Category Archives: Rifles

Short Term Gunsmithing Program Returns to FVCC!

First class to be offered in the updated program of Short Term Gunsmithing classes will be Taming Wildcats, taught by Fred Zeglin at Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) in Kalispell, MT.

This class will be offered during the Christmas Break, January 2018.  This is a one week class, non-credit.  Students learn the particulars of designing a wildcat cartridge.  Factors like the gun it will be used in, pressure, headspace, how to form brass are all taught.  Students also make reamer and reloading dies for the cartridges so they can experiment with the information they learn.Wildcat Cartridges by Fred Zeglin

If you are interested you need to know how to run a manual lathe and mill.  Fred has taught this class many times and students always come away surprised at how much they learn in just one week.  This class was the reason Fred wrote his book on Wildcat Cartridges.

This is just the first in a new Short Term Gunsmithing program to be offered in the summer of 2018 by FVCC.  Watch the Continuing Education pages for more classes soon.  This a  fun way for both hobby and professional  gunsmiths to build their skills and enjoy firearms even more.

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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, reloading, Rifles, Shooting, tools, wildcat

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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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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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

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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25-45 SRC (Sharps Rifle Co.) SHOT Show 2014

Found this little goodie at Media Day for Shot Show.  You might imagine seeing the Sharps name that has always been associated with single shots and then seeing nothing but AR-15 rifles in the booth.  I took a double take…  which is probably what they were hoping for all the writers that visited the event.25-45 SRC ammo

Having been in the gun business for so many years I have seen the rebirth of many company names.  Some have been successful and others have quickly died away.  No telling what will happen with this new company.  Sharps Rifle Company (SRC) is one of several brands, (five at present) under the one roof.

Turns out the item of interest was the 25-45 SRC cartridge.  This is the most recent iteration of a wildcat most commonly known as a 25/223 Remington.  Another well known variation came out in 1987 as the 25 TCU (Thompson Center Ugalde).  The TCU version was designed for metalic silhouette competition.  Of course that cartridge was intended for use in a 14″ barrel from a Contender pistol.  While they are not interchangeable the two cartridges are very similar.  Ahh, what’s old is new again.  I sense a theme here.

  • 65 Grain Rapid Expansion Varmint is advertised at 3300 feet per second from a 20″ barrel.
  • 87 Grain soft point or FMJ loads are advertised at 3000 feet per second also from a 20″ barrel.

Of course, headstamped brass and commercially loaded ammo is always a selling point and SRC is offering just that.  For more information on the brands and products associated with SRC click here.

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Savage Offers New Model Axis II XP, Shot Show 2014

Axis XP

This new variation on the Axis XP features the AccuTrigger, which is adjustable from 2.5 to 6 pounds.  The rifle will come with a Weaver Kaspa scope mounted and bore sighted.  This is a 3-9×40 variable scope.

Barrels are 22 inches, matte blue on all metal surfaces.  The stock is a black molded synthetic.  A detachable five rounds magazine rounds out the package.  Eight calibers from 223 to 30-06 are offered.  MSRP is only $415

Axis barrels can be changed out just like the popular Savage 110 type barrels.  In fact our friends at 4D Reamer Rentals LTD. tell us that the barrels are interchangeable.  4D offers Savage pre-fit barrels in more calibers than any other maker we have found. So you can swap the barrel on one of these rifles and have the caliber of your dreams.

Rumor has it that 4D will be introducing a new barrel nut wrench, at the SHOT Show, for Savage smooth barrel nuts, like those found on the Axis series of rifles.

Finally, Savage is offering Youth models on the new Axis II XP series.  These rifles will have a 20″ barrel chambered for 243 Winchester.  Two camo patterns will be offered:  A woodland pattern and the very popular “Muddy Girl”.

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Browning X-Bolt Eclipse Hunter, SHOT Show 2014

Browning X-Bolt

X-Bolt Eclipse Hunter from Browning as the name suggests is a bolt action.  It features a matte blue finish on the barrel and receiver.  Mounted in a gray laminated wood thumb-hole, monte carlo style stock, the barrel is free-floated.  The magazine is a detachable rotary design.

Other features include an adjustable trigger and 60 degree bolt lift.

Calibers available for 2014:

  • 243 Winchester
  • 7mm-08 Remington
  • 308 Winchester
  • 25-06 Remington
  • 270 Winchester
  • 30-06
  • 7mm Remington Magnum
  • 300 Winchester Magnum
  • 300 WSM
  • 270 WSM

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