September 24th, 2021

Best Guide for Factory Ammo — .17 HM2 to .700 Nitro Express

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

The fall Hunting Season is here. Do you plan to use factory ammo in your hunting rifles? Perhaps you buy bulk centerfire ammo for your AR15 or varmint rifle. Then this book can definitely benefit you.

If you ever shoot factory ammo, you should consider getting Ammo & Ballistics 6. This resource lists over 2,600 different loads for 200+ cartridge types from .17 Mach 2 up to .700 Nitro Express, including the most popular centerfire and rimfire cartridges (both rifle and handgun). In this updated-for-2020 Sixth Edition, there are over 3,000 tables covering virtually every caliber and every load for all commercially-loaded hunting ammunition sold in the USA. Tables include velocity, energy, wind drift, bullet drop, and ballistic coefficients up to 1,000 yards.

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

Ammo & Ballistics 6 helps you select ammo for a hunt — quickly compare the velocity and knock-down power of various commercial ammo. This book can also help you choose a caliber/chambering for your next hunting rig.

Verified Book Purchaser Reviews
“Outstanding reference guide for shooters and ballistic enthusiasts alike. Has data on velocity, energy delivered, Taylor KO index, windage and elevation on numerous loadings for hundreds of [cartridge types]. Each cartridge has all dimensions labeled (i.e rim, case length, neck, etc.), and has an informative description of the cartridges history/relevance.” — S. Step, 2017

“Great heaps of data! This volume has pages and pages of new data for .22LR like the hot Velocitor, and also on the .22 WMR from 30 grains up into the 50s. Most importantly there is lots of range data, drop, windage, kinetic energy, etc. — Terrific reference guide….” — E. Svanoe

Ammo & Ballistics 6 contains data and illustrations on virtually every sporting cartridge sold in the USA. This 2020 Edition covers 200-plus cartridge types from .17 Mach 2 up to .700 Nitro Express.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, Reloading No Comments »
August 22nd, 2021

Sunday GunDay: .22 LR Conversion Kit for AR-15 Platform

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

Over the past 18 months, popular ammo types, such as .223 Rem and 9mm, have been hard to find at reasonable prices. The high cost of .223 Rem centerfire ammo has driven more folks to shooting .22 LR rimfire ammo, both for fun and practice. This Sunday we look at a smart solution that allows you to shoot .22 LR ammo from your existing .223/5.56 AR-15 platform rifle. This is great because it allows low-cost training with no change in rifle balance, ergonomics, and/or optics.

The CMMG Bravo .22 LR Conversion Kit provides a replacement bolt/bolt carrier along with three 25-round magazines with special .22 LR-fitted followers and ammo slots. This allows you to shoot rimfire ammo from any AR-15 chambered for the .223 Rem (5.56×45). The CMMG Bravo has an integrated extension that fits into your current chamber. The rimfire bullet passes through this extension and then enters the barrel.

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition
The CMMG Bravo conversion Kit comes with blowback-operated .22 LR bolt carrier, rubber protector for bolt carrier tip, and three 25-round polymer magazines. To use, simply replace the rifle’s .223 Rem bolt and carrier with the Bravo .22 LR conversion unit and load up the included magazine(s) with rimfire ammo.

To use the CMMG Kit, simply remove the centerfire bolt/bolt carrier, and replace it with the CMMG silver colored bolt shown above. CMMG states: “For best performance use a round-style hammer as notched hammers can cause function issues.” Testers have stated that high-velocity .22 LR ammo works best, and CMMG notes that “36gr plated-nose bullets have proven to be the best choice for function.” The copper-plated bullets help reduce fouling.

Ultimate Reloader Tests CMMG .22 LR Conversion Kit

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com recently tested the CMMG .22 LR AR Conversion Kit. He observed that installation was very straight-forward and the CMMG magazines worked well. He and fellow tester Travis Fox shot the unit both slow-fire and rapid-fire successfully.

Gavin and Travis found the CMMG Kit easy to install and fun to use. With an AR that can shoot both .223 Rem and .22 LR, it’s like having “two guns in one”. Travis was impressed with the ease of use: “It is so simple to change over to the CMMG .22 LR AR kit! It took me about 68 seconds the very first time I tried. Each time after that it took me about 40 seconds — it’s that simple. It takes longer to fully load one of the mags than it does to switch over from .223/5.56 to .22 LR and back.”

The AR shot very well with the higher-velocity ammo types. 100% functioning was achieved with both 40gr Federal Game Shok ammo and American Eagle High Velocity 38gr Copper-plated HP ammo. NOTE: CMMG does recommend high-velocity Copper-plated rimfire ammunition.

Maintenance Tip — After converting back to your centerfire .223 Rem (5.56), Travis says “make sure to clean the gas tube and components as .22 LR tends to run dirty”. READ Full Test on UltimateReloader.com.

CMMG Bravo Conversion Kit Gets Thumbs Up from Gavin and Travis
“Does this conversion kit get the Ultimate Reloader stamp of approval? Absolutely! In these times of ammunition/component scarcity this gives options to shooters. Finding bulk .22 LR can sometimes be easier than 223/5.56. This kit gives that option at a great price. Any chance to keep skills up and familiarize new shooters to a platform is a good thing. Basically two rifles for a lot less than another rifle.”

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

How to Install CMMG Bravo .22 LR Conversion Kit

The Brownells video below shows the installation process step-by-step:

In this instructional video, a Brownells gunsmith demonstrates (step by step) how to install, disassemble, clean, lubricate, and reassemble the CMMG AR-15 .22 LR Conversion Kits. Clear the rifle and make safe before you start the conversion. Separate the upper and lower, remove the standard bolt carrier group. You then install the conversion bolt and connect the upper and lower as normal.

Details of CMMG .22 LR Conversion Kit

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

“For years I’ve had a CMMG conversion kit. It’s a drop-in system that’s … very reliable and it’s accurate. The [CMMG conversion] has lower recoil [and is] great for training. Even though ammo prices have gone through the roof, .22 LR is still cheaper to shoot than anything else.” — SootchGear

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

This SootchGear video shows how to install the CMMG Bravo unit. The video also compares the original CMMG .22 LR bolt assembly with the latest integrated CMMG Bravo at 2:00-3:50. The older unit had a brass adapter and separate chamber insert. The host also tests a CMMG-equipped AR with various types of ammo. Watch a rapid-fire sequence starting at 1:48 time-mark.

Field Test with Two ARs — Rapid Fire .22 LR Testing

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

The video below demonstrates rapid-fire .22 LR performance with two different ARs using CCI Mini-Mag ammo. The CMMG conversion is fast and easy: “In a matter of seconds you go from 5.56 to .22 LR”. Watch rapid-fire at 5:40 with CCI Mini-Mags in red/black rifle. Then the tester shoots a variety of ammo in a .223 Wylde-chambered all-black AR, starting at 9:40. The Mini-Mags worked flawlessly, but there were a couple fail-to-cycle sequences in extreme rapid-fire with cheaper “bulk” ammo. The lesson here is use good quality, high-velocity ammo.


NOTE: This 2018 video shows an earlier CMMG .22 LR conversion bolt that features a brass adapter and separate chamber insert. The current CMMG Kit has unitized bolt without a separate adapter or insert.

Interestingly, the Mini-Mag .22 LR ammo shot fine in the .223 Wylde-chambered AR. However, CMMG cautions: “Since .223 WYLDE is NOT a mil-spec chamber, we cannot guarantee fit or function with our 22LR conversion kits.”

Reviews from CMMG Bravo .22 LR Rimfire Conversion Kit Purchasers:

“Get it. Bought this for my Rock River AR. Bolt system goes in [easily] and fits perfectly. Took it to the range and put over 150 rounds through, only failing to feed/fire two rounds. I most definitely recommend this product to anyone looking to shoot their standard AR-15 .223 rifle on a budget.” — Pew P.

“I got this just yesterday and in two days time I have put a couple thousand rounds through it and no hick-ups. I have no complaints.” — Seth

“Best buy for anyone during this ammo crisis. Ammo is extremely expensive and hard to find. It was a ‘no-brainer’ once I found this kit. Ran 200 rounds to break it in for about $20 and had maybe 3 failures. Accurate up to 50 yards (I haven’t tried further) without optic adjustments.” — Joshua M.

“Purchased one of these in January. Took it to the range shortly after for my daughters to try out. We have three ARs and this thing functioned flawlessly. We practiced swapping out the 5.56 carrier with this back and forth, flawless. Enjoyed it so much now I’m purchasing another one.” — J.B.

“Great product. I bought this due to the high cost of ammo. I wanted to still shoot my AR and this was an alternative. This thing works great… works flawless with different types of .22 LR, from premium CCI to the cheap stuff. I recommend this to anyone thinking about getting one.” — Thom

* You can get also CMMG Conversion Kits from Brownells with one (1) 25rd mag for $219.99, or with three (3) 25rd mags for $249.99. There is also a CMMG kit with three (3) 10-rd mags for $249.99 for areas with capacity restriction.

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July 17th, 2021

Lapua Cartridge Brass in Stock at Creedmoor Sports and Graf’s

Lapua brass Creedmoor sports Graf Sons Graf's 6mmBR cartridge .223 Rem .308 Win 6mm 7mm .284 Winchester

Lapua brass Creedmoor sports Graf Sons Graf's 6mmBR cartridge .223 Rem .308 Win 6mm 7mm .284 WinchesterGood news for serious hand-loaders — a large selection of premium-quality Lapua brass is now IN STOCK at Creedmoor Sports and Grafs.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cartridge types available for purchase today at these two leading vendors. Check the lists below.

We’re happy to report that Lapua Brass is IN STOCK, because finding top quality reloading components (brass, bullets, powder, and especially primers) has been a major challenge over the past year. It looks like both Graf & Sons and Creedmoor Sports have received large shipments of Lapua cartridge brass recently. So if need good brass, check the availability list below, and then place your orders. Sorry, no 6mmBR, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, or .30-06 brass at either vendor right now.

As of 9:00 am on Saturday July 17, 2021, here are some of the rifle cartridge types we found in stock.

Creedmoor Sports Lapua Rifle Brass IN STOCK »

Lapua .220 Russian Brass $116.95
Lapua .223 Rem Brass $63.95
Lapua 22-250 Rem Brass $99.95
Lapua .243 Win Brass $109.95
Lapua 6.5×47 Lapua Brass $121.95
Lapua .260 Rem Brass $109.95
Lapua .284 Winchester Brass $137.49
Lapua .308 Win Brass Large Primer Pocket $83.95
Lapua .308 Win Palma Brass Small Primer Pocket $89.95
Lapua .338 Lapua Magnum Brass $299.95

CLICK HERE for Creedmoor Sports Lapua Brass Sales Page
NOTE: On that page, items IN STOCK are listed first. Back Order is allowed for most Lapua brass types not currently in stock. Prices subject to change.

Grafs & Sons Lapua Rifle Brass IN STOCK »

Lapua .220 Russian Brass $128.29
Lapua .223 Rem. Brass $68.99
Lapua 6mm Creedmoor Brass Small Primer Pocket $55.99 (50 ct)
Lapua .243 Win Brass $120.99
Lapua 6.5×47 Lapua Brass $134.99
Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass Small Primer Pocket $103.99
Lapua .260 Rem Brass $120.99
Lapua .284 Winchester Brass $144.99
Lapua 7.62×39 Brass $85.99
Lapua 7.62x54R Russian Brass $158.99
Lapua 7x65R Brass $119.99
Lapua .300 Norma Magnum Brass $226.99
Lapua .338 Norma Magnum Brass $328.99
Lapua .338 Lapua Magnum Brass $321.99

CLICK HERE for Grafs.com Lapua Brass Sales Page
NOTE: On that page, items IN STOCK are listed first. You can Login to be notified when out-of-stock items are back in stock. Prices subject to change.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Reloading No Comments »
July 11th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: Multi-State Varmint Adventures with Bill White

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
This photograph and all images for this story are by Bill White, aka “CT10Ring” in our Forum.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 RugerAccurateShooter Forum member Bill White (aka “CT10Ring”) is not your typical member. For 37 years, Bill worked in NYC as a studio photographer specializing in still lifes and products. A neighbor visiting Bill’s home in Connecticut with a .270 Sako inspired Bill to revive his interest (obsession?) with shooting after a 25-year drought. And he owns a few Sakos now! With his gun hobby renewed, for many years Bill drove to the Western USA to shoot long range steel and a LOT of prairie dogs in season. He loved the life of the varminter, so it made sense for him to move West after retiring. He choose Idaho as his new home.

From his Idaho base, Bill enjoys long-range target shooting. But his favorite gun pastime has been varmint hunting in nearby states — the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. Bill found prairie dog shooting rewarding and mapped out a western circuit route of ranches and National Grasslands in SD, ND, MT, and WY. Every year he loads up his truck and hits the road, often doing a grand circle route, visiting prairie dog havens in multiple states. In this article we feature photos from Bill’s annual “grand circle” varmint safari.

For his many cartridge types, Bill learned about reloading methods, loads, and vendors (and more) primarily from AccurateShooter.com. We start today’s story with the biggest caliber rifle he shoots regularly, his 6.5-284 Winchester. Bill favors this rig for his long-range steel shooting. He also uses it for prairie dog shooting, but only “sparingly”, because he wants to preserve barrel life, and he has many other dedicated varmint rigs.

6.5-284 for Long Range Steel Targets (and Sometimes Varmints)

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

In his home state of Idaho, Bill likes to shoot steel at long range. For distance work, Bill favors his McMillan-stocked 6.5-284 Win. This rifle was crafted in 2012 by Bob Green of York, PA, using a 1:8″-twist 28″ Krieger HV barrel (.298″ neck). The trued Rem 700 action was purchased from Long Rifles in Sturgis, SD. Bill did the Cerakote and bedded the action. For his 6.5-284, Bill loads 139gr Lapua Scenars, H4831sc powder and BR2 primers. He shoots both steel and varmints with this rifle, but the varmint work is limited because the 6.5-284 cartridge tends to be a barrel burner. The photo below from an Idaho range was taken near a 500-yard target, looking back at the firing line.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

In the Varmint Fields — Traveling Light

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Once situated, Bill (shown above) prefers to walk to Prairie Dog towns with a shooting mat, two bipod-equipped rifles slung up, rear bag, water, and his trusty Leica 10X42 GeoVid binoculars. While he has used a portable bench, he prefers to shoot from bipod, firing down from a mound if possible. This allows him to set up a line-of-fire that minimizes cross-wind effects. Bill notes: “While I often start early, end-of-day shooting has worked worked well for me. A setting sun shows targets better, the wind is usually down, and it’s not so hot. Often you can spot the bullet trace and that’s fun.”

Eight Great Varmint Cartridge Types — .204, .224, .243 Calibers

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Here is one of Bill Reid’s 6mmBR (6BR) rigs. Like his Sako 6 PPC, this is exceptionally accurate.

Bill has a large rifle collection, most of which see duty in the varmint fields of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Here are his key “take-aways” for his eight favorite varmint chamberings: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .22-250, .22 BR, .22-243, 6 PPC, 6mmBR, and 6-6.5×47 Lapua (aka 6×47).

.204 Ruger — This delivers great velocity with the little .20-caliber bullets, with mild recoil. The .204 Ruger easily reaches out to 400 yards, but heavier winds do move the tiny bullet around. Tremendous splat factor under 250 yards. I use Sierra 39gr bullets with IMR 8208 XBR in a Sako 75. Even now, .204 Ruger ammo is relatively easy to find.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

.223 Remington — Probably the most popular centerfire rifle round in the USA, the .223 Rem offers inexpensive brass, and is a great choice for AR-15 owners. If you run short on ammo, you can find it nearly everywhere. I often bring one AR-15 and one .223 Rem bolt gun on varmint safaris. My Rem 700 5R 1:9″-twist barrel likes 53gr V-Max bullets.

.22 BR — My .22 BR is my first choice for most prairie dog missions. Accuracy is superb with necked-down 6mmBR Lapua brass — quarter-MOA and blazing fast. With the right twist rate, this chambering can shoot anything from 40gr FB bullets to 80gr VLDs. Load development is easy. Below is my .22 BR ammo for another varmint trip. I use 55gr Sierra BlitzKings with Varget in my 1:12″-twist Shilen-barreled rifle. 60gr Bergers are very accurate with a fairly flat trajectory for useful distances.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

.22-250 Rem — A classic varmint cartridge, the .22-250 with 50gr V-Maxs delivers spectacular hits. If three P-Dogs happen to be lined up, I’ve witnessed one .22-250 shot take ‘em all out with a triple hit. I currently have five .22-250-chambered rifles: 3 Sako 75s, one Rem 700, and a single shot Nesika that shoots tiny groups. I favor the very deadly Berger 52gr Varmint HP. Making a custom .22-250? With a 1:8″-twist barrel you can use the full weight range of .22-cal bullets, while spinning the lighter bullets fast for “red mist” effect. Remember this cartridge can be a barrel burner. Don’t shoot too many rounds too quickly.

.22-243 Win — This wildcat is even more potent than the .22-250, delivering devastating results on P-Dogs. Run a .243 Win case slowly through a full-length .22-243 die, with plenty of lube to form the brass. I start with Lapua .243 Win brass. There can be some issues necking-down the brass. Watch for donuts forming at the neck-shoulder junction. I bought my .22-243 rifle not sure how it would perform. But now I love shooting it. My .22-243 delivers half-MOA groups with 41.0 grains RL-22 and Hornady 75gr Amax bullets. With those 75-grainers, it’s great in the wind and good to 600 yards easily.

6 PPC — You may consider the 6 PPC a benchrest competition cartridge only, requiring fire-forming. However I have an original Sako 75 single-shot 6 PPC rifle that I load with Sako-headstamp 6 PPC brass (see below) so no fire-forming is required. This Sako 75 came with a test target that measured 0.113″! With my 6 PPC Sako, I found that 58gr V-Maxs, pushed by Vihtavuori N133, are potent out to 300 yards.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6PPC 6 PPC Sako 75 Ruger

6mmBR — The 6mmBR Norma (6BR) offers a nearly unbeatable combination of accuracy, efficiency, and tunability. With the 6BR and a fast twist barrel, you can shoot everything from 40gr flat-base bullets to the latest 105-110gr match bullets. I load Lapua brass, Vihtavuori N135, and Hornady 58, 65, and 75gr bullets for my Krieger 1:14″-twist HV barrel. While this cartridge is capable of long-range accuracy, I usually limit my 6BR shots to 350-400 yards.

6-6.5×47 Lapua — In this story’s lead photo is my 6-6.5×47 Lapua varmint rifle, with Surgeon action and Manners stock. I Cerakoted the barreled action and then bedded the action. Shown below is 6-6.5×47 ammo I loaded for recent testing. Note how I separated different bullets and powder loads into multiple, labeled bags. Hodgdon H4350 is a great choice for this cartridge — 39 grains H4350 with 105gr Amax was the winner here, but 88gr Bergers also shot well. This cartridge has tremendous “critter dismantling” abilities out to 600-700 yards.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Six Tips for Novice Long Range Varmint Hunters

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

1. Take twice as much ammo you think you may need. The fields could be particularly rich, or, because of wind or other variables, you may have far more misses than expected.

2. When possible, set up with the wind at your back (or, alternatively, directly ahead). This will minimize the effect of cross-winds. Set up a stake with a ribbon to show wind direction.

3. Bring at least two rifles. Ideally one would be a low-recoil rifle with cheaper components for the closer shots. Then bring a rifle with higher-BC bullets for longer shots where wind is a bigger factor.

4. Check the weather before you head out. Prairie dogs like sunshine and calm conditions. If a cloudy, very blustery day is predicted, considering staying in town and cleaning the rifles.

5. Bring plenty of water on a trip. An adult male should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water (or other liquid) every day — more if it’s very hot or you are sweating a lot.

6. Preferably always hunt with a companion. If you do go out solo, have a Garmin inReach SatComm/GPS for emergencies if there is no cell coverage in your location.

Veteran Varmint Hunter Shares his Secrets

Where to Find Abundant Prairie Dogs — Generally, black-tailed P-Dogs are found in the Western high desert, in the same states/areas where cattle are raised. You’ll find good hunting in Montana, North and South Dakota, Colorado, and Wyoming. There are good hunting grounds on private ranches, BLM tracts, and U.S. National Grasslands. To find specific locations, I’d suggest calling the USFS, BLM, and State Fish & Game. Some have lists of ranches that allow P-Dog shooting. Give the agencies a call before your trip and then check in with ranchers. IMPORTANT: You need a current hunting license in some states.

How to Connect with Ranch Owners– A good varmint adventure can begin with a local connection. Stop into the local Ag/feed store and the town breakfast spot. I bet you’ll find some retired ranchers having coffee together who may direct you to a place that needs rodents thinned out. Let’s say you’re in Roundup, Montana. Stop by a local store and ask what ranchers allow PD shooting. Keep in mind that ranchers may be wary of allowing a total stranger to sling lead on their place. Show respect and if you had a good experience, send a thank-you note. A guided shoot is worth considering — the outfitter will know where the P-Dogs are and he has arrangements with landowners. He may even supply benches. I’ve taken two guided trips, with excellent results, one near Sturgis, SD, and the other on Sioux tribal land near Rosebud, SD.

Getting Set Up — I start early in the a.m. to mitigate mirage. Plus there is usually less wind at that hour. I prefer to drive to within half mile or so of a PD town, then walk and shoot prone. Most shooters like to set up a rotating bench on a knoll. This is a tried-and-true way to shoot long distances accurately, especially if you are on top of a hill and can shoot 360 degrees. I once shot from a rotating bench, but I prefer walking now. Some country is quite stunning and that’s half the fun — being out in nature. But yes there are negatives to shooting prone — ground hazards and tall grass can impede your vision.

Equipment for a Serious P-Dog Safari — In the field, I normally carry two rifles with Harris 9-13″ bipods, backpack, a rolled-up shooting mat, at least two liters of water, food, ammo, two rear bags, and binoculars. A good laser rangefinder comes in handy. If you prefer shooting from a bench you may want to have a front rest and a spotting scope. Many guys will shoot prone from the bed of a truck. That gets you off the ground without the need to haul around a heavy bench. But some locations restrict vehicles. Before a P-Dog trip, I make a detailed pack list and check off as I load my truck and camper. I would suggest bringing waterproof rubber or muck boots. June in South Dakota can be cold and wet, and the mud there is not to be believed. Don’t attempt to drive off road in it!

It’s good insurance to bring an extra 5 gallons of fuel for your vehicle in a jerry can and 2 gallons of H20. There may be NO shade for miles and dehydration is a real possibility. Having a couple heavy duty tarps will provide a sun shade and cover your gear in a rainstorm. I bring a 16″ X 20″ plywood target backer, a stand, and paper targets. This allows me to check zero on each rifle before I head out to the Dog Town.

Western Varmint Country Vistas

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Taking Photos on Shooting Adventures

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 RugerBill knows a thing or two about taking pictures, having been a professional photographer in NYC for many decades. He uses modern digital cameras for both his outdoor and indoor work. Most photos in this story were taken with a Canon EOS 5DSR MKIV. We asked Bill for some tips on taking good photos. Here are his FIVE Top Tips for Photography:

1. Take photos in the early a.m. and later p.m. when the light has definition. Mid-day results will not be so nice.
2. Use the highest-resolution camera available that fits your budget. Yes lens quality, focus, and exposure controls make a big difference.
3. When feasible, shoot using a manual setting with the lens wide open (for shallow focus). Set the focus on the most important object/subject in the frame.
4. Photoshop is useful, especially when RAW images need to be corrected to show the scene more faithfully, or enhance it.
5. After you take a picture, before you post it on social media, learn to crop the image, straighten the horizon, and do other basic fixes. This can make a big difference.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
June 12th, 2021

How to Prep Mil-Surp 5.56 Lake City Brass — Save Money

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit regularly publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. One excellent “Handloading Hump Day” post covered preparation of once-fired 5.56x45mm brass. This article, the first in a 3-part series, has many useful tips. If you shoot a rifle chambered in .223 Rem or 5.56x45mm, this article is worth reading.

This week, Handloading Hump-Day will answer a special request from several competitive shooters who asked about procedures for morphing once-fired GI 5.56mm brass into accurate match brass for NRA High Power Rifle use. The USAMU has used virgin Lake City (LC) 5.56 brass to win National Championships and set National Records for many years. In this 3-part series, we’ll share techniques proven to wring match-winning accuracy from combat-grade brass.

GI brass has an excellent attribute, worth noting — it is virtually indestructible. Due to its NATO-spec hardness, the primer pockets last much longer than most commercial brass when using loads at appropriate pressures.

Preparing Once-Fired GI 5.56 Brass for Reloading (Part 1 of 3)

Assuming our readers will be getting brass once-fired as received from surplus dealers, the following steps can help process the low-cost raw material into reliably accurate components.

1. Clean the Brass
First, clean the brass of any dirt/mud/debris, if applicable. Depending on the brass’s condition, washing it in a soap solution followed by a thorough rinsing may help. [This step also extends the life of the tumbling media.] Approaches range from low-tech, using gallon jugs 1/2 full of water/dish soap plus brass and shaking vigorously, to more high-tech, expensive and time-consuming methods.

cleaning Lake City 5.56 brass

2. Wet-Tumbling Options (Be Sure to Dry the Brass)
When applying the final cleaning/polish, some use tumblers with liquid cleaning media and stainless steel pins for a brilliant shine inside and out, while others take the traditional vibratory tumbler/ground media approach. Degree of case shine is purely personal preference, but the key issue is simple cleanliness to avoid scratching ones’ dies.

If a liquid cleaner is used, be SURE to dry the cases thoroughly to preclude corrosion inside. One method is to dump the wet brass into an old pillow case, then tilt it left/right so the cases re-orient themselves while shifting from corner to corner. Several repetitions, pausing at each corner until water stops draining, will remove most water. They can then be left to air-dry on a towel, or can be dried in a warm (150° F-200° F max) oven for a few minutes to speed evaporation.

Shown below are Lake City cases after cleaning with Stainless Media (STM). Note: STM Case cleaning was done by a third party, not the USAMU, which does not endorse any particular cleaning method.

3. Inspect Every Case
Once dry, inspect each case for significant deformation (i.e., someone stepped on it), damaged mouths/necks and case head/rim damage. Some rifles’ ejectors actually dig small chunks of brass out of the case head — obviously, not ideal for precision shooting. Similarly, some extractors can bend the case rims so badly that distortion is visible when spinning them in one’s fingers. These can be used for plinking, but our match brass should have straight, undamaged rims.

Dented case mouths are common, and these can easily be rounded using a conical, tapered tool, [such as a .223 expander mandrel. A dummy 7.62 or .30-06 cartridge with a FMJ spitzer can also work.] If most of your brass is of one headstamp, this is a good time to cull out any odd cases.

4. Check the Primers Before Decapping
Your clean, dry and inspected brass is now ready for full-length sizing, decapping and re-priming. Historically, primer crimps on GI brass have caused some head-scratching (and vile language) among handloaders. Our next installment will detail efficient, easy and practical methods to remove primer crimp, plus other useful handloading tips. Until next week, Good Shooting!

NOTE: The USAMU Handloading (HL) Shop does not RE-load fired 5.56 brass. We use virgin LC brass with our chosen primer already staked in place. However, our staff has extensive personal experience reloading GI brass for competition, which will supplement the Shop’s customary steps. In handloading, as in life, there are many ways to accomplish any given task. Our suggestions are note presented as the “only way,” by any means. Time for loading/practicing is always at a premium. Readers who have more efficient, alternative methods that maintain top accuracy are invited to share them here.

Accuracy Potential of Mil-Surp 5.56×45 Brass

So, how accurate can previously-fired GI surplus brass be in a good National Match AR-15? Well, here’s a data point from many years ago that might be of interest. A High Power shooter who wrote for the late Precision Shooting magazine took a Bill Wylde-built AR match rifle to a registered Benchrest match. His first 5-round group ever fired in a BR match was officially measured at 0.231″ at 200 hundred yards. This was fired in front of witnesses, while using a moving target backer that confirmed all five rounds were fired.

He recounted that his ammo was loaded progressively with factory 52gr match bullets and a spherical powder using mixed years of LC brass with no special preparation whatsoever. Obviously, this was “exceptional”. However, he had no difficulty obtaining consistent 0.5-0.6 MOA accuracy at 200 yards using LC brass and a generic “practice” load that was not tuned to his rifle.

Saving Money by Using GI Brass

So, with good commercial brass readily available, why would one go to all the extra steps necessary to process fired GI brass? [Editor: It’s about saving money.]

Economically, it makes great sense. When the author was actively practicing and competing with the service rifle, he had ~3,000 rounds of 5.56mm brass, which allowed him to load during winter and spend most time in the summer practicing. If one were wealthy and wanted to shoot nothing but the finest imported brass, the current cost of 3,000 is ~$1920 (plus shipping.)

Dropping down to good, but less-expensive new, U.S. commercial brass brings the price to a much more realistic ~$720. However, at current rates, the same amount of surplus GI once-fired brass costs between $120 — $150, leaving lots of room in the budget for other expenses. [Editor: that’s less than 10% of the cost of the best imported brass.]

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
June 6th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: AR Service Rifle — Focus on Ammo & Reloading

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels
The 600-yard target has an X-Ring 6 inches (1 MOA) across, while the 10-Ring spans 12 inches (2 MOA).

The following article is about reloading for NRA/CMP Highpower Rifle competition and is geared toward competitors shooting the AR15 Service Rifle. In Highpower Rifle competition, shooters fire in four stages: Standing slow-fire at 200 yards, Sitting rapid-fire at 200 yards, Prone rapid-fire at 300 yards, and Prone slow-fire at 600 yards. Competitors use a sling for support in all positions but standing. A typical AR15 Service Rifle sports a 20″ free-floated barrel and a 4.5-pound trigger. Service Rifle scopes are limited to maximum power of 4.5X.

Thoughts on Loading for Service Rifles, Particularly for 600 Yards

by Danny Arnold, Team CMP
Article originally published in CMP Shooting News

Before we get started, I want to stress that all of the information that follows is geared toward the .223/5.56 Service Rifle. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing here for anyone else, but the .223/5.56 Service Rifle platform is where I’ve spent the majority of my time, so here we go.

There is only one “Perfect” 600–yard load for my rifle, True or False? This example is more anecdotal than scientific, but it provides some food for thought….

Team CMP spent the early part of March competing in the Orange Blossom Regional. As soon as we got on the range, Sara Rozanski (Team CMP member) started having problems with her 600-yard ammunition. Nearly 1/3 of her cases were exiting the chamber minus the primers. I offered to swap my ammunition for hers, suspecting that my Wylde chamber would be more forgiving than her CLE chamber — a solution that seemed to solve the problem. At least neither of us was blowing primers!

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels

Sara’s ammunition was a factory load using a well-known 80+ grain bullet with an unknown primer and powder, using brass from a respected manufacturer. My load was a different brand of 80-grain bullet, with my choice of powder and primer, all in brass made by someone else. Given the color of the primers, the only thing that our ammunition could possibly have had in common was the brand of powder… maybe. So, how did we shoot?

Sara and I shot the two-person team together and the entire 2,400 Aggregate, although on different relays. Sara’s combined 600-yard score was 780-28X (97.5%). Mine was a 783-24X (97.87%). Our scores were never more than two points apart on any of the four days. Keep in mind that we were using each other’s ammunition the entire time.

So, we had different barrels, chambers and ammunition, but similar results. That goes back to the idea that a good load will perform similarly if fired in a good barrel.

Are We Too Focused on Ballistic Coefficients (BCs)?
The revailing wisdom has always trended toward loading the highest-BC bullet we could find and pushing it as fast as possible. Back in the early ’90s when I got started with the AR15, the 80-grain Sierra was state of the art. Actually, I picked up all of my Leg points with it, although today it looks a bit dated — kinda like me.

So, the question I’ll pose is this: Would you rather shoot a high-BC bullet that groups 3/4-MOA (minute of angle) or a lower-BC bullet that groups into one-half-MOA traveling 50 feet-per-second faster? The reason that I posed this question is a situation I found myself in a decade ago. Our coach decided that he wanted us to pair-fire some 600-yard for practice. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten the memo and all that I had available was my normal short-line ammunition, loaded with a 77-grain bullet. The shooter I was paired with was using a higher-BC bullet than I was, but in the end, we both shot 198s.

Admittedly, using 77-grainers meant that coach had to work a little harder to keep us together on target, but it was a teaching moment for me. I knew that my upper shot 77s better than the available bullets in the 80-grain range, so I cranked out a windage table for the 77-grain bullet at 600 yards and shot those for the rest of the season. After all, the wind blows ALL bullets around. It’s just a matter of knowing what YOUR bullet is doing.

With the shortages that we’re experiencing right now, a lighter bullet may be all that you have available for the 2021 season. That doesn’t mean that you’re disadvantaged though.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels
Danny Arnold teaching Highpower Clinic at 2021 CMP Eastern Games

Loading High-BC Bullets
In the past decade, several bullets have appeared that weigh 80-grains or more. One thing that many of them have in common is a very sharp nose profile, whether metal or polymer. The question is: Are you using the right seating stem?

The jacket material in the bullet’s nose is very thin. If you section a bullet, you’ll find that there is a surprising amount of air space in the nose. If you’re using older seating dies, your seating stem may be contacting the bullet nose too close to the tip, where the jacket is the both thinnest and is unsupported by the lead core. This can manifest itself either as a deformation at the very tip of the bullet or as a circular dent around the bullet nose that you can see and feel with your thumbnail. I think we can all agree that denting a bullet is usually considered a bad thing.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels

One company goes so far as to recommend their proprietary seating stem for use with their high-BC bullets. Other companies leave it up to you to find a seating stem that will allow the bullet nose to go deeper into the seating stem, moving the contact point further down the bullet where the jacket is thicker and supported by the core material.

Seating Depth and Bullet Preferences
Some bullets don’t mind some “jump” into the lands, but some really do. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t tell you much about that. Your chamber configuration (Wylde, CLE, or some hybrid of the two) and the bullet that you choose will determine your optimal seating depth. Long and short of it, a quality measuring tool to determine seating depth is a necessity these days. Keep in mind that if you’re doing this with a brand new barrel, the throat is likely going to change slightly in the first 200 rounds and may need to be re-measured. Actually, since all of your short range ammunition has to be loaded to magazine length, you’re probably better off developing your short range loads before starting on long range load development. That gives the throat a chance to wear in a bit on a new barrel.

Brass Prep — Why It Is Important
When match-grade AR15s first arrived on the scene, it was amazing how little it took to get them to shoot well. Other than making sure that I had brass from the same lot and running it through a set of match-grade dies, I did nothing. Of course, we were also using a post front sight. Was the occasional bad shot me, the rifle, the load or just an archaic sighting system?

Transitioning to optics has caused me to reconsider how and what I do in my reloading process: That, and having some extra time on my hands to experiment.

A little (or a lot) of time spent with a neck turning tool, a primer-pocket uniformer and a flash-hole reamer will quickly show you how consistent brass is by manufacturer and even by individual lot. That exercise also makes the prices charged for high-quality brass seem ridiculously cheap. That doesn’t mean that I advocate neck-turning or other uniforming practices, nor do I advocate spending scandalous amounts of money on long-range brass. However, our sport is about consistency. The consistency of your brass is a matter of choice, whether you choose to simply segregate cases by weight (cheap option), neck turn (labor intensive) or open your wallet a little wider for premium brass.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels

Weighing Charges vs. Throwing with Powder Measure
To measure or weigh? For a long time, I used a powder measure to throw all of my 600-yard loads. The powder I was using metered well, and the results downrange didn’t justify the extra time spent with a scale. That was in the day of iron sights though. Nowadays, I’m throwing my charges and trickling up to the desired weight as measured on a scale that weighs to a 100th of a grain.

To quantify the difference between individually weighing each charge versus throwing charges with a powder measure, I weighed six kernels of powder that I trickled into the pan and then dumped them into the hopper. Going through that process 10 times, I came up with an average weight of .08 grains for six kernels. Next, I threw 50 charges for weighing using my powder measure. If I felt the measure hanging up as it cut kernels, I put the charge back into the hopper without weighing it.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels
That’s six kernels of powder sitting in the pan — average weight .08 grains.

Those 50 smoothly-thrown charges varied .26 grains from lowest to highest, with the majority varying no more than .16 grains from highest to lowest. If the desired weight was exactly in the middle, at worst you’d be .13 grains (9-10 kernels) low or high, with the majority being off no more than .08 grains (6 kernels) above or below the desired charge weight. Is that enough to send a shot outside the 2-MOA 10-Ring? Probably not.

Has more consistent brass and weighing charges to one-hundredth (0.01) of a grain added up to higher scores? Honestly, this question is hard to answer. Looking at the results on paper at 200 yards, using a powder that meters well combined with a consistent touch on the loading lever doesn’t appear measurably different than meticulously weighing each and every powder charge. Looking back over my 600-yard plots however, I can see a trend toward a group that is closer to X-Ring height.

Since the bullseye is widest at the center, shooting groups that are the height of the X-ring gives you more room for error when the wind is blowing. That can translate into higher 600-yard scores.

How You Load Your Ammunition vs. How You Load Your Rifle
The loading/chambering cycle of the AR-15 is, in a word, violent. You have a relatively heavy bolt and carrier assembly under power of a stout buffer spring slamming forward to chamber each round of ammunition. By design, those rounds were supposed to be held securely by the magazine feed lips until the bolt stripped them off the follower. Obviously, due to their overall length, 600-yard loads can’t be chambered that way. Although the barrel extension is funnel-shaped, it’s also got a lot of “teeth” ringing the inside of it (see below).

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels

Whether you’re using a standard magazine or a single-round loading device (SLED), dropping a round in the loading port and releasing the bolt is an act of faith in that you’re trusting the bullet to arrive in the chamber undamaged.

Ask yourself, how many times have you seen someone drop a round on the follower, press the bolt release and watch as the bolt jammed on a cockeyed round? If that happens once every 100 tries, how many times did the bolt close on a scratched, dented, or misaligned bullet? Could that be the cause of the occasional errant shot?

My technique is to drop each round on top of the SLED and then push it slightly forward with my finger, partially chambering it before releasing the bolt. Admittedly, some people may be unable to do this due to body configuration or left-handedness, but why go to all the trouble of loading “perfect” ammunition and then damage it on the way into the chamber?

Now that we’ve covered bullets, brass, and assorted errata we can move on to discussing loads for 600 Yards…

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels highpower target
The NRA Highpower 600-yard target has a 6-inch (1 MOA) X-Ring, and a 12-inch (2 MOA) 10-Ring.

Load Development for 600 Yards

Finding a load for 600 yards is a lot like finding a load for short range. Once I decide on a bullet, powder, primer, velocity range and a measured guesstimate of seating depth, I load 10 rounds of each test load, increasing in 0.2 (2/10) grain increments. I test them from the prone position at 200 yards. Ideally, I want to see two loads that are 0.2 (2/10) of a grain apart that shoot almost identical groups. The load that I choose will fall in between the two best shooting loads that I tested. If the first load is XX.2 grains and the second is XX.4 grains, my chosen load will be XX.3 grains.

Why develop loads in 0.2-grain (tenths) increments if I have a scale that measures in 0.01-grain (hundredths) increments? Or, why not test in 0.1-grain increments?

For me, working in 0.2-grain increments gets me to the results quicker. Also, there is a difference between accuracy and consistency in this scenario. Developing loads in 0.2-grain increments gets me to an accurate load. Producing that load using a scale that accurately measures to .01-grain insures a consistent load, assuming that I do my part.

Once I’ve settled on a load, it’s time to play with seating depth, if I choose to. If I’m lucky and the groups are acceptable as-is, I won’t do anything. If I think there’s room for improvement, I’ll experiment a little. Depending on the bullet, changing the seating depth by a couple of thousandths one way or the other may change the group size. During this phase of testing, it’s a good idea to chamber a round and see if the entire round will then extract. If you leave a bullet stuck in the throat, your rounds are too long. Finding that out at a match can ruin an otherwise good day.

High Power service rifle AR15 reloading 600 yard Danny Arnold powder kernels
Danny Arnold shooting his AR15 Service Rifle, standing position at 2021 CMP Eastern Games.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your barrel is not static. Every round fired has an effect on the throat, vaporizing and scouring away metal until the distance the bullet travels before meeting the rifling measurably increases. If you have chosen a bullet that shoots best when close to the lands, you’ll need to periodically re-measure and possibly change your bullet seating depth to maintain that optimal relationship.

The Elephant in the Room — User Skill Level

There’s really not a delicate way to put this, so I won’t try. There’s little point in spending time and effort developing a load that shoots into half-MOA off the bench if you’re only capable of shooting 2 MOA using a sling right now.

That doesn’t mean that there’s no hope. On the contrary, it just means that your time and effort is better spent practicing with some good short-range ammunition on reduced targets at a 100 or 200-yard range. At that distance, wind is not a factor and your technique can be improved more quickly so you’re in a position to benefit from that ½ MOA ammunition.

About Team CMP
CMP has created a Highpower Team with top competitors. Team CMP competes at several events throughout the year and most importantly, helps to teach Highpower Clinics at CMP Competition Events. Learn from Team CMP at Camp Perry during the Advanced Highpower Clinic, scheduled this year for July 30 through August 1, 2021. Visit the Highpower Clinic Web Page for more information.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally-chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, visit www.TheCMP.org.

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April 21st, 2021

Beyond .223 Rem — The Many Alternative AR Chamberings

AR15 AR AR-15 cartridge alternative
AR-15 Cartridge line-up image from 80% Arms, used with permission. This selection omits our favorite alternative — the 20 Practical (.223 Rem necked down to .204 Caliber).

Instead of using the standard .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO round, you have many options for an AR-15, as shown above. This photo is from Complete Guide to Alternative AR-15 Rounds in the 80% Arms Blog. Some of the most notable alternative chamberings for AR-15s are:

20 Practical — Simply the .223 Rem necked down to .204 caliber. Requires new barrel. Same bolt, same magazines. Best Bang for the Buck.
6.5 Grendel — Moderately expensive, 6.5 Grendel requires a new barrel, bolt, and magazines. Most use the 6.5 Grendel for competitive shooting and/or hunting.
.300 Blackout — Moderately expensive, the .300 Blackout requires a barrel change. This is used for home defense, and hunting. WARNING — with some bullets this round can be chambered in a .223 Rem barrel, with disastrous consequences.
.458 SOCOM — Pretty expensive, requires new barrel and bolt. The .458 SOCOM round is typically used for hunting though it was originally designed for Close Quarters Battle (CQB).
.50 Beowulf — The most expensive alternative AR-15 cartridge, this requires new barrel and bolt. The .50 Beowulf was created for game hunting, but most hunters use something more practical.

Of these five options, our top choice is the 20 Practical, followed by the 6.5 Grendel. Check out our featured 20 Practical AR Rifle Report. This 20 Practical cartridge is highly effective on small varmints, and has shown outstanding accuracy in AR-platform rifles crafted by Robert Whitley.

20 Practical — High-Velocity, Affordable Alternative

The 20 Practical is simply a .223 Remington necked down to .204 caliber. This efficient little cartridge can launch 32-grainers at over 4200 fps, with impressive results on P-Dogs. This makes the 20 Practical a great choice for an AR-based varmint rifle.

20 Practical20 Practical Ultimate Varminter
A decade ago, as a “proof-of-concept”, AccurateShooter.com created a 20 Practical AR15 Ultimate Varminter with a custom 20-caliber upper from Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises, LLC. That project rifle was ultra-accurate — every 5-shot group out of the gun was less than the size of a dime. That gun was auctioned off, but Robert Whitley continues to produce custom 20 Practical AR15 uppers. (The 20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Rem necked down to 20 caliber — you can use standard .223 brass and load with standard .223 Rem dies. Just swap in a smaller expander and use smaller neck bushings.)

The 6.5 Grendel — Accurate, Plus Good for Hunters

The 6.5 Grendel round is one of the most accurate cartridges for the AR-15 platform. The 6.5 Grendel round offers a larger-diameter, .264-caliber (6.5mm) bullet running at good velocities. This provides ample energy for smaller game and deer. The 6.5 Grendel is often used for hunting deer up to 300 yards.

6.5 Grendel

History of the 6.5 Grendel Cartridge
The 6.5 Grendel originated as a 6mm PPC necked up to 6.5 mm. After Alexander Arms relinquished the “6.5 Grendel” Trademark, the 6.5 Grendel was standardized as an official SAAMI cartridge. It has become popular with target shooters and hunters alike because it is accurate, efficient, and offers modest recoil. Good for small to medium game, the 6.5 Grendel is becoming a popular chambering in lightweight hunting rifles, such as the Howa 1500 Youth Model.

6.5 Grendel Saami Hornady Brass

The .300 Blackout — Risky Business

The .300 Blackout appeals to folks who want a .30-caliber defense round. This can be loaded at various velocities. Loaded at subsonic speeds and shot with a suppressor, the .300 BLK offers very low sound levels. Unfortunately, that .300 Blackout cartridge can fit in a .223 Rem chamber. Shooting a .308-caliber bullet in .223 bore is a recipe for disaster.

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56The .300 AAC Blackout aka “300 BLK”, is a compact 30-caliber cartridge designed to work in AR-15 rifles. It has a shorter cartridge case to accommodate the bigger 30-caliber bullet while still fitting in a standard AR-15 magazine. Unfortunately, that’s the danger. A careless shooter can toss a .300 Blackout cartridge in with .223 Rem rounds without noting. And because the case-head size is the same as the .223 Rem (5.56×45) the rifle’s bolt assembly will happily chamber and fire the .300 BLK round. Problem is, that forces a .308 diameter bullet down an undersized .223-caliber bore. Not good!

This images were provided by Tactical Rifle Shooters on Facebook. The message was clear: “Don’t try to run 300 Blackout in your .223/5.56mm. It won’t end well. The problem is identical rifles and identical magazines but different calibers.”

Image from Accurate Shooter Forum. Cutaway shows the jammed .30-Cal bullet:
.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56

For those who MUST have a .300 Blackout, here are some things you can do:

1. Use different colored magazines for .300 Blackout vs. .223 Remington.
2. Mark .223 Rem upper handguards with the caliber in bright paint.
2. Fit all your uppers with caliber-labeled ejection port covers.
4. Mark all .300 BLK Rounds with heavy black marker.

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April 19th, 2021

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

.223 Rem Cut-Down Test barrel UMC m855

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.308 Win barrel length cut test

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

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December 17th, 2020

Watch .223 Rem Ammo Being Made on Multi-Stage Machine

Fog Ammunition .223 Remington Rem Ammo loading machine Sierra BlitzKing

With ammunition in short supply these days, we know ammo production is on people’s minds. Top industry leaders have said the USA will face ammo shortages well into 2021. So ammo-makers big and small are ramping up production to meet demand. If you’re curious how ammunition is created on the assembly by a relatively small, speciality manufacturer, watch the video below to see the entire process, start to finish.

This video from Fog Ammunition reveals how .223 Rem ammo is made. Starting with boxes of bullets and bags of cartridge brass, this video shows how components are bulk-sorted, then .223 Rem ammunition is produced on a modern, linear multi-stage loading machine. In assembly-line fashion, cases are primed, powder is added, bullets are placed, final seating depth is set, and then the case is crimped.

If you’ve never seen an automated loader in action you should definitely watch this video. With this kind of machine, a new round is produced every second or so (see video 1:15 to 1:55). The .223 Remington ammunition featured in this video is loaded with Sierra BlitzKing bullets. Fog offers both rifle and pistol ammo loaded with quality components.

Video Shows Automated Loading Process Start to Finish (Worth Watching):

Fog Ammunition .223 Remington Rem Ammo loading machine Sierra BlitzKing

Fog Ammunition .223 Remington Rem Ammo loading machine Sierra BlitzKing

Fog Ammunition .223 Remington Rem Ammo loading machine Sierra BlitzKing

Remember when primers were plentiful and priced affordably?
Fog Ammunition .223 Remington Rem Ammo loading machine Sierra BlitzKing

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November 24th, 2020

10 Shots in 0.289 MOA — Can Your Rifle Beat this XP-100 Pistol?

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

TEN Shots in 0.303″ (0.289 MOA) at 100 Yards
Look at that target showing TEN shots at 100 yards, with eight (8) shots in the main cluster at the top. The ten-shot group measures .303″ (0.289 MOA), as calculated with OnTarget Software. Not bad for a handgun — a very nice bolt-action XP-100 pistol! What do you think, can your best-shooting rifle match the 10-shot accuracy of this XP-100 pistol?

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

Report by Boyd Allen
This story goes back a few seasons… this remarkable XP-100 pistol belongs to Dan Lutke, a Bay Area benchrest shooter who publishes the results for the Visalia matches to the competitors and the NBRSA. He has been an enthusiastic competitor for an number of years, at various ranges, notably Visalia and Sacramento. The action is a Remington XP-100, to which a Kelbly 2 oz. trigger has been fitted. On top is an old Japanese-made Tasco 36X scope (these were actually pretty darn good). The Hart barrel (a cast-off from Dan’s Unlimited rail gun) was shortened and re-chambered for the 6x45mm, a wildcat made by necking-up the .223 Remington parent case. The custom stock/chassis was CNC-machined by Joe Updike from 6061 Billet Aluminum to fit the XP-100 action and mount a target-style AR grip with bottom hand rest. The gun was bedded and assembled by Mel Iwatsubu. In his XP-100 pistol, Dan shoots 65gr custom boat-tails with Benchmark powder.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

This diagram shows the most common 6x45mm wildcat, which is a necked-up version of the .223 Remington parent cartridge. NOTE: The dimensions for Dan Lutke’s benchrest version of this cartridge may be slightly different.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest
ACAD drawing by Peter Gnanapragasam CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Title Added.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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August 21st, 2020

.300 Blackout Fired in .223 Rem — Mistake Is Disasterous

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56
Photos and Facebook post by Tactical Rifle Shooters

Yet another .300 Blackout disaster. Unfortunately, that .300 Blackout cartridge can fit in a .223 Rem chamber. Shooting a .308-caliber bullet in .223 bore is a recipe for disaster.

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56The .300 AAC Blackout aka “300 BLK”, is a compact 30-caliber cartridge designed to work in AR-15 rifles. It has a shorter cartridge case to accommodate the bigger 30-caliber bullet while still fitting in a standard AR-15 magazine. Unfortunately, that’s the danger. A careless shooter can toss a .300 Blackout cartridge in with .223 Rem rounds without noting. And because the case-head size is the same as the .223 Rem (5.56×45) the rifle’s bolt assembly will happily chamber and fire the .300 BLK round. Problem is, that forces a .308 diameter bullet down an undersized .223-caliber bore. Not good!

This images were provided by Tactical Rifle Shooters on Facebook. The message was clear: “Don’t try to run 300 Blackout in your .223/5.56mm. It won’t end well. The problem is identical rifles and identical magazines but different calibers.”

Image from Accurate Shooter Forum. Cutaway shows the jammed .30-Cal bullet:
.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56

For those who MUST have a .300 Blackout, here are some things you can do:

1. Use different colored magazines for .300 Blackout vs. .223 Rem.
2. Fit all your uppers with caliber-labeled ejection port covers.
3. Mark .223 Rem upper handguards with the caliber in bright paint.
4. Mark all .300 BLK Rounds with heavy black marker.

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56

Comments by Folks Who Viewed these .300 Blackout Disaster Photos:

“The .300 Blackout is simply a badly-designed round. A properly-designed round would have had a feature in the shape that would have prevented cross loading in the first place.” — D. Santiago

“I almost made that mistake… I had a magazine of 300 BLK inserted in my .223/5.56 all night. Fortunately, I never pulled the trigger. Once I realized the mistake, I almost got ill. [After that incident] I no longer own a 300 BLK.” — B. Welch

“Happened to me hog hunting from a helo. Gun exploded in my face.” — B. Hood

“Fire-forming projectiles [is] so wrong in centerfire!” — M. Stres

“Had some dude come into the store the other day wanting .300 Blackout ammo to shoot in his 5.56 AR. It took 15 minutes of explaining for him to understand you got to have a .300 Blackout Upper!” — R. Williams

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August 11th, 2020

Ammo Reference Book Covers 200+ Cartridge Types

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

Do you use factory ammo in your hunting rifles? Perhaps you buy bulk centerfire ammo for your AR15 or varmint rifle. Then this book is for you.

If you ever shoot factory ammo, you should consider getting Ammo & Ballistics 6. This resource book lists over 2,600 different loads for 200+ cartridge types from .17 Mach 2 up to .700 Nitro Express, including the most popular centerfire and rimfire cartridges (both rifle and handgun). In this updated-for-2020 Sixth Edition, there are over 3,000 tables covering virtually every caliber and every load for all commercially-loaded hunting ammunition sold in the USA. Tables include velocity, energy, wind drift, bullet drop, and ballistic coefficients up to 1,000 yards.

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

Ammo & Ballistics 6 helps you select ammo for a hunt — quickly compare the velocity and knock-down power of various commercial ammo. This book can help you choose a caliber/chambering for your next hunting rig.

Verified Book Purchaser Reviews
“Outstanding reference guide for shooters and ballistic enthusiasts alike. Has data on velocity, energy delivered, Taylor KO index, windage and elevation on numerous loadings for hundreds of [cartridge types]. Each cartridge has all dimensions labeled (i.e rim, case length, neck, etc.), and has an informative description of the cartridges history/relevance.” — S. Step, 2017

“Great heaps of data! This volume has pages and pages of new data for .22LR like the hot Velocitor, and also on the .22 WMR from 30 grains up into the 50s. Most importantly there is lots of range data, drop, windage, kinetic energy, etc. — Terrific reference guide….” — E. Svanoe

Ammo & Ballistics 6 contains data and illustrations on virtually every sporting cartridge sold in the USA. This 2020 Edition covers 200-plus cartridge types from .17 Mach 2 up to .700 Nitro Express.

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July 22nd, 2020

Accuracy Requirements for Prairie Dog Hunting Ammunition

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure
Photo by Forum member R. Hardy. View Related Thread.

Summer’s here, so many folks will head to the hinterlands on prairie dog safaris. On a good P-Dog adventure, you may shoot hundreds of rounds over a long weekend. So you’ll need plenty of ammo. With these ammo volume requirements, you probably won’t have time to load to benchrest standards, and you may not have the budget for match-grade bullets. To save time you may throw (rather than weigh) your charges, or even load on a progressive press. This all raises the question of ammo accuracy — how good is “good enough”? A Sierra Bullets expert answers that question here — explaining how to efficiently load ammo for varmint work.

Ammunition Accuracy Requirements 101 — Varmint Ammo

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

This story based on article by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd
I load and shoot ammunition for a living. In my duties here at Sierra I constantly test bullet accuracy for our production needs. Because of this, I shoot a variety of different calibers and cartridges on a daily basis and a large demand of this shooting is keeping the guns and loads tuned for optimum accuracy. I have a very narrow window of tolerances to maintain in order to provide our customers (you) with the most accurate bullets on the market.

I have learned many tricks and techniques over the years to tuning a load, prepping brass, and cleaning barrels to keep a gun shooting. I often utilize the things I have learned and take them to extreme levels when competing in a shooting event. I also often ignore most of these things (other than safety) and simplify the process if the shooting I will be doing does not warrant.

Recently I went on a prairie dog shoot in Wyoming with some good friends. The targets cooperated as did the weather with the exception of some challenging winds we experienced. We had a great time and make a lot of hits on those small rodents. When loading for the .223 Remington rifles and the TC Contender, I cut a few corners in the ammunition-loading process due to both time constraints and accuracy needed. When shooting at a prairie dog a miss is simply that, but when shooting at say the X-Ring at 1000-yard competition, a poorly-placed shot [harms your] placing in the match. Because of this, I can afford to miss an occasional shot at a varmint due to ammunition capability without worry but will not allow the same tolerances in my match ammo. For the Wyoming trip I utilized a powder measure and simply dumped the charges into primed cases that had been full-length sized and primed.

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

I had measured enough for length to know that while there was some variance all were under maximum length. I know there is some variation of the measure I utilized but not significant enough to warrant weighing every charge. When seating the bullets a competition seating die was used and I verified OAL on the occasional cartridge to make sure nothing changed.

This varmint ammo, with thrown charges, put TEN shots inside ONE inch at 200 yards. That’s half MOA. Good Enough? Absolutely!
Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

The ammo produced shot under one inch at 200 yards in one of the guns I planned on taking on to Wyoming with me. [Editor: That was for TEN Shots — see above.] I knew I had loaded ammunition that was quite suitable for the task at hand which was evidenced by the number of hits I was able to make at fairly long range.

NOTE: The author, Tommy Todd, explains that, when loading ammo for F-Class matches, he uses more exacting methods. He weighs every charge and seats his bullets carefully with an arbor press. Todd adapts his methodology for his particular application. The lesson here is to load to the level of precision demanded by your discipline. READ Full Story HERE.

Varmint Prairie Dog hunting safari reloading powder measure Tommy Todd

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June 27th, 2020

.300 Blackout Fired in .223 Rem AR — Recipe for Disaster

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56
Photos and Facebook post by Tactical Rifle Shooters

Yet another .300 Blackout disaster. Unfortunately, that .300 Blackout cartridge can fit in a .223 Rem chamber. Shooting a .308-caliber bullet in .223 bore is a recipe for disaster.

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56The .300 AAC Blackout aka “300 BLK”, is a compact 30-caliber cartridge designed to work in AR-15 rifles. It has a shorter cartridge case to accommodate the bigger 30-caliber bullet while still fitting in a standard AR-15 magazine. Unfortunately, that’s the danger. A careless shooter can toss a .300 Blackout cartridge in with .223 Rem rounds without noting. And because the case-head size is the same as the .223 Rem (5.56×45) the rifle’s bolt assembly will happily chamber and fire the .300 BLK round. Problem is, that forces a .308 diameter bullet down an undersized .223-caliber bore. Not good!

This images were provided by Tactical Rifle Shooters on Facebook. The message was clear: “Don’t try to run 300 Blackout in your .223/5.56mm. It won’t end well. The problem is identical rifles and identical magazines but different calibers.”

For those who MUST have a .300 Blackout, here are some things you can do:

1. Use different colored magazines for .300 Blackout vs. .223 Rem.
2. Fit all your uppers with caliber-labeled ejection port covers.
3. Mark .223 Rem upper handguards with the caliber in bright paint.
4. Mark all .300 BLK Rounds with heavy black marker.

.300 AAC Blackout 300 BLK kaboom accident blowup cartridge failure barrel .223 Rem 5.56

Comments by Folks Who Viewed these .300 Blackout Disaster Photos:

“The .300 Blackout is simply a badly-designed round. A properly-designed round would have had a feature in the shape that would have prevented cross loading in the first place.” — D. Santiago

“I almost made that mistake… I had a magazine of 300 BLK inserted in my .223/5.56 all night. Fortunately, I never pulled the trigger. Once I realized the mistake, I almost got ill. [After that incident] I no longer own a 300 BLK.” — B. Welch

“Happened to me hog hunting from a helo. Gun exploded in my face.” — B. Hood

“Fire-forming projectiles [is] so wrong in centerfire!” — M. Stres

“Had some dude come into the store the other day wanting .300 Blackout ammo to shoot in his 5.56 AR. It took 15 minutes of explaining for him to understand you got to have a .300 Blackout Upper!” — R. Williams

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tactical, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
June 4th, 2020

Eye in the Sky — Drone View of 1122-Yard Shooting Session

Texas .223 Rem Drone Video 1000 Yards Gorilla Ammo

Many of our readers have never had a chance to shoot much past 600 yards. How far away does a 1000-yard+ target really seem to the naked eye? Well this short video answers that question. Gorilla Ammo, the video’s producers, used a camera-carrying aerial drone to fly downrange from the firing line all the way out to 1122 yards (and back again). Watch the drone footage at 0:00-0:07 and especially 0:48-1:03. The “bird’s-eye view” really gives you a sense of the distance. The “fly-back” at 0:48-1:03 time-mark is what makes this video worth watching.

The video features prone shooting at steel targets placed at 750 and 1122 yards. We do apologize for the lame, “oh so serious” voice-over which attempts to make this rather ordinary range session seem like some kind of life-changing experience. (Frankly, you may just want to turn the sound off — it’s that annoying.) It’s really not that big a deal to hit steel at 750 yards with a quality AR-15, chambered in .223 Rem, shooting Sierra 77 grain MatchKings.

Texas .223 Rem Drone Video 1000 Yards Gorilla Ammo

Hitting Steel at 1122 Yards with 2540 FPS Ammo Can Be Challenging
The 1122-yard hits are a bit more impressive. Gorilla Ammo lists a relatively sedate 2540 fps Muzzle Velocity for its .223 Rem 77gr SMK ammunition. According to JBM Ballistics, at 1125 yards, that 2540 fps load has 68.3 MOA of drop from a 100-yard zero (firing at sea level and 80° F ambient). Morever the bullet goes trans-sonic around 750 yards (losing stability) and is traveling just 933 fps at impact. And the wind’s the killer — at 1125 yards, with this bullet/load, a mere 2 mph, full-value wind change can move the Point of Impact over three feet!

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April 12th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Ernie Bishop’s Bolt-Action Specialty Pistols

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

Specialty Pistols — Report from Ernie Bishop in Wyoming

For those who know of me in the shooting world, you would probably know me in one of two ways: Dealer for SEB Rests or someone who does most of his competing, varminting, and or hunting with specialty pistols. These are typically bolt-action, single-shot rigs that can be used with a bipod. They can seem very similar to a pistol-grip rifle, but without a conventional buttstock.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

My interest in all things specialty pistols (Remington XP-100, TC Contender, MOA Maximum, Pachmayr Dominator, H-S Precision HSP, etc.) goes back to the early 1980s. Most of the specialty pistols listed are no longer made, so when I discovered that Kauger Arms was making two, I was excited. I have not had much time to shoot my new Kauger “Black Widow” chambered in 6.5×47 Lapua. But so far, the experience has been fun, even though I have not taken it prairie dog shooting yet or hunted big game with it. For this report, I went to my friend Dan’s place as one can load in the house, and simply shoot off his back porch.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

When thinking of a precision shooting platform, most of you would not consider a wood back porch as ideal. But we managed a 0.179″ 3-shot group at 100 yards using a Harris bipod and a small leather bag. Yes the Black Widow can shoot! My load was Lapua brass, Federal 205M primers, Varget powder, and the Hornady 123gr A-Max, with a MV of 2514 fps. I selected the Hornady 123s with prairie dogs in mind. As shown in the top photo, the scope on the Black Widow is a Sightron S-III 6-24 with a Holland’s scope level. The Black Widow also sports a Holland’s Radial Baffle brake.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP
Here is the Black Widow with a different scope base and scope, ready to go on Dan’s porch.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSPThe day we planned to shoot prairie dogs was windy, so we headed to public land nearby and set up steel to get ballistics drop info and simply to play at distance. We had 5″ steel at 220 yards, 10″ steel (diamond) at 510 yards, and 10″ steel (square) at 650 yards. Wind was from 8 mph to just over 20 mph, so the little 123 grainer was getting tossed about, while keeping us humble all at the same time. Regardless of the gusty winds, I considered the session a success!

Kauger Arms has been making parts for a number of companies in the firearm industry for over 20 years. In 2014 when things slowed down for them, they decided to start building rifles and decided to make their own actions. Good decision — these actions, which are machined in a single process to keep everything true to the bore, are great. Bolt manipulation with Kauger’s action is the smoothest I have ever experienced.

Tim Kauger explained features of his actions to me. The Kauger cock-on-opening action has a Rem 700 footprint for action holes and trigger shoe. The semi-coned bolt features a floating bolt head which is slightly smaller than the bolt body. The firing pin assembly is 1/4-turn removable. There are user-changeable bolt body and knob options. There is a side bolt release above the stock line. All moving surfaces are nitrided. This can be ordered single shot, feed rails or DBM cut. Also the long action will accept up to a .338 Lapua/.300 Norma Mag if ordered that way (with 1.25″ barrel cylinder).

Kauger Arms offers a right-hand or left-hand grip, which is very comfortable. I shot the Black Widow both right-handed and left-handed with no problems whatsoever. Kauger Arms can build the Black Widow in many more chamberings than the two that are listed on the KaugerArms.com website.

New left-bolt/left port action from Kauger Arms — To the specialty pistol shooters reading and to those considering entering the SP world, Kauger Arms has listened to your requests and is working on a left bolt/left port short action that will be offered either as a single-shot action or with bottom metal. You grip the pistol with your right hand, then run the bolt with your left-hand.

Specialty Pistol 2 — The Camo .223 Remington HSP

Here is another one of Ernie Bishop’s specialty pistols. This eye-catching camo-stocked rig was crafted by H-S Precision. Sadly, H-S Precision is not making these HSP pistols anymore. This .223 Remington features a 1:7″-twist, 15-inch-long H-S barrel fitted with the “H” Brake. On top is a Burris XTR-III 5.5-30x56mm scope with SCR 2 MIL reticle and Burris rings.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSPGreat Results with Varget + 77gr Sierra TMKs
Ernie tells us: “For a load, I have been running Lapua brass, Rem 7.5 primers, Varget, and the 77 grain Sierra TMK. Muzzle Velocity is 2675 FPS. As you can see, it shoots pretty well. Shown at right is a measured 0.265″ 3-shot group at 100 yards, shot from Harris bipod and small field bag.

Previous to this, I was shooting Federal Match ammo with the 77 grain SMK (MV was 2500 fps), with prairie dog kills past 600 yards, and have played on steel out to 1000 yards. This H-S specialty pistol is great for young or old alike, for novice shooters or experienced shooters. Everyone needs a fast twist .223 Remington!”

Here is my friend Dan shooting the .223 Rem HSP with factory ammo during a prairie dog trip.
.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

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April 10th, 2020

Load Data for .224 Valkyrie — Optimizing the Cartridge

.224 Valkyrie Hodgdon load data

As folks are stuck at home with the Pandemic lock-downs, many guys are thinking about projects involving their AR-15s sitting in their safes. We’ve seen some threads in our Forum asking about the .224 Valkyrie, an AR-centric cartridge that offers significantly better long-range performance than the .223 Remington (5.56×45). If you own a .224 Valkyrie, or are thinking about adding a .224 Valkyrie upper to your MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) arsensal, here is load information from industry leaders Hodgdon and Sierra.

With the 90gr SMK (or similar High-BC projectiles), the .224 Valkyrie offers ballistics similar to the 6.5 Creedmoor but with significantly less felt recoil.

Hodgdon has reloading data for the .224 Valkyrie, a popular new cartridge optimized for the AR15 platform. “At Hodgdon, we’ve been researching this cartridge since before its introduction and are excited to release load data for the Valkyrie featuring powders like Hodgdon CFE 223, IMR 8208 XBR, and Hodgdon Varget” reports Ron Reiber, Hodgdon product manager/ballistician. Access the .224 Valkyrie Data via Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center.

While new load data will continue to be updated, there is currently data for 80 different loads with bullet weights ranging from 50 to 90 grains. NOTE: The load data covers Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester brand powders only. See Sierra Data for other powder brands. Bullet brands included are: Federal, Hornady, Nosler, Sierra and Swift.

About the .224 Valkyrie Cartridge
Basically a 6.8 SPC necked down to .22, the Valkyrie has a shorter case than the .223 Remington (and 5.56×45 NATO). This allows you to load the longest, heaviest .224-caliber bullets and still feed reliably from an AR15-type magazine. Designed to rival the .22 Nosler while still running well in ARs, the .224 Valkyrie offers excellent long-range performance when loaded with modern, high-BC bullets. We expect some bolt-action PRS shooters might adopt the .224 Valkyrie. Why? Reduced recoil. With the 90gr SMK, the .224 Valkyrie offers ballistics similar to the 6.5 Creedmoor but with significantly less felt recoil.

.224 Valkyrie Hodgdon load data

The new .224 Valkyrie has already developed a loyal following: “Shooting heavier bullets in an AR-platform rifle that maintain supersonic speeds beyond 1,300 yards has captured the interest of shooters and handloaders everywhere” — Hodgdon Powders

Our friend Gavin Gear of Ultimate Reloader.com found a superbly accurate load with Berger 80.5gr bullets.

IMPORTANT: Check Out Sierra’s .224 Valkyrie DATA

Sierra Bullets has also published extensive load data for the .224 Valkyrie. This covers over a dozen powder types — many more than the Hodgdon database. Sierra’s .224 Valkyrie load data covers projectiles from 50 grain all the way up to 95 grains. With the 90 to 95 grain bullets, the little Valkyrie can give 6mm match cartridges a real run for their money — offering similar ballistics with less recoil. When selecting a barrel for the long .224-cal bullets, specify a fast enough twist rate: “Sierra recommends a 1:6.5″-twist barrel for the #9290 22 cal 90 gr HPBT bullet. However, for cartridges like the Valkyrie, that can push them over 2650 fps muzzle velocity, a 1:7″-twist barrel will stabilize the bullet correctly.”

» DOWNLOAD Complete Sierra .224 Valkyrie LOAD DATA HERE

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February 8th, 2020

Zediker Examines Long Range Shooting with AR-Platform Rifles

AR15 ar-15 long range

Looking to shoot an AR-platform rifle out past 500 yards? Then you should read two articles by AR guru Glen Zediker. Author of The New Competitive AR-15 and The Competitive AR15 Builders Guide, Zediker is an expert when it comes to AR-platform rifles. Glen believes ARs have excellent long-range capability, provided they are built to high standards, with good barrels.

Glen says: “a properly configured AR-15 is easily capable of good performance at 500+ yards. Good performance means it can hit a 1-foot-square target all the time. Competitive shooters can cut that standard in nearly half (the X-Ring on an MR1 600-yard NRA High Power Rifle target is 6 inches, and high X-counts are commonplace among more skilled shooters).”

Published in the Cheaper than Dirt Shooter’s Log, Zediker’s articles first cover the history of the AR-15, and then explain how AR-platform accuracy can be optimized. Part One reviews the AR’s development as an accurate firearm, tracing its evolution from a Vietnam-era combat weapon to what is now a favored target rifle of High Power competitors. READ PART ONE.

Long Range AR AR-15 Glen Zediker Cheaper than dirt

Part Two discusses the specifics that make an AR accurate at 500 yards and beyond. Zediker talks about barrel configuration (profile and twist rate), bullet selection, floating handguards, and proper mounting of optics or iron sights. READ PART TWO.

Long Rang AR AR-15 Glen Zediker Cheaper than dirt

Here are some highlights from Long-Range AR-15 Part TWO:

Barrel Twist Rate
To stabilize anything longer than a 68- or 69-grain bullet, the barrel twist rate must be — at minimum– 1-in-8. Twist rates reflect how far the bullet travels along the lands or rifling to make one complete revolution. So, 1-in-8 (or 1-8, 1:8) means “one turn in eight inches.” I think it’s better to go a little faster in twist. There is nothing wrong with a 1:7 twist. The 90-grain bullets require a 1:6.5, and that is getting on the quick side. If you want to shoot Sierra 77s or equivalent, and certainly anything longer, 1:8 is necessary. By the way, it is bullet length, not weight, which constitutes the necessary twist rate to launch a stable bullet.

Optics Mounting
Correct optical sight positioning can be a challenge. With a flattop upper, I need a good inch additional forward extension at the muzzle side of the upper for the sight mount bases to avoid holding my head “back” to get the optimal view through the scope. A longer rail piece is necessary for my builds as a result.

Buttstock Length and Adjustment
An adjustable buttstock is valuable, and even more valuable if it’s well-designed. Mostly, a standard stock is too short, and the cheek area sits too low. Adding length helps a lot by itself. There are assemblies that replace the standard buttplate to allow for length and, usually, height and rotation adjustments for the buttpad. An elevation-adjustable cheekpiece is a big help to attain a solid position.

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December 3rd, 2019

F-Class — Best Cartridge Options for Mid-Range and Long Range

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Cartridge Choices for F-Class Competition

By Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

There are hundreds of cartridge types capable of winning in F-Open. For F-TR you can shoot either the .223 Rem or .308 Win, but you have many load options. This article will focus on proven choices, currently used by the top F-Class shooters in the world. Our discussion will analyze cartridge selection based on the four different F-Class sub-disciplines: Open Mid-Range, Open Long-Range, F-TR Mid-Range, and F-TR Long Range.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Kovan
Click image to view full-screen photo.

Mid-Range F-Open Cartridges

For starters, a .300 WSM is certainly capable of winning mid-range matches but it is not ideal. So what is ideal, and why? F-Class Mid-Range matches usually are usually shot at 300, 500, or 600 yards — or all three. At those distances the 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges rule. In moderate conditions, the 6mm Dasher is unbeatable. Its low recoil along with its super grouping ability and good ballistics make it my number one choice for Mid-Range.

Best bullets for the 6mm Dasher are: Vapor Trail 103gr, Berger 105 Hybrid, 108 BT, and 105 VLD (hunting). Best powders are: Varget, H4895, and Reloder 15.

Choices for Mid-Range in Tougher Conditions:
We all know that conditions are not always “moderate” that’s why something a little bit bigger will save you a “Nine” or two. The 6.5X47 Lapua was designed for 300-meter competition, but as soon as it was released, it was adopted by F-Class, benchrest, and tactical shooters. It offers great ballistics with very low recoil and big “accuracy window”. Lapua makes great brass for it (no surprise there) and Berger makes great bullets: 130gr VLD, 140gr VLD, 140gr Hybrids. Best powders in most barrels are Varget and H4350, I don’t use double-based powders such as Reloder 17 and the Vihtavuori N500 series because of their unpredictable performance day to day (greater temp sensitivity).

The 6.5X47 Lapua necked down to 6mm is also a great option for mid range matches. I was able to easily get 3200 fps with 105 hybrids and H4350.

Choice for Long-Range F-Open Competition

In Long-Range F-Open Class (out to 1000 yards), the big, high-BC bullets rule. If I had to pick one cartridge for F-Class (both mid- and long-range) I would pick the .284 Winchester or one of its variants. The .284 Win is currently dominating in F-Open competition. It offers great barrel life, it is super-easy to tune and its recoil is very manageable. The best bullets for it by far (in my opinion), are the Berger 180 Hybrids. But Sierra’s new 183gr MK bullet (with factory-uniformed meplats) seems to perform very well as does the Berger 180 VLD. Best powders for the .284 Win are H4350 and H4831SC.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Long-Range Only F-Open Cartridge
As much as I like the .284 Win, for long-range competitions I like the .300 WSM even more. If you look at a .300 WSM and a 6mm Dasher side by side, they appear almost identical in geometry — the .300 WSM looks like an “super-sized” Dasher. Both cartridges are currently the “darlings” of long-range benchrest due to their extraordinary grouping ability and huge “node’’ windows. Big accuracy windows allow loads to perform well in different conditions and geographical locations. That’s obviously very important if you travel to compete. The .300 WSM loaded with Berger 215gr or 230gr Hybrids is very tough to beat at long range, and it is currently my number one choice.

The 7mm RSAUM is another outstanding long-range round. It resembles a 6BR on steroids and it is almost as easy to tune. Best bullets for it are Berger 180gr Hybrids, 195gr EOLs, and Sierra’s 183gr MatchKing. Best powders for the 7mm RSAUM are: H4350, H4831SC, and VV N160.

Top Caliber/Bullet Combos for F-TR

In F-TR competition, the choice is clear — a .308 Win throated for Berger 185gr BTLRs and 200gr Hybrids will win in mid-range AND long-range comps. Many championships have been won, and many records set with those two bullets in the .308 Win. To quote Danny Biggs (a two times FTR National Champion) “The 185 BTLR is the best bullet for .308 Win ever made”.

The Berger 215gr Hybrids have been used to win many competitions including recently the 2015 F-Class Nationals. Bryan Litz won both the Mid-Range and Long-Range 2015 Championships using 215s. Bryan’s rifle is shown below:

Bryan Litz F-TR 2015 National Championship rifle

I recommend chambers throated for the 185/200 grain projectiles over the 215/230 grain bullets. The reason is that if you have your barrel throated out for the 215s or the 230s, you could have a “slow” barrel and max out on pressure before the desired velocity is reached. Optimum freebore for the 230s is too long for the 185/200s, so you would be limited to using only 215/230gr bullets in that barrel.Furthermore, the recoil increase with heavier bullets is substantial, causing the rifle to be more difficult to shoot.

.223 Remington Cartridge Diagram.223 Rem — Not A Competitive Option
I would stay away from the .223 Remington. On paper the 90gr VLD will shoot inside most .308 Win loads even at a 1000 yards. But in reality, on average, the .223 Rem, regardless of what powder/bullet combo is used, cannot compete with the .308 Win. [Editor: The equipment lists at major F-TR matches will confirm Kovan’s conclusion here.]

Conclusion (and Other Options)
This article covers only the (currently) most popular cartridge/bullet combos for F-Class (F-Open and F-TR). As I said in the beginning, many cartridge types are capable of winning but are not listed due to their low popularity, case design, or lack of quality components. All of the above information is based on my personal experience and it is meant to help new shooters choose the right cartridges for F-Class matches. Thanks for reading and good luck — Emil Kovan

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 2 Comments »
October 31st, 2019

.223 Rem Barrel Cut-Down Test — Velocity Loss by the Inch

.223 Rem Cut-Down Test barrel UMC m855

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

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

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

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

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

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

See inch-by-inch Barrel Cut-Down Velocity data HERE.

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

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

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

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

.308 Win barrel length cut test

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

Permalink Gunsmithing, Reloading 2 Comments »