March 30th, 2020

How to Verify Your Scope’s True Click Values — Box Test

Click Optics MOA turrent verification test

Let’s say you’ve purchased a new scope, and the spec-sheet indicates it is calibrated for quarter-MOA clicks. One MOA is 1.047″ inches at 100 yards, so you figure that’s how far your point of impact (POI) will move with four clicks. Well, unfortunately, you may be wrong. You can’t necessarily rely on what the manufacturer says. Production tolerances being what they are, you should test your scope to determine how much movement it actually delivers with each click of the turret. It may move a quarter-MOA, or maybe a quarter-inch, or maybe something else entirely. (Likewise scopes advertised as having 1/8-MOA clicks may deliver more or less than 1 actual MOA for 8 clicks.)

Nightforce scope turretReader Lindy explains how to check your clicks: “First, make sure the rifle is not loaded. Take a 40″ or longer carpenter’s ruler, and put a very visible mark (such as the center of an orange Shoot’N’C dot), at 37.7 inches. (On mine, I placed two dots side by side every 5 inches, so I could quickly count the dots.) Mount the ruler vertically (zero at top) exactly 100 yards away, carefully measured.

Place the rifle in a good hold on sandbags or other rest. With your hundred-yard zero on the rifle, using max magnification, carefully aim your center crosshairs at the top of the ruler (zero end-point). Have an assistant crank on 36 (indicated) MOA (i.e. 144 clicks), being careful not to move the rifle. (You really do need a helper, it’s very difficult to keep the rifle motionless if you crank the knobs yourself.) With each click, the reticle will move a bit down toward the bottom of the ruler. Note where the center crosshairs rest when your helper is done clicking. If the scope is accurately calibrated, it should be right at that 37.7 inch mark. If not, record where 144 clicks puts you on the ruler, to figure out what your actual click value is. (Repeat this several times as necessary, to get a “rock-solid”, repeatable value.) You now know, for that scope, how much each click actually moves the reticle at 100 yards–and, of course, that will scale proportionally at longer distances. This optical method is better than shooting, because you don’t have the uncertainly associated with determining a group center.

Using this method, I discovered that my Leupold 6.5-20X50 M1 has click values that are calibrated in what I called ‘Shooter’s MOA’, rather than true MOA. That is to say, 4 clicks moved POI 1.000″, rather than 1.047″ (true MOA). That’s about a 5% error.

I’ve tested bunches of scopes, and lots have click values which are significantly off what the manufacturer has advertised. You can’t rely on printed specifications–each scope is different. Until you check your particular scope, you can’t be sure how much it really moves with each click.

I’ve found the true click value varies not only by manufacturer, but by model and individual unit. My Leupold 3.5-10 M3LR was dead on. So was my U.S.O. SN-3 with an H25 reticle, but other SN-3s have been off, and so is my Leupold 6.5-20X50M1. So, check ‘em all, is my policy.”

click values scope Mrad moa scope test

From the Expert: “…Very good and important article, especially from a ballistics point of view. If a ballistics program predicts 30 MOA of drop at 1000 yards for example, and you dial 30 MOA on your scope and hit high or low, it’s easy to begin questioning BCs, MVs, and everything else under the sun. In my experience, more than 50% of the time error in trajectory prediction at long range is actually scope adjustment error. For serious long range shooting, the test described in this article is a MUST!” — Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics LLC.

Bryan also uses a Tall Target Test to determine true click values. CLICK HERE to read a detailed, explanatory article about Litz’s Tall Target Test.

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March 28th, 2020

Defensive Firearms — Understanding Terminal Ballistics

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity

If you are evaluating a firearm for self-defense use, you should consider three main factors: Reliability, Functionality (sights, trigger, ergonomics), and Effectiveness (ability to halt/neutralize threats). Regarding effectiveness, you need to consider what happens when the projectiles from your firearm reach the target. That involves penetration and terminal ballistics.

A 12ga shotgun is very effective inside 20 yards, with less risk of over-penetration* vs. a centerfire rifle.
Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity

You’ve probably heard the term “Terminal Ballistics”. But do you really know what this refers to? Fundamentally, “Terminal Ballistics” describes the behavior of a projectile as it strikes, enters, and penetrates a target. Terminal Ballistics, then, can be said to describe projectile behavior in a target including the transfer of kinetic energy. Contrast this with “External Ballistics” which, generally speaking, describes and predicts how projectiles travel in flight. One way to look at this is that External Ballistics covers bullet behavior before impact, while terminal ballistics covers bullet behavior after impact.

The study of Terminal Ballistics is important for hunters, because it can predict how pellets, bullets, and slugs can perform on game. This NRA Firearm Science video illustrates Terminal Ballistics basics, defining key terms such as Impact Crater, Temporary Cavity, and Primary Cavity.

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity

External Ballistics, also called “exterior ballistics”, is the part of ballistics that deals with the behavior of a non-powered projectile in flight.

Terminal Ballistics, a sub-field of ballistics, is the study of the behavior and effects of a projectile when it hits its target.

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity


*This Shooting Illustrated article discusses over-penetration risks with a variety of cartridge types. “A bullet passing through a threat and continuing with the potential to cause unintentional damage to a bystander or object is a situation commonly described as over-penetration.”

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March 27th, 2020

Ammo Sales Spike… and Gun News in Pandemic Times

Coronavirus Ammo Ammuniction Sales Guns FFL SCOPE Data

Here are some gun-industry news highlights for the week. With the Coronovirus pandemic dominating the news, there have been some important developments. First, we are seeing a huge spike in ammo sales, along with significant growth in gun purchases. Second, groups are fighting State Executive Orders mandating closures of gun stores. Third, a number of gun accessory companies are gearing up to provide health-related products such as N95 masks and disinfectants.

Coronavirus Ammo Ammuniction Sales Guns FFL SCOPE DataAmmunition Sales Spike with Widespread Concerns Over Coronavirus Pandemic
The National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) SCOPE data platform reported a 168% spike in ammunition shipments for the week ending March 14. For all of 2020 so far, ammo shipments are up 21%.

Ammo Sales up 168% Nationwide
During the week ending March 14, distributors shipped close to $10,000,000 worth of ammunition, representing a 168% bump above the 3-year average for the same week. In some states, SCOPE DLX shows up to a 600% growth in ammunition shipments. Overall, ammunition shipments are up 21% year-to-date (YTD).

Gun Sales Rising Significantly
Concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic continue to drive firearms sales as well. According to Chris Means, NASGW Director and President of Tactical Gear Distributors, ammunition was the first category to spike but firearms have been following, with high demand for carry guns are ARs. Firearms shipments were up 13.74% compared to the 3-year average for March 8-14.

Coronavirus Ammo Ammuniction Sales Guns FFL SCOPE Data

About the Data Tracker: NASGW SCOPE is an analytics platform for shooting sports manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. SCOPE DLX collects weekly shipment data from 20 leading distributors that represent demand from FFLs across the United States.

AR15s Are in High Demand Again — Sales are Rising

Gun Industry News — Coping with a Crisis

Legal Challenge to New Jersey Closure of Firearms Dealers
The Second Amendment Foundation has filed a lawsuit challenging New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s order shutting down firearms dealers in the Garden State. In Kashinsky v. Murphy, the SAF is joined by the New Jersey Second Amendment Society in alleging violation of “civil rights under color of law” by shutting down firearms dealerships, preventing citizens and businesses from exercising their rights under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Federal Judge Judge Shipp has set Friday, April 3 as the deadline for the state’s opposition brief to the SAF’s suit. This important Second Amendment case could have ramifications across the nation.

New York Shutters Kimber Manufacturing Plant in Yonkers NY
In related news, the Kimber Plant in New York state has been closed in response to executive orders. Due to the New York state decision to shutter non-essential businesses as part of the COVID-19 response plan, Kimber Mfg. Inc. has stopped production at its New York facilities. Production continues at Kimber’s new, state-of-the-art Troy, Alabama manufacturing facility.

NOTE: In many other states, firearms and ammunition production facilities, along with retail gunstores, ARE recognized as “essential businesses” and therefore allowed to stay open. For a state-by-state run-down, read the NSSF Covid-19 Information and Resources for FFLs.

Radians Donates 14,000 N95 Masks to TN Hospitals
Radians, manufacturer of quality safety eyewear and hearing protection for shooters and hunters, donated over 14,000 N95 masks to medical facilities in Memphis, TN. Wisely, in 2018 Radians added the N95 respirator to its line of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Radians CEO, Mike Tutor, said the N95 mask donation “represents Radians’ corporate responsibility to help during challenging times. With a worldwide shortage of respirator masks, we knew this donation would quickly assist first responders and health care workers [during] the COVID-19 crisis. The respirators will also be of service at COVID-19 test sites.”

Coronavirus Ammo Ammuniction Sales Guns FFL SCOPE Data

Otis Technology Joins the Fight Against COVID-19
Otis Technology has partnered with Saint Lawrence Spirits to make, bottle and distribute hand sanitizer to first responders in desperate need during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Otis Technology began using its facilities — normally used to manufacture firearms maintenance products — to immediately begin manufacturing personal protective equipment.

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March 27th, 2020

Introduction to Auto-Indexing Progressive Presses

USAMU Progressive Press auto  self-advancing

On Wednesdays, The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit regularly publishes reloading “how-to” articles on the USAMU Facebook page. One “Handloading Hump Day” article, part 5 of a 6-part series, relates to reloading on Progressive Presses. This article concerns proper procedures for Auto-Indexing Progressives, which advance the shell-plate with every pull of the handle. Auto Progressives are very efficient, but they also require special attention and focus, because so many things are happening at once. You need to train yourself to watch every station. If you run a progressive press now, or are considering getting a progressive, we recommend you read this article. Visit the USAMU Facebook page for other helpful handloading guidance.

Progressive Loading Presses — Self-Advancing Shellplate Type

USAMU Progressive Press auto  self-advancing
Photo courtesy UltimateReloader.com.

Recently, we addressed manually-operated progressive presses for the beginning handloader. This type press requires one to manually advance the shellplate after each handle stroke. An advantage for beginners is that nothing happens at any station until the loader wants it to. This helps users avoid problems from clearing malfunctions without noticing that the shellplate has advanced itself. (Read Previous USAMU Article on Manual Progressives.)

The next, more luxurious type progressive press advances the shellplate automatically whenever the handle is cycled. [Editor: This is also called an “Auto-Indexing” Progressive Press.] Typically, each stroke automatically sizes and primes a case, operates the powder measure (if used) and seats a bullet. Some also have case feeders that automatically put a new case in the shellplate with every cycle. Others require the loader to insert a case each cycle. With both types, the loader usually puts a bullet on each sized/primed/charged case.

[CAVEAT: While our Handloading Shop has several progressive presses, ALL of our powder charges are thrown/weighed by hand. We do not use powder measures on our presses. Our progressives are used for brass preparation, priming, seating, etc., but not for fully-progressive loading.]

The manually-advanced press can be a boon to beginners, but as one gains experience it can be a mixed blessing, depending on one’s style. If one pays close attention to every operation and loads without distractions, the manual press is very reliable and allows full scrutiny of each round as it is loaded. However, if one easily drifts into day-dreaming, or isn’t focused on paying careful attention at all times, the manual progressive can be a bit of a liability. The opportunity for forgetting a powder charge, leading to a squib load, is ever-present. [Editor: A lock-out die can help reduce the risk of a squib load, or a double-charge. See below.]

The automatically-advancing progressives help prevent this by ensuring a powder charge will be dropped each time the handle is operated. Experienced handloaders often appreciate this feature due to the savings of time and effort. Individual preferences between the two press styles are influenced by several factors. These include one’s comfort with more- vs. less-complicated mechanisms, how often one changes calibers (case feeders often must be converted, in addition to dies and shellplates), how many rounds one loads annually, relative ease of changing primer mechanisms from small to large, etc. Automatic progressives and their caliber conversion kits tend to be significantly more expensive than manual progressives and caliber conversions from the same maker.

One USAMU handloader, who likes simple, bullet-proof machines and maximum efficiency when converting presses, owns two manually-advanced progressives. One is set up for large primers, and the other for small primers. He can change calibers in the twinkling of an eye. As he loads for many different calibers, this fits his style. Another handloader here is just the opposite. He loads for a few calibers, but in larger quantities. He much prefers his self-advancing press with case-feeder for its speed. He makes large lots of ammo in a given caliber before switching, to improve overall efficiency. His caliber conversion kits are more expensive than those for the manually-advanced progressive, but he uses fewer of them.

Whichever type one chooses, it is VERY important to buy quality gear from a manufacturer with a long, well-established track record for quality, durability and good customer support. Avoid jumping on the “latest, greatest” model until it has a proven track record. For example, this writer knows a loader who got a brand-new, expensive, self-advancing model press some years back, shortly after its introduction. As is too often the case these days, the manufacturer released it before all the “bugs” were worked out.

Better Safe Than Sorry — the RCBS Lock-Out Die
RCBS Makes a “Lock-Out Die” that senses the powder charge. This will halt the Progressive press if you have a double charge, or an undercharge. Your Editor has the Lock-Out Die on his RCBS Pro 2000. It has “saved his bacon” a half-dozen times over the years. It can be used on Dillon and Hornady progressives as well as RCBS machines.

It would not fully seat primers to the correct depth. No amount of adjustment, extra force, or fiddling would do better than to seat primers barely flush with the case head. Any inattention could result in a slightly “high” primer, protruding above the case head. It created a risk for slam-fires, particularly in semi-autos without spring-retracted firing pins, such as the M1 or M1A. In desperation, he had a machinist buddy study the problem and machine a new part to correct it. No dice. Its engineering didn’t permit full primer seating, even with extended parts. He now wishes he’d heeded his shooting buddies’ advice to stick with the “tried and true,” reliable performer they all used.

Whichever press one selects, see if the maker has a kit or list of commonly-replaced parts. Having needed springs, pins, etc. on hand in the rare event that one breaks or “goes missing” can save the day when one is busy loading for a match! Another tip for improving one’s overall loading efficiency (rounds loaded with minimal set-up/tear-down time) is to plan one’s handloading by primer size. For example, if your machine is set to use small primers, load all the calibers that you intend to that take small primers, before converting the press to load large-primer calibers.

In our next chapter, we’ll discuss peculiarities of progressive loading for rifle cartridges, with remedies for problems such as excessive cartridge-case headspace variation when sizing, tips for ensuring best powder charge consistency, and so on. Until then, be safe, and good shooting!

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March 27th, 2020

How to Assemble Your Own AR-15 from Components

AR-MPR-Build-2-AR-15-Tools
Here are the main tools you’ll need to assemble an AR-platform rifle

In these challenging times, many Americans are buying an AR-type rifle, or starting an AR project — assembling the rifle from available uppers, lowers, and parts kits.
Planning to put together an AR-platform rifle? Or are you looking to upgrade your AR with a new barrel, stock, or trigger group? Then you should check out the AR-15 Rifle Build DVD from our friends at UltimateReloader.com. This DVD covers all the details of a custom build, using high-resolution video sequences, and helpful supporting graphics.

AR-15 DVD ultimatereloder.com

In this DVD, Gavin Gear guides you through the entire process including selecting components, acquiring and using the necessary tools, assembly steps and details for each component, and even mounting a scope. Building an AR-15 can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance and help it’s not difficult and can be very rewarding. With this DVD you’ll be able to build your AR-15 with confidence.

Upper: Barrel / Gas Block / Gas Tube
AR-MPR-Build-4-Barrel-and-Gas-Tube-2

Upper: Handguard Installation
AR-MPR-Build-5-Handguard

UltimateReloader.com’s AR-15 Build DVD is available just $9.90 (plus $3.80 shipping/handling). This DVD can pay for itself many times over by showing you how to do your own gunsmithing (and get quality AR components at attractive prices).

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March 25th, 2020

Six Shooting and Safety Tips for New Handgun Owners

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glow
OK this is no novice. But even champion pistol shooter Jessie Harrison, Captain of Team Taurus, had to start with the basics. Jessie says that safety should always be your number one priority.

Due to concerns about the Coronovirus pandemic, many Americans are purchasing firearms for self-defense. A large percentage of these purchasers are first-time gun buyers. It is vital that “newbie” gun owners learn proper safety procedures. In addition, even long-time gun owners should probably review the basic rules of gun safety. Here are six tips for shooting safely and accurately with handguns. These pointers will help you advance your skills and be more assured with your pistols and revolvers.

1. Make Sure Safety Is Number One

Whether you own one gun or one hundred, gun safety must always be your main priority. In this video, Smith & Wesson Team Captain Julie Golob covers the basics of gun safety.

2. Start with a .22 LR Handgun

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training

We strongly recommend that new pistol shooters start off with a .22 LR rimfire handgun. The .22 LR cartridge is accurate but has very low recoil, less “bark” than a centerfire, and very little smoke and muzzle flash. New shooters won’t have to fight muzzle flip, and won’t develop a flinch from the sharp recoil and muzzle blast common to larger calibers. With the .22 LR, the trainee can focus on sight alignment, breathing, and trigger pull. When he or she has mastered those skills, move on to a .38 Special or 9mm Luger (9x19mm).

What gun to use? We recommend the 10-shot Smith & Wesson Model 617. Shooting single action, slow-fire, this is ideal for training. Shown above is the 4″-barrel Model 617version which balances well. There is also a 6″-barrel version. It has a longer sight radius, but is a little nose-heavy. Both are great choices. They are extremely accurate and they boast a very clean, precise trigger.

browning buck mark buckmark stainless udx rimfire .22 LR pistol

If you prefer a semi-auto .22 LR pistol, we recommend the Browning Buck Mark series. Buck Marks are very accurate and very reliable. This rimfire pistol is available in a variety of models starting at under $350.00. Like the S&W Model 617, a good Buck Mark will serve you for a lifetime.

3. Shoot Outdoors If You Can

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training

We recommend that new pistol shooters begin their training at an outdoor range. There are many reasons. First, you can stay away from persons who may have a health problem, and you will be breathing fresh air. Second, the light is better outdoors. Third, sound dissipates better outdoors. The sound of gunfire echoes and bounces off walls indoors. Fourth, an outdoor range is a more comfortable environment. In addition, “stay at home” executive orders may have closed urban ranges. If you can make it to an outdoor range (which is still open in your area), you should have a good experience. Just be considerate with others and exercise “social distancing” — stay at least six feet from others.

4. Use Quality Targets with Multiple Aim Points

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glow

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glowIt’s common for new pistoleros to start shooting at cans or clay birds at a public range. That can be fun, but it’s better to start with proper targets, placed at eye level, at 7-10 yards. We like to use targets with large, brightly colored circles. Focus on putting 5 shots in a circle. We recommend targets that have multiple bullseyes or aiming points — that way you don’t have to constantly change your target. There are also special paper targets that can help you diagnose common shooting problems, such as anticipating recoil. EZ2C makes very good targets with bright, red-orange aim points. You can also use the bright orange Birchwood Casey stick-on Target Dots (right). These come in a variety of diameters. We like the 2″ dot at 10 yards.

5. Find a Good Mentor and Watch Some Videos First

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training
Photo courtesy AV Firearms Training.

Too many new pistol shooters try to move right to rapid fire drills. It’s better to start slow, practicing the basics, under the guidance of a good mentor. If you belong to a club, ask if there are certified instructors who will help out. This Editor learn pistol shooting from a seasoned bullseye shooter, who got me started with a .22 LR revolver and very close targets. Over the course of a few range sessions we progressed to farther targets and faster pace. But the fundamentals were never forgotten. When starting your pistol training, it’s wise to view some instructional videos. Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng hosts an excellent Handgun 101 Series produced by the NSSF. We’ve linked one of these Handgun 101 videos for Tip #6.

6. SLOW DOWN — This Is Not a Race

When you learned to ride a bicycle, you started slow — maybe even with training wheels. The same principle applies to pistol shooting. When you get started with handguns, we recommend you shoot slowly and deliberately. Start with the handgun unloaded — just work on your sight alignment and breathing. With snap caps in place, try some dry-firing drills. Then progress to live fire. But be deliberate and slow. With the target at 20 feet, see if you can get three successive shot-holes to touch. Believe it or not, many common pistols are capable of this kind of accuracy (but you won’t see many shooters at indoor ranges who pursue that kind of precision). Once you master your form and accuracy, then you can work on your speed.

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March 24th, 2020

Emergency Orders for FFLs and Gun Industry — State by State


Click image to view PDF with all state information.

Government officials across the nation have issued numerous orders in an effort to contain Covid-19 infections. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has collected the latest health-related official Executive Orders from U.S. States that can affect FFLs, firearms business owners, range operators, and gun owners. These rules are collected in a lengthy NSSF document, with state-by-state summaries plus web-links for further details. This document will be updated as new info is received from the states. Click the link below to download the State-by-State COVID-19 Information and Resources for FFLs:


CLICK HERE to View NSSF COVID-19 FFL Summary PDF »

The NSSF states: “On the state front, our team is working in each state and many localities to ensure our industry and the critical role it plays is not hampered by well-intended Executive Orders seeking to stem the spread of the virus. Here is a list of the orders we are actively tracking, and what they mean for our members. Please note this is a rapidly changing list, and that many of the orders are subject to interpretation. MORE INFO HERE.

Ammoland.com explains: “The list is broken down by state and gives shooters a brief rundown on each order. This includes a link to the original order itself, the order or bill’s name, and a brief summary of what it does. Shooters worried about their state, in particular, might want to download any PDF files associated with their location for safekeeping should the Government decide to delete them later.”


Scroll Down to View INFO for All States

Use Bottom Menu to Zoom and View Full Screen

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March 24th, 2020

Americans Seek Firearms for Protection in Challenging Times

Gun BUyers pandemic first time firearms owner USCCA pistol training

This report from the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA)
As anxiety has grown around the COVID-19 pandemic in recent days, news reports from across the country have detailed how more and more Americans are embracing their right to self-defense and choosing to be their families’ ultimate protectors. Ammo.com reports, for example, that revenue from sales on its website increased 309 percent from February 23 through March 15, compared to a month before. Here are some recent media reports, tracking gun-buying trends:

The New York Times
Daniel Hill had never bought a gun before. But last week he was in Larry Hyatt’s gun store in North Carolina picking out two of them: a 9mm Taurus handgun and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. His motivation: the coronavirus.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
At gun shops, cash registers rang more like Christmas Eve than St. Patrick’s Day as firearms and ammunition sales soared through the roof Tuesday. Shop owners and managers cited customers’ concerns about home defense related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Arizona Republic
People in the U.S. are preparing for total anarchy amidst the growing COVID-19 concerns. Fear and panic are driving the gun-buying frenzy. Whatever the reason, gun sales are up everywhere — but particularly in states like California, New York and Washington that have been hit hardest by coronavirus, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The Denver Post
Some shops are selling twice as many firearms as on Black Friday while Colorado residents grapple with the novel coronavirus pandemic, disruptions to daily life and an uncertain future.

USCCA President Says New Gun Purchasers Should Get Training
The USCCA recommends that ALL new gun buyers receive training on the proper use of firearms, including essential safety procedures. USCCA President and Founder Tim Schmidt was recently a guest on Fox News with Tucker Carlson. Schmidt declared that: “Now more than ever, people understand they need to be their families’ first line of defense.”

Schmidt noted that gun ownership and self-defense demands responsibility. He encouraged all Americans — particularly first-time gun owners — to educate and train themselves: “So many — 90% — of these people buying guns have never owned guns before. They’ve probably never even touched a gun”. Schmidt said that proper training is vital for these new gun-owners: “I personally think that firearms ownership is a natural-born right of free people. But with that right comes a tremendous responsibility, and that responsibility is to be trained. [If you] just bought a gun for self-defense, get training.”

Gun BUyers pandemic first time firearms owner USCCA pistol training

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March 22nd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Desert Tech SRS-A1 7mm RSAUM Bullpup

Coldboremiracle SRA Desert Tech LLC Bullpup 7mm .284 SAUM RSAUM Remington short action ultra magnum
Here is the view from 9500 feet ASL. The SRS in 7mm Rem SAUM almost outran the Swarovski laser…

7mm RSAUM in a bolt-action bullpup? Yes it works. A talented shooter, who calls himself “ColdboreMiracle” in social media, has a Desert Tech SRS-A1 rifle chambered for the 7mm RSAUM, and it hammers. The 7mm Remington SAUM (Short Action Ultra Magnum) is popular with F-Open competition shooters. It can also work well for long-range hunting and tactical tasks. Learn more about the 7mm Remington SAUM in our 7mm Cartridge Guide.

Coldboremiracle SRA Desert Tech LLC Bullpup 7mm .284 SAUM RSAUM Remington short action ultra magnum

ColdboreMiracle owns the SRS-A1 “covert” model, which has a shorter handguard than the standard SRS-A1 model shown below. Desert Tech now offers an SRS-A2 model which has an M-LOK handguard and some refinements to the chassis.

Coldboremiracle SRA Desert Tech LLC Bullpup 7mm .284 SAUM RSAUM Remington short action ultra magnum

Here is a detailed video review of a Desert Tech SRS chambered in .308 Win. You can see a close-up of a 100-yard 5-shot group at time-mark 6:25:

Here is a review of the newer SRS-A2 Covert (shorter model), after 1000 rounds. The reviewer believe the SRS bullpup’s shorter length offers some advantages for precision shooters:

ColdboreMiracle says the bullpup design has many advantages: “The Stealth Recon Scout (SRS) rifle from Desert Tech is a bullpup-configured precision rifle with a shorter length than many carbines. The SRS has a multitude of barrel options that can be swapped in under a minute — all of them come with a 1/2-MOA accuracy guarantee and return to zero. The SRS’s bullpup design puts the rifle’s COG closer to the shoulder, making the rifle balance better off-hand. The straight-line geometry of the SRS makes recoil seem lighter, and barrel hop is reduced, allowing the shooter to stay on target better. It takes a little getting used to, when converting from a traditionally-configured bolt gun. But once you do, you won’t go back.” To learn more about this rifle (and other Desert Tech arms), visit ColdboreMiracle’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.

The 7mm RSAUM — Why It Was Chosen for this SRS

ColdboreMiracle explains how he selected the 7mm Rem SAUM chambering for his Desert Tech SRS Bullpup: “I just did a comparison between barrel life, velocity, brass, etc. and came to the SAUM. I can tell you this, if you go with one for your SRS, make sure you use long bullets like the 183 or 195, and seat them long. That will aid in smooth cycling.”

Mr. ColdboreMiracle tested the new generation 183gr Sierra MatchKings (item # 1983). These impressive projectiles are “tipped” at the factory. Claimed G1 BC is a lofty 0.707 (at 2300 fps and above). We have heard other reports that these bullets “hold waterline” exceptionally well at 1000 yards. That indicates the bullet-to-bullet BC is very consistent. No doubt the factory uniforming/pointing of the bullet tips helps in that regard.

As you can see, these 183-grainers shoot well in ColdboreMiracle’s SRS rifle. Here are five shots at 100 yards. That’s very impressive for a tactical-style rifle shot from a field-type bipod.

Coldboremiracle SRA Desert Tech LLC Bullpup 7mm .284 SAUM RSAUM Remington short action ultra magnum

ColdboreMiracle says: “This is the only reason I need to shoot Sierra bullets. On the right (above) you can see the results of the 183gr SMK from my 7mm SAUM. Five shots at 100. A huge thanks to Mark at Short Action Customs, LLC for [chambering this barrel] for my Desert Tech SRS.”

Coldboremiracle SRA Desert Tech LLC Bullpup 7mm .284 SAUM RSAUM Remington short action ultra magnum

7mm Remington SAUM — Key Considerations

7mm RSAUM short action ultra magnum mag remingtoIn some respects, the 7mm SAUM cartridge may be better than the 7mm WSM. The 7mm SAUM holds less powder — but that’s a good thing, since the capacity is more than adequate to do the job. You can drive the 180s at 3000 fps with a SAUM using less powder than with a WSM. Additionally, the SAUM case has a slightly longer neck. This gives you greater flexibility in bullet seating. With a long neck you can set the throat so the long 180+ graing bullets are above the neck shoulder junction, yet you can still seat shorter hunting bullets close to the lands. Additionally, long case necks, some believe, cause less throat erosion than shorter necks. That’s not “hard science” but it is certainly a view shared by many experienced shooters. The long neck is one reason many varminters favor the 6mm Remington over the .243 Winchester.

7mm RSAUM Is More Efficient than 7mm WSM
7mm RSAUM shooter Steven Ikeeda tells us: “I decided that some type of 7mm was the ticket for doing well at 1000-yard matches, especially if one could drive the high-BC bullets at 2900+ fps. Looking over various 7mm cartridges that could produce those velocities (and didn’t require case-forming), I was impressed by the 7mm SAUM and the 7mm WSM. According to the load manuals, the 7mm WSM offered a bit more velocity than the 7mm SAUM. However, to achieve its small velocity advantage, the larger 7mm WSM had to burn 7-10% more powder than the 7mm SAUM. (The 7mm WSM has 81.0 grains of capacity vs. 73.6 grains for the 7mm SAUM.) The SAUM is a very efficient case. It looks like a 6.5×47 Lapua on steroids.”

Coldboremiracle SRA Desert Tech LLC Bullpup 7mm .284 SAUM RSAUM Remington short action ultra magnum

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March 21st, 2020

Barrel Break-In: What’s the Best Method — Expert Advice

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrels
Photo courtesy Sierra Bullets.

The question of barrel break-in is controversial. Some folks advocate an elaborate, lengthy cycle of shooting and brushing, repeated many times — one shot and clean, two shots and clean and so on. This, it is argued, helps barrels foul less and shoot more accurately. Others say minimal break-in, with patching and brushing after 10-15 rounds, is all you need. Still others contend that break-in procedures are a total waste of time and ammo — you should just load and shoot, and clean as you would normally.

We doubt if there will ever be real agreement among shooters concerning barrel break-in procedures. And one must remember that the appropriate break-in procedure might be quite different for a factory barrel vs. a custom hand-lapped barrel. This Editor has found that his very best custom barrels shot great right from the start, with no special break-in, other than wet patches at 5, 10, and 15 rounds. That said, I’ve seen some factory barrels that seemed to benefit from more elaborate break-in rituals.

What’s the best barrel break-in procedure? Well our friend Eric Mayer of Varminter.com decided to ask the experts. A while back Eric interviewed representatives of three leading barrel manufacturers: Krieger, Lothar-Walther, and Shilen. He recorded their responses on video. In order of appearance in the video, the three experts are:

Wade Hull, Shilen Barrels | Mike Hinrichs, Krieger Barrels | Woody Woodall, Lothar Walther

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrelsDo I Need to Break-In a New Rifle Barrel?
Eric Mayer of Varminter.com says: “That is a simple question, [but it] does not necessarily have a simple answer. Instead of me repeating my own beliefs, and practices, on breaking-in a new rifle barrel, I decided to answer this one a bit differently. While we were at the 2016 SHOT Show, we tracked down three of the biggest, and most popular, custom barrel makers in the world, and asked them what they recommend to anyone buying their barrels, and why they recommend those procedures. We asked the question, and let the camera run!” Launch the video above to hear the answers — some of which may surprise you.

Long-Term Barrel Care — More Experts Offer Opinions
Apart from the debate about barrel break-in, there is the bigger question of how should you clean and maintain a barrel during its useful life. Some folks like aggressive brushing, other shooters have had success with less invasive methods, using bore foam and wet patches for the most part. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. In reality, there may not be one solution for every barrel. Different fouling problems demand different solutions. For example, solvents that work well for copper may not be the best for hard carbon (and vice-versa).

CLICK HERE for Long Term Barrel Care Article »

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

Chip Lohman, former Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning: Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care. In this article, Chip shares the knowledge of a dozen experts including respected barrel-makers Frank Green (Bartlein Barrels), John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), Dan Lilja (Lilja Barrels), and Tim North (Broughton Barrels).

“Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing — the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion, and remove fouling — all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.” — Chip Lohman

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March 20th, 2020

Savage Offers Expert Advice with Articles and Videos

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

Savage Arms has completed a major overhaul of the Savage website. Now the SavageArms.com site is more mobile-friendly and easier to navigate. Savage has expanded information on its rifle products, and also updated the Expert Advice area. This section of the website offers informative technical articles/videos, as well as numerous helpful tips for hunters.

You’ll find 30 informative topics in the Expert Advice section of the updated Savage Arms website. Below are FIVE of our favorites. Click each item to view the full text and linked VIDEOS. Even if you don’t own a Savage, these features are useful. And all new shooters should definitely check out the Advanced Optics selection. This features a good video covering mirage and light refraction.

1. Advanced Optics — Stan Pate

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

Light refraction can wreak havoc on your ability to connect with a target at extreme long range. Stan Pate offers some good advice concerning mirage and refraction.

2. Gun Motion Management — Patrick Kelley

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

3. How to Mount a Scope

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

4. How to Sight In a Rifle

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

5. How to Adjust the Savage Accutrigger

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

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March 19th, 2020

Spring Has Sprung — 8 Great Items for Vernal Equinox Varminting

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

Winter is behind us — it’s officially Spring. Today, March 19, 2020, is the Vernal Equinox, the official start of Spring. For many shooters, the coming of Spring means that it’s time to head out to the varmint fields. Here are eaidht items that can help ensure successful spring varmint adventures.

Eight Great Products for Varmint Shooters

1. BarrelCool In-Action Fan

Busy Varmint shooters may expend hundreds of rounds in a day. That’s tough on barrels. One way to extend your round count is to use the ingenious BarrelCool device. This little yellow gadget fits in your action with a blower tube that goes into the chamber. A small electric fan blows cooling air through the barrel. It really works — folks who’ve purchased the Barrel Cool and run temp strips on their barrel say the BarrelCool can significantly reduce the time it takes to cool down a hot barrel.

barrelcool cool fan empty Chamber indicator

In the past, folks have tried various methods to cool barrels: water flushed through the bore, CO2 tanks, even battery-operated fish pumps. BarrelCool is a simpler, less costly, and much handier solution. Priced at $36.99, this small device can potentially can save you money by extending barrel life. To see how Barrelcool works, visit BarrelCool.com. There you’ll find video demos of BarrelCool units in both bolt-action and AR-type rifles.

2. Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag Sandbag

On most varmint hunts we spend most of the time shooting from a portable bench with a pedestal-type rest (we like the SEB Mini). But it’s nice having a big, heavy X-Type sandbag rig also. These four-chamber designs, such as the Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag, allow shooting from a truck hood or any flat surface. Some rifles with narrow fore-ends really benefit from the firm “hug” provided by these “butterfly” style sandbags. We like the 15″ Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag, currently $71.99 at Brownells. Durable and well-made, it will provide years of service. There is also a 10″ version that is easier to carry. Forum member Stoner24mkiv likes a Bulls Bag for shooting from a vehicle. He also suggests: “[take] an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. Bring a Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.”

Bulls Bag sandbag varmint rest front

3. Scope with Built-In Laser Rangefinder

The Burris Eliminator III is an impressive piece of electro-optical technology. With a push of a button, a built-in laser rangefinder senses the distance to your target and the Eliminator’s microprocessor instantly calculates the required hold-over based on your load’s ballistics. The calculated aiming point is then displayed in the reticle with an illuminated red dot on the vertical cross-hair. Just put the red dot on the target and make the shot. Easy as that. If you are working a large prairie dog field and constantly moving near to far and back again, this scope is really handy. Laze, adjust aim with the dot, and squeeze the trigger. Its that simple. We’ve used this scope out to 500 yards on small steel targets and it worked flawlessly.

Burris Eliminator III laser optic Scope

4. Hornady 17 HMR V-Max 500 Round Brick, $89.99

For those distant prairie dog shots, you’ll want a centerfire round such as a 22 BR/BRA or 22-250. However, for closer work, or for smaller varmints such as ground squirrels, the 17 HMR is hard to beat. There are many good factory rifles chambered for the 17 HMR, such as the Savage A17. Right now Midsouth has a Hornady 17 HMR brick of 500 for a low price of $89.99. That works out to just 18 cents per round — cheap enough that you can blast sage rats all days long and never worry about running out of ammo.

17 hmr ammo

5. Stick-On Temp Strips Monitor Barrel Heat

You never want your barrel to get too hot. Accuracy suffers when barrels over-heat, and excessive heat is not good for barrel life. So how do you monitor your barrel’s temperature? You can check if the barrel is “warm to the touch” — but that method is not particularly precise. There is a better way — using temperature-sensitive strips. McMaster.com (an industrial supply house) offers stick-on temp strips with values from 86° F to 140° F. A pack of ten (10) of these strips (item 59535K13) costs $12.77 — so figure it’ll cost you about $1.28 per barrel for strips. That’s cheap insurance for your precious barrels. For best barrel life, try to stay under 120 degrees F.

Barrel Heat Temp Temperature gauge strip McMaster Carr

6. Low-Fouling Power for High-Volume Varmint Loads

For high-shot-count varmint safaris, you want a clean-burning powder that minimizes barrel fouling. While there are many great powders for the .223 Rem, we like Hodgdon CFE 223 for our high-volume varmint loads. This powder really seems to keep barrels cleaner. Originally developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems, CFE 223 incorporates a proprietary chemistry named “Copper Fouling Eraser”. Based on tests with extended shot strings, Hodgdon claims that, by using CFE™223, match shooters, varmint hunters, and AR shooters can maintain accuracy for longer periods, with less barrel-cleaning time.

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

7. Bog Pod SB-2 Sportsman’s Bipod (21″-40″)

If you’re looking for a versatile, stable and easy-to-carry field support, check out the latest BOG-POD Series SB-2 Bipod. Featuring 21″-40″ adjustable legs, the BOG-POD Bipod can be used while sitting, standing, or kneeling. This kid of support is highly recommended for shooting on hills where a conventional bipod doesn’t offer enough elevation. This unit has a 360° swivel head and the legs adjust independently out to a 60-degree angle with adjustable tension to ensure maximum accuracy. Right now you can get this SB-2 Bipod for just $19.99 on Amazon — a great deal.

bogpod bog pod sportsmans varmint bipod

8. Motorola T100 Talkabout Radios

When you’re in the varmint fields, its essential to have good communications with your fellow shooters. You can’t count on cell coverage in the hinterlands so we recommend a good pair of Walkie-Talkies. The Motorola T100s have a very impressive range (up to 16 miles in ideal conditions), yet cost just $21.99 for the pair. These 22-Channel T100 Talkabouts will run up to 18 hours on three AAA batteries. Users have been very pleased with this inexpensive handheld radios.

motorola t100 talkabout radio walkie talkie wireless

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March 16th, 2020

Wind Hack — Estimate Crosswind Deflection Without a Meter

Applied Ballistics Crosswind Estimation Wind hack G7 BC

Applied Ballistics Wind Hack

Any long range shooter knows that wind is our ultimate nemesis. The best ways of overcoming wind are to measure what we can and use computers to calculate deflection. The Applied Ballistics Kestrel is a great tool for this. As good as our tools may be, we don’t always have them at our fingertips, or they break, batteries go dead, and so on. In these cases, it’s nice to have a simple way of estimating wind based on known variables. There are numerous wind formulas of various complexity.

Applied Ballistics Crosswind Estimation Wind hack G7 BC

The Applied Ballistics (AB) Wind Hack is about the simplest way to get a rough wind solution. Here it is: You simply add 2 to the first digit of your G7 BC, and divide your drop by this number to get the 10 mph crosswind deflection. For example, suppose you’re shooting a .308 caliber 175-grain bullet with a G7 BC of 0.260 at 1000 yards, and your drop is 37 MOA. For a G7 BC of 0.260, your “wind number” is 2+2=4. So your 10 mph wind deflection is your drop (37 MOA) divided by your “wind number” (4) = 9.25 MOA. This is really close to the actual 9.37 MOA calculated by the ballistic software.

WIND HACK Formula

10 mph Cross Wind Deflection = Drop (in MOA) divided by (G7 BC 1st Digit + 2)

Give the AB wind hack a try to see how it works with your ballistics!

Some Caveats: Your drop number has to be from a 100-yard zero. This wind hack is most accurate for supersonic flight. Within supersonic range, accuracy is typically better than +/-6″. You can easily scale the 10 mph crosswind deflection by the actual wind speed. Wind direction has to be scaled by the cosine of the angle.

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March 15th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Twin 30 BR Score Rigs — Thunder Down-Under

30BR Hunter Class Rifle
This story, from our Gun of the Week Archives, offers a good intro to the 30 BR cartridge, which is still the leading chambering for short-range Score Benchrest.

What’s better than one custom-built 30 BR with gorgeous wood and top-shelf components? A matching pair of course. Just ask Australian shooter Greg Roche (“Caduceus” in our Forum). A decade ago, Greg spent two years living and working in the USA. While in America, he commissioned two matched custom rifles to bring back to Australia for Hunter Class BR matches. Though the look-alike rigs are both chambered in 30 BR, one is designed for the Australian “Traditional” centerfire Hunter Class (10-lb limit), while the other is purpose-built for the “Custom” centerfire Hunter Class (14-lb limit). The 10-lb Traditional rifle features a fully-functioning two-round magazine and a 6-power scope. In contrast the Custom Class rifle is a single-shot action, with a 45X Leupold scope. The Custom weighs 13.5 pounds so it can also be used in traditional Heavy Varmint Benchrest matches if desired.

30BR Hunter Class Rifle

Tale of Two Rifles
Story and Photos by Greg Roche (“Caduceus”)

The USA boasts some of the finest precision rifle-builders and Benchrest parts suppliers in the world. Before returning to Australia after two years in the States, I decided to have two special BR rifles built using American components and skilled labor. I wanted a matched pair — twin guns that would be as handsome as they were accurate. The heavier gun of the pair, the 13.5-lb Custom Class rifle, features top-of-the-line (but well-proven) technologies and components. With the 10.5-lb Traditional Class rifle, we had to develop new solutions to allow the 30 BR cartridge to feed from a functional two-round magazine. Here is my saga of how my twin 30 BRs were conceived and built, and how they have performed in competition.

30BR Hunter Class Rifle

BACKGROUND — The 30 BR for Score Competition

The 30 BR is a wildcat cartridge based on a necked-up version of the 6mmBR Norma case. It originated in U.S. Benchrest circles where it found its niche in Varmint For Score (VFS) matches. Unlike traditional Benchrest, where group size determines the winner, VFS matches are shot on a target with multiple, concentric-ringed bullseyes. Point total is based on “best edge” shot location (one shot per bull). In score competition, the 30 BR’s “supersized” .308-diameter hole offers an advantage over the 6mm hole created by a 6 PPC, the dominant group BR chambering.

30 BR cartridge

The starting point for loading the 30 BR wildcat is Lapua 6mmBR brass. These are necked up as a single-step operation using a .30 caliber tapered expander ball (or dedicated expander mandrel). This will leave a bulge in the neck, so the expanded case neck is normally turned to bring the thickness down to the correct dimension for the chamber. I turned these necks down to .010″ wall thickness using a Stiller neck-turning tool. It features an eccentric mandrel similar to the Nielson “Pumpkin”. Loaded rounds measure .328″ neck diameter. This gives minimum clearance in my .330″ neck chamber, so very little neck resizing is needed after firing. Cases are trimmed to 1.500″ prior to turning to ensure consistency since the Stiller tool indexes the length of cut off the case mouth. Other than that, cases are just chamfered, loaded and made ready to shoot. No special fire-forming is required.

17-Twist Barrels for Both Rifles
Texan gunsmith Mike Bryant chambered both barrels. Mike also polished both barrels to a high-gloss to match the receivers. In this game, barrels are consumables, much like powder and primers, so most owners wouldn’t bother to polish their barrels. However a 30 BR barrel can provide up to 5000 rounds of accurate life (unlike a 6PPC barrel which might be tossed after 800-1000 rounds.) So, these barrels are likely to be on the rifles for many seasons. Given the high-gloss finish of the Grizzly actions and the beauty of the Red Cedar stocks, it would have been an injustice to leave a dull finish on the barrels.

The chambers were both cut with the same reamer supplied by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool and Gauge. Randy Robinett, one of the originators of the 30 BR wildcat, specified the reamer dimensions. Randy’s 118gr, 10-ogive custom BIB bullets and the 30 BR cartridge enjoy a winning track record in the USA. The 30 BR Robinette reamer has zero free-bore and a .330″ neck, and is optimized for the BIB 118s. The bullets perform best when seated far enough out to jam firmly into the rifling as the bolt is closed. The long ogive means the bullet’s bearing surface is very short.

Slow Twists for Maximum Accuracy
You may note the unusually slow twist rate of both barrels. In most .30-caliber chamberings, the barrel twist rate is 1:11 or 1:12 to stabilize 150gr to 200gr bullets. The 30 BR is optimized for 115gr to 118gr flat-base bullets and 1:17 provides sufficient stability at muzzle velocities around 2900-3000 fps. In competitive Benchrest, where every thousandth of an inch counts, over-stabilization of projectiles can hurt accuracy, so “just stable enough” is the goal; hence the 1:17 twist.

Case Forming, Case Prep, and Reloading Methods

Sinclair Neck Micrometer, 30 BR Neck Turning
A Sinclair case neck micrometer indicates neck thickness of 0.010″ after neck turning.

Sinclair Neck Micrometer, 30 BR Neck Turning30 BR dies are readily available from a number of manufacturers. I personally use Wilson neck and seating dies with a Sinclair Arbor press, but Redding and Forster both supply high-quality threaded dies for use in a conventional press. For under $100.00 US, custom full-length dies can be obtained from Hornady and CH Tool & Die by sending them reamer prints or a couple of fired cases. Harrell’s Precision offers “semi-custom” dies. Just send them some fired cases and they select a pre-made CNC-cut die that ideally fits your chamber. You can ask the Harrell brothers for a die that’s tighter at the shoulder or base, or otherwise customized to your preferences.

Load Development and Accuracy Testing
With cases formed and bullets selected, load development is simply a matter of choosing the right primer, powder and charge weight, and loading the most consistent ammunition possible. The Lapua BR cases use a small rifle primer. The choice here was Federal 205 Match primers vs. CCI BR4 Benchrest primers. Some shooters have also had success using CCI 450 Magnum primers but it is very unlikely the small case needs this much spark to light off regular extruded powders. In my case, I selected Federal primers because availability tends to be better in Australia.

The relatively large bore-to-capacity ratio of the 30 BR case means that fast burning powders are the order of the day. Once again, US experience suggests H4198 (the Hodgdon equivalent of ADI AR2207) is the choice of match winners. The fact that H4198/AR2207 is an Australian-made product is an added bonus. So, I loaded up test rounds with AR2207 from 32.5 grains to 35.0 grains in approximately 0.3 grain increments. All bullets were seated to jam +0.010″ into the lands. This places the bullet base about two-thirds of the way down the neck and well short of the neck-shoulder junction.

READ FULL Story on AccurateShooter.com Main Site »

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March 12th, 2020

Fact vs. Fiction — .223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm NATO Cartridges

.223 Rem Remington 5.56 SAAMI CIP 5.56x45 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge ammo pressure test luckygunner ultimatereloader Gavin Gear

Probably the most popular centerfire rifle round in the Western Hemisphere is the .223 Remington and its metric match, the 5.56x45mm. Though many folks use “.223 Rem” and “5.56×45″ interchangeably, there are some meaningful differences in specifications for the original .223 Rem and the 5.56x45mm cartridge, as adopted by the U.S. military and NATO armies. The default chamber throats are slightly different and the .223 Rem is rated at 55,000 PSI vs. 62,366 PSI for the 5.56x45mm.*

.223 Rem vs 5.56x45mm — Key Differences
There is a truly outstanding, very thorough article on the subject, published by LuckyGunner.com.** This involved extensive testing, with pressure monitors, of 5.56x45mm ammo in .223 Rem chambers. Those tests revealed the peak pressures. Here is one of the ammo test charts:

.223 Rem Remington 5.56 SAAMI CIP 5.56x45 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge ammo pressure test luckygunner ultimatereloader Gavin Gear

NOTE: “The observed chamber pressure for Federal XM855 5.56mm ammunition in a .223 Rem chamber exceeded .223 maximum pressures, but not by a massive amount. The ninth shot (the red line) was an underpowered cartridge which exhibited significantly lower velocity and pressure than the other rounds, so it was excluded from the average velocity and pressure numbers for this chamber.”

And if you’re curious, LuckyGunner also fired .223 Rem ammo in a 5.56x45mm NATO-chambered AR15 rifle. As you would expect, the peak pressures were significantly lower, but the .223 Rem ammo still cycled the semi-auto AR-platform rifle perfectly well:

.223 Rem Remington 5.56 SAAMI CIP 5.56x45 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge ammo pressure test luckygunner ultimatereloader Gavin Gear

READ FULL LuckyGunner .223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm ARTICLE »

UltimateReloader.com Explains .223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm
To explain the key differences between the .223 Rem and 5.56x45mm cartridges our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com has created a very thorough 12-minute video. This covers the cartridge specifications and explains key considerations for hand-loaders. Gavin also addresses the oft-asked question “Can I shoot 5.56x45mm ammo in my .223 Rem chamber?” Gavin’s video is definitely worth watching. In fact, this is one of the most popular videos Gavin has ever created — it has been watched over 300,000 times on YouTube.

What Exactly Is the 5.56x45mm NATO Cartridge?
The 5.56×45mm NATO is a rimless bottle-necked intermediate cartridge family standardized by NATO with development work by FN Herstal. It consists of the SS109, SS110, and SS111 cartridges. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries.

Bullet diameter: 5.70 mm (0.224 in)
Maximum pressure (EPVAT): 430.00 MPa (62,366 psi)
Maximum pressure (SCATP 5.56): 380.00 MPa (55,114 psi)
Case length: 44.70 mm (1.760 in)
Rifling twist: 178 mm or 229 mm (1 in 7 in)
Parent case: .223 Remington (M193)

Ammo-Maker Federal Premium Compares .223 Rem and 5.56x45mm
Here is a video from ammo-maker Federal Premium explaining the difference between .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO. Federal states that you may experience excessive pressures when firing a 5.56x45mm in a standard .223 Remington chamber:

One leading gunwriter has addressed the question of shooting 5.56x45mm ammo in .223 Rem chambers. He advocates caution (for more info, SEE pressure tests by LuckyGunner.com):

“I have received a slew of questions — many from first time AR-type rifle buyers — about the .223 Rem and the 5.56×45 mm NATO cartridges. Can I shoot 5.56×45 mm NATO in my .223 and vice-versa? Are these the same cartridge?

Externally, the two cartridge cases are identical. The main differences are that 5.56×45 mm NATO operates at a higher chamber pressure (about 60,000 PSI versus 55,000 PSI on the .223 Rem.) and the 5.56’s chamber is slightly larger than that of the .223 Rem. Also, the throat or leade is longer in the 5.56×45 mm chamber. What does this mean? You should not shoot 5.56×45 mm NATO out of a rifle that is chambered in .223 Rem. And be aware that some .223 Rem. ammunition will not reliably cycle through some AR-style .223 Rem. rifles, but it usually does. As a matter of fact, I have not encountered any difficulty with current .223 Rem. loads cycling through a 5.56 mm AR-style rifle.”
– Mark Keefe, Editor, American Rifleman


* According to the official NATO proofing guidelines, the 5.56×45mm NATO case can handle up to 430.0 MPa (62,366 psi) piezo service pressure. The U.S. SAAMI lists Maximum Average Pressure (MAP) for the .223 Remington cartridge as 55,000 psi (379.2 MPa) piezo pressure with deviation of up to 58,000 psi (399.9 MPa). The chamber for military 5.56×45mm NATO has a longer throat prior to the bullet contacting the rifling which results in lower pressures when firing 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition. If 5.56×45mm NATO is used in rifles chambered for .223 Remington the bullet will be engraving the rifling when chambered. which can increase pressures past SAAMI Max levels. NOTE: The C.I.P. standards for the C.I.P. civilian .223 Remington chamber are much closer to the military 5.56×45mm NATO chamber.

** The full-length LuckyGunner article is well worth reading. It even provides specifications for a number of .223 Rem reamer types, and compares the original .223 Rem, the 5.56x45mm NATO, and the modern .223 Wylde chamberings.

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March 11th, 2020

Legends of Camp Perry: George Farr’s 71 Consecutive Bullseyes

George Farr Camp Perry Record 1903 Springfield
Firing an “off-the-rack” M1903 Springfield that he had never shot before, using GI-issue “tin-plate” ammunition, George Farr shot 71 consecutive bullseyes at 1000 yards (70 for record), setting a marksmanship record that has never been broken.

This is not the typical Daily Bulletin feature. It is an historical account of one of the greatest performances by a marksman in the history of the National Matches at Camp Perry. We think any competitive shooter will find this amazing narrative worth reading from beginning to end. This story is provided courtesy the NRA Blog with photos supplied by the NRA Museums.

An Old Man at the National Matches:
‘Dad’ Farr’s Golden Afternoon at Camp Perry

by Doug Wicklund, NRA Museums Senior Curator

It was 1921. Warren Harding was President of the United States, and “The War to End All Wars” was less than three years past. The nation was getting back to a normal routine, and for competitive shooters, that meant an annual pilgrimage through the state of Ohio to the shores of Lake Erie, where the National Matches had been held since 1907 at Camp Perry. In those lighter days of the “Roaring Twenties”, marksmen from states banded together to make the journey, housing together in tent clusters on green lawns well behind the firing points.

George Farr Camp Perry Record 1903 Springfield
The silver plate affixed to George Farr’s M1903 Springfield states: “With this rifle and using issued ammunition Mr. G.R. Farr of Seattle Wash in the Wimbleton Match, 1921, Camp Perry O., made 71 consecutive bulls eyes at 1000 yards”.

But one man at the 1921 National Matches stood out amongst the rest. George “Dad” Farr was a 62-year-old man from the state of Washington, and this was his first time heading east to shoot in the “big leagues”, as some of his fellow Evergreen State friends termed the annual competitions.

Aptly nicknamed, “Dad” was a good bit older than the average shooter during that late summer season, striding forward hesitantly clad in a khaki shirt and dungarees. He wasn’t a practiced High Power shooter — he showed up at Camp Perry without a rifle, and relied on a crude monocular for a spotting scope that he had fashioned from a pair of French opera glasses.

At the previous day’s shooting, he had experienced issues with the initial .30-06 rifle he had chosen from the rack, a Model 1903 Springfield that didn’t seem to hold a consistent zero. This day, he chose a different gun, just another off-the-rack rifle no different from the one next to it. Though he didn’t realize it, George Farr had just made the best selection of his life.

Farr readied his bolt-action and prepared a clip of five rounds of Government Issue ammunition, then went to his position. He was ready to fire on a 1,000-yard target with a rifle he had never shot before.

George Farr Camp Perry Record 1903 Springfield

Perhaps he had resigned himself somewhat to the outcome — after all, it was the last relay of the day on September 9. Off to the west, the sun was beginning its slow trip down to the horizon. But Farr shouldered his Springfield and prepared to fire. The time was 4:30 p.m. Shooters nearby were puzzled by this shooter who squirmed and shifted repeatedly, but were amazed as he made his first hits on paper. Farr was shooting Frankford Arsenal tin-plate ammunition, the standard G.I. .30-06 rounds. More experienced marksmen, like Marine Sgt. John Adkins — who had just won the Wimbledon Cup — were using commercial Remington match ammunition and had spurned the government ammo.

The Historic String of Bullseyes
At that distant 36-inch target, Farr scored two hits for his two sighters, with the last sighter being a bullseye. He then prepared to fire 20 shots for record. Each of those 20 shots went into the center. Each scored as a “5”. At the end of this amazing string, Farr gathered up his monocular and prepared to depart. His fellow shooters quickly advised that match rules required him to continue firing until he missed “the black”, the inner 5-Ring bullseye at the center of the target. Farr had only brought one box of ammunition with him to the firing line, and had run out. As he waited for more of the tin-plate ammo he had been using, the sun continued its retreat. Farr continued his shooting, racking up growing strings of bullseyes – 30, 40 50, 60 – each impact on target being carefully recorded on his scorecard in the growing darkness.

Then, at the 71st shot with daylight completely gone, the bullet strayed outside the target center, and Farr’s incredible string came to its conclusion. But counting his second sighting shot, George Farr had fired 71 consecutive bullseyes at 1,000 yards using an unfamiliar rifle plucked from an ordnance rack earlier that day. It was an amazing feat, one immediately recognized by those in attendance. His fellow shooters quickly took up a generous collection, contributing in recognition of Farr’s natural skill and enabling him to purchase that bolt-action Springfield he had worked magic with on that distant target. Enough funds remained that a silver presentation plate, inscribed with the names of the states whose competitors had contributed, was ordered and mounted on the side of the rifle’s buttstock.

George Farr Camp Perry Record 1903 Springfield
CLICK HERE to zoom image

The next year, the Civilian Team Trophy was re-designated as the Farr Trophy, and George Farr’s record, fired on the old target system, was never beaten. Farr’s rifle went home with him to Washington and remained there, never again traveling eastward to Camp Perry. In 2011, The Farr family donated this legendary piece of shooting history to the NRA National Firearms Museum collection.

In 2013, as NRA Museums curators began assembling the collection for display at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri, the museum staff created a unique exhibit featuring George Farr’s Model 1903 Springfield rifle and its special place in competitive shooting history. Alongside the rifle rests Farr’s simple monocular, another mute witness to Camp Perry history made on that September evening in 1921.

Farr’s Springfield… is one of thousands of historically significant firearms found in the NRA Museums collections on display across three locations. To view the collection and learn more about the incredible stories behind each gun, visit the NRA Museums in person or browse the NRA Museums website.

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March 11th, 2020

Fitness and Cardio Training for Marksmen — It Makes a Difference

In the archives of The First Shot (the CMP’s Online Magazine), SGT Walter E. Craig of the USAMU discusses physical conditioning for competitive shooters, particularly High Power competitors. Fitness training is an important subject that, curiously, is rarely featured in the shooting sports media. We seem to focus on hardware, or esoteric details of cartridge reloading. Yet physical fitness also matters, particularly for High Power shooters. In his article, Craig advocates: 1) weight training to strengthen the Skeletal Muscle System; 2) exercises to build endurance and stamina; and 3) cardiovascular conditioning programs to allow the shooter to remain relaxed with a controlled heart beat.

SGT Craig explains: “An individual would not enter a long distance race without first spending many hours conditioning his/her body. One should apply the same conditioning philosophy to [shooting]. Physical conditioning to improve shooting skills will result in better shooting performance[.] The objective of an individual physical training program is to condition the muscles, heart, and lungs thereby increasing the shooter’s capability of controlling the body and rifle for sustained periods.”


» CLICK HERE to READ FULL FITNESS ARTICLE

In addition to weight training and cardio workouts (which can be done in a gym), SGT Craig advocates “some kind of holding drill… to develop the muscles necessary for holding a rifle for extended periods.”

For those with range access, Craig recommends a blind standing exercise: “This exercise consists of dry-firing one round, then live-firing one round, at a 200-yard standard SR target. For those who have access only to a 100-yard range, reduced targets will work as well. Begin the exercise with a timer set for 50 minutes. Dry-fire one round, then fire one live round and without looking at the actual impact, plot a call in a data book. Continue the dry fire/live fire sequence for 20 rounds, plotting after each round. After firing is complete, compare the data book to the target. If your zero and position are solid, the plots should resemble the target. As the training days add up and your zero is refined, the groups will shrink and move to the center.”

Brandon Green
Fitness training and holding drills help position shooters reach their full potential.

Training for Older Shooters
Tom Alves has written an excellent article A Suggested Training Approach for Older Shooters. This article discusses appropriate low-impact training methods for older shooters. Tom explains: “Many of the articles you will read in books about position shooting and the one mentioned above are directed more toward the younger generation of shooters in their 20s. If you look down the line at a typical high power match these days you are likely to see quite a few folks who are in their middle 30s and up. Many people in that age range have had broken bones and wear and tear on their joints so a training program needs to take that into account. For instance, while jogging for an extended period for heart and lung conditioning may be the recommended approach for younger folks, it may be totally inappropriate for older people.”

READ FULL ARTICLE by Tom Alves

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March 10th, 2020

Uniforming Meplats — How to Point Bullets with Whidden System

whidden bullet pointing die system kit
Jason Baney photo from Whidden Bullet Pointing Die Review.

The new generation Berger LRHT Match bullets come with Meplat Reduction Technology™ (MRT) for more consistent BCs. Essentially they are “pointed” at the factory. Likewise, many of Sierra’s most popular MatchKing bullets are now factory-pointed in a final production stage. However, for most other bullet types, you can benefit from using a bullet pointing system to make the meplats more consistent.

Bullet pointing die system whidden

Gear Review by GS Arizona

This article originally appeared in the Rifleman’s Journal website.
Many of you have doubtlessly read Bryan Litz’s articles in our Daily Bulletin and on his Applied Ballistics website about various current long-range bullets. Bryan’s work carries a great deal of weight in the world of ballistics, so his comments (and mathematical proofs) regarding the benefits of bullet pointing certainly caught my attention. Bullet pointing, like meplat trimming, is an effort to reduce the ballistic inconsistency created by the somewhat jagged tip of the jacket where the bullet forming dies bring it to a point in the manufacturing process. Of course, we could eliminate this problem altogether by shooting closed-tip, open-base bullets like the Lapua D46, but that merely shifts the jacket problem to the other end of the bullet.

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

In any event, hollow point bullets rule the accuracy world today, so John Whidden, multi-time National Long Range Champion and a talented gunsmith to boot, came up with a very handy tool to let us make those hollow points pointier. Let’s have a look at John’s tool and see how it works.

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

The Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System uses a Forster bullet seating die body as its basic structure and that’s a good choice given the quality machining Forster does on these. The real heart of the tool comes in two parts: the caliber sleeve and the pointing die that fits inside the sleeve. In fact, to point up different caliber bullets, you only need to change the caliber sleeve, everything else remains the same. The last item is the bullet base that slips into a standard .308 shellholder and supports the bullet as it goes into the die body.

It took me less than five minutes to get everything set up, including changing the caliber sleeve from 6mm to .30 caliber. John’s instruction sheets are well illustrated and clearly written; you should have no problem getting up and running.

Pointing the bullets is as easy as sizing a piece of brass. You can see in the second photo above the difference between a few pointed bullets and a few un-pointed ones. The innermost pointed bullet in the picture was my first attempt and I adjusted the die a little after that, you can see that the others are closed a little more. John even includes a couple of sample bullets so that you can see one done right and one done wrong. That is a nice addition that can help you achieve the desired results.

This YouTube Video Shows the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die in Action

I think Bryan’s work supports the validity of this concept and John’s tool puts it into practice in a simple-to-use manner that makes it just about impossible to do any damage to the bullet. I have shot pointed bullets in various calibers at many matches now. Pointing is not a “miracle cure”, but I believe that pointing bullet tips can produce long-range accuracy gains, through reduced vertical dispersion, for many popular types of match bullets. The Whidden Bullet Pointing Die System retails for $220.00 (with one insert). Additional die inserts are $42.00 each. Extra caliber sleeves are also $42.00. You can purchase directly from Whidden Gunworks, or from Sinclair International.

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

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March 9th, 2020

Gongzilla! Giant 72″x72″ Three-Element Steel Gong

1000 yard steel bullseye target

Rick Mulhern GongzillaA few seasons back, Forum member Rick from Louisiana (aka RMulhern) rigged up a fantastic target for long-range shooting. Rick, a long-time competitive Palma shooter, had a large 72″x72″ steel target fabricated with two separate center rings that are equivalent to the official paper Palma/Creedmoor target. He says he’s “shot a lot of Palma on that target, as well as lots of Black Powder Cartridge (BPCR) rounds”. The big steel target works great when Rick shoots his Sharps 45/110 BPCR at 800 to 1000 yards. The large steel background (painted white) helps Rick see and hear his hits. If you understand the high-arching trajectory of 500+ grain projectiles shot from a 45/110, you know it can take a few rounds to get Point of Impact dialed in.

Rick reports: “These are two of my favorite rifles to shoot: a M1874 Shiloh Sharps in caliber 45/110 (2 7/8) made in Big Timber, Montana by Kirk Bryan and family. The other is a 6.5×47 Lapua on a blue-printed M700 action with 1:8.5″-twist Krieger barrel and F5 McMillan Tactical stock. Many of the shooters that take up BPCR have a tendency to get away from their smokeless powder rifles in favor of the blackpowder game. Frankly I have the best of both worlds as I enjoy shooting both (smokeless and BPCR), although I must admit that I probably spend the majority of my time on the range with the Sharps rifles these days.” (Rick’s pretty good with his Sharps by the way — he recently shot a 95, 96, and 100 (clean) for 3×10 shots at 800 yards.)

Gongzilla: $1000 Worth of Steel with Three Plate Layers
Rick tells us: “Here’s the deal — everything is steel! The large plate is 72″x72″ and the black bull is 44″ diameter. The 20″-diameter central white bull is made from 1/2″-thick AR400 bull-dozer plating. That’s the same size as the regulation Palma/Creedmoor paper target. The white square and black bull are 3/8″-thick mild steel. Plates are off-set 2″ from each other. I welded a 2″ length of square tubing to the back of both plates and the bolt slides through and is attached to the large plate. I used 2 3/8″ upset tubing (oil field pipe) for the holder framing.” Rick says he invested about $1000.00 in metal for the target, but that was 15 years ago. Today the steel would be much more expensive.

1000 yard steel bullseye target

Rick says the AR400 armor plate in the center bull is very strong: “You can shoot a .338 Lapua Magnum at 200 yards and it won’t damage the center bull”. The mild steel works well for the cast bullets Rick uses with his Sharps 45/110. Also, Rick says the mild steel is rugged enough for 6.5mm and .308 hollowpoint match bullets, if you’re at least 500 yards away. However, Rick told us, “If I would make [the target] again, I would make the black bull AR400 as well. [That way] you would never have to worry about big dents or beating the plate up at any distance. The AR400 is very tough steel. You can shoot a Sierra or Lapua HP bullet and they will just splatter.”

Rick told us: “I built this target with off-set clanger plates. The white clanger is AR400. Bullets just splatter!” Does he worry about hitting the bolt head? Not at all. Rick says: “When I hit the bolt head, I break my arm patting myself on the back!”.

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March 8th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Original 1950s AR-10, Father of All ARs

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Today, AR-platform rifles are hugely popular. Dozens of manufacturers sell AR-type rifles, in a wide variety of configurations and calibers. But before there were M16s and AR-15s, ArmaLite produced a 7.62×51 caliber rifle, the AR-10. Yes before there were millions of 5.56 black rifles, there was a .30-caliber big brother with reddish-brown furniture. Invented by Eugene (‘Gene’) Stoner for the Armalite company in the late 1950s, this is the father of all of today’s AR-platform rifles. Way ahead of its time, this remarkable, select-fire battle rifle weighed just 7.25 pounds as first developed.

If you’re curious about the AR-10, in this video, Jerry Miculek puts an original 1957-vintage AR-10 through its paces on the range. This extremely rare, early-production rifle was provided by Mr. Reed Knight and the Institute of Military Technology. (The gun in the video was actually produced in the Netherlands under license, see video at 4:40.) This AR-10 is the direct ancestor of the AR-15, M16, and many of the modern sporting rifles that we use today.

The AR-10 was slim and light, weighing around 7 pounds. Some folks might argue that the original “old-school” AR-10 is actually better than some of today’s heavy, gadget-laden ARs. The AR-10’s charging “lever” was under the carry handle — that made it easier to manipulate with the gun raised in a firing position.

AR-10 Armalite Jerry Miculek

You’ll notice there is no “forward assist”. Inventor Gene Stoner did not believe a separate “bolt-pusher” was necessary. The forward assist was added to solve problems encountered in Viet Nam. Some critics say the forward assist “only takes a small problem and makes it a big problem.” For today’s competition ARs (that are never dragged through the mud) the forward assist probably is superfluous. It is rarely if ever needed.

AR-10 Armalite Jerry Miculek

Note also that the handguards are fairly slim and tapered. Today, six decades after the first AR-10 prototypes, we are now seeing these kind of slim handguards (made from aluminum or lightweight composites) used on “full race” ARs campaigned in 3-gun competition.

History of the AR-10
The AR-10 is a 7.62 mm battle rifle developed by Eugene Stoner in the late 1950s at ArmaLite, then a division of the Fairchild Aircraft Corporation. When first introduced in 1956, the AR-10 used an innovative straight-line barrel/stock design with phenolic composite and forged alloy parts resulting in a small arm significantly easier to control in automatic fire and over one pound lighter than other infantry rifles of the day. Over its production life, the original AR-10 was built in relatively small numbers, with fewer than 9,900 rifles assembled.

In 1957, the basic AR-10 design was substantially modified by ArmaLite to accommodate the .223 Remington cartridge, and given the designation AR-15. ArmaLite licensed the AR-10 and AR-15 designs to Colt Firearms. The AR-15 eventually became the M16 rifle.

AR-10 3D Model Shows Internal Parts
If you want to see more close-up details of the AR-10, computer artist Stefan Engdahl has created a very detailed 3D model of the AR-10 for use in computer simulations. This computer model features 18 separate objects so you can look at details of frame, barrel, trigger, sights and more.

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Here are some additional images of early AR-10 models, with various configurations. Multiple handguard and muzzle options were employed during early development.

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Color AR-10 photos from Arms Izarra, a Spanish company specializing in de-militarized, collectible firearms. Interestingly, this particular AR-10 was produced in the Netherlands under license.

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