March 25th, 2021

Huge Increases in Guns and Ammo Sales — Infographic

2020 Gun sales NICS NSSF infographic
NSSF Photo. Related Story HERE.

How have gun sales grown in recent years in the USA? What states have the most new gun owners? How much ammo is produced each year? You’ll find answers to these and other questions in a new infographic produced by Bear Creek Arsenal.

2020 Gun sales NICS NSSF infographic

Here Are Some of the Key Findings:

1. Over 21 million NICS Adjusted background checks were done in 2020, a 59.7% increase over 2019 (and 34.3% higher than 2016). NSSF estimates that 40% of 2020 gun sales were to first-time gun buyers who numbered 8.4 million last year.

2. Of all U.S. States, Texas had the most NICS checks in 2020, with 1.8 million, followed by Florida with 1.6 million. Perhaps surprisingly, Democratic Party-controlled California recorded 1.23 million NICS checks.

3. Some “Blue States” have seen huge increases in gun sales, prompted by Leftist- and BLM-sponsored riots and social unrest. For example, Michigan saw a 180% increase in sales, while the District of Columbia saw a 140% increase. That is interesting because DC is definitely not a bastion of conservative Republicans. In fact, the District of Columbia is solid Democratic Party territory. This shows that concerns over personal safety/self-defense cut across party lines.

4. Over NINE BILLION rounds of ammunition were produced in 2020. This represents a total annual ammo value of $21.38 billion. Quote: “A reasonable extrapolation puts the amount of ammunition produced for the United States market [in 2020] at somewhat over 9 billion rounds, of which 5 billion are rimfire and 4 billion are centerfire rifle, pistol, and shotgun rounds.” Source: Dean Weingarten on Ammoland.com

2020 Gun sales NICS NSSF infographic

2020 Gun sales NICS NSSF infographic

2020 was definitely the year of the gun. Firearm sales were up 95% in the first half of 2020. And, according to the NSSF, there were nearly 8.4 million first-time-ever gun buyers in the USA in 2020. A NSSF dealer survey estimates that 40% of all gun sales were conducted to purchasers who have never previously owned a firearm. Women accounted for 40.2% of all first-time gun purchases. Notably, firearm purchases among African American men and women increased 58% over last year, the largest such increase of any demographic group.

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March 25th, 2021

Parallax Explained — Nightforce Optics TECH TIP

Nightforce Optics Parallax Newsletter Scope Video

PARALLAX – What is it and Why is it important?

Nightforce Optics Parallax Newsletter Scope Video

What is Parallax?
Parallax is the apparent movement of the scope’s reticle (cross-hairs) in relation to the target as the shooter moves his eye across the exit pupil of the riflescope. This is caused by the target and the reticle being located in different focal planes.

Why is it Important?
The greater the distance to the target and magnification of the optic, the greater the parallax error becomes. Especially at longer distances, significant sighting error can result if parallax is not removed.

How to Remove Parallax
This Nightforce Tech Tip video quickly shows how to remove parallax on your riflescope.

While keeping the rifle still and looking through the riflescope, a slight nod of the head up and down will quickly determine if parallax is present. To remove parallax, start with the adjustment mechanism on infinity and rotate until the reticle remains stationary in relation to the target regardless of head movement. If parallax has been eliminated, the reticle will remain stationary in relation to the target regardless of eye placement behind the optic.

Nightforce Optics Parallax Newsletter Scope Video

This Parallax Discussion first appeared in the Nightforce Newsletter. To get other helpful Tech Tips delivered to your mailbox, CLICK HERE to open the Nightforce Newsletter sign-up page.

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March 25th, 2021

Why You Should Use Expander Mandrels on New Brass

Expander Mandrel reloading case neck tension cartridge brass

Before you load that nice new cartridge brass for the first time, run an expander mandrel down the case necks. This will iron out dents and provide more uniform neck tension. Chose a mandrel diameter that provides appropriate neck tension.

Lapua brass is so good that you’ll be tempted to just load and shoot, if you have a “no-turn” chamber. However, some minimal case prep will ensure more uniform neck tension. Keeping your neck tension very uniform allows more consistent bullet seating. That, in turn, usually yields better accuracy, and lower Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation (ES/SD). Lapua brass, particularly 6mmBR, 6.5×47, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win comes from the factory with tighter-than-optimal necks. Before you seat bullets, at a minimum, you should inside chamfer the case mouths, after running an expander mandrel down the necks. The expander mandrels from both Sinclair Int’l and K&M will both leave the necks with enough neck tension (more than .001″) so you can then seat bullets without another operation. We suggest putting a bit of lube on the mandrel before running it down the necks — but remove any lube that gets inside the necks before seating bullets.

Sinclair Expander Tool Mandrel

Both Sinclair and K&M Tools make a die body specifically to hold expander mandrels. The Sinclair version, is shown above. This $32.99 unit fits caliber-specific expander mandrels ($9.99) which measure approximately .001″ less than bullet diameter for each caliber. This is an updated “Gen II” design that completely captures the mandrel within the die so the mandrel cannot pull out. It also has an O-ring in the die cap that allows the mandrel to self-center within the case neck. Sinclair now offers three sizes of die bodies for expander mandrels: .17 -.338 Caliber (#749-011-715WS); .357 – .50 caliber (#749-008-843WS), and a special .50 Cal die body for large-diameter 50 BMG presses (#749-009-163WS, $39.99). All Generation II dies are machined from stainless steel and the standard diameter 7/8-14 dies include the Sinclair Stainless Steel Split Lock Ring.

Once you run the Sinclair expander mandrel down the necks of Lapua brass, after you account for brass spring-back, you’ll have about .002″ neck tension*. This will make the process of seating bullets go much more smoothly, and you will also iron out any dents in the case mouths. Once the case mouths are all expanded, and uniformly round, then do your inside neck chamfering/deburring. The same expander mandrels can be used to “neck-up” smaller diameter brass, or prepare brass for neck-turning.

Forum member Mike Crawford adds: “These expanders can also reduce runout from offset seating. Prior to bullet seating, expand the sized necks to force thickness variance outward. With the Sinclair system, the necks will springback fine, and will not be pulled out of center. This leaves plenty of tension, and bullets seated more centered. I do this, even with turned necks, to get improved seating.”

Mandrels vs. Expander Balls on Decapping Rods
If you haven’t acquired an appropriate expander mandrel for your brass, but you DO have a full-length sizing die with an expander ball, this will also function to “iron out” the necks and reduce tension. However, using a die with an expander ball will work the necks more — since you first size them down, then the ball expands them up again. Typically (but not always), run-out is worse when using an expander ball vs. an expander mandrel.


* This .002″ tension is what we have observed with Lapua 6mmBR, 6.5×47, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win brass. This might vary with much smaller or larger cases, and of course a different brand of brass might yield different results. If you get too little tension with your current mandrel, you can get a smaller-diameter mandrel from 21st Century Shooting. 21st Century even offers low-friction Titanium Nitride-coated mandrels.

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