April 13th, 2019

Cheap Tricks — Ten Handy Budget Items For Hand-Loaders

Budget reloading items

Useful reloading gear does not have to be costly. Here are ten handy (and very inexpensive) items that belong on your loading bench or in your range kit.

magnifying glassMagnifying Glass – We use a flat, 2″x2″ pocket 4x-8x magnifier. This folds up on itself. Very handy, we use it to inspect bullets and brass. Use this to check your flash holes for burrs, and check the meplats of your bullets before loading.

Clear 35mm Film Cannister – Use this to transfer the thrown powder charge to the little measuring cup that sits on your scale. That way you don’t get any kernel splash. Also if the charge weight is obviously off, it’s easy to dump back in the measure. A film canister works pretty well as a trickler too.

Compressed Air in a Can -- Get these at office supply stores. Use the can (with tube attached) to blow crud out of cases after cleaning the neck with a brush, and blast loose debris out of primer pockets.

Pin Vise – A simple pin vise with a #53 bit is perfect for deburring Lapua PPC and BR flash holes without reaming the flash-holes any larger. The Lapua PPC/BR flash-hole diameter is 1.5 mm, or 0.059″. Amazon.com sells a handy $8.28 pin vise kit with 10 bits, including the ideal 1.5mm bit. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores. Note — The model shown below is currently out of stock, but there are many pin vise sets offered from $7 to $15.

pin vise 1.5mm Lapua Flash hole

Bounce Dryer Sheets – The common dryer sheets eliminate “static cling” on your plastic reloading parts such as powder measure cylinders, powder funnels, and reloading press plastic bins. Thanks to Doc76251 for this tip.

BallistolBallistol Aerosol – Try using this versatile lubricant/solvent for full-length sizing. Spray some on a patch and you can wipe the carbon of your case necks. Then, continue to apply a very small amount of Ballistol on the case bodies — just thin sheen is all you need. Ballistol is super slippery, and easy to remove. For general full-length sizing (on small cases) it works great and doesn’t leave a gooey, waxy, or chalky residue. For heavier case-forming jobs, we recommend Imperial Die Wax.

Shotgun Mop – Stick this in the chamber when using Wipe-Out foaming bore cleaner. This will seal off the chamber so the foam doesn’t flow into your action. For long chambers screw on one section of cleaning rod to aid extraction.

Colored Sharpie Marking Pens – Mark your bullets ahead of the bearing surface, and the color transfers to the target. This way you can shoot multiple loads at the same point of aim and discern which load shoots the tightest. (Recommended for 300 yards and beyond). With colored bullet tips you can test multiple loads “round robin” to equalize wind effects. When testing seating depths for example, you can mark the longer-seated set of bullets red and the shorter-seated set green and shoot them during the same sequence. Just look at the colored marks on the target to see which grouped better.

Sharpies Pens

Thin Latex Gloves – You should keep a box of inexpensive, disposable latex gloves (the kind doctors use) in your loading room. These will prevent contamination of primers or powder kernels that you handle directly. Also, use the gloves when handling fine blued tools or firearms to prevent transfering body oils and salts that promote rust.

Plastic Washers for Neck Mic – If you use a Sinclair Neck-wall Micrometer Gauge with integral stand, you can use thin plastic washers to adjust the height of the case on the mandrel. This makes it much easier to measure the same point on the case neck every time. Thanks to MikeCR for this tip (and photo).

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September 3rd, 2016

TECH SAVVY: Check out AccurateShooter’s Technical Articles

AccurateShooter.com technical articles

AccurateShooter.comReaders who have just recently discovered the Daily Bulletin may not realize that AccurateShooter.com has hundreds of reference articles in our archives. These authoritative articles are divided into mutiple categories, so you can easily view stories by topic (such as competition, tactical, rimfire, optics, shooting skills etc.). One of the most popular categories is our Technical Articles Collection. On a handy index page (with thumbnails for every story), you’ll find over 120 articles covering technical and gunsmithing topics. These articles can help you with major projects (such as stock painting), and they can also help you build more accurate ammo. Here are five popular selections from our Technical Articles archive.

pillar Bedding

Stress-Free Pillar Bedding. Richard Franklin explains how to do a top-quality bedding job, start to finish.

On Target Software Review

OnTarget Software Review. Our Editors test free software that measures shot groups with great precision. We explain how to use the program and configure advanced features.

Savage Action Tuning Torque Settings

Savage Action Tuning. Top F-TR shooter Stan Pate explains how to enhance the performance of your Savage rifle by optimizing the torque settings of the action screws.

Precision Case Prep for Reloading

Complete Precision Case Prep. Jake Gottfredson covers the complete case prep process, including brass weight sorting, case trimming, primer pocket uniforming, neck-sizing, and, case-neck turning.

rifle stock painting and spraying

Stock Painting Instructions. Step-by-step guide for stock painting by expert Mike Ricklefs. Mike shows both simple coverage and fancy effects.

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September 5th, 2015

Tools and Techniques for Measuring Cartridge Brass

Measuring Cartridge Brass

German Salazar has written a very thorough guide to measuring nearly all the critical dimensions of cartridge brass. In his Measuring the Case article, on his Rifleman’s Journal website, German reviews the tools and techniques required to measure everything from case overall length to case neck concentricity. Step-by-step, German shows how to measure: Case Length, Case Body length (below neck), Neck Diameter, Headspace, Base Diameter, Neck Thickness, and Case Neck Concentricity.

Measuring Cartridge Brass

If you are an “advanced reloader” or want to be, you should read German’s article. Not only does German explain the most common measuring procedures, he highlights some alternative methods you might not have tried yet. The article also links to related discussions of more complex measurement tasts, such as determining case body wall thickness variation.

Even if you’re not a competitive shooter, measuring your brass can provide important safety benefits. As German explains in the conclusion of his article: “There are obviously a lot of measurements that can be taken on the cartridge case and in some cases, more than one way to take them. However, the first two that any new reloader must learn are case length and neck clearance, these two are safety concerns and if overlooked can results in serious damage to the rifle and injury to you.”

German’s article first appeared in RiflemansJournal.com in 2010.
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May 12th, 2015

A Dozen Handy Items for Your Next Range Trip

With the end summer, the shooting season in full swing. When you head to the range you’ll want to be prepared. That means collecting all the gear you’ll need at the range. It’s easy to forget small, critical items, so we’ve provided a checklist of the small “extras” you should pack before you head out to the range. In addition to rifle, rests, ammo, targets, and cleaning gear, here are a dozen essentials you should include in your range bag.

Shell-Holder — If you don’t have calipers, you can use a shell-holder to check for excessive case expansion from hot loads. If a fired case doesn’t slip into the shell-holder easily, your load is definitely TOO HOT.

Extra Earplugs — Always use ear protection when shooting. We bring a 35mm film canister with extra sets of foam earplugs.

Hex Wrench or Screwdriver for action screws — Action screws can work loose with time. Always bring the appropriate hex wrench or screwdriver whenever you go to the range.

Small Wrench for Scope Rings — Check the tension of your scope base and ring fasteners before you go. Bring along a small Torx wrench for the ring screws (or other tool that fits your fasteners).

(more…)

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February 23rd, 2014

Range Kit Carbon Calipers for under $10.00 at Midsouth

Every serious hand-loader should have at least one high-quality set of calipers — a serious tool that can reliably (and repeatably) measure to .001″ (and preferably, .0005″). Quality calipers made by Starrett, Mitutoyo (and other good manufacturers) aren’t cheap, but they will work well for decades.

In addition to the quality calipers you keep at home, every shooter have a “range kit” caliper set. This can be used to quickly measure Cartridge OAL, check base-to-ogive lengths of loaded ammo (with a comparator placed on the jaws), measure group size, and perform a myriad of other tasks at the range. You don’t want to spend a fortune on your range calipers — in the event that they are inadvertently left behind (or loaned to a fellow shooter and never returned).

Right now, Midsouth Shooters Supply is selling Electronic Digital Calipers for under $10.00 that fill the “range kit” role very nicely. Constructed with carbon fiber components, these Altraco calipers are light-weight and rust-resistant. Measurements are displayed in large, easy-to-read, high contrast numbers. And with the flick of a button you can switch between English (inch) and Metric (mm) read-outs. For $9.66 these are a bargain “back-up” set of calipers to be kept in a glove compartment or range kit. No they will not replace your Mitutoyo calipers, but you won’t cry if they get lost!

Midsouth Shooters Supply Carbon Fiber Digital Calipers

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February 23rd, 2012

Book Review: Handloading for Competition by Glen Zediker

Glen Zediker Competition Reloading bookForum member Danny Reever and this Editor recently discussed how novice reloaders can struggle with the fine points of reloading, making errors in seating depth, bushing choice, or sizing their cases. We agreed that a good resource covering more than “Reloading Basics” is sorely needed. Danny reminded me that Glen Zediker’s excellent Handloading for Competition book has been available since 2002. Danny says this may still be the best guide in print for those getting started in precision reloading, though the book is not without flaws.

Danny observed: “I consider this still the best book out there on the subject. I’ve bought a lot of other books only to be sorely disappointed after spending $30-$40 of my hard-earned cash. This book is not one of those! I’ve read and re-read Zediker’s treatise at least four times and refer to it often for advice while reloading. My number one suggestion for those who buy the book is to sit down with a highlighter and read it cover to cover. It’s well-written with a bit of humor and it is not boring.”

Extremely comprehensive, Zediker’s book covers nearly all of the key factors involved in accurate reloading: case sorting, brass prep, load development, neck-sizing, full-length sizing, bushing selection/use, tool selection, priming, powder measurement, and bullet seating. The book also explains how to test and evaluate your ammo, and how to monitor and interpret pressure signs.

There are many “must-read” sections in Zediker’s book, according to Danny: “The section beginning on page 161 dealing with concentricity (and how to achieve it) is excellent. Likewise the Load Limits section discussing pressures offers very valuable advice and info. You should also read Zediker’s commentaries about load testing, powders (burn characterics etc.), and the effects of temperature.”

Zediker competition reloading book

CLICK HERE to view book contents and sample pages.

Zediker has conveniently provided a detailed summary of his book on the web, complete with table of contents, sample pages (PDF format), and dozens of illustrations. Shown above is just one small section that covers ejectors.

Overall, we recommend Glen Zediker’s Handloading for Competition, though the book definitely could use some updating. Danny says: “Plunk down the $34.95 and buy this book, you won’t be sorry.” Zediker’s book is available from Amazon.com, Sinclair Int’l, and Zediker Publishing.

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December 18th, 2011

Bargain Tools at Midsouth Shooters Supply

MidsouthMidsouth Shooters Supply is now carrying the affordable line of Altraco-brand tools for precision reloading and gunsmithing. Among the bargain-priced items we liked for the loading bench are the Tubing Mic (with oval head) for measuring neckwall and casewall thickness ($29.92), the hands-free Head-band Magnifier ($5.78), the 6-piece Mini Screwdriver set ($2.62), and the 12-piece Needle File set ($5.16). You can get all four of these items for less than $45.00! A decent tubing mic is a “must-have” for serious reloaders, and sets of mini screwdrivers and small files belong in every tool kit. We also recommend the brass-toothed brush — this is handy when you need a little more cleaning power than nylon. (Be careful though — the brass brush can scratch fine metal finishes.) All these products can be used for a variety of tasks in addition to reloading and gun assembly.

Midsouth Altraco Tools

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December 14th, 2010

Digital Calipers with LCD Display — Just $10.50

Every shooter can use a spare set of calipers. Stow them in your range bag, or just keep a back-up set at your loading bench. Right now Amazon.com offers a great deal on SE 6″ Digital Metric/SAE Calipers with large LCD Display. The calipers, including battery and storage case, are just $10.50. Shipping is FREE with a $25.00 minimum order. So if you combine this set of calipers with another qualifying item over $14.50, you’ll get free shipping.

6

One cool feature of these 6″ SE calipers is that you can instantly switch between Metric and SAE (English) display. These asian-made calipers are hardly Mitutoyo quality, but we’ve used them and they work fine for most tasks: measuring neck diameters, Cartridge OAL, bullet diameters, and even the group sizes on your targets. Click the link below to get the $10.50 price:

BUY IT HERE: SE Caliper, Electronic Stainless Steel Body

Note: The vast majority of customers who have purchased these calipers have rated them highly for the price. However a few buyers complained that the display was faulty. The unit we used worked fine and measurements were consistent with a $25.00 Lyman dial caliper. But if you want a serious “last a lifetime” set of calipers, you’ll want to spend more than $10.50 obviously. We see these as an inexpensive alternative for a “back-up” set to be kept in a vehicle or tool kit.

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July 16th, 2010

50% Off on Neoprene Gun Mats with Printed Diagrams

Now through July 25, 2010, GunMats.com is running a 50% off sale on printed mats used for gun cleaning and servicing. These mats are made from wetsuit-like neoprene sandwiched between fabric layers. One side of each mat is printed with an exploded diagram of a particular firearm. You can choose from a variety of designs, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Handgun mats are 11″x17″ and cost $6.50 (on sale) while the rifle mats measure 12″x36″ and cost $12.00 (on sale).

Handgun mats are offered for 8 handguns, including 1911, Browning High Power, Colt Python, Sig 220, Sig P225, Glock, HK USP, and Springfield XDM. Long gun mats include: AK47, AR15, Ruger 10/22, Rem 700, SKS, Winchester ’94, plus Mossberg and Rem 870 scatterguns.

neoprene gun rifle ma

Inexpensive Work Mat from Brownells.com
If you just need a durable work-mat and don’t care about the printed diagrams, Brownells.com offers an 8.75″ x 16.5″ plain black neoprene work mat for just $7.99. The Brownell’s mat is item 084-000-228, found on page 292 of Brownell’s catalog.

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 3 Comments »
June 3rd, 2010

Amazon.com Tool Sale — Up to 50% off Major Brands

Amazon.com is running a big Fathers’ Day Sale on name-brand tools. There are some exceptional deals offered on quality equipment. Whether you need a gift for dad, or just want to upgrade your own tool inventory, you should check out some of these deals. Here are some examples:

Black & Decker WM425 Workmate 425-550 Pound Capacity Portable Work Bench
On Sale $119.99, marked down from $163.92. FREE Shipping.
Dremel 300-1/24 300 Series Variable-Speed Rotary Tool Kit
On Sale $64.37, marked down from $110.36. FREE Shipping.
Makita BDF452HW 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2-Inch Driver-Drill Kit
On Sale $178.20, marked down from $378.00. FREE Shipping.

There are many, many other Fathers’ Day Bargains, including deep discounts on Multi-Tools, Tool Cabinets, Flashlights, and Wood-working tools.

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March 18th, 2010

Sinclair Releases New 2010-A Catalog

Sinclair 2010 CatalogSinclair International has released its latest print catalog, the 2010-A edition. The new catalog has grown to 204 pages with more than 11,000 products. The new catalog features hundreds of new products from Sinclair, Redding, Hornady, Barnes, Redfield, Leupold, Nosler, Lyman, Lapua and more.

Trained Tech Staffers Provide Reloading Help
Sinclair Int’l President Bill Gravatt revealed that: “Our tech staff are all certified, NRA Metallic Reloading Instructors who can help answer questions regarding reloading and shooting accuracy”. In addition to live assistance (via telephone), Sinclair offers many useful reloading tips via its Reloading Press Blog.

With the product shortages and rising prices of ammo following the 2008 elections, more gun owners than ever are reloading their ammo. Sinclair Int’l has expanded its inventory to better serve both first-time reloaders as well as “expert” hand-loaders. Serious shooters know that Sinclair Int’l is one of the best sources for high-end precision reloading gear. Gravatt agrees that “[Sinclair] has … the more specialized tools for more advanced reloading tasks.”

To order Sinclair’s new catalog, you can call 800-717-8211 or submit a catalog request online. CLICK HERE to request a catalog. NOTE: You can also download a digital version of the latest catalog for FREE.

CLICK HERE to DOWNLOAD Sinclair International 2010-A Catalog (204 page PDF file)

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September 13th, 2009

FREE Plans for Heavy-Duty Workbench

Here’s a nice do-it-yourself project for the winter. Simpson, maker of Strong-Tie fasteners, offers FREE Workbench Plans for a sturdy, 48″-wide bench with a pegboard backing and both upper and lower shelves. A complete list of fasteners and cut lengths is provided. For use as a loading bench with mounted presses, you can double-up the bench-top for extra ridigity. Without much difficulty, the plans can be adapted to build a wider bench if you prefer.

The same downloadable document also contains plans for an 80″-high 6-shelf unit, a 72″-high heavy-duty shelving unit (with 4 shelves), and a 48″-wide heavy-duty table.

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June 18th, 2009

Advanced K&M Arbor Press at Precision Reloading

The full line of K&M reloading tools and accessories is now offered by PrecisionReloading.com. The popular K&M Arbor press (with optional seating force measurement gauge) is in stock. The K&M arbor costs $78.00, or $115.00 with the force measurement system. This clever design uses a Belleville washer stack and linkage to show the force required to seat your bullet on a standard dial indicator mounted on the top (dial indicator is $22 extra.) In addition, Precision Reloading offers K&M neck-turning tools, primer seaters, expanders, neck reamers, and flash-hole uniformers.

This editor has tried out many different arbor presses. The K&M is my favorite. For me, the force measurement system acts like a warning light, telling me if something is way off in the bullet seating process. If you see the dial indicator needle jumping around wildly, or spiking too soon, you know that case has excessive neck tension, or perhaps the bullet is oversize in diameter (it happens). Currently, the K&M is the only arbor press with a seating-force gauge. The only down-side to the K&M arbor is that you must adjust multiple bolts to set the ram height. By contrast, the Sinclair Int’l Arbor and some other arbors feature a quick-release lever that lets you adjust ram height quickly and easily.

Based in Mitchell, South Dakota, Precision Reloading is run by active, knowledgeable shooters. In addition to centerfire reloading supplies and tools, Precision Reloading offers a full line of shotshell components and shotgun reloading equipment, plus optics, cleaning supplies, gun cases, and hunting gear. This month Precision Reloading is running an optics sale on Bushnell, Sightron, and Vortex scopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 2 Comments »
March 26th, 2009

A Dozen Essential Extras for Your Range Kit

April is just around the corner. Many shooters in the Northern latitudes are getting ready to start their shooting season. That means collecting all the gear they’ll need at the range. It’s easy to forget small, critical items, so we’ve provided a checklist of the small “extras” you should pack before you head out to the range. In addition to rifle, rests, ammo, targets, and cleaning gear, here are a dozen essentials you should include in your range bag.

Shell-holder — Use the shell-holder to gauge if you are getting excessive case expansion from hot loads. If a fired case doesn’t slip into the shell-holder easily, your load is definitely TOO HOT.

Extra earplugs — Always use ear protection when shooting. We bring a 35mm film canister with extra sets of foam earplugs.

Hex wrench or screwdriver for action screws — Action screws can work loose with time. Always bring the appropriate hex wrench or screwdriver whenever you go to the range.

Small wrench for scope rings — Check the tension of your scope base and ring fasteners before you go. Bring along a small Torx wrench for the ring screws (or other tool that fits your fasteners).

Normal and under-sized jags — It is often wise to use one-caliber undersize jags when applying solvent with cotten patches. You should have a couple sizes in your range kit.

Extra batteries — Bring extra batteries for all your electronic gear — which can include chronograph, windmeter, digital camera, GPS etc.

Small notebook and pen or pencil — Use the notebook to record chron data, log group sizes, and make notes about wind and weather conditions.

Adhesive dots — Bring a few sheets of adhesive dots (sold at office supply stores). Use small white or black dots as target pasters. Use larger red or orange dots as aiming points (target centers).

Folding chair or camp stool — This comes in handy if you’re spotting for another shooter, or if you reload away from the firing line.

Water bottle — You can’t shoot well if you’re dehydrated. Bring at least two quarts of water with you and keep a bottle at the bench.

Surveyors’ Tape and wood stakes — You can make inexpensive wind indicators using surveyors’ tape attached to the top of wood stakes.

Small plastic ruler — Use this to measure your group sizes. A transparent (see-through) ruler works best. Rulers are also useful for drawing lines on targets.

This list is not intended to be exclusive. There are many other items you may wish to include. We invite our readers to add other “essentials” to the list. The important thing is to plan ahead, packing your key items before you drive to the range.

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