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May 19th, 2022

Reloading Bench — How to Optimize Case Neck Tension

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
One thing that plays a major role in building an accuracy load is neck tension [one of the factors that controls the “grip” on a bullet]. I think a lot of reloaders pretty much take this for granted and don’t give that enough thought.

So, how much neck tension is enough?

Through the years and shooting both a wide variety of calibers and burn rates of powder, I’ve had the best accuracy overall with .002″ of neck tension. Naturally you will run into a rifle now and then that will do its best with something different like .001″ or even .003″, but .002″ has worked very well for me. So how do we control the neck tension? Let’s take a look at that.

First of all, if you’re running a standard sizing die with an expander ball, just pull your decapping rod assembly out of your die and measure the expander ball. What I prefer [for starters] is to have an expander ball that is .003″ smaller than bullet diameter. So for example in a .224 caliber, run an expander ball of .221″. If you want to take the expander ball down in diameter, just chuck up your decapping rod assembly in a drill and turn it down with some emery cloth. When you have the diameter you need, polish it with three ought or four ought steel wool. This will give it a mirror finish and less drag coming through your case neck after sizing.

Tips for Dies With Interchangeable Neck Bushings
If you’re using a bushing die, I measure across the neck of eight or ten loaded rounds, then take an average on these and go .003″ under that measurement. There are other methods to determine bushing size, but this system has worked well for me.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Proper Annealing Can Deliver More Uniform Neck Tension
Another thing I want to mention is annealing. When brass is the correct softness, it will take a “set” coming out of the sizing die far better than brass that has become to hard. When brass has been work hardened to a point, it will be more springy when it comes out of a sizing die and neck tension will vary. Have you ever noticed how some bullets seated harder than others? That is why.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Paying closer attention to neck tension will give you both better accuracy and more consistent groups.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
May 19th, 2022

Reloading Tip: Pulling Bullets Using Press-Mounted Collet Tools

Collet Bullet Puller Hornady RCBS Press Mount Reloading

Do you have some ammo that got loaded incorrectly, perhaps with the wrong powder? Then you’ll want to disassemble the ammo for safety’s sake. You can use an impact puller to do this task, but if you have more than a dozen rounds or so, you may prefer to use a collet-style bullet puller. These work very quickly and positively, making quick work of big jobs. The efficiency of the collet-style puller is worth the investment if you frequently disassemble ammo. These devices retail for under $25.00 (collets sold separately). Normally, you’ll need a specific collet for each bullet diameter. But collets are not that costly, so this isn’t a big deal, particularly if you only load a few calibers, such as .223, 6mm, and .308.

Hornady and RCBS use different mechanisms to tighten the collet around the bullet. On the Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet Puller, a lever-arm on the top of the bullet puller serves to tighten the collet around the bullet. Simply rotate the lever from the vertical to the horizontal position to grab the bullet. Lower the ram to remove the case. The bullet will drop out when you return the lever arm to the vertical position. This is demonstrated in the video below:

Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet Puller Demonstrated

Collet bullet-pullers resemble a loading die with a lever or handle on the top. They screw into a standard reloading press. Hornady and RCBS both make collet-style bullet pullers. They use the same basic principle — the device tightens a collet around the bullet, and then the bullet is separated from the case by lowering the press ram. NOTE: Collet pullers may leave small marks on your bullets, unlike impact (kinetic) pullers.*

Hornady collet bullet pullerLike the Hornady tool, the RCBS Bullet Puller employs a collet to grab the bullet. However, the RCBS tool tightens the collet in a different way. The head of the RCBS tool is threaded internally. By rotating the lever arm clockwise in a horizontal circle you squeeze the collet around the bullet. To remove the bullet, after lowering the press ram, simply spin the lever arm back in the opposite direction. The use of the RCBS tool is demonstrated in these two videos:

RCBS Collet Bullet Puller Demonstrated:

WARNING: When removing bullets from loaded cartridges, always make sure there are no obstructions or debris in your shell-holder or under the loaded round. NEVER engage a primer seating accessory on your press when working with loaded rounds. You can cause a round to discharge by contacting the primer! Also, we recommend you keep your head and torso away from the bullet puller tool at all times.

*By contrast, impact pullers rarely mark bullets, particularly if you put a little bit of foam or paper wadding in the closed end of your impact puller. When dismantling loaded rounds, powder kernels can get trapped in the wadding, so you should remove and replace the wadding before changing to cartridges loaded with a different powder type (assuming you intend to save the powder).

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
May 19th, 2022

Make Your Own Empty Chamber Indicator for Rimfire Rifles

Medler Rimfire Empty Chamber Indicator

Larry Medler has come up with a smart little invention — a simple, inexpensive Empty Chamber Indicator for rimfire rifles. It is made from a section of plastic “weed-wacker” line and a wooden ball from a hobby shop. Larry says he was inspired by Juniors who used something similar for their 17-Caliber Air Rifles.

How to Make the Empty Chamber Indicator

Construction Method: First, drill a 7/64″ diameter hole all the way through the 1″-diameter wooden ball. Then enlarge half of that 1″-long hole using a 13/64” diameter drill. Next insert an 8″ piece of heavy duty (0.095″ diameter) weed wacker line through the ball, leaving about 2″ on the side with the bigger-diameter hole. Then, with the short end of the line, fold over the last half-inch so the line is doubled-over on itself. Then slide the line into the ball, stuffing the doubled-over section through the 13/64″ (large) hole. Finally, pull the longer end of the line until the doubled-over section is flush with the outside of the ball. This gives you a sturdy line attachment without messy adhesives. When the assembly’s complete, hold the ECI by the tail and dip the ball in yellow paint. If you’re making more than one ECI, you can drill horizontal holes in a spare block of wood and use that as a drying rack.

rimfire sporter
At a Rimfire Sporter match like this, all shooters must have an Empty Chamber Indicator.

The Empty Chamber Indicator for Smallbore Rifles
Larry explains: “At all Highpower rifle matches, silhouette matches, and other shooting events I have attended, Open Bore Indicators (OBI), or what are now called Empty Chamber Indicators (ECI) have been mandatory. The NRA’s yellow ECI for Highpower rifles is easy to use and has been well-received by the shooters. However, I had not seen a truly workable ECI for 22 rimfire rifles — until I visited Michigan’s Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club where I saw juniors using ECIs for their 17 Caliber Air Rifles. Someone at the club made the empty chamber indicators by attaching an 8″ piece of weed wacker line to a 1″-diameter wooden ball, painted bright yellow. I now make similar ECIs for the 22 rimfire silhouette matches I run.”

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip No Comments »