As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.











February 13th, 2020

Primers and Pressure Tolerances — How Primers Vary

Primer Pressure signs

by James Calhoon
(First Printed in Varmint Hunter Magazine, October, 1995)

Primers and Pressures

In the course of talking to many shooters, it has become clear to me that the manufacturers of primers have done a less than adequate job of educating reloaders on the application of their primers. Everybody seems to realize that some primers are “hotter” than others and some seem to shoot better for them than others, but few reloaders know that primers have different pressure tolerances.

Primer Pressure Tolerance
When loading a .223 to the maximum, I was getting primer piercing before I reached case overloading. I don’t know what prompted me to try CCI 450s instead of the 400s which I had been using, but I did. Presto! No more piercing! Interesting!? A primer that has a hotter ignition and yet withstands more pressure! Thats when I decided that it was time to do a dissection of all primers concerned. The chart below shows my results.

Primers and Pressures
NOTE: These primer dimensions were measured many years ago. There may be some differences in current production specifications.

By studying the numbers (Cup “A” thickness), one can see which primers in the small rifle sections should be more resistant to primer cratering and/or piercing. Primer cup diameters are all similar and appear to follow a specification, but check out the cup thickness in the small rifle primers (Dimension “A”). Some cups are quite a bit thicker than others: .025″ for CCI 450 vs. .0019″ for Fed 200. Large rifle primers all appear to have the same cup thickness, no matter what the type. (As a note of interest, small pistol primers are .017″ thick and large pistol primers are .020″ thick.)

If you are shooting a 22 Cooper, Hornet, or a Bee, the .020″ cup will perform admirably. But try using the .020″ cup in a 17 Remington and you will pierce primers, even with moderate loads.

Considering that cup thickness varies in the small rifle primers, it is obvious that primer “flatness” cannot solely be used as a pressure indicator.

Another factor which determines the strength of a primer cup is the work-hardened state of the metal used to make the primer cup. Most primers are made with cartridge brass (70% copper, 30% zinc), which can vary from 46,000 psi, soft, to 76,000 psi tensile strength when fully hardened. Note that manufacturers specify the hardness of metal desired, so some cups are definitely “harder” that others.

What does all this mean to the reloader?
- Cases that utilize small rifle primers and operate at moderate pressures (40,000 psi) can use CCI 400, Federal 200, Rem 6 1/2, or Win SR. Such cases include 22 CCM, 22 Hornet and the 218 Bee. Other cases that use the small rifle primer can use the above primers only if moderate loads are used. Keep to the lower end of reloading recommendations.

– Cases that utilize small rifle primers and operate at higher pressures (55,000 psi) should use CCI 450, CCI BR4, Fed 205 and Rem 7 1/2.

– All the large rifle primers measured have the same thickness. Therefore choose based on other factors, such as accuracy, low ES/SD, cost, cup hardness, and uniformity.

Hope this clears up some primer confusion. If you want more information about primers, priming compounds, or even how to make primers, the NRA sells an excellent book called “Ammunition Making” by George Frost. This book tells it like it is in the ammo making industry.

Jim Calhoon Products

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
March 5th, 2012

Primers and Pressure Analysis by James Calhoon

by James Calhoon
(First Printed in Varmint Hunter Magazine, October, 1995)

Primers and Pressures

In the course of talking to many shooters, it has become clear to me that the manufacturers of primers have done a less than adequate job of educating reloaders on the application of their primers. Everybody seems to realize that some primers are “hotter” than others and some seem to shoot better for them than others, but few reloaders know that primers have different pressure tolerances.

Primer Pressure signs

Primer Pressure Tolerance
When loading a .223 to the maximum, I was getting primer piercing before I reached case overloading. I don’t know what prompted me to try CCI 450s instead of the 400s which I had been using, but I did. Presto! No more piercing! Interesting!? A primer that has a hotter ignition and yet withstands more pressure! Thats when I decided that it was time to do a dissection of all primers concerned. The chart below shows my results.

Primers and Pressures

By studying the numbers (Cup “A” thickness), one can see which primers in the small rifle sections should be more resistant to primer cratering and/or piercing. Primer cup diameters are all similar and appear to follow a specification, but check out the cup thickness in the small rifle primers (Dimension “A”). Some cups are quite a bit thicker than others: .025″ for CCI 450 vs. .0019″ for Fed 200. Large rifle primers all appear to have the same cup thickness, no matter what the type. (As a note of interest, small pistol primers are .017″ thick and large pistol primers are .020″ thick.)

If you are shooting a 22 Cooper, Hornet, or a Bee, the .020″ cup will perform admirably. But try using the .020″ cup in a 17 Remington and you will pierce primers, even with moderate loads.

Considering that cup thickness varies in the small rifle primers, it is obvious that primer “flatness” cannot solely be used as a pressure indicator.

Another factor which determines the strength of a primer cup is the work-hardened state of the metal used to make the primer cup. Most primers are made with cartridge brass (70% copper, 30% zinc), which can vary from 46,000 psi, soft, to 76,000 psi tensile strength when fully hardened. Note that manufacturers specify the hardness of metal desired, so some cups are definitely “harder” that others.

What does all this mean to the reloader?
- Cases that utilize small rifle primers and operate at moderate pressures (40,000 psi) can use CCI 400, Federal 200, Rem 6 1/2, or Win SR. Such cases include 22 CCM, 22 Hornet and the 218 Bee. Other cases that use the small rifle primer can use the above primers only if moderate loads are used. Keep to the lower end of reloading recommendations.

– Cases that utilize small rifle primers and operate at higher pressures (55,000 psi) should use CCI 450, CCI BR4, Fed 205 and Rem 7 1/2.

– All the large rifle primers measured have the same thickness. Therefore choose based on other factors, such as accuracy, low ES/SD, cost, cup hardness, and uniformity.

Hope this clears up some primer confusion. If you want more information about primers, priming compounds, or even how to make primers, the NRA sells an excellent book called “Ammunition Making” by George Frost. This book tells it like it is in the ammo making industry.

Jim Calhoon Products

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 10 Comments »
May 9th, 2022

Bargain Finder 346: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Weekly Bargain Finder Sale Discount Savings

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Sunday afternoon or Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, optics, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

WARNING re CZ Rifle Sales: There was a previous link to a purported sale of blemished CZ Rifles. Do NOT purchase anything from the listed seller which called itself CZ USA Firearms. There are multiple issues.

1. Creedmoor Sports — Sightron Scope Sale

sightron scope sale
Save $200 on highly-rated Sightron Scopes now through June 30, 2022

If you’re looking for a great deal on a solid, competition-worthy optic, check out the Sightron Sale at Creedmoor Sports. They have a large selection of the most popular scopes in the Sightron lineup all at prices you can’t pass up. You can save $200 on the SIII 8-32x56mm and save $200 on the SIII 10-50x56mm model. Both are great choices for benchrest or F-Class Competition. Varminters should consider the S-TAC 4-20x560mm, now discounted from $529.99 to $449.99.

2. Midsouth — Berger Match Grade .223 Rem Ammo, $34.99

berger .223 ammo
Match-quality loaded ammo with Berger bullets, Lapua brass

Are you looking to compete but don’t want the hassle of hand-loading ammo? Then consider Berger Match Grade Long Range .223 ammo, now $34.99 per 20-rd box at Midsouth. This is very high quality ammo employing the best components — Lapua brass and Berger bullets. This ammo should work great for service rifle shooters and Palma shooters who run a .223 Rem. Two bullet options are offered: 73gr BT target bullet or the 77gr OTM Tactical bullet.

3. Amazon — Frankford Arsenal Hand Deprimer Tool, $26.81

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Hand Deprimer Tool
Very good, effective depriming tool that retains spent primers

Decapping brass can be a time-consuming and messy chore. Simplify the task (and avoid messing up your loading area) with the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Hand Deprimer Tool. This device lets you remove spent primers anywhere — no press needed and all the mess (cups/anvils/residue) stays in the capture chamber. You can deprime cases while watching TV. This tool features a Universal collet that works with all case types. With good leverage, this tool is easy on the hands too. This is a great deal at just $26.81!

4. Grizzly — Bald Eagle 45″ Soft Rifle Case, $24.97

rifle case sale
Excellent case with shoulder straps and four side pockets

If you need a soft carry case for a rifle under 45″ OAL, here is an exceptional deal. Grizzly Industrial has the Bald Eagle 45″ Soft Rifle Case on sale now for just $24.97 — a steal. These are great cases for the money. They are no longer in production, so you may want to grab a couple while you can at this price.

5. Graf & Sons — Caldwell Hydrosled, $179.95

lead sled sale
Fill lower tank with water for added stability

Looking for a solid rest that’s not oppressively heavy? Check out the Caldwell Hydrosled. The unique design lets you fill a lower tank with water at the range for added weight and stability. Then when you’re done, simply dump the water out and you’ve got a much lighter product to load in your vehicle. When filled, this Hydrosled handles heavy-recoiling cartridges very well, so it’s good for sighting-in hunting rifles.

6. Amazon — Real Avid Toolkit, $80.42

real avid tool sale
Great 90-piece tool kit performs many functions

Real Avid offers high quality tools in convenient packages. Here is a very complete 90-piece Gunsmithing Tool Kit. The kit includes Hex, Phillips, and Torx Bits, plus long bit driver, small bit driver, complete bit set, scope turret adjustment tool and storage case. This is a high quality tool kit with extras like an LED light, integrated hammer, and more. We can recommend this set for gun-owners who work on their firearms.

7. MidwayUSA Pro Series Competition Shooting Mat, $35.99

midwayusa pro series competition shooting mag roll-up sale
Excellent mat — good size with nice padding and carry handle

MidwayUSA’s Pro Series Competition Shooting Mat is on sale for just $35.99 — 40% off the regular $59.99 price. This mat is bigger and better than MidwayUSA’s basic shooting mat. The Pro Series mat measures a full 73.5″ x 35.5″ and the padding is thicker. A zippered pocket on the front extension flap holds ammo or log book. There are pockets for bipod feet so you can pre-load your bipod. At $35.99 on sale this Pro Series mat is an excellent deal. Choose either OD green as shown, or Coyote Tan.

8. Amazon — TufForce Shooting Rest Bag, $12.99

rifle rest bag
Good basic support sandbag at exceptionally low price

Whether varmint hunting, target shooting, or attending a precision match, having a versatile bag for front or rear rifle support is important. This nice little TufForce Shooting Rest Bag is on sale now for $12.99 on Amazon. Sized 4″ x 7″ x 9″, the bag offers different heights with different orientations. The bag ships UNFILLED but has a convenient fill hole for rice, sand, or other media. Filled with rice the bag weighs about 5.5 pounds, while filled with sand it weighs about 11 pounds.

9. Amazon — Caldwell Rock Jr., $33.59

caldwell rock rest
Low-cost basic front rest — keep as extra for training new shooters

Here is a basic, adjustable front rest you can use for sighting in a hunting rifle, testing handguns, or varminting. No it won’t suffice for benchrest competition, but it is inexpensive and relatively lightweight so it can be useful at the range or when varminting. This is also a good “spare” rest for shooting sessions with a young family member. On sale now, the Caldwell Rock Jr. Rest is now just $33.59 on Amazon, a very good price for simple yet effective basic shooting rest.


Notice re CZ-USA Firearms: CZ firearms are distributed in the USA by CZ-USA headquartered in Kansas City, MO. For a few hours the Bulletin had a link to a different enterprise calling itself CZ USA Firearms. Do NOT do business with CZ USA Firearms. Stay Away.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Reloading No Comments »
February 20th, 2022

Sunday GunDay: .22 PPC for 300m Prone Competition

.22 PPC Rifle 300m prone

The 300 Meter .22 PPC — Smaller Caliber for Less Recoil

By GS Arizona
[This article originally appeared in Precision Shooting Magazine many years ago, but we are reprising it because the .22 PPC remains a notable cartridge for many disciplines, from benchrest to silhouette.]

I’ve spent the past few years pursuing the largely solitary pastime of 300 Meter shooting in the US. While it is a hugely popular sport in Europe, with thousands of competitors in each of various countries and overflowing national championships, in the U.S., 300 Meter shooting is simply a forgotten discipline. As an example, consider that the entry at the USA Shooting 300 Meter National Championships held at Fort Benning did not reach 20 competitors in [years past]. For those not familiar with the discipline, the 300 Meter ISSF target has a 100 mm ten ring, 200 mm 9 ring and so forth. That’s a 3.9″ ten ring at 328 yards for those of you who may object to the metric system, electricity and other intrusions upon a well settled universe (which ends at the dragons). [Editor’s Note: GS Arizona was a championship-class prone shooter, in both rimfire and centerfire disciplines, who had a popular online Blog, which has been closed.]

300 Meter Basics
300 Meter matches can be either three-position (prone, standing, kneeling) or all prone. Being of that age at which limbs aren’t limber and the mid-section obscures one’s view of the toes, I shoot prone matches only and leave the 3P to those for whom the term “shooting athlete” doesn’t produce an automatic smirk from the better half.

.22 PPC Rifle 300m prone

Like most 300 Meter shooters, I shoot a 6BR as my main rifle. As used in 300 Meter shooting, the 6BR is loaded with a 105-108gr bullet, with a velocity in the 2850 fps range. There is simply no cartridge out there at this time that delivers the accuracy, low recoil and ease of loading that can be had from the 6BR. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t embark on a quixotic adventure now and then to find something better. This article is about one such search. So, if you don’t mind spending some time learning about an uphill struggle in a forgotten corner of the shooting world, pour a hot cup of coffee, get a plate of chocolate chip cookies and read on.

Getting Started–The Concept Behind the Project
The premise for building a .22 PPC was simple — less is more. Less recoil, that is, while retaining good ballistics and accuracy, should allow for higher scores. The hard part is meeting the ballistic and accuracy standards set by the 6BR. If pressed I might also admit to a desire to do something different. I made a decision early on in the project to stick to 80-grain bullets. I believe the 80 is pushing the envelope for safe and sane pressure in a case the size of the PPC; additionally, there are a number of manufacturers of 80-grain .224″ bullets so selection and testing can be more meaningful. Barrels are another consideration and all of the better barrel makers offer a 1:8″ twist .224 barrel (unlike the limited selection of 1:6.5″ twist required for 90 grain .224″ bullets).

With the basic parameters of a full-length .22 PPC case (reformed Lapua .220 Russian to be exact) and an 80-grain bullet established, a few other details needed attention. The first of these was specifying certain dimensions for the reamer maker. I chose not to change any of the essential dimensions of the .22 PPC such as headspace, shoulder angle or body taper, but there were a couple of areas that I felt needed to be different from the typical Benchrest PPC. These were neck diameter and throat length. With the outstanding quality of the Lapua brass, I elected to go with a 0.255″ neck diameter which would allow the use of unturned brass and still leave 0.002″ clearance around the neck of a loaded cartridge. The throat was specified longer than a standard PPC to allow for the length of the 80-grain bullets and avoid having the bullet go past the neck/shoulder junction.

300 Meter .22 PPC — Equipment List
Hardware
Action: RPA Quadlite, RPADefense.com.
Stock: Master Class Highpower Prone MasterClassStocks.com
Barrel: Broughton .224″ bore, 1:8″ twist, 30″ Palma contour
Rear Sight: Warner #1, Anschutz Iris, Warner-Tool.com
Front Sight: Gehmann Iris from Scott Riles
Trigger: Jewell 4 oz. one-stage
Bolt Knob: Keychain from 7-11 ($2.00)

Gunsmithing
Barrel fitting, sight, scope bases: Warner Tool Company.
Stock inletting, pillar bedding, and hardware: Alex Sitman,
Master Class Stocks.

Detours Along the Way
Like Quixote stumbling his way to his dreams, I’ve made a few mistakes. That 0.255″ neck diameter turned out to be the first. Turning brass isn’t a problem, but I was so captivated by the quality of the .220 Russian brass that I planned to skip turning or just take a light (0.001″) clean-up cut. Well, that’s fine, but as it turns out, PPC die makers assume you have turned necks and using unturned brass causes problems. The Redding Competition Seater, for instance, wanted to crimp the entire length of the neck onto the bullet. Turns out it was 0.250″ in the neck diameter of the sliding sleeve. This required reaming the sleeve which wasn’t too hard as the sleeve is made of relatively soft steel. Hand turning the chambering reamer with lots of care and oil took care of that problem. This opened up the neck to 0.255″ which might be 0.001″ more than ideal but I’ll live with it.

.22 PPC Rifle 300m proneSizing dies were another problem altogether. Forget using a non-bushing die with unturned brass–you’ll just overwork the neck to death. The Redding bushing dies worked well, though. Fired brass ends up at 0.254″ and is sized to 0.250″ in two steps (0.252″ and 0.250″) to maintain better concentricity.

I also got the throat length wrong as the base of the bullet (above the boat tail) is halfway up the neck and I want it just above the shoulder. I don’t know how I missed on that spec, but that’s what happened. As it turns out, the extra throat length hasn’t caused any problems with the Nosler 80, but it might with shorter or pointier bullets. Powder and primer choices became additional areas for demonstrating my inability to make good choices. You might think that adding a heavier bullet to an existing cartridge would be simple but it really turned into a full scale adventure.

Choice of Components and Smiths — Only the Best
Based on my previous favorable experience and that of a few friends, I ordered a Broughton barrel for the PPC, a .224″ bore 1:8″ twist, long enough to finish at 30 inches in what is generally referred to as a medium Palma taper. I haven’t been disappointed by the barrel: like all of those made by Tim North of Broughton Barrels, it is top notch. With the barrel and reamer in hand, they and the RPA Quadlite action were sent to Al Warner for barreling and then on to Alex Sitman for the stock. I can’t say enough good things about Alan’s metal work and Alex’s stock work. They have barreled and stocked many rifles for me over the years, all flawless. Alex’s Highpower Prone stock fits me like a comfortable moccasin. The trigger is a Jewell set at 4 oz., the rear sight is a Warner #1 and the front sight is a Scott Riles with a Centra aperture.

Eventually, the UPS man — purveyor of all things worth having — arrived with a long package and the real work began. Load testing and shooting can be a lot more frustrating than planning and talking to gunsmiths, but hopefully the eventual results make it worthwhile. I had a good supply of Nosler 80-grain bullets and some preconceived notions about powder and primers. Off to the loading bench.

Load Development + Accuracy Testing
Fire-forming the .220 Russian cases to the PPC chamber was a breeze: run an expander into the neck to get them to .224″, bump the shoulder 0.002″, load a caseful of IMR 4895 (about 23 grains) and insert a Nosler 77 (leftover from another project) and fire. I shot these at 100 yards while zeroing the rifle and was very impressed with the accuracy. Fouling was minimal, off to a promising start.

Once formed, I loaded the brass with Varget and the 80-grain bullets. Since Varget has given such good results in the 6BR, it was a natural starting point for this project. However, it quickly became evident that it might be too slow. While accuracy was excellent, powder fouling in the barrel was very heavy even at the highest charge tried (28.5 grains) and there was soot all the way down the shoulders of the cases. Cleaning the bore felt like patching a rusty water pipe after just 20 shots. I knew I’d never make it through a 60-shot match (about 70 shots with sighters) without cleaning[.]

Putting the .22 PPC to the Test in Competition
At this point, I took the PPC to a 300 Meter match with the Varget load. While it might not look perfect, I needed to try it. The first string was a 198 and I was able to clean the rifle immediately after firing. The second string was also a 198 but I had to fire the third string without cleaning. The effects of the fouling were evident in the last score, a 194.

While a 590 total isn’t bad for 300M, it was a bit below my average with the 6BR at this range – my home range that I knew well. More importantly, the score dropped as the group opened up in the third string when I wasn’t able to clean. At the Nationals all 60 shots are fired without a break for cleaning or additional sighters; therefore, Varget, while promising, wouldn’t work in the long run.

The next faster powder on my shelf was IMR 4895. I’d used it in the fire forming loads and if I had a lick of sense I would have tried it right away since the fire forming loads shot so well. However, stubbornly clinging to the preconceived notion that Varget was going to be a great powder for this combo cost me a month or so fooling with it. I then worked up loads with 4895 from 26.8 to 28.6 and saw that while 4895 was better suited to the case than Varget, it was still slow. The powder fouling was still occurring, though to a lesser degree. The shoulders still showed some soot, but less. I settled on 27.8 grains as a useful load and loaded 70 cases.

New Load for a New Home
At this point, I moved from Florida to Arizona causing a delay of several months in testing. The move also had an effect on the load as the hotter and drier climate in Arizona turned out to be much more suitable for 4895. Of course, I still had those 70 rounds loaded with 27.8 so I shot them in practice. Everything seemed OK but one primer (Federal 205M) pierced at the edge. I didn’t pay much attention to that as there were no other pressure signs and it was the first primer failure of any sort so far in this project. Extraction was fine, primer edges were nicely radiused and base growth was under two tenths. There was an opportunity to shoot a 500-yard prone match the following day so I reloaded the cases with the same load. At the match I pierced two more primers, this time right at the edge of the firing pin, causing two craters running into the firing pin hole. As you might imagine, all subsequent shots cratered into that area, although no more pierced.

I was contemplating a switch to Hodgdon Benchmark (slightly faster than H4895) until this point. Now, repairing the bolt face and switching to a tougher primer took priority. I loaded 25 rounds with CCI BR4 primers and 25 with Remington 7.5 primers. Both of these are well known for their tougher cups which I hoped would eliminate the piercing. I like the mild flash from the Federal 205 and believe it contributes to good accuracy, but I needed a primer that holds together more than I need to cut another tenth MOA. Bearing in mind that the powder charge itself might need reworking, I took those 50 rounds to the range to test them with the 27.8 gr. IMR 4895 load as it remains best to only change one thing at a time. Temperatures were in the 100 to 110 degree range during testing as they are for a good portion of the year here in Phoenix. If the load won’t work in hot temperatures, it just won’t work at all for me.

The primer testing at 200 yards showed the CCI BR4 primers to be better suited to this load than the Remington 7.5 primers. While no primer failed out of the 50 fired, the CCI BR4 primers gave distinctly better accuracy. I fired two ten-shot groups prone (scoped) with each, the Remington-primed groups averaged just over 1 MOA and the CCI-primed groups averaged 1/2 MOA. The difference between the two was principally in the amount of elevation in the groups. Given that result, as well as previous good experience with the CCI primers in the 6BR, I settled on the CCI BR4 primers for the PPC.

Final Testing at 500 Yards–It all Comes Together
While the purpose of the 80-grain PPC is 300 Meter shooting, those matches are somewhat hard to find so I’ve done most of my testing at 200 yards on the local public range (Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix) and at 500 yards in some of the local prone matches. With the primer issue potentially resolved, I went back to the 500-yard range to make sure the load held good elevation at that distance.

Final testing at 500 yards was a complete success. I fired one group of 24 shots from the prone position. Elevation for the bulk of the group was right at 3″ (0.6 MOA), the horizontal spread was somewhat larger as the group was fired in gusty, fast-switching conditions. The CCI BR4 primers functioned flawlessly, with no sign of pressure despite ambient temperatures over 100° F. None of this should be taken as a general statement of inadequacy of Federal primers. I have used (and continue to use) the very same lot of Federal 205M primers in my 6BR and have not experienced any problems at all. Simply stated, the 80-grain .22 PPC is an odd duck and has special requirements when fired under the conditions that prevail in my area.

At this point, I’ve determined that the basic premise of a .22 PPC for 300 Meter matches is perfectly viable, even if it is quite a bit more complex an undertaking than the 6BR. Recoil reduction over the 6BR was minimal, bordering on unnoticeable, but accuracy is on a par with the 6BR, perhaps slightly better. As a nice bonus, the PPC has proven to be quite useful for the 500-yard prone matches that are a regular part of the Phoenix shooting scene and it never fails to spark a good conversation with a new friend when I’m practicing or testing at the range. Future plans include testing Berger and Hornady 75 and 80-grain bullets and Hodgdon Benchmark powder. And, after conferring with your moderator, who ran some simulations in QuickLOAD, I’ll be trying Reloder 15 soon (QuickLOAD predicts RL15 allows 100% load density with good velocity). At some point I’ll also have the reamer reground for a shorter throat and tighter neck, but probably not until time comes to rebarrel.

6mmBR Norma versus .22 PPC

For the shooter who wants a superbly accurate, easy to load cartridge for 300 Meters to 600 yards, you simply can’t beat the 6BR. Everything you need, including brass, dies, reamers and knowledge are just a phone call away. The .22 PPC, by contrast, is an uphill struggle. The chambering reamer was custom ground to my specifications to allow unturned brass, as well as a longer freebore for the 75- and 80-grain bullets that are the heart of the project. The no-turn necks also meant that the Redding Competition Seater (an excellent unit) had to be reworked to allow for the thicker neck diameter. Once those hurdles were overcome I struggled to find the best powder for this combination–and I’m still searching. Unlike the 6BR where any of a half dozen or more powders will do the job (Varget, Reloder 15, N140, N540, IMR 4895, Norma 203B, etc.) the .22 PPC with heavy bullets has proven finicky with even the most accurate powders leaving fairly heavy carbon fouling.

Despite the problems, the .22 PPC offers a bit more pure accuracy than the 6BR and also a tiny bit less recoil. Both of these things can contribute to slightly higher scores in prone matches. However, to get the most out of the PPC, one must find the time to clean between 20 shot strings–a not inconsiderable effort sometimes in the mad rush of pit changes, scoring, shooting and just plain being tired.

This rifle was initially a .223 and when that cartridge proved unsatisfactory for my purposes, I had it rebuilt as the .22 PPC you see here. I like it and I enjoy the challenge, but I would not recommend this combination as someone’s primary rifle; it can get a bit frustrating. To put it into another context, the 6BR is like a 350 Chevy, it’ll just keep on doing the job forever, no matter what. The .22 PPC is like a Ferrari, it’ll scream when you do everything right, but it takes more attention to detail and a lot more maintenance. You wouldn’t want a Ferrari as your only car and likewise, you would be better off making the .22 PPC a second rifle.

Parting Shots — The .22 PPC vs. 6mm BR
If you’re looking for a simple, accurate and reliable cartridge for 200 to 600 yards, you probably can’t improve on the 6BR. However, if you’re someone who finds the journey as rewarding as reaching the destination, then you may very well enjoy a .22 PPC for prone shooting. While I received a great deal of help in this project from friends, gunsmiths, suppliers and parts makers far and wide, I really must acknowledge the huge debt we all owe to Ferris Pindell and Dr. Lou Palmisano. Without them there would be no PPC. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.

Copyright © Precision Shooting Magazine and GS Arizona. Reprinted by permission.
Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 2 Comments »
September 1st, 2019

Sunday GunDay: New 6GT Cartridge Tested in 3 Tactical Rifles

6GT Cartridge Alpha Munitions GA Precision PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

The New 6GT Cartridge for Precision Rifle Competition

Report by Vu Pham
Earlier this year I was ready to build a 6 Dasher when I saw a lot of buzz on the interwebs about a new caliber George Gardner (Owner of GA Precision) and Tom Jacobs (Owner of Vapor Trail Bullets) designed, the 6GT. After some research and talking to George, I ditched the 6mm Dasher build and had GA Precision build me a 6GT on a GAP Templar action I already had in the safe. The reasons to try the 6GT in a new PRS-style rig were as follows:

1. Push a 110-115 grain class bullet at 2880-2930 FPS safely in the Sacramento heat.

2. Achieve a load that is reliable and predictable. The caliber must be easy-to-tune and predictable from barrel to barrel. I don’t want to spend weeks developing a new load each time I spin on a fresh barrel.

3. Be able to run the same mag in all my guns without having to tweak or use mag kits. The round must feed from AICS and AW magazines without major tweaking or hiccups.

4. Get good barrel life. The barrel needs to go 2200-2500 rounds with match-grade reliability and accuracy.

5. Have a competitive cartridge with the least possible recoil without sacrificing too much performance down range, compared to bigger options like the 6mm Creedmoor.

6GT Cartridge Alpha Munitions GA Precision PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project
6GT feeding from un-modified magazines has been flawless in all the rifles we tested. The 6GT feeds so well, I sometimes have to do a press check to ensure there is a round in the chamber.

On paper the 6GT seemed like the perfect cartridge for PRS- and NRL-style competition. It has the low recoil of a 6 Dasher, with good feeding and mag compatibility. With the 6GT, a competitor can push 105gr bullets at 3000+ FPS or run heavier bullets at 2800-2900+ FPS.

6GT Cartridge PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua 6GT 6mm Dasher cartridge fire-formed neck-turn project

Knowing that I would initially have to make my own 6GT brass and do quite a bit of load development, I enlisted the help of Dan Bertocchini with CS Tactical. Dan has a lot more experience with wildcats and is the man when it comes to this type of data gathering. He has been running a 6 Dasher for a few years so I was curious how he would compare the 6GT to his 6 Dasher.

Quick Summary: “I am really digging the 6GT and the capabilities it offers. It can launch 103gr Vapor Trails at 3000+ FPS or lob heavy 115gr DTACs in the low-to-mid 2900s comfortably. I think we will see this cartridge go mainstream in PRS/NRL-style competition in 2020.” — Vu Pham

The new 6GT Cartridge Was Tested in Three (3) Tactical Rifles:

Rifle 1: Vu’s 6GT 1.0
Builder: GA Precision
Action: Left Hand GAP Templar (large firing pin)
Barrel: Bartlein 7.7 Twist finished at 26″ with a 419 Hellfire Brake
Stock: KMW Sentinel
Optic: Vortex Razor Gen II 4.5-27x56mm EBR-7C MRAD
Bi-Pod: Harris
Trigger: Timney Calvin Elite
Magazines: AICS and AW
Support Bag: Wiebad Fortune Cookie

Rifle 2: Vu’s 6GT 2.0
Builder: Rubicon Precision
Action: Impact Precision 737
Barrel: Bartlein 7.0 Twist finished at 27″ with a 419 Hellfire Brake
Stock: XLR Industries Envy Chassis
Optic: Vortex Razor Gen II 4.5-27x56mm EBR-7C MRAD
Bi-Pod: Harris with Henderson Arca adapter
Trigger: Trigger Tech Diamond
Magazines: AICS and AW
Support Bag: Wiebad Fortune Cookie

Rifle 3: Dan’s 6GT
Builder: CS Tactical
Chambered by: Rubicon Precision
Action: Lone Peak Arms Fusion
Barrel: Proof 7.0 Twist finished at 28″ with a Muzzle Brake and More Brake
Stock: XLR Industries Envy Chassis
Optic: Minox ZP5 5-25x56mm MR4
Bi-Pod: Arca Cyke Pod (PRS)
Trigger: Trigger Tech Diamond
Magazines: MDT
Support Bag: Armageddon Gear OG Game Changer, Waxed Canvas

6GT Cartridge Alpha Munitions GA Precision LabRadar PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

Alpha Munitions Pre-Production 6GT Brass
6gt brass cartridge Alpha Munitions PRS 6mm DasherGeorge Gardner was kind enough to send us 50 pieces of Pre-Production Alpha 6GT brass for preliminary testing. Like the cases I formed from 6.5×47 Lapua brass, the Alpha 6GT brass will use a small rifle primer. Price from Alpha Munitions should be $1.15 per case, which is on par with Alphan’s other product line.

The first 7000 pieces of Alpha 6GT brass sold before I could even get my hands on any! The bigger batch of production brass is due later this year. To pre-order the brass, CLICK HERE.

The major difference between 6.5×47 Lapua-formed brass and Alpha 6GT brass is the case capacity. Alpha 6GT brass has 1.5 to 1.7 grains more case capacity. When a piece of 6.5×47 Lapua brass is formed into a 6GT, the walls of the case now become the shoulder and part of the neck. In a normal piece of brass, the shoulder and neck are typically thinner because of the thickness of the brass tapering from the body to neck.

While the cartridge design was optimized for Hodgdon Varget, the extra case capacity of the Alpha 6GT brass opens the door to Hodgdon H4350 (my favorite powder) and Alliant Reloder 16.

Test Results with Alpha Munitions 6GT Brass
Initial test results were as expected from a premium brass-maker. Dan and I both got excellent Standard Deviations and Extreme Spreads over my MagnetoSpeed V3 and his LabRadar. This string below was with 112gr Barnes Match Burners and 33.8 grains of Varget. Can’t complain about a 3 FPS Extreme Spread!

6GT Cartridge 600 yard target PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

Yes, H4350 Works with the Alpha Munitions Brass
Personally, I prefer running Alpha 6GT brass with H4350 rather than Varget pushing a heavier bullet. H4350 burns slower and cleaner which should equate to better barrel life. The Lapua-formed 6GT cases just do not have the capacity to reach the cartridge’s full capability with the slower burning powders.

Is the 6GT cartridge accurate? Definitely. Here is a 5-shot group at 600 yards shot by Dan. This was Alpha 6GT brass, with Hodgdon H4350 pushing Barnes 112gr Match Burner bullets.

6GT Cartridge 600 yard target PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

And here is a 4-shot, 600-yard group with reformed 6.5×47 Lapua brass, using Varget powder under a Barnes 112gr Match Burner.

6GT Cartridge 600 yard target PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

6GT Stress Test — Don’t Try this at Home!
Dan and I also did a “destruction test” to see how the Alpha 6GT brass would hold up when competitors push the cartridge to its limits. Please note that this is PRE-PRODUCTION brass and Dan and I probably exceeded max load for the majority of the duration of this test. Using Varget powder, we pushed 115gr DTACs at 2950+ FPS on a pretty hot day. We ran the charge weight up until the bolt was hard to lift.

6GT Cartridge PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

Using this very hot charge, we were able to get 14 firings before the primer pocket failed. That is pretty solid considering that this brass was a pre-production sample that Alpha said did not meet its primer pocket design requirements. With these results, I think a shooter pushing 110-115 grain class bullets in the low 2900s will get 16 to 20 firings from a piece of brass.

6GT Cartridge PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

Is the GT here to stay?
All signs are pointing to “Yes”. Dies are readily available from Hornady, RCBS, and Redding. Chamber reamers are being produced by PT&G and JGS that can be purchased through GA Precision.

Alpha Munitions is hard at work getting quality brass to the shooters. Quite a few people have already chambered up 6GT barrels before they even have brass in hand. I think we will see this cartridge go mainstream in PRS/NRL-style competition in 2020. With Alpha Munitions production brass almost ready to hit the shelves, I think we will see a lot more data come in from the field by the end of this year.

The Verdict — The 6GT Is Looking Great So Far
I am really digging the 6GT and the capabilities it offers. It can launch 103gr Vapor Trails at 3000+ FPS or lob heavy 115gr DTACs in the low to mid 2900s comfortably. George Gardner has texted me some pictures of very impressive groups pushing an 115gr DTAC at 3000 FPS with Alliant Reloder 16 (a very temp-stable powder with a burn rate close to H4350). That being said, if a guy wanted to push that type of speed and bullet weight, the 6mm Creedmoor is a better solution in my opinion. So far my “go to” 6GT load is a 112gr Barnes Match Burner at 2900 FPS. My other favorite load is a Hornady 108gr ELDM at 2970 FPS.

I think the down-range performance of the 6GT over a 6mmBR and the 6BR variants will be valuable on those days where shooting conditions are not as perfect. Recoil is about the same as the 6BR variants (6BRA, 6 Dasher etc.), but noticeably less than a 6mm Creedmoor. The extra energy down range will make a spotter’s job a bit easier when targets extend beyond 800 yards.

Forming GT Brass from Lapua 6.5×47
Before the new Alpha Munitions brass was available, I tested the cartridge using 6GT made from parent Lapua 6.5×47 Lapua brass necked-down and reformed. George Gardner walked me through the process of forming 6GT brass out of Lapua 6.5x47L. The process is time-consuming and is a huge PITA even with the correct tools. More detailed instructions can be found on my 6GT thread on the AccurateShooter Forum. READ Forum Thread HERE.

Here is a photo of what the brass looks like going through the forming/trimming process.
Left to right: 6.5×47 Lapua brass, sized with the 6GT bushing die with a .266 bushing, chopped/trimmed and turned, and fired-formed.

6GT Cartridge PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

The formed-from-Lapua 6GT brass performed well and is a good option if one has the time and desire, but I’ll be moving over to factory Alpha Munitions brass once it is readily available.

6GT Tested at 1000 Yards
After seeing what Tom Jacobs is doing with his benchrest gun running Alpha Munitions brass, there is no doubt the 6GT is plenty capable out to 1000 yards and beyond. I have a feeling the Benchrest and F-Open guys are going to dig this new 6mm cartridge as well, at least for 600 yards. Note, in this photo it appears Shot #5 is under a paster, but that might just be a Ballistic-X software input error, meaning that this is actually a 4-shot group. Either way it is still impressive.

6GT Cartridge PRS NRL brass 6.5x47 Lapua fire-formed neck-turn project

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Tactical 18 Comments »
December 31st, 2017

New Product Showcase for SHOT Show 2018

2018 SHOT Show Planner new products

CLICK HERE for ALL 338 New-for-2018 SHOT Show Products »

2018 SHOT Show Planner new productsThousands of new products will be on display at SHOT Show 2018, the huge gun industry trade show held each January in Las Vegas. Some of the most highly-anticipated products (such as new Lapua ammo with Berger bullets) have not yet been revealed. However, the SHOT Show Product Planner offers a “sneak peak” at 338 new-for-2018 products. More will come in the weeks ahead. For the time being, however, here are ten interesting new products. Since these are all completely new items, we haven’t been able to test them yet. All product descriptions are provided by the manufacturers. We also spotlighted six other new products in November. CLICK HERE for November Product Preview.

6.5 and 6mm Rifle Brass
Company: Starline Brass

Starline Brass has recently added the 6.5/6mm family of cartridges to their growing line of rifle cases. Starline is now producing 6.5 Creedmoor (available in both Large Primer pocket and Small Primer pocket versions), 6mm Creedmoor, and 6.5 Grendel.

TargetVision Ultra HD
Company: TargetVision Cam

Here is the Ultra HD version of the 2d Gen long range camera system from TargetVision. The LR-2 Ultra HD works the same as the LR-2 model, but the Ultra-HD has enhanced 5 megapixel resolution (2492 X 1944) instead of the standard 1.3 megapixel resolution (1280 X 960). Also the range is reduced from 1 mile to 1200 yards. The LR-2 Ultra HD is a portable, battery-powered, wireless target camera system that can be viewed from a phone or tablet. This target camera has a range of 1200 yards with run time of 12+ hours.
Price: $899.99

Caracal Enhanced F Pistol
Company: Caracal USA

The Caracal Enhanced F pistol is a striker-fired, polymer-framed 9mm handgun. It is offered with either standard 3-dot dovetail sights or the acclaimed Quick Sight System, which places both front and rear sights on a single focal plane, enabling the shooter to acquire a much faster sight picture. The Enhanced F pistol has 18+1 capacity and is available in 12 configurations.
Price: $599.00

Caracal Enhanced F Pistol Quick Sight System 9mm handgun

PhoneSkope for Riflescope
Company: PhoneSkope.com

The PhoneSkope Adaptor lets you record everything you see through your riflescope. Unlike other smartphone adaptors, the PhoneSkope lets the shooter look through the scope normally — through the eyepiece. Your eye and the phone camera view the same image. Record a target string or hunt. The PhoneSkope fits nearly all riflescopes and can adapt to most bolt-action rifles. PhoneSkope also offers adaptors for spotting scopes.

PhoneSkope Rifle scope optics smartphone video adapter

BipodeXt TAC III
Company: Accuracy Solutions

The innovative BipodeXt TAC III increases the stability of any rifle / bipod configuration. Moving the bipod far forward extends the rig’s “wheelbase”, creating a more stable platform. The BipodeXT TAC III mounts to the rifle’s fore-end. Expect less bipod hop, recoil that is more “straight back”, and faster follow-up shots. The BipodeXt’s telescoping 3-tube design is made from carbon fiber and aluminum.
Price: $599

Bipod Extender Rail AR platform

Berry’s VersaCradle™
Company: Berrys Mfg.

For 2018, Berry’s has upgraded the VersaCradle™ Gun Vise. Star knobs allow you to switch from one configuration to another without tools. With the VersaCradle 360° Ball & Case you can adapt to a shooting rest, multi-use vise, or a stock checkering cradle in seconds. Available C-clamps allow easy mounting to table or bench up to 2” thick. Other accessories include floor stand and table-top base.
Price: $166.24

Berrys Gun Vise

Pistol Integral Silencer
Company: TBA Suppressors

The new Sicario is a two-piece, integral handgun suppressor that can be quickly detached without tools — use the factory magazine to disassemble the suppressor. The monocore is constructed from anodized 2024T351 aluminum with stainless insert. Alignment is easy with “fast attach 28” thread mount system. This suppressor is offered for all Ruger MK I,II,III,IV pistols as well as Browning Buckmarks, S&W Victory, and Colt Cadet.
Price: $699.99

Ruger Browning Pistol Silencer suppressor Rimfire Sicario

GPS Wild About Shooting Range Bag
Company: G•Outdoors, Inc.

The GPS M/L Range Bag features an internal foam cradle for 5 medium-sized handguns. The lid is reinforced to provide a stable location for eye and ear protection as well as a space for tools. The front compartment holds 6 magazines and comes with two ammo cups. The bag is made from HD 600 denier material and all stress points are boxed stitched and bar tacked.
Price: $129.00

Wild about shooting range bag

Drop-In Rifle Case
Company: Lakewood Products

Convenient, top-loading design loads your rifle from top (like a toaster). The unique, soft-sided hard case won’t scratch your vehicle. Extra-thick foam interior keeps gun protected and secure zipped pocket holds extra shells, cleaning kit, or accessories. This TSA-compliant rifle case features external D-Rings for tie downs or locks, plus a shoulder strap. Size: 49″ L x 4″ D x 11″ H.
Price: $199.99

drop in rifle case vertical lakewood

Mark 7 Revolution™ Reloading Press
Company: Mark 7 Reloading
The first new, automatic reloading press in over 15 years, the Mark 7 Revolution is a modern, computer-controlled, automatic machine capable of loading up to 3,500 rounds/hour. Microprocessor monitored and controlled, the new Mark 7 is fully automated. It features, smooth, gear-based machine movement and 10 stations that can use off-the-shelf reloading dies.

Mark 7 Reloading Press Automatic Digital
Permalink Handguns, New Product, Tactical 1 Comment »
September 21st, 2015

Bargain-Finder 1: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

AccurateShooter.com Bargain Finder Deal Locator Sale Bargain Discount Codes FREE Ammo

At the request of our readers, we are starting a Monday “Deals of the Week” feature. If this proves popular, we’ll try to run this every week. Here are some of the best deals on hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change. If you snooze, you lose.

1. Grafs.com — CCI Primers on Sale

AccurateShooter.com Deals of Week Grafs.com Powder Valley Bullets.com Midsouth Supply Bruno Shooters

Here’s a very good deal on CCI 400 (small rifle) and CCI 450 (small rifle magnum) primers. These primers have strong cups so they work well with stout loads. The CCI 450s are a favorite for 6mmBR and Dasher shooters. (The prices include shipping, with a $7.95 flat fee, but not hazmat charges).

2. Midsouth Shooters Supply — Norma .22 LR Ammo on Sale

AccurateShooter.com Deals of Week Grafs.com Powder Valley Bullets.com Midsouth Supply Bruno Shooters

This is good ammo for the price — plenty good enough for practice and tactical rimfire competitions. We’ve used this ammo in a variety of rimfire rifles and it worked well. SEE Video Ammo Review. Midsouth also has the Norma .22LR Match-22 ammo at $7.95 per box.

3. Bullets.com — Bags and Rifle Cases on Sale

AccurateShooter.com Deals of Week Grafs.com Powder Valley Bullets.com Midsouth Supply Bruno Shooters

Bullets.com has slashed prices on its Bald Eagle Brand shooting bags and soft rifle cases. The shooting bags, now 50% off, are very well made and hold a lot of gear. The Long Rifle Cases, also 50% off, are designed for match rifle with barrels up to 32″ long. This Editor uses a Bald Eagle bag to carry his spotting scope and compact tripod. SEE Video Bag Review.

4. Bruno Shooters Supply — FREE Shipping on 500+ Bullets

AccurateShooter.com Deals of Week Grafs.com Powder Valley Bullets.com Midsouth Supply Bruno Shooters

Bruno Shooters Supply offers competitive pricing on Berger and Sierra bullets. And now you can save even more with FREE Shipping on orders of 500 or more Berger or Sierra Bullets. This FREE Shipping offer is limited to one order per customer per day.

5. Natchez Shooters Supply — Nikon Scope Close-Out Sale

AccurateShooter.com Deals of Week Grafs.com Powder Valley Bullets.com Midsouth Supply Bruno Shooters

Natchez is running a big sale on Nikon optics. Prices have been reduced as much as 43%. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, name-brand optic for your hunting or varmint rifle, check out these Nikon bargains. The M-223 3-12x42mm has nice turrets and constant eye relief. It’s a steal at $279.95.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals 2 Comments »