November 12th, 2013

Primers, Primers, We Got Primers….

Pistol Rifle Primer in stock midsouth, midwayusa, brunos, bullets.com, powder valleyGot the “can’t find primer blues”? Well cheer up. Supplies of pistol and rifle primers are starting to arrive at vendors around the country. We checked with six leading shooting supplies vendors, and all had some primers in stock. Many of the harder-to-find varieties, such as CCI BR4s (small rifle benchrest) and CCI 450s (small rifle magnum) are now available again. In the chart below are the primer inventories we found today, November 12, at 11:00 am west coast time.

Note, inventories are subject to change. In some cases, the primers were “low stock” items, which means they won’t last long. Word to the Wise: If more than one vendor has the primers you need, we suggest you comparison shop. We’ve seen prices vary by as much as $15.00 per thousand for the same item — so you definitely need to compare pricing before you place an order. Happy primer hunting boys and girls!

PRIMER Inventories Shown by Web Vendors on November 12, 2013:
Pistol Rifle Primer in stock midsouth, midwayusa, brunos, bullets.com, powder valley
(NOTE: Inventory subject to change. Availability of all these items can change by the hour.)

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October 17th, 2013

Wolf Rifle and Pistol Primers in Stock at Wideners.com

Need Primers? Wideners.com has received a large shipment of Wolf Primers. Made in Russia, Wolf primers have worked well for many shooters. In many cartridge types Wolf primers have shown very good accuracy, and competitively low ES and SD. You should read our Shooters’ Forum threads about Wolf Primers to see if they would be a good option for you. We have generally heard positive feedback, with a few comments that Wolf primers may require a little more force to be seated properly, when compared to domestic-made primers. Current inventories are shown below.

wideners wolf tula russian primers small rifle large rifle in stock

Wolf Primers at Wideners.com (All In Stock as of 10/17/2013 at 10:00 am ET)

Prices do NOT include shipping and HazMat fees. Wideners says that up to 50,000 primers primers (That’s 10, 5000-count boxes) can go with one hazmat tag.

NOTE: Some shooters prefer the Wolf Small Rifle Magnum primers over the standard Wolf Small Rifle Primers because the cups are harder on the SR Magnum versions. Wideners does NOT currently have the Wolf Small Rifle Magnum primers in stock.

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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July 25th, 2013

Powder Valley has Tula Rifle Primers in Stock

UPDATE: As of July 26th, 8:00 am Pacific Time, Powder Valley has sold out of Tula Large Rifle and Small Rifle primers — no more inventory. Tula Large Rifle Magnum, Small Pistol, and 50 cal primers are still showing as available.

Need rifle primers? Well Powder Valley Inc. just received millions of Tula Primers. These are Russian primers made in the same factory as Wolf primers. Many shooters have had good results with both Wolfs and Tulas. However, with some cartridge types, you may need to do some load tuning (if you’ve worked up a load using domestic CCI, Win, or Federal primers). Powder Valley currently lists Large Rifle, Large Rifle Magnum, Small Rifle, 50 BMG, and Small Pistol primers in stock. Purchase limit is 20,000 primers (i.e. 20 boxes of 1000 primers) per order, per item. Here is PVI’s inventory as of July 25 at 1:00 pm Pacific Time.

Tula Primers

Primer tip from SleepyGator. We welcome reader submissions.
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January 9th, 2013

LuckyGunner.com Conducts “Epic Ammo Torture Test”

LuckyGunner.com, a leading online ammo vendor, has conducted a remarkable “torture-test” comparison of brass-cased and steel-cased .223 Rem ammunition. Four different kinds of ammo (one brass-cased, three steel-cased) were fired through four different Bushmaster AR15s — ten thousand (10,000) rounds PER GUN. The idea was to see if brass-cased ammo was better than the cheaper, steel-cased ammunition. During the course of the project, Luckygunner’s testers logged malfunctions and checked for accuracy, chamber pressure, gas port pressure, chamber wear, and overall barrel wear. At the end of the test, the well-worn barrels were sectioned to see the effect of thousands of rounds… and the results weren’t pretty.

Luckygun.com Epic Ammo Test

Test Findings: For a multitude of reasons, the test crew determined that Federal brass-cased ammo was “healthier” than steel-cased ammo. The brass-cased ammo shot more accurately, had far fewer malufunctions, and produced less barrel wear. The USA-made brass-cased ammo also showed more consistent velocities. CLICK HERE to READ FULL TEST.

Watch the video below for a summary of results:

Torture Test Procedure
Four types of .223 Rem ammo were tested: Federal brass-cased 55gr FMJBT; Wolf steel-cased (polymer coating) 55gr FMJ; Tula steel-cased (polymer coating) 55gr Bi-Metal Jacket; Brown Bear steel-cased (lacquer coating) 55gr Bi-Metal Jacket. Each ammo type was paired with a specific Bushmaster AR-15. Tests were performed at various round-count stages:

  • At the start: record accuracy, velocity, chamber and gas port pressures, make chamber cast
  • After 2,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity
  • After 4,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity
  • After 5,000 rounds: record throat erosion, make chamber cast
  • After 6,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity
  • After 8,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity
  • After 10,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity, chamber and gas port pressures, throat erosion, extractor wear, chamber cast, barrel wear, make chamber cast.

During testing, rifles were cleaned according to a preset schedule and temperatures were monitored. After testing, LuckyGunner sectioned the barrels and made careful inspections.

Click the links below for specific data, test results, and conclusions:

During the testing process, all malfunctions of each rifle-ammo combination were logged. The brass-cased Federal ammo was the clear winner:

Federal: 10,000 rounds, 0 malfunctions.
Brown Bear: 10,000 rounds, 9 malfunctions
(5 stuck cases, 1 mag-related failure to feed, 3 failures to cycle.)
Wolf: 10,000 rounds, 15 malfunctions (stuck cases)
Tula: DNF (6,000 rounds in alternate carbine, 3 malfunctions)

Luckygunner.com Ammo Test 5.56 .223 RemBarrel Wear and Throat Erosion
Some of the barrels didn’t make it to 10,000 rounds: “The steel cased/bimetal jacketed ammunition caused accelerated wear to the inside of their respective bores. While the barrel of the Federal carbine had plenty of life left, even after 10,000 rounds … the Wolf and Brown Bear barrels … were completely shot out by 6,000 rounds. At the end of the test, the chrome lining of the Wolf and Brown Bear barrels was almost gone from the throat forward, and the barrels had effectively become smoothbores[.] A throat erosion gauge could be dropped into the bore from the muzzle end with absolutely no resistance.”

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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.

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