Category Archives: Shooting

300 PRC Carves our a niche’ for Long Term Success.

Hornady has confirmed a report concerning the DoD’s decision: “The 300 Precision Rifle Cartridge (PRC), released by Hornady earlier this year, was tested and selected by the Department of Defense for its extended long range sniper program following a rigorous evaluation process that saw the new Hornady 300 PRC outperform the 300 Norma Mag as well as several other cartridges in testing past 2,000 yards.”

U.S. Department of Defense is adding the all-new Hornady 300 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) to its arsenal. Last week the DoD awarded Barrett a contract to provide an undisclosed number of MRAD rifle systems chambered in 300 PRC.

More about the Hornady 300 PRC…

In keeping with current trends with new cartridges the 300 PRC is a non-belted magnum design. The 300 PRC is based on the .375 Ruger case.  Cases measure .532 at the base; this is the same as the .300 Winchester Magnum, so it will use a standard belted magnum bolt face.  There has been a wildcat version of this cartridge for many years, the 30/375 Ruger.  Another wildcat on the 375 Ruger is the 35 Miracle simply the 375 necked down to 358 caliber.

Our Sponsors over at 4D Reamer Rentals already have a couple of 300 PRC reamer and gauge sets on hand.

You can watch testing of the Hornady 300 PRC on BallisticMag.com.

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Excerpt from “Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series”

At the time of this writing there are three books in the Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series.  In early 2018 “Chambering Rifles for Accuracy” was released.  In its first week on Amazon.com it was #1 in two categories.  Gordy Gritters, famed benchrest gunsmith & Fred Zeglin well known wildcat and hunting rifle maker joined forces to create this comprehensive title.  It covers the subject of installing and chambering barrels from simple rechamber jobs, to hunting rifles and the last half of the book is all about benchrest quality gunsmithing.

The excerpt here gives you an idea of how careful the authors are to cover details often overlooked in such books.  Enjoy:

Tolerance Stacking; 
                Everything You Need to Know About Pilots?

Chamber reamers come with two styles of pilots, solid or removable bushing (the later sometimes called a floating pilot).  One is evil and one is practically perfection.  But which is which?  I can tell you that in renting tools to gunsmiths I have found the industry is split on this question about 50/50.  In other words, about half demand solid pilot reamers exclusively and the other half will not touch those nasty solid pilots with a ten foot pole.

It is clear that there is a trend toward the removable pilot reamers.  This is because barrel makers are not all holding to the same production standards.  Some have the idea that a tighter bore is better, while other makers hold close to the “standard” bore dimensions.  Example, .308 bores are .300” on the bore and .308” on the groove.  Custom barrel makers have tightened the bore to say .298”  This will required a smaller pilot as the standard pilots are normally .299” with tolerances of + 0 to – .0005”. removable pilot reamer 

Removable pilot reamer.

The reason for the tighter bore?  In short, it is believed that it produces better accuracy.  This is only true as compared to a loose bore that is oversized, i.e. a groove on a 30 caliber of .309 or .310 will produce lower pressures and potentially be less accurate because the bullet is not fully engaged until pressure bumps the bullet up to match the bore.

For a pilot to work correctly it should be .001” smaller than the actual bore dimension.  In other words, it needs to be a close slip fit.  If a pilot is too tight it will bind and likely break the reamer, and possibly damage the bore.  If a pilot is too loose it will promote chatter.  It is possible to run the pilot on a removable pilot reamer closer to the bore diameter (.0005” under bore diameter is ideal), but it must still slip easily in and out to avoid damage to the barrel or the tools.

A little history at this point might be interesting:  Red Elliot was and still is legendary with old timer gunsmiths as the absolute best reamer maker of the last century.  Near as I can tell he was the first to offer removable pilots on his reamers.  Why did he do this?  Well, he found that there were enough different barrel makers in his day that the dimensions of the bore diameter (where the pilot rides) varied a fair amount. 

So, this problem of bore dimensions changing a little is nothing new.  What about SAAMI standards you say?  I will address that in just a moment, for now lets talk about how Red Elliot handled bushing pilots.

I have seen several of Red’s reamers with bushing type pilots, what we sometimes call floating pilots today.  Red held very tight tolerances on his bushings so that it required a little pressure to slide them onto the reamer, held in place by a screw mounted in the end of the reamer the bushing would not turn once the screw was tightened.  This is contrary to the bushing pilots we see commonly used today, where the bushing is a slip fit with about .0005” tolerance internally.  This tolerance is added for manufacturing ease. Tolerance stacking is not usually mentioned in conjunction with floating pilot reamers, but we are going to take a closer look at it here.

Another source of tolerance issues is the fact that the pilot receiver on the reamer must be concentric (round), and in line with the reamer.  If either of these conditions is not correct there will be problems with the reamer cutting oversized or out of alignment with the bore.  Admittedly, this is not much of an issue with today’s cnc machines.  So long as the operator does not make an error, and no chips get caught in the set-up.  One other possible source of trouble would be a warped reamer (not common).

Now for SAAMI, their standards are voluntary, so obviously any barrel maker can decide whether or not to hold solid to the standards.  Industry standard is plus or minus a half thousandth (+ or – 0.0005”) on the bore diameter.  The bore diameter is the smallest diameter of the barrel, also referred to by shooters as “across the lands”.  The same tolerance applies to the groove of the barrel.  I will leave the discussion of groove depth as we are talking about bore diameter as it relates to chambering tools, groove depth does not affect these dimensions.

Admittedly barrels considered “match” grade or “air gaged” are supposed to be held to a tolerance of .0003” or less total variance, end to end of the barrel.  This does not indicate the actual bore diameter, we are left to assume that it is the standard diameter for caliber.  In the case of a 30 calibers we would be talking about a .300” bore.  What if the maker decides to simply use a gage that works with the bore diameter they are making, say .2995” and it air gages as above.  You have a match grade barrel but the bore is at the minimum size according to industry standards. 

Are you starting to see how bores can vary and still be within standards?

Of course there are those makers who operate outside the standards and make perfectly good barrels.  The point being; different size pilots will be needed to chamber these barrels as was recognized back in the 1950’s and 60’s by Red Elliot.  It’s pretty obvious by now that removable pilots are necessary tools in dealing with variations in bore dimensions.  It should be clear by now that variations in bore diameter of plus or minus .001” or even more, is not that unusual, even though such dimensions do not follow the voluntary standards set by SAAMI.

Solid pilot reamers offer certain advantages over the floating pilot.  First and most obvious there is no built in tolerance between the bushing and the reamer, because the there is no bushing.fixed pilot

 

 Solid Pilot Reamer

Since most barrel makers today are making barrels by the button rifled method dimensions tend to remain pretty steady for a given maker as buttons last a long time if properly cared for.  So if you deal with the same barrel maker all the time chances are a solid pilot reamer will fit the same from barrel to barrel. 

There are other factors that play into the bore and groove dimensions, but that is for a discussion for another book.

One limitation of a solid pilot reamer is that it cannot be changed to deal with variations in bore diameters.  Of course you can have the pilot ground down if necessary to fit a tight bore, but then you would probably need a second or even a third reamer to deal with various diameter bores. 

Everything in life is a trade-off.  Because of the expense of multiple reamers for the same caliber removable pilots are a cost effective answer to the problem.  $10 for a bushing beats $100 or more for another reamer.  There are shops that stock bushings in 0.0002” steps for the popular calibers.  This allows them to match the bushing to the bore every time.

pilot bushingsPilot bushings can be a big investment.

To make the use of removable pilots efficient and accurate, the gunsmith should invest in a set of pin gauges.  These are precision ground pins that can be used to gauge the bore and insure that the correct bushing is selected.  Using pin gauges allows the gunsmith to know what bore diameter the barrel maker is really supplying.

Now keep in mind the pilot has to slip into the bore, so in mechanical terms the pilot has to be about 0.0004” smaller than the bore to slip in without any interference. In most shops the pilot is figured at 0.001” smaller than the bore and rightly so.  Too tight a fit can gall and or leave marks in the bore or stress the reamer and break it during the reaming process.

What happens if the pilot is too loose?

Ninety-Nine times out of a hundred when a reamer chatters (vibrates) in use, it is because the pilot to bore fit is too loose. 

The lack of support when the pilot is too small allows the reamer to move around in the bore, as the tool tries to bite into the steel it grabs hard and because even tool steel is flexible you get chatter as the tool loads and releases tension.  This is the reason that some gunsmith’s insist on having a set of pilots that cover the possible variations in .0002” (That’s 2/10,000 of an inch.) increments.  Keeping the pilot as close to bore dimensions as possible will help eliminate chatter and promote a more precise chamber. 

If you have a pilot that is a perfect match for the bore but is too loose on the inside where it rides on the reamer then the advantage of a close fitting pilot is negated.  To pull the whole concept together…  If you have a .0002” tolerance on your bushing to barrel fit and the same on the pilot to reamer fit, you end up with .0004” total slop on the pilot. 

I can tell you that most people do not grasp this or understand why these tolerances  matter.  I base that statement on 30 years of talking to gunsmithing customers, and the people who call to rent tools.  The comments that shooters and gunsmiths make during our conversations indicate their level of understanding in a hurry.

In general if the total pilot run-out is under .001” then all will work fine and there should be no worries.  This rule holds true for solid pilot or removable pilot reamers.  Long ago I lost track of how many rechamber and barrel jobs I have done.  I can tell you that

Chambering Rilfes for Accuracy, cover

 it is possible to get an accurate job from either type of reamer.  In fact, if pressed for a choice I would say that solid pilot reamers are more accurate on average.  Especially for inexperienced gunsmiths.

I do not make this statement lightly, as I own hundreds of reamers of both types.  This goes back to the understanding of how the tools relate to the barrel.  To reiterate, the one caveat would be that for best accuracy the pilot of the reamer must meet the tolerances of less than .001” run out verses the bore, for all this to hold true.

There is another major factor in how well a reamer cuts and how accurate the gun will be…  The gunsmith must do a good job on the set up for machining.  If the threads are not true to the bore, or the chamber is crooked or oversized, or the throat of the chamber ends up off center, accuracy will be elusive to say the least.

Use of a floating reamer holder is a great way to insure an accurate chamber.  This tool allows the reamer to follow the hole in the barrel without any side pressure that might be caused by minor misalignment of the tail stock to the bore of the lathe.

Whether you plan to build accurate hunting rifles or top quality competitive benchrest and long range guns this handbook has detail descriptions and plenty of clear photos to make the subject easy to understand.  The other titles in the series deal with headspace, the vital counterpart to chambering, check them out here.  More titles are planned for the series.  These are college level training manuals that a gunsmith at any level of experience will value.

Another post of interest on this subject.

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The Big News for Fred Zeglin, April 2018

How many authors can brag that they held #1 in two categories on Amazon.com?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I am one of them so here I am, bragging.

Last month (April 2018) Gordy Gritters and I (Fred Zeglin) released our new book, “Chambering Rifles for Accuracy”.  This book is the 3rd in the Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series. Obviously the reception of the book and it’s counterparts in the series has been very good.  It’s gratifying to see our work appreciated by so many customers.

On behalf of Gordy and myself.

Thank you for pushing us to #1 on Amazon during the first week of April.

#1 on Amazon

#1 in Two Categories on Amazon!

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Flathead Valley Community College offers AAS in Firearms.

Learn Skills

Projects that Challenge

Heading into our fifth year, this program started out as a two-semester certificate program created to provide a solid foundation in theory, design and function of firearms. In 2017 the program grew to include a second two-semester certificate. The second certificate will interest folks who are more interested in traditional gunsmithing and custom gun work. The Big new for 2018 is that the Board of Regents authorized a two year degree that combines all the classes into an Associate of Applied Sience (AAS).

Course topics will include firearms safety, manual mill and lathe operation, bench metal techniques, firearms repair, machine tools for gunsmiths and precision rifle building. Stock making, checkering, bluing and other finish techniques are taught along with custom modifications of all kinds of firearms.  Many of the classes have little or no prerequisites, so they are open to anyone who would like to learn and expand their experience with guns, contact the school for more information.

Students who successfully complete the program will be prepared for entry-level positions in the firearms industry and will have a better understanding and knowledge base for owning a gunsmith business. The program contains both lecture and significant hands-on training designed to instill an understanding of the design and function of today’s firearms.

“FVCC has the only Firearms Technologies Certificate Program of its kind in the country,” said FVCC Firearms Technologies Coordinator Fred Zeglin. “Students are challenged to develop skills that are not part of any other program. We are very proud to now offer a two year AAS degree that will jump start a student’s career in firearms.  By partnering with manufacturers in our area we have assembled a program that addresses the needs of the employers.”

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and able to legally own and possess firearms. A background check is required for all students who are accepted into the program.

The program was developed to build upon a foundational machining background, which is provided through the college’s Tier I Machining Certificate Program. Tier 1 Machining . Firearms Technologies Program applicants with industry or previous learning experience may opt to bypass the Tier 1 Machining Certificate Program by requesting testing and/or instructor consent.

Prospective students must apply both to the Firearms Technologies Program and for admission to FVCC. Firearms Technologies Program applications are available online at www.fvcc.edu/firearms or in the Admissions Office in Blake Hall on the FVCC Kalispell campus. For more information, contact Will Richards at 756-4862 or wrichards@fvcc.edu.

Download the application to attend classes

NPR story about the program

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Filed under accuracy, Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, Pistol, Rifles, Rimfire, Shooting, Shotgun, Sights/Scopes, Stocks, tools

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid…

Every time I pick up a BB gun I find myself in the backyard with my Dad at six years old.  Shooting my old Daisy BB gun at a cardboard box. A 15 foot target taped to the box and doing my darnedest to keep them all on the box.

Over the years I got to play with that BB gun a lot and it helped me to learn how to line up sights and squeeze a trigger, because if you jerked the trigger it was a foot off and you could watch the BB miss the box or whatever your target might be.

Naturally like every kid turned loose with a BB gun I shot at something that caused the BB to ricochet back.  That was a hard lesson, but not soon forgotten.  I’m in favor of letting kids learn a few hard lessons so long as they don’t loose and eye in the process.  I seem to recall a Christmas Classic Movie that focuses on  that very concept?!

Well the folks at Air Venturi have an answer for the BB ricochet of our youth.  They plan to stop them with Frangible BBs.  Most of the time I hate “New and Improved” ideas because the standard steel BB we all know.  And, when it hits something hard if fractures and falls apart, unlike the old steel BB we all know and love.

Many times I am not a fan of the “New & Improved” product, they tear away some memory or valuable lesson from our youth.  This one I can get behind though.  It allows the BB to travel at a velocity about 10% faster than the common steel BBs we all know and love and when they hit something hard, instead of bouncing back they turn to dust on the spot.  You can even call them “Green” because they contain no lead.

Next some Nam-by-Pam-by will tell us the kids have to wear a dust mask when they shoot these new Frangible BBs.  I draw the line there, just take the kids out and have some fun introducing them to the fun of the BB gun.

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Christensen Arms, Modern Precision Rifle

Additional Calibers added to the Modern Precision Rifle™

Gunnison, UT – (January 16, 2018) Building upon the successful launch of the Modern Precision Rifle, Christensen Arms has expanded the caliber offerings for the popular rifle.  Beginning in January 2018, just in time for SHOT Show, the Modern Precision Rifle will be offered in a long-action configuration with .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Lapua Magnum available. Additionally, Christensen Arms has added the new 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge to the short-action lineup.  Also chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Winchester.

IMG_9868

The Modern Precision Rifle was developed with a proprietary chassis built with aerospace materials to optimize weight savings (16” .308 weighs under 7lbs).  It also includes an adjustable folding stock with a locking hinge mechanism, an oversized fluted bolt knob, and a black nitride coated bolt, receiver, and muzzle brake.  The Modern Precision Rifle is built with an aerograde carbon fiber barrel, free-floating handguard, and adjustable comb; and is guaranteed to shoot sub MOA.

“…as a benchmark, the MPR is going to be damned hard to top,” said Brian McCombie of American Hunter after his initial review of Christensen Arms’ new rifle.

About Christensen Arms
Founded in Utah in 1995, with roots in the aerospace industry, Christensen Arms developed the first carbon fiber rifle barrel. This patented technology resulted in one of the most innovative advances in firearms within the last two and a half decades. With more than 20 years of firearm experience focusing on incorporating top-tier aerospace materials and processes, Christensen Arms manufactures some of the most lightweight, precise, and accurate firearms in the industry and around the globe.

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10mm Carbine from Hi-Point

Stop laughing already…

Here’s the thing, Hi-Point Firearms is unapologetic about offering some of the lowest priced American-made firearms on the market.  But did you know they offer excellent customer service and stand behind the quality of the products they make?  They Do.

Some other gun makers to take a lesson or two from Hi-Point about reliability.  Over and over again I have read reports of reliability tests on these guns the just frustrate anyone who plans to hate them.  They feed just about any ammo and just keep running.  One of my buddies took all the reloads in .380 ACP that failed in his expensive big name guns and ran them through a Hi-Point without a single failure to feed or fire.  That’s a pretty tall order for any gun.

Being probably the cheapest carbine in the market place and being known for reliability will get many shooters to ignore the fact that the guns are not going to win any beauty contests.  Nobody is ever going to checker plastic stocks or engrave a Hi-Point.  But if your looking for a rough and tumble truck gun…  This is it.

In 2018, Hi-Point is adding power to its carbine line with a new 10 mm version that accepts a 10-round single-stack magazine and it’s +P rated. The rubber cheek rest, recoil absorbing stock and a trigger that is at least acceptable, will all contribute to more fun at the range. The 17.5″ barrel has a threaded muzzle with a sight rail for optics  and a lower rail for accessories, dare I refer to them as Pic-rails.   Until this 10mm came along I was not ready to own one, now I will have to add one to the collection.

MSRP: $389.99

 

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7.5 FK BRNO

I was working at the local community college with my associate Robart Schaefer.  We teach a firearms technology course there.  So naturally just about all conversations revolve around guns of one sort or another.  Robart mentioned he had seen a lot of Internet chatter about the 7.5 FK BRNO.  We had a good laugh when you brought up a post from a guy who asked if anyone had heard of the new company B_R_N_O?  He apparently have never heard of the famous city in The Czech Republic that has been producing firearms for at least 100 years.  Thus started a conversation with a lot of laughs that only a gun lover could appreciate.

First off, lets clear up some of the questions that pop to mind immediately.

  1. Is this company related to other well known BRNO companies from the Czech Republic?

Answer: No.  According to John Zent, Editorial Director for American Rifleman, this company has no connection the historical companies of the well known city of Brno in the Czech Republic.

2. What caliber is a 7.5 FK?

75brno

Answer: That would be a 30 caliber for the uninitiated to the Metric world of firearms.

3. What’s it look like?

Answer: A bottle-necked pistol cartridge.

 

Cartridge

Bullet Weight Velocity (fps) Energy (ft. lbs.)
5.7×28 40 gr. 1685 252
221 Fireball 40 gr. 3200 910
9mm Luger* 50 gr. 2000 454
460 S&W 200 gr. 2200 2150
30 Carbine 110 gr. 1990 967
7.62×25 85 gr. 1630 697

7.5 FK

100 gr.

2000

888

*Specialty ammo from Liberty Ammunition

The first article about this cartridge that caught my attention was an American Rifleman story by John Zent titled, “Worlds Fastest Pistol– 7.5 FK Brno”.  This was where Robert and I started kicking cartridges back and forth.  30 Carbine was the first cartridge that really came to mind as the AMT Automag III had long ago had this slot pretty well locked up, if velocity was the only measure.

So is it the Worlds Fastest?  I guess you will have to break it down for yourself.

Most shooters will also look at bullet weight and therefore energy numbers to determine the true value of a cartridge.  Available guns, ammo and their price ranges also enter into the discussion.  Of course the inevitable question of revolver vs. semi-auto comes into play as well.  For me the question of stopping power is a bigger concern if this is going to be a self defense gun.

In the buzz around the 7.5 FK BRNO pistol is a point that will limit the number of buyers for this gun.  Prices in several articles have suggested that the gun will sell for around $5000.  If that is the case the audience for this gun will be small.

It’s highly likely that custom pistol makers will offer guns with custom barrels in the 7.5 FK chambering.  4D Reamer Rentals LTD (our sponsor) has already ordered in the reamers and gauges for this cartridge.

7_5 FK vs 30m1

30 Carbine vs. 7.5 FK

As of this writing the pistols and ammunition are supposed to be available from at least one U.S. retailer: https://luxuryfirearms.com/ They are holding the pricing pretty close to the vest, so most folks would infer that the high prices that have been reported in other articles are probably correct.

Want to build your own?  You can rent the reamer and gauges here.

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20 Nosler

Yes, it’s on the way…    How do we know?  Click here. It’s pretty obvious.   Well that and the fact that SAAMI has published the specifications already.  The same print from SAAMI comments that a 32 grain bullet will go 4100 feet per second (fps).

Like the 22 Nosler the 20 is based on the 6.8 SPC case or 30 Remington depending on how you view it.  They both have rebated rims so as to fit in a standard AR-15 Bolt face.

The 20 Nosler will have about eight (8) percent more case capacity by water weight than  the 204 Ruger.  So is the velocity claim of 4100 fps realistic?  On Nosler’s own pages they show the 204 Ruger doing that velocity with the same bullet, so I would say, sure, it just means you will have short barrel life if you load to that level.

It’s long been know that velocities approaching 4000 fps are hard on barrels, the throat is erodes much more quickly regardless of the bullet diameter.  I foresee the barrels for this caliber being chrome washed or Melonite® teated simply to increase barrel life.

The 20 Nosler might have some loading flexibility that the 204 does not in that if you loading for 3500 to 3800 fps there are probably a few more powders that will get there with the larger case capacity.  One thing I noticed in looking for comparisons, the 20 Nosler falls in its own class in terms of case capacity, the 20 BR has just a couple of grains less capacity, but it’s not designed for the AR platform.  The other popular wildcats in this general class either have a fair amount less capacity, or a lot more.  If for no other reason, this cartridge will have a following just based on the case capacity.

There is certainly no doubt, this will be a flat shooting varmint cartridge that will do the job in the dog town or out taking coyotes.22NoslerVs20Nosler

Nosler™ is a trademark of  Nosler Inc.  Most likely Nosler will release this cartridge at SHOT Show 2018.  Watch for updates here.

 

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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