March 29th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: AR15 Uncovered — X-Ray Views of Black Rifles

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of our readers are dusting off their AR-platform rifles. Because ARs have a somewhat unique (and dirty) semi-auto operating system, we think all AR owners should learn how their rifles operate — from the inside out. This Sunday GunDay feature provides an “inside look” at the AR, with X-Ray and Cutaway views created through advanced 3D computer modeling.

AR15 Functions Revealed with 3D Computer Animation

Ever wondered how the parts inside an AR15 work together? Just exactly how does the reciprocating bolt carrier feed rounds from the magazine? How do the elements in the trigger group work and reset after each shot? How does the gas system bleed gas from the barrel and operate the bolt carrier? These and other questions are answered in this eye-opening video from 45Snipers. Using “cutaway” 3D computer animation, this 5-minute video shows all features of an AR15 inside and out. This fascinating firearms animation allows the viewer to look inside the upper and lower receivers, into the bolt carrier, chamber, barrel, and magazine.

This video starts off slow and has annoying background music, but it is well worth watching if you own or shoot any AR-platform rifle. It illustrates all the key operations during the charging, loading, firing, and ejection processes. The cutaway animation shows how rounds are stripped from the magazine and then chambered. It then shows how every part of the trigger group works, and how the firing pin strikes the primer. You can even watch the bullet move down the barrel before the empty shell casing is removed from the chamber and tossed out the ejection port. Here are sample frames from the video:

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

How AR-Platform Rifles Work — General Introduction
To help reader understand the general operation of AR-type rifles, this video shows the control functions of an AR and how the upper and lower sections work together.

Cutaway 3D Animation of AR15/M16 Action — Watch Video

Here is an excellent “cutaway” animation by Thomas Schwenke that shows how an AR-15 functions — how the entire loading cycle works from start to finish.

AR platform rifles are semi-automatics version of the M16. These feature distinctive upper and lower receivers which can be readily separated via front and rear pins. The upper includes the barrel, handguard, forward gas tube, and bolt assembly, while the lower contains grip, trigger group, fire selector, and mag well. In addition the lower is attached to the stock which encloses the buffer assembly.

3d firearms modeling gun CGI software encylopedia gun disassembly

The original ArmaLite AR-15 was a select-fire, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle designed by American gun manufacturer ArmaLite in 1956. It was based on Armalite’s AR-10 rifle chambered for the 7.62×51 NATO (.308 Win). In 1959, ArmaLite sold its rights to the AR-10 and AR-15 to Colt. Some key modifications were made — most notably, the charging handle was re-located from under the carrying handle to the rear of the receiver. The redesigned rifle was adopted by the U.S. military as the M16 carbine, which went into production in March 1964.

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March 28th, 2020

Defensive Firearms — Understanding Terminal Ballistics

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity

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

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

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

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

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity

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

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

Terminal External Ballistics Exterior, Temporary Cavity Permanent Cavity


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

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March 26th, 2020

AR, Garand, M1A — Six Rules for 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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March 25th, 2020

Locate Affordable Ammo Supplies with AmmoSeek.com

Ammoseek search engine ammuntion reloading supplies

Right now, due to concerns about personal safety and potential civil unrest, Americans are arming themselves with all types of firearms — pistols, rifles, and shotguns. While plenty of guns are available, in many areas, certain types of ammunition are in short supply — particularly 12ga shotshells and 9mm centerfire ammo. This has lead to price gouging. Some online vendors are charging up to $5 per round for for 12ga buckshot shotshells!

Thankfully, if you shop around a bit, you can still find all types of defensive ammunition at reasonable prices. Everything from .22 Shorts to 12 gauge. For example, Midsouth Shooters has a variety of 12ga ammo for under $0.30 per round. And in most states, it is completely legal to order ammunition online and have it delivered to you at home. CLICK HERE for AmmoSeek 12 Gauge Ammo Listings.

Here’s a great search service that can help you locate hard-to-find ammunition and reloading components — while saving money in the process. AmmoSeek.com monitors more than a dozen online vendors — checking current pricing and available inventory, for pistol, rifle, and shotgun ammunition. Looking for .22 LR ammo for your rimfire trainer or .45 acp ammo for your 1911? Just select the cartridge type from the “Quick Seek” list on the right. Likewise you can find .223 Rem and .308 Win Rifle ammo with one click.

Ammoseek search engine ammunition reloading supplies skagit arms WA
Got Ammo? Here’s just part of the vast inventory at Skagit Arms in Washington State.

Use Ammoseek.com to Find Reloading Components Too
Ammoseek.com also lets you search for reloading components, including powder, primers, brass, and bullets. This is a huge time-saver. You can instantly check a dozen or more vendors to see if a particular type of powder is in stock. Likewise, you can quickly check for primer availability. If you have a big match coming up and are short on primers — this could solve the problem. To search for components, from the AmmoSeek home page, click the gray “Reloading” Tab, then select Bullets, Brass, Primers, or Powder from the pull-down menu.

Ammoseek search engine ammunition reloading supplies

Great Threat Response Shotgun Deal
Need a serious 12 gauge defensive shotgun? Here’s what may just be the best deal in America right now — the Weatherby Threat Response 12ga Shotgun for just $269.89 at CDNN Sports.

Weatherby 12ga threat response shotgun

This impressive Weatherby pump-action 12ga shotgun features an 18.5″ barrel, with Fiber Optic front sight and Ghost Ring rear sight. There’s a Picatinny-type rail on top to fit a red dot sight (recommended) or other optic. The Threat Response shotgun holds 5 rounds. With pistol grip stock, good tactical sights, and a rail, this is a great value in a defensive shotgun from a quality company. NOTE: An extension tube (shown in video) can be fitted to increase capacity.

Story Tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 23rd, 2020

Safeguard Your Firearms and Gear with Truck-Vaults for Vehicles

A high-end, full custom Benchrest, F-Class, or PRS rifle can cost upwards of $4500.00. Some top-tier competition and tactical scopes (March, Kahles, Schmidt & Bender) cost $2500-$3600 by themselves. If you’re transporting three or four custom rifles with premium scopes to the range, you could easily be hauling $20,000 worth of hardware. Bring along a Co-Axial rest, spotting scope, rangefinder, Kestrel, and LabRadar chronograph, and that could push the total closer to $25,000. Think about that — your guns and gear could be worth way more than your vehicle!

How do you safeguard a big-money collection of guns (without driving around in a Brinks armored truck)? One of the best storage systems available is the Truck-Vault, built in Washington state. Truck-vaults are custom-fitted, locking storage cabinets that fit in a Pick-up truck bed, SUV, or station wagon. Various designs are available, including a waterproof “Extreme Series.” Both single-drawer and multi-draw layouts are offered with lengths up to 60″ overall, and top-load capacity of 2000 pounds. A variety of interior configurations are available.

For transporting scoped match rifles, we suggest Truck-Vault’s “Magnum Line”, which has two drawers with 10.5″ of vertical clearance. This offers two primary sliding compartments (on roller casters), plus smaller storage boxes where you can keep valuable gear securely out of sight.

Truck-Vault Video Showing Break-In Attempt

Truck-Vaults carry a big price-tag. One-drawer SUV models start at around $1100.00, but you can pay over $2000.00 for a unit with all the bells and whistles. Balance that cost against the value of the all firearms and accessories you are transporting. If you spend much time on the road with a pricey collection of guns, optics, and accessories, a Truck-Vault may be a wise investment. This editor first saw a Truck-Vault on a Chevy Suburban belonging to an Arizona gunsmith who does a lot of work for the military. It was not unusual for him to haul $50,000 worth of Class III weapons. For him, the Truck-Vault was an essential security feature. For more info, visit TruckVault.com or call (800) 967-8107.

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March 21st, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for Long Term Barrel Care Article »

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

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

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

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

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March 20th, 2020

Savage Offers Expert Advice with Articles and Videos

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

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

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

1. Advanced Optics — Stan Pate

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

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

2. Gun Motion Management — Patrick Kelley

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

3. How to Mount a Scope

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

4. How to Sight In a Rifle

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

5. How to Adjust the Savage Accutrigger

Savage Arms Expert Advice website tech tips

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March 20th, 2020

Better Viewing with Magnifier for Balance Beam Scales

RCBS 10-10 Scale

When he measures his loads or sorts bullets by weight, Forum Member Boyd Allen often employs his trusty RCBS 10-10 balance beam scale (although he does have handy digital scales as well). He finds that the balance beam scale works predictably, time after time, and it doesn’t suffer from the drift and calibration issues that plague some of the less expensive electronic scales on the market.

RCBS Balance Beam scale 10-10

To make it easier to see the balance point, Boyd has adapted a magnifying glass with a mirror. This makes the end of his balance beam easier to view from his normal position on the bench. Boyd explains: “This set-up uses a cheap magnifier with positioning arms that was probably designed to hold and magnify small objects while soldering them. I think that it came from Harbor Freight many years ago. The mirror lets you look at the scale as if is was at eye level, and of course the magnifier makes the image easier to see.”

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March 18th, 2020

For Less Run-Out, Try Rotating Your Cases During Bullet Seating

Bullet Seating Reloading rotate cartridge Run-out TIR

Here is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out (as measured on the bullet). This procedure costs nothing and adds only a few seconds to the time needed to load a cartridge. Next time you’re loading ammo with a threaded (screw-in) seating die, try seating the bullet in two stages. Run the cartridge up in the seating die just enough to seat the bullet half way. Then lower the cartridge and rotate it 180° in the shell-holder. Now raise the cartridge up into the die again and finish seating the bullet.

Steve, aka “Short Range”, one of our Forum members, recently inquired about run-out apparently caused by his bullet-seating process. Steve’s 30BR cases were coming out of his neck-sizer with good concentricity, but the run-out nearly doubled after he seated the bullets. At the suggestion of other Forum members, Steve tried the process of rotating his cartridge while seating his bullet. Steve then measured run-out on his loaded rounds. To his surprise there was a noticeable reduction in run-out on the cases which had been rotated during seating. Steve explains: “For the rounds that I loaded yesterday, I seated the bullet half-way, and turned the round 180 degrees, and finished seating the bullet. That reduced the bullet runout by almost half on most rounds compared to the measurements from the first test.”

READ Bullet Seating Forum Thread »

run-out bullet

run-out bullet

Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30 BR brass using both the conventional (one-pass) seating procedure, as well as the two-stage (with 180° rotation) method. Steve’s measurements are collected in the two charts above. As you can see, the run-out was less for the rounds which were rotated during seating. Note, the change is pretty small (less than .001″ on average), but every little bit helps in the accuracy game. If you use a threaded (screw-in) seating die, you might try this two-stage bullet-seating method. Rotating your case in the middle of the seating process won’t cost you a penny, and it just might produce straighter ammo (nothing is guaranteed). If you do NOT see any improvement on the target, you can always go back to seating your bullets in one pass. READ Forum Thread..

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March 17th, 2020

Important Reloading Safety Tips from Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets Reloading Tips

Here are some really smart tips for hand-loaders compiled by Sierra Bullets. These suggestions were submitted by Sierra’s Facebook fans — and some are very valuable indeed. Some of these tips will help you load more accurate ammo. Other selections will help you stay SAFE — which should always be your #1 priority. For example, we concur with the advice to “Check and Double Check. Everything. Every Time”. Also definitely keep “One powder on the bench at a time” — that could be a life-saver. You may want to print these “words of wisdom” and place them on a wall in your loading room.

Reloading Safety Tips — Sound Advice

ALWAYS START LOW: “Just because a load manual says X grains of X powder with X bullet is max, your rifle could reach max pressure a grain or two before what the book says. Start low and work up.” — Walter Coats

BE SAFE: “Check and double check. Everything. Every time. Only one type of powder on the bench at a time.” — Glen Lundgren

DON’T RUSH: “Be patient, don’t be in a hurry, have fun and find your rhythm. Just tell your family you’re putting yourself in ‘time-out’. They will understand.” — Erik Dyal

POWDER RULE #1: “One powder on the bench at one time, it might save your life.” — James A. Kimery

STAY FOCUSED: “Relaxed but concentrated attention. Have fun enjoying a great hobby and pastime but stay focused.” — Jim Caldwell

POLICE LOADING AREA: “Keep your reloading bench area clean and put items away ASAP.” — Eric J. Ford

BE PATIENT: “Focus, Focus, Focus — be patient — it AIN’T a race.” — William Stanley

RECORD YOUR LOADS: “Write down on a small card what you’re loading – bullet weight, powder weight, type of powder, and primer. And put it in the powder hopper. I am unloading .45 FMJ because I forgot what type powder was in the hopper.” — Michael Conniff

HAVE a PROCEDURE for INTERRUPTIONS: “If, for any reason, you have to leave the bench while in the process of dropping powder charges, turn the next case to be charged upside down in the loading block so you know where you left off.” — Bill Tinsley

LABEL EVERYTHING: “OCD is a good habit to have with your loading bench. CLEARLY label everything!” — Andy Pynckel

HAVE a GOAL: “Never start reloading or developing a load without a specific goal in mind. Second keep meticulous records.” — Peter Eick

RESEARCH THE JOB: “Read all you can about it before you start!” — Keith Shively

KEEP TRACK: “I put all my primed brass upside down (primer up) and as I charge the casing, I (of course) flip it primer down.” — Mark Ewing

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March 14th, 2020

How to Ream Military Primer Pocket Crimps with Wilson Tool

Military crimp primer pocket reamer

Many shooters, particular those who shoot vintage military rifle matches, reload once-fired military cartridge brass. This brass may be high-quality and stout, but you may encounter a primer crimp* that interferes with the seating of a new primer. There are a variety of dedicated, military-crimp tools on the market, such as Dillon’s excellent Super Swage 600 tool that “rolls the crimp away”. But the Dillon tool costs $114.99 and takes quite a bit of room on your reloading bench. If you don’t want to drop a C-note and give up valuable bench space — here’s another (much cheaper) solution.

If you already have a Wilson case trimmer set-up, you can ream away those military crimps using an affordable Wilson accessory — the Primer Pocket Reamer (large #PPR210, small #PPR175). This $32.65 accessory is used in conjunction with a Wilson case trimmer and case-holder as shown above.

Military crimp primer pocket reamerWilson

In the respected Riflemans Journal website, the Editor, “GS Arizona”, showed how to use the Wilson primer pocket reamer to remove military crimps on Lake City .30-06 cartridge brass. He explains: “The case goes into the Wilson case-holder, the same one used for case trimming, and the reamer replaces the trimmer head in the tool base. The threaded rod on the left side, which is normally used to regulate trim length has no use for this operation and it is simply backed out. Hold the case-holder as you turn the reamer into the primer pocket, it cuts easily and quickly. The reamer will stop cutting when the proper depth is reached.”

Do you really need to do this operation with military-crimped brass? Yes, and here’s why: “Any attempt to prime the case without removing the crimp will simply result in a mangled primer that cannot be expected to fire and certainly won’t fire reliably.”

Vintage Military Rifle shooters often utilize surplus military brass with primer pocket crimps.
Vintage Military Rifle brass

*Why does military brass has a primer crimp? GS Arizona answers: “The crimp is nothing more than an intentional deformation of the case around the primer pocket, the purpose of which is to retain the primer in the case despite high pressure situations in machine guns and other automatic weapons where a loose primer may cause a malfunction. As reloaders, our task is to get rid of the remnants of the crimp in order to allow re-priming the case.”

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March 13th, 2020

Cartridge Base to Ogive (CBTO) Length — Factors to Consider

chamber length loading berger bullets
Here are two different bullet types, seated to the same CBTO length, but different COAL. Note the shiny scratches on the bullets made by the comparator tool which indicates a point on the bullet ogive near where the ogive will engage the rifling.

Berger Bullets COAL length cartridgeEffects Of Cartridge Over All Length (COAL) And Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) – Part 2
by Bryan Litz for Berger Bullets.
Part One of this series focused on the importance of COAL in terms of SAAMI standards, magazine lengths, seating depths, and pressure levels. Another measure of length for loaded ammunition is highly important to precision, namely Cartridge Base to Bullet Ogive Length (CBTO).

Figure 2. Chamber throat geometry showing the bullet jump to the rifling or lands.
chamber length loading berger bullets

Look at Figure 2. Suppose the bullet was seated out of the case to the point where the base of the bullet’s nose (ogive) just contacted the beginning of the riflings (the lands) when the bolt was closed. This bullet seating configuration is referred to as touching the lands, or touching the riflings and is a very important measurement to understand for precision hand-loading. Due to the complex dynamics of internal ballistics which happen in the blink of an eye, the distance a bullet moves out of the case before it engages the riflings is highly critical to precision potential. Therefore, in order to systematically optimize the precision of his handloads, it’s critically important that the precision hand-loader understands how to alter bullet seating depth in relation to the barrel rifling. Part of the required knowledge is understanding how to accurately and repeatably measure the Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) dimension. This is explained in the FULL ARTICLE.

Bryan Litz offers an extended discussion on how to measure CBTO using different tools and methods, including the Hornady OAL gauge. You can read this discussion in the full article found on the Berger Bullets website. CLICK HERE to Read Full Article.

Why Not Use CBTO as a SAAMI Standard?
If CBTO is so important to rifle accuracy, you might ask, “Why is it not listed as the SAAMI spec standard in addition to COAL?” There is one primary reason why it is not listed in the standard. This is the lack of uniformity in bullet nose shapes and measuring devices used to determine CBTO.

Benefits of Having a Uniform CBTO
There is another aspect to knowing your CBTO when checking your COAL as it pertains to performance. With good bullets, tooling, and carefully-prepared cases you can easily achieve a CBTO that varies less than +/- .001″ but your COAL can vary as much as .025″ extreme spread (or more with other brands). This is not necessarily bad and it is much better than the other way around. If you have a CBTO dimension that varies but your COAL dimension is tight (within +/- .002″) then it is most likely that your bullet is bottoming out inside the seater cone on the bullet tip. This is very bad and is to be avoided. It is normal for bullets to have precisely the same nose shape and it is also normal for these same bullets to have nose lengths that can vary as much as .025″.

Summary of Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) Discussion
Here are four important considerations regarding bullet seating depth as it relates to CBTO:

1. CBTO is a critical measurement to understand for handloaders because it’s directly related to precision potential, and you control it by simply setting bullet seating depth.

2. Tools and methods for measuring CBTO vary. Most of the measurement techniques have pitfalls (which may give rise to inconsistent results) that you should understand before starting out.

3. A CBTO that produces the best precision in your rifle may not produce the best precision in someone else’s rifle. Even if you have the same rifle, same bullets, same model of comparator gauges, etc. It’s possible that the gauges are not actually the same, and measurements from one don’t translate to the same dimension for another.

4. Once you find the CBTO that produces the best precision in your rifle, it’s important to allow minimal variation in that dimension when producing quality handloads. This is achieved by using quality bullets, tooling, and properly preparing case mouths and necks for consistent seating.

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article with More Info
Article sourced by EdLongrange. We welcome tips from readers.
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March 12th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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March 12th, 2020

TECH Tip — When and How to Clean Your Reloading Dies

Hornady Die cleaning

After purchasing a new set of dies from Forster, Hornady, Redding, or Whidden Gunworks, you’ll want to disassemble the dies, inspect then, and then remove the internal grease and/or waxy coatings placed on the dies by the manufacturer. Here are two video that show how to de-grease and clean dies as they come “out of the box” from the manufacturer. In the first video, from Creedmoor Sports, Bill Gravatt (now President of Capstone Precision Group) shows various methods for cleaning dies both when new and after they have accumulated carbon and lube after use. This video is definitely worth watching. In the second video, a Hornady technician shows the method for degreasing dies before first use. A convenient aerosol spray cleaner is used in the video. You an also use a liquid solvent with soft nylon brush, and cotton patches. NOTE: After cleaning you may want to apply a light grease to the external threads of your dies.

Creedmoor Sports Die Cleaning Video with Bill Gravatt

Hornady Video Showing Aerosol Cleaner

Clean Your Sizing Dies and Body Dies Regularly
These same techniques work for cleaning dies after they have been used for reloading. Many otherwise smart hand-loaders forget to clean the inside of their dies, allowing old case lube, gunk, carbon residue, and other contaminants to build up inside the die. You should clean your dies fairly often, particularly if you do not tumble or ultrasound your cases between loadings. It is most important to keep full-length sizing and body dies clean. These dies accumulate lube and carbon residue quickly.

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March 12th, 2020

Minute of Angle (MOA) Explained by Informative Video

one minute of angle

This popular video, viewed nearly 1.9 million times on YouTube, provides a clear explanation of Minute of Angle (MOA) and how that angular measurement is used. Among novice shooters, there is much confusion over this term. In this NSSF Video, Ryan Cleckner, a former Sniper Instructor for the 1st Ranger Battalion, defines the term, “Minute of Angle” (MOA) and explains how you can adjust for windage and elevation using 1/4 or 1/8 MOA clicks on your scope. This allows you to sight-in precisely and compensate for bullet drop at various distances.

For starters, Ryan explains that, when talking about angular degrees, a “minute” is simply 1/60th. So a “Minute of Angle” is simply 1/60th of one degree of a central angle, measured either up and down (for elevation) or side to side (for windage). At 100 yards, 1 MOA equals 1.047″ on the target. This is often rounded to one inch for simplicity. Say, for example, you click up 1 MOA. That is roughly 1 inch at 100 yards, or roughly 4 inches at 400 yards, since the target area measured by 1 MOA increases in linear fashion with the distance.

Story sourced by Edlongrange.
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March 10th, 2020

Uniforming Meplats — How to Point Bullets with Whidden System

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

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

Bullet pointing die system whidden

Gear Review by GS Arizona

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

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

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

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

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

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

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

This YouTube Video Shows the Whidden Bullet Pointing Die in Action

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

Whidden Bullet pointer tool

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March 8th, 2020

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

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

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

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

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

AR-10 Armalite Jerry Miculek

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

AR-10 Armalite Jerry Miculek

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

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

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

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

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

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

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

Armalite AR10 AR-10 rifle army 7.62x51 .308

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

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March 7th, 2020

You Only Have One Set of Eyes — Protect Them

Sherri Gallagher
Sherri Jo Gallagher, the second woman in history to win the NRA High Power National Championship, sports Eye Protection at Camp Perry. The first lady HP Champion was Sherri’s mother, Nancy Tompkins.

In response to a Bulletin article about Protective Eyewear, one of our Canadian readers posted a personal story. His account demonstrates the importance of wearing eye protection whenever you shoot — no matter what type of firearm you are using — even air rifles. We hope all our readers take this to heart. All too often at rifle matches we see shooters, even some top competitors, risking their vision by failing to wear eye protection.

Eye and Hearing Protection are now MANDATORY for Highpower Rifle competitors and Pistol shooters in all CMP-affiliated matches. The 2020 CMP Highpower Rifle, Pistol, and CMP Games Rulebooks all contain the following rule: “All competitors and competition officials are required to wear appropriate eye and hearing protection when on shooting range firing lines during highpower rifle or pistol firing. All competitors must comply with this requirement before they can participate in a CMP sponsored or sanctioned competition. Competitors are responsible for selecting their eyewear and hearing protection.”

2020 CMP Civilian Marksmanship program rules Highpower High Power mandatory eye protection

Red Ryder BB Gun safetyEye Protection — Lesson Learned
by Nicholas from Canada
As a boy on a mixed farm on the plains the first shooting stick I owned was a Red Ryder BB gun. My Dad bought it for me as I showed a keen interest in the shooting and hunting sports. I was about 9 years old at the time.

We had literally thousands of sparrows in our large farm yard and they liked to roost on the steel railings in the barn loft. I took to slowly thinning out their ranks by flashlight at night as these little winged pests settled in the farm buildings.

One evening as I slayed sparrow after sparrow in the barn loft — with about a dozen farm cats following me to consume these easy meals, I fired at another bird centered in my flashlight beam.

However, my aim was a bit low — and the copper pellet hit the steel beam square on. Instantly I felt a sharp pain as the BB bounced back and hit me squarely between the eyes on the bridge of my nose – drawing blood from the partial penetration into the skin. A half inch either way and I’d have lost an eye!

Never, never, never shoot at any target with a steel background with any firearm, even a BB gun – is the hard lesson I learned, and wear the best shooting glasses that money can buy!

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT!!

Editor’s Comment: Among competitive pistol shooters, the use of safety eyewear is universal. You’ll never see Rob Leatham, Julie Golob, or Jerry Miculek competing without eye protection — for good reason. The handgun sports’ governing bodies effectively enforce mandatory eye protection policies. We wish the same could be said for competitive rifle shooting. We often see benchrest, High Power, and F-Class competitors shooting without eye protection. We’ve heard all the excuses, yet none of them trump the safety considerations involved.

We recommend that all shooters and hunters employ eye protection whenever they use firearms or are at a location where live fire is taking place. You only have two eyes. A tiny bullet fragment or ricochet is all it takes to cause permanent blindness in one or both eyes. As rifle shooters, we place our eyes a couple inches away from a combustion chamber operating at pressures up to 70,000 psi. I know quite a few guys who will religiously put on safety glasses when running a lathe or a drill press, yet the same guys won’t use eye protection when shooting their rifles — simply because it is “inconvenient”. That’s nuts. It doesn’t matter is you are a cub scout or a multi-time National Champion — you should wear eye protection.

Be wise — protect your eyes. To learn more about eyewear safety standards, and to learn about the latest options in ANSI Z87-certified protective eyewear, read our article on Eye Protection for Shooters.

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March 6th, 2020

Pre-Fit Barrel Kits for Remington and Rem-Clone Actions

Mcree Precision Mcrees Savage Remington pre-fitted pre-chambered pre-fit barrel system kit nut
McRee’s Precision Remington DIY Barrel Kit includes Criterion Pre-Fit Stainless Barrel, Barrel Nut, Recoil Lug, Thread Protector, and Barrel Nut Wrench:

Need a new barrel for your Rem-actioned hunting or tactical rifle? Here’s a great DIY option for riflemen. McRee’s Precision offers complete, no-gunsmithing re-barreling kits for Remington and Rem-clone actions. These feature a high-quality, pre-chambered “PRE-FIT” stainless barrel from Criterion, a Savage-style barrel nut, a recoil lug, and a special barrel-nut wrench. Most of the Pre-Fit barrels are 24″ long and threaded at the muzzle. CLICK Here for all Pre-Fit barrel specs.

With this system you can easily re-barrel your favorite Remington rifle yourself in less than an hour. You don’t need to pay gunsmithing fees, or wait weeks (or months) for a busy smith to do the job. And the price is under $500.00. Kits are currently available for these chamberings: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, .243 Win, .308 Win, .308 Winchester Magnum. You can buy with confidence — McRee’s Precision offers a Half-MOA Accuracy Guarantee with its pre-fitted barrel kits.

Mcree Precision Mcrees Savage Remington pre-fitted pre-chambered pre-fit barrel system kit nut
The stainless steel Barrel Nut is set up for 1 1/16 x 16 barrel threads, while the stainless steel recoil lug has a 1/8 inch removable locator pin and is set up for 1.0625 dia barrel threads.

McRee’s Precision sells Rem-action Pre-Fit barrel packages (complete with barrel nut, recoil lug, and wrench) starting at $489.52. Choose from five chamberings: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, .243 Win, .308 Win, and .300 Win Mag. These Pre-Fit barrel kits come ready-to-install. All you need to do is remove your current barrel, place the recoil lug, spin on the new tube, follow the instructions for setting head-space with standard go/no-go gauges, then torque the barrel nut against the lug. NOTE: You may require a barrel vise and action wrench to remove the original barrel. Chambering-specific headspace gauges required. Minor inletting changes may be needed forward of the action.

Mcree Precision Mcrees Savage Remington pre-fitted pre-chambered pre-fit barrel system kit nut

The folks at McRee’s Precision say their Pre-Fit system offers many advantages: “Remington Pre-Fitted Barrel Kits have become popular over the years. If Savage can do it, why not for our Remingtons? Our [Criterion-supplied] barrels are spec’d to the McRee standard of performance. There are several places to get the tools required to remove your factory barrel correctly. Once you have your barrel removed all you have to do is follow the normal Savage procedure to install your new barrel. We recommend that you contact your local gunsmith for the install. Feel free to call us with any questions.”

Product Tip from Ed LongRange. We welcome readers’ submissions.
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March 4th, 2020

McMillan Kestros ZR Rifle Stock Review

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

Kestros ZR Stock — Impressive Design for Competition

Review by F-Class John
Walk the line at just about any rifle competition and you’ll see your share of McMillan stocks. Known for crafting high-quality fiberglass/composite stocks, McMillan has long been at top choice for competitive shooters, hunters, and tactical marksmen. Now McMillan is out to dominate F-Open with the Kestros ZR stock. The Kestros line features several models, but the ZR represents the pinnacle of craftmanship. Each one is finished off by a single craftsman and takes roughly four times longer to create than any other Kestros. So when McMillan offered me a chance to test one out, I jumped at the opportunity.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

The aluminum Z-Rail extends nicely from the front of the stock and has a nice contrast of metal against the matte finish of the stock. I inspected the rails and noticed that they are very cleanly machined — all the corners and rails were precise and sharp. As a result, I grabbed some 1000-grit sandpaper and just lightly knocked the edges and corners down just to keep from accidentally scratching myself or my gear.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

Lead time for a ZR is currently 6-9 months. I was like a kid on Christmas when mine arrived after seven months. Holding a Kestros ZR is definitely a unique experience compared to a traditional wood stock and you can’t help but feel like you’re holding something special. I chose three shades of blue that transitioned dark from the butt stock to lighter on the fore-end in a spectacular flame pattern. With McMillan, there are thousands of possible color and pattern combinations. These color/pattern options are outlined on McMillan’s Gallery Page.

The Kestros ZR comes fully inletted with pillars. I was able to bolt my Defiance action right into the stock “as is” without a bedding job. (McMillan states bedding is not required, though this is certainly something most Kestros owners will do). I threw in my action, fit a couple action screws and tightened it all down. I was amazed at how nicely it all fit together with even the little details like the port cutout being perfectly smooth with my action port. I loaded up some .284 Win rounds and headed to the range to test the new stock at 100 yards.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class
Here are examples of targets shot with the Kestros ZR at 100 yards.

During initial range testing (see above) I shot nine groups for vertical and all of them were under 0.40″ with the smallest being .08″ of vertical. I topped off the testing by shooting a 200-11X the next week at my club match. The thing that really stood out was how smoothly the stock tracked with its lower center of gravity while shooting free recoil and ultimately this translated to success on target.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class
Low-Rider — You may find that because of how low the Kestros rides as well as its additional length due to the Z rail, you may require an extension for your front rest.

CONCLUSION — Great Modern Low-Profile F-Class Stock
Overall the Kestros ZR exceeded my expectations. After a small learning curve, it was a joy to shoot and it performed great. As someone who believes in the power of muscle memory, I found each time I transitioned between the Kestros and my traditional wood stocks there was a slight adjustment period but not enough to impair accuracy in any way. Something to consider is that because every Kestros is made to the same dimensions, it makes owning multiples an easy process of switching between guns without any need for readjustment.

For those willing to put in the practice, your patience will be rewarded, and I think most shooters will find the Kestros ZR could become their new favorite stock. If you’re in the market for a new F-Open stock, the Kestros ZR is definitely one to consider.

Tips for Ordering a Kestros ZR
Ordering the Kestros ZR is a simple process thanks to McMillan’s online order form. While there are a number of options available, McMillan has a helpful guide that walks you through each one to ensure you get exactly what you need. While filling out my form I realized that because I have a custom-designed action, I needed some help, so I gave McMillan a call. The staffers were incredibly helpful and their knowledge of all the major actions out there made answering my questions a snap. I liked the fact that there is no set, fixed price on any of the stocks. The pricing system allows customers to get just what they want (within limits) and not have to pay for anything they do not want or need.

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