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December 29th, 2022

The World of Cartridges — Guide to Cartridge and Primer Types

pew pew tactical bullet cartridge photos rimfire primer illustration

The Pew Pew Tactical website has interesting article on rifle and pistol cartridges and bullet types. This contains a large selection of interesting photographs and illustrations. If you load and/or shoot for a wide variety of cartridge types, you’ll find that article well worth reading. It has nearly 50 photographs and more than a dozen short videos. READ FULL Article.

pew pew tactical bullet cartridge photos rimfire primer illustration

The article shows all types of pistol bullets, along with a variety of rifle projectiles. It even illustrates multiple types of shotshell cartridges.

The article also explains the basic components of modern cartridges –bullet, case, powder, and primer:

ammunitiontogo.com ammo case cutaway
Photo courtesy Ammunitiontogo.com which sells ammo from many leading brands.

pew pew tactical bullet cartridge photos rimfire primer illustrationPopular Cartridge Types Profiled
The article provides quick summaries of popular ammunition types including 9mm Luger (9x19mm), .357 Magnum, .40 SW, .45 ACP, .223 Rem, and .308 Winchester. The author’s favorite pistol round is the 9mm Luger: “9mm is my personal favorite and if there was a “Goldilocks” round, this would be it. The very first gun I bought was a 9mm. They’re fun at the range. They’re good for defense. It is the standard round for NATO countries and the majority of police forces around the world. It is mild shooting, can vary in weight from 115 to 147 grains, and has varying stopping power based on the type of bullet.”

This Pew-Pew Tactical guide to cartridge types also provides a quick explanation of cartridge ignition — both centerfire and rimfire: “The rimfire’s primer is built into the rim while the centerfire cartridge has the primer in the center. Pro tip — if you can see a circle in the middle…it’s a centerfire cartridge.”

There are two common types of centerfire primers — Boxer and Berdan. This helpful Wikipedia illustration shows how Boxer, Berdan, and rimfire primers ignite the powder in the cartridge:


Berdan boxer rimfire primer gif animation illustration


This centerfire and rimfire ignition animation is by BBODO – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

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December 15th, 2022

Amazing Super-Slow Motion Video — Shooting Highlights

Bullet theory films slow motion slo-mo ultra high speed camera video

Here is a stunning highlight reel created by Bullet Theory Films, a Los Angeles-based production company that specializes in capturing action that is too quick for the human eye to see. Using ultra-high-speed cameras, these talented film-makers have captured blindingly fast phenomena — things that happen in micro-seconds. The resulting video imagery can be used for R&D, scientific analysis, product marketing, or (of course) entertainment.

We recommend you watch this video full-screen in High-Definition:

This impressive slo-mo “sizzle reel” features many notable sequences, including:

00:18: .45 ACP leaving m1911 muzzle
00:27: Rifle bullet penetrating barrier with explosive ejecta
00:33: M1A cycling 7.62×51 cartridges
00:38: Pistol bullet disintegrating on steel
00:40: Huge muzzle flame from 12ga shotgun and lead shot on steel
00:45: 5.56 bullet in ballistics gelatin with secondary explosion
01:07: Handgun flame ring from muzzle
01:11: Massive shotgun blast with slug in midair

About the Film-Makers
Bullet Theory Films Co-Founders Matt Novello and Matt Drake first met on the set of History Channel’s highly successful competition reality show TOP SHOT. Throughout five seasons, the show set a benchmark in the art of capturing firearms and live ammunition in action, which has yet to be surpassed.

Utilizing the latest digital high speed technology, Bullet Theory Films offers a full range of production services; from concept development, to the final delivery of your vision. For more information, visit BulletTheoryFilms.com.

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November 18th, 2022

Reloading with Progressive Presses — 10 Tips for Good Results

6.5 Guys Progressive Press video Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader

Progressive reloading presses offer shooters speed and efficiency in producing custom-tailored rifle and pistol ammunition. However, there is a wide choice of Progressive Presses and a bewildering array of options to consider. In this video, the 6.5 Guys and UltimateReloader.com’s Gavin Gear provide an overview of the leading Progressive Presses on the market along with key considerations for precision rifle shooters. If you are considering getting a Progessive for rifle ammo reloading, you should watch this informative, 25-minute video.

10 Tips for Reloading Rifle Ammo on a Progressive Press:

1. Make sure the brass is very clean. Don’t mix old range pick-up brass with newer brass.

2. Apply a thin, spray lube to all cases before the sizing/loading cycle.

3. Consider priming your brass separately (with a hand or bench tool) before the operation. Then inspect the primers before loading powder and bullets.

4. Always wear eye protection when loading with the Progressive, particularly if you are priming cases.

5. With masking tape, mark the powder measure/dropper with the powder type and cartridge charge weight. Check the charge mass multiple times (see below).

6. Cycle a few cases, sizing and adding powder but NOT seating bullets. Weigh the powder charges to ensure the powder measure is dispensing the correct charge. Sometimes this will change a couple tenths as it “settles down” after the first few charges.

7. Check the brass for shoulder bump and bullet seating depth carefully for the first few rounds, then check again periodically.

8. Try to maintain a steady pace and operate the handle the same way every time.

9. Visually inspect the powder charge in each case (before bullet seating), and use a lock-out die if your Progressive Press has enough stations.

10. Never, ever mix pistol and rifle powders! If you have previously loaded pistol ammo with your Progressive, make sure ALL the powder (every flake and kernel) is removed from all parts of the powder-dropping system before you add rifle powder.

Visit these sites for more Reloading and Precision Shooting Videos:

6.5 Guys
https://www.youtube.com/user/65guys
http://www.65Guys.com

Ultimate Reloader
https://www.youtube.com/ultimatereloader
http://www.UltimateReloader.com

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September 18th, 2022

.45 ACP Reloading — Vihtavuori N320 and Other Good Powders

VV N320 for .45 ACP

There’s an interesting thread in our Shooters Forum right now — all about good choices for a .45 ACP handgun. If you’re considering getting your first .45 ACP pistol, you should read that thread. If you already own one or more .45 ACP handguns, this article offers some good tips on handloading options.

Forum Thread: Which .45 ACP Handgun to Purchase — Members Offer Suggestions

VV N320 for .45 ACPGood Powder Choices for the .45 ACP
We know that many of our readers own .45 ACP handguns and load for this extremely accurate “classic” cartridge. When selecting a powder for the .45 ACP, there are many good options. All the major powder manufacturers make propellants with appropriate density and burn rate characteristics for the .45 ACP. Popular choices include: AA #5 (Accurate Powder); Bullseye (Alliant); Clays, HP-38, and Titegroup (Hodgdon); VV N310 and N320 (Vihtavuori); and WW 231 and WST (Winchester). We’ve tried all those powders in a variety of .45 ACP handguns. When we consider all the factors that make for a good pistol powder, we think Vihtavuori N320 is one of the best available propellants for the .45 ACP.

Vihtavuori N320 is very accurate, it meters well, and it burns clean, with minimal smoke and flash. If you haven’t tried VV N320 yet, you should.

Pros and Cons of Different Powders for the .45 ACP
This Editor has personally tried out eight or more different powders for the .45 ACP. Bullseye works but it is very dirty (both smoke out the barrel and sooty powder fouling on case). Though it otherwise burns clean, Titegroup leaves a singular (and nasty) high-temp flame streak on your brass that is hard to remove. AA #5 is a good choice for progressive press newbies as you use more powder so a double charge will (usually) be obvious. I like AA #5 but N320 was more accurate. Clays burns clean but some powder measures struggle with flake powders like this. WW 231 offered excellent accuracy and metered well, but it kicked out sparks with little pieces of debris that would hit me in the face. Who wants that?

I personally tried all the powders listed above with lead, plated, and jacketed bullets. After testing for accuracy, consistency, and ease of metering, I selected VV N320 as the best overall performer.

Vihtavuori N320

  • No powder tested was more accurate (WW 231 was equally accurate).
  • Meters very well in all kinds of powder measures.
  • Produces very little smoke from muzzle.
  • Does not put nasty burn streak on brass like Tite-Group does.
  • Low Flash — you don’t get particles and sparks flying out like WW 231.
  • Cases come out from gun very clean — so you can tumble less often.

Forum member and gunsmith Michael Ezell agrees that N320 is a good choice for the .45 ACP. Mike has also found that WW 231, while accurate, produces sparks and a large flash. Mike writes: “I first started using N320 after my first night shoot, while shooting IDPA/IPSC matches. It was astonishing how much of a fireball the WW 231 created. I was literally blinded by the flash while trying to shoot a match. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out very well. I went from WW 231 to N320 and never looked back…and the flash from it was a fraction of what a kid’s sparkler would give off. I have nothing but good things to say about [N320] after using both. Night shoots are a real eye-opener! When it comes to a personal protection… there is, statistically, a very high chance that if you ever have to use a gun to protect yourself or your family, it’ll be in the darkness[.] Being blinded by muzzle flash (and deafened by the noise) are things that should be considered, IMO.”

This Editor owns a full-size, all-stainless S&W 1911. After trying numerous powders, I found VV N320 delivered the best combination of accuracy, easy metering, consistency, clean burning qualities, and low muzzle flash. My gun has proven exceptionally accurate using N320 with bullets from 180 grains to 230 grains — it will shoot as accurately as some expensive customs I’ve tried. At right is 5-round group I shot offhand at 10 yards with my 5″ S&W 1911.

NOTE: The bullet hole edges are sharp because I was using semi-wad-cutters, and the target paper is thick. Rounds were loaded with Vihtavuori N320 and 200-grain SWCs from Precision Bullets in Texas. We shoot Precision’s coated bullets in many of our pistols. These projectiles are accurate and they seem to reduce fouling in our pistol barrels. You can learn about them in this video:

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June 6th, 2022

Watch .45 ACP Pistol, Ultra Slow Motion — 73,000 Frames/Sec

Mythbusters 1911 Bullet Pistol slow motion high speed Phantom .45 ACP
Mythbusters 1911 Bullet Pistol slow motion high speed Phantom .45 ACP

What if you could see a speeding bullet in the milliseconds it exits the muzzle of a pistol? How cool would that be… Well, the Mythbusters folks (Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman) have made that possible. Using an exotic Phantom super-high-speed camera running at 73,000 frames per second, the Mythbusters recorded a .45 ACP bullet being fired from a 1911-type handgun.

Watch Mythbusters Super-Slow-Motion Pistol Video:

Watch this FULL SCREEN to see the amazing details of the flame and smoke exiting the muzzle.

What unfolds is spectacular. First you see a ball of flame as the bullet emerges from the barrel of the 1911, then two distinct, separate swirling clouds form as the bullet races toward the target. Watch the video a couple times — it’s mesmerizing.

Mythbusters 1911 Bullet Pistol slow motion high speed Phantom .45 ACP

Co-host Adam Savage is nearly rendered speechless by the remarkable slow-motion footage from the Phantom. Filmed at 73,000 frames per second, the video reveals a dance of pressure and fire that would otherwise be missed by the unaided eye.

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May 10th, 2022

1911 Mastery — Todd Jarrett Explains Proper 1911 Hold

Todd Jarrett

Todd Jarrett is one of the world’s best handgun shooters. A multi-time World Champion, Todd knows a thing or two about semi-auto pistols, particularly 1911s and 1911-based raceguns. Jarrett holds four World titles, nine National titles and has won more than 50 Area championships, as well as many other action shooting events. Jarrett is the only USPSA Triple Crown Winner and he holds four USPSA National titles: Open, Limited, Production, and Limited-10. Jarrett revealed in an interview that between 1988 and 2001 he shot about 1.7 million rounds during practice: “I had a gun in my hand for two hours every day for 10 years to develop my skill level”.

In the video below, Todd explains how to get the proper grip on your handgun, and how to employ a proper stance. We’ve watched many videos on pistol shooting. This is one of the best handgun instructional videos we’ve seen. Todd explains, in easy-to-understand terms, the key elements of grip and stance. One very important point he demonstrates is how to align the grip in your hand so that the gun points naturally — something very important when rapid aiming is required. If you watch this video, you’ll learn valuable lessons — whether you shoot competitively or just want to have better control and accuracy when using your handgun defensively.

model 1911 wilson pistol

Related Article: Thumbs-Forward Shooting Grip for 1911s
“Shooting semiautomatic pistols using the thumbs-forward method really becomes useful … where speed and accuracy are both needed. By positioning the thumbs-forward along the slide (or slightly off of the slide) you are in essence creating a second sighting device: wherever your shooting thumb is pointing is where the pistol is pointing. This makes it incredibly fast to draw the pistol, get your proper grip, and press forward to the target without needing to hunt around for the front sight.” — Cheaper Than Dirt Blog.

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January 15th, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Reloading for the .45 ACP Cartridge

.45 ACP pistol cartridge handloading reloading guide powder loads

Today we showcase five YouTube videos that explain basic reloading processes. This article primarily focuses on the .45 ACP cartridge because this a very good choice for hand-loaders getting started. The .45 ACP is one of the easier cartridges to reload, because it has a large case diameter and large primer pocket, and because it operates at relatively low pressures (compared to rifle rounds).

We recommend that new reloaders consider starting with the .45 ACP cartridge. There are many reasons why the .45 ACP is a good choice for those just getting started in hand-loading:

1. The case is fairly short but has a relatively large diameter (and minimal taper), so it is easy to see inside the case. That helps you quickly check powder levels.
2. Many good powders (for the .45 ACP) will fill the case over 60%, so you will have an obvious overflow if you double-charge by accident.
3. The .45 ACP round runs at relatively low pressures, but delivers excellent accuracy.
4. Good .45 ACP brass lasts a long time, is easy to size, and is good for many reloads.
5. Along with 1911s, there are fine .45 ACP revolvers that shoot the round with moon clips.
6. The vast majority of .45 ACP brass uses large pistol primers (although there ARE some small primer pocket varieties*). We find that large primers are easier to pick up and handle if you are using a single primer tool.

.45 ACP pistol cartridge handloading reloading guide powder loads

The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge is a rimless straight-walled handgun cartridge originally developed in 1904 by John Moses Browning for use in his prototype Colt semi-automatic pistol. After successful military trials, it was adopted as the standard chambering for Colt’s M1911 pistol.

For reloading, there are many good powder choices. We recommend Vihtavuori N320. This is very accurate and burns cleaner than some otherwise good powders, such as Accurate (AA) No. 5 and Unique.

Basic Reloading for the .45 ACP Cartridge

This is the most-viewed .45 ACP reloading video on YouTube. It is directed primarily for the novice or prospective reloader. It covers the basic processes: case inspection, cleaning, trimming, sizing, priming, powder filling, bullet seating, and crimping. The video creator notes: “Trimming pistol/revolver brass is optional and usually not necessary. it was included because that is what I did when I first began reloading, before I found out that handgun brass does not stretch as much as bottleneck rifle brass.”

.45 ACP pistol cartridge handloading reloading guide powder loads

How To Reload .45 ACP Start to Finish — Tutorial for Newer Reloaders

This is a detailed 30-minute video that shows the reloading process start to finish. The cases are sized and bullets seated using a single-stage RCBS press. The cases are primed using an RCBS hand-priming tool which keeps multiple primers in a tray. For efficiency, we recommend this vs. seating primers using the priming system on the press itself.

Safety First When Loading All Cartridges

Along with the first two instructional videos above, we include two important videos focused on reloading safety. In the first video, UltimateReloader’s Gavin Gear explains how to check your cartridge during the loading process to eliminate squib loads and other defects. In the second video, Starline Brass tech Hunter Pilant explains how to avoid double charges.

Load .45 ACP Safely — Avoid Squib Loads and Overcharges

You need to check the powder level of EVERY round you load. Do this visually BEFORE seating a bullet. (Or, with a progressive press, use a lock-out die that monitors powder levels). This is very important because a squib load (with little or no powder) can leave a bullet lodged in the barrel. A subsequent full, live round can cause a Kaboom with dire consequences.

Preventing Double Charges — Use a Case-filling Powder with .45 ACP

IMPORTANT TIP: Use a bulky powder that fills your case more than half way with a correct charge. “This will over-fill the case if it is double-charged, making it impossible to load. This is one safeguard that can keep you from making a big [mistake]” (Hunter Pilant, Starline). A bulky powder with high fill level will also be easier to see inside the case.

The Progressive Option — Loading .45 ACP on the Dillon 550B

Once you have mastered the basics of reloading for the .45 ACP, if you require large quantities of ammo, you may want to consider getting a progressive press. Progressive presses can significantly increase your ammo output, but there are also important safety considerations. You need to be careful about powder levels and priming. In this video, Gavin Gear explains how to reload safely with a Dillon 550B progressive press. The equivalent current model is the Dillon 550C.

.45 ACP Ammunition Loading Guide — Nosler Data

If you “roll your own” .45 ACP cartridges, there are many good powder choices. Our favorites are Vihtavuori N320, AA No. 5, and Hodgdon TiteGroup, but there are many other good choices. You’ll find these three recommended powders (plus many others) in the .45 ACP Load Data Charts from Nosler. Shown below are the Nosler Guides for 185gr bullets and 230gr bullets. Right-click each image below to access/download printable PDF files.

Click for PDF File
.45 ACP Nosler reloading guide powder loads

Click for PDF File
.45 ACP Nosler reloading guide powder loads


* However, be aware that CCI and other companies are now manufacturing .45 ACP brass with SMALL PRIMER POCKETS. Whenever you get new brass, be sure so check ALL the cases for primer size, and segregate large and small in two groups. Attempting to push a large primer into a small primer hole can lead to jams, or worse, dangerous detonation. Be CAREFUL!

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January 6th, 2022

Cheap Tricks: Measure Shoulder Bump Using a Pistol Case

.45 acp pistol case bump gauge headspace tool

Here is a simple, low-cost way to get reliable readings of case headspace when you “bump” the shoulder back on your 6BR, .243 Win, or .308 Win brass. Credit Boyd Allen for this tip. First, you’ll need one .45 acp case (.40 SW works too), with primer removed. Make sure the pistol case is trimmed square and that it is round. We recommend you first size it, trim it and chamfer. Next, take the .45 acp (or .40 SW) case and slip it over the neck of a fired, unsized rifle case with the primer removed. Align the two cases between the jaws of your calipers and note the length from rim to rim (See photo below, with striped case).

OK, now you have the length for a fired rifle case BEFORE sizing. Next, take a full-length sized rifle case (without primer) and do the same thing, placing the pistol case over the neck of the FL-sized case (Bottom Photo). The difference between the two numbers is the amount of “bump” or set-back you are applying to the shoulder. Here the difference is .0015″. The amount of bump you need varies with your chamber and your load, but .0015-.002″ is a good initial setting. By using this simple tool, you can avoid bumping the shoulder too much. This will also help you set-up the depth of your full-length die to get the proper amount of bump each time.

Other Pistol Brass Types Work Too: Some folks have used this method but they prefer to work with 10mm or .40 SW brass rather than a .45 acp, because slightly smaller-diameter pistol cases may conform to the shoulders of their sized rifle cases a bit better. That works fine — use whatever pistol brass case works best for your rifle brass. We got very repeatable results with .45 acp brass but the method also works with 10mm or .40 SW brass. Just be sure the pistol brass has been sized, trimmed, chamfered, and de-burred.

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July 17th, 2021

Big Weekend for Pistol Shooters at Camp Perry

Camp Perry Pistol Games 2021 CMP July

It’s Pistol Time at Camp Perry this weekend. Today Saturday July 17, 2021, Perry’s Pistol ranges will see hundreds of competitors for the President’s 100 Pistol Match, the National Trophy Individual Match, the National Trophy Team Matches, and the Glock Match. Tomorrow, July 18th, the handgun phase of the CMP National Matches concludes with the Oliver Hazard Perry Pop-Up Pistol Match, Military & Police Pistol Match, 1911 As-Issued Pistol Match, and the final Glock Match. After the last match of each day, the CMP Pistol Games Awards will be distributed to the top shooters. SEE 2021 CMP National Matches Calendar.

This video shows .45 ACP centerfire pistol competitors at Camp Perry

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

The 2021 National Matches encompass multiple pistol competitions, including a Centerfire Pistol 900 Aggregate, a .45 Pistol 900 Aggregate, and a CMP Revolver Match. To learn more about CMP events at the 2021 National Matches at Camp Perry, visit the CMP Nat’l Matches Website.

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

See Photos from 2019 NRA Pistol Championships

Shooting Sports USA has a slide-show featuring 40 images from the 2019 NRA Pistol Championships at Camp Perry. SSUSA Editor John Parker noted: “A big thank you to Mr. John Rickards for his hard work on the firing line to grab the majority of these great images.”

Philip Hemphill 2019 pistol championship camp perry ssusa lapua

HOW TO SEE 40 PHOTOS — IMPORTANT: Click the above photo. Then when you get to the SSUSA.org site, put your finger (or mouse arrow) on the first photo. Then SWIPE LEFT to see the next of 40 total images. As you progress, you can then swipe back and forth.

Camp Perry Pistol Games 2021 CMP July

An American Tradition — National Pistol Matches at Camp Perry

NTT National Trophy Team Pistol Match Camp Perry Gold Cup

The National Matches at Camp Perry are a great American tradition. Over the past 114 years, hundreds of thousands of competitors have attended the matches at Perry on the shores of Lake Erie. Don Weihl, an avid shooter now in his 80s, has great memories from pistol matches at Camp Perry. In a story for the CMP, Don recounts the halcyon days of pistol competition at Camp Perry, when thousands of shooters competed on the pistol firing lines each summer. Don attended over 40 matches at Camp Perry starting in 1963. Here is part of his account:

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

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

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

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February 20th, 2021

Super-Slow-Motion Firearms Highlight Reel

Bullet theory films slow motion slo-mo ultra high speed camera video

Here’s an stunning highlight reel created by Bullet Theory Films, a Los Angeles-based production company that specializes in capturing action that is too quick for the human eye to see. Using ultra-high-speed cameras, these talented film-makers have captured blindingly fast phenomena — things that happen in micro-seconds. The resulting video imagery can be used for R&D, scientific analysis, product marketing, or (of course) entertainment.

We recommend you watch this video full-screen in High-Definition:

This impressive slo-mo “sizzle reel” features many notable sequences, including:

00:18: .45 ACP leaving m1911 muzzle
00:27: Rifle bullet penetrating barrier with explosive ejecta
00:33: M1A cycling 7.62×51 cartridges
00:38: Pistol bullet disintegrating on steel
00:40: Huge muzzle flame from 12ga shotgun and lead shot on steel
00:45: 5.56 bullet in ballistics gelatin with secondary explosion
01:07: Handgun flame ring from muzzle
01:11: Massive shotgun blast with slug in midair

About the Film-Makers
Bullet Theory Films Co-Founders Matt Novello and Matt Drake first met on the set of History Channel’s highly successful competition reality show TOP SHOT. Throughout five seasons, the show set a benchmark in the art of capturing firearms and live ammunition in action, which has yet to be surpassed.

Utilizing the latest digital high speed technology, Bullet Theory Films offers a full range of production services; from concept development, to the final delivery of your vision. For more information, visit BulletTheoryFilms.com.

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September 10th, 2020

Splitting Two Cards at Once with Twin-Barreled 1911

Kirsten Joy Weiss 1911 2011 Arsenal Twin Barrel Playing Card

One Pistol, Two Barrels, Two Playing Cards — here’s a trick shot we just had to share. The talented Kirsten Joy Weiss does something we’ve never seen before, splitting TWO (2) playing cards with a unique, twin-barreled 1911-style pistol. Watch the video to see Kirsten pull off this double-barreled doozy of a trick, firing two bullets at the same time.

It took a few tries, but Kirsten makes the shot at the 3:14 time-mark:

Kirsten Joy Weiss 1911 2011 Arsenal Twin Barrel Playing Card

Kirsten was enthusiastic about this unique trick: “Splitting two cards with two bullets fired at once? The double-barreled 1911 was just begging for a trick shot application. Arsenal Firearm’s 2011 A1 twin-barrel, 1911-style pistol is a heavy monster to wrangle, but a lot of fun to shoot!”

Kirsten Joy Weiss 1911 2011 Arsenal Twin Barrel Playing Card

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April 4th, 2020

Loading for the .45 ACP — VV N320 and Other Good Powders

VV N320 for .45 ACP

There’s an interesting thread in our Shooters Forum right now — all about good choices for a .45 ACP handgun. If you’re considering getting your first .45 ACP pistol, you should read that thread. If you already own one or more .45 ACP handguns, this article offers some good tips on handloading options.

Forum Thread: Which .45 ACP Handgun to Purchase — Members Offer Suggestions

VV N320 for .45 ACPGood Powder Choices for the .45 ACP
We know that many of our readers own .45 ACP handguns and load for this extremely accurate “classic” cartridge. When selecting a powder for the .45 ACP, there are many good options. All the major powder manufacturers make propellants with appropriate density and burn rate characteristics for the .45 ACP. Popular choices include: AA #5 (Accurate Powder); Bullseye (Alliant); Clays, HP-38, and Titegroup (Hodgdon); VV N310 and N320 (Vihtavuori); and WW 231 and WST (Winchester). We’ve tried all those powders in a variety of .45 ACP handguns. When we consider all the factors that make for a good pistol powder, we think N320 is one of the best available propellants for the .45 ACP.

Vihtavuori N320 is very accurate, it meters well, and it burns clean, with minimal smoke and flash. If you haven’t tried VV N320 yet, you should.

Pros and Cons of Different Powders for the .45 ACP
This Editor has personally tried out eight or more different powders for the .45 ACP. Bullseye works but it is very dirty (both smoke out the barrel and sooty powder fouling on case). Though it otherwise burns clean, Titegroup leaves a singular (and nasty) high-temp flame streak on your brass that is hard to remove. AA #5 is a good choice for progressive press newbies as you use more powder so a double charge will (usually) be obvious. I like AA #5 but N320 was more accurate. Clays burns clean but some powder measures struggle with flake powders like this. WW 231 offered excellent accuracy and metered well, but it kicked out sparks with little pieces of debris that would hit me in the face. Who wants that?

I personally tried all the powders listed above with lead, plated, and jacketed bullets. After testing for accuracy, consistency, and ease of metering, I selected VV N320 as the best overall performer.

Vihtavuori N320

  • No powder tested was more accurate (WW 231 was equally accurate).
  • Meters very well in all kinds of powder measures.
  • Produces very little smoke from muzzle.
  • Does not put nasty burn streak on brass like Tite-Group does.
  • Low Flash — you don’t get particles and sparks flying out like WW 231.
  • Cases come out from gun very clean — so you can tumble less often.

Forum member and gunsmith Michael Ezell agrees that N320 is a good choice for the .45 ACP. Mike has also found that WW 231, while accurate, produces sparks and a large flash. Mike writes: “I first started using N320 after my first night shoot, while shooting IDPA/IPSC matches. It was astonishing how much of a fireball the WW 231 created. I was literally blinded by the flash while trying to shoot a match. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out very well. I went from WW 231 to N320 and never looked back…and the flash from it was a fraction of what a kid’s sparkler would give off. I have nothing but good things to say about [N320] after using both. Night shoots are a real eye-opener! When it comes to a personal protection… there is, statistically, a very high chance that if you ever have to use a gun to protect yourself or your family, it’ll be in the darkness[.] Being blinded by muzzle flash (and deafened by the noise) are things that should be considered, IMO.”

This Editor owns a full-size, all-stainless S&W 1911. After trying numerous powders, I found VV N320 delivered the best combination of accuracy, easy metering, consistency, clean burning qualities, and low muzzle flash. My gun has proven exceptionally accurate using N320 with bullets from 180 grains to 230 grains — it will shoot as accurately as some expensive customs I’ve tried. At right is 5-round group I shot offhand at 10 yards with my 5″ S&W 1911.

NOTE: The bullet hole edges are sharp because I was using semi-wad-cutters, and the target paper is thick. Rounds were loaded with Vihtavuori N320 and 200-grain SWCs from Precision Bullets in Texas. We shoot Precision’s coated bullets in many of our pistols. These projectiles are accurate and they seem to reduce fouling in our pistol barrels. You can learn about them in this video:

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December 23rd, 2019

1911s in a Nutshell — Field Stripping and Loading Info

Do you shoot a .45 ACP? We love this short, fat cartridge because it is inherently accurate, it makes big, easy-to-see holes in paper, and because it it works so well in the classic 1911 series of pistols. It is hard to beat a good, tuned model 1911 when it comes to trigger pull/reset and natural pointing ability.

Once you get the hang of it, 1911-type pistols are also easy to field strip for cleaning. Here is a video showing how to disassemble and reassemble your model 1911:

Model 1911 Field Stripping and Reassembly

.45 ACP Ammunition Loading Guide

If you “roll your own” .45 ACP cartridges, there are many good powder choices. Our favorites are Vihtavuori N320, AA No. 5, and Hodgdon TiteGroup, but there are many other good choices. You’ll find these three recommended powders (plus seven others) in this .45 ACP Reloading Guide from Nosler. We like the 180-190gr class of .45-cal bullets because they offer excellent accuracy with moderate recoil. However Nosler also offers a 230gr bullet load table if you prefer the heavy bullets in your .45 ACP handgun.

Nosler .45 ACP 45 reloading guide 185 grain bullet

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June 24th, 2019

BargainFinder 196: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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

1. March Optics — Retirement Sale, 30% Off All Scopes in Stock

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder March Optics 30% Off discount sale

March Optics delivers some of the most advanced (and unique) optics technology on the planet. But those top-of-the-line March scopes were always a big investment. But now, you can get superb, ultra-premium March scopes for 30% Off. Shiraz Balolia, President of March Optics USA, has decided to stop retailing optics. As a result, March scopes are now being discounted 30% — that’s a huge savings. This sale pricing applies to ALL March scopes, limited to stock in hand. Here are some of the deals:

1. Genesis Extreme Long Range Scope, $4865.00 (marked down from $6950.00)
2. 10-60x56mm High Master Tactical Turrets MTR-1, $2765.00 (marked down from $3950.00)
3. 8-80x56mm Tactical Turrets MTR-4, $2572.50 (marked down from $3675.00)
4. 5-40x56mm FFP Tactical Turrets FMA-2, $2572.50 (marked down from $3675.00)
5. 3-24x52mm FFP Tactical Turrets Illuminated FML-T1, $2572.50 (marked down from $3675.00)
6. 2.5-25x52mm Tactical Turrets Illuminated MTR-3, $2572.50 (marked down from $3675.00)

2. EuroOptic — Mauser M18 Rifles 30% Off (Great Deal)

mauser m18 hunting rifle sale germany

A huge shipment of Mauser M18 rifles is en-route to EuroOptic from Germany. In preparation for this rifle influx, EuroOptic has slashed prices on all M18s. Expect to save $200 to $250 per rifle. For example, the 6.5 Creedmoor M18 is marked down from $699 to $499 (save $200) while the .243 Win M18 is discounted from $699 to $459 ($240 savings). Eight chamberings will be available including the new 6.5 PRC as well as hunting classics like the .270 Win, .308 Win, .30-06 Springfield, and 7mm Remington Magnum. The Mauser M18 is a fine European-crafted rifle with a 3-lug bolt, smooth 60° bolt lift, and quality hammer-forged barrel. NOTE: Pending arrival, EuroOptic is taking back-orders which are effectively “pre-orders”.

3. Midway USA — Norma 6.5 Creedmoor Brass, 250 for $99.99

norma 6.5 Creedmoor brass PRS long range

The 6.5 Creedmoor is more popular than ever but like any super-trendy cartridge, supplies seem to be either out of stock or too expensive. If you have a 6.5 Creedmoor, check out this killer deal. You can get 250 Norma 6.5 Creedmoor cases for only $99.99. That works out to just forty cents per case — less than half what you’d pay for some other 6.5 Creedmoor brass. We can’t remember the last time we’ve seen such a great deal on quality brass for such a popular cartridge. But you better act soon — we expect this MidwayUSA deal to sell out quickly.

4. Natchez — Blazer Brass .45 ACP Ammo, Free Hazmat $150+

Blazer CCI .45 ACP Brass bargain free HazMat

We love our .45 ACP pistols, and we regularly shoot CCI Blazer Brass .45 ACP ammo. It has proved accurate and super reliable. Right now Natchez is offering a great deal — 500 230gr FMJ rounds for just $144.99, a $35.00 savings. Add a box or two of rimfire ammo to put your order over $150.00, then use CODE FH190621 during checkout and and you’ll qualify for FREE HazMat!

5. Midsouth — Rock Chucker Reloading Kit and Free Die, $269.49

Deals of Week RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Kit

Everything you see above can be yours for just $269.49. Amazing Deal. Right now, Midsouth is selling the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for $269.49, a fine price considering all the hardware you get: Press, Primer Tool, Scale, Powder Measure, Loading Tray, Reloading Manual and more. Heck, the Rock Chucker press alone is worth $165.00+. This is good starter kit for any reloader with sturdy items, such as the Rock Chucker, that will last a lifetime. And now through 7/7/2019 you’ll get a free RCBS FL die set as a bonus. NOTE: This FREE DIE set is offered through RCBS and will ship separately after you submit a form.

6. Amazon — Plano 52″ Double Rifle Case with Wheels, $99.99

Plano double scoped rifle case with wheels

This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case is an Amazon #1 Best Seller for good reason. It offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is just $99.99 with FREE Shipping, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00, so you can buy two Planos for the price of one SKB. The 51.5″ interior will fit most scoped competition rifles up to about 29″ barrels (measure your own rifle to make sure). If you separate the barreled action from the stock you can transport even ultra-long ELR rifles. The handles are convenient and beefy and the wheels make this case easy to move. This is a very tough, roomy case for the money — plus there’s Free Shipping! There is also a smaller 42″ version for $64.99.

Exterior Dimensions: 53.5″ x 17″ x 7″
Interior Dimensions: 51.5″ x 14″ x 5.5″
Pluckable Interior Dimensions: 46″ x 10″
Features: Wheels, Secure Latches, O-Ring Seal, Pressure Relief Valve, Customizable Foam

7. Taurus G2c 9mm — $179.99 with Factory Rebate

Carry pistol $180 bargain Taurus G2C ccw handgun review discount sales

This is a good little gun at a great price. Taurus has a factory Rebate through 7/7/19. Palmetto State Armory is selling the sub-compact Taurus 9mm with black frame and stainless steel slide for just $209.99 with FREE Shipping. But the Taurus $30 Factory Rebate lowers your price to just $179.99 for this G2c. Or, if you like the milspec look, you can also get an OD-Green G2c G2c for $184.99 after rebate, just $5.00 more. Despite its small size, the G2c has a 12-round magazine. We like the fact it has a left-side manual safety (unlike the Glock).

8. Graf’s — Platinum Case Prep & Trim + EZ Tumbler, $179.99

case prep and trim sale

If you want to step up your brass preparation game, here’s a great deal. Graf’s is offering the Frankford Arsenal Case Prep & Trim PLUS the EZ Tumbler for only $179.99. That’s an amazing deal considering you could pay $199.99 or more for the Prep & Trim unit by itself, and the EZ Tumbler is regularly $50 or more. This Grafs.com combo deal represents a savings of nearly $70.00.

9. Powder Valley — Alliant and CCI Factory Rebates

Vista Outdoor Alliant Powder CCI Primers bullets Speer Federal brass components reloading

Powder Valley notified us about some great Rebate offers from Alliant and CCI. If you need powder or primers, now is a great time to buy — this offer ends June 30, 2019! NOTE: These rebates are separate programs. To qualify for these rebates you need to buy at least 4 pounds of Alliant powder OR spend at least $100 on CCI components. You can’t mix and match to qualify — each program has its own minimums.

ALLIANT Powder — More Bang for your Buck$ Rebate
If you buy at least four (4) pounds of powder you get $2.00 back per pound, with a rebate limit of $20 (for ten pounds). Minimum purchase four (4) pounds required.

CCI — Primed for Action Rebate
Spend at least $100 on CCI® reloading primers to get 20% of the purchase price back. Rebate amount calculated on purchase price only, does not include taxes and/or shipping/handling fees. Maximum rebate $100 per person or household. Minimum spend $100 required.

10. Amazon — NcStar Vism Shooting Mat, $24.99

Shooting Mat

Looking for a good mat at a great price? For $24.99 now you can grab this NcStar Vism shooting mat. This has decent padding, and reinforced areas for elbows and knees. Full dimensions are: 69″ Long x 35″ Wide. This mat has straps for pre-loading your bipod. When you’re done simply fold in the edges, roll it up into a compact 19.50″ W x 8.50″ H package — about the same size as a sleeping bag. You can pay twice as much for a shooting mat and not get much more quality. Purchaser reviews have been very positive. This mat has earned 80% Five-Star buyer ratings on Amazon.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Handguns, Hot Deals, Optics, Reloading, Tactical 1 Comment »
June 1st, 2019

Cheap Tricks: How to Measure Shoulder Bump Using .45 ACP Case

.45 acp pistol case bump gauge headspace tool

Here is a simple, low-cost way to get reliable readings of case headspace when you “bump” the shoulder back on your 6BR, .243 Win, or .308 Win brass. Credit Boyd Allen for this tip. First, you’ll need one .45 acp case, with primer removed. Make sure the .45 acp case is trimmed square and that it is round. We recommend you first run it through an expander, then size it, trim it and chamfer. Next, take the .45 acp case and slip it over the neck of a fired, unsized rifle case with the primer removed. Align the two cases between the jaws of your calipers and note the length from rim to rim (See photo below, with striped case).

OK, now you have the length for a fired rifle case BEFORE sizing. Next, take a full-length sized rifle case (without primer) and do the same thing, placing the .45 acp case over the neck of the FL-sized case (Bottom Photo). The difference between the two numbers is the amount of “bump” or set-back you are applying to the shoulder. Here the difference is .0015″. The amount of bump you need varies with your chamber and your load, but .0015-.002″ is a good initial setting. By using this simple tool, you can avoid bumping the shoulder too much. This will also help you set-up the depth of your full-length die to get the proper amount of bump each time.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 4 Comments »