April 19th, 2021

.223 Rem Velocity Per Inch Revealed by Barrel Cut-Down Test

.223 Rem Cut-Down Test barrel UMC m855

Most of us own a .223 Rem rifle. Now, thanks to our friends at Rifleshooter.com we can assess exactly how velocity changes with barrel length for this popular cartridge.

Rifleshooter.com performed an interesting test, cutting the barrel of a .223 Rem rifle from 26″ all the way down to 16.5″. The cuts were made in one-inch intervals with a rotary saw. At each cut length, velocity was measured with a Magnetospeed chronograph. To make the test even more interesting, four different types of .223 Rem/5.56 ammo were chron’d at each barrel length. The Rifleshooter.com team that conducts these tests has a full-service gun shop, 782 Custom Gunworks — visit 782guns.com.

READ RifleShooter.com 5.56/.223 Barrel Cut-Down Test Article »

Test Barrel Lost 25.34 FPS Per Inch (.223 Rem Chambering)
How much velocity do you think was lost, on average, for each 1″ reduction in barrel length? The answer may surprise you. The average speed loss of the four types of .223/5.56 ammo, with a 9.5″ shortening of barrel length, was 240.75 fps total (from start to finish). That works out to an average loss of 25.34 fps per inch.

5.56/.223 Barrel Cut-Down Speed Test 26″ to 16.5″ Start FPS at 26″ End FPS at 16.5″ Total Loss Average Loss Per Inch
UMC .223 55gr 3182* 2968 214 22.5 FPS
Federal M193 55gr 3431 3187 244 25.7 FPS
Win m855 62gr 3280 2992 288 30.3 FPS
Blk Hills .223 68gr 2849 2632 217 22.8 FPS

*There may have been an error. The 25″ velocity was higher at 3221 fps.

See inch-by-inch Barrel Cut-Down Velocity Data HERE »

Rifleshooter.com observed: “Cutting the barrel from 26″ to 16.5″ resulted in a velocity reduction of 214 ft/sec with the UMC 223 55-grain cartridge, 244 ft/sec with the Federal M-193 cartridge, 288 ft/sec with the Winchester M855 cartridge and 217 ft/sec with the Back Hills 223 68-grain match cartridge.”

How the Test Was Done
The testers described their procedure as follows: “Ballistic data was gathered using a Magnetospeed barrel-mounted ballistic chronograph. At each barrel length, the rifle was fired from a front rest with rear bags, with five rounds of each type of ammunition. Average velocity and standard deviation were logged for each round. Once data was gathered for each cartridge at a given barrel length, the rifle was cleared and the bolt was removed. The barrel was cut off using a cold saw. The test protocol was repeated for the next length. Temperature was 45.7° F.”

CLICK HERE to Read the Rifleshooter.com Test. This includes detailed charts with inch-by-inch velocity numbers.

See More Barrel Cut-Down Tests on Rifleshooter.com
Rifleshooter.com has performed barrel cut-down tests for many other calibers/chamberings including 6mm Creedmoor, .308 Winchester, and .338 Lapua Magnum. See these test results at Rifleshooter.com.

.308 Win barrel length cut test

Much Different Results with 6mmBR and a Longer Barrel
The results from Rifleshooter.com’s .223/5.56 test are quite different than the results we recorded some years ago with a barrel chambered for the 6mmBR cartridge. When we cut our 6mmBR barrel down from 33″ to 28″ we only lost about 8 FPS per inch. Obviously this is a different cartridge type, but also our 6mmBR barrel end length was longer than Rifleshooter.com’s .223 Rem start length. Velocity loss may be more extreme with shorter barrel lengths. And, of course, different cartridge types and powder/bullet combinations will yield different results.

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April 18th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: 20 Practical 4200+ FPS Varmint Slayer

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja Warren

Do you have .20-Cal fever? Do you yearn to see what a 4200+ fps projectile can do to an unsuspecting prairie dog? Well you could go out and purchase a 204 Ruger rifle, fork over the money for a new, complete die set, and hope that the brass is in stock. Warren B (aka “Fireball”) has a more cost-effective solution. If you have .223 Rem dies and brass, all you need to shoot the 20 Practical is a new barrel and a .230″ bushing to neck down your .223 cases. Warren’s wildcat is simple, easy, and economical. And the 20 Practical matches the performance of the highly-publicized 20 Tactical with less money invested and no need to buy forming dies or fire-form cases. Warren’s cartridge was aptly named. Practical it is.

20 Practical Tikka Bolt Action for Varminting

by Warren B (aka “Fireball”) and Kevin Weaver

After building my 20 PPC, I wanted to do another .20 caliber, this time a repeater for predator hunting that could also serve as a gopher/prairie dog rifle. I wanted to use a Tikka M595 stainless sporter I had. This rifle is the ultimate repeater with an extremely smooth-feeding cycle from its single-column magazine. Since the Tikka was a .223 Remington from the factory, I first looked at possible case designs that would fit the magazine. The 204 Ruger was a very new round at the time and brass was scarce. I also didn’t care for the overly long case design or the standard throat dimensions of the cartridge. I then looked at the 20 Tactical. It was a nice cartridge but I didn’t like the fact that (at the time) an ordinary two-die Tac 20 set with just a plain full-length die and standard seater were $150. Not only did the costs bother me, but I was accustomed to using a Redding die set featuring a body die, a Type-S bushing neck die, and a Competition seater. To be honest, I also didn’t care for the 20 Tactical’s name–there is absolutely nothing tactical about the cartridge. I didn’t want to adopt a new cartridge based on what I perceived to be a marketing gimmick (that “tactical” title).


Warren B, aka “Fireball”, with his Tikka 595. With its smooth action and phenolic single-column mag, it cycles perfectly in rapid fire.

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja WarrenSimply Neck Down .223 Rem to Make a 20-223 Wildcat
I decided the best thing to do for my purposes was to simply neck down the .223 Rem case and make a 20-223. I already had the dies, the brass, and a rifle that would feed it perfectly. I decided to call the cartridge the 20 Practical because as you will see in this article, it truly is a very practical cartridge. In addition to the generous and inexpensive availability of brass and dies, the 20 Practical is an easy case to create, requiring no fire forming as a final step. Simply neck your .223 Rem cases down, load and shoot.

[Editor’s Note: Over the years, other shooters have experimented with .223 Remington cases necked down to .20 caliber, some with longer necks, some with different shoulder angles. Warren doesn’t claim to be the first fellow to fit a .20-caliber bullet in the .223 case. He gives credit to others who did pioneering work years ago. But he has come up with a modern 20-223 wildcat that involves no special case-forming, and minimal investment in dies and tooling. He commissioned the original PTG 20 Practical reamer design, and he and Kevin did the field testing to demonstrate the performance of this particular version.]

I chose Kevin Weaver at Weaver Rifles to fit and chamber the barrel to my rifle. Kevin does excellent work and is great to work with. Kevin liked the idea of the 20 Practical so much he agreed to purchase the project reamer. (BTW Kevin didn’t even need to purchase a Go/No-Go gauge, he just used an existing .223 Rem gauge.)

Before Kevin ordered the reamer, I talked over the reamer specs with him. My priorities were tolerances on the tight end of the .223 Rem SAAMI specification, a semi-fitted neck with no need for neck-turning, and a short throat so that we could have plenty of the 32gr V-Max in the case and still touch the lands. I also wanted this short throat in case [anyone] wanted to chamber an AR-15 for the 20 Practical. A loaded 20 Practical round will easily touch the lands on an AR-15 while fitting into the magazine with no problem. With its standard 23-degree shoulder, the 20 Practical case also feeds flawlessly through an AR-15.

As for the barrel, I only use Liljas on my rifles. I have had great luck with them. They have always shot well and they clean up the easiest of any barrels that I have tried. I had previously sent my Tikka barreled action to Dan Lilja so that he could program a custom contour into his equipment and turn out a barrel that would perfectly fit the factory M595 sporter stock. There isn’t much material on an M595 sporter stock so the contour had to match perfectly and it did. Dan Lilja now has this custom contour available to anyone who would like to rebarrel their M595 sporter with one of his barrels.

There Are Plenty of Good .204-Caliber Varmint Bullet Options
20 Practical .204 Ruger .20 caliber bullets

How to Form 20 Practical Cases — Simple and Easy
Forming 20 Practical cases is very easy. No fire-forming is required. Start with any quality .223 Rem brass. Then simply run the case into your bushing die with the appropriate bushing and call it done.

Project Componentry
My 20 Practical rifle started out as a Tikka Model 595 Stainless Sporter in .223 Remington. Though the M595 is no longer imported, if you shop around you can find M595 Sporters for bargain prices. Mine cost under $500. I think the action alone is worth that! The receiver has a milled dovetail for scope rings plus a side bolt release like expensive BR actions. The bolt cycles very smoothly. Ammo is handled with super-reliable 3- or 5-round detachable single-column magazines (FYI, Tikka’s M595 22-250 mags will feed a 6BR case flawlessly.) We kept the standard Tikka trigger but fitted it with a light-weight spring. Now the trigger pull is a crisp 1.8 pounds–about as good as it gets in a factory rifle. We replaced the factory tube with a custom, 24″, 3-groove Lilja 12-twist barrel. Dan Lilja created a special M595 sporter contour to allow a perfect “drop-in” fit with the factory stock. For optics, I’ve fitted a Leupold 4.5-14x40mm zoom in low Talley light-weight aluminum mounts. All up, including optics and sling, my 20 Practical weighs just under 8.5 pounds.

Test Report–How’s It Shoot?
I sent the barrel and barreled action to Kevin and in a very short time it was returned. Kevin did a perfect job on the rifle. I had asked him to try to match the bead blasted finish of the Tikka when he finished the new barrel. It came out perfect and the only way one can tell it is a custom is the extra two inches of length and the “20 Practical” cartridge designation.

So, no doubt you’re asking “how does she shoot?” Is my “prototype”, first-ever 20 Practical an accurate rig? In a word, yes. Even with the standard factory stock, and light contour barrel, it can shoot 3/8″ groups. Take a look at the typical target from this rifle. This is from an 8.5-pound sporter with a very skinny fore-end and a factory trigger.

Gunsmith’s Report from Kevin Weaver
The 20 Practical: Origins and Development

Editor’s NOTE: We can’t say for sure who first necked down the .223 Rem to .20 caliber and chambered a rifle for that wildcat (as opposed to the .20 Tactical). But here is an account from way back in 2006 when the Warren B first came up with the idea of a .20 Practical cartridge, complete with reamer specs.

A year ago I received a call from Warren with a great idea. Warren asked “Why couldn’t we simply neck down the .223 Remington case to 20 caliber and get basically the same performance as the 20 Tactical? This way you can forgo the expensive forming dies that are needed for the 20 Tactical.” The idea made perfect sense to me, and I saw no major technical issues, so we got started on the project. I ordered a reamer from Dave Kiff at Pacific Tool & Gauge (PTG) with a .233″ neck. The .233″ neck should allow for a simple necking-down of the 223 Remington case to produce the 20 Practical in just one step. No fire-forming necessary! Furthermore, the PTG 20 Practical reamer Dave created should work with any available .223 Rem brass, commercial or military.

The first 20 Practical round was launched down range (through Warren’s Tikka) just a few months later. The brass formed as easily as expected. All one needs is a Redding type “S” bushing die with a .230 bushing and with just one step I had a .20 caliber case ready to shoot. Warren is brilliant. [Editor’s Note: We concur. For more details on Warren’s case-forming methods and his tips for adapting .223 Rem dies, read the technical sections further down the page.]

It would be almost six months later until I got around to building a dedicated test rifle chambered for the 20 Practical. I used a Remington 722 action, Remington synthetic semi-varmint stock, and a 24″ Douglas stainless steel XX 12-twist barrel. I formed and loaded about 30 cases using Remington brass in about 20 minutes. I used a .223 Rem seating die to seat the 20 Practical bullets. The .223 seating stem seated the small 20-Cal bullets just fine. The first loads sent the 40gr Hornady V-Max bullets down range at a modest 3500 FPS. I did not shoot for groups. I just wanted to use this load to sight in the rifle and break in the barrel. Load development was painless–I used reduced .223 Rem loads for 40gr bullets and worked up from there. In the table below are some of my preferred loads as well as Warren’s favorite recipes for his 20 Practical.

Bullet Wt. Powder Charge Wt. Velocity FPS Comments
32GR H4198 24.1 4025 Warren’s lighter gopher load
32GR AA2460 27.8 4154 Warren’s coyote/prairie dog load
32GR N133 26.0 4183 Coyote/PD load, clean burn
33GR H4198 26.0 4322 Hot Load. Use with Caution!
33GR N133 27.0 4255 Kevin: 0.388” 5 shot group
40GR H335 25.0 3583 Kevin’s barrel break-in load
40GR H4198 24.0 3907 Hodgdon “Extreme” Powder
40GR IMR4895 26.0 3883 Kevin: 0.288″ 5-shot group
40GR N133 25.0 3959 Kevin: 0.227″ 5-shot group
Warren’s Load Notes: My pet loads are all with IMI cases, 32gr Hornady V-Maxs, and Fed 205 primers (not match). These are the most accurate loads in my rifle so far. I haven’t even bothered with the 40s as I have the 20 PPC and 20 BR for those heavier bullets. I prefer the lighter bullets in the 20 Practical because I wanted to keep speed up and recoil down in this sporter-weight predator rifle. Also, the 32gr V-Max is exceptionally accurate and explosive. I like N133 the best as it burns so clean. IMI cases are tough and well-made.
Kevin’s Load Notes: I used Remington 223 cases, Hornady V-Max bullets, and Remington 6 1/2 primers to develop the above loads. CAUTION: all loads, both Warren’s and mine, should be reduced 20% when starting load development in your rifle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Weaver Rifles has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Weaver Rifles nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

Comparing the 20 Practical and 20 Tactical
Kevin tells us: “The 20 Practical and the 20 Tactical are almost identical cartridges. There are only slight differences in case Outside Diameter, shoulder angle, and case body length. The neck length on the 20 Tactical is a bit longer, but there is still plenty of neck on the 20 Practical to grip the popular bullets, such as the 32gr V-Max. Here are some specs:

Cartridge Bolt face to shoulder Shoulder O.D. Shoulder Angle Total length
20 Tactical 1.5232″ .360 30° 1.755″
20 Practical 1.5778″ .3553 23° 1.760″

Both the 20 Tactical and the 20 Practical are fine .20 caliber cartridges. At present, the 20 Tactical is the more popular of the two because it has had more publicity. However, my favorite would be the 20 Practical. Warren’s 20 Practical gives the SAME performance as the 20 Tactical without fire-forming, or having to buy expensive forming dies. So with the 20 Practical you do less work, you shell out a lot less money, yet you give up nothing in performance. What’s not to like? To create 20 Practical cases, just buy a .223 Rem Redding Type “S” Bushing Die set with a .230 or .228 bushing and have fun with this great little cartridge.”

(more…)

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April 18th, 2021

Are You a Gun Wizard? Take the Shoot 101 Ballistics Quiz

Shoot 101 Ballistics Question Quiz BC trajectory

Shoot 101 Quiz
How much of an expert are you when it comes to firearms and ballistics? Test your knowledge with this interactive test. Vista Outdoor, parent of CCI, Federal, Bushnell, RCBS and other brands, has a media campaign called Shoot 101, which provides “how to” information about shooting, optics, and outdoor gear. There were a variety of interactive offerings that let you test your knowledge.

On the Shoot 101 website, you’ll find a Ballistics Quiz. The questions are pretty basic, but it’s still fun to see if you get all the answers correct.

You don’t need a lot of technical knowledge. Roughly a third of the questions are about projectile types and bullet construction. Note, on some platforms the layout doesn’t show all FOUR possible answers. So, for each question, be sure to scroll down to see all FOUR choices. REPEAT: Scroll down to see ALL answers!

CLICK HERE to Go to SHOOT 101 Ballistics QUIZ Page »

Sample Ballistics Question 1:

Shoot 101 Ballistics Question Quiz BC trajectory

Sample Ballistics Question 2:

Shoot 101 Ballistics Question Quiz BC trajectory

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April 17th, 2021

Adaptive Shooting Opportunities for Competitors and Hunters

Adaptive Shooting Team USA matt matthew schwartzkopf

One of the great thing about shooting is that marksmanship is one of the few sports where physically-challenged persons can compete at the highest level — with some provisions for wheelchair access and mobility. For example, in the world of F-Class competition, Matt Schwartzkopf is one of the best in the nation. Matt, a rangemaster at Ben Avery in Arizona, is a double amputee (below the knee). He hasn’t let that challenge stop him. He has been a Top-10 finisher at major F-Class matches, and was chosen to shoot with F-TR Team USA.

Adaptive Shooting Team USA matt matthew schwartzkopf

Adaptive Shooting Team USA matt matthew schwartzkopfF-TR Team USA member Matt Schwartzkopf is a double amputee below the knee, having had his lower legs removed due to a birth defect. That hasn’t held him back. Matt is an inspiration to us all. He told us: “This condition has not held me back from anything.” Jokingly, he added, “I may not have ‘a leg to stand on’, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still shoot 10s and Xs at 1000.” Matt is living proof that competitive shooting is a sport for all individuals — young and old, able-bodied and physically challenged.

Matt isn’t just a talented shooter — he runs range operations at Ben Avery in Arizona. During a major match, Matt can be seen supervising the firing line, organizing pit crews, and posting match results.

New USA Nationwide Adventure Database for Adaptive Shooters

Here’s a great new opportunity for shooters and sportsmen with physical limitations. The NRA has created a nationwide database of hunting and fishing adventures for individuals with disabilities. There are programs throughout the country with 45+ organizations such as Buckmasters, Freedom Hunters, Hope Outdoors, Hunting with Heroes, and Safari Club International.

“Venturing into the outdoors has long been acknowledged as healing for the body and soul”, said NRA National Adaptive Shooting Programs Manager Dr. Joe Logar, PT, DPT. “These benefits can be even more profound for someone experiencing an illness, injury, or disability.”

Adaptive Shooting NRA hunting fishing database outdoor adventure

NRA’s Hunter Services and Adaptive Shooting Programs have maintained a list of organizations offering people with disabilities outdoor opportunities. Now available in a searchable database, any adaptive shooter can easily choose from adventures such as guided whitetail hunts, chartered fishing trips, and accessible hiking trails anywhere across the country. To find a program, visit the NRA Adaptive Shooting Program’s Hunting/Fishing Trip Database.

Adaptive Shooting Team USA matt matthew schwartzkopf

NRA Resources for Adaptive Shooting Events
The NRA Adaptive Shooting Program also provides information for organizations planning an event to include person with disabilities. Events may be organized by veterans’ groups, rehabilitation facilities, and gun clubs. For more information visit AdaptiveShooting.NRA.org.

Adaptive Shooting Team USA matt matthew schwartzkopf

Adaptive Shooting Programs in the United Kingdom

Across the pond, the National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom (NRAUK) also has adaptive shooting programs. The NRA.ORG.UK website has a wealth of information for disabled shooters.

Adaptive Shooting Team USA matt matthew schwartzkopf

The NRAUK states: “There are many different types of target shooting available for people to try in Great Britain. Some of them are readily accessible to disabled people, others less so. Also, shooting clubs and facilities do not all cater for every discipline; some only offer one, whilst larger complexes can cater for many of them. The only place in the country where almost all disciplines can be tried is Bisley Camp in Surrey. Access to the outdoor ranges is being improved all the time, although most are already accessible.

If the disciplines that you particularly fancy are not suitable for your type of disability at the moment, or are not currently available in your area, do not give up hope! The key skills for target shooting are very similar for all disciplines, so you could start with a different but similar option, learn those key skills, and take up your first choice when it is available to you.”

Adaptive Shooting Team USA matt matthew schwartzkopf

Making Ranges Suitable for Disabled Shooters
The Summer 2019 issue of NRA Club Connections magazine has a feature on Adaptive Shooting. This article explains how range owners can make their lines of fire more accessible with the addition of a simple mat.

Adaptive Shooting

Adaptive Shooting Team USA matt matthew schwartzkopf

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April 17th, 2021

G1 vs. G7 Ballistic Coefficients — What You Need to Know

G1 G7 BC drag models

Over the past 12 months, this article was one of the TOP 20 most-read Daily Bulletin features. We’re reprising it today for those who may have missed it the first time. The above diagram comes from a TiborasurasRex YouTube Video comparing G1 and G7 BC models. CLICK HERE to watch the video.

The better, up-to-date ballistics programs let you select either G1 or G7 Ballistic Coefficient (BC) values when calculating a trajectory. The ballistic coefficient (BC) of a body is a measure of its ability to overcome air resistance in flight. You’ve probably seen that G7 values are numerically lower than G1 values for the same bullet (typically). But that doesn’t mean you should select a G1 value simply because it is higher.

Some readers are not quite sure about the difference between G1 and G7 models. One forum member wrote us: “I went on the JBM Ballistics website to use the web-based Trajectory Calculator and when I got to the part that gives you a choice to choose between G1 and G7 BC, I was stumped. What determines how, or which one to use?”

The simple answer is the G1 value normally works better for shorter flat-based bullets, while the G7 value should work better for longer, boat-tailed bullets.

G1 vs. G7 Ballistic Coefficients — Which Is Right for You?
G1 and G7 refer both refer to aerodynamic drag models based on particular “standard projectile” shapes. The G1 shape looks like a flat-based bullet. The G7 shape is quite different, and better approximates the geometry of a modern long-range bullet. So, when choosing your drag model, G1 is preferable for flat-based bullets, while G7 is ordinarily a “better fit” for longer, boat-tailed bullets.

G1 G7 Ballistic coefficients

Drag Models — G7 is better than G1 for Long-Range Bullets
Many ballistics programs still offer only the default G1 drag model. Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting, believes the G7 standard is preferrable for long-range, low-drag bullets: “Part of the reason there is so much ‘slop’ in advertised BCs is because they’re referenced to the G1 standard which is very speed sensitive. The G7 standard is more appropriate for long range bullets. Here’s the results of my testing on two low-drag, long-range boat-tail bullets, so you can see how the G1 and G7 Ballistic coefficients compare:

G1 BCs, averaged between 1500 fps and 3000 fps:
Berger 180 VLD: 0.659 lb/in²
JLK 180: 0.645 lb/in²

The reason the BC for the JLK is less is mostly because the meplat was significantly larger on the particular lot that I tested (0.075″ vs 0.059″; see attached drawings).

For bullets like these, it’s much better to use the G7 standard. The following BCs are referenced to the G7 standard, and are constant for all speeds.

G7 BCs:
Berger 180 VLD: 0.337 lb/in²
JLK 180: 0.330 lb/in²

Many modern ballistics programs, including the free online JBM Ballistics Program, are able to use BCs referenced to G7 standards. When available, these BCs are more appropriate for long range bullets, according to Bryan.

[Editor’s NOTE: BCs are normally reported simply as an 0.XXX number. The lb/in² tag applies to all BCs, but is commonly left off for simplicity.]

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April 16th, 2021

How Bullet Bearing Surface Length Can Affect Load Pressure

USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparison Safety Reloading
Three near-equal-weight 7mm bullets with different shapes and bearing surface.

This article, from the USAMU Facebook Page, concerns reloading safety. In the relentless quest for more speed and flatter ballistics, some hand-loaders load way too hot, running charges that exceed safe pressure levels. Hint: If you need a mallet to open your bolt, chances are your load is too hot. Stay within safe margins — your equipment will last longer, and you won’t risk an injury caused by over-pressure. In this article, the USAMU explains that you need to account for bullet shape, diameter, and bearing surface when working up a load. Don’t assume that a load which is safe for one bullet will be safe for another even if both bullets are exactly the same weight.

USAMU Reloading tips Army Marksmanship

Today, 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.

USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparison Safety Reloading

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. In fact, diameters 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 and Pressure
Bullet bearing surface length (BSL) is often overlooked when considering maximum safe powder charges and pressures. In Photo 1, note the differences in the bullets’ appearance. All three are 7 mm, 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.

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

USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparison Safety ReloadingBullet 1 (L-R), the RN/FB, has a very slight taper and only reaches its full diameter (0.284 inch) 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!

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 deluding.

Note: Due to time constraints, the writer used an approximate, direct measurement approach to assess the bullets’ different BSLs. While fairly repeatable, the results were far from ballistics engineer-grade. Still, they are adequate for this example.

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. You can use comparators on calipers, but be aware that this method may give you deceptive reading — we’ve seen variances just by reversing the comparators on the calipers, because the comparators, typically, are not perfectly round, nor are they machined to precision tolerances.]

Thanks to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit for allowing the reprint of this article.

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April 16th, 2021

Muzzle Brake Noise Levels Revealed by PRB Field Tests

PrecisionRifleBlog.com Cal Zant Muzzle Brake Test Noise Level Decibels Suppressor

A while back, Cal Zant at PrecisionRifleBlog.com did a big muzzle brake comparison test. Along with measuring recoil reduction, Cal’s team recorded sound levels in PRB’s exhaustive muzzle brake field test. In the PRB archives you’ll find comprehensive muzzle brake sound test results, with hard data on 20 different muzzle brakes.

Sound can be a tricky subject, but Cal Zant, the editor of PrecisionRifleBlog.com, presents everything an informed shooter should know about muzzle brake noise in a straightforward and practical way. Most sound tests are measured from the side of the muzzle, in accordance with mil-spec standards, and Cal did that. But he also measured the sound level of each brake from behind the rifle, closer to the shooter’s position. This provides a more accurate indicator of the actual sound levels firearms operators will encounter while shooting.

Muzzle brakes ARE really loud — that’s something most active shooters have observed. But this study finally gives us some hard data and makes objective comparisons. The difference between brakes was quite significant. Some brakes were ear-splitting — more than twice as loud as other brakes tested.

As a bonus, Cal also provides data on how the new Ultra series suppressors from Thunder Beast Arms Corp (TBAC) compare in terms of sound level behind the rifle.

Check out the Test Results: http://precisionrifleblog.com/2015/08/07/muzzle-brakes-sound-test.

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April 15th, 2021

Go Big or Go Home — Care and Feeding of .50 BMG Rifles

fifty caliber shooting association

Owning and Feeding ‘The Big Bore’ — .50 BMG

Is The Challenge Of Big Bore Extreme Range Shooting Right For You?
By James Patterson
This article originally written for the Sinclair Reloading Press

Fifty 50 Caliber shooting Association

Handling a .50 BMG Rig
Is a .50 BMG caliber rifle difficult to shoot? Not at all. The relatively heavy weight of a standard rifle at 30 pounds or more combined with a very efficient muzzle brake makes it a pleasure to shoot. The typical recoil can be compared to a .243 rifle or a 12 gauge trap load. On the other hand, the burning of a typical load of 230 grains of powder combined with that muzzle brake makes the muzzle blast experience exhilarating. A first time shooter will fire, pause for a moment in awe at the muzzle blast, and then break out into what has become known as “The 50 Caliber Grin”, almost impossible to wipe from ones face. My daughter started competing with the .50 BMG at 18 (115 lbs of tall skinny girl) and happily shoots 100+ rounds in the course of a match, her grin on the last round is as wide as on the first! Many members and competitors in the FCSA are women and many have distinguished themselves as excellent marksman having set world records on numerous occasions.

50 BMG FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

50 BMG Fifty Caliber Shooting Association

Cost of Big-Bore Shooting
Is owning and shooting a .50 BMG caliber rifle expensive? Relatively speaking yes, but one must put it into perspective. Rifles may run from $2500 to $7000, maybe even more for a top of the line custom rifle. A good scope will set you back $1000 to $3500. And while excellent commercial ammo is made, it is hard to find these days and runs from $4 to $6 a round. Most serious shooters start reloading for the rifle as soon as practical, not only for the economics of reloading but also for the ability to fine tune custom ammo for their specific rifle. It’s a very rare match that is won shooting commercial ammo. I recently compared the cost of my hobby — owning, shooting, and competing with the 50 BMG — with a friend whose hobby is snowmobiling. Factoring in the cost of equipment, licensing, gasoline, clothing, etc. it was soon obvious that my hobby was significantly less expensive than his.

50 BMG FCSA Fifty Caliber

50 BMG FCSA fifty Caliber

FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Getting Started
FCSA 50 BMG Fifty Caliber Shooting AssociationSo how does one get started? You could do as I did, purchase a rifle not knowing what you were really getting into; or you could come out to a FCSA-sponsored event, shoot a number of different rifles, rub shoulders with those who have already taken the plunge, and see if this sport is right for you. While membership in the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FSCA) is required to compete at a FSCA event, membership is not required to come and experience first hand what is going on. If you have any inclination that you are interested in the extreme sport of long rang, big bore shooting then a year’s membership in the FCSA is only $60 ($20 for active duty military) a significant bargain if it helps you make just one well-informed equipment choice. In addition one of the primary functions of the FCSA is helping to identify active members near you who can help you understand just what is involved and help you ‘get your feet wet’ in this challenging sport.

FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Photos courtesy FCSA Photo Gallery.
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April 14th, 2021

Talladega 600 Southern Classic on Shooting USA TV Today

CMP Marksmanship program talladega park 600 match

After being postponed due to storm damage from Hurricane Zeta, the CMP’s 2020 Talladega 600 event was rescheduled to January 2021. It was completed successfully in Alabama, drawing scores of competitors. It was great to see marksmanship competition resume at the famed Talladega Marksmanship Park.

Today, April 14, 2021 Shooting USA TV features the Talladega 600 held this past January. Shooting USA notes: “Competition is back, as America gets back to normal again. For the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the opening event this year was the Talladega 600 that brought competitors from across the country with their rifles and pistols, all glad to be back shooting … at the Talladega Marksmanship Park, the home range of the CMP[.]”

Shooting USA noted that this event was a welcome return to normalcy: “After a year of cancelled competition, the Talladega 600 offered days of shooting in matches for most everything you might own, from rimfire to High Power. That had shooters from across the country emptying their gun-safes, and driving down to Alabama to shoot.”

SHOOTING USA TV Air Times
View Shooting USA on the Outdoor Channel: Wednesdays 9:00 PM (Eastern and Pacific); 8:00 PM Central.
NOTE: If you miss the 4/14/2021 broadcast, you can still view the show on Vimeo for a small 99-cent fee, or just $1.99 per month unlimited. LINK HERE: Shooting USA on Vimeo.

About the Talladega 600 — Southern Classic

The Talladega 600, “A Southern Classic”, is held annually. Though typically fired in November, the 2020 Talladega 600 was rescheduled to January 2021, due to storm damage from Hurricane Zeta. This year, matches included Garand, Springfield, M1A, Carbine and Vintage/Modern rifle events, and versions of prestigious National Trophy Rifle Matches. There was also an Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) match, 4-Man Team match, and .22 Rimfire Sporter match.

CMP Marksmanship program talladega park 600 November match

NEW Garand Benchrest and Rimfire Sporter Benchrest Matches
Two new types of matches were conducted at January’s Talladega 600: a Benchrest Garand Match and a Rimfire Sporter Benchrest Match. Competitors at these events can use sandbags to support their rifles. The Benchrest Garand match was very popular, and is likely to become a regular event.

CMP Marksmanship program talladega park 600 match

Pistol Matches Were Popular
The Talladega 600 included .22 Rimfire EIC and Service Pistol EIC matches, along with As-Issued 1911 and Military & Police matches.

CMP Marksmanship program talladega park 600 match

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match
State-of-the-art Kongsberg target systems are used at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park.

About Talladega Marksmanship Park
The 500-acre CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is one of the most advanced outdoor shooting facilities in the Western Hemisphere. The facility includes a 600-yard rifle range, a 100-yard multi-purpose range, and a 50-yard pistol range, equipped with Kongsberg electronic targets and scoring monitors. Since the 54 targets at each line register hits and calculate the scores instantly, no pit duty is required at Talladega. The park regularly hosts rifle, pistol and shotgun events throughout the year.

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April 13th, 2021

Memories from Six Decades of Pistol Matches at Camp Perry

NTT National Trophy Team Pistol Match Camp Perry Gold Cup

The National Matches at Camp Perry are a great American tradition. Over the past 114 years, hundreds of thousands of competitors have enjoyed the rifle and pistol matches at Perry on the shores of Lake Erie. Today’s story, from an avid shooter now in his 80s, recounts the halcyon days of pistol competition at Camp Perry, when thousands of shooters competed on the pistol firing lines each summer.

My Camp Perry Experience…
More than 40 National Pistol Matches since 1963

by Don Weihl, 83, Swansea, Illinois

Shooting at Camp Perry has been the experience of a lifetime….

Best Camp Perry times were in the Sixties
The 1963 through 1967 years were the best…

There were more than 2,000 competitors each year. There were 600 targets — numbered 1 through 600, from left to right — across the ranges and grouped into six ranges, 100 targets wide. The matches ran like a well-oiled machine. There was a print shop on the base. All competitors could get a printed match report for each match, not too long after scores were in.

Most nights in those years, there were movies for the competitors and their families in the base theater. The mess hall in those years served three meals a day to over 3,000 hungry mouths – every day.

Favorite memory of Camp Perry — A Record Performance

NTT National Trophy Team Pistol Match Camp Perry Gold Cup

My favorite memory of Camp Perry [was] in 1966. I was on the line firing next to the Army Team when MSGT Ralph O. Thompson (shown above) fired a 100 on the first .22 cal. pistol target. R.O. then fired another 100 on the second target, setting a National Record of 200×8. That is still unforgettable.

What I like Best about Camp Perry…

Each morning, the day begins with the roar of the cannon and colors. The National Anthem is played as the smoke clears and all stand at attention. Only first relay shooters are on the line, but many second and third relay shooters are there, as well as the match support community – all to observe the colors. Other matches begin with the National Anthem, but at Camp Perry, it is better.

Pistol Camp Perry

What Was My Favorite Perry Pistol Match?

Actually, There is no favorite match in bullseye shooting. At Camp Perry, you are there to compete against yourself and everybody else. You also compete against the elements, where a slight breeze can turn into a gale, while the grass beneath your feet turns into a muddy obstacle.

What have I Learned on the Firing Line with Other Competitors over the Years?

Everyone learns they are among friends. If there is a problem, the shooter next to you or the shooter next to him will help. If your pistol breaks, the back-up pistol of a nearby competitor will be offered quickly, and the match will proceed.

Advice for First Time Camp Perry Competitors?

Learn to concentrate on something unique to YOUR target. With so many targets so close together, cross-fires are common. Don’t let it be you.

National Matches at Camp Perry Returns in 2021

The National Trophy Pistol and Rifle Matches have been an honored American tradition for generations. The National Trophy Matches have been held at Camp Perry, Ohio, since 1907, 114 years ago. Participants in the 2021 National Pistol Matches can choose from a number of competitions, as well as attend the Pistol Small Arms Firing School. There, trainees will receive classroom instruction before heading to the range for live firing and one-on-one match training.

NTT National Trophy Team Pistol Match Camp Perry Gold Cup
Civilians and military shooters competed together at the 2019 NTT Pistol Match.

The 2021 National Matches will feature multiple pistol competitions, including a Centerfire Pistol 900 Aggregate, a .45 Pistol 900 Aggregate, and a CMP Revolver Match. To learn more about the CMP’s scheduled events at the upcoming 2021 National Matches at Camp Perry, visit the CMP Nat’l Matches Website. Registration is NOW OPEN.

It took decades of competition to acquire all those patches — that’s dedication to the sport.
Camp Perry National Matches EIC Rimfire Service Pistol .22 LR Competition NRA CMP

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April 11th, 2021

Guide to Case Lubricants — Spray, Liquid, Wax, and Dry Lube

Cartridge Case lubrication imperial Die wax case sizing reloading

Sinclair International has a good article on Case Lubrication which shows the various products and application methods available. Part of Sinclair’s Step-By-Step Reloading series, the article shows how to apply Spray Lube, Die Wax, or conventional lube from a Pad. The story also explains how to use dry lube to slick up the inside of your case necks.

Spray Lubes
High-volume reloaders often turn to spray-on lubricants such as the RCBS Case Slick (#749-001-341WB) or the Hornady One Shot (#749-016-818WB) to quickly lubricate large numbers of cases at once. An indispensable piece of gear that helps make spray lubing easy is a polymer lube rack that holds cases upright and arranged to maximize their exposure to the spray.

Hornady spray cartridge case Lube

Editor’s Note: Ballistol Aerosol is other good spray product for regular full-length sizing (not heavy case-forming). It goes on clear (no chalky residue), it is ultra-slippery, and it will remove the carbon from your case necks as you apply Ballistol with a patch. This is my primary spray lube — but many folks dislike the distinctive Ballistol smell. Try before you buy.

diewax1601Sizing Die Wax
Over the years, many benchrest shooters have come to trust Imperial Sizing Die Wax (#749-001-052) for their case lube needs. It offers high lubricity and easily wipes off with a paper towel. In fact, its lubricity makes it a popular choice for case forming, for those wildcat folks who need to form their own unique or obsolete cartridges. Unlike lube pads or spray lubes, sizing wax is applied more naturally. You just put a little on your fingers and transfer it to the cases by handling them. As simple and easy as Imperial Sizing Die Wax is to use, it’s probably best for low-volume applications.

Dry Lubricant
Redding’s Imperial Application Media (#749-001-166) is a dry neck lube used to lube the inside of the neck, whether you’re full-length sizing or neck-sizing only. It consists of ceramic spheres coated with a fine graphite-based powder. You simply dip the neck into the container for a second to pick up the right amount of lube. This lube lets the expander ball move smoothly throughout the case neck instead of “grabbing” or “chattering”. That minimizes case neck stretching.

Cartridge Case lubrication imperisal Die wax case sizing reloading

Editor’s Note: Dry Lube is also very useful if you ultrasonically clean your cases. After the ultrasound process, the inside of the case neck can be so “squeaky clean” that bullets don’t seat smoothly. A quick application of dry lube on the insisde of the necks will help bullets slide into the neck easier. As a result, the neck “grip” on the bullets should be more consistent from round-to-round. Consistent neck tension is key to accuracy and uniform velocities.

DIY Case Lube Instructions from UltimateReloader.com »

Tired of spending $15-$25 for a can of spray lube that doesn’t last very long? For about the same price as a single 10 oz. can you can make your own effective spray lube that should last for multiple seasons and lube thousands of cases quickly and easily.

In the YouTube video above Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com shows how to make your own case lube using simple, inexpensive ingredients. First recommended by the 6.5 Guys, this Liquid Lanolin + Isopropyl Alcohol mix works well and is very cost-effective. Here’s what you need:

1. Swan Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%, Pint, 16 Ounce (2-pack)
2. Home Health Liquid Lanolin, 4 Ounce
3. Chemical Guys ACC_121.16HD-3PK Chem. Resistant Heavy Duty Bottle/Sprayer (16 oz.)

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April 10th, 2021

Weakside Bolt Placement — When and Why It Works

left port McMillan Rifle

Most bolt-action rifle shooters work the bolt with their trigger-pulling hand. This is because most rifles sold to right-handed shooters come with right-side bolts, while “lefty” rifles come with left-side bolts. This “standard” configuration requires the shooter to take his dominant, trigger-pulling hand off the stock to cycle the bolt, then re-position his hand on the stock, and “re-claim” the trigger. Often the shooter must lift or move his head to work the bolt, and that also requires him to re-establish his cheek weld after each and every shot. Not good.

This really doesn’t make much sense for precision shooting with fore-end support*. There is a better way. If you leave your trigger hand in position and work the bolt (and feed rounds) with the opposite hand, then you don’t need to shift grip and head position with each shot. All this requires is a weakside-placed bolt, i.e. a left bolt for a right-handed shooter or a right bolt for a left-handed shooter. The video below shows a “Lefty” working a right bolt. Note how efficient this is:

As our friend Boyd Allen explains: “If you think about it, if you are going to work with a factory action where your options are left bolt and left port or right bolt and right port, and you are building a rifle that will only be shot from a rest, using the left/left for a RH shooter or using a right/right for a LH shooter works better than the conventional configuration”.

Shoot Like a Champ and Work the Bolt with Your Weakside Hand
Derek Rodgers, the current F-TR World Champion and the only person to have won BOTH F-Open and F-TR U.S. National Championships plus the King of 2 Miles Match, runs this kind of “opposite” bolt set-up. Yep, Derek shoots right-handed with a left bolt. Though Derek is a right-hander, he shoots with a Left Bolt/Left Port (LBLP) action. He pulls the trigger with his right index finger, while working the left-side bolt with his left (weakside) hand. This allows him to stay in position, and maintain his cheekweld. He places his right hand on the grip, while manipulating the bolt (and feeding rounds) with his non-trigger-pulling hand.

Recent F-TR World Champion and King of 2 Miles Derek Rodgers
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

This is the rifle with which Derek won the 2013 F-TR National Championship.
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

*For true standing, off-hand shooting (whether in competition or on a hunt), a conventional strongside bolt placement makes sense, since the non-dominant arm must support the front of the rifle all the time. When shooting from bipod or rest, it’s a different story.

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April 8th, 2021

Get FREE Bushnell Ballistics APP with Applied Ballistics Software

Bushnell Applied Ballistics App iOS Android Google Play

Bushnell offers a good FREE new Ballistics App powered by the Applied Ballistics Ultralite Engine. The new Bushnell Ballistics App easily calculates ballistic solutions for any popular cartridge type once you input velocity, BC, and atmospherics. The App features trusty Applied Ballistics bullet data, and it can even pull in atmospheric data from web weather sources. This allows you to calculate hold-overs and make precise wind corrections. The App is offered in both iOS (Apple) and Android OS versions.

“The Bushnell Ballistics App is powered by the Applied Ballistics Ultralite engine, the most trusted ballistics data-cruncher in the industry,” said Bushnell Marketing Manager Matt Rice. “This App allows users to easily build and modify gun profiles and build range cards to calculate firing solutions based on their specific scope and ammunition choices. All of our Bushnell scopes and reticles have been pre-loaded [in the App].”

Bushnell Applied Ballistics App iOS Android Google Play

The Bushnell App features AB Connect, a live library of G1/G7 data, plus the Applied Ballistics Bullet Library with 740+ pre-loaded bullet profiles. The Bushnell scope library features 150+ scopes and 30 reticle options. Atmospheric data can be updated manually or directly from the internet (when connected). Angle range compensation is also calculated. Gun profile management provides up to five saved profiles with reticle-based firing solutions. A multiple target feature saves up to five targets. Range cards can be shared or printed using the Email Range Card Function.

The FREE App works on both Android and iOS operating systems, and is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store. It is optimized for Bushnell riflescopes and reticles, but is compatible with all optics. Once downloaded, the App functions off the grid — no cell service required.

“The new Bushnell Ballistic App puts the power of long-range, first-shot accuracy into the hands of any shooter,” Rice said. “it was designed to perform in any condition and to offer our consumers true value, with features that far exceed the price — which, in this case, is free!”

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April 6th, 2021

Determine Your Dominant Eye with This Simple Test

6.5 Creedmoor Annealing

Shooting Sports USA Eye dominanceDo you know which one of your eyes is dominant? It’s easy to determine eye dominance with a simple exercise. Pick an object about 6-10 feet away (a light switch or door knob works well). Make an “OK” sign with your right hand (see photo) and hold that about 18″ from your face. Now, with both eyes open, look through the circle formed by your thumb and index finger. Center the circle on the object, so you can see the object in the middle.

Now, here’s the important part — while still holding your hand up, centered on the object, first close your right eye. If you don’t see the object anymore, then your right eye is dominant. If you still see the object, then repeat the procedure with the left eye shut and right eye open. If you don’t see the object when your left eye (only) is closed, then you are left-eye dominant.

6.5 Creedmoor AnnealingThe digital archives of Shooting Sports USA contain many interesting articles. A while back, Shooting Sports USA featured a “must-read” expert Symposium on Eye Dominance, as it affects both rifle and pistol shooting. No matter whether you have normal dominance (i.e. your dominant eye is on the same side as your dominant hand), or if you have cross-dominance, you’ll benefit by reading this excellent article. The physiology and science of eye dominance is explained by Dr. Norman Wong, a noted optometrist. In addition, expert advice is provided by champion shooters such as David Tubb, Lones Wigger, Dennis DeMille, Julie Golob, Jessie Harrison, and Phil Hemphill.

Top Rifle Champions Talk About Eye Dominance:

David Tubb — 11-Time National High Power Champion
I keep both eyes open, always. Some use an opaque blinder in rifle or shotgun shooting. If you close your non-dominant eye, you will not get as good a sight picture. If your aiming eye is not your dominant eye, you have even more of a problem to overcome.

Lones Wigger — World, National and Olympic Champion Rifleman
Shooters should try to use the dominant eye unless the vision is impaired and the non-dominant eye has better vision. You should always shoot with both eyes open since this will allow the shooting eye to function properly.

Dennis DeMille — National Service Rifle Champion
I close my non-shooting eye initially. Once I pick up my sight picture, it’s not something I focus on. For those that use a patch, I recommend that they use something white to block their view, rather than cover the eye.

Bruce Piatt — 2015 World Shooting Championship Winner
Some shooters, especially those with nearly equal or cross-dominance, will naturally find themselves squinting one eye. When anyone does this, you are also closing your dominant eye to some extent and adding stress to your face.

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April 4th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Browning T-Bolt .17 HMR with AA Maple Stock

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR

This story features a unique, American-designed rimfire rifle, chambered for the potent .17 HMR round. The current generation T-Bolt has a tang-mounted ambidextrous safety, a choice of barrel contours, lengths, and finishes, and a variety of stock options. What sets the T-Bolt apart from other rimfire rifles is the way the action cycles. There is not a conventional bolt that requires four distinct motions (lift bolt handle up/pull back/move forward/rotate handle down). With the T-Bolt you simply pull the handle straight back to extract a round, then return it forward to chamber a new round from the Double Helix magazine. The cocking effort is divided between back pull and forward movement so the effort is relatively light and easy.

Among current rimfire rifles, the Browning T-Bolt ranks high for fit and finish. The bluing is very nice and the T-Bolt even boasts a gold-plated trigger shoe. Many different stock types have been offered in recent years including some very nice AA Maple stock models as shown below (click to zoom). These T-Bolt rifles exhibit very fine craftmanship. Current models are made in Japan under license to Browning.

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR
Click image for full-screen T-Bolt photo with detail.

Browning T-Bolt Sporter AA Maple Model
RECEIVER – Steel; High polished finish; Drilled and tapped for scope mounts
BARREL – Medium Sporter; Blued finish; Free-floating; Semi-match chamber; Recessed crown
ACTION – Straight pull bolt action; Top-tang safety; Adjustable trigger
STOCK – AA Maple; Gloss finish; Checkered
FEATURES – Sling swivel studs installed
PRODUCTION – Limited quantities

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR

T-Bolt Owner Talks about Function and Accuracy
“I have a Browning T-bolt in .17 HMR, but with the maple stock. It is probably my favorite .17 HMR rifle (also the most expensive). The rifle feels smaller than some of my other .17 HMR rifles. I think the length of pull is a little shorter. I do like the light weight and trim handling of the rifle and the straight-pull bolt can be cycled really quickly. Mine is quite accurate and will shoot one-inch groups at 100 yards with both Hornady ammo and the CCI A17 ammo.” — RexRay, Varminter.com Forum member.

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR

Pros and Cons of the Browning T-Bolt

The T-Bolt has a reputation for good accuracy, provided you have a good lot of .17 HMR ammo (we recommend checking for bullet run-out before you shoot for groups). The straight-pull action works as advertised — it is fast, smooth, and easy-to-operate. The Double Helix magazine (covered below) is excellent. It is very compact yet ultra-reliable. Another plus is that the T-Bolt has been produced in many different versions, with a variety of stocks, and even a stainless action version.

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LRWhat are the negatives? Some of the stocks have a somewhat short length-of-pull, but this is easily solved with spacers. The main complaint is the factory trigger — some owners say it is too heavy at about 4 pounds, though the break is clean. For varmint work, we could live with the stock trigger and put money saved into optics.

If you prefer a very light trigger, JARD makes a T-Bolt replacement trigger. Featuring an aluminum housing, the JARD T-Bolt trigger can be ordered with 12-, 16-, or 20-ounce pull weights. The JARD trigger offers a crisp, clean break significantly lighter than stock. But at $249.99 the JARD trigger is fairly expensive. Additionally there have been a couple complaints about slam fires at the lowest weights so we recommend the 20-ounce. Here is one owner review, from a Rimfire Central thread: “The new Browning T-Bolt is a great rifle in all aspects except for the trigger. In my case when I received my JARD trigger it was an almost drop-in installation with very little adjusting or fooling around. For me it made a decent little rifle a great little rifle.”

Browning Double Helix 10-Round Magazine

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR
Browning T-bolt rifle 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR

The T-Bolt’s patented 10-round rotary Double Helix™ magazine is a unique design that feeds very reliably and is easy to load. The Double Helix magazine uses a torsion drive spring and interlocking gear design to maintain correct timing and exact cartridge alignment for smooth, reliable feeding. The translucent gray body allows for easy verification of the number of remaining cartridges. We like the fact that the Double Helix provides TEN-round capacity while fitting nearly flush with the bottom of the action.

The Browning Double Helix rotary box magazine system is easy to load, easy to carry, and easy to use. The smooth, rounded exterior contours of the Double Helix, along with twin gripping grooves, tapered shape and a slightly extended baseplate design make insertion positive, while the spring-assisted drop-free magazine ejection feature allows for rapid magazine changes. T-bolt owners confirm that feeding and reliability is excellent — the magazine design puts cartridges in perfect alignment with the chamber.

Other Browning T-Bolt Variants

Browning T-bolt rifle 17 HMR limited discontinued current production rimfire .22 LRIn recent years, Browning has produced T-Bolt rifles in a variety of models, with many different stock types and various barrel lengths/contours. Most of the photos above showcase the AA Maple Sporter T-Bolt, which is currently out of production, though still available from some dealers (if you search). We like the looks of the AA Maple T-Bolt, but there many other stock options including dark brown, Black, Green, and various camouflage finishes. Use the links below to see all the T-Bolt configurations.

Here are 4 other T-Bolt variants, first the new-for-2021 T-Bolt Target with muzzle brake, then the Limited Edition Cerakote T-Bolt Speed model, and two discontinued T-Bolts, a composite-stocked carbon finish model and a Varmint Special with stainless action and thumbhole laminated stock. Current production T-Bolts are offered in three rimfire chamberings: .17 HMR, .22 LR, and .22 WMR. Barrel contours and lengths (from 16.5″ to 22″) vary from model to model.

T-Bolt Current Production | T-Bolt Limited Editions | T-Bolt Discontinued Models

Browning T-bolt rifle 17 HMR limited discontinued current production rimfire .22 LR
Browning T-bolt rifle 17 HMR limited discontinued current production rimfire .22 LR
Browning T-bolt rifle 17 HMR limited discontinued current production rimfire .22 LR
Browning T-bolt rifle 17 HMR limited discontinued current production rimfire .22 LR

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR

Do you like the T-Bolt? Well there is a 5% Off Rebate Program available right now that covers the T-Bolt and all other Browning firearms.

.17 HMR Cartridge — Fast and Deadly on Small Varmints

We are big fans of the .17 HMR round. It’s just about perfect for ground squirrels, and is effective on prairie dogs out to about 200 yards. The three main .17 HMR producers have been CCI, Federal, and Hornady. Choose from 17gr or 20gr bullets — both work well in the varmint fields. Norma also makes .17 HMR ammo with 17gr V-Max bullets. This Norma .17 HMR ammo has shown very good accuracy.

17 HMR ammunition t-bolt browning rifle

CCI .17 HMR TNT offers 2650 FPS Velocity
For varmint work we like CCI’s latest .17 HMR VNT ammo. This boasts class-leading 2650 FPS muzzle velocity. Engineered to combine good accuracy with high impact energy, this CCI TNT ammo features a 17gr polymer-tipped bullet designed for rapid expansion. We also like the Norma .17 HMR ammo. “With outstanding accuracy and excellent energy transfer… The .17 HMR has a very loyal following among hunters and target shooters alike”, said Paul Lemke, G.M. for Norma/RUAG.

Browning T-bolt rifle .17 17 HMR straight pull production rimfire .22 LR

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April 1st, 2021

Biden Orders All Military Terminology to Be Gender-Neutral

joe biden military language gender neutral racism systematic racism

By means of an Executive Order signed yesterday, U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered a ban on ALL military words/terms considered sexist or culturally insensitive. The President has ordered the Pentagon to immediately determine replacement nomenclature for offensive words such as “cockpit” and “chief”. Starting today, all military communications must be “gender-neutral” and not male-centric. To address the issue, the Pentagon is now forming a “Rapid Gender Neutralization Force” with top generals and admirals from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Phase One funding of $126.9 million has been allocated from the 2021 U.S. Special Operations budget to handle the Gender Neutralization project.

Among the military nouns, verbs, adjectives and acronyms that will be banned are the terms listed below, with the reason for the ban, and proposed replacements.

Cockpit — Not Gender Neutral (New: Pilot Enclosure)
Airman/Airmen — Not Gender Neutral (New: Aviator/Aviators)
Broadside — Offensive to Female Navy Personnel (New: Full Fire Sequence)
Chief and Chief of Staff — Native American Cultural Appropriation (New: Leader, Leader of Group)
Foxhole — Offensive to Female Infantry Personnel (New: Person Pit)
ASDIC — Offensive to Female Navy Personnel (New: Anti-Submarine Sonar ASS)

Military Phonetic Alphabet Changes (Mandatory Immediately)

In addition to the ordered changes in specific military terminology (as listed above), all U.S. Armed Services will immediately start using new Radio Phonetic Call-outs for particular letters of the alphabet. Here are the new Mandatory Radio/Telephone Comms Alphabet terms (with others pending):

“G Golf” (Issue — Golf, favored by white elites, perpetuates systemic racism) Replaced with “G Grim”.
“P Papa” (Issue — Not LGBTQ tolerant) Replaced with gender-neutral “P Parent”.
“K Kilo” (Issue — Promotes drug trafficking) Replaced with “K Kamala”.
“R Romeo” (Issue — Promotes male patriarchy) Replaced with “R Reset”.
“W Whisky” (Issue — Promotes alcohol abuse) Replaced with “W Woke”.
“Z Zulu” (Issue — Racism, Cultural Appropriation) — Replaced with “Z Zealot”

The phonetic alphabet is a list of words used to identify letters in a message transmitted by radio and/or telephone. The phonetic alphabet can also be signaled with flags, lights, and Morse Code.

joe biden military language gender neutral racism systematic racism

Is it Time for Major Changes in Our Military Language?

For many years, U.S. and NATO military leaders have called for progressive, inclusive terminology changes. Here are three recent articles in highly-respected military journals discussing the issue:

We need gender-neutral words to attract female service personnel:

“Why is adopting gender-neutral language so difficult for the Armed Forces? In 2017, a training establishment was widely ridiculed in the press for having suggested a fairly mild list of gender-neutral terms to replace words such as ‘chaps’ and ‘manpower’. Gendered language does more than just give offence[.] The real effects are … insidious, perpetuating stereotypes, damaging recruitment and retention and undermining the ability of the Armed Forces to harness the talents of its people. At the most severe, it affects mental health, damages unit cohesion and undermines operational effectiveness.”

Source: Wavellroom.com, Importance of Gender Neutral Language for Defense

joe biden military language gender neutral racism systematic racism
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The horrible effects of military-forged toxic masculinity spills over into the business world:

“Military language infused in business systematically elevates traditionally ‘masculine’ qualities and traits as most … valued and important for moving up into the ranks of leadership. Those who don’t fit the mold struggle to rise. The cycle of ‘institutionalized masculinity’ represents a textbook example of how any ‘ism’ becomes institutionalized — racism, sexism, ageism, and anything else that gets ingrained and perpetuated into culture, ultimately reinforcing the status quo and keeping others on the fringe.”

Source: Inc.com, Sexist Military Language Infiltrates Business Culture
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U.S. Male and Female Soldiers Show New Gender-Neutral Combat Uniforms

joe biden military language gender neutral racism systematic racism

Along with gender-neutral words, many military leaders now favor gender-neutral uniforms for all personnel. Shown above are U.S. soldiers field-testing a new gender-neutral combat uniform. It is believed that the U.S. Army is seriously considering issuing this type of combat clothing for the U.S. Army Rangers, which will be renamed the “Rangerettes” in accord with President Biden’s Executive Order.
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UK Military leaders agree we must rid the English language of oppressive gendered language:

“Gendered language permeates the very fabric of the UK’s Armed Forces, from personnel answering the phone with ‘Sir’ to the widespread use of terms such as ‘unmanned’ and ‘airman’. The use of language that is male-centric only serves to create an image that the armed forces are made up only of men, when increasingly they are not.

It’s not about being ‘woke’ — Defense consultant Dr. Alex Walmsley said the debate around the use of gendered language is ‘evolving in a good way’ adding that the push to change the language used in defense was not just about ‘being woke’.

The idea of a woman performing a job whose title implies she is a man, even though women are able to serve in every role in the UK’s Armed Forces, means that change is a ‘no-brainer’. It is not a big deal; we’re not asking for HMS Prince of Wales to be called ‘Princess of Wales’, Walmsley pointed out.”

Gendered language is not only damaging to women, but also non-binary or transgender service members and defense industry professionals. Changing the words you use is such a minor thing[.] Retiring the term ‘manpower’ in favor of ‘personnel’ does not suddenly mean the UK can no longer conduct a freedom of navigation exercise in the South China Sea. — Emma Salisbury Ph.D.

Source: Army-Technology.com, Words Matter — A Case for Gender-Neutral Language in Defense

joe biden military language gender neutral racism systematic racism

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March 31st, 2021

How to Create A Dummy Round to Aid Barrel Chambering

Gre Tannel GreTan, Gre-Tan Rifles dummy round chambering gunsmith reamer chamber

How and Why to Create a Dummy Round
When you have a new custom rifle built, or a new barrel fitted to an existing rifle, it makes sense to create a dummy round. This should have your preferred brass and bullet types, with the bullet positioned at optimal seating depth. A proper dummy round helps the gunsmith set the freebore correctly for your cartridge, and also ensure the proper chamber dimensions.

Respected machinist, tool-maker, and gunsmith Greg Tannel of Gre-Tan Rifles explains: “I use the dummy round as a gauge to finish cut the neck diameter and throat length and diameter so you have [optimal] clearance on the loaded neck and the ogive of the bullet just touches the rifling.” He recommends setting bullet so the full diameter is just forward of the case’s neck-shoulder junction. “From there”, Greg says, “I can build you the chamber you want… with all the proper clearances”.

Greg Tannel has created a very helpful video showing how to create a dummy round. Greg explains how to measure and assemble the dummy and how it will be used during the barrel chambering process. Greg notes — the dummy round should have NO Primer and No powder. We strongly recommend that every rifle shooter watch this video. Even if you won’t need a new barrel any time soon, you can learn important things about freebore, leade, and chamber geometry.

Must Watch Video — This has been viewed over 764,000 times on YouTube:

This has been a very popular video, with 764,000 views! Here are actual YouTube comments:

That is the best explanation I’ve ever seen. Thank you sir. — P. Pablo

Nice video. You do a very good job of making this easy for new reloaders to understand. I sure wish things like this were available when I started reloading and having custom rifles built. Once again, great job, and your work speaks for itself. — Brandon K.

Beautiful job explaining chambering clearances. — D. Giorgi

Another Cool Tool — The Stub Gauge

When you have your gunsmith chamber your barrel, you can also have him create a Stub Gauge, i.e. a cast-off barrel section chambered like your actual barrel. The stub gauge lets you measure the original length to lands and freebore when your barrel was new. This gives you a baseline to accurately assess how far your throat erodes with use. Of course, as the throat wears, to get true length-to-lands dimension, you need take your measurement using your actual barrel. The barrel stub gauge helps you set the initial bullet seating depth. Seating depth is then adjusted accordingly, based on observed throat erosion, or your preferred seating depth.

Stub Gauge Gunsmithing chamber gage model barrel

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March 31st, 2021

Mobile Loading Station Made From Metal Horse Grooming Box

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case box

Do you often load at the range? Or maybe you need to transport loading gear when you travel in your RV. Well here is a smart transport option — a metal box that holds tools, dies, arbor press, case-trimmer, even a ChargeMaster.

Some guys have built their own loading tool-boxes from wood. Other may stuff gear in a couple of plastic range boxes. But clever Chris Covell came up with an even better solution. Chris sourced a handsome, sturdy metal Horse Grooming Box from eBay. Chris reports the multi-feature metal box “works perfectly for reloading. My ChargeMaster is now out of the wind.”

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case boxBullets, Trickler, and Priming Tool on Top
On top, below the hinged metal lid, is a large compartment that holds Covell’s funnels, scales, priming tool, trickler and other vital gear (photo on right). This top compartment is deep enough to handle wide-mouth funnels with no problem.

Slide-Out Drawer with Dividers
Below the top level is a handy sliding drawer with multiple dividers. This is perfect for holding Covell’s inline seating dies, case-neck deburring and chamfering tools, among many other smaller bits and pieces.

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case box

In the bottom of the Horse Grooming box is a large compartment that holds bigger gear. In the bottom section, Covell places his RCBS Chargemaster Lite, along with a case-trimming tool, an arbor press, and various other bulky tools. Check it out:

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case box

Folks who load at the range need to bring a lot of gear — reloading presses, powder dispensers, scales, funnels, sizing/seating dies, brass prep tools and more. And there may be other important items to transport — such as ammo caddies, LabRadar mounts, over-size rest feet, and even barrel fans. With this metal box you can easily organize (and protect) al that gear. This box was sourced affordably via eBay.

Chris Covell’s Range Box was featured on the Benchrest Shooting and Gunsmithing Private Group Facebook Page. You may want to sign up for this Group — with membership you can access a wealth of information for accuracy-oriented shooters.

Range carry loading reloader box case transport horse equine grooming case box

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March 30th, 2021

NRA Online Firearms Training — Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun

NRA Online firearms gun safety training program

In response to the growing number of first-time gun buyers during the Coronavirus outbreak, the NRA’s Education & Training Division is offering four new Online Gun Safety Courses that can be done online at home. The six NRA Online Gun Safety Courses ARE:

1. Gun Safety Seminar
2. NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course — Distance Learning
3. NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting – Blended
4. NRA Basic Rifle Shooting Course — Distance Learning
5. NRA Basic Shotgun Shooting Course – Distance Learning
6. NRA Basic Personal Protection In The Home Course – Distance Learning

Each course, lasting from one to eight hours, is available online at NRAInstructors.org. To Access the 0nline training options, first CLICK HERE. Then under the Heading “DISTANCE LEARNING”, you will see options. CLICK the small gray box at the left of the title to select the course. IMPORTANT — Next you MUST SCROLL to the bottom of the NRA webpage to SEARCH. Select your state or Zip code, then you will get a list of the moderated online courses in your area.

Here is the Procedure to Follow:

1. CLICK HERE to Access ALL Course Listings
2. Select a “Distance Learning” Course.
3. Scroll Down and SEARCH for your State or Zip Code.
4. Review Course Dates and Times.

For example, here are the listed NRA online safety courses for California only. Elsewhere (in other states), YOUR list will be different!

NRA ONLINE Training Courses Sample List
NRA Online firearms gun safety training program

“These courses will provide an option for first-time gun owners who don’t have the ability to take an NRA certified instructor-led class at their local shooting range at this time,” said Joe DeBergalis, Exec. Dir. of NRA General Operations. “While there is no replacement for in-person, instructor-led training, our new online classes do provide the basics of firearm safety training for those self-isolating at home.”

NRA Online firearms gun safety training program

Though range time is an important part of the classes, there is still a wealth of knowledge available in the online programs. “The NRA recommends that all new gun owners seek professional training at the range, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start on learning the basics of firearm safety at home. Taking one of these classes moderated by a certified NRA instructor, can only make you safer…” DeBergalis added.

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March 29th, 2021

Wind Reading Advice from Bryan Litz and Four Top Champions

Shooting Sports USA

The digital archives of Shooting Sports USA magazine (SSUSA) features an Expert Forum on Wind Reading. This outstanding article on wind reading starts off with a section by ballistics guru Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting. Then four of the greatest American shooters in history share their personal wind wisdom. Lanny Basham (Olympic Gold Medalist, author, Winning in the Wind), Nancy Tompkins (Past National HP Champion, author, Prone and Long-Range Rifle Shooting), David Tubb (11-Time Camp Perry National Champion), and Lones Wigger (Olympic Hall of Fame) all offer practical wind-reading lessons learned during their shooting careers.

CLICK HERE for Full Article in Shooting Sports USA Archive

CLICK HERE to Download Article Issue in Printable PDF Format

Whether you shoot paper at Perry or prairie dogs in the Dakotas, this is a certified “must-read” resource on reading the wind. Here is a sample selection from the article:

Shooting Sports USA



Visit www.SSUSA.org

Shooting Sports USA magazine (SSUSA) has a modern, mobile-friendly website with tons of great content. Log on to www.ssusa.org. There you’ll find current news stories as well as popular articles from the SSUSA archives. The SSUSA website also includes match reports, gear reviews, reloading advice, plus expert marksmanship tips from the USAMU.

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