Time to Register for Firearms Technology Program

Fall of 2016 the Firearms Technology Certificate program at FVCC is hitting it’s stride.  This will be the third year for this one of a kind program.  This is the only such program in the United States.

This program is designed to help machinists gain skills for the firearms manufacturing field, ultimately making them more employable.  The courses are constructed specifically to give the student a mechanical and ballistic understanding of firearms so that they comprehend how the parts they are building fit into the firearm system.  Issue like headspace and manufacturing tolerances are a major focus.

Click here to go to the College web site for more info.

Here are a couple of news item on the program.

http://mtpr.org/post/training-gun-manufacturing-workforce

http://www.kpax.com/story/28871942/fvcc-teaching-firearm-technology-class-answering-job-demand

For more information, contact Will Richards at 756-4862 or wrichards@fvcc.edu.

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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, Shooting, Uncategorized

Reloading A to Z, from AGI

Guest Blog By Jack Landis

Showing case changes

Explaining how cases are changed when fired.

AGI Tech Services
Manager and Editor, GunTech Magazine

One of the questions I have most often fielded from AGI students and prospective students over the last several years is; “When are you folks going to do a comprehensive reloading course?”

Well, the stars finally aligned and we convinced Fred Zeglin to take the few weeks he had off between the courses he was instructing and his latest writing projects to use his impressive knowledge of reloading and cartridge design to teach this course.

Fred has an extensive background as a professional custom gunsmith, cartridge designer, and author. His books Wildcat Cartridges, Hawk Cartridges, and his AGI instructional video course, Taming the Wildcat are well worth studying by students of the subjects.

This new course is almost eight full hours of the information any reloader needs to know. As he says in the introduction, “There is something for everyone here. If you’ve never handloaded, everything you need to know to assemble safe, effective handloads is here. If you’ve loaded for years, odds are you will still find out things you never knew, considered, or completely understood.” Let’s take a look at what’s actually under the hood . . .

Disk 1 – Brief History of Reloading: This is no exhaustive history of every step in the evolution of loading firearms and cartridges, but rather a concise explanation of how we got to what we actually do today.
Reloading Components: Here Fred shows the various types of cartridge cases, bullets, primers, and powders. He explains their differences and the reasons why those differences exist. Why are spritzer bullets pointed?
Why are some powders shaped like little rods?
Ignition Theory: What happens from the moment the firing pin strikes the primer to the exit of the bullet from the barrel is carefully explained and shown in drawings.
Pressure Curves: A PressureTrace Internal Ballistics System is used to show the real-time gas pressure rise and fall from primer ignition until the bullet leaves the barrel, approximately 1.5 milliseconds. Fred draws curves
which demonstrate what the pressure curves would look like in the Fred Zeglin, Cartridge Designer
case of a dramatic overload, high pressure caused by an over-length case, and powder detonation which can
occur if a very small charge of slow burning powder is used in a large case.
Resource Books: Fred explains why the Cartridge Comparison Guide belongs in your library as well as other books
that give you information on a huge number of cartridge’s dimensions, shapes, ballistics, and terminal performance. The reference books discussed will help you decide what cartridge you might want in your next gun.
Reloading Manuals: Reloading without these “must have” sources is like driving with your eyes shut, a real recipe for disaster. You need more than one so you can cross reference loading data to make sure the load you are
contemplating is safe.

Disk 2 – Developing a load plan: What IS a loading plan and why do you need one? Have you
decided what the load you’re thinking about creating is supposed to accomplish? Do you have a purpose for loading it? What is it? Is it reasonable?

Powder and bullets shown

Selecting correct components for your load plan.

He explains to you why you shouldn’t be “That guy” who just searches for the hottest published load for his cartridge and doesn’t “Waste time” with Starting Loads. “Hey, if it’s published it’s safe, right? These guys always leave a safety
margin, right?” Why you need to keep a complete notebook recording loads, velocity, accuracy, etc.
The Bench: Where should it be, how should it be constructed, how sturdy does it have to be, how high should it be, and why. Press and Die Set-up: Learn how to properly set up the dies, shell holders, and decapping pins from a two die set in your press.

Prepping the Brass: Cleaning, Reaming Inspection: Why you need to clean and inspect your brass, chamfer ream the case mouth and clean out the primer pockets.

PressureTrace Internal Ballistics System
What’s in a “Complete loading kit?” Fred opens a big box from Hornady that contains everything you need to load quality ammo, other than cases, primers, bullets, and powder. Why these make sense for the beginner.

Lubrication: Fred shows you several different methods and products to lubricate the cases prior to resizing, and
why you need to do it.
Full-Length Sizing Dies vs Neck Sizing Dies: Ever wonder what the hoopla about neck sizing from accuracy buffs is all
about? Fred explains why you might want to do it, what makes you able to do it continuously with some cases, why you’ll have to eventually full-length size, and how to avoid “Over-sizing.” Do you know what guns you should not only
never neck-size for, and moreover why you’ll need a “Small base” die? What IS a small base die?
Sizing the Cases: By this time, you will be all set to make those cases like new again.
Priming the Cases: Fred shows you four different priming methods, and why some are better than others in his opinion.
Measuring the powder: Several different scales are shown and how to set them up. After that Fred dips, throws, trickles, weighs, and finally stands and watches a machine do it all.

Disk 3 – Charging Cases: Now we actually begin to load cartridges. Attach the powder measure to the press, verify it is throwing the correct weight, adjust the die so the case is just partially re-sized, and dump the powder into the case. Watch Fred set-up the bullet seating die for no crimp, set the bullet on the top of the case and feed it into the die, adjust its seating depth, and . . . voila!! A real live reloaded round of ammunition made by your very own self.
Seating Bullets with a Crimp: Here you will learn how to set the seating die so it will crimp the case mouth into the bullet’s cannelure just as the bullet reaches the correct depth, and why and when you sometimes need to do this.
Using the Lee Loader: Robart Schaefer demonstrates the use of the basic Lee Loader. Many of we “Senior” reloaders started with one of these tools. It gives you everything you need to load one caliber of good quality ammo for ~ $28. Just supply brass, bullets, primers, and powder. The box holding the tools will fit in the back pocket of your jeans, assuming you don’t fill them as full as some of us.
Fred at the bench demonstrating proper die set up
Next up is Robart Schaefer again, this time with the Lee Hand Press. This is basically a bench type press that
you can use sitting in your La-Z-Boy while watching football. And I have. While it won’t full length resize large
cases, it will do everything else. I probably used it more than anything else with a Lee decapping die, got
my youngest to do a bunch too, and then primed those cases with a Lee Auto Prime. Yep, thousands of them. Got them both for under $50 more than a couple of years ago.
Reloading Cartridges with a Three Die Set-up: Fred explains the use of three die sets. The third die is used to bell the mouth of straight wall cases and pour the powder charge through into the case.
Annealing Brass: Working (sizing) makes it hard and susceptible to cracking. Heating it softens it again and allows more loadings. Fred shows how to do this and gives several alternatives and cautions.
Case Trimming: Here’s where you learn how to trim those over length cases back to the correct size with a couple of different tools and ways of measuring.
Additional Case Prep Procedures: Learn about vibrating, tumbling, and ultra-sonic case cleaners. Learn how and why we uniform primer pockets and flash holes.
Reloading Cartridges Using a Progressive Press: Fred demonstrates a progressive loading press, and describes what happens, and how, at each station.
Disk 4 – Tools and Accessories: Fred wraps up the cartridge reloading portion with a “Show and Tell” of some specialty tools that will make your reloading easier. Shown are extended shell holders to ease the loading of really short cases, a competition shell holder set whose heights vary by .002 inches to allow you to set the exact amount of case sizing you want, powder measure baffle and drop tube, and neck lubers for neck sizing. Specialty dies include neck sizing dies with interchangeable bushings to adjust neck tension, Lee Factory Crimp dies, in-line feeding and micrometer seating
dies, and bullet pulling dies. An impact bullet puller is demonstrated as well.

Bullet Casting: Robart tells us why we should consider casting our own lead bullets and shows what tools and equipment are needed for the process.

Lead: What kinds of lead alloys are needed, where to scrounge what you need, or buy it pure or ready alloyed
if all else fails. The characteristics of the various alloys are discussed and their uses explained.
Pouring Ingots: How and where to heat your lead safely, why and how to flux, and cleaning the dross off the top. It’s kind of cool to see the steel wheel weight clips floating on top of the lead. How to pour the cleaned and alloyed lead into
smaller, easily handled ingots . . . into what looks like corn cob shapes in a jello mold. Why you can never have water around hot lead.
Casting Bullets: Now we get down to actually pouring lead into the molds. How to tell by looking at the bullets whether the lead, mold, or ladle is too hot or cold. He pours from a ladle into the top of single and double molds, and from the bottom into a six bullet mold.
Testing Hardness: Here is a tool the tests the Brinell hardness of the cast bullets and explains how you can determine how hard they have to be based on the chamber pressure of the cartridge they are going to be fired from.
Sizing and Lubing Bullets: Why cast bullets need to be sized and lubed after casting, and how it’s done. What to use for bullet lubes is a choice made based on the bullet’s expected velocity The Lube Sizer Press: This press has a heating
element that heats the lube before it deposits in the lube grooves, seats a gas check, and sizes the bullet, all in one
smooth stroke of the handle.

Final Thoughts on Bullet Casting: Robart wraps up his discussion of bullet casting with a reiteration of why it’s a cool thing to do, and repeats the cautions earlier expressed. Have fun and be safe!

Epilogue: Fred closes by showing a bullet neck concentricity gauge and explains what it tells you and why it is important as a lead-in to a discussion of why learning even more advanced techniques can improve your abilities as a reloader and shooter. If you have never reloaded a single cartridge, you can do so with success and confidence after watching this video course. You will also be able to make informed choices on what tools and equipment will fit your needs and budget.

As a bonus, AGI put Darrel Holland’s Advanced Reloading Techniques course in the package too!

Reprinted courtesy of Hot Brass Magazine

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5.56 x 45 (Nato) vs. 223 Remington; The Ongoing Saga

The subject of 223 Remington vs. 5.56×45 (5.56 Nato) is a popular source of discussion.

Probably one of the best blog posts on this subject can be found at http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/5-56-vs-223/

One item this and most of the discussions seem to overlook is headspace.  Since this blog leans more toward gunsmithing subjects, I wanted make sure this subject was discussed.   I often hear from clients that the 5.56 and the 223 differ in headspace.  The truth is, when I checked the various gauge makers they are all working to the same standard.

Why is this important?

Mainly because educating the shooting public minimizes accidents and makes life easier for all concerned.  None of the articles I looked at mentioned headspace.  Most of the chamber dimensions being shared do not include headspace dimensions.  This may be in part because they are so hard to locate for the 5.56 Nato.

Forster Products publishes the data for their 5.56 gauges.  Minimum headspace (Go gauge) is 1.4636” according to their specifications with a tolerance of -.0003”.  With the Maximum (Field gauge) measuring 1.4736”; that’s 10/1000s of an inch longer than the go gauge.  Most No-go gauges would be set .004” to .006”  longer than the Go gauge.  The Pacific Tool & Gauge print shown here uses a Go gauge that measures 1.4636”.

5.56 Nato Print

Look at the Minimum Headspace dimension listed on this print, it is identical to the dimension used on the 223 Remington.

SAAMI specifications for the 223 Remington show a Minimum headspace (Go gauge) of 1.4636” identical to the military spec for the 5.56×45.  The Nato round is not a SAAMI cartridge, so they do not provide prints or specification for it.

My curiosity as to why so many shooters think there is a difference between the gauges for these two, led me to do an Internet search to see what people are reading.  I consider all material on the Internet to be of dubious quality until I can confirm the data through trustworthy sources.  What I found was interesting; you have to dig deep to find anything that pertains to headspace and the 5.56 Nato.

What is easy to locate are drawings which purport to show why the two cartridges are not the same.  The dimensions  they are concerned with mostly have to do with the junction of the body and shoulder plus the shoulder and neck.  In the real world the camming action of the bolt closing would be more than sufficient to deal with the tiny difference that might exist in the brass.  Frankly there is more variation in tolerances allowed that these drawings account for, in short, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

One Internet source shows the Military gauge .001” longer than is found in the prints mentioned above.  Even if that were the case, that is only 1/5th of the difference between a standard Go and No-go gauge for the 223 Remington.  To be totally clear, it would make NO difference.

Conclusion:  Headspace gauges for the 223 Remington and the 5.56 Nato are identical.  The differences between the cartridges has to do with case wall thickness and how they are loaded.  If you want to shoot either type of ammo in your gun, rechamber it to 223 Wylde.  The Wylde chamber is designed to work safely with both types of ammo.

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Getting Ready for “This Season”

It’s that magical time of year when hunters start saying, “This Season” instead of “Next Season”.

Upgrade, try a new caliber.

Upgrade, try a new caliber.

Across the west every year when the big game draw results become public hunters start to plan for their fall trips.  Once you know the results of the draw it’s time to assemble the gear and goodies you will need for a successful hunting season.

The problem is eternal though, that for most sportsmen we are still fishing, boating, hiking, camping and doing all those summer time activities with family and friends.  It’s difficult to turn your attention to fall plans when you’re so busy having fun in the outdoors.

Doing just one small thing can greatly aid in your fall preparations and takes only a few minutes out of your summer.  Last season either you gun broke or you decided it needed an upgrade before next season.  Well, next season is now this season.  Grab that gun from the safe and get it to the gunsmith now.  You can avoid the seasonal rush and be much more likely to get your job done before the fall hunt is upon you.

Fall is just around the corner

Soon you will be glassing for that buck.

It takes time to get in parts or barrels to upgrade your firearm.  Leave time for the gunsmith to acquire the parts you want.  Many gunsmiths I talk to even offer specials this time of year to encourage bringing projects in early.

So drop your gun off now, so you can get back out there and enjoy the summer.  Then when fall hits you will have that new barrel, scope, stock, trigger or whatever you need to be more successful on you hunt this fall.

Now go have some fun!

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Engraving Class for Beginners…

So you like guns and you have always wanted to try engraving.  Here is a chance to learn from one of the best.DianeScalese100

Basic hand Engraving,  Instructed by:  Diane Scalese

One week long non-credit class  Monday-Friday, May 18-22

 This course is designed for the beginner engraver or for anyone who would like to review the basics of engraving in steel.  Starting with proper tool preparation, learn the basic steps to single point engraving.  Topics include:

*Proper tool preparation                  *Graver shaping and sharpening

*Shading                                                    *Background treatments

*Metal inlays                                            *Business practices

*Transferring patterns                         *Basic lettering

*Basic scroll design and discussion of the most popular styles

Engrave on steel practice plates.  You will need to supply your own equipment.  The course is designed for using air-assisted equipment and power hones.

Instructor, Diane Scalese is a full-time engraver and has been engraving trophy belt buckles, saddle silver, bits, spurs, jewelry and firearms for nearly 30 years.  She was named Engraver of the Year in 2003 by the Academy of Western Artists.  She resides in Big Sandy, Montana.

sweetw_frgr_spur Monday-Friday                     May 18-22                 8 a.m.-5 p.m.               $495      

For more information or to register,

call the Continuing Education Center @ FVCC (406) 756-3832

This class is part of the NRA Short Term Gunsmithing Program.  For a full listing of classes for 2015 click here.

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28 Nosler Announced at Shot Show 2015

During the first day of SHOT Show 2015 I swung by Nosler’s Booth.  GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

And what to my wundering eyes did appear, the 28 Nosler. That’s right Nosler is adding to their line-up.  The 28 and 26 Nosler utilize the same headspace gauges.

Talking to Mike Lake, who did the design work on these cartridges for Nosler, he stated that everything from 26 to 9.3mm have been registered and approved by SAAMI.  For now, Nosler is only bringing the 28 Nosler to market.

When asked why Nosler took all the designs to SAMMI now Mike said, “We were aware of the wildcats that have appeared on the 26 Nosler case.  So, it just made sense for us to get the dimensions for all the calibers completed and registered with SAAMI.”

The 28 Nosler according to Nosler’s new catalog will push a 160 grain bullet at 3300 feet per second (fps).  A 175 grain bullet will launch at 3125 fps.  In case you were wondering that is faster than the 7mm RUM with less powder.  How is that possible?  Pretty simple really, the 7mm RUM is very over bore, in other words it has too much case capacity for the 7mm bore.

Last years introduction of the 26 Nosler was met with great enthusiasm by shooters.  There is every reason to believe that even more shooters will like the 28 Nosler, 7mm cartridges in general are more popular the 6.5mm in the U.S.  Look for this to be a much discussed cartridge in 2015.

I talked to Pacific Tool & Gauge and 4D Reamer Rentals LTD.  PTG says the 28 is in production already and 4D placed an order for it as soon as the cartridge was announced.  4D also ordered reamers for all the Nosler designs registered with SAAMI.

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Filed under ammo, brass, Firearms, Gunsmithing, Rifles, tools, wildcat

New Chamber Reamers for 2015

26 Nosler

Popular new Cartridge for 2014.

Shot Show is just a few weeks away, Fred Zeglin of 4D Reamer Rentals LTD heads to Shot each year to make sure he has all the new caliber offerings for his clients.  Last year is was the 26 Nosler and the 25-45 Sharps (SRC).

So far the information leaks about new cartridges for 2015 have been controlled, no sneak peaks at what is coming from the factories.  However, Fred says there are new wildcats getting some attention.

6mm Creedmoor has already been added to 4D’s list of reamers you can rent.  It looks like wildcats on the 26 Nosler case are what will be hot in 2015.  Those calibers will include:

  •  25 Nosler
  • 27 Nosler
  • 28 Nosler
  • 30 Nosler
  • 33 Nosler
  • 35 Nosler
  • 375 Nosler
  • 416 Nosler

All of these wildcats based on the 26 Nosler case will use the same headspace gauges, they are simply necked up, or in the case of the 25 necked down versions of the parent case.

6mm Grendel and 6.8mm Grendel are making waves too.  Both of these are based on the popular 6.5 Grendel.  If you’re a bolt action fan these cartridge are available in a configuration better suited to a bolt gun as the BPC (Borden Palmisano Cartridge) series, all using the same gauges.

Look for 4D Reamer Rentals to add all these reamers and more in 2015.

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Remington Agrees to Replace Triggers

Remington has manufactured millions of rifles on the basic Remington 700 pattern over the years (about 7.85 million by one report).  At least two class action law suits are included in this settlement filed in Federal Court.  Settlement announce December 5th, 2014.

The settlement covers the Model 700, Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722 and 725.  Any person who owns one of these rifles may if they so choose have the trigger replaced by Remington.

In Remington’s Quarterly report to investors in September of 2014, Remington revealed it had set aside $29.7 million in what the company called a “Model 700 settlement reserve.”

Watch the CNBC report: Remington 700 triggers to be replaced.

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Audio Report: Firearms Technologies Certificate program.

Katrin Frye of Montana Public Radio reported on both the NRA Short Term Gunsmith program and the new full time college credit certificate available at FVCC in Kalispell, MT.   The link below will take you direct to the audio file.

http://cpa.ds.npr.org/kufm/audio/2014/07/FVCC_Firearms_1.mp3

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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, Pistol, Rifles, Rimfire, Second Amendment, Shooting, Shotgun, Stocks, tools

New Approach to Firearms Education

Flathead Valley Community College will launch a new two-semester evening Firearms Technologies Certificate starting this fall.  The 27-credit program will feature curriculum developed to support the growing firearms industry in the Flathead Valley in Montana as well as across the country.

One of only a few colleges in the nation to offer firearms related programs. FVCC has taken a unique approach, developing the program as an enhancement to its existing industrial machine technology program introduced last year under the Department of Labor “Amplifying Montana’s Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Industry” grant (#TC-23760-12-60-A-30).  This approach will make FVCC the only school that focuses on manufacture of firearms and related parts.

The new program will provide students the opportunity to incorporate advanced machining skills with an understanding of firearms operational systems. Courses are tailored to emphasize the manufacturing of firearm components.

Fred Zeglin, curriculum coordinator for the program, developed the courses under the guidance and input from local firearms manufacturers.  “Manufacturers say they are seeking trained machinists who understand firearms.  Classes have been designed to build understanding of a wide variety of firearms and the way that they function.” said Zeglin.

Emphasis will be placed upon the completion of several gunsmithing projects involving blueprints and schematics using a combination of both hand and machine tools. This program will provide a clear understanding of firearms design and function, enabling graduates to assist with design implementation or tolerance issues in manufacturing environments.

The program will be held in the evenings with labs during the daytime on Friday and Saturday. Course topics will include firearms introduction and safety; manual mill and lathe systems; bench metal techniques; firearms theory and firearms repair; machine tools for gunsmiths; and precision rifle building.  This selection of courses are designed to increase the marketable skills of the students in the manufacturing realm.

The program will be marketed nationwide bringing focus to the local industry.  Prospective students must apply both to the program and for admission to FVCC. Program applications are due August 1 at 4 p.m. Applications are available online at http://www.fvcc.edu/firearms or in the Admissions Office in Blake Hall on the FVCC Kalispell campus. For more information, contact Jori Bullemer at 756-3905 or jbullemer@fvcc.edu or Will Richards at 756-4862 or wrichards@fvcc.edu.

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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To