Category Archives: accuracy

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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NRA Short Term Gunsmithing Program, Kalispell, MT

FVCC LogoFlathead Valley Community College is hosting the NRA Short Term Gunsmithing Program again this summer.  2014 will be the third year for this program at FVCC, the program has grown in attendance each year and this year should be no different.  New classes are being offered so if you attended or looked at the offerings in the past there is probably something new for you this year.

Quality instruction is the name of the game at FVCC.  The instructors for the Short Term Program are all top notch professionals who are well respected in the gunsmithing community.  For instance, Lee Helgeland is one of the premier stockmakers in the nation.   He has spent 30 years perfecting his craft and is a member of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild.  Another instructor new to the Kalispell program this year, Sam Hatfield, certified NRA and Sig Academy Master Instructor.  Sam was head gunsmith at Green Mountain Guns in Lakewood, Colorado and served as a member of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit as a gunsmith. Sam now owns Hatfields Gunsmithing Inc. in Manassas, VA.

To learn more about the instructors for this summers program check out this link:

http://www.fvcc.edu/continuing-education/gunsmithing-program/instructors.html

New classes this year include “S&W Revolver Action Work”, “1911 Handgun AMU Accuracy Rebuilding” and “Accurate Reloading for the Hunter”.  Perennial favorites like “Customizing AR-15 or AR-10” and “Introduction to Checkering” will still be on the schedule.

If you have ever wanted to learn more about gunsmithing but can’t take of the two years necessary for most schools, the NRA Short Term Gunsmithing Program is a great alternative.  Classes normally run or one week, Monday through Friday.  They are intensive hands on classes with small numbers of students, so you have great access to the instructor. This unique learning opportunity is set up as part of the Continuing Education Department of the College and the courses are non-credit.

If cost is a concern I noticed that the College has some Scholarships provided by NRA donations, details at this link:

http://www.fvcc.edu/continuing-education/gunsmithing-program.html

An electronic copy of the brochure for these classes is available at this link:

http://www.fvcc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Gunsmithing-Course-Brochure.pdf?2ebeaa

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Miller Precision Arms 300MPA, SHOT Show 2014

We reported on this gun when Miller Precision first introduced it on July 4th,2012.  More recently they displayed the MPA300 at the SHOT Show, 2014.  At Media Day they had several rifles there ready for writers to test.

Miller Precision MPA300

Not too surprising, the writers all wanted to shoot the 300 Winchester in favor of the other models in 308 Winchester and 5.56 Nato.

The MPA300 has the distinction of being the only 300 Winchester Semi-auto on the market that is truly on the AR platform.  While the upper, lower, magazine and bolt carrier are specific to the MPA, the rest of the parts are all AR-10 interchangeable.   So you can dress your gun with any of the various features that are already on the market for the AR-10.

Media day turned out to be a real endurance test for the MPA300.  When Brandon Miller saw that everyone wanted to shoot the 300 Winchester almost exclusively, he decided to see how long the gun would run without a cleaning.  It went about 2700 rounds before the first malfunction.  A quick inspection and cleaning had the gun back at the line and by the time the smoke cleared the gun had fired over 4000 rounds without a second failure. 

Actions are machined from billet aluminum.  These guys are selling quality, not big-box store discount products.  Finishes for the Miller Precision guns are about as varied as you can ask for.  Among other things they offer hydrographic coatings, so the choices are almost limitless.  These guns are impressive.

Brandon Miller w MPA300

Brandon Miller with his MPA300, Media Day 2014

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26 Nosler UPDATE, post SHOT Show 2014

Cartridge for 26 Nosler next to similar cartridges

26 Nosler is a new cartridge design, it actually fills a niche in the factory cartridge world.  Between the WSM cartridges and the RUM cartridges, the first being short action, the latter being full length magnum.  So the 26 Nosler is in between.

This may not sound like a big deal but it was a very good idea for a 6.5mm Magnum.  When the 7mm or 300 Remington Ultra Mag is necked to 6.5mm it’s not very satisfactory.  The case capacity is far overbore for the 6.5mm bore, so accuracy suffers and finding a good load is difficult.

By reducing case capacity as Nosler has done with this new design they have brought the balance between bore and capacity back into a range where load development is easier and barrel life will be better than with the full length RUM wildcat such as the 6.5MM UltraCat originated by Z-Hat Custom back in 1999.

26 Nosler drawingDesigned with a maximum cartridge O.A.L. of 3.340”, the 26 Nosler cartridge functions in a standard length magnum action with a 3.400″ magazine box.  It is very similar in length to a 300 Winchester magnum case.  This equates to a shorter bolt through and lighter weight gun than with the full length magnums like the 300 H&H or 7mm RUM.

The 26 Nosler is capable of pushing a 130gr bullet at a Muzzle Velocity of 3400 fps according to Nosler.  With that kind of velocity bullets must be made for the extra stress that velocity will bring to the jacket.  No disrespect to Nosler but this is a job for a NorthFork Bullet if I ever saw one.

The 26 Nosler is a non-belted, 6.5mm centerfire rifle cartridge.  With a useable case capacity of 93 grains of water, the 26 Nosler is speedy, it outperforms the 264 Win Mag by over 200 fps with a 130 gr bullet.  Loaded with the 129gr AccuBond-LR, the 26 Nosler retains as much velocity at 400 yards as the 260 Remington produces at the muzzle.

26 Nosler compared

Zeroed at 350 yards, the 26 Nosler has a maximum point blank range (PBR) of 415 yards.  It appears from the chart at the right that Nosler is figuring 5 inches +or- form zero to get to that 415 yard point blank range.

Nosler’s choice of a 6.5mm cartridge is a good one, sectional density and high ballistic coefficients make 6.5mm a good bet. Retained energy and accuracy at long range is always good with a 6.5mm.  This will be a good cartridge for wide open western hunting for deer class animals.  Thumbs Up!

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Colt Adds to the M2012 Line-up, SHOT Show 2014

Colt 2012 in 260 Remington

In conjunction with Cooper Firearms of Montana, Colt, is expanding the M2012 bolt action rifle family with the introduction of two new models. The M2012MT308T and M2012LT308G/M2012LT260G.

 “The durability and accuracy provided by the M2012 bolt action rifle family is outstanding,” said Joyce Rubino, Vice President of Marketing for Colt. “These new ‘crossover’ rifles transition easily from target shooting at the range to long-range hunting in the field.

All M2012 models feature a custom fluted, match grade barrel and a single stage, adjustable Timney trigger. A signed, serial numbered and dated test target is included with each rifle as a testament to its accuracy.  The new variations are available in 260 Remington as well as 308 Winchester.

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Skinner Express Sights, SHOT Show 2014

Peep sights have long been the best choice for accuracy with iron sights.  When peep sights are made for rugged use that only enhances their desirability.  Skinner Express Sights fall into that category.

Machined from solid bar stock the most recent additions to the Skinner line-up are tough as nails.  Models availble include: Marlin 1895 and 336, Remington 740 or 760 and variants, Ruger 10-22, Rossi, Winchester, Browning, TC, and many more.

Tough Sights for Hunters

Adjustable for windage and elevation.  These sights are low profile and easy to install.  Winged sight are available in some models, in case your really hard on your sights, or you carry your rifle in a scabbard.

http://www.skinnersights.com/index.html

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Mossberg MVP Rifles, SHOT Show 2014

Bolt action with AR magazine

Mossberg is offering five new models in their MVP line.  Calibers include 5.56mm and 300 AAC Blackout.

Barrels are 16.25″ long, medium bull contour, A2 flash hiders are installed.  The Trigger is the Mossberg LAB adjustable type.  This handy package is popular with anybody who hunts in a brushy or timbered area that makes a long barrel a pain to maneuver.

Ranch hands and farmers will be attracted to the convenience provided by the compact size.  That coupled with the AR magazines make this a rugged work horse of a rifle.

Mossberg is also offering six new variations on this rifle in their “MVP Flex” rifles.  Lots to choose from.

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Savage Barrel Nut Wrench, New for SHOT Show 2014

4D Savage barrel nut wrench

Savage offers smooth barrel nuts on many of their bolt guns.  Until now, no commercial wrench for removing or installing these barrel nuts when headspacing a pre-fit barrel existed.  4D Reamer Rentals LTD has designed this new wrench for use with the smooth type barrel nuts found on many Savage rifles.  The wrench will not work with splined type nuts.

These smooth barrel nuts are commonly available in the market place and provide a nicer finished look without the splines cut into them.  These smooth nuts will work on all Savage 110 action variations, including Axis™ and Stevens™. 

Made from aircraft grade aluminum this wrench can be used for both Large (fat magnum) and Small (standard) thread barrel nuts.  

The finish on the production wrenches will be either painted or anodized, depending upon the buyers preference.  Graphic dipped models, as pictured here, would be for special presentation pr personalized gifts.

Dealer pricing available.
Savage Barrel Nut Wrench by 4D MSRP $49.95

Rental from 4-dproducts.com will be $15  they are carrying the smooth barrel nuts too.

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Learning About Bergara Barrels

Gunsmiths are always looking for sources for quality barrels.  There are several good makers in the United States.  Douglas, Hart, Krieger and  Pac-Nor to name a few.  Bergara is a Spanish barrel maker.  They recently purchased new equipment that have allowed them to expand operations both in Spain and the U.S.

Shooters of the T.C. Encore™ have probably heard of Bergara Barrels, because they manufacture replacement barrels for the famous Encore™ pistols and rifles.   Accuracy reports from these barrels have been very good.  Of late Bergara USA is offering much more, including tapered barrel blanks for gunsmiths.

Prices are comparable to other barrels in the marketplace.

The video below is an introduction to the manufacturing processes used by Bergara to make barrels.  Pretty interesting if you have never seen a barrel made.  Bergara has invested in some new high-tech gun drills and equipment to manufacture quality barrels in a less labor intensive process.

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New 26 Nosler® Will Unveil at SHOT Show 2014

comparing the 26 Nosler to othersNosler is looking to tap into the long range market with it’s latest offering.  The 26 Nosler® case is non-belted, thus headspaced off of the shoulder to further enhance accuracy. The “26” also utilizes a standard (30-06) length action meaning shorter bolt-throw and lighter weight than magnum length actions. 

The 26 Nosler® cartridge was designed to take advantage of the inherently accurate and high B.C. 6.5mm (.264) caliber bullets, and is capable of shooting the Nosler® 129 grain, AccuBond® Long Range™ bullet at a blazing 3400 fps out of the muzzle.  Zeroed at 350 yards, the 26 Nosler® has a Point Blank Range of 0-415 yards.  Loaded with the 129gr ABLR, the26 Nosler® retains as much velocity at 400 yards as the 260 Remington® produces at the muzzle.

The 26 Nosler® is a new and unique cartridge that was submitted to SAAMI® in June, 2013. The formal launch will take place at the 2014 SHOT Show.  Nosler will introduce a rifle, brass, ammunition and a new bullet all in conjunction with this cartridge.

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