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January 6th, 2015

Chain Fire! What Happens When a Primer Column Detonates

What can happen when the bottom-most primer in a primer feed tube goes off? A big bang, that’s what. Some or all of the primers in the vertical feeding tube can go off in a chain detonation. That’s exactly what happened to Dustin Ellermann, Top Shot Season 3 Champion. Scary experience, but thankfully Dustin was not injured. He writes: “Super thankful that I was wearing my Wiley X eye protection this weekend when I was reloading some .223 rounds. My press detonated nearly 100 small rifle primers. Shown here is the magazine feed tube. Not fun but it could have been much worse. Stay safe!”

RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonation

When working with progressive reloading presses, you should definitely wear eye protection. Dustin’s chain detonation experience proves that — without a doubt. Remember you only have one set of eyes!

APS Strips — Alternative to Primer Tubes
RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonationWhen you stack a column of primers in a single metal tube, you’re asking for trouble. As Dustin Ellermann learned, when one primer fires, the entire column can follow suit in a chain detonation. Thankfully, you do have options when it comes to primer feeding on a progressive press. RCBS developed an innovative primer system for its Pro-2000 progressive press. Instead of being stored in a vertical tube, primers are placed in flat, plastic “APS” strips, with a ring of plastic separating each primer. Moving horizontally, primers are never stacked, so the chance of a chain detonation is reduced dramatically. The re-usable APS strips are color-coded for different primer types. You can buy CCI “pre-loaded” primer strips, or you can insert any brand of primers into strips using an RCBS strip-loader tool.

RCBS Pro-2000 with APS Strip Priming System Editor Uses Strip Primers
This Editor owns an RCBS Pro-2000 progressive press (manual-indexing version). The RCBS strip-priming system was one key reason I selected the RCBS Pro-2000 over similar-priced progressives from Dillon and Hornady. I believe the strip primer system is safer, more positive, and easier to use. Before I purchased my RCBS progressive, I “road-tested” the competition. I loaded hundreds of rounds on each of four different progressives: Dillon 550B, Dillon 650, Hornady Lock-N-Load, and RCBS 2000. I was concerned about the primer feed tubes on the Dillons, and I found the RCBS rotary powder measure was much more precise (and easier to adjust) than the sliding bar system on the Dillon machines. The RCBS priming system was definitely more fool-proof than the system on the Hornady press (a first-generation L-N-L that had issues with primer feeding). After “test-driving” blue, red, and green brand progressives extensively, I settled on the RCBS Pro-2000. A decade later, I still think I made the right choice. I like the APS strips for big jobs, and I can also use them in the RCBS hand-priming tool (shown below). With the strips, its easy to prime 20 or 40 cases at a time, and then switch to another type of primer for comparison testing.

RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonation

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January 25th, 2012

SHOT Show: Dustin Ellermann, ‘Top Shot’ Champ, Speaks Out

We ran into Dustin Ellermann of ‘Top Shot’ fame at the Volquartsen booth at SHOT Show. Dustin is Top Shot’s Season 3 Champion. Dustin demonstrated his shooting abilities with a totally dominating performance on the Season 3 Final episode. And before that Dustin made what was probably the most difficult rifle shot ever on Top Shot — hitting a golf ball with a .22LR rifle at 100 yards — with no sighter shots and no windflags. That’s not easy, even with a rimfire benchrest rifle and $15/box ammo.

In the video interview above, Dustin explains how he made his now-famous golf ball shot, and he also talks about some of the more extreme marksmanship challenges on Top Shot — such as shooting at plates while being attached to a giant rotating wheel suspended off the ground.

Dustin Ellermann Golf Ball

Dustin Ellermann Top ShotIn winning the Top Shot Season 3 title, Dustin, a self-taught shooter in his first-ever real competition, beat 15 other skilled marksman, most with much more impressive “shooting resumes”. Displaying poise, speed, and superior accuracy, Dustin proved he had the “right stuff”. Time and time again, Dustin sent “big name” shooters (with years of competition experience) packing. And throughout the Top Shot season, Dustin, a Christian Camp Director, kept a positive attitude and exhibited good sportsmanship.

Dustin is a “natural” — a born marksman. But he’s not just a “gun guy”. In real life he serves as a minister, accountant, lumberjack, husband, father of two and foster father of three. Dustin lives in the middle of the Angelina National Forest and considers himself a Renaissance man.

From Fellow Top Shot Competitor Kelly Bachand (Season 1)
On an NRA radio segment before Top Shot Season 3 got underway, Colby Donaldson said that in Season 3 we would see one of the most talented shooters Top Shot has ever had, while not using Dustin’s name for obvious reasons. Colby went on to say that the performance was nearly unbelievable. When the season was complete, and Dustin was crowned champion, Colby declared: “Dustin may be the best shooter we ever had. He surprised everybody, it was across the board”.

I watched Dustin surprise the other competitors and America over and over again on Top Shot Season 3. I grew to respect him as I saw that his deep faith in God encouraged humility and sincerity that was lacking in many other competitors. Whether watching twelve hits in a row while spinning upside down, or watching Dustin hit a golf ball at 100 yards with no practice shots, he impressed us all at some point. To me, however, even more impressive was the way Dustin always remained humble and showed good sportsmanship towards those he had out-shot. I congratulate Dustin on his win, and was glad to be able to meet him recently. — Kelly B.

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