As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.











November 28th, 2022

GREAT Video on Making Brass and Precision Ammo — Watch Now

Norma factory ammo production video

Guys — honestly, if you do anything today on this site, watch this video. You won’t be disappointed. Guaranteed. This is a very informative (and surprisingly entertaining) video. Every serious hand-loader should watch this video to see how cartridge cases and loaded ammo are made. Your Editor has watched the video multiple times and I still find it fascinating. The camera work and editing are excellent — there are many close-ups revealing key processes such as annealing and head-stamping.

VERY Informative Video Show Cartridge Brass and Ammunition Production:

Norma has released a fascinating video showing how bullet, brass, and ammunition are produced at the Norma Precision AB factory which first opened in 1902. You can see how cartridges are made starting with brass disks, then formed into shape through a series of processes, including “hitting [the cup] with a 30-ton hammer”. After annealing (shown at 0:08″), samples from every batch of brass are analyzed (at multiple points along the case length) to check metal grain structure and hardness. Before packing, each case is visually inspected by a human being (3:27″ time-mark).

The video also shows how bullets are made from jackets and lead cores. Finally, you can watch the loading machines that fill cases with powder, seat the bullets, and then transport the loaded rounds to the packing system. In his enthusiasm, the reporter/narrator does sometimes confuse the term “bullets” and “rounds” (5:00″), but you can figure out what he means. We definitely recommend watching this video. It’s fascinating to see 110-year-old sorting devices on the assembly line right next to state-of-the art, digitally-controlled production machinery.

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
October 13th, 2022

Humidity Changes Can Alter Powder Burn Rates and Performance

Tech Tip Norma Powder gunpowder moisture temperature humidity

The leaves are falling, and that means the rainy season will soon begin in many areas of the country. With rain comes increased moisture in the air, i.e. increased humidity. And that, in turn, can affect how your powders perform by altering their burn rates.

Most shooters realize that significant changes in temperature will alter how powders perform. That’s why you want to keep your loaded ammo out of the hot sun, and keep rounds out of a hot chamber until you’re ready to fire. But there are other factors to be considered — HUMIDITY for one. This article explains why and how humidity can affect powder burn rates and performance.

We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry”. Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.

Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).

Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”

Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”

What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.

Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from MidwayUSA for $24.99.

Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter

Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”

If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
October 2nd, 2022

Sunday GunDay: Matt’s Screamin’ Yellow .243 Ackley Improved

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrest

.243 Ackley Improved for Long-Range Varminting and Benchrest Competition
Whenever Matt Bianchini brings his bright yellow .243 Ackley to the firing line, heads turn. This is one truly handsome rig–as good-looking as it is accurate. Built to smoke varmints at long-range as well as compete in 1000-yard benchrest matches, this rifle is proof that competition improves the breed. Fitted with a Farley action, Jewell trigger, Leupold LRT scope, and Lilja or Krieger barrel, the Yellow Ackley is a “no compromise” match rifle that can run with the big dogs in 1K Benchrest competition. And with the Ackley’s ability to toss 106gr Clinch Rivers at 3350 fps, this is one flat-shooting, hard-hitting varmint rifle.

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrest

Ultra-Fast, Ultra-Smooth Farley Action…and One Wicked Paint Job
The heart of Matt’s rifle is a Farley action. Farleys have found favor with Benchrest competitors, because the bolt can be worked so fast. And the Farley is as smooth as it is speedy. The difference is quite noticeable if you compare it to a blue-printed Rem 700, or even a recent Stolle Panda. Farleys were true customs, built one at a time by the Farley family in Oklahoma. Unlike a BAT action which is machined from billet steel, a Farley starts with a stainless investment casting, much like Ruger pistol frames. It uses a cone bolt for smooth, yet solid lock-up.

One of the unique features of the Farley is the ejector–it can be switched on or off, depending on the shooter’s preference. So, if you’re load testing some hot rounds, you can turn the ejector off. In a match you can turn the ejector “on” to function normally. Matt is now a confirmed Farley fanatic. He tells us: “I’ve got quite a few other very nice actions, including Nesikas. But none of them are as slick as that Farley. When you work the bolt it feels like it’s on ball-bearings.”

Matt’s Screamin’ Yellow Ackley–The Need for Speed

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrest

.243 Ackley Improved Speed Demon
In a long-range varmint rifle, speed kills. Ultra-high velocities will deliver flatter trajectories and more explosive hits on critters. That’s where the .243 Ackley Improved really shines.

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrest

Matt has explored the upper limits of .243 Ackley Improved (AI) performance with his yellow long-range rig, fitted with a 29″ Lilja 3-groove, 1:8″-twist barrel. Using a stout load of Alliant Reloder 25, Matt’s “Screamin’ Yellow Ackley” has topped 3340 fps with Clinch River 106s. That’s serious speed for heavy 6mm bullets. This shows a well-built .243 AI leaves Dashers and 6XCs in the dust when it comes to pure velocity.

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrestUltimate Evolution of the .243 Winchester
Matt’s show-stopping rifle is a .243 Ackley Improved (40-degree shoulder, .271″ neck), chambered with a Manson reamer. On top of the stainless Farley “S” action, in Farley 30mm rings, sits a Leupold LRT (1/16 MOA dot) boosted to 18X-40X by Premier Reticles. Matt has SIX barrels for the gun, three Lilja 3-grooves, a couple Kriegers, and a Shilen.

Matt’s gun currently sports an 8-twist 29″ Lilja 3-groove HV taper that Matt says cleans up like a dream. The stock is a Shehane ST-1000 Tracker made in fiberglass by McMillan, with a BAT trigger guard and Shehane polished billet aluminum buttplate. Prior to final finishing, Matt worked over the flats and some of the angles. That’s why the facets are so well-defined on this rifle compared to some ‘glass Trackers you may have seen. The gun was chambered by Dave Bruno of Cheswick, PA.

Matt bedded the stock and applied the stunning Sikken “Viper” yellow paint job himself. That flawless, smooth-as-glass Screamin’ Yellow finish is no ordinary paint-job, but then Matt Bianchini is no ordinary do-it-yourself painter. His family runs an automotive body-shop, so he had access to premium paints and a quarter-million-dollar spray booth with all the latest technology. Still, Matt spent many hours on this stock to get everything right, trying a couple colors before he settled on a Sikken automotive “Viper Race Yellow” formulated for the Dodge Viper sports car. After careful prep work, Matt sprayed two coats of Viper Yellow, and then added three coats of high-grade automotive clear, which was then baked-on in a heat chamber. Matt also painted the Sinclair front rest to match the stock, and even polished the surfaces of the Hoehn windage top. A lot of effort, Matt told us, was required to achieve the results you see here.

3300 fps for 1000 Yards
Though Matt’s Ackley has harvested its share of varmints, the gun was built with 1000-yard benchrest competition in mind. At left is the firing line at Thunder Valley, Ohio. Yep those targets (upper right) are 1000 yards away. Now you know why Matt has a 40-power scope.

.243 Win Ackley Improved AI varmint rifle

.243 Win Ackley Improved AI varmint rifle

The Yellow Ackley weighs just under 17 pounds to meet IBS and NBRSA “Light Gun” weight limits. While Matt says his bullets don’t “go to sleep” for a couple hundred yards, this gun can still shoot 1/4″ groups at 100 yards and hold that accuracy much, much farther. Matt reports, “my best-ever group was five shots in .397″ at 400 yards. Yep, I got lucky with the conditions, but this is a very accurate rifle.”

.243 Ackley Improved–More Velocity, Less Case Stretch

by Bob Blaine, Sinclair International

Parker Ackley reluctantly developed the .243 Ackley Improved (“AI”). Ackley finally gave in to his customers’ requests to develop the .243 AI. He had always felt that the .243 Winchester was already an improved configuration, but he did say that the best thing to be gained by improving the .243 Winchester was to substantially reduce the case-stretching problems. The .243 Winchester parent case has always stretched brass, almost as bad as the Swift. Even though you get more velocity with the improved .243, I’ve also found that the improved version gives a bit more throat life than the parent case does.

The .243 AI delivers more velocity by virtue of enhanced case capacity–roughly five grains more H20 capacity than a standard .243 Winchester. The .243 AI has a water capacity of approximately 57 to 58 grains, compared to 52-53 grains for the standard .243 Winchester.

Loading for Long-Range
For long-range shooting, Matt loads 106gr Clinch Rivers with 47.5gr of Alliant Reloder 25 for his Krieger barrels, a little more powder with the Lilja 3-grooves. The Lilja load runs 3342 fps, with a 3.228″ OAL. Cases are neck-turned Lapua .243 Winchester. He uses Wilson inline seater and Wilson eck-sizer dies (.267″ bushing), and a custom, reamer-cut FL sizing die.

Not Just for BR, This Gun Can Hunt
While Matt has a big stable of varmint rifles, the Yellow Ackley has seen plenty of duty in the ‘Hog fields. Matt is from a farming family and he can shoot practically right out his back door (see top photo at the farm). He has nailed some big ground-hogs at 800 yards and beyond. The .243 AI does kick a bit compared to other varmint cartridges, but even with 105-106gr bullets, it’s not bad. He has considered adding a muzzle brake at some point to one of the barrels, just so he can see impacts better.

Screamin’ Yellow Dasher?

Matt originally thought of building the gun up as a 6BR or a 6BR Improved. He has a Manson reamer similar to a 6mm Dasher, with a 40-degree shoulder and .008″ body taper. He actually chambered a couple barrels with that 6BR Improved reamer, but he hasn’t shot them yet. He was so pleased with how the gun performed in .243 AI, that he saw no reason to change. And it may be a while before he slaps a Dasher-chambered barrel on the rig: “I really like the way it shoots as a .243 AI. I’m so impressed with it that I don’t want to mess with anything. And I don’t think I’ll be running out of Ackley barrels anytime soon.”

Millender’s .243 Ackley Improved Page

matt .243 Ackley Improved yellow rifle

.243 Win Dies and Reloading Gear

Since the .243 Win is such a popular cartridge, all the major die-makers offer reloading dies. It’s hard to go wrong with a Redding Type ‘S’ Full-length bushing die–item 77114 for the standard .243 Win and item 77420 for .243 AI. Whidden Gunworks also makes great .243 Win sizing dies (and custom .243 Win AI dies on request). These will both resize the case (and bump the shoulder) as necessary, and allow you to adjust neck tension with bushings. Alternatively, you can go with a body die, and a separate neck bushing die.

If you load primarily one brand of bullets, another slick set-up is to buy a Forster or Whidden full-length, non-bushing .243 Win sizing die, and then have Forster or Whidden hone the neck for your desired amount of tension. This elegant one-pass sizing solution produces very straight rounds with low run-out.

For bullet seating, both the Redding Competition Seater (item 55114) and the Forster Ultra-Seater (item U00034) work great for the standard .243 Win case. If you shoot a .243 Ackley, Redding’s .243 AI Comp Seater (item 55420) costs quite a bit more than the standard version Forster doesn’t list a .243 AI seater in their catalog. However, you can just run your chambering reamer into the inner sleeve of either seating die to fit the .243 Ackley Improved case.

If you want the “Cadillac” of production seater dies for the .243 Win, order the Wilson Stainless Micrometer seater (item 50-1114S) from Sinclair International. Costing only a few dollars more than a Redding Comp seater, this die is a joy to use, providing very positive control over bullet seating depth. When used with a quality arbor press, the Wilson offers unrivaled “feel” for bullet-seating force. This can help you monitor neck tension, one of the most critical factors in maintaining low ES and SD for long-range accuracy.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
September 20th, 2022

6.5 Creedmoor — Cartridge History and Norma Hunting Feature

Norma hunting africa elk deer eland 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge
6.5 Creedmoor (right) shown with .308 Win (left) and .243 Win (center) for comparison.

Though most popular for competition applications (PRS and XTC), the 6.5 Creedmoor is also a capable hunting cartridge. A few seasons back Norma spotlighted the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge and outlined the game-harvesting capabilities of Norma 6.5 Creedmoor factory ammunition. Here are highlights of that article, which may interest hunters this fall.

Origins of the 6.5 Creedmoor
Dave Emary, senior engineer at Hornady, asked fellow competitive shooters about their “wish list” for a mid-sized round with long-range potential. It needed to offer efficiency, good ballistics, fine accuracy, and reliable feeding from a magazine. To achieve these goals, Emary necked the .30 T/C to .264 caliber (6.5 mm). The shoulder on this case is well to the rear, so long bullets with high ballistic coefficients can be used in short actions. The efficient Creedmoor case and its modest powder charge deliver hard hits on big game while keeping recoil modest. The case runs well in magazines sized for the .308 Winchester, and because it is efficient, the 6.5 Creedmoor delivers velocities very close to the .260 Remington (which is basically a 6.5-308 Win) with less powder. The 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge has shown excellent accuracy in PRS competition, though the 6mm Creedmoor has proven more competitive, given its reduced recoil. Overall the 6.5 Creedmoor has been a huge commercial success — the 6.5 CM is now one of the most-commonly chambered cartridges in new factory rifles.

Norma hunting africa elk deer eland 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge

Hunting with the 6.5 Creedmoor

by Wayne van Zwoll
I learned about the 6.5 Creedmoor by way of a rifle from Todd Seyfert at Magnum Research. The Remington 700 action wears a carbon-fiber barrel with a Krieger stainless core. GreyBull Precision added a stock and a modified 4.5-14X Leupold scope. Its 1/3-minute elevation dial is calibrated specifically for 130-grain boat-tail spitzers at Creedmoor velocities. “Spin the elevation dial to the distance in yards, and aim dead-on.” said GreyBull’s Don Ward. Prone with a sling, I was soon banging steel at 500 yards.

By the charts, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a superb cartridge for deer-size game. But I caught only a late elk season with this new rifle. The 6.5×55 and .260 had taken elk for me; surely the Creedmoor would as well. Alas, the close shot I’d wanted, to ensure precise bullet placement, didn’t come. When on the final evening Don and I spied a bull far off, there was no approach. “Your call,” he shrugged. “The air is dead-still.” I snugged the sling, prone, and dialed to the yardage. Ribs spot-lit by a sinking sun, the bull paused. Craaack! The animal spun, sprinted and fell. That shot was twice as long as any I’d ever attempted at elk.

Whitetail hunting with a Ruger 77, then a trip to sub-Saharan Africa with a T/C Icon, kept the 6.5 Creedmoor in my ammo pouch. The T/C dropped a Vaal Rhebok at 250 yards, in stiff wind. Shorter pokes on a variety of game produced consistently quick kills. I found the Creedmoor’s limit with an eland.

Norma hunting africa elk deer eland 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge
A high ballistic coefficient helped a Creedmoor bullet slice stiff wind 250 yards to this Vaal Rhebok.

Since then, I’ve seen several animals brought to bag by the 6.5 Creedmoor. And I’ve used it in a variety of rifles on paper and steel targets to 1,200 yards. It has become one of my favorite cartridges for deer-size game. Its mild report and recoil make it easy to shoot accurately. It seems an inherently accurate cartridge too. I’ve punched half-minute groups from production-class rifles. The proliferation of hunting loads for the 6.5 Creedmoor includes none better than Norma’s 130-grain Scirocco. This sleek, polymer-nose bullet, with its 15° boat-tail and a G1 BC over .550, flies very flat. In expansion and penetration tests, it opens reliably down to 1,750 fps, and drives straight and deep. A bonded bullet, it stays in one piece after high-speed impact, routinely retaining more than 80% of its original weight.

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
April 17th, 2022

Sunday Gunday: Amazing Mad Minute Norway Speed Shooting

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army

Think you can shoot fast with a bolt gun? Bet you can’t beat these Norwegian speed-demons. In 2019, Inge Hvitås set a Mad Minute World Record, putting 39 rounds inside a 16″ circle at 200 meters, all in a single minute. At the same match, another Norwegian ace fired 48 rounds in a minute, with 38 in the bullseye. Now that’s spectacular speed and accuracy. We first ran this story in 2019 when the record was set. Wikipedia reports this is still the current record. So we believe no one has ever put more rounds on a 16″ target at 200m (with a bolt-action rifle) than Inge Hvitås. We include videos showing Inge’s amazing sequence.

Watch Inge Hvitås Set New Mad Minute World Record:


NOTE: This video, hosted by Facebook, may be slow to load. But be patient — it’s amazing to watch! CLICK HERE to run this story all by itself, speeding up the video load.

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army

Mad Minute World Record — 39 Hits in One Minute (60 seconds)
At the Haga shooting range in Norway, spectators witnessed spectacular speed shooting in 2019. Norwegian shooter Inge Hvitås set a Mad Minute Challenge World Record with 39 hits in ONE MINUTE at 200m. The target was a 40cm (15.75″) bullseye placed at 200m (218 yards). Fellow Norwegian Jesper Nilsstua also shot brilliantly, sending 48 rounds down-range in one minute. Jesper had 38 hits, missing the record by just one. Both shooters were using iron-sighted Sauer 200 STR target rifles, which are normally chambered for the 6.5×55 cartridge. For this event, magazines are limited to 5 rounds and shooters may use slings but no bipods or other support.

Amazing Bolt-Gun Cycling Speed — 48 Rounds in One Minute

Another Norwegian ace, Jesper Nilsstua, missed the Mad Minute Challenge record (by one hit), but boy was he fast. Dennis Santiago (who has done his own Mad Minute drill), was dazzled: “This dude didn’t get the new world’s record of 39 hits in 60 seconds. He ‘only’ got 38 hits after getting off an amazing 48 shots in 60 seconds. Watch the smoothness of his shooting. It’s amazing.”


NOTE to Readers: This video is hosted by Facebook. It may be slow to load. But it is worth watching.

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army electronic targets
For the Mad Minute Challenge in Norway, a standard 200m DFS target was used, with 1 point per hit within the black area which is 40cm (15.75″, or 6.9 MOA) in diameter.

Norwegian Mad Minute Challenge — Event Rules
The organizers of the event posted: “The Mad Minute Challenge [is] a modern edition of a old military drill. This is a place for sport shooters to … share experiences on the subject of speed shooting with bolt-action rifles. The Mad Minute Challenge is all about the sport! To make a attempt for the record everyone must follow these five simple rules:”

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army rules

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army

Rapid-Fire Shooting Comparison Video
To illustrate the remarkable speed of Norwegian champion Inge Hvitås, this video shows Inge (top of frame) compared with other skilled competitors shooting the same 1-minute course of fire in Lesja, Norway.

About the Original MAD MINUTE
“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits on a target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits.

Mad Minute Lee Enfield

Listed as “Practice number 22, Rapid Fire” of The Musketry Regulations, Part I, 1909, this drill required at least 15 shots on the Second Class target at 300 yards. The exercise was just one of several annual tests to classify a soldier as a sharpshooter, first or second class shooter depending on the points achieved.

Made Minute Second Class targetResearch indicates the Second Class target was a 48″ x 48″ square with 24″ inner circle and 36″ outer circle. The sight mark was a central 12″ x 12″ shape representing a soldier. ALL hits scored points (3 for center circle, 2 for outer circle, 1 for outer square). NOTE: Though some sources say the Mad Minute drill used a 12″-diameter round target, this appears to be a mistake from Ian Hogg’s book “The Encyclopedia of Weaponry”. No other source mentions a 12″ circle, which would be a mere 3.82 MOA. In reality the true drill target was a 48″ x 48″ square, roughly 15 times larger. (From No.WikiPedia.)

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
February 24th, 2022

How Cartridge Brass (and Bullets) Are Made — Great Norma Video

Norma factory ammo production video

Guys — honestly, if you do anything today on this site, watch this video. You won’t be disappointed. Guaranteed. This is a very informative (and surprisingly entertaining) video. Every serious hand-loader should watch this video to see how cartridge cases are made. Your Editor has watched the video 5 times now and I still find it fascinating. The camera work and editing are excellent — there are many close-ups revealing key processes such as annealing and head-stamping.

VERY Informative Video Show Cartridge Brass and Ammunition Production:

Norma has released a fascinating video showing how bullet, brass, and ammunition are produced at the Norma Precision AB factory which first opened in 1902. You can see how cartridges are made starting with brass disks, then formed into shape through a series of processes, including “hitting [the cup] with a 30-ton hammer”. After annealing (shown at 0:08″), samples from every batch of brass are analyzed (at multiple points along the case length) to check metal grain structure and hardness. Before packing, each case is visually inspected by a human being (3:27″ time-mark).

The video also shows how bullets are made from jackets and lead cores. Finally, you can watch the loading machines that fill cases with powder, seat the bullets, and then transport the loaded rounds to the packing system. In his enthusiasm, the reporter/narrator does sometimes confuse the term “bullets” and “rounds” (5:00″), but you can figure out what he means. We definitely recommend watching this video. It’s fascinating to see 110-year-old sorting devices on the assembly line right next to state-of-the art, digitally-controlled production machinery.

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review No Comments »
January 23rd, 2022

Ammo, Ammo, Ammo — New Offerings for 2022

field stream berger hornady norma winchester ammunition hunting 300 prc

Field & Stream magazine recently released a helpful guide to new ammunition offerings as seen at SHOT Show 2022. The article features 21 different new ammo types for pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Many of the new ammo types, such as Hornady CX and CCI Blazer, feature lead-free projectiles. The Blazer even employs lead-free primers. Among the most notable new ammo selections is the Berger line, which features high-BC projectiles and superb Lapua brass. New for 2022 is Berger 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC ammunition. Here are our selection of four notable, new-for-2022 Ammo products for rifle shooters. SEE all 21 new ammo types on Fieldandstream.com.

Berger 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC Hunting Ammo

field stream berger lapua ammunition hunting 6.5 300 prc

Berger has added the 6.5 PRC and 300 PRC cartridges to its loaded ammo line which features great Lapua brass. The 6.5 load features the heavy 156gr Berger Elite Hunter bullet running at 2960 FPS. This bullet boast a very high G1 ballistic coefficient (BC) of 0.679. Packing even more powder, Berger’s .300 PRC load features the 0.631 BC Berger Elite Hunter bullet. Tested muzzle velocity is 2895 FPS.

Hornady Hunting Ammo with Solid Copper CX Bullets

hornady cx copper alloy lead-free bullet

For 2022, Hornady has introduced a new CX™ (Copper alloy eXpanding) hunting projectile. This CX bullet is designed to provide outstanding performance when hunting in areas where solid lead or lead-core bullets are prohibited. Hornady states: “The new CX™ bullet from Hornady represents the most advanced monolithic hunting bullet on the market. Its optimized design offers extended range performance, greater accuracy, high weight retention, and deep penetration.” The CX will be available in a number of calibers/bullet weights: 6mm, .25 Cal, 6.5mm, .270 Cal, 7mm, .308, .338, and .375.

Norma .22 LR Rimfire Ammo — Three New Offerings

field stream norma rimfire .22 LR Xtreme, ECO Powder Hunter power ammunition hunting 6.5 300 prc

Norma announced three new .22 LR rimfire ammo types to be released in 2022: Xtreme LR-22, ECO Power 22, and Hunter Power 22. The Xtreme LR-22 should prove popular in the growing long-range rimfire PRS/NRL disciplines. The LR-22 offers higher BC for better long-range performance. The new ECO Power 22 has a lead-free zinc hollowpoint bullet traveling at a very fast 1700 FPS — on the high end for any .22 LR on the market. Norma’s Hunter Power 22 features a 40gr bullet designed for controlled expansion. This Power 22 ammo runs at 1260 fps with 142 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Winchester New Lead-Free Copper Impact Hunting Ammo

field stream winchester copper impact hunting ammunition ammo lead-free 6.5 300 prc

Winchester’s new Copper Impact hunting ammunition features a tipped high-BC bullet. Winchester states that the Extreme Point helps create “immediate expansion”. Field and Stream’ reviewer states that “All this, combined with a lead-free bullet that will retain most of its weight, makes for a deep-penetrating big-game stopper[.]” Winchester’s new Copper Impact ammunition for over 12 different cartridge types, including the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.8 Western, .308 Win, and even the .350 Legend.

Ammunition News — Ammo Inc. Acquires Gunbroker, Builds Wisconsin Ammo Factory

Ammo inc. factory shot show 2022 wisconsin factory interview

In this interview, Mark Hanish (Pres., Global Sales & Marketing) of Ammo Inc. (Nasdaq: POWW) talks about his company. This enterprise is making significant moves in the firearms/shooting sports industry. Hanish discusses Ammo, Inc’s modern new 160,000-sq.ft. ammunition manufacturing plant in Manitowac, WI, and the company’s 2021 acquisition of GunBroker.com. Through a $240 million merger in May 2021, GunBroker.com officially become an Ammo Inc. subsidiary.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, New Product No Comments »
January 15th, 2022

Changes in Humidity Can Alter Powder Burn Rates — IMPORTANT

Tech Tip Norma Powder gunpowder moisture temperature humidity

Most shooters realize that significant changes in temperature will alter how powders perform. That’s why you want to keep your loaded ammo out of the hot sun, and keep rounds out of a hot chamber until you’re ready to fire. But there are other factors to be considered — HUMIDITY for one. This article explains why and how humidity can affect powder burn rates and performance.

We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry”. Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.

Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).

Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”

Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”

What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.

Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from MidwayUSA for $24.99.

Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter

Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”

If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 18th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Sako TRG-22 & TRG-42 Hunting Rifles in Norway

Many years ago, when we decided to do a story about SAKO’s TRG series of rifles, we remembered our friend Terje Fjørtoft in Norway. Terje has owned, and hunted with, both the TRG-22 (in .308 Win), and its big brother, the TRG-42 (chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum). Unlike many TRG owners in the USA, Terje has carried his “tactical hunters” into the field, and tested their effectiveness on large game in both coastal and mountain environments, in warm weather and cold. Terje tells us the TRGs have proven to be rugged and reliable. And they are accurate. The .308 Win TRG-22 delivers about 0.45 MOA groups at 420 yards shot from bipod. The .338 LM TRG-42 shoots about 0.55 – 0.7 MOA at that distance.

A Tale of Two TRGs by Terje Fjørtoft

I live in Brattvåg, along the coast of Norway, but I hunt and shoot at the nearby island “Fjørtoft” (same as my last name) and a small island outside Fjørtoft. I grew up on Fjørtoft as a child, and we hunt seals there in the spring and fall. The large, top photo shows me with my black TRG-42 338 Lapua Mag (“LM”) during a seal hunt a couple years ago. Click on the thumbnail at right to watch a video that shows me shooting the .338 LM. Most of the photos in this story are from that hunt. Because the .338 LM was really “overkill” on the seals (and expensive to reload), I replaced that rifle with a TRG-22 in .308 Winchester.

We hunt seals primarily for wildlife control. This is because the seals carry an internal parasite, called “Kveis”, a small worm that breeds inside the seals (after eating contaminated fish). When the seals expel the Kveis into the water, the Kveis larvae are consumed by the fish and then the fish become unfit to eat. The parasite literally eats the fish from the inside out. It’s not very pretty and it has hurt our Norwegian fishing industry. So there is an important purpose for our seal hunting. We hunt mostly from islands, targeting the seals in the water, and retrieving them with a small boat.

Because the seals spend most of their time in the water, a seal-hunter needs a very accurate rifle [to take head shots at distance]. I like the TRG-22 because it is very accurate out of the box, with a very nice bipod that works well in the field. The stock is comfortable with good adjustment range. The TRG features a 10-rd magazine and the barrel is pre-threaded for a muzzle brake or suppressor.

I have also used my TRGs for hunting big game, deer and what Americans call “Elk”. You can see, further down on this page, a picture from a hunting stand taken late in the evening, in the fading light. Yes I successfully bagged a nice buck during that trip with my TRG-42. When hunting, I use a Leica 900 rangefinder, Swarovski 7×42 Habicht binoculars, and a Silva windwatch. For Optics on the TRG-22, I have a Zeiss 6-24×56 scope, in Tikka Optilock rings. To get more scope adjustment I milled 0.9 mm off the front scope base mount. The Zeiss is great for viewing small targets past 400 meters. It was very difficult to find a longer shooting place than 575 meters on this Island (Uksnøy) but I found a place where I can shoot out to 930 meters, and I’ve made an 80-cm steel gong for a target. At this range, the bullet must fly nearly all the distance over the water.


Terje Shooting the TRG-42 without suppressor. Big recoil, big flash.

Both the TRG-22 and TRG-42 are very accurate right out of the box. The only thing I did before I first shot the TRGs was to clean the barrels very thoroughly. This is because the SAKO factory test shoots the gun without cleaning the barrel. I also adjust the cheek piece upward when shooting the rifles with a big scope. However, if you raise the cheek piece too high you can’t get the bolt out without removing the whole cheek piece. The only real modification I’ve made to my TRGs was to put rubber foot pads on the feet of the SAKO factory bipod. This gives the bipod better grip on slick surfaces such as concrete, or the rocks on the offshore islands.

.338 LM vs. .308 Win — Smaller Can Be Better
A few years ago I had a black TRG-42 (338 LM), but after a year, I sold it, and ordered a TRG-22 from the SAKO factory. After a one-year wait, I got the new green TRG-22 in February this year. One main reason I changed to .308 Win was the cost of ammo. I can reload .308 Win ammo for about one-third the price that it costs to reload .338 LM. One other reason is that my usual shooting distance is about 390 meters–at that distance the .308 is more than effective enough. Also, with the .338 LM, the barrel and the suppressor heated up after only a few shots, but with my new .308, I can shoot at my own pace without this problem. After my most recent shooting trip I once again confirmed how accurate, and fun-to-shoot, the TRG-22 is. I think now the TRG-22 has become my favorite plinking gun.

Though it is fun to experience the big boom and flash of the .338 LM, I’ll admit that it is just too much rifle for most applications. The .338 LM is REAL overkill for seal hunting. Here in Norway we have a rule that the smallest caliber we can use is 6.5×55 with a 140gr (or heavier) bullet, but everyone who hunts seals knows that the seals stay mostly in the water, and therefore you must take a headshot at distance up to about 200 meters. Making the headshot with a smaller caliber is advised for two reasons. First, when a big .338 bullet hits the water, there is a danger it will skip and ricochet quite some distance. Second, if you use too powerful a load/gun/caliber and take a headshot on a swimming seal, the seal sinks like a rock.

Reloading for the TRG-22 (.308 Win)
With the TRG-22, I found it was easy to get an accurate load. My groups with 155gr Scenars are consistently good with a variety of different powders. I’ve tried both light and heavy bullets, but I favor the 155gr Scenars over the 185gr Scenars because the 155s fly a lot faster and drop less.

Three loads (all with Fed 210m primers) that have worked well are: 155gr Scenar with VV N150, 885m/sec; 155gr Scenar with Norma N-11, 890m/sec, and 185gr Scenar, VV N150, 770m/sec. Norma N-11 is a low-cost powder for target shooting. N-11 is similar to Norma 203B or Norma 202 but it varies quite a bit from lot to lot.

I use a RCBS Rock Chucker press, and currently use a standard RCBS full-length die kit to reload my .308 rounds. However, I recently ordered a Redding Competition 3-die set with a .335 bushing. I look forward to trying the Reddings. I have just started to test different seating depths. The 155s just “kiss” the lands at 74.10 mm. I’ve tried 74.00 mm, 74.10 mm and 73.55 mm, but so far saw no significant differences.

Reloading for the TRG-42 (.338 LM)
For the .338 LM, I started with a 250gr Scenar and 95 grains of Vihtavuori N-170. That load was very accurate at about 850 m/sec, but it produced excessive muzzle flash. And, in the winter, the muzzle velocity was inconsistent, and there was too much unburned powder. Next I tried Norma N-15, which proved very accurate at about 880 m/sec. With that load I shot my best TRG-42 group at 380 meters. I set the 250gr Scenar to touch the rifling with 93.2 mm COAL, and I used Federal 215m primers in Lapua-brand brass. Norma MPR2 and VV N-560 (860 m/sec) also were very accurate with the 250 Scenar.

My seal hunting bullet was the 200gr Nosler BT. This bullet grouped very well with 90-94 grains Norma N-15. Velocity was about 970m/sec if I remember correctly. I also tried the 300gr Sierra MK, and got 1/2″ 3-shot groups at 100 meters with 93.5 grains of VV N-170, but this combination produced terrible groups at longer range.

Loading for the .338 LM was not difficult — about the same as loading for .308 Win, except that you use nearly twice the amount of powder. I didn’t crimp the bullets in the neck, didn’t use any special tricks or neck lube. I used RCBS .338 LM full-length die. That functioned, but it would not be my first choice today. Overall, my better loads in the .338 shot in the 0.5-0.7 MOA range. My best group was four shots in 25mm (1″) at 380 meters (416 yards).

Hunting in Norway


I’m not a competitive sport-shooter. Normally, the only time I go to a “commercial” rifle range is to take the test for my hunting license. Every year, I must re-qualify for a shooting license to hunt big game and seals.

Hunters Tested Annually
In Norway, you must pass an actual shooting test before you can hunt big game. This test requires five shots at a deer silhouette target at 100 meters. No rests are allowed–you must shoot off-hand or with a sling only. You have to place five shots inside a 30 cm circle over the front leg.

Every big game hunter that passes this test is authorized to hunt at “dusk and dawn” and in moonlight. So, we do a lot of our hunting in the twilight hours. However, no night-vision or artificial illumination (spotlights) are allowed. We usually hunt deer at dusk and dawn. In the evening, we go on post two to three hours before it is dark, and sit there waiting for the deer to show up–hopefully before it is too dark. In the morning we go to the post one hour before you see any light of the sun, and wait for the deer to show up until the daylight. But when it is full moon we sometime have enough light to hunt in the middle of the night. In the photo, you can see a deer through the scope of my TRG-42. This was very late in the evening. CLICK HERE for BIG Photo.

Sound Suppressors for Hunting Rifles

Suppressors are legal to use for hunting in Norway. I have suppressors on all my rifles, even my little CZ 452 in 17 HMR. To me, shooting a rifle without a suppressor is like driving a car without an exhaust system. The suppressor reduces both noise AND recoil significantly. With a good suppressor, there is no loss of accuracy. The only “negative” in using a suppressor is extra weight on the end of the barrel.

I crafted my own home-made suppressor. It’s similar to my commercially-made TRG-22 suppressor, but the core is made from titanium to be lighter in weight and more corrosion-resistant. I used a lathe at work to craft the inside of the new suppressor. The core of the unit is built from a 27.5 cm X 40mm round bar of titanium while the outer cylinder is made from a 42mm stainless steel tube. I wanted to use titanium for the exterior cylinder as well, but I couldn’t source the right size titanium tube.


Commercial Suppressor on TRG-42

Comparing .308 Win vs. 6mmBR
I also have a 6BR hunting rifle (compensated of course). I have a lot of field time with the 6BR rifle, and feel very confident with that gun. When I got the Krieger 6mmBR barrel on the SAKO Varminter, I fell in love with that rifle from day one, and that rifle is my first choice for small game hunting.

I also like the TRG-22 gun very much and enjoy it more and more with each new field trip. That .308 is my big game rifle and my long-range target rifle.

I recently tested my TRG-22 rifle at 387 meters. This was just “fun shooting” at steel plates, and I didn’t measure groups. But I was happy with the results. Once I corrected for the 5 m/sec crosswind, I was able to put five successive shots on a 10 cm (4″) diameter steel target at 387 meters (423 yards).

My SAKO Varminter in 6mm BR and my TRG-22 are two very different rifles. The TRG-22 is much heavier. I guess the TRG-22 is about 6.5-7 kg while my SAKO 6BR is about 4.5-5 kg, both with suppressor, scope, and bipod. The 6BR with suppressor is much quieter than the TRG-22 with suppressor. The recoil of the 6BR is a lot softer than the TRG-22. So far my 6BR is more accurate. A typical three-shot group with the 6BR is 25-40 mm at 387 meter (423 yards), and that is with just 10X magnification from a Zeiss scope. With my TRG-22, my 3-shot groups run about 50-60 mm, shooting with bipod and beanbag. But I think with a better .308 Win reloading die and more practice, I can improve my groupings with the TRG-22.

SPEC SHEET

The SAKO TRG-22 and TRG-42 are built in Finland by SAKO, a subsidiary of Beretta. In America, the guns are distributed by Beretta USA. Both TRGs (22/42) are available in forest green or a matte black textured finish. A two-stage match trigger is standard.

The stock is somewhat unconventional. It is an external shell, bolted to an internal metal chassis. The action bolts directly to the chassis, without bedding. The injection-molded stock is adjustable for comb height, length of pull (with spacers), vertical butt-pad height and cast-off.

Weight TRG-22
4.7 kg (black)
4.9 kg (green)

Barrel TRG-22
660 mm (26″), hammer-forged, optional stainless or phosphate finish

Capacity
10-round Mag (TRG-22)
7-round Mag (TRG-42)

Calibers
.308 Win (TRG-22)
300WM, .338 LM (TRG-42)

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
January 23rd, 2019

SHOT Show 2019 — The Doors Open

anschutz rimfire .22 LR fortner match rifles shot show 2019

SHOT Show 2019 kicked off Tuesday, with tens of thousands of exhibitors, media members, and invitees streaming into the Sands EXPO Center in Las Vegas. This firearms industry trade show just gets bigger every year. We visited many of our favorite vendors including Capstone Precision Group (Berger, Lapua, SK, Vihtavuori), McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Zeiss Optics, Redding Reloading, SIG Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Anschutz, and Target Vision/Longshot.

Here are some quick highlights from Day One of SHOT Show, a little bit of everything: Rifles, pistols, ammo, reloading gear, and some notable shooters.

Capstone Precision Group: Berger, Lapua, SK and Vihtavuori

Lapua brass ammo SK bullets scenar Capstone Precision shot show 2019

Capstone Precision Group showcased new products from its four companies: Berger Bullets, Lapua, SK, and Vihtavuori. Lapua showcases cartridge brass and loaded ammo, including new 6.5 Creedmoor ammo with the ultra-consistent Scenar-L bullets. Capstone also told us to expect large quantities of brass to be arriving in the USA soon, including the high-demand 6mmBR brass.

Berger bullets ELR solid match projectiles Capstone Precision shot show 2019

Berger will release new loaded ammo in Lapua brass. Options will include 6mm Creedmoor, which should be popular with the PRS crowd. In addition, Berger will offer an impressive new line of solid projectiles. These ultra-high-BC ELF Match Solids have optimal shapes to stay supersonic at longer ranges. They are an impressive option for the Extreme Long Range game.

McMillan — 6012-Yard Shot with ELR Rifle

McMillan Beast paul phillips elr rifle 6012 yard shot

At the McMillan booth, members of the Global Precision Group (GPG) Team showcased an impressive .416 Barrett ELR rifle. Team leader Paul Phillips explained how the team managed (on the 22nd shot) to hit a 48″x32″ target at the incredible distance of 6012 yards. Our friend Derek Rodgers, reigning F-TR World Champion, told us that this shows how the ELR sport has evolved. The rifle features a McMillan ELR Beast stock with a Bartlein Barrel on a massive BAT 50 action.The .416 Barrett rounds were loaded with 550 grain Cutting Edge bullets.

McMillan Beast paul phillips elr rifle 6012 yard shot

A Tacom Charlie/Delta TARAC prism system was fitted in front of the Nightforce scope, allowing the team to put over 625 MOA of elevation on the shot while still being able to see the target. The ballistics numbers for this 6012-yard shot are pretty mind-boggling: 625 MOA of elevation was required, and the bullet was in the air for 17.1 seconds!

New Products from LongShot Target Cameras (aka TargetVision)

TargetVision longshot camera system clay rhoden wife video cam

Our first stop at the show was at the LongShot Target Cameras booth. Here we met with company founder, Clay Rhoden, the bright young man who has created the best-performing wireless target cameras on the market. Most folks know Rhoden’s company as TargetVision, but Clay said they are re-branding as LONGSHOT Target Cameras, to help emphasize the extreme range capabilities of his latest systems (the top tier Longshot cameras can operate out to one mile and beyond). Clay showed us two new products, the latest target camera (with easy-to remove battery pack), and a special camera that will transmit video from a spotting scope to your mobile devices. See the latest products at www.longshotcameras.com.

Light-Weight Camo Hunting Rifles from Weatherby

Weatherby Mark V ultra lightweight rifle camouflage Cerakote Camo

Hunters can spend hundreds of dollars on the latest camouflaged clothing in order to blend in to their environment, so why do gun makers continue to produce shiny hunting rifles? Well, this is one thing Weatherby has gotten right with the latest Weatherby Mark V ultra lightweight rifles. The rifle has the option of a rugged, matte Cerakote finish on action, bolt, and barrel, effectively eliminating glare. And did I mention it’s light weight? The full rifle weights a mere 5.75 pounds for non-magnum calibers. Weatherby guarantees sub-MOA accuracy with factory ammunition out of the box. Add a decent lightweight scope and this rifle is ready for a long backcountry hunt.

Hot New Sub-Compacts from SIG Sauer, Kimber, Walther

Kimber Evo Walther CCP SIG P365shot show 2019

For shooters who carry concealed or simply prefer a more compact pistol, three new handguns really stood out at shot show 2019: the SIG Sauer P365, Walther CCP M2, and the Kimber EVO. All three guns had a similar weight and feel at roughly 1” width, 6” length, and 1 lb when empty. The P365 has an advantage with a 10 + 1 round capacity, compared to the 7/8 of the EVO and CCP M2, but the CCP M2 is more competitively priced with an MSRP starting at $469. Retail for the P365 starts at $599 and the Kimber a surprising $925. Expect to see these guns in stores between spring and summer of 2019.

Smith & Wesson — Handguns Galore and New T/C Performance Center LRR

Smith Wesson T/C LRR long range rifle revolver magnum shot show 2019

Smith & Wesson is not just a handgun company. It markets rifles under its own brand name as well as via its Thompson Center Arms (T/C) division. At SHOT Show 2019 we saw the T/C Performance Center LRR (Long Range Rifle). With a $1211.00 MSRP, this offers great “bang for the buck” for shooters competing in PRS production division. These rigs feature a modular aluminum chassis, 24″ barrel, and adjustable cheekpiece. Available chamberings include .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win. And of course S&W continues to make great wheelguns, include some very BIG magnum revolvers:

Smith Wesson T/C revolver magnum shot show 2019

At the Anschutz Booth with Company President, Jochen Anschutz

anschutz rimfire .22 LR fortner match rifles shot show 2019

The German company Anschutz remains a world leader in rimfire rifles. The company’s match rifles have captured countless Gold Medals in Olympic target shooting and biathlong competition. Here company President Jochen Anschutz (left) shows the latest Biathlon rifle, featuring the impressive Fornter straight-pull action. With Jochen is Steven Bolter, North America Custom Shop Director. We were pleased to hear that Anschutz will be offering a new line of 17 HM2 (Mach2) rifles soon. That is an effective varmint round that’s considerable less expensive than 17 HMR.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Handguns, News No Comments »
September 10th, 2018

Bargain Finder 155: 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. Bullets.com — Norma Tac-22 Rimfire Ammo, $2.50 per Box

Norma Tac-22 Match 22 .22LR ammo bullets.com liquidation going out of business sale ammunition discount

This Norma .22 ammo is good stuff — no doubt about that. This Editor bought 1500 rounds of Tac-22 when it was on sale for $3.50/box, and now it is even cheaper. In all honesty, we don’t think you can find better rimfire ammo at anywhere near this $2.50 per 50ct box price. This is basically liquidation pricing, because Bullets.com is closing its doors for good at the end of September. This ammo is good for pistol plinking, and rifle fun shooting and rimfire cross training. NOTE: Many other products are still available at Bullets.com at crazy-low liquidation prices.

2. Natchez — Big Savings on Nikon Optics (Scopes, LRFs, Binocs)

Nikon natchez scope deal bargain refurbished sale discount

Need a scope or LRF for hunting season? Here’s a chance to save hundreds on a quality Nikon optic. Natchez Shooters Supply is offering exclusive deals on both new and refurbished Nikon riflescopes, rangefinders, and binoculars including camo finish hunting scopes for hunters. There are some truly excellent bargains, plus you can get $5 Flat Rate Shipping with Code 180910 (through 9/12/18). Here are some of the best deals on Nikon scopes at Natchez right now:

Nikon 2-10x50mm Monarch 5 scope (new), BDC Reticle
Now $319.99 (Reduced from $599.95 — Save $279.96)

Nikon 3.5-14x50mm ProStaff 5 scope (new), Illum. Nikoplex Reticle
Now $294.99 (Reduced from $579.95 — Save $284.96)

Nikon 4-12x40mm Active Target scope (new) , Realtree Camo, BDC Predator Reticle
Now $184.99 (Reduced from $329.95 — Save $144.96)

3. ARMorALLY.com — Nosler RDF Bullets, $24-$29 per 100

Monmouth Nosler RDF bullets 6mm 6.5 mm Creedmoor 140 175 105 reduced drag factor

Nosler’s line of RDF (Reduced Drag Factor) bullets have high BCs for their weight. Precision shooters are reporting outstanding accuracy. Given their high performance and consistency, RDF bullets represent a superior value. At ARMorAlly you can get Nosler RDFs for under $29 per 100 for popular 6mm and 6.5 mm sizes. That’s up to $25 less per box than some other premium brands. And the .22-Caliber RDFs are even cheaper. ARMorAlly also has great pricing on Nosler Ballistic Tip, Custom Competition, Accubond, ABLR, and Lead Free bullets. All Nosler Bullets HERE.

4. Precision Reloading — All Lee Products on Sale

Lee Precision Reloading Sale Case Press dies

Now through September 14, 2018, Precision Reloading has discounted all Lee Precision Products in stock. Lee has a reputation as a budget brand, but many of Lee’s products really stand on their own merits. For example the Lee Collet dies are popular with many hand-loaders because they produce very straight ammo with consistent neck tension. And this Editor uses a Lee Decapping Die and Lee pistol dies. Here are some of the recommend Lee products on sale now:

Lee Classic Cast Single Stage Press, $105.29 on Sale (Reg. $116.99)
Lee Auto Bench Prime Tool, $26.09 (Reg. $28.99)
Lee Universal Decapping Die, $12.59 (Reg. $13.99)
Lee 9mm Luger Carbide Die Set, $38.51 (Reg. $32.49)
Lee Universal Shell Holder Set (11), $31.94 (Reg. $35.49)

5. Midsouth — Hornady Progressive Press, $378.99

Hornady Lock N Load AP Progressive Press Sale Rebate Discount

If you need large quantities of pistol or rifle ammo, it makes sense to get a progressive press. This auto-indexing, 5-station press will give you one loaded round for every complete cycle of the loading handle. We’ve used this Hornady Lock-N-Load AP Progressive press and can confirm that it works well. We actually prefer the rotary powder measure to the sliding powder system on Dillon progressives. We find it much easier to change load weights with the Hornady system (which uses inserts), and it is more precise with certain types of powder. Right now you can save $113.00 with the $378.99 sale. Plus press purchasers qualify for 500 free bullets through the Hornady Rebate Program.

6. CDNN — Colt Competition AR15 Kit, $499.99

Colt AR AR15 match rifle upper lower kit discount CDNN
The Colt Kit does NOT include barrel, bolt carrier group, charging handle, or magazine.

This affordable Colt AR15 Kit includes upper, complete lower, handguard, and Magpul stock. To this, add your choice of barrel and optic. We like this option because the barrel is so important to accuracy and overall performance. This Colt package costs $499.99. Add a match-grade, finish-chambered barrel from Criterion or Krieger, plus bolt carrier group, and you’re in business. The Magpul PRS stock features a quick-adjustable cheek-piece and butt-plate — allowing you to easily adapt head position and LOP for your discipline of the day. The straight-toe PRS stock works great in a rear bag. This is a good platform for a PRS Gas Gun Division rifle.

7. Smith & Wesson SD9VE 9mm, $239.99 with Code M8Y

Smith Wesson SD9V 9mm carry pistol handgun bargain brownells

The two-tone Smith & Wesson SD9VE 9mm pistol features contrasting stainless-steel slide and barrel. Weighing just 22.7 oz, this DAO pistol ships with two 16-round magazines, offering plenty of fire-power. Overall length is 7.2″ with a 4″-long barrel. Both front and rear sights are drift-adjustable. This is a nice medium-sized pistol that shoots well. The Smith & Wesson SD9VE is on sale now at Brownells for just $249.99 (plus $10 FFL fee). SAVE MORE: During check-out at Brownells.com, you can use code “M8Y” to receive $20 Off and get FREE delivery. That lowers your net cost to just $239.99 shipped to your FFL.

8. Midsouth — New Lyman Reloading Presses on Sale

Lyman Ideal c-frone reloading press sale discount Midsouth

Midsouth Shooters Supply is running a big sale right on Lyman’s impressive new Brass Smith line of reloading presses. There are three models, each offering great performance and value for its class. You can save quite a bit of cash with this Midsouth Lyman Press sale. If you haven’t tried orange yet, we think you’ll be impressed. The little C-Frame is a steal at $69.99. And the new 8-station Lyman Turret press ($192.99 on sale) is very impressive — with more stations than the competition, a handier priming system, and extra strength.

9. Amazon — Jialitte Scope Bubble Level, $11.99

Scope Optic bubble level 30mm 1

If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This nicely designed Jialitte Scope Bubble Level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It features a 30mm milled inside diameter, plus an inner insert ring so it will also fit 1″-diameter main tubes — that dual-diameter versatility is a nice feature. We also like the way the unit is nicely radiused, and has a low profile in the middle. User reviews have been very positive. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product — almost all verified buyers have rated this five stars.

10. Amazon — Two Rolls of 3″ Neon Target Stickers, $14.95

Red Orange Neon 3

We like these bright, Neon 3″ target stickers. They are big enough to see easily at 600 yards, giving you a 1/2 MOA target center at that distance. For $14.95 at Amazon.com, you get 250 3″-diameter self-adhesive centers (125 targets per roll) that stick to almost any surface The high-contrast fluorescent red/orange color provides an excellent HI-VIZ aiming point, along with good contrast for bullet holes that fall within the 3″ circle. To help line up your reticle cross-hairs, the target centers feature black markers at 3, 6, 9, and 12 0’Clock. NOTE: These stickers may qualify for FREE Shipping with combined orders over $25.00.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Handguns, Hot Deals, Optics No Comments »
July 27th, 2018

Ammo Insights: The 6.5×55 Swedish Cartridge

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

Cartridge of the Month Norma USAIf you haven’t checked out NormaUSA’s website, you should. There you’ll find Norma’s Cartridge of the Month Archive. This great resource provides a detailed history of popular cartridges, along with a discussion of these cartridges’ hunting and target-shooting uses. There are currently 26 Cartridge of the Month articles, the latest featuring the impressive .458 Winchester Magnum hunting cartridge.

Also on Norma-USA.com you’ll find information on Norma cartridge brass, bullets, powder and factory ammo. The site also offers a video archive plus links to Norma Reloading Data.

Here is a selection from 6.5×55 Swede Cartridge of the Month Article:

History of the 6.5×55 Swedish

A mild cartridge by modern standards, the 6.5×55 has impressive credentials in both the hunting field and in competition. It was developed jointly by Sweden and Norway in 1894 – one of the very first smokeless, small-bore rounds for military rifles. When Sweden boosted 6.5×55 performance in Mausers, Norway stayed with original loads in the less robust Krag. The 6.5×55 defended Scandinavia for most of a century thereafter. In 1990 the National Rifle Association of Denmark, Norway and Sweden renamed this cartridge the 6.5×55 SKAN and standardized its specifications. Still hugely popular among moose hunters there, it has also excelled in 300-meter free-rifle competition.

The long tenure of this cartridge spanned the post-war wildcatting era. Unfortunately for shooters keen to make something new of the 6.5×55 hull, its head diameter is .01 greater than that of the 7×57 (and the .270 and .30-06). The rim is thicker too. At 2.16 inches, cases mike .15 longer than the .308’s and .08 shorter than those of the 7×57 – though as originally loaded, its overall length (3.15 inches) exceeds that of the 7×57. In fact, it falls just 0.1 inch shy of the finished length of the 7mm Remington Magnum! In my view, the 6.5×55 merits at least a mid-length action, such as on Melvin Forbes’s New Ultra Light rifles. Shorter (typical .308-length) actions require deep bullet seating that throttles performance.

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

You’ll look hard to find a better deer cartridge than the 6.5×55. Francis Sell, woodsman and rifle enthusiast whose book on blacktail deer hunting has no peer, favored the 6.5×55. Hunters coming of age in a magnum culture might question the round’s bona fides on animals as stout as elk and moose. But at modest ranges, with bullets like Norma’s factory-loaded 156-grain Oryx, it’s a sure killer. Modest recoil makes rifles pleasant to fire (read: accurate in hand!) and fast on follow-ups. In Africa the 6.5×55 – and similar 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer – felled much bigger game than moose long before anyone necked down the .375 H&H! While its compact case won’t let the Swede match the likes of the .270 ballistically, it is a fine all-around choice for big game in the Lower 48.

Permalink News 1 Comment »
March 24th, 2018

Humidity and Powder Burn Rates — What You Need to Know

Tech Tip Norma Powder gunpowder moisture temperature humidity

Most shooters realize that significant changes in temperature will alter how powders perform. That’s why you want to keep your loaded ammo out of the hot sun, and keep rounds out of a hot chamber until you’re ready to fire. But there are other factors to be considered — HUMIDITY for one. This article explains why and how humidity can affect powder burn rates and performance.

We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry”. Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.

Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).

Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”

Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”

What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.

Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from Amazon.com.

Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter

Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”

If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 11 Comments »
September 22nd, 2017

The Science of Annealing — Facts Uncovered, Myths Busted

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

The science behind annealing during the manufacture of new cases is well-established. What happens after that, when we repeatedly reload and anneal those same cases, has always been somewhat of a “dark art”. To help separate scientific fact from fiction, the creators of the Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) Annealer machine have conducted detailed studies of cartridge brass. The AMP Team’s studies offer some remarkable insights, while disproving a number of myths about annealing. Will annealing tighten your groups? The evidence of these studies shows it could.

The test results are fascinating. The team compared brands of brass, sectioning brass to examine both alloy composition and thickness from case mouth to case-head (bottom). They also examined how carbon build-up affects next tension. And they determined how brass changes over multiple loading cycles. They even did a series of bullet-pull tests to analyze factors affecting neck tension. Here are some of the key subjects in the reports:

Brand by Brand Analysis — How the cartridge brass alloy varies among different manufacturers.
Bullet Release and Neck Tension — Tensile Bullet-Pull tests show factors affecting neck tension.
Neck Tension and Carbon — How carbon build-up inside the neck affects “neck tension”.
SS Tumbling and Hardness – How tumbling with stainless media affects brass hardness.
Case Cleaning (Ultrasound and Tumbling) — How case cleaning affects annealing.
Multiple Loadings — How brass performs when annealed every reload over 10+ cycles.

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

You really should read the reports — there are some fascinating revelations. The AMP team made longitudinal sections of various cases to show different case wall thicknesses and head geometry. These examples also show how the hardness of the case varies from the case mouth to the case-head. Both virgin and used, annealed cases were examined.

Bullet-Pull Tests — Using advanced tensile test equipment, AMP experimented with different combinations of dies, reloading sequences, and neck hardness to ascertain the best practice.
Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Carbon Inside Your Case-Necks May Be a GOOD Thing
AMP’s testers found carbon in necks can be beneficial: “Even with identical interference fit and neck hardness, as the carbon layer increased (microscopically), the force to draw the bullet decreased. It would appear the carbon acted as a lubricant. Interestingly, the [pull force] standard deviation also improved, i.e. the case to case variation in the force required to draw the bullets decreased.”*

Read the Full Test Reports

The AMP team’s objectives were to clarify some misconceptions on just what annealing does and does not do, and also to establish the best practices for consistent results. They have consulted with three independent certified metallurgy laboratories to produce some definitive information. So far, the Stage 1 and Stage 2 reports have been released. The studies include a report on the general physical properties of cartridge brass, including grain structures, hardness scales, time/temperature annealing information, and what can cause de-zincification.

The FULL REPORTS, including comprehensive appendices, are found here:

Stage One: https://www.ampannealing.com/articles/40/annealing-under-the-microscope/

Stage Two: https://www.ampannealing.com/articles/42/annealing-under-the-microscope/

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Examining Different Brands of Brass — What the Tests Revealed

Is Lapua brass harder than Norma? Is Lake City better than Remington? You’ll find answers to these and other questions in AMP’s annealing studies. One of the key findings in Stage 2 of Amp’s research is that brass from different manufacturers does vary in the distribution of material in the walls of the case.

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Stage Two Conclusions:

— Different brands of the same cartridge cases can require different annealing power settings due to differing case wall thickness in the neck and shoulder region. The greater the mass of brass to be annealed, the greater the power requirement. Lot to lot variation within the same brand can occur for the same reason.

— The bushing die used in this set of tensile bullet pull tests gave significantly more consistent results than the standard neck die with expander ball.

— Cases should be annealed every reload in order to get the best repeatability.

Case Variations: Brand to Brand, and Lot to Lot

Here is a sample from AMP’s test report:

Analyzing Different Brands of Brass
In our Stage One report, we demonstrated that there is insufficient variation in alloy composition between brands to account for the variations we experience when annealing different brands of the same cartridge case. We therefore sought to confirm that it is the mass of brass to be annealed which accounts for the difference. Below are sectioned samples of four different brands of .223 Remington cases.

Both the Lapua and Norma neck walls are 314* microns (0.01236”) at the mouth. The Lapua neck wall thickens to 348 microns at the junction of the neck and shoulder, and the Norma neck thickens to 325 microns. Through the shoulder, however, the walls of both cases thicken to 370 – 380 microns. Once past the shoulder, they both taper back to 314 microns, before starting to thicken again, moving towards the case head.

The Lapua case requires AMP Program 47 to anneal correctly. It is the heaviest of the four cases tested through the shoulder region. The Norma case, which is only slightly lighter through the same region, needs Program 43.

The Remington case is very similar to the Lapua and Norma cases in the neck region, but it actually thins fractionally through the shoulder and front section of the body. The AMP program setting for Remington 223R is P32.

The Lake City case is the thinnest throughout of all four samples. It only requires Program 28.

The above samples clearly demonstrate that the mass of brass to be annealed is critical to the power requirement for correct annealing.

To see how the AMP Induction Annealing Machine works, watch this video:

* However, in Stage Two of AMP testing, the testers experimented with clean, carbon-free necks with dry lube. There was some indication of greater tensile pull consistency with dry-lube, but AMP plans to do more testing.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
August 7th, 2017

Fascinating Facts from Norma’s Ammo Academy

Norma web site Ammo Academy

If you haven’t visited the Norma website recently, you should click over to www.norma.cc/us. There you will find Norma’s Ammo Academy, a technical resource that provides information on Ballistics, Powder Storage, Barrel Wear, and Bullet Expansion. In addition, the Ammo Academy now links to Norma’s Reloading Data Center, where you’ll find loads for nearly 70 cartridge types including: .223 Rem, .22-250, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, 260 Rem, 6.5-284, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, .270 Win, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Mag and dozens more.

The Ammo Academy’s Ballistics section contains some fascinating technical facts:

stopwatch

  • After the trigger is pulled, it takes around 0.005 seconds before the firing pin reaches the primer.
  • From the firing of the primer it takes 0.0015-0.002 seconds until the bullet exits the muzzle.
  • When the bullet leaves the muzzle, the hot gases surround and overtake the bullet, continuing the acceleration for a few centimeters.
  • Because the barrel is always angled slightly upwards, the bullet’s flight starts about 3-5 cm below the line of sight.

Norma also offers some good advice about Powder Storage:

To maintain the product quality for as long as possible, you have to keep the powder in a suitable place under suitable conditions. Where possible, store the powder at a constant temperature, ideally between 12 and 15°C (54°F to 59°F), and a relative humidity of 40–50%. If the air is too dry, it will dry out the powder, which will cause the pressure to be higher, thus affecting performance. Also make sure that you close the powder container properly afterwards. Cartridges should be stored under the same ambient conditions to maintain their quality.

Norma web site Ammo Academy

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 4 Comments »