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April 1st, 2023

Saturday Movies: USAMU Marksmanship Training + 20 Articles

USAMU Markmanship training videos
SFC Lance Dement as featured in CMP’s First Shot Online journal.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has created a series of instructional videos about High Power Rifle shooting, Service Rifle shooting, 3-Gun matches, and pistol competition. We’ve linked five of these informative USAMU videos today along with a special profile video on Amanda Elsenboss, who, as a USAMU shooter, has won both the Long Range and High Power National Championships in recent years.

In addition, as a major BONUS, we link twenty (20) informative articles authored by expert USAMU shooters and coaches. Those excellent, detailed articles covering a wide range of topics including rifle positions, wind reading, fitness training, trigger control, nutrition, training plans, and much more.

Amanda Elsenboss — National HP and Long Range Champion

usamu amanda elsenboss rifle long range

The gifted SSG Amanda Elsenboss won the 2019 NRA Long-Range Championship and the 2021 High Power National Championship. In 2022 Amanda also won the National President’s Rifle Match, the first woman ever to do so. Those accomplishments place Amanda among America’s legendary shooters. Amanda started shooting at age 8 with her father, then began competitive marksmanship at age 13. In 2009, she joined the U.S. Army as part of the USAMU rifle team. She has left full-time service, but is now a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Sight Alignment and Trigger Control

In this USAMU Shooter’s Corner instructional video, SFC Kenneth Rose explains key elements of using sights on a service rifle. Rose also explain how to make the trigger pull at the optimum moment when the sights are perfectly aligned and steady.

How to Set Up Sling and Rifle for Prone Shooting

In this video, the USAMU’s SGT Jonathan Wannemacher explains how to set up a service rifle sling for prone rifle shooting. Wannemacher has earned a number of coveted awards including the the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and President’s Hundred Tab.

Rifle Grip, Stance, and Body Position for 3-Gun Action Matches

SFC Daniel Horner, now with SIG Sauer, is arguably the best 3-Gun action shooter on the planet. Horner has won multiple major 3-Gun Championships, shooting rifle, shotgun, and pistol in timed action matches. Horner’s speed, accuracy, and mobility is without peer. In this video, Horner shows techniques for AR-type rifle shooting in 3-Gun competition.

Amazing Trick Shot with Air Rifle

In this Trick Shot Tuesday video SPC Ivan Roe shoots a pill (at two different angles) off the top of a balloon. Very impressive shooting! Ivan hails from Manhattan, Montana and has been a notable member of the USAMU International Rifle Team.

How to Use Data Books During Matches

Data books can be very valuable tools during marksmanship training. In this video, USAMU shooter SGT Lane Ichord explains Data Book basics and how to log information during practice and matches.

USAMU Saturday Movies service rifle training

BONUS: 20 Marksmanship Articles from USAMU Experts

USAMU shooters and coaches have written an excellent series of articles on highpower and service rifle shooting. Many of these originally appeared in The First Shot, the CMP’s on-line magazine. Here are twenty notable USAMU expert articles:

Elements of a Good Prone Position – Building the Position – By SPC Matthew Sigrist
Crossed-Ankle Sitting Position – By SFC Grant Singley
Standing and Trigger Control – By SFC Brandon Green

Bare Necessities for Highpower Rifle Competition – By SPC Nathan J. Verbickas
Physical Conditioning for Highpower Shooting – By SGT Walter E. Craig
Better Performance Through Proper Nutrition – By CPL Walter Craig

The Importance of the Data Book – By SFC Jason St John
Rifle Cleaning and Maintenance – By SSG William T. Pace
Developing a Training Plan – By SFC Lance Dement

Sight Adjustment and Minute of Angle (MOA) – By SSG Daniel M. Pettry
No-Wind Zero and Marking Your Sights – By SFC Jason St. John
What Sight Picture Is Best For You? – By SSG Tobie Tomlinson
Reading the Wind (Part 1, Rapid Fire) – By SFC Emil Praslick
Reading the Wind (Part 2, 600 Yds) – By SFC Emil Praslick

So you want to shoot Infantry Trophy? – By SFC Norman Anderson
Thinking Your Way to Success – By SFC Emil Praslick
Coats, Gloves, and Mitts – By PFC Evan Hess
Straight to the Rear – By SPC Tyrel Cooper
It’s Just a Sling – By SFC Lance Dement
Strapping In – By SPC Calvin Roberts

USAMU Saturday Movies service rifle training

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April 1st, 2023

New California Law Taxes Targets — Fee Due for Each Shot Hole

Target Tax California Jerry Brown DOJ shot hole

In recent years, the California Legislature has passed a series of laws restricting the rights of California gun owners. The latest example of anti-gun legislation will hit gun owners in their pocketbooks….

If you want to practice your marksmanship in California from now on, get ready to open your wallet and pay the taxman. With the passage of AB 211, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, California shooters who use paper targets at indoor ranges will have to pay a fee for every hole they put in paper — literally. This new law, codified in the California Penal Code, states that commercial gun ranges must collect a charge of $0.38 per shot, as established by holes made in approved paper targets. This fee, the “Target Tax”, can be raised in the future at the discretion of the California Dept. of Justice.

Here’s how it will work, starting June 1, 2023, when the new Target Tax law goes into effect at California indoor ranges. First, all shooters must purchase California DOJ-approved paper targets (you may no longer bring your own). When you purchase a certified target at an indoor range, your name and the number of targets you have purchased will be recorded in a state database. Then, after your shooting session, the targets must be scanned, with the number of shot holes recorded. A charge of $0.38 per scanned hole will be added as a line item for your range session, along with the DOJ target-processing fee of $5.00 per target.

Target Tax California Gavin Newsom DOJ shot hole

With 30 holes, the new California target tax on this left target would be 30 x $0.38 or $11.40. Conversely, the tax on the target on the right would be just 38 cents, because there is only one hole, though five shots went through the same hole. Obviously, exceptional marksmanship skills can help reduce your target tax liabilities.

California Targets Must Be Culturally Tolerant and Non-Discriminatory
AB 211 also includes a series of provisions which specify the types of targets which may be purchased. First, as you might expect, all targets must be printed on recycled paper. Second, no target may contain any “hate speech” or “micro-aggressions”. Third, while targets may still show human silhouette-style outlines, any targets which depict a protected minority type or non-binary gender type are forbidden. Likewise, any target that shows discernable culture, religion, or national origin are forbidden. So, a target showing a bearded male wearing a turban would be forbidden. If you had such a target, the range owner would be required, under AB 211, to confiscate it. Shown below are two types of targets that would be illegal in California under AB 211. NOTE: It is unclear whether a zombie target would be allowed, if the Zombie is unknown gender, ethnicity, or culture.

Target Tax California Jerry Brown DOJ shot hole

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March 30th, 2023

Improve Your Wind Reading — Two Articles from Emil Praslick

Emil Praslick USAMUTo succeed in long-range shooting matches, given the high level of competition these days, you’ll need solid wind-reading abilities. We’ve found an article by SFC Emil Praslick III, retired USAMU Service Rifle coach and U.S. Palma Team Coach, that can help you make better wind calls in competition.

Emil Praslick, now retired from the U.S. Army, is considered one of the best wind gurus in the United States, if not the world. During his service with the USAMU he authored an excellent two-part article on wind reading that is available on the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) website. Both articles contain helpful illustrations, and are “must-read” resources for any long-range shooter–not just Service Rifle and Highpower competitors.

Click to Read Articles:

Reading the Wind (Part One) | Reading the Wind (Part Two)

Part One covers basic principles, tactics, and strategies, with a focus on the 200-yard stages. Emil writes: “There are as many dimensions to ‘wind reading’ as there are stages to High Power competition. Your tactical mindset, or philosophy, must be different for the 200 and 300 yard rapid-fire stages than it would be for the 600 yard slow-fire. In the slow-fire stages you have the ability to adjust windage from shot to shot, utilizing the location of the previous shot as an indicator. Additionally, a change to the existing conditions can be identified and adjusted for prior to shooting the next shot.”

In Part Two, Praslick provides more detailed explanations of the key principles of wind zeros, wind reading, and the Clock System for determining wind values: “The Value of the wind is as important as its speed when deciding the proper windage to place on the rifle. A 10 MPH wind from ’12 o-clock’ has No Value, hence it will not effect the flight of the bullet. A 10 MPH wind from ‘3 o’clock’, however, would be classified as Full Value. Failure to correct for a Full Value wind will surely result in a less than desirable result.”

USAMU Praslick wind clock

Praslick also explains how to identify and evaluate MIRAGE:

Determine the accuracy of the mirage. Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air that have different temperatures than the ground. These layers are blown by the wind and can be monitored to detect wind direction and speed.

Focus your scope midway between yourself and the target, this will make mirage appear more prominent. I must emphasize the importance of experience when using mirage as a wind-reading tool. The best way to become proficient in the use of mirage is to correlate its appearance to a known condition. Using this as a baseline, changes in mirage can be equated to changes in the value of the wind. Above all, you must practice this skill!

Click HERE for more excellent instructional articles by Emil Praslick and other USAMU Coaches and shooters.

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March 28th, 2023

“How Do Bullets Fly” — Great Online Resource with Smart Science

Bullet External Ballistics
“The overturning moment MW tends to rotate the bullet about an axis, which goes through the CG (center of gravity) and which is perpendicular to the plane of drag….

Ruprecht Nennstiel, a forensic ballistics expert from Wiesbaden, Germany, has authored a great resource about bullet behavior in flight. Nennstiel’s comprehensive article, How Do Bullets Fly, explains all the forces which affect bullet flight including gravity, wind, gyroscopic effects, aerodynamic drag, and lift. Nennstiel even explains the rather arcane Magnus Force and Coriolis Effect which come into play at long ranges. Nennstiel’s remarkable resource contains many useful illustrations plus new experimental observations of bullets fired from small arms, both at short and at long ranges.

Shadowgraph of .308 Winchester Bullet

Bullet External Ballistics

A convenient index is provided so you can study each particular force in sequence. Writing with clear, precise prose, Nennstiel explains each key factor that affects external ballistics. For starters, we all know that bullets spin when launched from a rifled barrel. But Nennstiel explains in greater detail how this spinning creates gyroscopic stability:

“The overturning moment MW tends to rotate the bullet about an axis, which goes through the CG (center of gravity) and which is perpendicular to the plane of drag, the plane, formed by the velocity vector ‘v’ and the longitudinal axis of the bullet. In the absence of spin, the yaw angle ‘δ’ would grow and the bullet would tumble.

If the bullet has sufficient spin, saying if it rotates fast enough about its axis of form, the gyroscopic effect takes place: the bullet’s longitudinal axis moves into the direction of the overturning moment, perpendicular to the plane of drag. This axis shift however alters the plane of drag, which then rotates about the velocity vector. This movement is called precession or slow mode oscillation.”

Raise Your Ballistic IQ
Though comprehensible to the average reader with some grounding in basic physics, Nennstiel’s work is really the equivalent of a Ph.D thesis in external ballistics. You could easily spend hours reading (and re-reading) all the primary material as well as the detailed FAQ section. But we think it’s worth plowing into How Do Bullets Fly from start to finish. We suggest you bookmark the page for future reference. You can also download the complete article for future reference and offline reading.

CLICK HERE for “How Do Bullets Fly” complete text.

(1.2 MB .zip file)

Photo and diagram © 2005-2009 Ruprecht Nennstiel, All Rights Reserved.

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March 24th, 2023

Wrong Cartridge in Chamber — What Can Happen

Ruptured Cartridge Case

If you don’t match your ammo to your chamber, bad things can happen, that’s for sure. A while back, Forum member BigBlack had an experience at the gun range that reminds us of the importance of safety when shooting. He encountered evidence that someone had fired the wrong cartridge in a 7mm WSM rifle. The problem is more common than you may think. This Editor has personally seen novices try to shoot 9mm ammo in 40 S&W pistols. BigBlack’s story is along those lines, though the results were much more dramatic. It’s too bad a knowledgeable shooter was not nearby to “intervene” before this fellow chambered the wrong ammo.

7mm-08 is Not the Same as a 7mm WSM
BigBlack writes: “I know this has probably been replayed a thousand times but I feel we can never be reminded enough about safety. This weekend at the range I found a ruptured case on the ground. My immediate thoughts were that it was a hot load, but the neck area was begging for me to take a closer look, so I did. I took home the exploded case and rummaged through my old cases until I found a close match. From my investigative work it appears someone shot a 7mm-08 in a 7mm WSM. Take a look. In the above photo I’ve put together a 7mm WSM case (top), the ruptured case (middle), and a 7mm-08 case (bottom).”

The photo reveals what probably happened to the 7mm-08 case. The shoulder moved forward to match the 7mm WSM profile. The sidewalls of the case expanded outward in the much larger 7mm WSM chamber until they lacked the strength to contain the charge, and then the case sides ruptured catastrophically. A blow-out of this kind can be very dangerous, as the expanding gasses may not be completely contained within the action.

Can’t Happen to You? Think Again.
This kind of mistake — chambering the wrong cartridge — can happen to any shooter who is distracted, who places even a single wrong round in an ammo box, or who has two types of ammo on the bench. One of our Forum members was testing two different rifles recently and he picked up the wrong cartridge from the bench. As a result, he fired a .30-06 round in a .300 Win Mag chamber, and the case blew out. Here is his story:

“I took two of my hunting rifles I have not used for over 25 years to the range yesterday to get new scopes on paper, a .30-06 and .300 Win Mag. I had four boxes of old Winchester factory ammo (two of each cartridge), which had near identical appearances. I accidentally chambered a .30-06 round in the Sako .300 Win Mag rifle. It sprayed powder on my face and cracked the stock at the pistol grip. If I had not been wearing safety glasses I might be blind right now.

Safety eyewear glasses
You should always wear protective eyewear, EVERY time you shoot.

“I feel lucky and am very thankful for being OK — other than my face looks funny right now. I am also grateful for learning a valuable lesson. I will never put two different cartridges on the bench at the same time again.”

READ More about this incident in our Shooters’ Forum.

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March 21st, 2023

Need Suppressor INFO? Suppressor Academy Is Great Resource

Suppressor Academy GunsAmerica Digest silencer central

GunsAmerica Digest has a new Suppressor Academy webpage that provides host of helpful information about suppressors (aka “silencers” and “cans”). The Suppressor Academy online resource page features in-depth articles with important information for anyone considering acquiring a suppressor. The articles explain the key benefits of suppressors, how to choose a suppressor, and how to comply with Federal and state laws regulating suppressors. Below we link to four Suppressor Academy articles. Click the title for each topic to read the full-length article.

Who Can Own a Suppressor — Legal in 42 States »

Suppressor Academy GunsAmerica Digest silencer central
Photo: American Suppressor Association

Suppressors are now legal in 42 U.S. States. There are certain legal requirements for obtaining a suppressor, including paying a $200 Tax Stamp. To own a suppressor you must be legally eligible to purchase a firearm, pass a BATFE background check, pay a one time $200 Transfer Tax, and satisfy age requirements. (SEE ALL Requirements). In most (but not all) of those states you can use a suppressor for hunting. The eight (mostly blue) states which still prohibit civilian suppressor ownership are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. READ FULL ARTICLE on GunsAmerica Digest.

18 Reasons to Own a Suppressor »

Suppressor Academy GunsAmerica Digest silencer central

Suppressors serve one main purposes — to reduce the sound levels produced when firing pistol or rifle rounds. But GunsAmerica Digest editor True Pearce notes there are many other reasons to own a suppressor. A suppressor can reduce muzzle blast and felt recoil. The suppressor may prevent hearing damage that occurs through bone conduction better than earplugs and muffs because it reduces the noise energy at the source. When hunting, the reduced shot noise can help avoid spooking game. Having a suppressor also makes it easier to communicate when working as a team on a hunt. And, when compared to a muzzle BRAKE, suppressors are much less likely to kick up dust, dirt, sand, and snow when you shoot prone. READ FULL ARTICLE on GunsAmerica Digest.

You Don’t Need a Special License to Own a Suppressor »

Suppressor Academy GunsAmerica Digest silencer central

There is some confusion surrounding the laws concerning suppressors, which are now legal in 42 U.S. States. In most jurisdictions that allow suppressor ownership, no additional state permit or license is required. But you do have to comply with Federal requirements when acquiring the suppressor. You may wish to create a trust to own the suppressor — there are some important practical advantages to having a suppressor trust. The Traditional NFA Gun Trust allows multiple responsible parties, i.e. “trustees”, to legally have possession of the suppressor. Each trustee must be verified and for each suppressor owned by the trust there will be a $200 Tax Stamp. READ FULL ARTICLE on GunsAmerica Digest.

How to Choose A Suppressor »

Suppressor Academy GunsAmerica Digest silencer central

When shopping for a suppressor there are many factors to consider: price, build quality, materials, sound level reduction effectiveness, weight, ease of mounting, and ease of cleaning and maintenance. We recommend that all suppressor buyers research the options. Check the manufacturer’s reputation, check diagrams for disassembly and maintenance. There are always trade-offs. Shorter suppressors may save some weight, but if they don’t cut the decibels as well you may be disappointed. You also need to consider the caliber — will your suppressor be used on multiple firearms? If so then get one that fits the largest caliber you will shoot. READ FULL ARTICLE on GunsAmerica Digest.

Suppressor Academy GunsAmerica Digest silencer central

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March 19th, 2023

Forming 30BR Cases — Experts Explain the Best Methods

30BR 30 BR case forming benchrest randy robinette al nyhus

30BR 30 BR case formingThe 30 BR is an amazing little cartridge. However, 30 BR shooters do have to neck-up 6mmBR or 7mmBR brass and then deal with some issues that can arise from the expansion process. One of our Forum members was concerned about the donut that can form at the new (expanded) neck-shoulder junction. Respected bullet-maker Randy Robinett offers tips on how to deal with the “dreaded donut”.

The Forum member was concerned about thinning the brass if he turned his 30 BR necks after expansion: “Everything I have found on 30 BR case-forming says to simply turn off the bulge at the base of the neck caused by the old 6BR shoulder. I expanded my first case and measured the neck at 0.329″ except on the donut, where it measures 0.335″. Looking inside the case… reveals a groove inside the case under the donut. Now, it is a fact that when I turn that neck and remove the donut, the groove is still going to be there on the inside? That means there is now a thin-spot ring at the base of the neck that is .005 thinner than the rest of the neck. Has anyone experienced a neck cracking on this ring?”

Randy Robinett, who runs BIB Bullet Co., is one of the “founding fathers” of the 30 BR who help prove and popularize the 30 BR for benchrest score shooting. Randy offers this advice on 30 BR case-forming:

While the thinner neck-base was one of our original concerns, unless one cuts too deeply INTO the shoulder, it is not a problem. For my original 30BR chamber, thirty (30) cases were used to fire 6,400 rounds through the barrel. The cases were never annealed, yet there were ZERO case failures, neck separations, or splits. The case-necks were turned for a loaded-round neck diameter of .328″, and, from the beginning, sized with a .324″ neck-bushing.

The best method for avoiding the ‘bulge’ is to fire-form prior to neck-turning (several methods are successfully employed). Cutting too deeply into the shoulder can result in case-neck separations. I have witnessed this, but, with several barrels and thousands to shots fired, have not [personally] experienced it. The last registered BR event fired using that original barrel produced a 500-27x score and a second-place finish. [That’s] not bad for 6K plus shots, at something over 200 firings per case.

Check out the 30 BR Cartridge Guide on
You’ll find more information on 30 BR Case-forming in our 30 BR Cartridge Guide. Here’s a short excerpt from that page — some tips provided by benchrest for score and HBR shooter Al Nyhus:

30 BR Case-Forming Procedure by Al Nyhus
The 30 BR cartridge is formed by necking-up 6mmBR or 7mmBR brass. You can do this in multiple stages or in one pass. You can use either an expander mandrel (like Joe Entrekin does), or a tapered button in a regular dies. Personally, I use a Redding tapered expander button, part number 16307. This expands the necks from 6mm to .30 cal in one pass. It works well as long as you lube the mandrel and the inside of the necks. I’ve also used the Sinclair expander body with a succession of larger mandrels, but this is a lot more work and the necks stay straighter with the Redding tapered button. This button can be used in any Redding die that has a large enough inside diameter to accept the BR case without any case-to-die contact.

Don’t be concerned about how straight the necks are before firing them the first time. When you whap them with around 50,000 psi, they will straighten out just fine! I recommend not seating the bullets into the lands for the first firing, provided there is an adequate light crush-fit of the case in the chamber. The Lapua cases will shorten from approx. 1.550″ to around 1.520″ after being necked up to 30-caliber I trim to 1.500″ with the (suggested) 1.520 length chambers. I don’t deburr the flash holes or uniform the primer pockets until after the first firing. I use a Ron Hoehn flash hole deburring tool that indexes on the primer pocket, not through the case mouth. — Al Nyhus

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March 15th, 2023

How Human Hearing Works — And Effective Hearing Protection

hearing protection inner ear anatomy science hearing medical electronic muffs earplugs

hearing protectionAll shooters, even rimfire enthusiasts, should always wear ear protection when at the range. A typical rifle gunshot is very loud — in the region of 140 to 170 decibels (the pain threshold is 130-140 db). Without ear protection, you can permanently damage your hearing during a single shooting session. We all know older shooters who are partially deaf, or who suffer from Tinnitus, because they didn’t use earplugs or muffs when they were younger.

How Humans Hear Sounds — Amazing Video Reveals All
The human sense of hearing involves multiple delicate internal membranes, bones, organs, and nerves. Shooters understand the importance of protecting their hearing, but they may not understand the bio-mechanics of human hearing. We hear sounds through Auditory Transduction. Sound waves vibrate the ear drum (tympanic membrane), but that is only the beginning. These vibrations are passed along via tiny rocker-arm-like bones to be “processed” in a spiral chamber, the cochlea.

This remarkable VIDEO explains how humans hear sounds. We strongly recommend you take the time to watch and learn. The hearing you save may be your own!

Click Speaker Icon to turn on the video’s soundtrack.

Vibrations moving through the cochlea are separated into frequencies and then sent as neural messages to the brain. It is an astonishingly complex process, one that truly seems miraculous when you examine the bio-engineering involved. In the Video above, the process of human Auditory Transduction is explained and illustrated with 3D animation. You really should watch this amazing video. By the end you will have a new-found appreciation for your ability to hear.

hearing protection inner ear anatomy science hearing medical electronic muffs earplugs

Every shooter should own a pair of Electronic muffs, even if you prefer shooting with earplugs and/or standard muffs. Electronic muffs are great when you are spotting for other shooters or are working near the firing line. They let you hear ordinary conversations while still providing vital hearing protection. You can also wear ear-plugs under muffs for extra sound attenuation.

shooting ear protection nrr 33 ear plugs howard leightPlugs PLUS Ear-Muffs — The Benefits of “Doubling-Up” Your Hearing Protection
According to OHS Online: “The combined attenuation of an ear plug and an ear muff is not simply the algebraic sum of the performance of each individual protector. This is due to an acoustic and vibratory interaction between the ear muff and the ear plug that causes them to behave together as a system rather than as independent hearing protectors.

Generally speaking, when you combine two hearing protectors, ear muffs over ear plugs, you can expect an increase [in noise reduction] of between 3 and 10 dB over the higher-performing hearing protector. OSHA [now advises] 5 dB as the [typical] benefit offered by combining hearing protectors.” Source:

Ear diagram courtesy Siemens Medical Solutions.

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March 12th, 2023

Sunday GunDay: Hunt to Remember with .30-06 Tikka T3 Lite

Colton Reid deer hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF rangefinder buck

A Hunt to Remember

by Colton Reid
In hunting, great opportunities are a rare and precious thing. Their scarcity and the difficulty in distilling clear lessons from those opportunities is what makes hunting one of the most challenging and yet most rewarding activities I have ever pursued. As Tom Hanks succinctly stated in A League of Their Own, “The hard is what makes it great.” But, in my recent hunt in Utah’s high country I was given not only a chance at some of the biggest deer in my life, but also two opportunities to harvest a trophy buck after a heartbreaking series of hard lessons learned.

About the Gear — Tikka T3 Lite in .30-06, SWFA Scope, Leica GeoVid LRF Binoculars
Colton was using a Tikka T3 Lite* chambered for the .30-06 Springfield. The scope was an SWFA Super Sniper 3-15x42mm with 0.1 MRAD clicks. Colton painted the Tikka rifle and scope himself with a combination of colors for camouflage. The cheek pad is a piece of balsa wood Colton sanded to correct height and covered with a SKD tactical PIG rifle stock pack. For spotting and ranging Colton employed a set of Leica Geovid 10×40 LRF binoculars. Carry bags were from Badlands.

Colton Reid deer hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF buck

Ammunition: For this hunt, Colton handloaded his .30-06 ammunition with Lapua brass and Sierra 165gr SBT GameKing bullets. Drop was approximately 13″ at 300 yards.

October Hunt in Utah’s Central Mountain Range

Colton Reid deer hunt buck hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF

In late October I traveled to Utah’s central mountain range for one week trip in pursuit of mule deer. I have never hunted this area before and, to add difficulty, there were several snowstorms expected throughout the week. Simply stated, I was in for a tough hunt. Given the newness of the area and no opportunity to scout pre-season, my strategy was to spend the first couple of days hiking slowly between various vantage points to locate the best animal activity. I saw several mature bucks during this period, but none that I chose to harvest. On day three, my efforts were rewarded with one of those rare opportunities.

Colton Reid deer buck hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF
This buck was sighted early in the hunt in a family group of does. This image was taken through my Swarovski spotting scope. The buck was about 150 yards away.

Six inches of snow covered the ground. A storm had crept in the night before and began to color a forest of green and brown pines in a picturesque winter white. Snow was still falling as I started my morning hunt in a new area. The temperature, now in the low teens, was a constant reminder to keep my layers on and jacket zipped. I started my hike down a rugged ridgeline road, and periodically peeked through the adjacent pine trees to glass a hillside across a small valley. After several instances of stopping to glass with my Leica Geovid 10×40 LRF binoculars, I spotted a monster grazing the exposed grass at the edge of a group of bare poplar trees. At 1100 yards I could easily tell this was a nice 4×4+ buck.

Colton Reid deer buck hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF

I sat and watched him for several minutes and noticed he was grazing near a group of does that were slowly moving down their hillside and towards the base of mine. The buck, however, was slowly moving up and to the right. If he continued this path he would soon be around the corner of his hill where I could not see. Concerned that he would move out of sight, I decided to attempt a speedy stalk in the hopes of cutting him off. My first mistake. Gathering up my gear, and not knowing the terrain, I took the most direct path I could see. My second mistake. The hope was a direct path would put me into an equivalent altitude on his hillside, where I could make an ethical and successful shot. At least, that was the plan.

As I descended the hillside, I soon realized that the does I spotted were funneling directly towards me. To avoid spooking them I began to traverse the hillside at my current elevation and move to an area that completely changed my site picture of the hillside and where I saw the buck. Great, I had “solved” one problem and created another.

In this new area, I proceeded to again move down my hill and up the buck’s hillside in the hopes of reaching my previously planned location. But, I had no idea what was in front of me. I could not see this “new” area when glassing on the ridge. And now I was close enough to the buck’s area that spooking another deer would likely push the buck. So I had to go slow, and waste time I didn’t think I had.

Moving along the hillside I eventually spotted the poplars that marked where I had seen the buck last. 600 yards away, the trees now obscured the area where the buck had been feeding. Seemingly my only option, I pressed on through the snow. As I reached the 400-yard mark I spotted a young buck and doe less than 50 yards in front of me. I was now faced with a choice to proceed forward and spook these two deer in front of me or move downhill around them and try to climb up directly below where I spotted the big one. I chose the latter. Mistake number 3. Once I moved 100 yards below the young buck and doe, I traversed sidehill directly below where I had spotted the 4×4+ and started my climb.

Colton Reid deer buck hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF
This buck was spotted among trees early in the hunt. Scroll down to see the larger buck that Colton took on Day 3 of his Utah adventure.

Creeping up to the edge of the poplar trees I saw lots of fresh sign and decided to load a round in the chamber. I couldn’t see very far in front of me due to the snow and slope of the hill, but it seemed I was close. Moving further into the trees I saw nothing but bare trunks and a snow-covered ground. A feeling of disappointment and frustration washed over me. I had missed my window. Without thinking I let my guard down and stood up, mistake number 4. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur of brown and white bound away through the trees, only catching glimpses a white rump and large antlers as the buck moved out of the poplar trees and around the corner where I lost sight of him. I was heartbroken. Exhausted and defeated I started back toward the ridge.

Colton Reid deer buck hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF
In the higher elevations there was snow everywhere. Winter wonderland in October Utah.

My long hike back to the road gave me time to think. I walked along the ridge of the hill where I spotted the buck and found that this location intersected with the road. As I trudged up the road to my truck, I learned that simply following the road would have given me a good vantage point of the poplar trees and obscured me from view until I reached the ridgeline of the buck’s hill. If only I had known this before!

The whole night I replayed the events in my head. Where did I go wrong? What could I have done better? I decided that my best way to learn from it and that the first hasty decision put me in a tough situation from which I made more poor decisions. If I had sat and watched the deer bed, I would have had more time to figure out an easier stalking route (like the road!) to get a clean and ethical shot above the animal. And since I saw lots of sign in that area, I decided to give it a second try the next day.

Colton Reid deer buck hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRFThe next morning, I was back on the road and stopping at periodic vantage points to glass across the valley. The whole time I was thinking “will I really get a second bite at the apple”?

When I started to glass at the first opening, I slowly and methodically scanned the poplars where I had seen deer the day before and caught a glimpse of a brown spot moving through the trees. I pulled out my tripod for more stability and focused on where I had seen movement.

Lo and behold a nice buck was limping along the trees toward a small grass patch. Yes limping. Having the failure of yesterday’s stalk very fresh in my head I decided to wait until I saw the buck stop moving. After some slow grazing, the buck bedded at the base of a large tree just above his grazing area. Now was the time to move above him.

Because the buck was moving slowly from his limp, I figured I had time to work my way around to the ridgeline that would offer me an ethical shot. Again, learning from yesterday’s failures, I walked along the ridgeline road and periodically glassed the area where the buck was bedded.

During these periodic checks I was not able to see the buck, but there was no reason to think the buck had moved. It also offered several advantages: I refreshed my site picture as I moved to different positions, I checked my range to the poplars, and I found the location and range to where I wanted to shoot. While I walked, I noticed a storm rolling in that would soon be make this stalk much harder. I continued along the road until I found the ridge of the buck’s hill intersected, and I turned to make my way towards the buck.

colton reid deer buck hunt utah hunting tikka t3 .30-06
Click Photo for large, full-frame image of stalking path.

Walking through the trees and slightly below the ridgeline I moved to a spot perpendicular to where the buck should be bedded and crept toward the ridgeline. As I crested the ridge I moved carefully from tree to tree, checking the wind was anywhere but behind me and used my binoculars at each stop to relocate the buck. As I approached a large grassy opening between my trees and the poplars, I spotted him bedded down right where I saw him lay down. He was 330 yards away, but I didn’t have a good angle for a clean vital shot. Where I stood the trees were thinning and I had no intention of blowing my stalk by being seen in the last 30 yards. Dropping to the ground I took off my backpack and army crawled in the snow to a downed log where I could rest my rifle for a shot.

Colton Reid deer buck hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF
For this Utah hunt, Colton’s bullet choice was the Sierra 165gr SBT GameKing. In this photo, the cartridge in the Tikka magazine has a 168gr Barnes all-copper TSX bullet.

I checked my range and angle — 301 yards and a 5-degree decline from me to the target. No significant wind in any direction. I had sighted in my rifle at 1000 feet above sea level in 75 degree weather and was now at 9500 feet with the temperature a bone-chilling cold. Instead of the 1.1 MRAD dope I estimated 1 MRAD and held directly over vitals. With slow steady breaths I calmed my heartrate, took a deep breath, exhaled halfway and held. A smooth squeeze of the trigger and the rifle roared. Maintaining my sight picture, I re-acquired the buck and cycled the bolt. He was on his side making a last attempt to run. Like a dog chasing a rabbit in his sleep. 20 seconds later and his chase had ended.

When I moved my head from behind the scope, I noticed snow steadily falling all around me. The storm had held until the job was done. As if my rifle was the signal for the heavens to let loose. To say that I was happy in this moment is a gross simplification of what this experience meant to me. I was happy with my success, I was thankful for the opportunity, I was sad at the loss of life of such a majestic creature, I was proud of having learned my lesson from the day before and having executed the best stalk of my life, while also harvesting the biggest buck of my life. My hunt was successful. My hunt was over. And now, the real work had started.

Colton Reid deer buck hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF

Arriving at the downed deer I checked for life. He had passed. My shot went directly through the buck’s heart, and he had lost most of his blood in the first 15 seconds. As ethical as it gets. The storm was starting to really gain momentum now, so I had to choose to either quarter the deer and hang it for tomorrow or gut it and drag it to the road, which was approximately a mile away. With the snow blanket from previous storms, I decided it would be easiest to drag the deer using my body harness (Muddy Deluxe Deer Drag Harness).

The drag back to the road reminded me of grandpa’s route to school: 20 miles in the snow and uphill both ways. The drag was tough. Each incline felt like I was climbing vertically with a 100-lb. pack. Fortunately, the snow helped the body slide and I made it to my truck in about an hour.

My drive back to camp was dead quiet. I tried to soak in the experience as much as I could. To fully appreciate the opportunity, I had been given. The sacrifice my family had made so that I could be here.

And as Vince Lombardi once noted: “Any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious.”

Colton Reid deer fire snow buck hunt hunting utah Tikka t3 rifle .30-06 springfield stalking Leica geovid LRF

* Colton Reid has the Tikka T3 Lite, which has been superseded by the T3X LITE, which has some enhanced features. The notable T3X LITE upgrades are covered in this Tikka Product Video.
This article is Copyright 2023 Any republication on any another website gives rise to damages for copyright violations.

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March 12th, 2023

Don’t Get Barrel-Busted! Federal Barrel Length Requirements

short barrel barreled rifle shotgun NSA tax stamp ATF legal brief

The Legal Brief is a feature of that focuses on firearms rules and regulations. In this Legal Brief video, Attorney Adam Kraut explains key State and Federal regulations governing firearms, and explains how to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

This five-minute video explains barrel length rules for rifles and shotguns, and also explains the best (and most fool-proof) methods to measure your barrel. In addition, the video explains how to measure firearm overall length. A rifle or shotgun which is less than 26 inches overall can also be classified as a “Short-barreled” rifle/shotgun subject to the NFA. NOTE: Under federal law “If the rifle or shotgun has a collapsible stock, the overall length is measured with the stock EXTENDED”.

Highlights of LEGAL BRIEF Discussion of Barrel Length and Firearm Overall Length

The ATF procedure to measure the length of a barrel is to measure from the closed bolt or breech face to the furthest end of the barrel or permanently attached muzzle device. ATF considers a muzzle device that has been permanently attached to be part of the barrel and therefore counts towards the length.

How to Measure Barrel Length: Drop [a] dowel or rod into the barrel until it touches the bolt or breech face, which has to be closed. Mark the outside of the rod at the end of the muzzle crown (if you don’t have a permanently attached muzzle device) or at the end of the muzzle device if it is permanently attached. Remove the rod and measure from the mark to the end of the rod. That is your barrel length[.]

Remember, if the barrel length is less than 16 inches, it is possible that the firearm could be a short barrel rifle (if you are building a rifle or it is already on a rifle) and if the barrel length is less than 18 inches, it is possible the firearm could be a short barrel shotgun (again if you are building a shotgun or it is already a shotgun). Both of these firearms would be subject to the purview of the National Firearms Act and would require the firearm to be registered accordingly.

How to Measure Overall Length:The overall length of your rifle or shotgun may also classify it as a Short Barrel Rifle or Short Barrel Shotgun. The overall length of a firearm is the distance between the muzzle of the barrel and the rearmost portion of the weapon measured on a line parallel to the axis of the bore. … If the rifle has a permanently attached muzzle device, that is part of the overall length. … If the rifle or shotgun has a collapsible stock, the overall length is measured with the stock extended.


Links for this episode:

ATF Method for Measuring Barrel Length and Overall Length:
Firearm – 26 USC § 5845:
Firearm – 27 CFR § 479.11:
Short Barrel Rifle – 18 USC § 921(a)(8):
Short Barrel Rifle – 27 CFR § 478.11:
Short Barrel Shotgun – 18 USC § 921(a)(6):
Short Barrel Shotgun – 27 CFR § 478.11:

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March 7th, 2023

How to Evaluate Flyers During Load Development

Sierra Bullets Reloading Flier Flyer load development groups

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf
Occasionally someone will ask, “Why did I get a flyer that didn’t go in with the rest of my group?” If I had an answer that would stop flyers from happening, I would be rich.

There are many reasons why this can happen. Everything from gripping a forearm differently to variations in the brass casing, the list goes on and on. Most of the time the flyer is usually shooter induced and sometimes what you may think is a flyer, is just part of your group. There are a lot of shooters, that go out and test a load and they may shoot a 3/8” group at 100 yards and think that load is good. But I have seen far too many times that you can shoot another group, same load, same rifle and the next time you may get a 1 ¼” group.

Sierra bullets load development flyer group measurement target

The total opposite can also occur. You may shoot a 1 ¼” group and turn around and follow it with a 1/2″ group without changing anything. If you only shot the one group, you might decide that load wasn’t any good and move on to something else without really knowing what that load was capable of.

To really determine how a particular load is performing we need to shoot multiple groups and take an average of the group sizes to really see what that rifle/load combination is really capable of.

I suggest shooting a minimum of three 5-shot groups and averaging the group sizes before deciding if the load is acceptable or not. Obviously the more rounds you shoot for a group and the more groups that you shoot, you will get a much better representation of what that particular combination can do.

Now I’m not saying to go out and shoot 30 groups with 50 rounds in each group to determine how well your load is shooting. That would be a bit pointless, in some cases it would be time to re-barrel your rifle before your load development was finished.

In most cases, I feel that three to five, 5-shot groups will give you a pretty good representation of how a load will perform in that specific firearm.

Sierra Bullets reloading advice tips information

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March 7th, 2023

MIL vs. MOA — Angular Measurements for Optics Explained

Mil MOA reticle ranging PRS tactical minute angle precision rifle series
Visit for a discussion of MIL vs. MOA.

Many guys getting started in long range shooting are confused about what kind of scope they should buy — specifically whether it should have MIL-based clicks or MOA-based clicks. Before you can make that decision, you need to understand the terminology. This article, with a video by Bryan Litz, explains MILS and MOA so you can choose the right type of scope for your intended application.

This March-FX 5-40x56mm Tactical FFP scope features 0.05 MIL Clicks.
Mil MOA reticle ranging PRS tactical minute angle precision rifle series

You probably know that MOA stands for “Minute of Angle” (or more precisely “minute of arc”), but could you define the terms “Milrad” or “MIL”? In a helpful video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballitics explains MOA and MILs (short for “milliradians”). Bryan defines those terms and explains how they are used. One MOA is an angular measurement (1/60th of one degree) that subtends 1.047″ at 100 yards. One MIL (i.e. one milliradian) subtends 1/10th meter at 100 meters; that means that 0.1 Mil is one centimeter (1 cm) at 100 meters. Is one angular measurement system better than another? Not necessarily… Bryan explains that Mildot scopes may be handy for ranging, but scopes with MOA-based clicks work just fine for precision work at known distances. Also because one MOA is almost exactly one inch at 100 yards, the MOA system is convenient for expressing a rifle’s accuracy. By common parlance, a “half-MOA” rifle can shoot groups that are 1/2-inch (or smaller) at 100 yards.

What is a “Minute” of Angle?
When talking about angular degrees, a “minute” is simply 1/60th. So a “Minute of Angle” is simply 1/60th of one degree of a central angle, measured either up and down (for elevation) or side to side (for windage). At 100 yards, 1 MOA equals 1.047″ on the target. This is often rounded to one inch for simplicity. Say, for example, you click up 1 MOA (four clicks on a 1/4-MOA scope). That is roughly 1 inch at 100 yards, or roughly 4 inches at 400 yards, since the target area measured by an MOA subtension increases with the distance.

one MOA minute of angle diagram

MIL vs. MOA for Target Ranging
MIL or MOA — which angular measuring system is better for target ranging (and hold-offs)? In a recent article on his website, Cal Zant tackles that question. Analyzing the pros and cons of each, Zant concludes that both systems work well, provided you have compatible click values on your scope. Zant does note that a 1/4 MOA division is “slightly more precise” than 1/10th mil, but that’s really not a big deal: “Technically, 1/4 MOA clicks provide a little finer adjustments than 1/10 MIL. This difference is very slight… it only equates to 0.1″ difference in adjustments at 100 yards or 1″ at 1,000 yards[.]” Zant adds that, in practical terms, both 1/4-MOA clicks and 1/10th-MIL clicks work well in the field: “Most shooters agree that 1/4 MOA or 1/10 MIL are both right around that sweet spot.”

READ MIL vs. MOA Cal Zant Article.

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March 6th, 2023

New Rimfire Ammo Featured in Shooting Sports USA This Month

Shooting sports usa ssusa march 2023 .22 LR ammo ammunition norma lapua eley

Shooting sports usa ssusa march 2023 .22 LR ammo ammunition norma lapua eleyEvery month Shooting Sports USA (SSUSA), an NRA publication, releases a new issue with a variety of feature stories on gun industry products and important pistol, rifle, and shotgun competitions. SSUSA also regularly posts valuable guides for handloaders, plus instructional articles that can help shooters improve their skills.

The March 2023 Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA is packed with interesting content. There is a guide to Sighting in New Shooters which covers Eye and Hand Dominance. In addition, there is a big 6-page article on the Best New Products from SHOT Show 2023. But the feature that really caught our attention is a summary of new .22 LR rimfire ammunition.

Match Grade .22 LR Ammunition Offerings for 2023

With the rapid growth of NRL22, NRL22X, PRS 22 and other rimfire rifle sports, we were pleased to see a four-page SSUSA feature on match grade .22 LR ammunition offerings for 2023. This covers new (or notable) rimfire ammo from Lapua, ELEY, Norma, SK, RWS, Aguila, and Wolf.

New for 2023, Norma has released innovative XTREME LR-22 ammo, which features a unique, patented bullet design. This has a special base with a cone (see diagram). Norma claims that this “rocket tail” design reduces drag by creating less negative pressure at the back end of the bullet. It will be interesting to see how this new bullet design works in rimfire ELR competition.

Shooting sports usa ssusa march 2023 .22 LR ammo ammunition norma lapua eley

Shooting sports usa ssusa march 2023 .22 LR ammo ammunition norma lapua eley

Lapua recently introduced its impressive Super Long Range and Long Range rimfire ammunition. These two new ammo types are optimized for long range accuracy and consistency. The goal was to have extremely low extreme spread (ES) and standard deviation (SD), to yield the highest precision down range. Shooters competing in disciplines such as NRL22X and Rimfire ELR should benefit.

lapua super long range rimfire 22LR .22 LR ammunition ammo

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March 5th, 2023

Reloading at the Range — Zediker Explains the Basics

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

Glen Zediker Reloading at RangeThe February 2013 edition of Shooting Sports USA magazine has an interesting feature by Glen Zediker, who sadly passed away in October 2020. In this Transporting Success, Part I article, Zediker explains the advantages of loading at the range when you are developing new loads or tuning existing loads. Glen, the author of the popular Handloading for Competition book, discusses the gear you’ll need to bring and he explains his load development procedure. In discussing reloading at the range, Glen focuses on throwing powder and seating bullets, because he normally brings enough sized-and-primed brass to the range with him, so he doesn’t need to de-prime, re-size, and then re-prime his cases.

Zediker writes: “Testing at the range provides the opportunity to be thorough and flexible. You also have the opportunity to do more testing under more similar conditions and, therefore, get results that are more telling. Once you are there, you can stay there until you get the results you want. No more waiting until next time.”

Zediker starts with three-shot groups: “I usually load and fire three samples [with] a new combination. I’ll then increase propellant charge… based on the results of those three rounds, and try three more. I know that three rounds is hardly a test, but if it looks bad on that few, it’s not going to get any better.”

Glen reminds readers to record their data: “Probably the most important piece of equipment is your notebook! No kidding. Write it down. Write it all down.

RCBS Partner PressThere’s More to the Story…

Editor’s Note: In Zediker’s discussion of loading at the range, he only talks about throwing powder and seating bullets. In fact, Glen opines that: “There is little or no need for sizing.” Well, maybe. Presumably, for each subsequent load series, Zediker uses fresh brass that he has previously sized and primed. Thus he doesn’t need to de-prime or resize anything.

That’s one way to develop loads, but it may be more efficient to de-prime, re-size, and load the same cases. That way you don’t need to bring 50, 80, or even 100 primed-and-sized cases to the range. If you plan to reload your fired cases, you’ll need a system for de-priming (and re-priming) the brass, and either neck-sizing or full-length sizing (as you prefer). An arbor press can handle neck-sizing. But if you plan to do full-length sizing, you’ll need to bring a press that can handle case-sizing chores. Such a press need not be large or heavy. Many benchresters use the small but sturdy RCBS Partner Press, for sale now at Amazon for $114.99. You may even get by with the more basic Lee Precision Compact Reloading Press, shown in Zediker’s article. This little Lee press, Lee product #90045, currently retails for $44.99 at Midsouth.

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

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March 5th, 2023

RCBS Lock-Out Die for Progressive Presses — Be Smart, Be Safe

The RCBS Lock-Out Die can also be used with some Dillon and Hornady progressive presses.

RCBS Lock-out dieIf you load pistol or rifle ammo with a progressive press, we strongly recommend you get a Lock-Out Die from RCBS. This unique reloading die will prevent your progressive press from advancing if the dispensed powder charge is more or less than about 0.3 grains too high or too low. The Lock-Out Die really works. Your Editor uses it on his RCBS 2000 progressive press. I can affirm that a Lock-Out Die has “saved my bacon” a half-dozen times over the years when there was an over-charge (which could cause a Kaboom) or a low charge (which could cause a squib load).

The Lock-Out Die works by using a central die detection rod that sets its vertical position based on the height of the powder column in the case. Through an ingenious design, if the powder column height is too low or too high, the rod locks in place as you start to pull the press handle. This halts the press before the ram can lift and the cartridge plate can advance. Unlike a beeping alarm system (which can be ignored or defeated), the Lock-Out Die physically stops the movement of the press ram and prevents a bullet being seated in the “problem” case.

RCBS Lock-out dieIt takes a bit of tweaking to get the Lock-Out Die detection rod setting just right, but once it is correctly positioned, the Lock-Out Die works smoothly in the background. The Lock-Out Die won’t interfere with the loading process unless it detects a high or low charge — and then it positively stops the progressive loading cycle.

While crafted for use in RCBS progressive presses, the RCBS Lock-Out Die can also be used on a Dillon XL Progressive (see video below) or Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive — though it does take up one station which could otherwise be used for a final crimp die (after the seating die). The RCBS 2000 has one more station than a Dillon 550/650, so it’s an ideal platform for using the Lock-Out Die.

Learn More at
On the website, run by our friend Gavin Gear, you’ll find an excellent two-part series on the function and set-up of the RCBS Lock-Out Die. Part One explains how the Lock-Out Die functions, using cut-away illustrations. Part Two shows how to install and adjust the Lock-Out Die on various progressive presses. The Ultimate Reloader video at the top of this article shows setup of the RCBS Lock-Out Die on the Dillon XL-650 progressive press, while the Reloading Bench video below shows the Lock-Out Die on a Hornady LnL progressive.

Images © 2011, used by permission.
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