2018’s Best Bang for Your Buck: Precision Bolt-Action Rifle Round-Up

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Displayed among the many trending firearms at this year’s SHOT Show were new “precision rifle” offerings. Read all about them!

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Kevin Reese

As big shots go, NSSF’s SHOT Show has ruled our industry roost for 40 years, and the 2018 event did not disappoint. SHOT Show spans more than 650,000 square feet of floor space; 12 grueling miles of aisles; 1,600 vendors; 2,500 of us media types and, while the data isn’t out yet, I suspect attendance was well over 65,000. While no better place on Earth exists from which to read the industry’s pulse, gathering intel to share with inquiring minds can be downright brutal — not because it’s hard to find, rather, there’s simply too much to cover.

So we pick and choose, walk, and talk, seemingly until we are effectively hobbled by a mercilessly busy and unending show floor and shoes that clearly do not fit as well as we originally believed, bent solely on unveiling jaw-dropping products sure to get your trigger finger twitching. One trend continuing to rise and worthy of note is the tactical-inspired precision bolt-gun world. Well before the AR slump in the first half of 2017, these aggressively styled modern sporting rifles picked up major steam, and SHOT Show 2018 only underscored the trend. With respect to industry trends, check out this handful of ultra-cool tactical bolt-guns well-worth the buzz and your hard-earned bucks.

Bergara Premier HMR Pro

Bergara Premier HMR Pro
Never one to slow their roll, Bergara had a banner year, winning a couple of awards, including the NASGW-POMA Caliber Award for Best New Rifle in 2017 with the B-14 HMR (hunting and match rifle). While Bergara could have stopped advancing award-winning HMR efforts then, they forged on to bring consumers an even better iteration in the Premier HMR Pro.

It should come as no surprise that the core of Bergara’s Premier HMR Pro precision performance is the world-class 416 stainless steel, No. 5 tapered, threaded barrel. HMR barrels are produced in Bergara, Spain, utilizing a proprietary honing process, then sent to the U.S. for a top-shelf Cerakote finish. Second to world-renowned barrels, Premier HMR Pro rifles also boast a proprietary, Nitride-coated Bergara Premier two-lug action, incorporating a sliding plate extractor and coned bolt nose for seriously reliable cycling.

Of course, the efforts invested in precision barrel and action machining would all be for not had the HMR not come standard with a top-shelf trigger or practical yet comfortable stock system. Bergara’s Premier HMR Pro rifles feature a TriggerTech Frictionless Release Technology Trigger while the composite stock encapsulates a full-length aluminum mini-chassis designed to house a free-floating barrel with repeatable bedding, as well as flush cups for a sling system. The stock also includes robust comb and length-of-pull adjustability.

The Bergara Premier HMR Pro uses detachable AICS-style magazines and is available with 20-, 24-, and 26-inch barrels. Calibers include.223 Rem. (20-in. with 1:8 twist), 6mm CM (26-in. with 1:8 twist), 6.5mm CM (24-in. with 1:8 twist) and .308 Win. (20-in. with 1:10 twist). MSRP: $1,715.

Read more HERE

Remington 700 Chassis System

Remington Model 700 PCR
Reeling from a major slump in the first three quarters of 2017, Remington’s future after 200 years has been questioned by many; however, if the company’s new Model 700 PCR offers any insight as to what lies ahead, I think a bright future is certainly attainable.

The Remington Model 700 PCR plays a smart hand when it comes to next level shooting. Where precision shooting has long been regarded as a rich man’s sport heavily laden in ridiculously expensive systems, some easily topping $10,000, the industry has seen much more appetizing price points over the past few years with match-grade production rifles under $2,000 — Ruger’s RPR and Bergarga’s B-14 BMP have been perfect examples of this trend and now the Remington 700 PRC fits in this affordable precision product category perfectly with an MSRP of $1,199.

At first blush, the Model 700 PRC appears to be a heck of a winner for Remington. This aggressively styled buzzworthy rifle guarantees sub-MOA accuracy right out of the box from a 24-in. stainless steel barrel with 5R rifling (based on Remington’s Computer Aided Targeting System) and delivers these goods in three calibers: .260 Rem., 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win.

The chassis is lightweight, constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and coated with Teflon, a rugged protective finish Remington touts as “impervious to weather and atmospheric conditions.” A free-floating handguard, compatible with both SquareDrop and KeyMod accessories, offers a wealth of real estate to handle all your extra must-haves and is removed easily for detailed rifle cleaning. Built from the ground up specifically for precision shooting, Remington’s Model 700 PCR also includes the popular Magpul Gen 3 PRS stock, complete with micro-adjustable cant, length-of-pull, buttpad height and comb height.

Read more HERE

Savage 110

Savage 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution
Hot on the heels of Savage’s insanely accurate MSR-10 Long Range launch, a rifle I recently completed work with and consistently hammered sub 1/2-MOA groups, Savage unleashed its jaw-dropping 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution Tactical Bolt-Action Rifle. Set in a precision-machined monolithic aluminum chassis finished in bronze Cerakote, the 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution promises “pinpoint” accuracy from a heavy, fluted, matte black, carbon steel, match-grade barrel with 5R rifling and Savage’s popular AccuTrigger.

If you’re not up to speed on the AccuTrigger, the system allows fine weight adjustments from 1.5 to 6 lbs. without requiring the services of a gunsmith. The trigger also features an additional safety mechanism to effectively eliminate the potential for a jarring accidental discharge.

The chassis includes a full top rail with additional rail sections at 3 and 9 o’clock to attach your favorite accessories. The Magpul Gen 3 PRS stock affords cant, buttpad, length-of-pull, and comb height adjustments for a perfect fit and is a popular choice among precision long-range shooters. A Magpul grip rounds out the Evolution chassis’ aesthetic and comfort features.

Savage’s 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution is available in six calibers in 20-in., 24-in. and 26-in. barrel lengths and an MSRP range of $1,799 – $2,149. Calibers include: .223 Rem., 6mm CM, 6.5mm CM, .300 Win. Mag., .308 Win., and .338 Lapua. If the Evolution performs as well as it looks on the range, it’ll be hard to wipe the smile off my face; after all, I’m still seriously impressed with the MSR-10 Long Range’s performance. Savage is definitely on its A-game.

Read more HERE

McRees Precision Chassis
While heads turned, voices buzzed, and ears perked around scores of amazing, some even affordable, precision bolt guns, others clamored to the handful of booths showcasing precision bolt-gun chassis. Whether their interests were in catering to DIY customers or jumping into projects themselves, they poured into booths like McRees Precision, focused sharply on resurrecting tired, old bolt-action rifles or erecting new ones. They know that the building and restoring segment of our industry is growing, as is precision long-range shooting and today’s chassis, like McRees Precision’s BR-15, have quite a bit to offer both attendees and end consumers.

New for 2018, the McRees Precision BR-15 chassis, designed to fit many short and long Remington and Kimber actions, epitomizes what happens when a world-class marksman tires of shortcomings of other competition systems and sets out to design his own … then shares it with fellow enthusiasts and even makes it affordable. One of the greatest attributes of the BR-15 is its simple drop-in design; a builder simply drops in the barreled action and uses the included tools to finish out the rifle without the need of a gunsmith. Scott McRee developed the BR-15 as a multi-use chassis system for competition, hunting, tactical applications, or just plain banging steel. The BR-15 is available with a fixed or side-folding stock. Serious shooters also should appreciate the patented M-LEV bubble-style cant indicator embedded in the stock.

Indeed, in the next-level shooting landscape, chassis may cost thousands while complete rifle systems can and sometimes do top $10,000 before you ever add an optic, but the BR-15 currently sells for between $650 and $800. So, what’s the takeaway? Those willing to take on the challenge of building a world-class match-grade rifle, can get it done without breaking the bank or compromising on quality.

Read more HERE

 

HUNTING: Dispelling the Myth about No Hunting on National Parks

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Here’s a closely-kept secret: About 35-percent of our National Park Service properties allow hunting! Here are 5. Read more about this…

Hunting in National Parkis

SOURCE: American Hunter, by Frank Miniter

There is this pervasive myth that national parks don’t allow hunting. Many of the most famous national parks certainly don’t allow hunting, but 59 out of 390 properties administered by the National Park Service (NPS) do allow hunting. In total, about 35 percent of the NPS’ acreage uses hunting to manage game populations, accounting for 29,943,312 acres — 19,677,033 of which are in Alaska.

While interviewing park superintendents for articles, I’ve actually had them tell me that the NPS bans all hunting. When I started naming parks that allow hunting they were baffled and told me those must just be exceptions. When I told them that 35 percent of the NPS’ properties allow hunting they grew quiet. Even they didn’t know the charters for some national parks expressly permit hunting.

Here are five great examples:

1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: This NPS-controlled property in Michigan has hunting seasons. The Lakeshore Ranger staff in this 71,187-acre park says they ask “both hunters and non-hunters to follow a few park rules and regulations and to work together in order to have a safe and enjoyable visit.” This park even has a special deer hunt on North Manitou Island each year.

2. Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area: Hunting within the boundaries of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area is a recognized recreational activity under the Code of Federal Regulations 36 CFR, section 7.55(a). This 100,390-acre park is located in eastern Washington State.

3. Amistad National Recreation Area: Five public hunting areas are available for archery and shotgun hunting at Amistad National Recreation Area during the 2015-2016 hunting season. This 58,500-acre park in Texas has whitetails, javelina, turkeys, rabbits, and exotic mouflon sheep, aoudad sheep and blackbuck antelope. The use of rifles or handguns is prohibited at Amistad National Recreation Area.

4. Assateague Island National Seashore: Public hunting is allowed within the boundaries of Maryland’s 41,320-acre Assateague Island National Seashore. The species available here include whitetails and sika.

5. Grand Teton National Park: An elk hunt in Wyoming’s 310,000-acre Grand Teton National Park was authorized when the park was created in 1950. The hunt is used to regulate the elk population before the animals move to winter feed grounds in the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole.

Critics of such hunts argue that hunting is counter to the NPS’ mission to preserve wildlife within its units. But as any wildlife biologist will tell you, predation –whether done by us or other predators — is a necessary component to keeping deer and elk populations from over-browsing habitat. Over-browsed habitat doesn’t just harm the plant life, it also impacts small game and other species. So, hunting is an important wildlife-management tool for helping park officials to keep the ecosystem healthy.

The deer hunt on the previously mentioned North Manitou Island is a good example of the importance of hunting to maintain a healthy deer herd and a healthy ecosystem. In 1926 four male and five female whitetails were introduced to the island. By 1981 there were an estimated 2,000 deer on the island, says the NPS. “The island vegetation could not sustain such a large herd, so many deer starved. The surviving deer over browsed the island, eating all of the Yew and young Maple trees. Through reduction of the deer herd by hunting, the vegetation has recovered to some extent. Hunts (by permit only) have occurred annually since 1985,” says the NPS.

Those opposed to the elk hunt in the Tetons also argue that the hunt is a danger to the grizzly bear population — some studies have shown that some grizzlies leave Yellowstone National Park (where there is no hunting) to feast on the elk gutpiles left by hunters. Anti-hunters argue that this constitutes a danger to bears and people. Common sense undoes this argument because who is more prepared to deal with an aggressive bear than a hunter? Also, hunters are required to carry bear spray and to use campsites with bear-proof food storage. There is no evidence that hunters are having a negative impact on the grizzly population.

Anti-hunters — these are mostly people who simply don’t understand our natural connection to the earth — also often prefer that NPS properties hire “professional” sharpshooters when a population reduction of deer or elk is so high that its harming the flora and the fauna that depends on the vegetation.

The NPS did recently use sharpshooters to reduce the whitetail population in Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania and at the Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland. The thing is, sharpshooters are expensive. Why hire sharpshooters when millions of Americans are willing to pay to hunt — funding conservation via license sales and taxes on firearms and ammunition — and are eager to do it for free? Hunting is also safe, and the meat is carried out of the woods and eaten by local people. What is more green, more pro-environment, than wildlife biologists using hunters to manage a deer herd?

Though the science is clear that hunting, when properly managed, is necessary and beneficial to wildlife and plant species, some anti-hunters continue to oppose hunting. The National Park Conservation Association (NPCA), for example, recently ran an article in which they did a Q&A with their director of government and legislative affairs, Kristen Brengel, and their legislative representative, Elise Russell Liguori.

The NPCA asked if hunters should hunt in more parks. Brengel said, “It is ridiculous to even think about. Would we interrupt school field trips at Fort McHenry to use the seagulls for target practice? Hunt for squirrels at the Liberty Bell? Shoot clay pots at Chaco Culture National Historic Park? I mean, does our country really benefit from opening these sites to hunting, when there are millions of acres of land that are better suited to hunting, and when it conflicts with so many other ways people already use and enjoy these places, from hiking to bird watching?”

Clay pots? I suppose she meant “clay pigeons.” She is so ignorant of shooting and hunting that she confuses clay pigeons for things used for potting plants. This kind of ignorance, with both hunting and wildlife biology, is the basis for the belief system that opposes our natural role in the environment. To help wildlife, the best thing we can do is educate such people about what hunting does for us and for the environment.

New for 2018: Hornady Adds Nine New Calibers to Precision Hunter Line

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Following its great success with its exclusive Precision Hunter ammo, Hornady is offering even more calibers and loadings. Read more!

Hornady Precision Hunter

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Philip Massaro

Making a gigantic splash with the ELD-X bullet, Hornady followed suit with the Precision Hunter line, offering that sleek hunting bullet in their loaded ammunition line. Based upon the success of the initial developments, Hornady has expanded that line for 2018.

With a very high Ballistic Coefficient, and bullets that run on the heavier side of average for a given caliber, the ELD-X bullet will get the job done in a multitude of different hunting situations, from near to far.

This year’s new offerings include nine new calibers. Included are 6mm Creedmoor (103-grain), .25-06 Remington (110-grain), .257 Weatherby Magnum (110-grain), 6.5 PRC (143-grain), .270 WSM (145-grain), .280 Ackley Improved (162-grain), 7mm WSM (162-grain), .338 Winchester Magnum (230-grain) and .338 Lapua (270-grain).

As it usually is with Hornady, they’re thinking about not just those newer, long-range cartridges, but of the hunter with a rifle that he or she has loved for some time, and wants to extend the capabilities of that rifle by feeding it modern bullets. I especially like that they’ve decided to give the .270 and 7mm WSM cartridges a breath of life — I know many owners of rifles in those calibers who’ve complained (and rightfully so) about ammunition availability. The Precision Hunter line has been very accurate in my own rifles, as well as those of friends and colleagues, and I’m excited to see how the new offerings will perform.

Hornady Precision Hunter

Check it out HERE at Midsouth!

New for 2018: Nosler M48 Long-Range Carbon Rifle

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Interested in a genuinely capable long-range, hard-hitting, and lightweight rifle? Here you go… Read more!

Nosler Carbon

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Brad Fitzpatrick

Nosler’s line of unbelted magnum-class cartridges — which started with the .26 Nosler and now include the .28, .30, and .33 Nosler — have been a major success with long-range shooters and hunters. For 2018, Nosler is offering a hunting rifle that may be the perfect complement to their cartridge lineup — the new M48 Long-Range Carbon.

Proof Research supplies the 26-inch Light Sendero-contour carbon fiber-wrapped match-grade barrels, with 5/8×24 threaded muzzles for these rifles — and those barrels are mated to a trued and faced M48 action. The Manners MCS-T carbon fiber Elite Midnight camo stock with high Monte Carlo cheekpiece allows for the use of large-objective scopes and reduces neck pain when shooting from a prone position.

The M48 Long-Range Carbon’s action and lightweight aluminum floorplate feature a durable Cerakote finish in Sniper Gray. The aluminum pillar and glass-bedded stock and Timney trigger further enhance accuracy potential, and Nosler guarantees these guns to shot MOA or better with prescribed ammunition.

In addition to all of its high-tech features, the M48 Long-Range Carbon has a number of other practical design elements that serious hunters will appreciate, like a comfortable textured surfaces, palm swells on the grip and fore-end, dual front ling studs to simplify bipod mounting and a receiver that’s drilled and tapped to accept Remington Model 700 two-piece bases. The push-feed action comes with a dual-lug bolt with plunder-type ejector, and there’s a two-position safety that’s conveniently mounted on the right side of the receiver.

With that beefy target stock and heavy-contour barrel, these guns loom heavy, but the abundance of carbon fiber materials used in the construction of this rifle helps keep overall weight around 7 pounds, depending upon caliber. Speaking of caliber, optional chamberings include 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 Win. Mag., as well as .26, .28, .30, or .33 Nosler.

If you need a long-range rifle that’s light enough to serve as a practical hunting rifle, this is a solid option. The M48 Long-Range Carbon has an MSRP of $2,995.

Read more about this new rifle HERE

New for 2018: Smith & Wesson Introduces M&P380 Shield EZ Pistol

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Here’s a first look at a brand-new addition to the Smith & Wesson lineup: a new CCW designed and engineered to be super-easy to operate. Read more!

S&W M&P EZ
Smith & Wesson M&P380 EZ (shown here with thumb safety)

SOURCE: American Rifleman Staff

In the past when a pistol manufacturer touted a new gun entry as having easy slide manipulation — even with a .380-cal. — we have taken the assertion with a grain of salt until we’ve had some hands-on experience. In the case of the just-announced Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ, we can attest that indeed, the pistol lives up to its claims.

The pistol, which offers an 8+1 round capacity, ships with two 8-round magazines that include a load-assist button, as well as a Picatinny-style rail for accessories. Barrel length is 3.675-in., and the pistol is outfitted with white-dot front and adjustable white-dot rear sights. Along with tapped rear slide serrations, a one-piece single-action trigger and audible trigger reset, it also features an 18-degree grip angle for a natural point of aim, as well as enhanced, textured grips. A tactile loaded-chamber indicator, a reversible magazine release, and available ambidextrous thumb safety round out its many ergonomically friendly features. The pistol will be available nationwide at the end of Feb. 2018 at an MSRP of $399.

“When we set out to design the M&P380 Shield EZ pistol, our goal was to deliver an all-around, easy to use personal protection pistol — from loading and carrying, to shooting and cleaning,” said Jan Mladek, General Manager of M&P and S&W Brands. “… We focused on key areas that customers told us were important — the ease of racking the slide and loading the magazine,” he said, “allowing consumers of all statures and strengths the opportunity to own, comfortably practice with, and effectively utilize this exciting new pistol“ for both first-time shooters and experienced handgunners alike.

More about this new pistol coming soon…

Read more HERE

M&P EZ specs 2

 

RETROSPECT: Snapshot: Winchester’s Rimfire Rout

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Once upon a time there was a .22 Rimfire Ammo War. Two cartridges vied for supremacy, and this one lost. Read more!

Winchester 1903
Image courtesy WinfieldGalleries.com.

SOURCE: NRA Publications, American Rifleman, by Mark A. Keefe

It seemed like a good idea at the time. When the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. rolled out its graceful, 10-shot semi-automatic Model 1903 rifle, it wasn’t entirely clear that the .22 Long Rifle would become the most dominant rimfire cartridge of all time. Back in 1903, smokeless powder was still a relatively new thing in commercial firearms, and Winchester was concerned that blackpowder .22 Long Rifle cartridges would be used in the Thomas Crossley Johnson-designed Model 1903.

To keep blackpowder .22s from gumming up the works in the blowback-operated, tubular-magazine-fed Model 1903, Winchester decided to chamber the gun for a new rimfire cartridge, the .22 Winchester Automatic. It featured a proprietary case and an inside-lubricated 45-gr. bullet. When Winchester commissioned this piece of art to promote the then-brand-new Model 1903 and its brand-spanking-new cartridge, the company thought it had a winner on its hands.

Winchester 1903
Image courtesy WinfieldGalleries.com.

But Winchester lost the battle — and the war — against the .22 Long Rifle. The company waved the white flag in 1933, and its Model 1903 became the Model 63 — chambered in .22 Long Rifle. No factory guns for the .22 Winchester Automatic cartridge have been produced since the 1930s. And Winchester now makes billions of .22 Long Rifle cartridges every year, but no .22 Winchester Automatic. That said, Aguila Ammunition has done special runs of .22 Winchester Automatic for the more than 125,000 Model 1903s made.

SKILLS: Tips for Wintertime Concealed Carry

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When you prepare for a cold weather outing, make sure your CCW needs have been addressed, and modified as needed. Here are a few ideas. Keep reading…

wintertime

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Sheriff Jim Wilson

As I write this, the first real cold front of the year is pushing its way through the country. It is also a time that we might reflect upon this business of dressing around your defensive handgun. The first thought might be that now, with the cold weather, everyone is wearing some sort of coat (perhaps even one of these tactical jackets), so it will be much easier for us to blend in with whatever covering garment we use for concealing our guns. However, even with winter carry, there are some issues that we need to consider.

When people are confronted with a violent criminal attack, the one thing that they can’t afford to waste is time. The criminal has already made the first move, and it is critical that we be able to respond in a timely fashion. Having to unzip or unbutton a coat is a loss of time that we might not be able to overcome. There are several ways to deal with this issue.

If we are alert, our first move when we see a potential threat might be to get that garment open so that we can respond if it turns out to be an actual threat. The assumption and the problem here is that we are alert enough to spot a possible criminal attack while there is still time to respond. What happens if a threat comes at us from behind and takes us completely by surprise?

Another solution might be to keep a small defensive handgun in one of the outer pockets of a coat. It might even be smart to have that handgun in a pocket on the support-hand side of our body. Of course, that means that we have to practice our pistol presentation with the support hand. When out in public, we might consider having the small handgun in an outer pocket on our support side and a larger handgun on our hip on the strong side. This gives defensive shooters some versatility in their choice of responses to the potential attack.

Another issue to consider with winter weather is the wearing of gloves. Will your gloved trigger finger fit into the trigger guard of your defensive handgun? Do you practice your pistol presentation while wearing gloves? These are things that should be checked out. Fortunately, modern technology has given us suitable gloves that are not bulky, and a change to gloves made of a thinner material might be all that is necessary to solve the problem.

Some might think to solve the problem by simply pulling the glove off before going for the handgun. The problem with this, of course, is the fact that it wastes time.

Your dry-practice sessions are the place to work out your pistol presentation while wearing your winter coat and gloves. Opening the coat and operating the pistol with gloves on can be worked out if you will simply take the time to practice it and work out the best moves.

The differences in weather around the country and an individual’s choice of cold weather gear make it impossible to form one set rule for winter carry. Smart defensive shooters will take a bit of time to evaluate what they wear and how to respond to a violent attack while wrapped up in warm clothing. It may well not be as much of a gun issue as it is a clothing issue. A different coat and a thinner pair of gloves may be all that is needed. But you won’t know until you experiment with what you carry.

In the winter time it is important to stay warm, but it is far more important to stay safe.

What the Media Doesn’t Want You to Know: Enactment of National Reciprocity is Closer than Ever!

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Ask your U.S. Senators to support and co-sponsor National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Legislation! Read more…

news errors

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Anybody who is exposed to the so-called news media these days faces a barrage of bewildering and often outlandish claims. “Breaking news” cycles through the public eye with such frequency and speed that knowing what’s important, much less what’s true, is becoming increasingly difficult. That’s why it’s more critical than ever to stay focused and resolute when it comes to your Second Amendment rights. Because the media wants you — and your elected representatives — to forget why you elected this pro-gun Congress. And for gun owners, there no more important political objective than enacting a national reciprocity law.

Rest assured, your NRA has not forgotten. While the media maelstrom flits from one (usually fabricated or embellished) crisis to the next, we have remained calmly focused on the job our members depend on us to do: protecting and advancing the right to keep and bear arms. Our number one agenda item on Capitol Hill remains passage of national reciprocity.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act has already passed the House with a bipartisan majority. Your NRA is now laying the groundwork for success in the Senate. We’re ensuring every Senate office knows where we stand on this landmark legislation for gun owners. We’re dispelling misinformation and providing the facts that support the necessity of the bill. We’re telling the stories of decent, upstanding Americans’ whose lives were turned upside by the status quo, which empowers anti-gun states to trample on the rights of good people so anti-gun politicians and bureaucrats can advance their own ambitions.

But the fact is, we cannot do it alone. The strength of the NRA has always resided in its members and their unwavering commitment to American liberty. Despite what the media wants you to believe, we are on track to make historic gains for your right to defend yourself, wherever your travels in the U.S. may take you.

Please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to cosponsor and support passage of national reciprocity legislation. You can call your U.S. Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or click here to take action.

RELOADERS CORNER: 3 Helps For Easy Load Work-Ups

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Read this before you start the process of working up a load for your new rifle! It could save you huge amounts of time and money… Find out more!

Glen Zediker

Spring is around the corner. Well, if you walk way out into the street and squint really hard you can at least think you see it… Well it’s coming soon enough, at least, now’s a good time to get ready.

I never have been big on the personal value of published load data. The data I’m referring to is that from propellant and other component manufacturers, and also from articles done by independents. I think all such information, at most, provides a place to start, and it also gives some ideas on tendencies and cautions, and provides means for comparisons. But. I don’t think it can be taken straight to the loading bench with any guarantee of success, or of attaining “advertised” performance. And I say that not because I don’t think these folks don’t know what they’re doing. They do! It’s because, after way more than enough experience in proving myself right, I can tell you absolutely that their rifle is not your rifle! Neither, necessarily, are their propellant, primer, case, or bullet. Always take careful note of the barrel and components used for any published test data, and compare them to yours. In later comparisons of my notes with published data, sometimes I’m higher, often times I’m lower, and enough times I’m way lower… That’s the main concern there.

It’s not at all difficult to learn to develop your own loads, to essentially write your own loading manual.

To do this efficiently, you need to learn to load at the range. Right, right there near to where you’re testing. An unremarkable investment in a few tools and a little creativity can provide a way to take your show on the road.

Lee press mounted outdoors
You don’t have to invest a fortune to take your show on the road. A C-clamp and one of these little Lee Reloader presses is all you need! And a good powder meter. One with a clamp is handiest, or just mount it to a piece of wood and clamp that down (even a pickup tailgate works just fine). One clamp is adequate on the press since bullet seating is all in the “down” direction and not much force is needed.

The reason to do this is because it provides a way to precisely chart results. It’s a more reliable and accurate way to proceed. Otherwise, the option is to load varying charges at home and then see what happens at the range. That’s okay, but not nearly as good as on-the-spot experiements. Plus, you won’t have left over partial boxes of poor-performing rounds. It’s more economical and way on more efficient.

The preparation part, and this is what you might spend the remaining cold month or two working on, is, first, to get the tooling ready and, second, and most important, to start making notes on your powder meter.

Important: To be able to work up at the range, it’s mandatory that you’re using a meter that has incremental adjustment. Either a “click”-type “Culver”-style insert or, at minimum, a micrometer-style metering arm. You’ll be relying on the meter, not scales, to progress upward in propellant charges, and you absolutely have to know what the values are for each increment using the different propellants you plan to test. That is where you’ll be spending time prior to doing your homework. It’s well worth it! It can be a nightmare trying to get scales to read accurately outdoors, including the digital type.

Harrells meter mounted outdoors
I map out the incremental values of each click on my Harrell’s meter adjustment drum with the propellant I’ll be testing, and it’s really easy to step up each trial with confidence. I carry the whole kit in a large tool box.
Harrells meter close up
This is a Culver insert. It’s a huge help in following this process. It’s precise and repeatable.

Equipment List and Set-Up
When I need to do load work, I size, prep, and prime new cases and put them in a cartridge carrier (usually a 100-round box). I then pack up my little press, seating die, my meter, some cleaning gear, C-clamps, and my propellants. The press and meter and cleaning gear go in a tool box. I usually carry the propellants in a picnic-type cooler. And, very importantly, my chronograph. A notebook, some masking tape, and a sack lunch… I might be there a while.

Always (always) use new cases for load work-up.

When I get to the range, I’ll clamp-mount my press and meter to a bench, get out all the rest, and set up the chronograph. Take a target downrange and tack it up. I test at 300 yards, unless the load is intended for shorter-range use. I initially test longer-range loads at 300. Maybe I’m lazy, but longer-range testing is a tad amount more tedious. I’ll come back for that after I have a contender or two.

Working Up The Load:
The reason it’s a “work-up” is clear enough: we’re almost always looking to get the highest velocity we can, safely. High velocity, or higher velocity, is usually all-good. Shorter flight time means less bullet drift and drop, and a harder hit.

So working up means increasing propellant charge until we’re happy: happy with the speed and also that the cases will still hold water. (And more about that next time…)

blown primer
Keep track of the cases in the order they were fired. This helps later on when the effects can be measured. This little outing here, though, didn’t require a gage to cipher: a tad amount hot on that last little go around (last case bottom row on the right). Thing is, I didn’t load a whole boxfull of those chamber bombs to take with me, and that’s the beauty of loading right at the range.

Very important: it is vitally necessary to have established a goal, a stopping point, prior to testing. That is one of the functions of published data. That goal is bound to be velocity, not charge weight. And that, right there, is why you’re working up at the range: you want to get “advertised” velocity and need to find the charge weight that produces it.

I work up 0.20 grains at a time. Sometimes it’s more if I’m reading an unuseably low velocity on the initial trial. Since my meter has a “Culver”-style insert, which I trust completely, I reference its number of clicks in my notes rather than the grain-weights (a Culver works like a sight knob, and reads in the number of clicks, not the weight itself). I check the weights when I get back, and I do that by clicking to the settings I found delivered, and then weighing the resultant charges. Otherwise, just throw a charge into a case and cap it with masking tape (clearly labeled).

It’s not necessary to fire many rounds per increment. “Mathematically” 3-5 rounds is a stable enough base to reckon the performance of one step. Of course, I’ll be shooting more successive proofs-per-trial once I get it close. Some folks, and especially competitive shooters, wear out a barrel testing loads. That’s not necessary.

Here are 3 things I’ve found over the years to better ensure reliable results. Learned, of course, the hard way.

1. Limit testing to no more than one variable. I test one propellant at a time, per trip. If you want to test more than one on one day, bring the bore cleaning kit and use it between propellant changes. Results are corrupt if you’re “mixing” residues. Same goes for bullets. Otherwise, though, don’t clean the barrel during the test. I fire my most important rounds after 60+ rounds have gone through it, so I want a realistic evaluation of accuracy and velocity.

2. Replace the cases back into the container in the order they were fired. This allows for accurate post-test measurements. Use masking tape and staggered rows to label and identify the steps. I use 100-round ammo boxes because they leave enough space for the tape strips.

3. Go up 0.20 grains but come off 0.50 grains! If a load EVER shows a pressure sign, even just one round, come off 0.50 grains, not 0.10 or 0.20. Believe me on this one…

Check out chronographs HERE
Take a look at suitable meters HERE

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

RELOADERS CORNER: Neck-Only Case Sizing

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Neck-only resizing is an option for the bolt-action owner. Here are some ideas on why it works, and when it works best… Keep reading!

winchester bolt action
Neck-only sizing is for bolt-actions ONLY.

Glen Zediker

Cartridge case re-sizing is one of those topics that draws lines and forms camps. I am a big believer in full-length sizing, for any action type or use, and just saying that immediately draws argument.

Before getting into the “whens” and “whys” respecting full-length or neck-only sizing, here’s one that I think is an absolute: cases for reuse in a (any) semi-automatic should be full-length sized; neck-only sizing is only for bolt-actions. Having established that, all this next really only relates to what’s possible with a bolt-gun.

Backing up a bit: a “full-length” sizing die is one that returns the cartridge case body (and shoulder, if adjusted to do so) to near-to-new dimensions. A “neck-only” sizing die doesn’t touch the case body (and may or may not be able to touch the case shoulder). A full-length sizer also sizes the case neck, and, normally, the entire height of the case neck cylinder. A neck-only die can be adjusted to contact the height of the neck cylinder in various amounts.

hornady neck sizer
A neck-only sizing die doesn’t touch the case body, so there’s no reduction in case body diameter. This die can be adjusted to contact the case shoulder, and setting back the shoulder may still be necessary. Make sure you check cartridge case headspace!

The idea behind a neck-only die is to preserve fired case dimensions: make the case a closer mirror of rifle chamber dimensions. One advantage of neck-only sizing comes to those who expect, or need, to get a good many loadings from their cases, since this approach minimizes case stretching on subsequent firings.

However, the primary flag waved by neck-only fans says that it produces the best accuracy, and that full-length sizing is a compromise, favoring function over accuracy. I do and don’t agree, and the rest of this article I hope will clarify what I just said…

The reason I do and don’t agree is that I know folks who cannot get a good group unless they neck-only size, and I know other folks, and I’m one of them, who get very small groups following what many would say is “over-sizing” their cases.

forster neck sizing set
Here’s a nice set for neck-only sizing. The “bump” refers to the capacity to also contact the case shoulder to control its dimension, if wanted.

I believe that the main influence in realizing the virtues of neck-only sizing has a whopping lot to do with the rifle chamber. Specifically, factory-made, off-the-shelf bolt-actions tend to have relatively more generous chamber dimensions, as will many older surplus-sourced rifles. “More generous” is in reference to the tolerances established for the SAAMI blueprint for the cartridge. This is (wisely) done to help ensure that any and all factory ammo will chamber and fire, and also to help ensure general and all-around feeding reliability. Additionally, it’s common to find some (slightly) oval chambers in factory guns; that has a lot to do with the freshness of the tooling when that chamber was cut. It’s even more common to find them that are off-center.

Purpose-built bolt-action competition rifles, such as those constructed for use in NRA High Power Rifle competition, are custom-chambered* and, while few will use what we might call a “tight” chamber, it’s not likely to encounter one on the larger end of acceptable dimensions.
*”Custom,” here, doesn’t mean they are each unique, it just means that they are done by hand employing a precision-made reamer and therefore are what they ought to be, or we sure hope so. And they don’t tend to be overly generous in (any) dimensions.

neck sizing bushings
If you’re going to go, go all in: dies with interchangeable bushings let you control case neck diameter, adding another measure of control, and even less working and re-working of the brass.

So, in the circumstance where we have a chamber that’s a tad amount big and a cartridge case that’s been manufactured to (usually) the smaller end of SAAMI-set standards, that case will endure more expansion, in all directions, than if it had been in a tighter chamber. Sizing only the case neck to accept and retain another bullet, as said, reduces the subsequent expansion that will occur the next firing, but also, and this is likely if there is an accuracy improvement, the otherwise un-sized case might then be sitting more centered in the chamber. And one reason for that is, if the rifle is equipped with a plunger-style ejector (Remington 700 style) that will bear against one edge of the head of the chambered round, pushing the cartridge off-center, askew. (This ultimately creates another undesirable condition, a warp in the case, and we’ll talk about that another time.)

So, a little bigger case returning to a little bigger chamber likely has a little better chance of getting centered, and I truly believe that is why neck-only sizing can be a help to accuracy for a bolt-action. However! A dimensionally-correct case returning to a dimensionally-correct chamber will perform just as well on target. Full-length sizing a case for reuse in a rifle with what I call a “standard” chamber (which is really running a little closer to the minimums established by SAAMI) also makes for good groups. We prove that every High Power Rifle tournament.

Advice: If you notice your bolt-action doesn’t shoot too well with factory loads, neck-only sizing should pay off and is well worth a try. Do, however, make sure to gauge the cases as is often discussed in Reloaders Corner, and, specifically, cartridge case headspace. If the bolt isn’t closing easily, that’s liable to be the culprit right there: shoulder has gotten too tall.

If you’re running a factory bolt-action, by all means try neck-only sizing. If you want to compare results to full-length sizing, just make sure you’re doing that operation right.

david tubb
Now. Don’t go getting the idea that full-length sizing can’t shoot well. Here’s a 1000-yard prone group at the hands of David Tubb, originator of the 6XC cartridge. Tubb sets case shoulders back 0.002 inches, runs 0.004 case neck tension, and full-length resizes using what amounts to a “small-base” die (additional 0.0005-inch reduction at the case head). He’s also not shooting a factory chamber. (Photo note: the yellow pasters were sighters; red pasters indicate record shots).

Check HERE and HERE to get started…

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

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