunsDaily.com if you’re looking for an inexpensive air rifle for your kids, or just a “fun gun” for plinking. Today only, AirgunsDaily.com is offering the RWS 34P (Panther) .22 Cal (pellet) Air Rifle with 4X32mm Scope and a 2-piece C-mount for just $227.99. Shipping is just $7.00.

RWS panther 34P air rifle

The RWS 34 Panther is the most popular air rifle sold by RWS. It has an injection-molded synthetic stock and adjustable fiber optic sights. It is a break-barrel design with a 2-stage adjustable trigger, and 33-lb cocking weight. RWS has a good warranty and this rifle has earned excellent reviews from Pyramid Air customers, one of whom wrote: “Appearance and finish out of the box were flawless. It cocks smoothly and has a very well-balanced feel. From the very first shot I was surprised how accurate it is.”

If you miss today’s AirGunsDaily.com offer, Pyramid Air sells the RWS 34P, in either .177 (1000 fps) or .22 (800 fps) calibers, with NO scope, for $216.85. Pyramid also offers a package deal: $220.09 for the .177 version with a tin of .177 pellets and FREE Shipping.

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals 1 Comment »
October 11th, 2009

New Graf's Fall Flyer Released

The new Graf & Sons Fall 2009 Sale Flyer was just released. Log on to Grafs.com to download the 32-page Flyer and view the latest specials. Note: Grafs is now carrying Harrell’s Precision products (Flyer, p. 32), and RWS ammo is on sale (Flyer, p.6). Some of you guys may consider buying the 300 WSM or 375 H&H RWS ammo just to get the superb RWS Brass which is otherwise really hard to find.

CLICK HERE to download Graf’s Fall Flyer (PDF file)

Permalink Hot Deals No Comments »