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July 26th, 2016

Handy Magnifiers Help Old Eyes with Reloading Tasks

Magnifying lens LED light relaoding

pocket fold-out magnifierWhat is the most-used piece of equipment on this editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check primer pockets, inspect meplats, and look for flaws on bullet jackets. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless. I keep one magnifier at my reloading bench and another in my range kit.

Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at FoldingMagnifier.com and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.95. To see the finest details, Widget Supply offers a powerful 9X/18X slide-out magnifier with a built-in, battery-powered LED light. With that gadget, you can easily see any minute flaws in your barrel crowns. That’s important because crown damage can cause hard-to-diagnose accuracy issues. We’ve known guys who spend weeks tinkering with loads, when the real problem was a worn-out or damaged crown.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
September 10th, 2014

TECH TIP: Handy Accessories for Your Gun Safe

October’s just around the corner — that means temperatures will be dropping soon in Northern climes. In a month or two, many of you will be putting your guns into storage for many months. To prevent rust from forming on your valuable firearms, you’ll want to control the temperature and humidity in your safe. By maintaining a warm temperature you can keep the relative humidity (in your safe) above the dew point and prevent moisture from condensing on your guns. One popular way to keep a safe warm is to use a Goldenrod. Though marketed as a “de-humidifier”, the Goldenrod tube is actually a simple electric heater. Placed in the bottom of your safe, the Goldenrod can help keep the relative humidity above the dew point.

Goldenrod for gun safes

Rope Lights — Light and Heat for Your Gun Safe
While Goldenrods work, they only provide heat, and Goldenrods typically retail for $20.00-$30.00. There is a less expensive solution that provides both light AND heat. A section of incandescent Rope Lighting will light up your safe AND warm the air. A 6-foot section of rope lighting costs about $6.00 at Lowes. The 6-foot strands can be linked together in longer chains. Rope Lighting can easily be installed in your safe with clips or velcro fasteners. One 6-foot long incandescent Rope Light draws about 18 watts of power — the same as an 18″ Goldenrod. Sheathed in plastic tubing, the incandescent Rope Lighting is slightly warm to the touch. A single 6-foot long strand of incandescent Rope Lighting maintains this Editor’s 23-cubic-foot indoor safe comfortably above 65° F all the time. (If you live in a colder area, or keep your safe in the garage, you may need a longer Rope Light, or a Rope Light in combination with a Goldenrod. Incandescent Rope Lights draw about 0.25 watts per bulb or about 3 watts per foot. Goldenrods draw about 12 watts per foot of length.)

Not All Rope Lighting is the Same — Incandescent vs. LED
Thus far, we’ve been talking about incandescent Rope Lights. For more money, you can also purchase energy-efficient LED ropes. LED Rope Lights draw much less electricity, but they won’t provide as much heat as incandescent Rope Lighting. It you use LED strands, you need to string longer sections to warm your safe. Or, just use LED strings for interior lighting only and then add a Goldenrod for heat.

Monitor Temp and Humidity with Thermometer/Hygrometer
To ensure that your safe’s interior is staying warm and dry, you can place a small temp/humidity sensor inside the safe. You can use either an Analog (dial-type) Thermometer-Hygrometer, or a battery-powered Thermometer-Hygrometer with digital read-out. Both digital and analog units can be purchased for $10 to $15 from internet vendors. Some of the digital units have dual temp sensors, so you can monitor the temperature both inside and outside your safe. That lets you gauge how well your safe-warming system is working.

thermometer-hygrometerthermometer-hygrometer

WARNING: As with all electrical products, use caution with rope lighting. Follow manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid placing ropes in direct contact with paper or other flammable objects. Monitor surface temperatures.

Permalink Tech Tip 2 Comments »
September 23rd, 2013

Handy Small Magnifiers Aid Many Reloading Tasks

pocket fold-out magnifierWhat is the most-used piece of equipment on this editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check primer pockets, inspect meplats, and look for flaws on bullet jackets. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless. I keep one magnifier at my reloading bench and another in my range kit.

Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at FoldingMagnifier.com and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.95. To see the finest details, Widget Supply offers a powerful 17X/50X slide-out magnifier with a built-in, battery-powered LED light. With that gadget, you can easily see any minute flaws in your barrel crowns. That’s important because crown damage can cause hard-to-diagnose accuracy issues. We’ve known guys who spend weeks tinkering with loads, when the real problem was a worn-out or damaged crown.

pocket fold-out magnifier

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 3 Comments »
February 27th, 2011

New Cannon Commander Safe Has the ‘Right Stuff’

Cannon Safe has a new series of gunsafes with many smart features that we wish were found on ALL premium safes. There are many other quality safes out there, but we were pleased to see how Cannon equips its new Commander Series Safes. Whether you end up with a Cannon safe or not, if you are shopping for large gun safes, check to see whether it offers these important features found in the Cannon Commanders:

Reinforced Steel Frame
Cannon Commanders has a 5.75″ double-steel composite door, double-steel reinforced door frame, multiple re-lockers and 1.5″ active-locking bolts on the top, side and bottom of the door. Each safe is predrilled for floor bolting.

High-Quality Lock
Too many gunsafes have cheap digital locks that can fail unpredictably. We recommend that all gunsafes have commercial grade rotary (mechanical), or digital locks. On Cannon’s Commander safes, contents are accessed with a commercial grade Type 1 electronic lock that is backlit and protected with three layers of extra-hard 60+ RC steel hard-plate. You can also order a mechanical lock if you prefer. A good commercial-grade mechanical lock, maintained properly, will last a couple lifetimes.

Door Seal that Expands with Heat
A good door seal is really important in the “real world” ability of a safe to protect its contents during a fire. Many other safes claim fire-protection because they have some sheet rock panels inside, but they lack critical door-sealing. The Commander Series has an Intertek-ETL verified fire rating of 1200° F for 90 minutes and features a triple fin intumescent cold smoke expandable seal and heat-activated door seal that expands when exposed to heat.

Internal Power and Computer Hook-ups
A state-of-the-art internal power supply system with two 110 power outlets, USB port and RJ45 Ethernet connection keep computers and other electronics charged and connected. An electric dehumidifier is available as an option.

Built-In LED Lighting
In our Gun Safe Buyers’ Guide, we recommend the use of efficient LED light clusters. Cannon has gone this one better, with multidirectional LED lights that activate when the door is opened and shut off when closed, providing a bright clear view of the safe’s contents.

Versatile Door Storage System
Many safe owners like to use the door for rapid access to handguns, knives, Maglites, tools, and other security gear. The Cannon Commander Safes ship with a custom door panel organizer that holds dozens of handguns and accessories.

Cannon Commander Safes are offered in two models and six colors (gloss black, matte black, gray, white, tan, dark red, and green). Cannon offers a lifetime, hassle-free, zero-cost warranty. If a Cannon safe is ever damaged due to a fire, natural flood, or burglary Cannon will cover all costs to repair or replace the safe, even if the owner is not the original purchaser. (Contents are not covered).

Model: Commander CO43
Factory-Direct Price: $3,149.21
Weight:1457 lbs.
Dimensions:72”x40”x28” (depth includes dial and handle)
Gun Capacity: 36 (actual capacity can vary depending on gun size)

Model: Commander CO54
Factory-Direct Price: $3,519.81
Weight:1672 lbs.
Dimensions:72”x50”x28” (depth includes dial and handle)
Gun Capacity: 48 (actual capacity can vary depending on gun size)

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June 22nd, 2010

Kinetic-Powered Flashlight Needs No Batteries

The problem with most flashlights is that, when you really need them the most, you often find the batteries are discharged. A flashlight with dead batteries is useless in an emergency. The new LED Magna flashlight doesn’t need batteries at all. Inside the housing is a copper coil. By shaking the handle of the unit you cause a magnet to pass back and forth through the coil. This generates electricity which is stored in a capacitor. Just a few shakes will generate light.

kinetic flashlight LED kinetic flashlight LED

The LED Magna Light costs just $4.68 plus shipping from www.techdeals.us. At that price you can afford to keep one of these lamps in each of your vehicles, plus one in your range kit or “bug-out” bag. Now we just wish somebody made kinetic-powered cell phones and GPS units. It seems we are always struggling with low batteries on those often-used electronic devices. And why hasn’t anybody put a solar panel on the back of the iPhone yet?

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April 6th, 2009

Leupold Introduces new Compact RX-1000 Rangefinder

Leupold has released a new ultra-compact laser rangefinder, the RX-1000. This thing is tiny — not much larger than a pack of cigarettes. The pocket-sized RX-1000 measures 3.8 inches long and weighs just 7.8 ounces. The “street price” for the basic RX-1000 unit is about $350.00 while the TBR® model with built-in ballistics compensation runs about $400.00 (OpticsPlanet.com prices). Both the RX-1000 and RX-1000 TBR units feature an aluminum frame, inside a weatherproof, matte-black, rubber-armored exterior. The RX-1000 TBR is also available in Mossy Oak® camouflage.

Leupold RX-1000 rangefinder Leupold RX-1000 rangefinder

Beyond the reduction in size and weight, the notable feature of the RX-1000 is an improved optic with better light transmission. Leupold claims the RX-1000’s 80% light transmission is superior to most other rangefinders. In addition, the RX-1000 features a RED OLED read-out. In low light conditions, the OLED is definitely easier to view that conventional LCD displays.

Leupold claims the RX-1000 has a maximum effective range of 1,000 yards (914.4 meters) on reflective targets. Based on the performance of other Leupold rangefinders, we expect this claim is grossly optimistic and you shouldn’t count on reliable ranging much past 700 yards.

One feature we like about the new RX-1000 are the selectable reticles: a small “Plus Point” crosshair for ranging small targets, a larger outer crosshair, or a combination of the two. This is a feature we’d like to see added to premium rangefinders like the Swarovski laser guide. Choosing a tight reticle lets you aim the device more precisely, which reduces the chance of errant laser returns.

We think it’s wise to pay the money for the TBR model which automatically calculates the shot angle and provides the actual Ballistic Range rather than the straight-line distance to the target. This can be very helpful for hunters shooting at extreme up or down angles in mountainous country. To learn more about the RX-1000, check out Jeff Quinn’s Gunblast.com Review, visit www.leupold.com, or call 1-800-LEUPOLD.

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December 18th, 2007

NEW Hat Brim LED Lamps

Looking for the ultimate “stocking-stuffer” this Christmas? Here is a very clever new head-lamp that has been flying off the shelves this holiday season. The unit features five (5) bright LED bulbs and clips on to the brim of a cap, for hands-free illumination. Smart idea. This would be great to use both indoors (while reloading) and outdoors (for camping).

Here’s what one hunter had to say: “I found this light to be one of the best buys I have made in a long time. It is very easy to use, it always shines where you are looking and has a bright enough light to see for a long way. It is light and compact and is not prone to moving around like other clip on lights.” — L. Campbell, CA

If you read other User Reviews, the general consensus is that these LED brim lights are extremely useful and handy, and are a bargain. On the downside, users have noted that the clips that go over the brim can break easily. This seems to be a brand-specific problem. Some of these units have a more flexible high-quality polymer while others are made with a more brittle, cheaper plastic.

There are many different sources for these LED Brim Lights. You can even find a camo version with red lamps for stealth hunting. Price ranges from $3.99 to $21.99. The unit shown below costs $5.99 at Amazon.com.

For an extended review with better, larger photos, visit The-Gadgeteer.com.

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