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April 30th, 2024

How Primers Work — What You Need to Know

Primer Priming Tool Magnum primers foil anvil primer construction reloading powder CCI
Winchester Pistol Primers on bench. Photo courtesy

There is an excellent article about primers on the Shooting Times website. We strongly recommend you read Mysteries And Misconceptions Of The All-Important Primer, written by Allan Jones. Mr. Jones is a bona fide expert — he served as the manager of technical publications for CCI Ammunition and Speer Bullets and Jones authored three editions of the Speer Reloading Manual.

» READ Full Primer “Mysteries and Misconceptions” Article

This authoritative Shooting Times article explains the fine points of primer design and construction. Jones also reveals some little-known facts about primers and he corrects common misconceptions. Here are some highlights from the article:

Primer Priming Tool Magnum primers foil anvil primer construction reloading powder CCISize Matters
Useful Trivia — even though Small Rifle and Small Pistol primer pockets share the same depth specification, Large Rifle and Large Pistol primers do not. The standard pocket for a Large Pistol primer is somewhat shallower than its Large Rifle counterpart, specifically, 0.008 to 0.009 inch less.

Magnum Primers
There are two ways to make a Magnum primer — either use more of the standard chemical mix to provide a longer-burning flame or change the mix to one with more aggressive burn characteristics. Prior to 1989, CCI used the first option in Magnum Rifle primers. After that, we switched to a mix optimized for spherical propellants that produced a 24% increase in flame temperature and a 16% boost in gas volume.

Foiled Again
Most component primers have a little disk of paper between the anvil and the priming mix. It is called “foil paper” not because it’s made of foil but because it replaces the true metal foil used to seal early percussion caps. The reason this little disk exists is strictly a manufacturing convenience. Wet primer pellets are smaller than the inside diameter of the cup when inserted and must be compacted to achieve their proper diameter and height. Without the foil paper, the wet mix would stick to the compaction pins and jam up the assembly process.

Read Full Primer Story on

Primer Functionality and Primer Types Compared
This video looks at a variety of primer types from multiple manufacturers, foreign and domestic. The video explains the basics of how primers function, and then explains the key characteristics of standard primers, magnum primers, and mil-spec primers (designed for semi-auto rifles).

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April 29th, 2024

BargainFinder 449: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Weekly Bargain Finder Sale Discount Savings

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

NOTE: All listed products are for sale to persons 18 years of age or older. No products are intended for use by minors.

1. Midsouth — Lyman Press Kit and Reloading Gear Sale

lyman sale
Save $100 on turret press combo kits; save $40 on Powder Dispenser

Midsouth is running a sale on Lyman Reloading Press Combo Kits, turret presses, powder dispensers and more. Lyman makes quality products and the All-American 8-station turret press is quite impressive. With this sale you save $50 on the turret press and $100 on the Ultimate Reloading System Kit.

2. Natchez — Burris Optics Blem Sale

burris scope sale
Significant discounts on scopes, spotters, binocs and more

Do you need a good scope, binoculars, or spotting scope? Then check out the Burris Blemished Optics Sale at Natchez. If you don’t mind a minor cosmetic flaw or small scratch you can save up to 50%. Among the bargains are competition FFP zoom scopes, LRF scopes, spotting scopes, thermal monoculars, and compact binoculars. Save $900 on the impressive XTR Pro for PRS/NRL. This features a Quick Detach Race Dial and Zero Click Stop Elevation Knob. Or save $650 on the Burris Eliminator IV Laser Rangefinder scope.

3. Smith & Wesson, Wheelgun Wonderland Rebate, $50 or $75

smith wesson revolver wheelgun wonderland rebate J-frame k-frame l-frame n-frame S&W
Act soon for $50 or $75 rebate on high-quality revolvers

Right now you can get a significant S&W Rebate on both compact carry revolvers and full-size wheelguns. For the smaller J-Frame (with $50 rebate), we like the Model 638 with alloy frame and shielded hammer. You can also get a big $75 rebate on the bigger K-, L-, or N-frame revolvers. In .357 Magnum, we like the modern L-Frame Model 686. NOTE: To get the rebates, purchases must be made before midnight on 4/30/2024 — so don’t delay.

4. Palmetto SA — RUGER-5.7® 5.7×28 Pistol, $549.99

ruger pistol sale
Save $350 Off MSRP for high-velocity, low recoil 5.7×28 handgun

The 5.7×28 cartridge is a modern defense round with much less perceived recoil than pistol cartridges shooting larger-diameter, 120-250gr bullets. With a 20+1 round capacity, the 5.7×28 Ruger-5.7 is a well-designed pistol with good sights. Owners report the Ruger 57 has good ergonomics, and is accurate and fun to shoot with low muzzle flip. With this sale you save $350.00 off Ruger’s $899.99 MSRP.

5. Graf & Sons — Hornady Ammunition Sale

hornady ammo sale
Major savings on Hornady brand Rimfire, Centerfire Rifle, and pistol ammo

If you need ammo for a variety of cartridges check out the Hornady Ammo Sale over at Graf’s. There’s a good selection of both rifle and pistol ammunition with good deals on .204 Ruger, .243 Win, 6.5 PRC, .270 Win, and .308 Win. Plus rimfire varmint ammo is deeply discounted — e.g. Hornady 17 Mach 2 is discounted 18%, with 20 rounds just $9.65.

6. Amazon — Walker’s Razor Slim Muffs, $41.75

hearing protection sale
Very good customer reports for these NRR23 Slim Muffs

Good hearing protection is vital for preventing hearing loss over the years. A great choice is the Walker’s Digital Razor PRO Electronic Earmuffs, an Amazon Best Seller. Omnidirectional Microphones capture sounds from all directions, and Walkers quick-activated compression dampens sudden, loud noises to protect your hearing. NOTE: These $41.75 muffs require two AAA replaceable batteries. For $69.99 you can get rechargeable Walker’s Razor Slim Muffs.

7. Amazon — RCBS M1000 Balance Scale, $149.52

rcbs scale sale
Good beam scale serves multiple reloading/sorting tasks

Electronic scale/dispensers are efficient. But many loading room tasks, such as bullet weight sorting, can be performed more quickly and easily with a good beam scale. In addition, a beam scale won’t experience the drift shown by some electronic scales. We think all hand-loaders should have a good mechanical scale. The RCBS M1000 mechanical scale is reliable and well-designed, offering excellent, accurate performance for the price.

8. Locked&Loaded — CCI Blazer 9mm Ammo, $219.99 1000 rds

target sports use ammo+ discount membership contest giveaway free shipping ammo plus
Quality 9mm brass-cased ammo at a super-low price — $0.22/round

CCI makes very reliable pistol ammo with reloadable brass cases. Right now you can get 1000 rounds of CCI Blazer 9mm FMJ ammo for just $219.99 at That price works out to just $11.00 per 50-round box — a fantastic price. This very affordable 115gr Blazer 9mm ammo is excellent for practice/training, and it is more reliable than commercial reloads.

9. Amazon — KingHardCase 200rd Rifle Ammo Case, $49.99

pistol ammo case sale
Great high-capacity waterproof ammo transport case — three versions

Keep 200 rounds of ammo securely stored in this Waterproof Ammo Case, now $49.99 on sale. Made of high-strength ABS plastic, this 11.5″ x 9.5″ x 4.5″ ammo transport case can withstand harsh environments, resist impact, and protect against scratches. Shown above is the version that holds 200 .308 Win-sized rounds. Another model holds 200 .223 Rem rounds in the same-size case priced $39.99 on Amazon. There is also a $39.99 double-decker KingHardCase that holds 350 rounds of pistol ammo.

10. Amazon — PLANO Rifle Hard Case, $47.36

plano case sale
Versatile TSA-approved rifle case that can hold two rifles or shotguns

Here’s a good basic long gun transport case that will hold two rifles (without scopes) or one large scoped rifle. This 15″L x 5.15″W x 4″H Plano Double Rifle Hard Case features good foam padding and heavy duty latches. Interior dimensions are: 50.5″L x 3.75″W x 12″H. This case has padlock tabs for security and is TSA-approved for airline travel. This is a good case for the price.

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April 27th, 2024

Varmint Hunting Smarts — Keep the Wind at Your Back

Varmint Hunting varmint safari wind war wagon trailer longmeadow game resort
This war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

When you’re on a varmint expedition in the Western states you can bet, sooner or later, you’ll encounter serious winds. Here’s some advice on how to minimize the effects of cross-winds on your shooting, and easily improve your percentage of hits. In essence, you want to use your ability to change shooting positions and angles to put the wind behind you.

A benchrest or High Power shooter must operate from a designated shooting position. He must stay put and deal with the wind as it moves across the course, from whatever direction it blows.

Put the Wind at Your Back

By contrast, a varmint hunter can move around and choose the spot that provides the most favorable wind direction. In most cases you’ll get the best results by moving your shooting position so the wind is at your back. This will minimize horizontal wind drift. Once you’re in position, use wind flags to direct your fire in line with the prevailing winds. A varminter who calls himself “Catshooter” explains:

The String of Death
I remember the first time I was on a dog town in the Conata Basin, in the Badlands area of southwestern South Dakota. Along with two other guys, I drove out for 21 days of shooting, and I never saw wind like that before. If all four tires of our vehicle were on the ground, the weather man said these were “mild wind conditions”.

After the first four or five days, we got smart. We would park the truck on the up-wind side of the town so the wind was at our back. Then we took a piece of string on a 3-foot stick, and set it in front of the shooters, and let the string point at the mounds that we were going to shoot.

For the rest of the trip, we didn’t have to deal with wind drift at all. We just shot the dogs that the string pointed to. We started calling our simple wind pointer the “String of Death”.

We were hitting dogs at distances that I would not repeat here (with benchrest grade rifles). After the first time out, I always took a wind rig like that.

Benefits of Swivel Benches
In a large varmint field, you’ll want to orient your shooting position to put the wind at your back if possible. If you have a rotating bench such as this, you can further adjust your shooting orientation to work with the wind, not against it. You may also want to position simple flags (posts with colored tape) downrange to alert you to wind changes you may not notice from your shooting positions. If you can’t get a “wind at back” orientation, the next best set-up is with the wind coming straight at you — that also minimizes the wind drift on your shots.

Photos by Chris Long, taken during Chris’s Wyoming Varmint Hunt with Trophy Ridge Outfitters.

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April 26th, 2024

Download FREE Hornady Reloading Apps for iOS and Android

hornady handbook mobile reloading app apple ios android free download

The Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading is now available in App form. Like the print and eBook versions of the Reloading Handbook, the new Hornady Reloading Guide App provides comprehensive reloading information. It covers rifle cartridges from the 17 Hornet to the 50 BMG and handgun cartridges from the 22 Hornet to the 500 S&W. This is a convenient mobile App, that works with both iOS (Apple) and Android devices. There are versions for both smartphones and tablets (iPads and Android). With this App you can access load data at the range, making it easier to do efficient load development at the range.

Hornady Reloading App Features:

hornady handbook mobile reloading app apple ios android free downloadVelocity and powder charts
An impressive lineup of powders
Find reliable loads by cartridge and bullet weight
Information on bullet design and shooting application
Very comprehensive load data from .17 Cal up to .50 Cal

Download FREE APP — Apple and Android compatible
The Hornady Reloading App is FREE to download. The App includes more than 200 calibers with a variety of loads featuring Hornady bullets, such as the A-Tip Match, ELD-X, and ELD® Match line.

» GET Hornady Reloading App for Android

» GET Hornady Reloading App for iPhone and iPad

hornady handbook mobile reloading app apple ios android free download

Subscription Options
The iOS and Android download pages explain that fees may be required for detailed information: “Derived from extensive testing by Hornady Manufacturing Company, this App includes reloading data for over 200 cartridges and 300 bullets. [Hornady reports] only data that proved safe in our research. Users have the ability to purchase data for individual cartridges, purchase the whole current edition of the handbook, or subscribe and receive the entire handbook plus more. Subscription provides access to all handbook data on your mobile device and real updates for all new data without waiting for the new handbook publication to be produced.”

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April 23rd, 2024

Tech Tuesday: Amazing Schlieren Imaging of Bullet in Flight

bullet flight video shock wave boundary layer base drag video applied ballistics

Every Tuesday an interesting technical feature is posted on the Applied Ballistics Facebook Page. For today’s 4/23/24 “Tech Tuesday”, a fascinating video of a bullet in flight was posted. This Schlieren video illustrates a 6mm 109gr Berger LRHT bullet traveling at 3163 FPS. The stunning video reveals the bullet shockwave and the turbulent wake. Check it out:

About the Schlieren Imaging Process — What It Shows

Schlieren Imaging is a way of making airflow features visible. You can clearly see the compression (shock) wave at the front of the bullet. A compression wave is formed when the air has to move faster than the speed of sound to get out of the way, which is certainly the case for this bullet which is moving about 2.5 times the speed of sound (Mach 2.5). That shock wave is the ‘snap’ you hear when bullets fly past you if/when you’re downrange. Also, compressing the air into a shockwave takes energy, and that energy comes directly out of the forward velocity of your bullet and gets converted into heat and noise as the shock wave forms and dissipates. The turbulent wake at the base of the bullet shows where/how base drag applies. The third and smallest component of drag for a supersonic bullet is skin friction drag, which is a viscous boundary layer effect, and is the least visible in this image.

Above is a second Schlieren imaging video. This shows a 6mm 109gr Berger LRHT bullet at ~2800 fps as fired from a PRS rifle at the Applied Ballistics Lab. Bryan Litz notes: “You can clearly see the compression (shock) wave at the front of the bullet. A compression wave is formed when the air has to move faster than the speed of sound to get out of the way, which is certainly the case for this bullet which is moving about 2.5 times the speed of sound (Mach 2.5).”

Science of Accuracy Exclusive Content for Subscribers

Applied Ballistics has a huge archive of shooting-related ballistics and technical information plus exclusive videos. You can access all this information plus great members-only podcasts by subscribing to the Science of Accuracy Academy for $9.95/month.

bullet flight video shock wave boundary layer base drag video applied ballistics

Learn more at the Applied Ballistics Science of Accuracy Academy website.

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April 23rd, 2024

Big Ammo Sale on April 25 — 12% Off for Ammo+ Members

target sports member sale 12%

Target Sports USA is running a big ammo sale on 4/25/24 with 12% savings. This AMMO+ sale offers AMMO+ members a major 12% discount on select ammunition. Scheduled for April 25th, this one-day event offers an additional discount to all AMMO+ Members. Plus, along with the big sale, AMMO+ members can enter to win a $30,000 Colorado Guided hunt.

target sports member sale 12%

target sports member sale 12%

To benefit from the sale you need an AMMO+ Membership with Target Sports USA. This Membership costs $99.99. Based on members’ product discounts, the average annual membership savings is $390.00. Benefits include 8% discount on ammunition, plus FREE Shipping on most orders. SEE DETAILS HERE.

target sports member sale 12%

Get an AMMO+ Membership and Participate in AMMO+ Day 2
There is still time to get an AMMO+ membership and benefit from the AMMO+ Day 2 12% Off Sale. The annual Membership offers year-round benefits, including ammunition discounts, FREE Shipping, and members-only event participation.

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April 22nd, 2024

BargainFinder 448: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Weekly Bargain Finder Sale Discount Savings

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

NOTE: All listed products are for sale to persons 18 years of age or older. No products are intended for use by minors.

1. Midsouth — Blem Bullets Sale, 65+ Types Up to 50% Off

lyman powder dispenser sale
Big savings on rifle bullets .22 to .416 cal, match and hunting

Here’s a great Blem Bullet Sale at Midsouth. Save up to 50% on a wide range of bullets, from .22 Cal varmint projectiles up to massive 400+ grain hunting bullets. Chose among BTHP, Polymer Tip, Aluminum Tip, and even a few unleaded types. You’ll probably find something you’ll like, with huge savings. For example, PRS competitors can get 250 6mm 90gr bullets for just $59.99 — a mere 24 cents each (37% discount). And varminters can get 55gr BTHP bullets for just 13 cents each (price $32.99 for 250).

2. Midsouth — Lyman Gen 6 Powder Dispenser, $219.99

lyman powder dispenser sale
Save $40 (15%) on popular powder scale/dispenser

Optimal accuracy and low ES/SD demands very precise (and consistent) powder charges. You’ll want a quality powder scale/dispenser such as the Gen 6 Compact Digital Powder Dispenser System. Accurate to 0.10 grain, the Lyman Gen6 dispenses various types of smokeless powder at two grains per second. This machine has an auto repeat function that drops a precise charge each time the pan is reset.

3. Natchez — Primers and Ammunition Sale

rifle primer sale
Save on CCI, Fed, & Rem primers plus rimfire and centerfire ammo

The shortage of primers is easing, with prices dropping a bit. If you need primers, check out the current Primer and Ammo Sale at Natchez. A wide range of CCI, Federal, and Remington primers are on sale, with savings of $20-$35 per 1000. In addition there are significant discounts on rimfire and centerfire ammunition. Note: This sale concludes on Tuesday 4/23/24, so don’t delay.

4. Creedmoor Sports — Radians Electronic Earplugs, $74.95

ear protection sale
Effective, compact hearing protection with ability to hear range commands

Protect your hearing and monitor range commands with the Radians Vertex Nano Electronic Earplugs now just $74.95 at Creedmoor Sports. The custom micro-circuitry has 2 mode levels for standard and enhanced amplification with < 0.02 second reaction time to protect against dangerous impulse noises. Dedicated right and left plugs are each powered by ultra-efficient batteries with 120 hours life. This is a great deal! These very same Radian electronic earplugs cost $119.99 elsewhere.

5. MidwayUSA — Vortex Gen I Diamondback Binoculars, $129.99

vortex binocular sale
Great 10×42 binocs for the money — good choice for varminters

At the range or in the field, a good pair of binoculars is very useful. Right now the 10x42mm Vortex Optics Gen I Diamondback Binoculars are $100 off at MidwayUSA — a 43% savings. These lightweight (24 oz.) binoculars offer a wide field of view and a lifetime VIP Vortex warranty. These rubber-armored binocs are a good choice for hunters and backpackers. The Diamondback series are O-ring sealed and argon-purged for true 100% weatherproofing.

6. Graf’s — Competition Electronics Chron and Timer Sale

shooting timer sale
Big savings on chronos and timers

Every serious shooter needs a good chronograph. If you’re in the market for a chrono or timer check out the Competition Electronics sale at Graf & Sons. You can get a reliable Comp. Electronics chronograph for just $120 — hundreds less than a LabRadar or Garmin. And if you compete in timed, speed-based matches, a Comp. Electronics timer will help you train more effectively.

7. Amazon — Case Prep Multitool, $14.99

brass prep tool sale
Great price on versatile tool with internal storage

Proper brass prep includes chamfering and deburring case-mouths as well as cleaning the primer pockets. For a modest $14.99 price, the TYRWEEY Case Prep Multitool (#ad) can perform all these key tasks. This tool will chamfer, deburr. and clean pockets. A very nice feature is that the tool heads can be stored INSIDE the handle when not in use. The tool has a non-slip, checkered exterior for secure handling.

8. Amazon — Tactical 4-Pistol Range Bag, $39.99

pistol range bag sale
Good price on well-made, roomy Pistol bag.

The DSLEAF Tactical Gun Range Bag (#ad) is a good, sturdy bag that holds up to 4 full-size handguns. This DSLEAF bag has 3 inner removable dividers, 2 mesh pockets, and 6 mag-holders. It can hold up to 4 pistols as well as earmuffs and shooting eyewear. There are nice zippered pockets on the side and good, thick internal padding. If you’re not a pistol guy, you can also use this bag to haul your chronograph, target cam, and other accessories.

9. Amazon — Target Stand Dual Pack, $49.97

target stand sale
Good price on pair of adjustable target stand

The Knine Outdoor Shooting Target Stand kit (#ad) allows you to set up your own elevated target in any shooting area. This kit includes 2 metal target stands, 8 ground stakes, 8 butterfly screws, plus paper clips. The base units adjust for width from 13″ to 24″ horizontal spread. This kit includes ten printed 16″x12″ shooting paper targets. NOTE, you must supply your own wood risers and cardboard target backers.

10. Amazon — 6-Pack Stackable AkroBins, $15.00

brass ammo bin sale
Good option for tool and reloading components stackable storage

Parts, brass, and bullets all need to be kept safe on the bench when you’re reloading. Akro-Mils AkroBins (#ad) are a quality option that can be placed on wall racks, shelving, or on a benchtop. These can be stacked securely. These AkroBins are sold in packs of six for $15.00, and are available in four colors: red, yellow, blue, and white. Dimensions are 4-1/8″ Wide x 5-3/8″ Deep x 3″ High.

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April 22nd, 2024

Air Rifle Slugs vs. Pellets — Optimizing Barrel Twist Rate

applied ballistic science accuracy air rifle pellet slug bc ballistics
This article comes from the Applied Ballistics Facebook Page

Air Rifle Slugs vs. Pellets — Twist Rate Testing

Initial radar testing shows an interesting stability trend for slugs vs. pellets: drag is minimized for pellets in slower-twist barrels, while drag of slugs is minimized for a faster twist. Also, consistency of drag/BC is best when drag is minimized (BC maximized).

Show below are test data for .300 caliber 44.5 grain Slug and .300 caliber 44.8 grain Pellet, both shot from an air rifle around 800 FPS. Experienced air rifle shooters told us to expect this so it’s nice to see the measurements supporting this trend!

applied ballistic science accuracy air rifle pellet slug bc ballistics

So why is fast twist good for slugs while bad for pellets and vice versa? Air rifle pellets with a skirt are mostly drag-stabilized, not spin-stabilized. So, they don’t need much if any spin at all to fly point forward; the skirt catches the air like the fins of a rocket. As such, spinning the pellets faster only becomes a problem of dynamic stability. If I had any suggestion after looking at this data, it would be to try an even slower twist for pellets, perhaps a 1:60″ (one turn in 5 feet) or even 1:120″.

Slugs are spin-stabilized so it reasons that more spin suppresses yaw and maximizes BC, to a point. Based on these results, it appears the slug is reaching max stability/BC with the 1:22″ and the 1:18″ provides no further benefit. Again, these are just initial findings, we’re eager to explore further in the coming weeks! To view our recent Air Rifle projectile testing, with full 8-minute video, CLICK HERE.

The Science of Accuracy Air Rifle Projectile Testing Part 1 Video »

applied ballistic science accuracy air rifle pellet slug bc ballistics
applied ballistic science accuracy air rifle pellet slug bc ballistics

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April 21st, 2024

How Bullet Bearing Surface Length Affects Case Pressure

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

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

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

How Bullet Profile and Bearing Surface Affect Pressure Levels

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.

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 20th, 2024

Saturday at the Movies: Advanced Neck-Turning Videos

neck-turn 21st century Blake machine f-class products autodod Idod Keith Glasscock

Even with the very best cartridge brass, you can achieve the most consistent neck-wall thickness with precision case-neck turning. This can be done slowly with hand-tools (such as a K&M Tool), but powered neck turning can produce superb results in a fraction of the time. For today’s Saturday Showcase we feature the excellent 21st Century Power Neck-Turning Lathe and the state-of-the-art AUTODOD machine from F-Class Products. In addition, we show how neck turning can be done using a vertical milling machine fitted with a neck-turner. And to start off, we offer a Keith Glasscock video that analyzes when it makes sense to turn necks, considering the demands of your particular shooting disciplines.

To Turn or NOT to Turn — Wisdom from Keith Glasscock

In this video, top F-Class Shooter and Wind Coach Keith Glasscock discusses the process of turning case necks. Neck-turning may be mandatory if you have a chamber with reduced-diameter neck dimensions. With a standard chamber you may still want to do a minimal neck-turn to make your brass more consistent or to increase clearance. On the other hand, high-quality brass, such as Lapua, may perform exceptionally well right out of the box. Keith explains how to determine whether you need to turn your brass for your discipline, and explains procedures that help you achieve great results.

21st Century Innovation Powered Neck-Turning Lathe

The 21st Century Innovation Power Neck-Turning Lathe is a superb system for quickly and precisely uniforming the neckwall thickness of cartridge brass. With this powered system you can turn necks faster and more efficiently, with less effort. The cases feed very smoothly and the results are beautiful. Power is activated by the red button on the end of the blue, horizontal feed handle

The Powered Neck-Turning Lathe is a modular system. Swing the bar from right to left to feed the case. The power head (with case holder) glides on stainless steel rails for smooth movement. This allows very precise feed rate. Power is supplied via a button that is built into the end of the feed handle. Push the red button to make the case spin. It’s as simple as that. NOTE: The 21st Century Power Neck-Turning Lathe has been updated — the frame and motor are now flat black in color.

Here is another video that shows how the lathe system operates:

AUTODOD Power Neck-Turner from Black Machine

Bryan Blake of F-Class Products has created an ultra-precise and speedy neck-turning machine, the AUTODOD. This employs twin precision cutter tips to turn case necks inside and out quickly and efficiently, with superior precision. The advanced AUTODOD Neck Turning Machine holds cases securely in a precision-machined spindle attached to an electric motor. Twin blades move precisely during the cutting process, milling the necks inside and out. The turned necks come out perfect every time, with the shoulders trimmed exactly (with doughnut removed) as well. If you turn hundreds of cases during a shooting season, you may want to consider getting an AUTODOD from F-Class Products. Below is a video from F-Class John Showing the AUTODOD Machine in action.

Neck-Turning Cases with a Milling Machine

Our friend Erik Cortina figured out how to turn his match cartridge case-necks using his milling machine. Erik told us: “While in Raton [a while back], Mid Tompkins told me that he turns his brass on milling machine. He said he could do about 500 in two hours, so I decided to try it.” Erik fitted a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turner to the mill, and he used a modified 21st Century case holder to secure the brass. As you can see from this video, Erik was very successful with the process. The tool spins at 1500 rpm, turning Lapua 6.5-284 cases that have been necked up to 7mm.

It’s hard to argue with Erik’s results. Here are his turned Lapua cases, which have neck-wall thickness consistent to two ten-thousandths of an inch.

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Neck-Turning Lubricants for Turner Mandrels

For Neck-Turning, Try STP Blend or Assembly Lube
For hand neck-turning, a variety of lubricants can work well on the outside of the necks. You will also want to lube the mandrel which runs inside the case. There are many options for lubing the neck-turning tool mandrel while turning case necks. Some folks use a blend of STP® Oil Treatment and Mobil 1 lube. Chuckw2 reports: “Try STP and Mobile 1 Synthetic oil in a 50/50 mixture. Very slick, you will need to tumble your cases after turning.” STP is a very thick lubricant, that flows and clings almost like honey. Jason reports the STP blend comes off easily in an ultra-sound bath, using a bit of detergent. At many retailers, STP is also available in a convenient 7-ounce tube, so you don’t have to buy a large bottle.

Assembly LubeAnother even cheaper option is assembly lubricant. For turning his case necks, RStreich uses assembly lube from an auto parts store. He notes: “The brand I have is reddish in color and kind of sticky like honey. It’s far better than the Imperial die wax I was using before.” There are a variety of types, both with and without moly additive, and you can select the viscosity you prefer if you sample a few brands. Be sure to clean out any lube residue from the inside of your necks when you have completed your neck-turning.

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April 19th, 2024

Fingers Blown Off with Smokeless Powder in Muzzle-Loader

muzzleloader muzzle-loader smokeless black powder overcharge Kaboom fingers sever

What you see above is what happens when you shoot the wrong powder in a muzzle-loader. Specifically, a charge of smokeless powder was used instead of black powder or black powder substitute. The difference in energy (by weight and volume) between black powder and modern smokeless powder is huge. You should never, ever run smokeless powder in a black powder recipe. The result can be catastrophic. In this case the hapless shooter lost a couple fingers. So he got a free twin-digit amputation, thanks to his reloading mistake. The lesson to learn here is to always double-check your propellant before loading. And never “re-bottle” smokeless powder into a different container with a different label (or worse yet, no label at all).

This incident happened in Indiana a couple years back. As reported by the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), this was a classic case of “user error”: “Corporal Eric Doane worked a firearm accident last night in Martin County that resulted in the shooter losing a couple fingers. This is what can happen when you shoot smokeless powder out of a muzzle-loader designed for black powder.”

Credit to The Firearm Blog for finding this story.

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April 18th, 2024

Cartridge Comparison Test — 6.5 Creedmoor vs. .308 Winchester

.308 win winchester 6.5 creedmoor cartridge ballistics terminal performance comparison talks test video series

A new Vortex video series, Cartridge Talks Comparisons, looks at multiple variables along with ballistics gel tests to determine the comparative performance of popular cartridge types. Each Month, Cartridge Talks will examine and test two popular cartridges, comparing their head to head performance. In Episode 1, Vortex Nation™ hosts Mark Boardman and Ryan Muckenhirn pit the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester cartridges against each other, examining projectile performance. Mark and Ryan then make conclusions about the applications best suited to each cartridge type.

Cartridge Comparison 14-minute video, Highlighting Ballistic Gel Testing

This first Cartridge Talks Episode pits the 6.5 Creedmoor against the .308 Winchester in a head-to-head, ballistics gel-induced bullet battle. Ballistics (drop/drift), penetration ability, terminal performance and other variables are tested with a variety of tools and tests. Viewers are invited to check out Episode 1, and suggest future cartridge battles in the comments section.

Here is the full 67-minute 6.5 Creedmoor vs. .308 Win Cartridge comparison video:

“With the myriad of cartridges available to the big game hunter, picking which chambering is best for you and your application can be a daunting task,” says Muckenhirn. “In Cartridges Talks, we put our biases on the shelf and put as much scientific process to this as possible. From ‘shootability’ and accessibility, to terminal performance as observed in ballistics gel, Cartridge Talks wades through the numbers and figures with you, loads you up with the pertinent information, and helps you select the ideal cartridge for your next hunt!”

Vortex Nation Has 10 MORE Cartridge Comparison Videos. Here are four we recommend. CLICK HERE to view all four videos.

.308 win winchester 6.5 creedmoor 7 PRC .30-06 cartridge ballistics terminal performance comparison talks test video series

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