Tag Archives: rifle

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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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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New Approach to Firearms Education

Flathead Valley Community College will launch a new two-semester evening Firearms Technologies Certificate starting this fall.  The 27-credit program will feature curriculum developed to support the growing firearms industry in the Flathead Valley in Montana as well as across the country.

One of only a few colleges in the nation to offer firearms related programs. FVCC has taken a unique approach, developing the program as an enhancement to its existing industrial machine technology program introduced last year under the Department of Labor “Amplifying Montana’s Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Industry” grant (#TC-23760-12-60-A-30).  This approach will make FVCC the only school that focuses on manufacture of firearms and related parts.

The new program will provide students the opportunity to incorporate advanced machining skills with an understanding of firearms operational systems. Courses are tailored to emphasize the manufacturing of firearm components.

Fred Zeglin, curriculum coordinator for the program, developed the courses under the guidance and input from local firearms manufacturers.  “Manufacturers say they are seeking trained machinists who understand firearms.  Classes have been designed to build understanding of a wide variety of firearms and the way that they function.” said Zeglin.

Emphasis will be placed upon the completion of several gunsmithing projects involving blueprints and schematics using a combination of both hand and machine tools. This program will provide a clear understanding of firearms design and function, enabling graduates to assist with design implementation or tolerance issues in manufacturing environments.

The program will be held in the evenings with labs during the daytime on Friday and Saturday. Course topics will include firearms introduction and safety; manual mill and lathe systems; bench metal techniques; firearms theory and firearms repair; machine tools for gunsmiths; and precision rifle building.  This selection of courses are designed to increase the marketable skills of the students in the manufacturing realm.

The program will be marketed nationwide bringing focus to the local industry.  Prospective students must apply both to the program and for admission to FVCC. Program applications are due August 1 at 4 p.m. Applications are available online at http://www.fvcc.edu/firearms or in the Admissions Office in Blake Hall on the FVCC Kalispell campus. For more information, contact Jori Bullemer at 756-3905 or jbullemer@fvcc.edu or Will Richards at 756-4862 or wrichards@fvcc.edu.

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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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How To: Inlet Your Barrel Correctly

A barrel should be inlet up to the center line of the bore, or in other words, half it’s diameter should be below the wood line.  All too many new gunsmiths and hobby gunsmiths just inlet until they can get the screws into the action and call it good.

There is a simple way to make sure your barrel channel is deep enough so that the bore line will be aligned to the top of the stock.  Take a square and place the outside 90 degree corner of the squared into the barrel channel.  If the square touches on all three sides then the barrel channel is a half circle.  GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

If the point at the bottom of the barrel channel touches and keeps the sides from contacting the top of the stock then your too shallow.  Conversely, if the point of the square does not touch but both sides are in contact with the top of the stock then your past 50 percent depth.

Fred Zeglin is working on a series of booklets, “Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series”.  This little how-to tip is just one peek into the upcoming books.  What gunsmithing tips would interest you?

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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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DuraCoat, SHOT Show 2014

New Aerosol DuraCoat 2014

DuraCoat is finally available in an aerosol can.  This new aerosol was made possible by the development of this new “can in a can” technology which allows the components to mix inside the can.

This product differs from some other finishing products in that the product is activated, so it must be used within 48 hours of activation.  Some gunsmiths and hobbyist are concerned about buying large quantities of product.  For small shops this may be a great answer to that inventory problem.

Colors available in this new form are Matte Black, OD Green, Pink Lady, Magpul flat Dark Earth, White, Black-Hawk Coyote Tan, Combat Gray, and Woodland Green.  Each 12 ounce can contains enough material to coat two rifles.

Available from www.lauerweaponry.com

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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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