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March 15th, 2016

Case Diagnostics — Find the Flaws in Your Cases

Sierra Bullets Case Inspection

Inspect your cases — every time you reload. A tiny flaw could lead to a split neck, case-head separation or worse. The Sierra Blog has a good article this week on case inspection, with many eye-catching examples. Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks shows a variety of problem cases and explains the issues he found. Duane states: “Careful case examination is one of the most important safety aspects of the reloading process.”

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article on the Sierra Bullets Blog

We recommend that you read the full article. Here are three examples…

Incipient Case-Head Separation
This is a Winchester .308 Win case that has a real issue. This case has a very obvious incipient case head separation in the process of becoming a complete failure.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

This is most commonly caused by over-sizing the case causing there to be excess headspace on the case. After a few firings and subsequent re-sizing, this case is just about ready to come completely apart. Proper die adjustment is certainly a requirement here. Of course this case is not safe to reuse.

Excessive Pressure (Load Too Hot)
If you will notice in the picture of the case rim, there are two pressure signs to notice. First, look at the primer. It is basically flattened to about the max of what could be considered safe. If this was the only pressure sign noted, I would probably be fine with this load, but would constantly keep an eye on it especially if I was going to use this load in warmer temperatures. This load could easily cross into the “excess pressure” realm very quickly.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

There is another sign of pressure that we cannot ignore. If you’ll notice, there is an ejector mark apparent that is located over the “R” of the R-P headstamp. This absolutely tells us that this load would not have been in the safe pressure range. If there were any of these rounds loaded, they should not be fired and should be dis-assembled. This case should not be reloaded.

Split Case-Neck
Here we have an R-P .22-250 case that has died the death. Everything looks fine with this case except the neck is split. This case must be tossed.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

A split neck is a normal occurrence that you must watch for. It is caused by work-hardening of the brass. Brass cases get harder with age and use. Brand new cases that are stored for a period of time can become hard enough that they will split like this case within one to two firings. I have had new factory loads do the same thing. Then as we resize and fire these cases repeatedly, they tend to get harder and harder. Eventually they will split. The life of the case can be extended by careful annealing practices. This is an issue that would need to be addressed in an article by itself. Of course this case is no longer usable.

In the classes that I teach, I try to use examples like this to let the students see what they should be looking for. As always, if we can assist you, whether you are new to reloading or very experienced, contact us here at Sierra Bullets by phone at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra [at]

Sierra Bullets Case Inspection

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 3 Comments »
March 15th, 2016

Howa Barreled Actions and Ti Gas Block Reviewed by Brownells

Brownells Howa Barreled action

Brownells recently reviewed some interesting new products including Howa Barreled Actions and a low-profile titanium gas block for AR-platform rifles. We really like the Howa Barreled Actions as the basis of a varmint or hunting rifle build. The actions are smooth and the Howa-supplied, adjustable HACT 2-stage trigger is excellent. Brownells will stock these barreled actions in a wide range of calibers and barrel profiles (including some with threaded muzzles for brakes or suppressors).

Watch Brownells NEW PRODUCT Review 3/11/2016:

Starting at $407.00, Howa Barreled Actions include hammer-forged barrel, bottom metal, magazine (internal or DBM), and the HACT 2-stage trigger. The three-position safety allows you to manipulate the bolt with the trigger blocked. These Howa barreled actions, which are drilled and tapped for scope mounts, come in Blue or Cerakote Gray finish in Short, Long, and Mini-Action sizes. The Howa Mini-Action is a great basis for a light, compact small-caliber varminter.

Low-Profile Titanium Gas Block for AR-Platform Rifles

Brownells Howa Barreled action

The Battle Arms AR-15 Titanium Gas Block (#100-800-003) provides a very trick, low-profile set-up for an AR “space gun” or 3-Gun rig. Light and strong, the Battle Arms Ti gas block fits underneath almost any handguard. This slim, ultra-lightweight Titanium block helps keep an AR-15 rifle/carbine fast and maneuverable by reducing front-end mass. Brownells price is $99.95.

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 2 Comments »
March 15th, 2016

Target Dots — Buy ‘Em by the Thousand and Save

target dots sticker avery label flourescent dot labeloutfitters

Sometimes simpler is better when it comes to targets for fun shooting and load testing. While we normally use test targets from our Downloadable Target Page, it’s sometimes easier to just use brightly-colored “Hi-Viz” adhesive target dots.

Hi-Viz Stick-On Dots in Assorted Colors and Diameters
You can order 1″ target dots in bulk from Many colors are available including fluorescent (hi-viz) Red, Green, Orange, and Yellow. These are bright and easy to see even in fading afternoon light. A pack of twenty (20) sheets (1260 dots total) costs just $5.97 (that works out to $4.74 per thousand). For the 1″-diameter stick-on dots you get 63 dots per sheet. Larger, 1.5″-diameter fluorescent dots are also available in 20-sheet packs for $5.97, with 24 large dots per sheet (480 dots total). If you want even bigger, 2″-diameter dots, sheets with 20 Hi-Viz dots per sheet are on sale for $5.97 per 20-pack (400 dots total).

Our friend Danny Reever really likes the bright dots from Label-Outfitters: “Ordered some of the 1″ dots from and recieved them in two days Priority Mail! Bought the flourescent red,green, and yellow and they are really nice — especially for the price.”

If you prefer smaller, 3/4″-diameter circles, sells Avery packs with 1008 adhesive dots for just $2.99 or $3.99 per pack. Colors include Neon Red/Orange (item 5467), Neon Yellow (item 5470), Neon Green (item 5468), and Bright Blue (item 5461). We recommend the Neon Red/Orange for most uses, or the Neon Yellow dots for use on a black background. There is even a dispenser-box option with 1000 3/4″ dots on a roll in a box. also offers 1″, 1.25″, and 2″-diameter target pasters in 1000-dot rolls for $13.99 per roll.

target dots sticker avery label flourescent dot labeloutfitters

Half-Inch Fluorescent Dots for 100-200 Yards
For close-range work, you may prefer 1/2″-diameter dots. Forum member Steve found a source for very small 1/2″ dots: The 1/2″ dots are available in a wide variety of colors including fluorescent Red, Pink, Yellow, and Green. Price is $12 for a roll of 1000 dots (item S-2063). Steve notes: “A 1/2″ circle at 300 yards is not quite entirely covered by Nightforce crosshairs at 42-power (I’d say 70% coverage). I.e., it seems easier to line up repeatedly than with the bigger (3/4″) circles, which I used to use. Note that, for me, neon green and neon orange work best on brown cardboard targets. Neon orange works well on white paper.”

Permalink Hot Deals, Tech Tip No Comments »