Tag Archives: shooting

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

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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Miller Precision Arms 300MPA, SHOT Show 2014

We reported on this gun when Miller Precision first introduced it on July 4th,2012.  More recently they displayed the MPA300 at the SHOT Show, 2014.  At Media Day they had several rifles there ready for writers to test.

Miller Precision MPA300

Not too surprising, the writers all wanted to shoot the 300 Winchester in favor of the other models in 308 Winchester and 5.56 Nato.

The MPA300 has the distinction of being the only 300 Winchester Semi-auto on the market that is truly on the AR platform.  While the upper, lower, magazine and bolt carrier are specific to the MPA, the rest of the parts are all AR-10 interchangeable.   So you can dress your gun with any of the various features that are already on the market for the AR-10.

Media day turned out to be a real endurance test for the MPA300.  When Brandon Miller saw that everyone wanted to shoot the 300 Winchester almost exclusively, he decided to see how long the gun would run without a cleaning.  It went about 2700 rounds before the first malfunction.  A quick inspection and cleaning had the gun back at the line and by the time the smoke cleared the gun had fired over 4000 rounds without a second failure. 

Actions are machined from billet aluminum.  These guys are selling quality, not big-box store discount products.  Finishes for the Miller Precision guns are about as varied as you can ask for.  Among other things they offer hydrographic coatings, so the choices are almost limitless.  These guns are impressive.

Brandon Miller w MPA300

Brandon Miller with his MPA300, Media Day 2014

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26 Nosler UPDATE, post SHOT Show 2014

Cartridge for 26 Nosler next to similar cartridges

26 Nosler is a new cartridge design, it actually fills a niche in the factory cartridge world.  Between the WSM cartridges and the RUM cartridges, the first being short action, the latter being full length magnum.  So the 26 Nosler is in between.

This may not sound like a big deal but it was a very good idea for a 6.5mm Magnum.  When the 7mm or 300 Remington Ultra Mag is necked to 6.5mm it’s not very satisfactory.  The case capacity is far overbore for the 6.5mm bore, so accuracy suffers and finding a good load is difficult.

By reducing case capacity as Nosler has done with this new design they have brought the balance between bore and capacity back into a range where load development is easier and barrel life will be better than with the full length RUM wildcat such as the 6.5MM UltraCat originated by Z-Hat Custom back in 1999.

26 Nosler drawingDesigned with a maximum cartridge O.A.L. of 3.340”, the 26 Nosler cartridge functions in a standard length magnum action with a 3.400″ magazine box.  It is very similar in length to a 300 Winchester magnum case.  This equates to a shorter bolt through and lighter weight gun than with the full length magnums like the 300 H&H or 7mm RUM.

The 26 Nosler is capable of pushing a 130gr bullet at a Muzzle Velocity of 3400 fps according to Nosler.  With that kind of velocity bullets must be made for the extra stress that velocity will bring to the jacket.  No disrespect to Nosler but this is a job for a NorthFork Bullet if I ever saw one.

The 26 Nosler is a non-belted, 6.5mm centerfire rifle cartridge.  With a useable case capacity of 93 grains of water, the 26 Nosler is speedy, it outperforms the 264 Win Mag by over 200 fps with a 130 gr bullet.  Loaded with the 129gr AccuBond-LR, the 26 Nosler retains as much velocity at 400 yards as the 260 Remington produces at the muzzle.

26 Nosler compared

Zeroed at 350 yards, the 26 Nosler has a maximum point blank range (PBR) of 415 yards.  It appears from the chart at the right that Nosler is figuring 5 inches +or- form zero to get to that 415 yard point blank range.

Nosler’s choice of a 6.5mm cartridge is a good one, sectional density and high ballistic coefficients make 6.5mm a good bet. Retained energy and accuracy at long range is always good with a 6.5mm.  This will be a good cartridge for wide open western hunting for deer class animals.  Thumbs Up!

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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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NEW Pistols, SHOT Show 2014

Taurus is showing a new variation on their model 85 called the “View”.  It sports a translucent panel where the side plate would normally be, allowing a view of the mechanism as the gun is cycled.  Designed for concealed carry it utilizes an aluminum frame and a titanium cylinder to hold weight down.

Chambered  for 38 Special this ultra-light revolver holds five rounds.  Empty it weighs in at only nine ounces.  With a snub nose 1.41″ barrel a round but and spur-less hammer this revolver would be easy to carry.  The side plate is a gimmick but one that many shooters would like.  Top it all off with a double action trigger pull of 10 pounds.

Desert Eagle compact 1911

Magnum Research is offering a new compact version of the 1911 for 2014.  Dubbed the “Undercover” model, or the 1911U this variant is a Series 70 style.  The DE1911U is built on an ultra lightweight frame made of aircraft grade aluminum alloy and features a 4140 high carbon steel slide and adjustable rear sight for windage and elevation. The .45 ACP DE1911U has 6+1 round capacity, an overall length of 6.85″, a 3″ barrel, height of 5″, and weighs just 25.8 oz. 

Standard features include checkered front and back strap, double diamond checkered wood grip, and stainless steel hex screws. The DE1911U also has a high-rise beavertail safety, skeleton hammer, and an aluminum trigger. It comes standard with two 6-round magazines.

 

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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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Mossberg MVP Rifles, SHOT Show 2014

Bolt action with AR magazine

Mossberg is offering five new models in their MVP line.  Calibers include 5.56mm and 300 AAC Blackout.

Barrels are 16.25″ long, medium bull contour, A2 flash hiders are installed.  The Trigger is the Mossberg LAB adjustable type.  This handy package is popular with anybody who hunts in a brushy or timbered area that makes a long barrel a pain to maneuver.

Ranch hands and farmers will be attracted to the convenience provided by the compact size.  That coupled with the AR magazines make this a rugged work horse of a rifle.

Mossberg is also offering six new variations on this rifle in their “MVP Flex” rifles.  Lots to choose from.

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Expected New Light Weight Revolver from Chiappa, 2014

New from Chiappa, the PolyLite™ Rhino was shown to wholesalers at the (NASGW) Expo.  The new revolver is a variation of the existing Rhino line, obviously seeking to capitalize on the CC market.  This lighter gun with a relatively slim profile may well find a niche with self defense folks.

Rhino by Chiappa

The PolyLite Rhino should look very similar to the other 2″ guns in the companies line up.

The PolyLite™ Rhino will be available only in .38 Special, unlike the other revolvers in this series of guns which come in 357 Magnum.  Pre SHOT Show, it’s not known if the revolver will be rated for +P, or standard pressure ammo only.  The six round cylinder appears similar in size to the existing Rhino revolvers.  Expect a shortened cylinder to prevent loading of .357 cartridges.

A 2″ barrel model will be introduced first.  No indication whether longer barreled PolyLite™ revolvers will be produced in the future.   Black is the only available color for the new design.  If the guns sell well, other frame colors are always a possibility.  The guns use a red fiber optic front sight and a fixed rear notch.  

We will try to get a look at this one for you at SHOT.

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Learning About Bergara Barrels

Gunsmiths are always looking for sources for quality barrels.  There are several good makers in the United States.  Douglas, Hart, Krieger and  Pac-Nor to name a few.  Bergara is a Spanish barrel maker.  They recently purchased new equipment that have allowed them to expand operations both in Spain and the U.S.

Shooters of the T.C. Encore™ have probably heard of Bergara Barrels, because they manufacture replacement barrels for the famous Encore™ pistols and rifles.   Accuracy reports from these barrels have been very good.  Of late Bergara USA is offering much more, including tapered barrel blanks for gunsmiths.

Prices are comparable to other barrels in the marketplace.

The video below is an introduction to the manufacturing processes used by Bergara to make barrels.  Pretty interesting if you have never seen a barrel made.  Bergara has invested in some new high-tech gun drills and equipment to manufacture quality barrels in a less labor intensive process.

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