Tag Archives: ammo

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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Filed under accuracy, ammo, Firearms, How To, tools, wildcat

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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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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Kimber Micro .380 Pistol

Kimber’s Micro .380 ACP pistols were not new for 2014 but they were available for testing at SHOT Show Media day 2014.  The Micro includes many proven 1911 design elements that make them comfortable to carry, quick and safe to operate, and easy to shoot accurately.Kimber 380

Weighing just 13.4 ounces and with a barrel length of only 2.75 inches, they are ideal for concealed carry.  Like most 380 pistols, the recoil was light and easy to handle.  Sights were easy to pick up accuracy was good for a small pistol.  If you have big hands this gun is probably not for you, I have average size hands and it was easy to control and manipulate for me.

Weighing less than 14 ounces empty.  Slides on the Stainless and CDP models as well as all Micro barrels are machined from stainless steel for resistance to moisture and corrosion.  All Micro frames are carved from aluminum.

In many ways the Micro is a miniature 1911, among the most important Micro design features is a single action trigger with a short, smooth pull that delivers accuracy and instills confidence. The thumb safety, slide release and magazine release are pure 1911.

Standard features include a lowered and flared ejection port for flawless ejection and a beveled magazine well for fast, positive loading. These are items that many shooters pay a lot of money to have added to a gun.  Sights are steel mounted in machined dovetails for durability. Each Micro includes a flush-fitting 6-round magazine and an extended 7-round magazine is available as an accessory.

 

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Multiple Impact Bullet, SHOT Show 2014

Here is a sad fact about emergency situations:  Without extensive daily training chance are your initial reaction will be less than perfect.  In the case of life threatening situations, because of fear, panic, or adrenalin, 93 percent of first shots fired miss the intended target.  This is easy to understand.

In the best of circumstances we all have a slight twitch when firing a gun.  The best marksman learn to minimize the flinch or twitch.  For instance, if your twitch puts you just 2 degrees off target at 20 feet you will be 9.1 inches off your intended point of aim.  Obviously that is enough to cause a miss.

These facts caused the folks at Multiple Impact Bullets to invent a bullet that makes if for more likely a first shot will hit the target.  A bullet enhanced with Multiple Impact™ Technology (a prior-to-impact expansion technology) is designed to compensate for most if not all of the typical marksman’s error caused by Last Second Twitch.

The new design divides a single projectile into 3 interconnected segments that will spread to a predetermined orientation and finite diameter when fired. Once deployed, the segments of the proprietary Wide Envelopment Bullet™ (W.E.B™) are tethered together (like a spider web), to offer the shooter a much wider impact zone, reducing the occurrence of missed shots and thereby reducing the risk of collateral damage. (A standard .45 cal slug is .452 inches in diameter and remains that way until it collides with something, where as a T3™ round of the same caliber can be made to expand (instantly upon leaving the barrel) to a predetermined diameter (range 6 “ to 16 “ or greater).

This one of a kind Accelerated Radial Spread™ makes possible a wide spread pattern that ensures a high hit probability for each and every shot, resulting in unprecedented accuracy/hit probability, ensuring the shooter a greater tactical advantage.

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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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Filed under ammo, Rifles, Shooting, wildcat

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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Filed under accuracy, ammo, brass, bullets', Firearms, Rifles, Shooting

17 Winchester Super Magnum (Rim Fire)

This may be the only new cartridge at the 2013 SHOT Show.  Winchester’s new 17 caliber rim fire is an attempt to capitalize on the success of the 17 HMR.  I will be challenged on that point, so lets try and answer that challenge right here.  The 17 HMR has had reasonable success because it was intended to put 17 caliber cartridges in the hands of shooters without the need to reload.

17 Winchester Super Magnum

17 WSM (RF) vs 17 HMR

Obviously there are some center-fire cartridges in the marketplace that address these shooters as well.  The 17 Remington Fireball and the 17 Remington are substantially bigger cartridges.  Being center-fire generally means more expensive firearms too.

The advantage of rimfire is lower cost ammunition and lower cost firearms as well.  The only two models chambered for the new Winchester Super Magnum at SHOT Show in 2013 was one rifle from Savage Arms, and the model 1885 low wall from Winchester.

Winchester lists three loads for the new rim-fire cartridge.

  • S17W20, Polymer Tip, 20 gr. bullet, 3000 fps
  • S17W25, Polymer Tip, 25 gr. bullet, 2600 fps
  • X17W20, JHP, 20 gr. bullet, 3000 fps

At about 600 fps faster than the HMR the 17 WSM  has a about half the drop with the same bullet weight.  For more information see: http://winchesterproductdemos.winchester.com/17WinchesterSuperMagnum.html#/Home

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Bullet Proof Samples, Shot Show 2013

Reloaders want variety.  In fact they need variety.

All too often I hear a client say I picked out a load for my new rifle.  What’s wrong with that?  They say it before they have the new gun in hand.

Assuming the gun is well built and capable of good groups then we have to find a load that will work in that gun.  Even if you used the same reamer to chamber two barrels on the same day on the same lathe, there is not guarantee that they would shoot the same load well.

Choosing a particular bullet or weight and assuming it will produce good groups is not very realistic.  There are a whole host of variables that go into accuracy in ammunition.  Then the variable for a given gun are compounded on top of that.

Bullet Proof came up with a great solution to allow reloaders to test various bullets without having to buy a full box of them.  The sell sample packs with 12 bullets in the package.  This way you do not have to buy a box of 100 bullets only to find that your gun does not like them.

Bullet Proof handles a wide variety of bullets and weights so that you can test several options in a cost effective way.

BulletProof

 

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