December 4th, 2020

The Tack-Driving AR — Secrets to AR Platform Accuracy

AR-X AR15 Upper

One Shooters’ Forum member asked: “What makes an AR accurate? What parts on an AR can really affect accuracy — such as free-floating handguards, barrels, bolts, bolt carriers?” He wanted an honest, well-informed answer, not just sales pitches. Robert Whitley posted a very detailed answer to this question, based on his experience building/testing scores of AR-platform rifles. Robert runs AR-X Enterprises, which produces match-grade uppers for High Power competitors, tactical shooters, and varminters.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Building an Accurate AR — What is Most Important

by Robert Whitley
There are a lot of things that can be done to an AR to enhance consistent accuracy, and I use the words “consistent accuracy” because consistency is a part of it (i.e. plenty of guns will give a couple great 5-shot groups, but won’t do a very good 10- or 20-shot groups, and some guns will shoot great one day and not so good on others).

Here are 14 key things we think are important to accuracy.

1. Great Barrel: You’ll want a premium match-grade barrel, well-machined with a good crown and a match-type chambering, true to the bore and well cut. The extension threads must also be cut true to the bore, with everything true and in proper alignment.

2. Rigid Upper: A rigid, heavy-walled upper receiver aids accuracy. The typical AR upper receiver was made for a lightweight carry rifle and they stripped all the metal they could off it to make it light to carry (which is advantageous for the military). The net result are upper receivers that are so thin you can flex them with your bare hands. These flexible uppers are “strong enough” for general use, but they are not ideal for accuracy. Accuracy improves with a more rigid upper receiver.

3. True Receiver Face: We’ve found that truing the receiver face is valuable. Some may argue this point but it is always best to keep everything related to the barrel and the bore in complete alignment with the bore (i.e. barrel extension, bolt, upper receiver, carrier, etc.).

4. Barrel Extension: You should Loctite or glue the barrel extension into the upper receiver. This holds it in place all the way front to back in the upper receiver. Otherwise if there is any play (and there typically is) it just hangs on the face of the upper receiver completely dependent on the face of the upper receiver as the sole source of support for the barrel as opposed to being made more an integral part of the upper receiver by being glued-in.

AR-X AR15 Upper5. Gas Block: You want a gas block that does not impose pointed stress on the barrel. Clamp-on types that grab all the way around the barrel are excellent. The blocks that are pinned on with tapered pins that wedge against the barrel or the slip on type of block with set screws that push up from underneath (or directly on the barrel) can deform the bore inside of the barrel and can wreck the accuracy of an otherwise great barrel.

6. Free-Float Handguard: A rigid, free-float handguard (and I emphasize the word rigid) really makes a difference. There are many types of free-float handguards and a free-float handguard is, in and of itself, a huge improvement over a non-free-float set up, but best is a rigid set-up. Some of the ones on the market are small diameter, thin and/or flexible and if you are shooting off any type of rest, bipod, front bag, etc., a rigid fore-end is best since ARs want to jump, bounce and twist when you let a shot go, as the carrier starts to begin its cycle before the bullet exits the bore.

Robert Whitley AR Accurate accuracy aR15 barrel trigger MSR gunsmithing

7. Barrel Contour: You want some meat on the barrel. Between the upper receiver and the gas block don’t go real thin with a barrel (we like 1″ diameter if it’s workable weight-wise). When you touch off a round and the bullet passes the gas port, the gas system immediately starts pressuring up with a gas impulse that provides vibrations and stress on the barrel, especially between the gas block back to the receiver. A heavier barrel here dampens that. Staying a little heavier with barrel contour through the gas block area and out to the muzzle is good for the same reasons. ARs have a lot going on when you touch off a round and the gas system pressures up and the carrier starts moving (all before the bullet exits the bore) so the more things are made heavier and rigid to counteract that the better — within reason (I’m not advocating a 12-lb barrel).

8. Gas Tube Routing Clearance: You want a gas tube that runs freely through the barrel nut, through the front of the upper receiver, and through the gas key in the carrier. Ensure the gas tube is not impinged by any of them, so that it does not load the carrier in a stressed orientation. You don’t want the gas tube bound up so that when the gas tube pressures up it immediately wants to transmit more force and impulse to the barrel than would normally occur. We sometimes spend a lot of time moving the gas block with gas tube on and off new build uppers and tweaking gas tubes to get proper clearance and alignment. Most gas tubes do need a little “tweaking” to get them right — factory tubes may work OK but they typically do not function optimally without hand-fitting.

9. Gas Port Tuning: You want to avoid over-porting the gas port. Being over-gassed makes the gas system pressure up earlier and more aggressively. This causes more impulse, and increases forces and vibration affecting the top end and the barrel. Tune the gas port to give the amount of pressure needed to function properly and adequately but no more.

10. Front/Back Bolt Play: If accuracy is the game, don’t leave a lot of front/back bolt play (keep it .003″ but no more than .005″). We’ve seen factory rifles run .012″ to .015″ play, which is OK if you need to leave room for dirt and grime in a military application. However, that amount of play is not ideal for a high-accuracy AR build. A lot of front/back bolt play allows rounds to be hammered into the chamber and actually re-formed in a non-consistent way, as they are loaded into the chamber.

11. Component Quality: Use good parts from a reputable source and be wary of “gun show specials”. All parts are NOT the same. Some are good, some are not so good, and some aftermarket parts are simply bad. Don’t be afraid to use mil-spec-type carriers; by and large they are excellent for an accuracy build. Also, remember that just because a carrier says “National Match” or something else on it does not necessarily mean it’s any better. Be wary of chrome-plated parts as the chrome plating can change the parts dimensionally and can also make it hard to do hand-fitting for fit and function.

AR-X AR15 Upper

12. Upper to Lower Fit: A good upper/lower fit is helpful. For quick and dirty fit enhancement, an Accu-Wedge in the rear helps a lot. The ultimate solution is to bed the upper to a specific lower so that the upper and lower, when together, are more like one integral unit. For the upper receivers we produce, we try to get the specs as close as we can, but still fit the various lowers in the market place.

13. Muzzle Attachments: Don’t screw up the muzzle (literally). Leave as much metal on the barrel at the muzzle as you can. People like to thread the muzzle for a flash hider, suppressor, muzzle brake, or some other attachment, but if you really want accuracy, leave as much metal as you can there. And, if you have something that screws on, set it up so that it can be put on and have it stay there without putting a lot of torque and stress on it right where the bullet exits the bore. If you are going to thread the end of the barrel, make it concentric with the bore and make sure what you screw on there is as well. For all muzzle attachments, also ensure that the holes through which the bullet passes through are dead true to the bore. Many aftermarket screw-on things are not so good that way. Anything that vents gas should vent symmetrically (i.e. if it vents left, it should vent equally right, and likewise, if it vents up, it should vent down equally). Uneven venting of gas can wreck accuracy.

14. Quality Ammunition: Ammo is a whole story by itself, but loads that are too hot typically shoot poorly in an AR-15. If you want accuracy out of an AR-15, avoid overly hot loads. Shown below are test groups shot with four (4) different uppers, all with moderate loads. These four uppers all pretty much had the same features and things done to them as explained in this article, and they all shot great.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Robert Whitley
www.6mmAR.com

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December 4th, 2020

Cut-Rifled Barrels — History of the Cut-Rifling Process

Pratt & Whitney Cut rifling hydraulic machine

You’ve probably heard of cut-rifling, but did you know this process was invented in Germany nearly 500 years ago? Read on to learn more about how a cut-rifled barrel is made…

The cut-rifling process, used by leading barrel-makers such as Bartlein, Blake, Brux, Krieger, and Obermeyer, can yield a very high-quality barrel with a long useful life. Cut-rifled barrels have been at the top in short- and long-range benchrest competition in recent years, and cut-rifled barrels have long been popular with F-Class and High Power shooters.

You may be surprised to learn that cut-rifling is probably the oldest method of rifling a barrel. Invented in Nuremberg around 1520, the cut-rifling technique creates spiral grooves in the barrel by removing steel using some form of cutter. In its traditional form, cut rifling may be described as a single-point cutting system using a “hook” cutter. The cutter rests in the cutter box, a hardened steel cylinder made so it will just fit the reamed barrel blank and which also contains the cutter raising mechanism.

Above is a computer animation of an older style, sine-bar cut-rifling machine. Some machine features have been simplified for the purposes of illustration, but the basic operation is correctly shown. No, the cut-rifling machines at Krieger don’t use a hand-crank, but the mechanical process shown in this video is very similar to the way cut-rifling is done with more modern machines.

Kolbe Border Barrels Firearms ID

Read About Cut-Rifling Process at FirearmsID.com
To learn more about the barrel-making process, and cut-rifling in particular, visit FirearmsID.com. There you’ll find a “must-read” article by Dr. Geoffrey Kolbe: The Making of a Rifled Barrel. This article describes in detail how barrels are crafted, using both cut-rifling and button-rifling methods. Kolbe (past owner of Border Barrels) covers all the important processes: steel selection, hole drilling, hole reaming, and rifling (by various means). You’ll find a very extensive discussion of how rifling machines work. Here’s a short sample:

“At the start of World War Two, Pratt & Whitney developed a new, ‘B’ series of hydraulically-powered rifling machines, which were in fact two machines on the same bed. They weighed in at three tons and required the concrete floors now generally seen in workshops by this time. About two thousand were built to satisfy the new demand for rifle barrels, but many were broken up after the war or sold to emerging third world countries building up their own arms industry.

Pratt & Whitney Cut rifling hydraulic machine

Very few of these hydraulic machines subsequently became available on the surplus market and now it is these machines which are sought after and used by barrel makers like John Krieger and ‘Boots’ Obermeyer. In fact, there are probably less of the ‘B’ series hydraulic riflers around today than of the older ‘Sine Bar’ universal riflers.

The techniques of cut rifling have not stood still since the end of the war though. Largely due to the efforts of Boots Obermeyer the design, manufacture and maintenance of the hook cutter and the cutter box have been refined and developed so that barrels of superb accuracy have come from his shop. Cut rifled barrel makers like John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), Mark Chanlyn (Rocky Mountain Rifle Works) and Cliff Labounty (Labounty Precision Reboring)… learned much of their art from Boots Obermeyer, as did I.” — Geoffrey Kolbe

Video find by Boyd Allen. Archive photos from Border Barrels. In June 2013, Birmingham Gunmakers Ltd. acquired Border Barrels. Dr. Geoffrey Kolbe has set up a new company called BBT Ltd. which produces chamber reamers and other gunsmithing tools and gauges. (Thanks to L. Holland for the Kolbe update).
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December 1st, 2020

Custom-Loaded Rifle Ammo from Federal Custom Shop

Federal custom handloading center hand-loaded rifle shotshell ammo ammunition Berger Sierra Nosler

Don’t have time to hand-load your own ammo, or don’t have all the equipment and dies needed? There’s a new option — something that’s actually quite revolutionary in the ammo industry. Federal is now offering custom-loaded ammunition. You choose the cartridge type and bullet type and Federal technicians put the ammo together. Think about it — this could be an interesting option for hunters who only need a few rounds a year, or if you want to try out a bullet/cartridge combo for the first time.

Order Federal Custom Ammunition ONLINE through the Federal Custom Shop.

Federal custom handloading center hand-loaded rifle shotshell ammo ammunition Berger Sierra Nosler

“Each round is painstakingly handloaded to order by our team of expert engineers in our state-of-the-art reloading workshop. Veteran craftsmen combine the best components with extra quality checks at every stage for the most consistent velocity, accuracy, and overall performance. Loads are then hand-checked for final inspection and cleaned before being custom-packed in durable, personalized packaging.”

26 Centerfire Rifle Cartridge Types + Many Bullet Options

Currently, you can choose from 26 rifle cartridge types and a wide selection of quality bullets from Barnes, Berger, Sierra, Nosler, Federal, Hornady, Swift, and more. NOTE: Federal Custom Shop ammo will be sold direct-to-consumer only. Along with rifle ammo, Federal will offer custom TSS Shotshells.

Cartridge Types Offered: .243 WIN, .257 ROBERTS, .257 WEATHERBY MAGNUM, 6.5 CREEDMOOR, .264 WIN, 6.5-284 Norma, 26 Nosler, .270 WIN, .270 WSM, .284 Win, 7mm REM MAG, .308 WIN, .30-06 SPRG, .300 Win Mag, .300 WSM, .338 FEDERAL, .370 SAKO, .375 H&H Mag, .416 REM MAG, .416 RIGBY, .458 LOTT, .458 REM MAG, .470 NITRO, .500 NITRO, 9.3×62, 9.3x74R

Bullet Types Offered: BARNES TIPPED TSX, BERGER HYBRID HUNTER, HORNADY ELD-X, NOSLER ACCUBOND (and Accubond LR), NOSLER PARTITION, SIERRA MATCHKING, SWIFT A-FRAME, WOODLEIGH HYDRO SOLID; and Federal TERMINAL ASCENT, TROPHY BOND BEAR CLAW, TROPHY BONDED SLEDGEHAMMER, TROPHY COPPER.

Please note: Federal Custom Shop ammunition is built to order — not pulled out of inventory in a warehouse. As such, please allow more time for processing and delivery. Typically, your Custom Shop order will take two weeks to build, plus standard delivery time. The Custom Shop handloading center is located at Federal’s main factory in Anoka, Minnesota. For more information, including how to order, what specific load options are available, and shipping details, visit: FederalPremium.com/custom-shop.html.

Federal custom handloading center hand-loaded rifle shotshell ammo ammunition Berger Sierra Nosler

“If it’s not in Federal’s vast catalog as factory-loaded ammo, we may have it listed on our website as a load we will custom hand-load for you,” notes Federal Ammunition President Jason Vanderbrink. “For example, Barnes 120-grain Tipped TSX in 6.5-284 Norma and 28-gauge TSS turkey loads aren’t products we list in our catalog, but you can certainly order them through our Custom Shop.”

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December 1st, 2020

Use Your Smartphone as a Level in the Shop and at the Range

iphone level app application bubble

iphone level app application bubbleMany shooters are familiar with ballistics tables, weather programs, and even wind meters for smart devices, but few may know about a very handy Leveling Tool that comes factory-installed on Apple iPhones. The leveling function is a little-known option in Apple’s Compass App. It works well for a multitude of tasks.

There are a numerous reasons that a leveling tool should be in every rifleman’s range bag. From leveling optics during mounting to figuring out how much extra compensation is going to be required for a tricky angled shot, knowing just how far off things are from plumb can go a long way towards realizing success in the field.

This writer has used the leveling app on his iPhone to level a rifle on a rest while at the range. It definitely worked for “field expedient” leveling duties. That’s especially important for long-range applications. Just one degree of cant (tilt) can move your point of impact 7 inches at 1000 yards.

Of course, the iPhone level doesn’t use an actual bubble to find angles. Rather, it relies on the device’s sophisticated accelerometer to do so, and with a great degree of accuracy. Navigating to the level is done by first selecting the Compass App (Utilities folder), at which point the device will need to be calibrated by rotating it a full 360 degrees. Once the compass is fully calibrated, simply make swipe LEFT gesture to bring up the level — it will start operating immediately. Swipe right to return to compass. NOTE: On some newer iPhones the Level feature is part of the Measure App, so to access it you go to Utilities > Measure, and it’s listed at the bottom.

iphone level app application bubble

From there, use is intuitive and easy, like most iPhone Apps. Switching from horizontal plane to vertical is done by simply changing the physical axis of the phone. How do you know when you’ve got things just right — well the entire lower half of the screen turns green when everything is perfectly level. You’ll also see a zero° read-out, like this:

iphone level app application bubble

Bottom Line: If you already own an iPhone, you should definitely give this App a try. The price is right (free), and for a wide variety of tasks the iPhone Level App is actually pretty handy.

For Android Phone Users — FREE Leveling Apps

Don’t have an iPhone? No worries — there are a multitude of Bubble Level Apps available for Android OS phones. We found over 40 leveling Apps. Most are free, others cost a few dollars. Most of these Apps work in multiple orientations. Choose the App that offers the display views you find most convenient or pleasing to the eye. You may want to try two or three before you settle on a favorite.


CLICK HERE for FREE Android Bubble Level Apps »

Android OS Google bubble level apps

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November 30th, 2020

SAF and NRA Challenge Washington Semi-Auto Gun Ban

second amendment foundation washington state initiative 1629 appeal 9th circuit

SAF, NRA File Appeal Brief in Federal Challenge of WA Gun Control Measure
Attorneys representing the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, two Washington state gun retailers and three private citizens have filed an appeal brief with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in their challenge of gun control Initiative 1639 (I-1639), a measure adopted two years ago in the Evergreen State. This appeal in the case of Mitchell vs. Atkins seeks to overturn I-1639’s ban on semi-auto rifle ownership for Washington citizens 18-20 years of age.

The lawsuit challenges the measure on the grounds that it violates the commerce clause by banning sales of rifles to non-residents, and that it unconstitutionally impairs the rights guaranteed by the First, Second and Fourteenth Amendments, and Article I Section 24 of the Washington State constitution by preventing the sale to otherwise qualified adults under age 21 of certain rifles.

The 45-page brief asserts that I-1639: “infringes the rights protected by the Second Amendment and enjoyed by law-abiding adults of all ages. The interstate sales ban violates the Interstate Commerce Clause”. A district court judge in Tacoma dismissed the case in August, and plaintiffs promptly filed notice of appeal with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco.

The initiative prohibits young adults ages 18-20 from purchasing and owning so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles” — defined as literally ANY self-loading rifle, regardless of caliber. Tens of millions of semi-automatic rifles are in use today by law-abiding citizens of all ages for hunting, competition, predator and varmint control, recreational shooting and personal/home protection.

I-1639 Washington state

“We’re asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse a ruling by the lower federal district court, and remand this case back for further action”, said SAF founder/Executive V.P. Alan M. Gottlieb. “The constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens should never be subject to a popular vote, and we are hopeful the Appeals court agrees.”

Plaintiffs are represented by Seattle attorney Joel B. Ard and Spokane attorney David K. DeWolf. The case is known as Mitchell v. Atkins.

The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.

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November 29th, 2020

Sunday Gunday: Rimfire Round-Up — Two Rifles, Four Pistols

.22 Plinkster .22LR pistol model 41 Smith wesson review Vudoo Ravage .22 LR Savage a22 WMR rimfire video

22Plinkster runs of the most popular gun-centric YouTube channels. His videos have been watched by hundreds of thousands of firearms fans. Many of 22Plinkster’s videos involve trick shots, such as shooting a .22LR through 100 balloons, but he also does serious reviews. He’s actually a competent marksman who has shot a vast collection of .22 LR/22 WMR pistols and rifles, making him a qualified rimfire expert (as well as a trick-shot artist and showman). Today we feature five 22Plinkster Firearms Videos, plus a bonus Vudoo Gun Works video review from GunsandTactics.com.

Vudoo Gun Works Ravage Precision .22 LR Rifle

Last Sunday we featured an NRL22 rimfire competition rig built with a Vudoo Gun Works V-22 action. For this Sunday GunDay article, we showcase a complete Vudoo rifle, a mag-fed Ravage with Ridgeback stock. 22Plinkster declared: “It’s a Tack-Driver … this .22 LR Rifle is the most accurate .22 LR bolt-action rimfire rifle I have ever shot in my life.” And he notes that he has shot Anschutz, Lithgow and other quality rifles.

Firing from a Lead Sled, 22Plinkster starts out at 50 yards, and produced a 0.335″ group at 50 yards using Lapua Midas+ ammunition (4:00 time-mark). Then this session gets really impressive. Continuing with Lapua Midas+ ammo, this Vudoo Ravage produced a sub-half-inch group at 100 yards*. You can watch that Midas+ group form up from 7:20 to 8:25 in the video. Then, with ELEY Tenex ammo, he produced a 0.707″ group (10:30) and an even smaller group (11:55). This complete rifle is available from Vudoo Gun Works for $2545.00 without optics.

.22 Plinkster .22LR pistol model 41 Smith wesson review Vudoo Ravage .22 LR Savage a22 WMR rimfire video

22Plinkster says Vudoo’s Ravage is a top choice for NRL22/PRS rimfire matches and Rimfire ELR competitions: “This is the cream of the crop. [Many] people who are winning PRS rimfire matches are shooting Vudoos. What sets this rifle apart from a lot of the other Match 22 rifles is what it does past 300 yards. A lot of rifles — Anschutz, Lithgow, CZ — shoot really good out to 300 yards. But after 300 yards, their accuracy diminishes big-time.”

.22 Plinkster .22LR pistol model 41 Smith wesson review Vudoo Ravage .22 LR Savage a22 WMR rimfire video
Vudoo V22 Ravage with a fluted 18″ Kukri barrel in an Urban Camo Grayboe Ridgeback stock.

If you are interested in getting a Vudoo rimfire rifle, then definitely watch this 20-minute Guns & Tactics video. It provides extensive accuracy testing for multiple ammo types with verified group sizes. Then the reviewer shows the working details of the rifle, including the bolt, trigger system, and magazine. The video also includes field testing from bipod as well as competition-type practical stages out to nearly 400 yards.

Savage A22, 22 Magnum (WMR) Rifle Field Test

The Savage A22 is the .22 WMR “big brother” to Savage’s popular A17 17 HMR rifle. In this video, 22Plinkster demonstrates that the A22 is a very reliable semi-auto that can deliver near-1 MOA accuracy when the barrel is clean. This rifle retails for about $390.00.

Smith & Wesson Model 41 .22 LR Pistol Review


.22 Plinkster .22LR pistol model 41 Smith wesson review Savage a22 WMR rimfire video

The S&W Model 41 is a classic American rimfire target pistol. Beautifully crafted, the Model 41 boasts a superb trigger, comfortable grip, and excellent accuracy. New or used, a Model 41 would be a fine addition to any firearms collection.

Volquartsen Scorpion .22 LR Pistol Review

The Scorpion demonstrated exceptional accuracy in the hands of 22Plinkster. It comes with a large target-style grip. With a built-in compensator, the Scorpion stays on target with almost no muzzle rise. The comp can be easily switched out with a suppressor (See video at 3:00 time-mark).

S&W Victory Vs. Ruger Mark IV Pistol Shoot-Off

22Plinkster liked both pistols. He favored the grips on the Ruger while preferring the S&W’s trigger. He felt the Ruger’s iron sights were best for precision work, but he noted that the green dot fiber optic sights on the S&W Victory worked better for speed work.


*Footnote regarding 22Plinkster Measured Groups: At least one of the measured groups (in close-up view) does NOT show the exact same group which formed in the preceding video sequence. You can tell from the shot placements relative to the center of the target — it’s a different group. Still we believe that 22Plinkster did shoot very small groups with this rifle at 50 and 100 yards. We just think 22Plinkster’s video editing may have been out of sequence. You can tell the group measured with calipers is not the same as the group shown forming top right in the preceding live video.

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November 28th, 2020

Changes in Humidity Can Alter Powder Burn Rates — IMPORTANT

Tech Tip Norma Powder gunpowder moisture temperature humidity

Most shooters realize that significant changes in temperature will alter how powders perform. That’s why you want to keep your loaded ammo out of the hot sun, and keep rounds out of a hot chamber until you’re ready to fire. But there are other factors to be considered — HUMIDITY for one. This article explains why and how humidity can affect powder burn rates and performance.

We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry”. Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.

Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).

Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”

Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”

What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.

Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from Amazon.com.

Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter

Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”

If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.

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November 28th, 2020

Firearm Storage Safety QUIZ — How Safe are YOUR Guns?

NSSF resources quiz new firearm gun owner

Do you have a friend or family member who is a first-time gun owner? Then show them this article. It provides important guidelines for new gun owners. There’s an Infographic printed below. And, there’s a helpful Firearm Storage and Safety Assessment Quiz. This walks gun owners through questions related to safe handling and storage of firearms. Here is Part One of the Quiz. If you click on this part, you can complete the entire Quiz and see how you score.

Take Gun Storage and Safety Quiz »

NSSF resources quiz new firearm gun owner

Firearms Safe Storage Video

NSSF Infographic for New Gun Owners
Below is the latest NSSF Infographic for new gun owners. This provides questions to ask before buying a gun, plus information on safe gun storage at home. This Infographic is part of a large collection of NSSF Resources for New Gun Owners.

NSSF resources quiz new firearm gun owner coronovirus covid-19

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for the Interactive Version of the NSSF Infographic. On that Interactive PDF, click on the smaller buttons to get additional information, or to watch related videos.

Other Gun Safety Resources

NSSF resources quiz new firearm gun owner

NSSF resources quiz new firearm gun owner

Firearms Safe Storage/Transport in Vehicles | Ten Tips for Firearms Safety in Your Home

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November 23rd, 2020

Prone Shooting Technique — Mastering the Prone Position

prone shooting position smallbore highpower lones wigger nra sports usa

Shooting Sports USA (SSUSA) offers a wide selection of informative articles on marksmanship techniques. If you shoot prone, “hard-holding”, you know how important proper positioning and technique can be. There is a SSUSA article that every prone shooter should read — whether you shoot air rifle, smallbore, or High Power. Compiled wtih the help of some of the country’s best prone marksmen, this article, How to Master Prone Shooting, provides a step-by-step guide to perfecting your prone position technique.

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How to Master Prone Shooting — SSUSA by NRA Staff
The prone position is the most precise of the rifle shooting positions. It is used in many different shooting events at distances as close as 5 meters and as far away as 1,000 yards, and beyond that in long-range disciplines such as PRS and NRL. Prone shooting is very popular among shooters whose training time is limited, because it does not require as much practice. Age has little effect on a shooter’s ability to do well in prone; many older shooters are able to continue competing successfully in prone matches.

Here is a sample, listing STEP ONE, the basics of the prone position:

Step One: Study the Position
The prone position is steady because it is low, which gives a wide base of support to help keep the rifle still. Below are the key features of the prone position.

1. Straight line form left hand through left arm, side and leg.
2. Head tipped down comfortably.
3. Right hand grips rifle lightly.
4. Body lies behind rifle. Angle to rifle is 10 to 20 degrees.
5. Right knee bent slightly, toe pointing out.
6. Rifle lies on heel of left hand, fingers relaxed.
7. Left elbow rests to left of rifle.
8. Sling (if present) supports weight of rifle. Left arm relaxed.
9. Body rests slightly more on left side.
10. Left leg straight, toe pointing inward or straight back.

There are FIVE MORE STEPS described in detail with specific actions to perform, in the FULL Article. For example, in STEP FOUR (Sling Adjustment), the article explains: “Put the sling high on the arm and tighten the sling keeper. Wrap the arm around the sling so that the sling comes across the left hand and forearm.”

prone shooting position smallbore highpower lones wigger nra sports usa

prone shooting position smallbore highpower lones wigger nra sports usa

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November 22nd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Jonathan Ocab’s Vudoo/MPA .22 LR for NRL22

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS

Today we feature a top-flight tactical .22 LR rig belonging to Jonathan Ocab. A talented Highpower marksman with the Distinguished Rifleman Badge, Jonathan also enjoys rimfire tactical disciplines which he features on his Youtube Channel. Jonathan now runs a monthly NRL22 match in California. His interest in the NRL22 game started with a CZ 455, but soon he stepped up to the impressive rig you see here. This boasts all top-tier components: Vudoo V-22 mag-fed action, Bartlein barrel, MPA Chassis, and Kahles K525i scope. Jonathan carefully selected all this hardware and assembled the rifle himself.

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS

My Vudoo/MPA Rifle for NRL22 and Long Range Rimfire
Report by Jonathan Ocab, Ocabj.net.
I became interested in rimfire shooting due to not having as much access to longer distance ranges, and the emergence of NRL22 matches. Back in 2017 I had acquired a CZ 455 and ran it in NRL22 club matches. It worked well, but as I started spending most of my time on my club’s rimfire range, I focused on getting a Vudoo Gun Works V-22. The Vudoo V-22 appeared to offer a true repeater that had the feel of a full-sized centerfire rifle along with high accuracy/precision potential.

After a lot of research, I decided to put in an order for a barreled action and acquired a Vudoo Gun Works V-22 action with a 20″ Bartlein barrel, 1-16″ twist, and MTU contour, all in Flat Dark Earth Cerakote (along with a +30 MOA base). I then acquired the TriggerTech Diamond Trigger Pro Curved, Masterpiece Arms BA Comp chassis (in Flat Dark Earth), American Rifle Company M10 34mm rings (28mm height), and Kahles K525i 5-25x56mm SKMR3 LSW scope.

CZ as a Starter NRL22 Option — The CZ 450-series is a solid family of .22 LR rifles, but I wanted to see what existed beyond the CZ level of rimfire rifles. One of my complaints with the CZ 455 is that the trigger leaves much to be desired even with the trigger kits available. Since the Vudoo V-22 action has a Remington 700 footprint and can accept most Rem 700-compatible triggers, I can actually run a top-tier trigger that would exceed anything available for the CZ.

Component Selection for the Ultimate NRL22 Competition Rifle
My choices in components were biased due to my prior experience — I went with quality hardware I knew and trusted…

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS

Barrel Choice — I chose the Bartlein barrel over Vudoo’s in-house Ace barrels because I run a Bartlein barrel on my 6mm Creedmoor rifle and I have become a big Bartlein fan. Secondly, I chose the Masterpiece Arms BA Competition chassis because I also run the MPA BA Comp on my 6mm Creedmoor rifle. You can see the two rifles side-by-side below:

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS
You are not seeing double. There are two rifles, both with an MPA Comp BA chassis, and both weighing about 15 pounds. In front is the featured Vudoo-action .22 LR rimfire rig with 20″ barrel, while behind is Ocab’s ARC Mausingfield 6mm Creedmoor PRS/NRL centerfire rig with 24″ barrel.

After running this rifle build for over a year now, I can say that I am more than happy with this platform as I have it configured. Having a .22 LR rifle in the same chassis as my 6mm Creedmoor rifle makes me feel right at home behind either rimfire or centerfire platform. My Vudoo V-22 weighs 15.2 lbs with Atlas CAL bipod while my 6mm Creedmoor rifle build weighs right at 15.0 lbs with the same Atlas CAL bipod. The “feel” and handling of my Vudoo V-22 MPA is as close to a centerfire gun as you can get.

Scope and Rings — I chose the 5-25x56mm Kahles K525i SKMR3 LSW because I was interested in running the Kahles after handling a few K624i and K525i scopes and hearing about how great they tracked. I run ARC M10 rings on several rifles because I think they are superbly designed.

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS

Trigger Choice — I chose the TriggerTech Diamond because I already have a TriggerTech on one of my centerfire platforms and I wanted to try their Diamond trigger on a gun.

Outstanding Accuracy with Multiple .22 LR Ammo Types — Lapua and SK
My .22 LR ammo of choice is Lapua Center-X. This is the most commonly-chosen ammunition among Vudoo V-22 shooters. I also had good results with SK Rifle Match and Lapua Midas+ in casual 50-yard and 100-yard testing but have stayed with Lapua Center-X because my rifle shot all the lots of Center-X I put into it equally well out to 200 yards.

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS

SUMMARY — The Vudoo V-22 and MPA Package Is Outstanding
I can hands down recommend the Vudoo Gun Works V-22 for anyone who is interested in getting one. The “full-sized” rimfire rifle segment is not a one-horse race anymore and there are other options out there, but I feel very few will regret going with a Vudoo V-22 over another alternative. If you do not have a centerfire rifle designed for NRL/PRS style of shooting, you could probably just opt to go with a CZ 457 or Tikka T1x and have a lot of room to modify and tailor those rifles to your own tastes and still have an accurate rifle for NRL22. But if you also run a precision centerfire rifle, you should seriously consider a Vudoo V-22 or other 700-pattern rimfire action if purchasing a new .22 LR rimfire rig.

My Vudoo Gun Works V-22 build is an all-purpose gun for me. It is setup for NRL22-style matches but can be utilized for (extreme) long range .22 LR shooting (300 yards and beyond). For that rimfire ELR Game, I am seriously considering getting a Vudoo V-22S (single-shot) action to put in an F-Class stock to have a dedicated ELR .22 LR gun. While I built my Vudoo Gun Works V-22 with NRL22 in mind, I realized this gun could do more so I took it out to shoot 300 yards. After that, I stretched it out to 400 yards and then 500 yards in subsequent range visits. Now I am intrigued by extreme long range .22 LR shooting and often shoot 400 yards and beyond with the Vudoo V-22 when I can.

Long Range .22 LR Rimfire — Out to 500 Yards

Jonathan shoots his competition rifle in Long Range Rimfire matches with targets out to 500 yards. That’s definitely Extreme Long Range for the little .22 LR cartridge, requiring 27.8 MILs of up elevation! Jonathan notes: “I originally had a +30 MOA base on my rifle and it worked fine to 400 yards, but I ran out of adjustment on the K525i to get to 500 and had to hold over. I ended up getting a +40 MOA base.”

NRL22 Competition — Tactical Rimfire Matches
The NRL22 match format is a great shooting discipline. NRL22 offers a high fun factor at relatively low cost. You don’t have to reload match ammo. A couple of 50-round boxes of .22 LR ammo will get you through the match. While some people bring lots of gear to matches, that’s by choice and not by necessity. You can keep it simple and still be competitive (and win).

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS

Tips for NRL22 Competitors
I am a match director at my gun club and run our local NRL22 matches. People often ask me for tips for competing in NRL22. First, I recommend getting the course of fire for the month in advance and practicing those stages at the range. Here are other specific tips that should help NRL22 competitors improve their gun-handling and match results.

1. Dry Fire Practice — If you are not able to do live fire practice at the range, I encourage shooters to practice their shooting positions at home via dry fire. Setup props or barricades with pasters or other faux targets on a wall in the garage or inside the house and run through each stage.

2. Scope Magnification Level — The most common issue I see with newer shooters in NRL22 is the tendency to maximize their scope magnification. The timer will start, and the shooter gets into position on a target, but the scope is set to 15x or higher and the shooter can’t find the target. The shooter lowers the magnification, locates the target, and then increases the magnification again, takes the shot, transitions to another target, and repeats the process of decreasing magnification, locating target, etc. Novice NRL22 shooters should try using the mid-range magnification. Try shooting 7x-12x and learn to balance field of view and target image.

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS
The author at NRL22 Match at West End Gun Club in San Bernardino, CA.

3. Support Side Shooting — NRL22 matches often include support-side shooting stages. This requires you to shoot with your opposite (non-dominant) hand and eye. I often hear people complain about shooting support-side. My only real tip for this is to actually spend time at the range shooting this way. Practice makes perfect. It’s all a question of learning how to shoot again and using fundamentals. Learn to get a consistent cheek weld and consistent eye relief. If necessary, figure out if you need to set your scope’s diopter for your opposite eye and mark it on the scope.

4. Tripod Practice — Even though tripods are not used in the NRL22 courses of fire, I practice shooting off of a tripod often. I will often setup targets at various distances and spaced far apart to run drills firing shots on each target with the goal of speeding up transitions and target acquisitions. Target acquisition after transition from target to target is where time is lost, so it is good to become efficient in this area.

jonathan Ocab v-22 vudoo action MPA BA Comp chassis rimfire tactical NRL22 sunday gunday Center-X 6mm creedmoor PRS

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November 22nd, 2020

Click-Adjust FL Die Systems from PMA Tool & Whidden Gunworks

click-adjustable die micro-adjusting lock ring PMA Tool Whidden Gunworks

One of the most important aspects of precision reloading is setting the shoulder bump during the full-length (FL) sizing process. You want the amount of “bump” to be precise and identical for every loaded round. However, when you switch brands of brass you may need to change the die position to get the desired bump and case body sizing. And even with the same brand of brass, you may find that you need to adjust your FL die as the number of brass load cycles increases. Brass that has been fired many times will behave differently than new or near-new brass.

Also, even with the same cartridge type, brass loaded for a semi-auto rifle may need more bump than brass fired in a bolt gun. For example, with .223 Rem ammo, you’ll normally want to push the shoulder back farther if the ammo will be shot in a AR15 as opposed to a bolt-action rig.

So how do you make all these needed adjustments for your full-length dies? You can move a conventional locking ring up and down, but that can be a tedious, trial-and-error process. Some guys use shims in one-thousandth intervals, but that still requires taking your dies in and out of the press. Well there is a better way now…

PMA Tool Micro-Die Adjuster

Wouldn’t it be great if you could precisely adjust your FL die up and down in half-thousandth increments, with a simple indexed click. That is now possible with products offered by PMA Tool and Whidden Gunworks. PMA Tool offers a Micro-Die Adjuster that replaces your existing lock ring and can be used with nearly any 7/8-14 full length sizing die. The engraved marks correspond to approximately .001″ of shoulder bump adjustment. Splitting the engraved marks is therefore approximately equal to .0005″ (half a thousandth). Users love this product, saying it adds precision and saves time.

Whidden Click-Adjustable FL Sizing Die System

Whidden Gunworks offers a complete click-adjustable FL sizer die with a special, indexed ring. With Whidden’s patent-pending Click Adjustable Sizer Die system, the die and lock ring work together to allow rapid, precise bump adjustments. One click changes the bump .001″. It’s simple and fast. Included with the Click Adjustable Sizer Die is a shoulder bump gauge. John Whidden (in video below) explains:

“There has become a need for an easier way to adjust the sizer die properly. Until now there have been few options other than trial and error to get the shoulder setback correct. Anyone who has done this can attest that it’s a slow and imprecise job! Our die and lock ring work together to give the user a clicking feel to the adjustment. Each click moves the shoulder bump .001” so you can easily find the exact shoulder bump that you desire.” — John Whidden

General Tips on Setting Up and Using Sizing Dies

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November 21st, 2020

Ruger Resources for New Firearm Owners

Ruger info new gun firearm owners safety videos range etiquette safe storage

Ruger has created a helpful set of online resources for new Firearm owners. The New Firearm Owner Resources site features a Fundamentals of Firearms Ownership Video Series, Industry Resources for local “hands-on” training, as well as information on safe storage. In addition, this online Resource Center offers a full library of product instruction manuals along with suggestions for recommended safety equipment.

There will be new video releases each week, hosted by Mark Gurney, Ruger Director of Product Management. These short (2 min. on average) videos provide key information for new gun owners. If you have friends or family members who are new gun owners, they should watch ALL these videos.

Introduction for New Firearms Owners

Safety Rules — The FOUR Fundamental Safety Rules

Range Safety Equipment — What You Need

This video reviews essential Eye and Ear Protection for shooters.

Safe Storage of Firearms

Range Etiquette — Proper Practices

Ruger info new gun firearm owners safety videos range etiquette safe storage

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November 20th, 2020

Access 11 Years of Shooting Sports USA Stories — All FREE!

Shooting Sports USA competitive shooting high power marksmanship archive SSUSA

Enjoy the Shooting Sports USA Archives
With the COVID-19 restrictions we’re all spending more time indoors at home. For some folks that means long sessions in front of the boob tube. Here’s a better idea — there’s a vast resource of great gun-related content available online for FREE. Check out the Shooting Sports USA Articles Archive. SSUSA maintains a vast digital library with hundreds of articles going back to June 2009.

Shooting Sports USA competitive shooting high power marksmanship archive SSUSAIt’s easy to find back issues of Shooting Sports USA magazine. Here’s how: Using the gray toolbar at the top, click on the “ARCHIVES” icon in the upper right area (indicated with red arrow). When you click on “ARCHIVES”, a window will open with a selection of Shooting Sports USA magazine covers/dates in a vertical column.

Next use the vertical scroll bar to go from November 2020 (the latest issue) all the way back to June 2009. Click any issue cover to read.

Shooting Sports USA competitive shooting high power marksmanship archive SSUSA
The June 2020 issue features a Palma rifle built with Eliseo Tubegun Chassis System.

How to Find and Save Articles
To search through back issues, select “MORE OPTIONS” from the toolbar. Then click the “SEARCH” button. When that opens, select either “Search archives” for ALL back issues or “Search Only this Issue”. When you’ve made your choice, enter your search term(s). For example, you can search for “Camp Perry” or “Palma” or “F-Class Championship”. You can also save any archived issue as a PDF for viewing offline. Just click “SAVE” to download the article you’re currently viewing/reading.

Shooting Sports USA competitive shooting high power marksmanship archive SSUSA

Read Sample Articles
Here are a couple of our favorite SSUSA feature stories from recent years. There are hundreds of other informative articles worth reading.

Wind-Reading Tips from Champion Shooters »

Shooting Sports USA Wind Reading tips

How to Clean and Maintain Match Barrels »

Shooting Sports USA Barrel Maintenance Clean Bore Scope

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November 19th, 2020

Getting Vertical Fliers? Check Firing Pin and Ignition System

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin
Top to bottom – Remington firing pin assembly with ISS, Tubb SpeedLock alloy-composite system without ISS (current versions have dual, opposite-wound springs), and Remington short action firing pin assembly without ISS.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit regularly publishes technical articles on the USAMU Facebook page. One informative USAMU article covered mechanical issues and related ignition irregularities that can cause vertical fliers even with good ammunition in an otherwise excellent rifle. We highly recommend you read this article, which offers some important tech tips.

USAMU handloading hump day

Vertical Dispersion: Mechanical/Ignition Issues?

Poor or inconsistent ignition has long been known to be one of the “usual suspects” when one encounters vertical fliers that just shouldn’t be there. By having a sense of some of the basic principles involved, and a few basic areas to check, the shooter may avoid colsiderable frustration, not to mention time, expensive loading components and barrel wear.

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pinIs your well-built rifle of high-quality components plagued with vertical fliers across more than 1-3 handload combinations? Consider the bedding, crown and scope/sight mounts. Are they correct? If so, then you might check for ignition issues before boldly undertaking an extensive, expensive, and quite possibly fruitless quest for the “magic handload”.

SEEING IS BELIEVING: While the author had been aware for many years that poor ignition should be considered and ruled out when dealing with vertical fliers in an otherwise-excellent rifle, actually seeing the problem and its almost instantaneous cure really drove the lesson home.

He was working with a “dot” rifle – a .22 LR match rifle that really stacked bullets into little piles at 50 yards and beyond. With one lot of ELEY Tenex, it produced consistent “bughole” groups at 50, but with another, selected lot of Tenex, similar groups were regularly ruined by single, vertical fliers that did not appear in other rifles. Rather than spending days burning up expensive, select ammunition looking for “magic lots”, he contacted a well-respected rimfire gunsmith and explained the situation.

Without so much as batting an eye, the highly-experienced ‘smith tore into the rifle’s action, and quickly found the cause(s) of the problem. He discovered a demonstrably weak firing pin spring, plus a chip out of the face of the firing pin where it contacted the cartridge rim.

After replacing and tuning the offending parts, the rifle immediately began shooting tiny, bughole groups with the previously “unacceptable” lot of Tenex. Centerfire rifles can also benefit from ensuring positive, consistent ignition. A wise riflesmith is literally worth his weight in gold!

So, what are some issues we as shooters can inspect in our rifles to help determine if ignition woes could be part of our problem? At the club level, ask yourself if that “experienced” Remington, Winchester 70, or even Springfield-based match bolt gun you’re using is still running its’ original 40-80 year-old factory striker spring? If so, a new replacement is cheap insurance against current or future problems. (And BTW, it might be best to stick to the normal, factory-spec spring weight. A super-powerful spring can cause vertical, just as a weak one one can.) Along with that, a routine check for proper firing-pin protrusion is a quick preventive measure that can rule out potential issues.

Other areas to consider are the centering and consistency of the firing pin’s operation in the bolt. Admittedly, with the increasing use of precision-machined custom actions, this is becoming less an issue every day. Below is the firing pin assembly from a custom BAT action:

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin

However, particularly with factory actions, a very quick and easy check is to remove the bolt, let the firing pin go forward, and look at the firing pin tip through the firing pin hole. Is the tip off-center in the hole, and possibly striking it as it moves forward? Is the hole out-of-round or burred from being struck repeatedly? If so, a trip to the riflesmith is likely in order.

Similarly, machining issues in the bolt/firing pin system can lead to rough and erratic firing pin movement, in which the firing pin drags against an internal surface of the bolt. In high-quality rifles these issues are relatively rare, but not unheard-of, and it takes mere minutes to rule them out. It may be worthwhile to remove the cocking piece/firing pin/spring assembly and look for any unusual gouges, dings, peening, burrs or signs of abnormal wear.

This task is especially easy with Winchester 70s, Springfields, and the similar Mauser 98s, involving little more than the push of a button and unscrewing the cocking piece assembly. This is just one of the many reasons these tried-and-true actions have earned such a loyal following in the field, among hunters who must maintain their rifles away from a shop.

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin

Particularly with older rifles, watch for and remove excess grease (or even Cosmoline!) from both the firing pin assembly and inside the bolt. This can help improve firing pin speed and consistency. Other bolt-action designs may need a take-down tool or other measures.

As part of this inspection, AFTER ENSURING THE RIFLE IS UNLOADED, slowly cock the rifle, dry-fire, and repeat several times. Listen carefully near the action for inconsistency in the sounds it generates. Does the striker falling make the same sound each time? Do you hear or feel grinding upon operation? If so, where?

Be sure to check the operation of the cocking piece (bolt shroud), firing pin within the bolt shroud, the cocking piece cam and the rear of the bolt body where the cocking piece cam operates. As with our examination for abnormal wear marks discussed above, look for marks indicating roughness or a possible need for light polishing. Then, clean and lightly grease the bearing surfaces while you’re at it.

Remington 700 bolt shroud and cocking cam
Rem 700 bolt cocking cam

These are relatively easy checks that shooters can undertake to perform a preliminary inspection on their own. Other mechanical issues can also cause ignition issues, chiefly centered around the action of the trigger, sear and sear spring. If these are suspected, a trip to an experienced, qualified riflesmith for diagnosis is recommended. We hope you find this information helpful! Join us again next week, and in the meantime, enjoy the shooting sports safely!

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November 19th, 2020

Guide to Gun Metals — What You Need to Know

Sweeney Guide to Gun Metal

4140, 4150, 316, 17-4, 6061, 7075-T6 — What is the significance of these numbers? No, they’re not winning lottery numbers. These are all designations for metals commonly used in firearm and barrel construction. 4140 and 4150 are carbon steels, with 4150 often used in mil-spec AR15 barrels. 316 and 17-4 are grades of stainless steel. 316 is “marine grade” stainless, while 17-4 has 17% chromium and 4% nickel. 17-4 is a harder steel used in barrels and receivers. 6061 and 7075-T6 are aluminum alloys. 6061 is “aircraft grade” aluminum, often used for rings and trigger guards, while 7075-T6 is a much stronger, heat-treated aluminum commonly used in AR15 uppers.

Sweeney Guide to Gun MetalYou can learn about all these metals (and more) in the online archives of RifleShooter magazine.

Written by Patrick Sweeney, RifleShooter’s Guide to Gun Metal summarizes the primary types of steel and aluminum used in gun and barrel construction. Sweeney explains the nomenclature used to define metal types, and he outlines the salient properties of various steel and aluminum alloys. This is a useful resource for anyone selecting components or building rifles. We recommend you print out the page, or at least bookmark it.

Metals by the Number
The number system for steel classification came from the auto industry. Sweeney explains: “The Society of Automotive Engineers uses a simple designating system, the four numbers you see bandied about in gun articles. Numbers such as 1060, 4140 or 5150 all designate how much of what [elements are] in them. The first number is what class—carbon, nickel, chromium, and so forth. The next three numbers [list other elements in the alloy]. 4140, also known as ordnance steel, was one of the early high-alloy steels. It has about 1 percent chromium, 0.25 percent molybdenum, 0.4 percent carbon, 1 percent manganese, around 0.2 percent silicon and no more than 0.035 percent phosphorus and no more than 0.04 percent sulphur. That leaves most of it, 94.25 percent, iron.”

Aluminum Alloys
Numbers are also used to differentiate different types of aluminum alloys. Sweeny writes: “Aluminum is used in firearms in two alloys: 7075 and 6061. 6061 is commonly referred to as ‘aircraft aluminum’ and has trace amounts of silicon, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. 7075 is a much stronger alloy and has markedly larger amounts of copper, manganese, chromium and zinc.” 7075 Aluminum has significantly better corrosion resistance, and that’s why it is used for AR receivers. The “T6″ you often see appended to 7075 refers to a heat-treating process.

Aluminum (or “Aluminium” in the UK) is a chemical element in the boron group with symbol Al and atomic number 13. It is a silvery-white, soft, nonmagnetic, ductile metal. Aluminum is the third most abundant element, and the most abundant metal, in the Earth’s crust. (Wikipedia)

Aluminum alloy table chart Silicon Maganese Zinc Copper Magnesium

To learn more about the metals used in your firearms’ barrels, rings, receivers, and internal parts, read Sweeney’s article in RifleShooterMag.com. Taking the time to read the article from start to finish will expand your knowledge of metal properties and how metals are chosen by manufacturers and gunsmiths. CLICK to Read Guide to Gun Metal.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions. Aluminum Alloy chart courtesy AluminiumDesign.net.
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November 18th, 2020

How to Sell Guns Online — Web Classifieds and Auction Sites

Gunbroker shooters forum gun classified ads

online sales auctionsThese days, online gun Auctions and Classifieds attract more attention than ever. With so many folks accessing the internet daily, many gun owners find it easier to sell their firearms online rather than in the local gun store. Online selling opens up a much larger audience. With over 53,000 members in the AccurateShooter Forum, we have a very active gun Classifieds area. And then of course, there are the big dogs — Gunbroker and GunsAmerica. You’ll find tens of thousands of guns for sale on those big sites.

Before selling your stuff online, you should survey the major online sales and auction sites, comparing their fees and features. The costs are NOT all the same. For example, though you can list an item on Gunbroker for free, if the gun sells you may end up paying a LOT of money. Confirm this with the Gunbroker FEE Calculator. Using Gunbroker’s Fee Calculator we determined that, for a $2500.00 gun, the seller will pay $93.75 in fees! Yes, that’s for a single sale.

That’s why many sellers prefer to list their rifles on Benchrest.com, or on the AccurateShooter.com FORUM Classifisds. Currently, basic Accurate Forum members get three (3) free adverts in a 12-month period, while Gold and Silver members get unlimited classifieds for 12 months. A $25 Silver membership is less than you’d pay to sell one single $550 item on Gunbroker ($25.50 fee).

SEVEN TIPS for Selling Your Gear Online

1. Include Good, Sharp Photos: A custom rifle or expensive optic will sell two to three times as quickly, at a higher price, if you include good sharp photos. We can’t over-emphasize the importance of good photos. For all products, show multiple angles, and include the original boxes if you still have them. For a rifle, include detail shots as well as a photo of the complete gun.

2. Resize Your Photos Before Posting: Half of users will probably be viewing your ads with a smartphone. So you don’t need huge photos. We recommend you size your photos down to 1000 pixels wide. This will make uploads more efficient and ensure the Forum server can handle the file sizes.

3. Be Fair and Complete in Your Description: Buyers appreciate honesty and thoroughness in product descriptions. Potential buyers want details. For a rifle, list the gunsmith, barrel-maker, round count, and provide the specifications. If the rifle has a winning competition history, say so. Always highlight the positives in your description, but you should disclose significant flaws. A buyer will be more willing to purchase if he thinks the seller is 100% honest.

4. Don’t Forget Contact Info: We’re amazed by how many adverts omit key contact info. In a forum classified ad, include a first name, e.g. “Ask for Dan.” We also suggest you list your residence city and state. Some buyers will prefer to buy from a seller in their home state. When communicating with a buyer, provide your phone number and email address. We recommend that all buyers and sellers actually talk live on the phone before concluding high-value deals.

5. Make the Price Attractive: Buyers, everywhere, are looking for good deals. If you want your item to move quickly, set the price accordingly and don’t expect top dollar. Check comparable listings and then discount by 10-15% if you want the item to move fast.

6. Include a Call to Action: Advertisements can be twice as effective if they include a “Call to Action”, i.e. a statement that directly inspires the potential buyer to respond. Sample calls to action are: “Free Shipping — today only.” Or, you can use a time limit: “Special Sale Price good ’til the end of the month”.

7. Always Follow ALL Applicable Laws: Even in states where private face-to-face gun sales are allowed, we recommend ALWAYS using an FFL for firearms transfers. This will protect YOU the seller. In addition, do your homework. Don’t sell to a buyer in a city or state (such as California) state or city where the particular firearm (such as an AR15) may be restricted

Classified Advert vs. Auctions
For benchrest, F-Class, Silhouette, Tactical or High Power rifles, you may get the best results posting a For Sale ad on a Forum that caters to the right discipline. You want your ad to reach the right audience. On the other hand, a GunBroker.com auction will have tens of thousands of potential buyers. Realistically, however, if you price your rig attractively, it should sell quickly in a Forum Classified Advert. Plus with conventional Classifieds, you can sell immediately — you don’t have to wait for the auction to end. For scopes and reloading equipment (but not firearms, actions, barrels etc.), also consider eBay, which still allows many gun-related items.

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November 17th, 2020

TECH TIP: Bullet Bearing Surface Length Can Affect Pressure

USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparision Safety Reloading
Photo 1: Three Near-Equal-Weight 7mm Bullets with Different Shapes

TECH TIP: Bullets of the same weight (and caliber) can generate very different pressure levels due to variances in Bearing Surface Length (BSL).

Bullet 1 (L-R), the RN/FB, has a very slight taper and only reaches its full diameter (0.284″) very near the cannelure. This taper is often seen on similar bullets — it helps reduce pressures with good accuracy. The calculated BSL of Bullet 1 was ~0.324″. The BSL of Bullet 2, in the center, was ~0.430”, and Bullet 3’s was ~ 0.463″. Obviously, bullets can be visually deceiving as to BSL!


This article from the USAMU covers an important safety issue — why you should never assume that a “book” load for a particular bullet will be safe with an equal-weight bullet of different shape/design. The shape and bearing surface of the bullet will affect the pressure generated inside the barrel. This is part of the USAMU’s Handloading Hump Day series, published on the USAMU Facebook page.

Beginning Handloading, Part 13:
Extrapolating Beyond Your Data, or … “I Don’t Know, What I Don’t Know!”

We continue our Handloading Safety theme, focusing on not inadvertently exceeding the boundaries of known, safe data. Bullet manufacturers’ loading manuals often display three, four, or more similar-weight bullets grouped together with one set of load recipes. The manufacturer has tested these bullets and developed safe data for that group. However, seeing data in this format can tempt loaders — especially new ones — to think that ALL bullets of a given weight and caliber can interchangeably use the same load data. Actually, not so much.

The researchers ensure their data is safe with the bullet yielding the highest pressure. Thus, all others in that group should produce equal or less pressure, and they are safe using this data.

However, bullet designs include many variables such as different bearing surface lengths, hardness, and even slight variations in diameter. These can occasionally range up to 0.001″ by design. Thus, choosing untested bullets of the same weight and caliber, and using them with data not developed for them can yield excess pressures.

This is only one of the countless reasons not to begin at or very near the highest pressure loads during load development. Always begin at the starting load and look for pressure signs as one increases powder charges.

Bullet bearing surface length (BSL) is often overlooked when considering maximum safe powder charges and pressures. In photo 1 (at top), note the differences in the bullets’ appearance. All three are 7mm, and their maximum weight difference is just five grains. Yet, the traditional round nose, flat base design on the left appears to have much more BSL than the sleeker match bullets. All things being equal, based on appearance, the RN/FB bullet seems likely to reach maximum pressure with significantly less powder than the other two designs.

Bearing Surface Measurement Considerations
Some might be tempted to use a bullet ogive comparator (or two) to measure bullets’ true BSL for comparison’s sake. Unfortunately, comparators don’t typically measure maximum bullet diameter and this approach can be deceiving.

Photo 2: The Perils of Measuring Bearing Surface Length with Comparators
USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparision Safety Reloading

In Photo 2, two 7mm comparators have been installed on a dial caliper in an attempt to measure BSL. Using this approach, the BSLs differed sharply from the original [measurements]. The comparator-measured Bullet 1 BSL was 0.694” vs. 0.324” (original), Bullet 2 was 0.601” (comparator) vs. 0.430” (original), and Bullet 3 (shown in Photo 2) was 0.602” (comparator) vs. 0.463” (original). [Editor’s comment — Note the very large difference for Bullet 1, masking the fact that the true full diameter on this bullet starts very far back.]

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November 15th, 2020

CMP Issues Updated Competition Rules for 2020 – 2021

CMP civilian marksmanship rules 2020 2021 rulebook highpower rifle smallbore

CMP COMPETITION RULES FOR 2020-2021 Are Now Available

CMP Rule Changes are now available as Addenda to 2020 Rules or as complete 2020-21 PDFs (links below). There were not a lot of changes that were approved for 2021. However, most notably, eyewear rules will be more strictly enforced. NOTE: When you open the downloadable PDF files linked below, you will see the new-for-2021 changes displayed in red underlined text. The changes made in 2020 are shown in black underlined text.

2020 CMP Competition Rulebooks

Click Links to Download Full Rules or Change Sheets
2020-2021 Highpower Rifle Competition Rules | Highpower Errata (2021 Changes) Sheet
2020-2021 CMP Smallbore Rifle Competition Rules | Smallbore Errata (2021 Changes) Sheet
2020-2021 Pistol Competition Rules | Pistol Errata (2021 Changes) Sheet
2020-2021 CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules | CMP Games Errata (2021 Changes) Sheet

Story based on Report by Gary Anderson, DCM Emeritus
CMP Competition Rules for the 2021 competition season have now been approved by the CMP Rules Committee and are posted on the CPM Website. The 2020 competition season was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and many 2020 events were cancelled, so the CMP still has a substantial inventory of printed 2020 rulebooks. In addition [there were] only a small number of changes for 2021. As a result, the CMP decided not to publish new rulebooks for 2021. 2020 Rulebooks will continue to be used and Errata (Update) sheets are being provided for each rulebook. The rulebooks posted on the CMP website have been updated with 2021 changes are labeled as “2020-2021″ rulebooks. These Rulebooks posted on the CMP website include all 2021 changes. Use the links above to get the latest rules for each discipline.

How to UPDATE Your CMP Rules:
1. If you already have a 2020 rulebook, download the Changes/Updates for that rulebook and note in your 2020 rulebook where those changes apply. (Or use the links above).

2. If you keep your rulebooks on your computer, notebook or cell phone, or want to print your own rulebook, download the Updated 2020-2021 rulebooks from the CMP Website. (Or use the links above).

CMP civilian marksmanship rules 2020 2021 rulebook highpower rifle smallbore
2020-2021 rulebooks include a diagram showing proper use of eye protection.

CMP civilian marksmanship rules 2020 2021 rulebook highpower rifle smallboreWhen reading the 2020-2021 editions of the rulebooks, note that 2020 rule changes are displayed in black underlined text. 2021 changes are displayed in red underlined text. Those changes do, however, include the addition of a new CMP Service Revolver Match in the Pistol Rules and the addition of F-Class and AR-Tactical Mid- and Long-Range Matches in the Highpower Rifle Rules. The CMP plans to offer competitions in both of these new disciplines in the 2021 National Matches. Another significant change, which has already been announced because it applies this year, is the authorization that competitors may fire a sixth EIC match in years like 2020 when the National Trophy Individual Match is not held.

The 2020 rule requiring Highpower Rifle and Pistol competitors to wear eye and hearing protection while on the firing line has been clarified and strengthened in the 2020-2021 rules.

MANDATORY EYE PROTECTION RULE
One of the most important 2020 rule changes was a requirement that Highpower rifle and pistol competitors must wear eye and hearing protection when they are on firing lines. A big majority of experienced, knowledgeable competitors now agree that protective eyewear is a must for Highpower rifle and pistol shooting, but unfortunately this safety precaution has not been as universally accepted. Incidents involving Highpower rifle and pistol shooting where eye injuries occurred or could have occurred are more common than many realize.

CMP civilian marksmanship rules 2020 2021 rulebook highpower rifle smallbore

Non-Compliance Results in “No Exceptions” Eye Protection Standards
The CMP Board and staff have carefully evaluated the pros and cons of this safety requirement and have concluded that mandating the wearing of eye and hearing protection is a wise policy. After this rule was introduced, a vast majority of competitors complied with its letter and spirit. Unfortunately, there were a few competitors who did not comply. Some wore shooting glasses to the line and then lowered or removed them while firing. A really strange attempt to evade this rule involved cutting a hole in the part of the shooting glasses lens where the competitor looked while aiming. A few simply refused to comply.

After evaluating experiences with this new safety requirement in 2020, the CMP is taking these additional steps to facilitate compliance in 2021:

— Rule 3.6.2 (both Highpower Rifle and Pistol) has been clarified to clearly require that “two complete lenses” be worn in front of both eyes while firing. Obtaining shooting glasses or prescription eyewear that complies with the ANSI Z87.1 safety standard is “strongly recommended”.
— Pre-match safety briefings in 2021 will include specific instructions about the requirement to wear eye and hearing protection while on the firing line.
— Match officials will give warnings to any competitor who is not in compliance. Refusal to comply with a warning is grounds for disqualification.
— Match sponsors are advised that their match officials need to monitor and enforce this rule and that results from EIC or other matches where this rule was not enforced may not be accepted.

Highlights of 2021 CMP Rules Changes

(more…)

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November 14th, 2020

Building Rifles with Howa 1500 Barreled Actions — Expert Advice

Howa 1500 rifle Bill Rifleshooter.com
Rifleshooter.com built this tactical rifle (top image) with a Howa 1500 action, Shilen barrel, and MDT chassis. Below is a factory Howa 1500 Multi-Cam rifle.

Many of our readers are thinking of purchasing a Howa rifle or barreled action. These feature smooth-running actions with a good two-stage HACT trigger. But some folks have heard that it may be difficult to find stocks, or to fit an after-market barrel. That’s not true. There are many stock options available, and in this article, Bill of RifleShooter.com shows that it is easy to remove the factory-installed barrel with the right tools. We think a Howa makes a fine basis for a varmint rig or field rifle. Or you can build a tactical rifle as Bill did. You can start with the factory barrel and when you want/need more accuracy, then have a gunsmith install a custom barrel from Krieger, Shilen, or other quality brand.

What You Need to Know About Howa 1500-series Rifles

Tech Feature by RifleShooter.com
Consider this article the “Howa 1500 Overview”. AccurateShooter.com’s editor mentioned there’s been a lot of interest in Howa rifles and barreled actions imported by Legacy Sports International. In addition to being able to buy a complete rifle from a dealer, Brownells sells barreled actions in a wide variety of calibers and configurations. In this post we are going to take a look at the Howa 1500 series.

Howa Rifles — General Background
Howa is a Japanese heavy machinery company. One of its product lines are firearms, which, are imported into the United States of America by two different companies, Legacy Sports International and Weatherby. Legacy sells the 1500 under the manufacturers name while Weatherby re-brands the guns as the Weatherby Vanguard. In general, the finishes on the Weatherby rifles are more refined than the LSI-imported 1500s.

General Evaluation of Howa 1500 Rifles
I’ve found Howa 1500s to be solid, entry-level rifles that are capable of sub-MOA accuracy out of the box. I’ve actually purchased two Howa rifles I’ve tested because I like them so much. The gun below, a Howa Mini-Action in 7.62×39 Russian, is one of my favorite factory guns to shoot. I’m running a Tract Optics Toric on it, these are solid little rifle scopes that offer great performance for the money.

Howa 1500 rifle Bill Rifleshooter.com

Check out this three-shot group I drilled at 100 yards with the rifle above and 125-grain Sierras. It took a lot of work and load development to get there, but when it did, it worked well.

Howa 1500 rifle Bill Rifleshooter.com

Howa 1600 HACT Two-Stage TriggerHowa 1500 HACT 2-Stage Trigger
Howa 1500s feature the very nice Howa HACT trigger. This is an adjustable, two-stage trigger, set for about 3 pounds (combined stages). Crisp and repeatable, this is an excellent trigger for a factory gun. There is no annoying Glock-style safety lever in the middle of the trigger blade. The 2-stage design and pull weight range works well for a hunting rifle or a rig for PRS competition. Rifleshooter.com says the Howa trigger is “one of the best factory triggers, along with Tikka. I’ve found the Howa trigger superior to a Remington 700 — the Howas doesn’t need to be replaced.”

Writing for the Western Outdoor News, WONews.com, Steve Comus has field-tested the new HACT Trigger. Steve writes: “I always liked two-stage triggers, because of the way I could take-up the slack and then actually know when the rifle was going to go off. The take-up on the [HACT] trigger was fast and easy. The crisp, positive release when pressure was put on during the second stage [reminded me] of some of the target rifles I shot through the years.”

Howa Actions — Three Options
Howa offers three action lengths: Mini, Short, and Long. You can see the bolts for the three action lengths in the image below. The Mini-Action has similar external dimensions to the Remington Model Seven, however, the Mini-Action’s bolt does not travel as far to the rear. This is a mixed bag. The upside is you have a quicker action (shorter bolt throw). The downside is you are limited to shorter rounds such as the .223 Remington, 7.62×39mm Russian, and 6.5 Grendel. But if you need a bigger cartridge, just choose the standard or long action Howa variant.

Howa 1500 rifle Bill Rifleshooter.com

Howa 1500 vs. Remington 700 — Important Differences
Is the Howa 1500 a Remington 700 clone, or some kind of improved Remington 700? No, not really. While the top radius of the Howa 1500 does match the Model 700, and they can both use the same two-piece scope bases, there are a number of differences.

Howa 1500 rifle Bill Rifleshooter.com

If you look at the Howa 1500 alongside the Remington 700 you’ll note the M700 is a round action, while the Howa is a flat-bottom action. In many ways the Howa’s bottom half reminds me of a push-feed Winchester. This means the chassis and stocks that support a Howa 1500 are not V-block based like you’ll find on a 700, instead they have a flat bottom. While the bolt of the Howa is similar in external appearance to the Model 700, it does offer some improvements, notably an M16-style extractor and a firing pin assembly that can be easily removed without tools.

Howa 1500 rifle Bill Rifleshooter.com

Howa 1500 action screws are metric and are in a different location from the 700. The Howa 1500 has an integral recoil lug that accepts the front action screw, this means you have more of the front action screw engaging the action. WARNING: If you install it into a poorly-fitted stock or action you may bind it.

Can a Howa Action Be Used for a Custom Rifle Project?
Absolutely! You can either buy a barreled action from Brownells and throw it in a chassis system/stock of your choice or you can use a stripped action to build a custom rifle. If you are in the chassis market, MDT offers a wide variety of chassis in different price ranges. All have worked well for me.

How to Remove Howa Factory Barrel from Action
You may have heard internet grumblings about removing Howa barrels. Some keyboard commandos say they are extremely difficult to remove without a relief cut. Well Bill at Rifleshooter.com demonstrates that Howa barrels can be removed without trouble, provided you have the right tools. Watch this video:

Watch Howa Barrel Removal Video — Quick and Easy (Click Speaker Icon for Audio)

Q: Is it difficult to remove a barrel from a Howa 1500?
A: Not very. I’ve heard from some smiths that worked on Howas (years ago) that the factory barrels are difficult to remove. However of the half dozen or so Howa barrels that I’ve pulled, they’ve been very easy. I use a Brownells action wrench with the top piece for a Rem Model 700 and the flat bottom resting against the flat on the wrench.

Howa Actions Require Metric Barrel Threads
It’s easy to thread a barrel for a Howa Action. You just have to cut metric threads — most lathes out there can cut them. I cut the threads below on a manual lathe using change gears. [Editor: John Whidden cuts metric tenon threads with a CNC lathe. “It’s easy,” John tells us, “No issue whatsoever.”]

Howa 1500 rifle Bill Rifleshooter.com

Using Howa Actions for Custom Rifles
I have built a few customs with Howa actions. Below is one of my favorite, a .308 Winchester. It consists of a Howa 1500 action, Shilen Select Match Remington Varmint contour barrel, and Modular Driven Technologies (MDT) ESS chassis. Great rifle and it hammers!

Howa 1500 rifle Bill Rifleshooter.com

To learn more about Howa rifles and actions, visit Legacy Sports International. To buy a Howa barreled action, visit Brownells.com.

To learn more about modular chassis systems for Howa rifles, visit MDTTAC.com

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November 14th, 2020

“Bully!” — Theodore Roosevelt’s Guns In NRA Museum

Theodore Teddy TR Roosevelt NRA museum bully

Theodore Teddy TR Roosevelt NRA museum bullyStory by Lars Dalseide for NRAblog.
Back in 2012, the National Firearms Museum received a shipment from Sagamore Hill — the ancestral home of President Theodore Roosevelt. While Sagamore Hill undergoes renovation, the National Parks Service was kind enough to lend a portion of the estate’s collection to the NRA Museum. For quite some time, that collection was displayed at the NRA Museum as an exhibit named “Trappings of an Icon”.

“Basically it tells you about the life of Theodore Roosevelt,” explains Senior Curator Phil Schreier (in photo above in coat). “Hunter, Statesman, Soldier. In the first case we had two firearms from his hunting career. First an 1886 Winchester rifle known as the tennis match gun because he used winnings from a tennis match to purchase the gun.”

The second firearm on display was a suppressed Winchester model 1894 rifle. This was favorite of the President’s when clearing the grounds of the local, pesky critters. Schreier explains: “Archie Roosevelt wrote that his father liked to shoot varmints around Oyster Bay with this gun so he wouldn’t disturb the Tiffany and Du Pont families that lived near by.”

President Theodore Roosevelt was a strong supporter of marksmanship competitions. In fact President Theodore Roosevelt could be called a “founding father” of the NRA National Matches*. Teddy Roosevelt believed that, to assure peace, America needed to be prepared to fight. At the 2011 NRA National Championships, Dr. Joseph W. Westphal, Under Secretary of the U.S. Army, echoed the views of Roosevelt: “The first step in the direction of preparation to avert war, if possible, and to be fit for war, if it should come, is to teach men to shoot.”

Theodore Roosevelt also has a strong connection to the “President’s Match” fired every summer at Camp Perry. The President’s Match was patterned after an event for British Volunteers called the Queen’s Match started in 1860 by Queen Victoria and the NRA of Great Britain. The tradition of making a letter from the President of the United States the first prize began in 1904 when President Roosevelt personally wrote a letter of congratulations to the winner, Private Howard Gensch of the New Jersey National Guard.

*In February 1903, an amendment to the War Department Appropriations Bill established the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice (NBPRP). This government advisory board became the predecessor to today’s Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety, Inc. that now governs the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). The 1903 legislation also established the National Matches, commissioned the National Trophy and provided funding to support the Matches. This historic legislation grew out of a desire to improve military marksmanship and national defense preparedness. President Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of War Elihu Root and NRA President General Bird Spencer were among the most important supporters of this act.

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