Tag Archives: reloading

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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P.O. Ackley and the Trinidad Gunsmithing School

In post World War II, veterans were looking for a way to receive training so that they could start new careers.  Untold numbers of vets wrote to P.O. Ackley requesting training.

Tom Elliot_1947

Ackley returned home from a vacation to find a huge pile of mail on a desk in his office, all from men seeking a chance to learn gunsmithing.  P.O. had tried to train a few men in his business but found that it was counterproductive.  He took the mountain of mail to the Junior College in Trinidad and suggested they start a school to deal with the hundreds of G.I.s who had returned home and had veterans benefits to spend for training.

The school agreed to set up a program and in short order the first round or classes began.  P.O. Ackley taught at the school for the first three years of it’s operation.  He also helped choose instructors who could pass along quality training to the vets.

Ackley left Trinidad in 1951 when his business was sold to an out of state concern.  But the school lives on and is still training gunsmiths today.

A new book on P.O. Ackley will be available in 2017, it will cover his entire career.  From 1936 to 1989 Ackley manufactured scope mounts and barrels, he wrote articles and books, and he was “The Gunsmith’s Gunsmith”.  No other gunsmith of the 20th century was as influential in the firearms trade.  Six years of research have produced an amazing amount of new and interesting information.  You may think you know about Ackley, but trust me, when you read this book you will learn so much more…  

Book has recently been published, “P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith”

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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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Nosler with NEW Products at Shot Show 2013

Nosler7Nosler has a lot of new products of interest to the shooter and reloader for 2013.

First off the new Nosler reloading manual #7 is out both in print and in a digital edition.  864 pages of data and articles.  More than 120 cartridges are included and some new propellants have been added along with new bullets from Nosler.

In Nosler brass new offerings include the 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7×57 Mauser, 300 AAC Blackout, and the 375 Ruger.

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Wildcat Cartridges, The Reloader’s Handbook of Wildcat Cartridge Design, now on Amazon Kindle

Wildcat Cartridges by Fred ZeglinBack in 2005 this book had it’s first printing.  The hardback edition of the book contains 288 pages of stories, illustrations, anecdotes, instructions, and data. Many of the cartridges covered in the book include a dimensioned drawing. Foreword by Wayne van Zwoll.  The first edition if now sold out, making the book out of print.  The price of the print copies of the book have already begun to rise in price.  No reprint is planned, so recently Fred Zeglin decided to release the book through Amazon as a Kindle book.

Wildcatting has been around almost as long as the metallic cartridge case. Wildcats have an air of mystery about them, no effort is made in these pages to diminish that mystique. Yet, you will find information here that is simply not available anywhere else. P.O. Ackley was the last Gunsmith to address the subject of wildcatting in depth. Over forty years later, Fred Zeglin, Master Rifle Builder and wildcatter has assembled in an easy to read, often humorous manual for anyone who loves guns, reloading, or wildcat cartridges.

History of wildcat cartridges is presented including many well known designers like P.O. Ackley, Jerry Gebby, and Charles Newton. The historical information provides an appropriate frame of reference for wildcatting. Nobody really wants to repeat something that has already been done. More recent wildcats are included along with reloading data and dimensions wherever possible.

Most valuable of all is the how-to information about making reamers and reloading dies. Fred supplies dimensions and instructions on how they are used to produce highly accurate reloading dies and chambers. Delivery times for such custom tools can delay a wildcat project by many months, knowing how to make your own dies can speed delivery of custom projects by many months.

Click here to go to Amazon.com and check it out.

Fred Zeglin wrote another book about, “P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith”. If your interested in wildcats then this book will definitely be a good read for you.

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Fred Zeglin Wins Recognition for Writing

Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers (RMOWP) has released the results of their 2012 writing contest.  Fred Zeglin received four awards in this years competition for his work in print, web, and podcasting.

 

 

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New Gunsmithing Courses Available Summer 2012

Gunsmithing Classes

FVCC’s Continuing Education department has announced the addition of gunsmithing courses to their offerings.  During July of 2012 seven new courses will be offered to hobby gunsmiths and professionals alike.  Brandon Miller, Coordinator for the new Gunsmithing courses was the NRA Coordinator for Murray State College as well as a gunsmithing instructor, until his move to the Kalispell area in 2011.

Two armorers courses are being offered and are in the process of accreditation via POST.  The first is an AR-15, AR-10 Armorers Course.   This five day (40 hour) course is to familiarize the student with the AR-15/AR-10 weapons format. Instruction will include function, disassembly,  as well as reassembly, of main and sub groups.  Troubleshooting and function testing tips, tool use and the installation of many aftermarket custom parts. Optional caliber choices in the AR-15 format will be addressed. The AR-10 and various manufacturers will be discussed, with particular attention to compatibility of parts. Students should to bring their own firearms as guns will not be provided.

Second, a five day (40 hour) course will focus on design, function and repair to factory service specifications for shotguns, including the study of feeding, loading, extraction, headspace, gas systems and basic repair and maintenance of all parts. Guns covered will be Benelli M1, Remington 870, Remington 1100, Remington 11-87, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 835, etc.

An exciting opportunity to learn from an American Custom Gunmakers Guild member, Lee Helgeland, the art of gunstock checkering. Tools, layout and patterns will be discussed in depth as you actually checker your own gunstock. The tips and tricks discussed can shave years off the learning curve of this artistic and functional part of stockmaking.  Bring your gunstocks and tools, this is a hands on class.

Fred Zeglin, Master Gunsmith, will be teaching two classes for this program.  The first is his popular Wildcat Cartridge Design class.  This class takes the student from a raw idea to making the tools needed to form brass and chamber a barrel for a custom cartridge design.  Students will make tools in this class and walk away with a full understanding of how to safely design and test a cartridge.

Fred’s second class will be Glass Bedding for rifles.  This five day course will highlight stress-free bedding processes while focusing on pillar bedding. The course will discuss the intricacies of the ultra accurate bolt action field rifle on today’s market. Areas covered will be bedding, scope mounting, headspace and triggers. The student will have the opportunity to bed at least one rifle in the method he/she chooses. Methods for different actions and reasoning behind the different processes will be discussed in detail. Stock pillars will be made in class.  Bring your rifle.

Other classes will be Alterntive Finihses: The purpose of this class is to familiarize the student with various finishes other than hot caustic bluing. There will be an instruction and demonstration in hot water bluing treatments such as Brownells Classic Rust Blue and Dicropan IM, as well as Nitre Blue. Students will also be instructed in the use of Zinc/Manganese Parkerizing as well as the setup and application of various spray-on finishes. Students will have and opportunity to apply Parkerizing or one of the spray-on finishes to at least one firearm and possibly a second one if time allows.  So, bring your projects.

Finally, Color Case Hardening. The differences between color case hardening modern actions as compared to antique actions will be discussed. Participants will receive hands-on training as they color case harden various parts and/or actions. Students will need to bring their own projects.

There are only a few gunsmithing schools around the country, so in order to take these classes students normally have to travel to one of these schools.  By offering these classes FVCC becomes the only school in the Pacific Northwest to provide such quality training.  For more information contact the Continuing Education Offices at FVCC, (406) 756-3822 or better yet, check out their web site:  https://ace.fvcc.edu/ShowSchedule.awp?&Mode=GROUP&Group=GS&Title=Gunsmithing

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Zombie Max™ Ammo Plant being auctioned to benefit USA Shooting Team

Hornady Manufacturing® is offering a unique opportunity to bid on a rare Zombie Max™ Ammo Plant in an online auction, with all proceeds benefiting the USA Shooting Team competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

The features of this reloader are identical to the brand new Hornady® Lock-N-Load® Ammo Plant, with one key difference. The Zombie Max™ version has been designed to complement Hornady’s limited-time Zombie Max™

Unique Zombie Max Ammo Plant from Hornady.

ammunition. Its green paint and “zombified” graphics were crafted by Hornady® Tool Division workers. They created these presses as a surprise for the company’s President and Vice President, Steve and Jason Hornady, as a way to build excitement for the release of the Zombie Max™ line. The Hornadys are offering one for public auction, with all proceeds supporting the USA Shooting team. Details about the tool’s features and technical abilities can be found on the Hornady® website at http://www.hornady.com/store/Lock-N-Load-Ammo-Plant-110-VT.

The online auction is underway at GunBroker.com from April 13 through April 29, 2012. Bidders can also get a first hand look at the Zombie Max™ Ammo Plant in the Hornady® booth #1831 at the NRA Show, April 13-15, 2012, in St. Louis, Missouri. The winning bidder will be notified immediately after the auction closes.

USA Shooting is a 501c3 non-profit corporation chartered by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of shooting. Partially funded by the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Shooting relies on dues, donations, events, and corporate partnerships to promote the development of the U.S. Shooting Team. For more information, visit the USA Shooting website.

 

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300 AAC Blackout, Dies from Forster

Forster Products are now offering full length resize dies for the 300 AAC.  For a Seating die they offer their in-line ” Ultra™ Micrometer Seater Die”.  Anyone who has ever tried an in-line bullet seater will tell you they are the way to go for shooters who demand the best accuracy from the ammo they load.  Best of all you can get these dies in a set at a discounted price over buying them separately.

If you prefer the bargain basement, Advanced Armament Corp. stocks the basic dies from Forster for $75 as set.  Some makers are still charging a lot more for dies in this caliber.  This cartridge is certainly getting a lot of attention this year with many new rifles coming out in the caliber.  With the huge interest in this cartridge I felt I should post a link to the best source of information about it, Click Here for more.

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