May 15th, 2021

Choosing the Best Neck Bushing Size — Tips from John Whidden

John Whidden Dies Neck Bushing diameter reloading

Whidden Gunworks makes great sizing and seating dies. The Whidden full-length sizing die with neck bushing is very popular because it allows you to “tune” the neck tension by using different bushings, with larger or smaller inside diameters. In this video, John Whidden explains how to choose a the right bushing size for use with your neck-sizing and full-length sizing bushing dies.

For most applications, John suggest starting with the caliper-measured outside diameter of a loaded cartridge (with your choice of bullet), and then SUBTRACT about three thousandths. For example, if your loaded round mics at .333, then you would want to start with a 0.330 neck bushing. John notes, however, that you may want to experiment with bushings, going down a thousandth and up a thousandth. With thin In addition, as your brass ages and the necks harden, you may want to change your bushing size.

John Whidden Dies Neck Bushing diameter reloadingQuick Tip: Try Flipping Your Bushings
You may also want to experiment with “flipping” your neck bushings to alternate the side that first contacts the neck of the case. (One side of the bushing is usually marked with the size, while the other side is unmarked.) So try “number side up” as well as “number side down”.

Some folks believe that one side of the bushing may allow a smoother entry, and that this can enhance concentricity. Other people think they can get very slightly more or less neck tension depending on how the bushing is oriented. This is a subtle effect, but it costs nothing to experiment.

If one bushing orientation proves better you can mark the “up” side with nail polish so that you can always orient the bushing optimally. NOTE: We have confirmed that some bushings are actually made with a slight taper. In addition, bushings may get distorted slightly when the brand name and size is stamped. Therefore there IS a reason to try both orientations.

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May 11th, 2021

Power to the People — Cortina Reviews Giraud Power Trimmer

Power Trimming Technology Saves Time
Trimming and chamfering brass are tasks hand-loaders grow to hate. Those chores are time-consuming and tiresome. Thankfully there are faster, better alternatives to manual trimming/chamfering. In this article, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to use the Giraud tool which trims and chamfers in one operation. Erik has his own YouTube Channel dedicated to precision reloading and accurizing. Here we feature Erik’s video about the “mother of all brass trimmers”, the Giraud powered case trimmer. Erik says: “If you do volume reloading… this is the only trimmer to get. It not only trims to length but it also chamfers your case mouth inside and out.” In his video, Erik offers some very clever and useful tips that will help you get the most from your Giraud.

This is a manufacturer’s photo showing an older model.
Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

The Giraud trimmer is very precise. When set up correctly, it can trim brass with amazing consistency. In the video, Erik trims five pieces of brass in 15 seconds (6:32 mark). He then measures all five with precision calipers (7:00-8:08). All lengths are exact within .0005 (half a thousandth). Erik notes that the Giraud trimmer indexes off the case shoulder. As long as you have fire-formed brass with consistent base-to-shoulder dimensions, you should get very consistent trim lengths.

The secret to the system is a 3-way cutting head. This cutter can be swapped in and out in a couple minutes with wrenches provided with the kit. Erik has three different heads; one each for 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber. The video shows how to adjust the cutting heads to match caliber diameter (and to get the desired amount of inside/outside chamfer).

To trim and chamfer cases, you simply insert them nose-first into the cartridge-specific case-holder. Erik offers a smart tip — He uses a die locking ring to position the cartridge holder (3:15). This can be locked in place. Erik says die locking rings work much better than the hex-nuts provided by Giraud (with the hex-nut, one must re-set cut length each time you change case-holders.)

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

The Giraud can be used in either horizontal or vertical modes. Erik prefers to have the trimmer aligned vertically, allowing him to push cases down on the trimmer head. But the trimming unit has twin sets of rubber feet, allowing horizontal or vertical orientation.

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

Improved Case-Holder Made with Chamber Reamer:
For his .284 Shehane, Erik had to create his own case-holder (Giraud does not make one for that wildcat cartridge). Erik used his chamber reamer. To his surprise, Erik found that the brass was easier to trim in the custom case holder (compared to the Giraud-made spring-loaded holders). With a perfect fit, trimming and case extraction went more smoothly and the process was easier on his hands. (See 9:00-10:00). Based on Erik’s experience, you may want to create your own custom case-holder.

Trim Bullet Meplats Also
With a special bullet-holder fitting and meplat cutter head, the Giraud power trimmer can be used to trim bullet meplats. Trimming meplats can help make the Ballistic Coefficents of a batch of bullets more consistent. Uniforming meplats is also often done as a first step in the process of “tipping” bullets to improve BC.

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

Giraud Power Trimmer

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May 8th, 2021

Long-Term Powder Storage — What You Need to Know

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

SUMMARY: Powder can have a very long shelf life. You need to watch for changes in smell and color. A reddish tinge, almost like rust on the powder, is a bad sign, as is a foul odor, not to be confused with a normal chemical smell. Either of these signs indicate it is time to dispose of your powder by means other than shooting.

Ever wondered about the stability of the propellants in your reloading room? There are some important things you should know about powder storage, to ensure consistent powder performance and safety. On its website, Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders) published an informative Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.

Proper Powder Storage

Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.

Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.

CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)

In their original containers, the lifespan of smokeless powders is quite long, even in hot, arid climates. In fact the lifespan is typically longer than the average handloader would need to store them. Stored safely in a garage or outbuilding, your powder should last years. If you see the powder developing a reddish tint, or giving off a foul odor, it is time to discard it.

Clumps in Powder Container

Q: I ordered some of your Accurate 1680 powder back about in December. I just now opened it … and it is full of clumps. My knowledge tells me that means moisture. Am I wrong? I just now broke the seal and it has been stored in a ammo can with desiccant packs around it and a dehumidifier running 14-16 hours a day. I can’t imagine this being my fault, if this does indicate moisture. I don’t know if the pink part on the label is suppose to be red or not, but it is definitely pink, so if it was red I am wondering if I was shipped an old container? I hope that this isn’t bad and I am stuck with it…

Lab Answer: All powder contains a certain amount of moisture. When the powder is stored or during shipping, it can go through temperature cycles. During the cycling, the moisture can be pulled to the surface and cause clumping. Clumping can also be caused by static electricity if too dry or the powder has limited graphite content. You can break up the clumps before metering and they shouldn’t be a problem. This will not affect the powder performance, so your product is fine. Accurate 1680 labels are designed in Pink. As a side note, specification for testing powder is at 70° F and 60% humidity.

Shelf Life and Packaging Dates

Q: Does powder ever get to old to use and what identifying marks does your company put on the canister for when it is made, You have helped me out a while ago when I asked about keeping my cowboy shooting under 950 fps and it works great less stress on the hand and the recoil is very minimum. — R.B.

Lab Answer: On one pound bottles, the number is on the corner in a silver box. If the powder was poured today, it would read 012815 followed by a lot number. The whole number would look something like 012815749. Eight pound bottles have a sticker on the bottom with an obvious date code. The lot number appears above the date.

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

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May 5th, 2021

Tuning Tips for RCBS ChargeMaster — And EZ Straw Tweak

RCBS Chargemaster Powder dispenser tuning software plastic straw

Do you own an RCBS electronic powder dispenser? If you do, take the time to watch this ChargeMaster Tuning video from 8541 Tactical. This nine-minute video demonstrates how to re-program your ChargeMaster to “tune” the dispensing process. The video shows the exact programming procedures to follow, step-by-step. Some folks want a faster powder flow — others tune their machines for a more reliable drop (with fewer over-runs). One cheap and popular modification is to insert a 1″-long section of a McDonald’s plastic straw in the ChargeMaster’s silver dispensing tube. This works surprisingly well to smooth kernel drop and prevent “clumping” that can cause an over-charge. The McDonald’s straw MOD is demonstrated in this video, starting at the 6:22 mark.

Large-Diameter Dispensing Tube Mod
Many folks have had success with the McDonald’s straw modification demonstrated in the above video. However, some folks would like to get even better flow performance (with virtually no clumping). Forum Member Frank B. has come up with a new option using a brass hose fitting with a large outside diameter. The hose fitting (with tape wrapped around the barbed nose section) is placed inside the RCBS dispensing tube (have some kind of wrap — you don’t want metal-on-metal). Here’s how the unit looks installed:

ChargeMaster tuning tweak brass fitting powder dispenser

Frank tells us: “I have found a cure for the over-throw problem. It is a simple 1/4″ barbed hose nipple. I wrapped a couple layers of tape around the barbed end for a snug fit. With this in place, I have thrown 100+ charges of Varget without a single overthrow. The ID of the barbed end needs to be approximately 3/16″ to feed a steady flow. This works because of the larger ID at the drop.”

Frank adds: “You can see in the photo that the powder is not stacking up. You can watch it drop one grain at a time. Hope this will take the aggravation out of your case charging.” For best performance with this brass fitting MOD, we recommend de-burring and smoothing out the front edge of the brass fitting over which the kernels drop.

Brass fitting mod suggested by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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May 1st, 2021

Präzipress 120mm Heavy Reloading Press — German Precision

Prazipress cnc reloading single stage press Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader YouTube

When is a single-stage reloading press worth close to a thousand bucks? When it’s made in Germany with CNC technology and crafted to aero-space precision standards. UltimateReloader.com’s Gavin Gear recently got his hands on a Turban 120mm Heavy Präzipress. This unit retails for about 715 Euros (714,27 €), which is $858.88 U.S. Dollars at current exchange rates*. Gavin put the Präzipress through its paces, and came away VERY impressed. READ FULL REVIEW HERE.

Prazipress cnc reloading single stage press Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader YouTubeImpressive Test Results
Sizing once-fired 6.5mm Creedmoor cases with the Präzipress, Gavin achieved great results for shoulder “bump” consistency. The sizing results were nothing short of spectacular. After zeroing the first of ten cases, the remaining nine were essentially identical, showing as “0.000”, meaning less than half a thousandth of variation.

The Präzipress also delivered ultra-low run-out when seating bullets using a Forster die. On all ten test cases, the run-out was +/- 0.001″ (one-thousandth) or less.

Is this kind of press worth the money? Gavin says “yes” if you demand the highest level of precision in sizing and seating: “When you use this press, it’s immediately clear that there are no details neglected, and I can’t imagine one of these presses ever wearing out. Based on the precision tests I did with ammunition loading, it’s clear that this level of precision DOES make a difference for ammunition dimensions and consistency.”

READ FULL Präzipress REVIEW on UltimateReloader.com HERE »

According to Gavin, the “Heavy” 120mm version of the Präzipress is massive and boasts many notable design features:

— Three guide rods with linear roller guides (I have not seen these on any other press)
— Ambidextrous operation (handle can be mounted on left or right side)
— Positive snap shellholder retainer (secure, but easy to insert/remove shellholder)
— 120mm opening accepts cartridges up to .408 CheyTac Size length
— Enclosed spent primer catch system which contains debris
— Optimized leverage (VERY powerful mechanical advantage for sizing)
— Oversized handle (bar diameter) that minimizes flex

Prazipress cnc reloading single stage press Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader YouTube

There are now three (3) triple-column Präzipress sizes. Along with the 120 model press featured above, there are even larger 140 and 150 models:

Präzipress 120 — through .408 CT
Präzipress 140 — through .50 BMG
Präzipress 150 — through 14.4×114 Russian


* Stated price does NOT include shipping to USA and other fees. The Turban-shop.de website states: “In the case of delivering to a non-EU country, there can be charged extra tolls, taxes, and fees. Packaging costs will be charged separately.”

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April 29th, 2021

Cartridge Headspace 101 — Understanding the Basics

Brownells Headspace Gauge cutaway chamber drawing SAAMI ANSI

Do you know what the inside of a rifle chamber (and throat zone) really looks like? Do you understand the concept of headspace and why it’s important? If not, you should read the Brownells GunTech article Gauging Success – Minimum Headspace and Maximum COL. This article explains the basics of headspace and shows how to measure headspace (and length to lands) in your barrels with precision. The article also explains how to adjust your full-length sizing dies to “bump the shoulder” as needed.

Why is headspace important? The article explains: “Controlling headspace and setting proper C.O.L. also represent improved safety and reduced cost of handloading. Excessive headspace can cause case head separation and gases in excess of 60,000 PSI escaping from a rifle’s chamber. Too little headspace can result in a chamber forced bullet crimp and a bullet that becomes an obstruction more than a properly secured projectile. Excessive C.O.L. can result in a rifling-bound bullet, a condition that could result in spikes of excessive pressure.” [Editor’s NOTE: It is common for competitive benchrest shooters to seat bullets into the rifling. This can be done safely if you reduce your loads accordingly. With some bullets we often see best accuracy .010″ (or more) into the lands. However, this can generate more pressure than the same bullet seated .010″ away from initial lands contact. As with all reloading, start low and work up gradually.]

Brownells Headspace Gauge cutaway chamber drawing SAAMI ANSI

How is headspace specified? Most cartridges used within the United States are defined within ANSI/SAAMI Z299.3-4. Brownells explains: “In the case of the .243 Winchester, as an example, there are pressure specifications, cartridge drawings and, as pictured above, chamber drawings. Armed with a chamber drawing, each manufacturer producing a firearm for the .243 Winchester knows the proper standard dimension to cut chambers and set headspace. Notice there are two headspace reference dimensions for the chamber. The upper is a place in the chamber where the shoulder is .400″ in diameter; the “datum” or “basic” line. The lower is the 1.630″~1.640″ minimum – maximum dimension from the breech face (bolt face) to that point in the chamber that measures .400″.”

The actual headspace of any firearm is the distance from the breech face to the point in the chamber that is intended to prevent forward motion of a cartridge.

Finding Cartridge Length to Lands with OAL Gauge
Using a comparator on a set of calipers, you can quickly determine catridge base-to-ogive length. This is the measurement from the base of the case to the forward-most full diameter section of the bullet, typically called the ogive. Shown here, that ogive is 0.243″ diameter.

The next step is using a modified (threaded) case with a Hornady OAL tool to determine Length-to-Lands (LTL) in your rifle’s chamber. During this measurement process, the modified case, with a bullet in its neck, is inserted in the chamber. Go slow, take your time. Here are 5 tips that will help you get repeatable and reliable LTL measurements:

1. Start with a clean chamber and clean barrel throat.
2. Make sure the modified case is fully screwed down and seated on the OAL Gauge. It can sometimes unscrew a bit during repeated measurements.
3. Insert the modified case slowly and gently, but ensure the shoulder of the modified case is fully seated on the end of the chamber.
4. Push the gray plastic rod GENTLY. It is common for the bullet to be tilted a bit. You want to allow the bullet to self-center in the throat BEFORE you apply much pressure. Then tap a couple times and push until you feel resistance. Do NOT push too hard — that will jam the bullet in the lands.
5. Repeat the measurement at least 3 more times. If you follow our instructions, you should, typically, get a repeatable measurement, within 0.0015″ or so, 3 out of 4 times.

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April 27th, 2021

Tech Tip: Measuring Shoulder “Bump” with Harrell’s Bump Collar

Harrell’s Precision sells “semi-custom” full-length bushing dies for the PPC and 6BR chamberings. While the Harrell brothers do not cut the die to spec, they carry a large selection of dies made with slightly different internal dimensions. When you send in your fired brass, the Harrells choose a die from inventory with just the right amount of sizing (diameter reduction) at the top and bottom of the case. Given the quality, and precise fit, Harrell’s full-length dies cost $90.00 plus shipping. These are currently available for PPC family, 6mmBR, 6mm Dasher, and 6.5×47 Lapua.

Bump Measuring Collar
The Harrell brothers provide a nice bonus item with each full-length die — a neat, little shoulder bump measuring device as shown in the photo at right. Hornady sells a stand-alone tool that does the same job, but the Harrell’s bump collar is simpler and faster. To measure your shoulder bump, simply place the Harrell’s bump collar over the front of your deprimed case (before sizing) and measure the OAL with your calipers. Then size the case in your full-length die, replace the collar and repeat the measurement. You want to set your die so the shoulder moves back about .001″ to .0015″ for most applications. (With semi-auto guns you may want more shoulder bump, perhaps .003″.)

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April 25th, 2021

Get Smart — Access AccurateShooter.com’s Tech Articles Archive

AccurateShooter.com technical articles

AccurateShooter.comReaders who have just recently discovered the Daily Bulletin may not realize that AccurateShooter.com has hundreds of reference articles in our archives. These authoritative articles are divided into multiple categories, so you can easily view stories by topic (such as competition, tactical, rimfire, optics, shooting skills etc.). One of the most popular categories is our Technical Articles Collection. On a handy index page (with thumbnails for every story), you’ll find over 120 articles covering technical and gunsmithing topics. These articles can help you with major projects (such as stock painting), and they can also help you build more accurate ammo. Here are six popular selections from our Technical Articles archive.

pillar Bedding

Stress-Free Pillar Bedding. Richard Franklin explains how to do a top-quality bedding job, start to finish.

Gun Safe Technical Buyers Guide

Gun Safe Buyers Guide. Our comprehensive Safe Buyers Guide examines the key features to consider in a safe — Wall Thickness, Volume, Shelving, Fire Rating, Lighting, Weight and more. We also explain the Pros/Cons of Dial vs. Digital (Keypad) locking systems.

Savage Action Tuning Torque Settings

Savage Action Tuning. Top F-TR shooter Stan Pate explains how to enhance the performance of your Savage rifle by optimizing the torque settings of the action screws.

Precision Case Prep for Reloading

Complete Precision Case Prep. Jake Gottfredson covers the complete case prep process, including brass weight sorting, case trimming, primer pocket uniforming, neck-sizing, and, case-neck turning.

rifle stock painting and spraying

Stock Painting Instructions. Step-by-step guide for stock painting by expert Mike Ricklefs. Mike shows both simple coverage and fancy effects.

Ultrasound ultrasonic CAse Cleaning

Ultrasonic Case Cleaning. This article reviews the recommended process for cleaning cartridge brass with ultrasonic cleaning machine. We cover the right liquid solutions, processing times, and case drying options.

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April 24th, 2021

Reloading Manuals Now Available at Midsouth and Amazon

Midsouth Shooters load manual 2021 in stock books

With millions of American gun-owners deciding to start hand-loading because of ammo shortages, all types of reloading resources have been in short supply, including printed load manuals. Thankfully, reloading handbooks are becoming more widely available again. Midsouth Shooters now has most of the current manuals in stock. In addition you can find many of the best load manuals at Amazon.com. Some are offered in digital as well as print format.

RELOADING MANUALS at Midsouth Shooters Supply:

Midsouth Shooters load manual 2021 in stock books

RELOADING MANUALS Available at Amazon.com:

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April 24th, 2021

Is Your Twist Rate OK? Use Berger Twist Rate Stability Calculator

Berger twist rate calculator

Berger Twist-Rate Stability Calculator
Berger twist rate calculatorOn the Berger Bullets website you’ll find a handy Twist-Rate Stability Calculator that predicts your gyroscopic stability factor (SG) based on mulitiple variables: velocity, bullet length, bullet weight, barrel twist rate, ambient temperature, and altitude. This cool tool tells you if your chosen bullet will really stabilize in your barrel.


CLICK HERE to Go to TWIST RATE CALCULATOR PAGE »

How to Use Berger’s Twist Rate Calculator
Using the Twist Rate Calculator is simple. Just enter the bullet DIAMETER (e.g. .264), bullet WEIGHT (in grains), and bullet overall LENGTH (in inches). On its website, Berger conveniently provides this info for all its bullet types. For other brands, we suggest you weigh three examples of your chosen bullet, and also measure the length on three samples. Then use the average weight and length of the three. To calculate bullet stability, simply enter your bullet data (along with observed Muzzle Velocity, outside Temperature, and Altitude) and click “Calculate SG”. Try different twist rate numbers (and recalculate) until you get an SG value of 1.4 (or higher).

Gyroscopic Stability (SG) and Twist Rate
Berger’s Twist Rate Calculator provides a predicted stability value called “SG” (for “Gyroscopic Stability”). This indicates the Gyroscopic Stability applied to the bullet by spin. This number is derived from the basic equation: SG = (rigidity of the spinning mass)/(overturning aerodynamic torque).

Berger twist rate calculator

If you have an SG under 1.0, your bullet is predicted not to stabilize. If you have between 1.0 and 1.1 SG, your bullet may or may not stabilize. If you have an SG greater than 1.1, your bullet should stabilize under optimal conditions, but stabilization might not be adequate when temperature, altitude, or other variables are less-than-optimal. That’s why Berger normally recommends at least 1.5 SG to get out of the “Marginal Stability” zone.

In his book Applied Ballistics For Long-Range Shooting (3rd Ed.), Bryan Litz (Berger Ballistician) recommends at least a 1.4 SG rating when selecting a barrel twist for a particular bullet. This gives you a safety margin for shooting under various conditions, such as higher or lower altitudes or temperatures.

Story idea from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 23rd, 2021

GREAT Video on Making Brass and Precision Ammo — Watch Now

Norma factory ammo production video

Guys — honestly, if you do anything today on this site, watch this video. You won’t be disappointed. Guaranteed. This is a very informative (and surprisingly entertaining) video. Every serious hand-loader should watch this video to see how cartridge cases and loaded ammo are made. Your Editor has watched the video 5 times now and I still find it fascinating. The camera work and editing are excellent — there are many close-ups revealing key processes such as annealing and head-stamping.

VERY Informative Video Show Cartridge Brass and Ammunition Production:

Norma has released a fascinating video showing how bullet, brass, and ammunition are produced at the Norma Precision AB factory which first opened in 1902. You can see how cartridges are made starting with brass disks, then formed into shape through a series of processes, including “hitting [the cup] with a 30-ton hammer”. After annealing (shown at 0:08″), samples from every batch of brass are analyzed (at multiple points along the case length) to check metal grain structure and hardness. Before packing, each case is visually inspected by a human being (3:27″ time-mark).

The video also shows how bullets are made from jackets and lead cores. Finally, you can watch the loading machines that fill cases with powder, seat the bullets, and then transport the loaded rounds to the packing system. In his enthusiasm, the reporter/narrator does sometimes confuse the term “bullets” and “rounds” (5:00″), but you can figure out what he means. We definitely recommend watching this video. It’s fascinating to see 110-year-old sorting devices on the assembly line right next to state-of-the art, digitally-controlled production machinery.

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 23rd, 2021

Do Chron Your Factory Ammo — Stated Velocities May Be Wrong

muzzle velocity applied Ballistics MV chronograph

Why You CANNOT Rely on the MV Printed on the Ammo Box!
When figuring out your come-ups with a ballistics solver or drop chart it’s “mission critical” to have an accurate muzzle velocity (MV). When shooting factory ammo, it’s tempting to use the manufacturer-provided MV which may be printed on the package. That’s not such a great idea says Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics. Don’t rely on the MV on the box, Bryan advises — you should take out your chrono and run your own velocity tests. There are a number of reasons why the MV values on ammo packaging may be inaccurate. Below is a discussion of factory ammo MV from the Applied Ballistics Facebook Page.

Five Reasons You Cannot Trust the Velocity on a Box of Ammo:

1. You have no idea about the rifle used for the MV test.

2. You have no idea what atmospheric conditions were during testing, and yes it matters a lot.

3. You have no idea of the SD for the factory ammo, and how the manufacturer derived the MV from that SD. (Marketing plays a role here).

4. You have no idea of the precision and quality of chronograph(s) used for velocity testing.

5. You have no idea if the manufacturer used the raw velocity, or back-calculated the MV. The BC used to back track that data is also unknown.

1. The factory test rifle and your rifle are not the same. Aside from having a different chamber, and possibly barrel length some other things are important too like the barrel twist rate, and how much wear was in the barrel. Was it just recently cleaned, has it ever been cleaned? You simply don’t know anything about the rifle used in testing.

2. Temperature and Humidity conditions may be quite different (than during testing). Temperature has a physical effect on powder, which changes how it burns. Couple this with the fact that different powders can vary in temp-stability quite a bit. You just don’t know what the conditions at the time of testing were. Also a lot of factory ammunition is loaded with powder that is meter friendly. Meter friendly can often times be ball powder, which is less temperature stable than stick powder often times.

3. The ammo’s Standard Deviation (SD) is unknown. You will often notice that while MV is often listed on ammo packages, Standard Deviation (normally) is not. It is not uncommon for factory ammunition to have an SD of 18 or higher. Sometimes as high as 40+. As such is the nature of metering powder. With marketing in mind, did they pick the high, low, or average end of the SD? We really don’t know. You won’t either until you test it for yourself. For hand-loaded ammo, to be considered around 10 fps or less. Having a high SD is often the nature of metered powder and factory loads. The image below is from Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting: Volume II.

muzzle velocity applied Ballistics MV chronograph

4. You don’t know how MV was measured. What chronograph system did the manufacturer use, and how did they back track to a muzzle velocity? A chronograph does not measure true velocity at the muzzle; it simply measures velocity at the location it is sitting. So you need to back-calculate the distance from the chrono to the end of the barrel. This calculation requires a semi-accurate BC. So whose BC was used to back track to the muzzle or did the manufacturer even do that? Did they simply print the numbers displayed by the chronograph? What kind of chronograph setup did they use? We know from our Lab Testing that not all chronographs are created equal. Without knowing what chronograph was used, you have no idea the quality of the measurement. See: Applied Ballistics Chronograph Chapter Excerpt.

5. The MV data may not be current. Does the manufacturer update that data for every lot? Or is it the same data from years ago? Some manufacturers rarely if ever re-test and update information. Some update it every lot (ABM Ammo is actually tested every single lot for 1% consistency). Without knowing this information, you could be using data for years ago.

CONCLUSION: Never use the printed MV off a box of ammo as anything more than a starting point, there are too many factors to account for. You must always either test for the MV with a chronograph, or use carefully obtained, live fire data. When you are using a Ballistic Solver such as the AB Apps or Devices integrated with AB, you need to know the MV to an accuracy down to 5 fps. The more reliable the MV number, the better your ballistics solutions.

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April 22nd, 2021

AR, Garand, M1A — Six Rules for Semi-Auto Gas Gun Reloading

Reloading for Service Rifles
SFC Lance Dement as featured in CMP’s First Shot Online.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has published a great series of reloading “how-to” articles on its Facebook Page. This post covers key factors to consider when loading ammunition for Match Rifles and Service Rifles, with a particular focus on self-loading “gas guns”. Visit the USAMU Facebook Page each Wednesday for other, helpful “Handloading Hump-Day” tips.

We offer some “cardinal rules” to help new gas-gun handloaders with safety and efficiency. These address both Match Rifle and Service Rifle versions of the AR15, M1 Garand, M1A, and M110. However, they can also improve safe reloading for many other auto-loaders such as M1 Carbines, FALs, SIGs, etc. The author distilled these principles many years ago to help focus on the essential aspects of these rifles.

RULE ONE: Service Rifles Are Not Benchrest Rifles
Gas-guns require a relatively loose fit between ammunition and chamber (vs. bolt actions) for safe, smooth operation. Many techniques, such as neck sizing and keeping cartridge headspace quite tight, are popular in the extreme bolt gun accuracy realm. However, they are of little value with Service Rifles, and some could even be hazardous. Before adopting a specialized technique, seriously consider whether it is appropriate and beneficial in a gas-gun.

RULE TWO: Never Compromise Safety to Obtain Accuracy
Example: If choosing a brand of great, but ultra-sensitive match primers offers possibly better accuracy at the risk of slam-fires in your design of rifle, don’t do it! You are issued exactly two eyes and ten fingers (best-case scenario). Risking them trying to squeeze 0.25 MOA better accuracy out of an M1A, etc. simply isn’t worth it.

Reloading for Service Rifles

RULE THREE: Tailor the Precision to Your Individual Skill and Your Rifle’s Potential
This has been addressed here before, but bears repeating for newcomers. If you are struggling to break out of the Marksman Class, or using a CMP M1 “As-Issued,” then laboriously turning the necks of your 600-yard brass is a waste of time. Your scores will improve much faster by practicing or dry-firing. On the other hand, if the reigning champions anxiously check your scores each time you fire an event, a little neck-turning might not be so far-fetched.

Verifying Load Improvements — Accuracy hand-loading involves a wide variety of techniques, ranging from basic to rather precise. Carefully select those which offer a good return on investment for your time and labor. In doubt? Do a classic pilot study. Prepare ammo for at least three or four ten-shot groups with your new technique, vs. the same with your standard ammo. Then, pick a calm day and test the ammo as carefully as possible at its full distance (e.g. 200, 300, or 600 yards) to verify a significant improvement. A little testing can save much labor!

RULE FOUR: Be Your Own Efficiency Expert
Serious Service Rifle shooters generally think of ammunition in terms of thousands of rounds, not “boxes”, or even “hundreds”. Analyze, and WRITE DOWN each step in your reloading process. Count the number of times each case is handled. Then, see if any operations can be dropped or changed without reducing safety or accuracy. Eliminating just two operations saves 2000 steps per 1000 rounds loaded. Conversely, carefully consider any measurable benefits before adding a step to your routine.

RULE FIVE: In Searching for Greater Accuracy with Efficiency, Look for System Changes
For example, instead of marking your 300-yard rounds individually to differentiate them from your 200-yard ammo, would a simple change in primers work? If accuracy is maintained, using brass-colored primers for 200 and silver for 300 provides an indelible indicator and eliminates a step! Similarly, rather than spending hours selecting GI surplus brass for weight and neck uniformity, consider splurging on some known, high-quality imported match brass for your 600-yard loads. Results should be excellent, time is saved, and given limited shooting at 600 yards, brass life should be long.

RULE SIX: Check All Your Primers Before Packaging Your Loaded Ammo
This seems simple and even intuitive. However, many slam-fires (which were much more common when M1s and M1As were the standard) are due, at least in part, to “high” primers. Primers should be seated below flush with the case head. The USAMU has addressed this at length in a previous column, but each round should be checked for properly-seated primers before they are packaged for use.

Reloading for Service Rifles

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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 15th, 2021

Co-Ax, Rock Chucker, Summit — Three Press Comparison Test

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Forster Co-Ax Coax Summit single-stage Press Hornady Laurie Holland Target Shooter

“The press is the heart of the handloading operation, also traditionally the most expensive single tool employed…” — Laurie Holland

British competitive shooter Laurie Holland has reviewed three popular, single-stage reloading presses for Target Shooter Magazine (targetshooter.co.uk). Laurie bolted up a Forster Co-Ax, RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme, and RCBS Summit to his reloading bench and put the three presses through their paces. These three machines are very different in design and operation. The venerable Rock Chucker is a classic heavy, cast-iron “O”- type press that offers lots of leverage for tough jobs. The smaller RCBS Summit press is an innovative “upside-down” design with a large center column and open front. It offers a small footprint and easy case access from the front. The Co-Ax is unique in many respects — dies slide in and out of the upper section which allows them to “float”. The cartridge case is held in the lower section by spring-loaded jaws rather than a conventional shell-holder.

READ Laurie Holland Reloading Press 3-Way Comparison Review

If you are considering purchasing any one of these three presses, you should read Laurie’s article start to finish. He reviews the pros and cons of each press, after processing three different brands of brass on each machine. He discusses ergonomics, easy of use, press leverage, smoothness, priming function, and (most importantly), the ability to produce straight ammo with low run-out. The review includes interesting data on case-neck run-out (TIR) for RWS, Federal, and Norma 7x57mm brass.

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Forster Co-Ax Coax Summit single-stage Press Hornady Laurie Holland Target ShooterReview Quick Highlights:

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
“My expectations of the antediluvian RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme’s performance weren’t over high to be honest as I mounted it in the place of the Summit. As soon as I sized the first of the stretched RWS cases though, I saw why this press has been such a long-running favorite. The workload was considerably reduced compared to the other two presses and doing 40-odd cases took no time at all with little sweat — it just eats hard-to-size brass.”

RCBS Summit Press
“Despite its massive build and long-stroke operating handle, [the Summit] took more sweat than I’d expected, even if it was somewhat less work than with the Co-Ax. Although the Summit is apparently massive, I noticed that the die platform would tilt fractionally under the heaviest strains[.] It is nevertheless a very pleasant press in use and bullet seating was a doddle — the few examples tried proving very concentric on checking them afterwards. The optional short handle would be valuable for this task.”

Forster Co-Ax
“[On the Co-Ax], the operating handle is above the machine, located centrally here [with] twin steel links at the top end of the press dropping down to the moving parts. The Co-Ax incorporates a number of novel features, principally its automatic and multi-case compatible shell-holder assembly with spring-loaded sliding jaws, very neat spent primer arrangements that allow hardly any gritty residues to escape and foul the moving parts and, the snap-in/out die fitment that allows rapid changes and also sees the die ‘float’ in relation to the case giving very concentric results. I own this press and it meets my handloading needs very well.”

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April 15th, 2021

10 Budget Items That Will Make Reloading and Shooting Better

Budget reloading items

Useful reloading gear does not have to be costly. Here are ten handy (and very inexpensive) items that belong on your loading bench or in your range kit.

magnifying glassMagnifying Glass – We use a flat, 2″x2″ pocket 4x-8x magnifier. This folds up on itself. Very handy, we use it to inspect bullets and brass. Use this to check your flash holes for burrs, and check the meplats of your bullets before loading.

Clear 35mm Film Cannister – Use this to transfer the thrown powder charge to the little measuring cup that sits on your scale. That way you don’t get any kernel splash. Also if the charge weight is obviously off, it’s easy to dump back in the measure. A film canister works pretty well as a trickler too.

Compressed Air in a Can -- Get these at office supply stores. Use the can (with tube attached) to blow crud out of cases after cleaning the neck with a brush, and blast loose debris out of primer pockets.

Pin Vise – A simple pin vise with a #53 bit is perfect for deburring Lapua PPC and BR flash holes without reaming the flash-holes any larger. The Lapua PPC/BR flash-hole diameter is 1.5 mm, or 0.059″. Amazon.com sells a handy $8.99 pin vise kit with 10 bits, including the ideal 1.5mm bit. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores — here’s an example below with ten bits including 1.5mm. Pin vise sets can be found from $7 to $15.

pin vise 1.5mm Lapua Flash hole

Bounce Dryer Sheets – The common dryer sheets eliminate “static cling” on your plastic reloading parts such as powder measure cylinders, powder funnels, and reloading press plastic bins. Thanks to Doc76251 for this tip.

BallistolBallistol Aerosol – Try using this versatile lubricant/solvent for full-length sizing. Spray some on a patch and you can wipe the carbon off your case necks. Then, continue to apply a very small amount of Ballistol on the case bodies — just thin sheen is all you need. Ballistol is super slippery, and easy to remove. For general full-length sizing (on small cases) it works great and doesn’t leave a gooey, waxy, or chalky residue. For heavier case-forming jobs, we recommend Imperial Die Wax.

Shotgun Mop – Stick this in the chamber when using Wipe-Out foaming bore cleaner. This will seal off the chamber so the foam doesn’t flow into your action. For long chambers screw on one section of cleaning rod to aid extraction.

Colored Sharpie Marking Pens – Mark your bullets ahead of the bearing surface, and the color transfers to the target. This way you can shoot multiple loads at the same point of aim and discern which load shoots the tightest. (Recommended for 300 yards and beyond). With colored bullet tips you can test multiple loads “round robin” to equalize wind effects. When testing seating depths for example, you can mark the longer-seated set of bullets red and the shorter-seated set green and shoot them during the same sequence. Just look at the colored marks on the target to see which grouped better.

Sharpies Pens

Thin Latex Gloves – You should keep a box of inexpensive, disposable latex gloves (the kind doctors use) in your loading room. These will prevent contamination of primers or powder kernels that you handle directly. Also, use the gloves when handling fine blued tools or firearms to prevent transfering body oils and salts that promote rust.

Plastic Washers for Neck Mic – If you use a Sinclair Neck-wall Micrometer Gauge with integral stand, you can use thin plastic washers to adjust the height of the case on the mandrel. This makes it much easier to measure the same point on the case neck every time. Thanks to MikeCR for this tip (and photo).

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April 13th, 2021

Tuesday Trivia: Can You Over-Stabilize a Bullet?

spinning bullet stabilizationOn the Applied Ballistics Facebook page a few seasons ago, Ballistician Bryan Litz posed a “Tuesday Trivia” question about ballistics. This being Tuesday we thought we’d bring back this interesting brain-teaser — a true/false question about bullet stabilization. On shooting forums you often find heated arguments about “over-stabilization”. Bryan wants readers to consider the issue of over-stabilization and answer a challenge question…

Is This Statement TRUE or FALSE?

“The problem with ‘over-stabilizing’ a bullet (by shooting it from an excessively fast twist rate) is that the bullet will fly ‘nose high’ on a long range shot. The nose-high orientation induces extra drag and reduces the effective BC of the bullet.”

True or False, and WHY?

Click the “Post Comment” link below to post your reply (and explain your reasoning).

Bullet Movement in Flight — More Complicated Than You May Think
Bullets do not follow a laser beam-like, perfectly straight line to the target, nor does the nose of the bullet always point exactly at the point of aim. Multiple forces are in effect that may cause the bullet to yaw (rotate side to side around its axis), tilt nose-up (pitch), or precess (like a spinning top) in flight. These effects (in exaggerated form) are shown below:

spinning bullet stabilization

Yaw refers to movement of the nose of the bullet away from the line of flight. Precession is a change in the orientation of the rotational axis of a rotating body. It can be defined as a change in direction of the rotation axis in which the second Euler angle (nutation) is constant. In physics, there are two types of precession: torque-free and torque-induced. Nutation refers to small circular movement at the bullet tip.

Diagram from the University of Utah Health Sciences Library Firearm Ballistics Tutorial
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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 9th, 2021

RCBS MatchMaster Dies — Review and Free Dies Promotion

rcbs reloading matchmaster loading die seating die micrometer bushing neck sizing die full-length

RCBS offers a series of premium MatchMaster Competition Dies. These are available in Full-Length Sizing, Neck Sizing, and Seating configurations. These new MatchMaster dies are notable for four features:

1. The Competition Seating Die has a “view-port” for the bullet.
2. The Competition Seating Die features a self-centering, free-floating bullet-seating stem.
3. Expanders are titanium-nitride coated for reduced friction. Both the Neck-Sizing and FL-Sizing dies come with TiN expanders for smoother case extraction and reduced brass build-up on the expander.
4. RCBS is offering its own precision-machined Neck Bushings.

No More Mashed Fingers When Seating Bullets
RCBS notes: “Reloaders will love that they can end smashed fingers and misaligned bullets with the specially-designed bullet window [on the Seating Die]. And users can fine-tune any load … with the micrometer-adjustable, free-floating, self-centering bullet seating stem.”

RCBS Product Manager Will Hemeyer explained that the new Competition Seater is a game-changer. “What sets the MatchMaster Seating Die apart from the competition is a bullet-seating window with bullet-retaining system. Simply place the bullet in the window and raise the case into the die to seat the bullet. Couple this with a micrometer-adjustable, free-floating, self-centering bullet-seating stem[.]”

Buy MatchMaster Powder Dispenser, Get Free RCBS MatchMaster Die Set plus $100 MidwayUSA Gift Certificate
To make these dies even more attractive, right now, though the end of April, 2021, you can get a FREE set of MatchMaster Dies if you purchase an RCBS MatchMaster electronic powder scale/dispenser.

RCBS Matchmaster dispenser free dies $100 Gift Certificate

Right now, with an RCBS Promo, you’ll get both FL sizing die and micrometer seating die for FREE if you buy the $899.00 MatchMaster. The retail value of the die set is $185.95. But wait — it gets even better. If you purchase from MidwayUSA you get a $100 MidwayUSA Gift Certificate. To qualify for the Free Dies deal, the MatchMaster must be purchased 4/1/2021 through 4/30/2021.

MatchMaster Dies Tested by Ultimate Reloader

Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com has tested the new RCBS MatchMaster Dies in 6mm Creedmoor. He was very impressed with the new Competition Seater and he liked the TiN-coated expanders on the sizing dies. Watch Gavin’s video:

rcbs reloading matchmaster loading die seating die micrometer bushing neck sizing die full-length

Why Use Expander with Bushing Dies?
Some viewers of Gavin’s video asked if an expander is superfluous when using neck-bushing dies. The answer is “it depends”. The bushings reduce neck diameter from the OUTSIDE. The expander should make the INSIDE of the neck perfectly round. Some hand-loaders prefer to take the necks down a couple thousandths below final loading diameter, then finish the job with an expander. That ensures the INSIDE of the case neck is perfectly concentric. This can be particularly useful for brass that has somewhat inconsistent neck-wall thickness. Bottom line, you can run these dies without expanders if you want, but that option is available. The expander is also removable so the assembly can be used for de-capping only.

MactchMaster Neck-Sizing Only Die
The MatchMaster Neck Sizing Die Set also uses RCBS neck bushings to control neck tension while not changing the body dimensions of fired cases. Frankly we strongly recommend that you full-length size your rifle rounds, but we acknowledge that some hand-loaders prefer to neck size for some applications. The MatchMaster Neck Sizing Dies do include a titanium-nitride coated expander, just like the FL-sizing MatchMaster dies.

To learn more about the new MatchMaster Competition Dies, visit www.RCBS.com.

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April 5th, 2021

New Alliant Reloder TS 15.5 Powder — Outstanding Test Results

Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement

Outstanding New Powder from Alliant — Reloder TS 15.5
New Product Review by DasherDude
Alliant has devloped a new temperature-stable powder for long range applications. According to Alliant, this is a “slower burning version of the popular RL 15 with TZ technology” and brings some significant advantages over RL 15 and powders in the similar burn rate range (like Varget). The powder is named “Reloder TS 15.5″ (RL TS 15.5) and is created using the same TZ technology used in Reloder 16 (RL 16) and Reloder 23 (RL 23) whereby it manipulates the response of the propellant and resists the natural tendency to generate more pressure at higher temperatures and less pressure at lower temperatures. That makes RL TS 15.5 extremely stable across the full temperature range a shooter may encounter.

When Can You Get This New Alliant RL TS 15.5 Powder?
Alliant tells us that new RL TS 15.5 should start arriving on dealer’s shelves by the end of the month. Officially: “We will be putting it into distribution probably in April 2021 sometime”. Remember you heard about this powder here first.

The burn rate of RL TS 15.5 lies between RL 15 and RL 16 making it ideal for loading heavier bullets in .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, .223 Rem, and 6mm wildcats such as the 6mm Dasher or 6 BRA (BR Ackley). Being a bit slower than RL 15, new TS 15.5 offers higher velocities for the same charge weight as well as ability to load heavier charges for additional velocity without generating excessive pressure.

Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement

Testing Reloder TS 15.5 in 6 Dasher and .308 Winchester

I got a chance to test a pre-production powder sample of RL TS15.5 from Alliant. In my own tests with my 6mm Dasher and .308 Win, I extensively compared it with Varget that I normally use in these cartridges. In both cases, the results were nothing short of spectacular.

Powder Characteristics and Metering
This is an extruded powder and looks and feels similar to RL 16. The kernels are about 0.03 – 0.04 grains each (with the resolution of A&D FX 120i scale). RL TS 15.5 meters very well, although I had to slightly adjust the AutoTrickler to get it to meter perfectly.

Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement

As I found, later in the testing, that the powder compresses before it can generate excessive pressure in the Dasher, a drop tube helps to fill the case more efficiently if higher charges and velocities are desired.

6mm Dasher Test Rifle and Load
For testing I used my 6mm Dasher benchrest match rifle. This has a BAT 3L action, 28″ Krieger barrel, and McMillan stock. I use Lapua brass with CCI 450 primers to propel Berger 105gr Hybrids and this combination shoots quite well.

Test Firearm: 6mm Dasher, Bat 3L, 28″ 6mm HV Krieger Barrel, McMillan Stock.
Components: Lapua fire-formed brass, CCI 450 primers, Berger 105 grain Hybrid
Powder: Alliant Reloder TS 15.5

Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement

Load Testing and Velocities

Test in 6mm Dasher — Excellent Velocity, Low ES/SD
The testing comprised of shooting groups at 100 yards with increasing powder charges (OCW method) and then selecting a node. That node was found at 33.4 grains. The accuracy was excellent with remarkably low Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation (ES/SD)

My usual load is 32.9 grains of Hodgdon Varget which runs 2925 fps with an ES of around 12 fps and SD around 5 fps. For comparison, 32.9 grains of RL TS 15.5 delivered a velocity of 3022 fps. That is 97 fps greater than Varget for the same load weight (of RL TS15.5).

When used in the 6 Dasher, RL TS 15.5 had ES of 13 for 28 Shots — Remarkable!
Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement

More Velocity Plus Consistent ES/SD
Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacementWith the Dasher since the new node (the sweet spot) was found at 33.4 grains, that resulted in a velocity of 3050 fps (a 125 fps velocity increase) from the same rifle setup. Not only did the velocity increase, but the SD was lowered to 3.6 with an ES of 13 (calculated over 28 shots). You read that right… 13 fps ES over 28 shots!

At 34 grains without any drop tube, the load was compressed. However, there were no pressure signs. That indicates that the 6 Dasher cartridge can be loaded with a higher charge, if a drop tube was used.

.308 Winchester Velocity Results
Similar results (velocity gains) were obtained from my .308 Win with Berger 200.20X bullets. For the same charge of 44.2 grains, I recorded about 100 fps higher velocity with RL TS 15.5, compared to Varget.

Accuracy Results at 100 and 300 Yards — Very Impressive

How does RL TS 15.5 shoot on paper? Very well indeed.

6mm Dasher Load Testing with Various RL TS 15.5 Charge Weights
The groups on paper told similar stories. For the OCW method, I shot groups of increasing charges at 100 yards and then selected 33.4 grains as the optimum charge (incidentally, it was one ragged hole).

Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement

While testing at 300 yards, the conditions were very windy but since I was testing for vertical, the point of aim was kept the same for every shot. No attempt was made to correct for wind, so the groups spread horizontally (15 mph, 3 o’clock wind) but the vertical spread of all the groups was under 0.3 MOA. That gives me great hopes for the long-range capabilities of the powder.

Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement

Thoughts and Conclusions

For the past year, Alliant powders have been a welcome surprise for this tester and they have found a home in my reloading room. I struggled to find a load for my .284 Win with H4831sc and H4350 before trying out Reloder 16 and voila, it was perfect.

I have used Hodgdon Varget powder for a long time in both my 6mm Dasher and my .308 Winchester. With the .308 Win I’ve used various bullets from 168 to 200 grains. Varget has served me well. I do always need to keep the powder charge in check and so the velocities are held back a bit. Now RL TS 15.5 looks like a very impressive competitor to Varget.

With Reloder TS 15.5, Alliant seems to have delivered a harmonious mix of great accuracy, higher velocities, and lower SDs without creating excessive pressure. All of this is delivered with a very temperature-stable package. The higher velocities may allow some shooters to hit a new, better-performing node. These qualities are highly sought after by long range shooters. Accordingly, I have no qualms in saying that Alliant has created a winner here.

Alliant Official Load Data for Reloder TS 15.5

Along with the cartridge types shown below, Alliant has also released load data for .30-06 Springfield, 7x57mm Mauser, .270 Win, .260 Rem, 6.5 Grendel, .257 Roberts, 22-250 Rem, and 224 Valkyrie. CLICK for all data (larger format).

CLICK HERE for PDF with ALL Reloder TS 15.5 Load Data »

Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement
Alliant powder Reloder Reloader 15.5 TS TS15.5 Temp Stable extruded new Varget replacement

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