RELOADERS CORNER: What Matters…

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Don’t lose sight of the basics when making tool, dimensional, or load choices. Here are four unchanging “musts” to make your results the best they can be. READ ON!

moly coated bullets
Bandwagon! I jumped on this one as did a whopping lot of others. Moly coating got a huge amount of attention and, indeed drastically improves bullet performance. The furf died down, though, after we discovered it had its share of problems (some were and some weren’t willing to accommodate or work around them). I still use coated bullets but now it’s Boron Nitride.

Glen Zediker

I have been basing some of my topics for this department on correspondence, and here’s another. Someone wrote asking me for a compare/contrast on the two handloading-specific books I’ve written, and the essential question revolved around whether or not the older of the two had been “updated.” Concerns were over inclusion or exclusion of new tools and propellants, and other components, and reloading techniques: essentially whether the newer book was better just because it was newer. Hmm… I thought long and hard about all that.

My answer, strongly self-paraphrased, was that there were always going to be new tools and propellants and bullets and cartridges and primers, but “what matters” in learning how to make ammo gin (accurately and safely) hasn’t really changed. Those who know my work over the past twenty-something years know I’ve never been eager to step up on a soapbox and proclaim coronation of the latest-greatest propellant, bullet, or even cartridge king. Instead, I’ve done my best to help folks learn how to judge merits and values of new things, based on a thorough understanding of all the old things. But this isn’t about me and it’s not just shameless self-promotion. It’s an overview of what I really think matters: it’s an effort to put into perspective the potential merits of all the new things.

full length sizing die

case neck sizing
Choosing the appropriate case and neck sizing die, and then learning how to correctly adjust it, for the needs at hand, which really means for the rifle the ammo will be used in, is another essential element in good loading.

For me, the four most important things to achieve with a handload are, one, that the case has been sized correctly and appropriately for the rifle; two, that care has been taken to ensure that the round is concentric (more in a bit); three, exercising some discretion in bullet velocity (also more in a bit); and, four, taking steps from reloading to reloading to maintain consistent performance.

Then there is an almost never-ending slew of finer points within all these points. And one ton of tools.

What I “know” about a load combination hasn’t come from one afternoon at the range. It’s often come from years. I have seen a whopping lot of bandwagons competitive shooters have jumped onto and off of. Newly hitched wagons are still rolling strong, departing continually. It is very important to have a set of components and processes and load structures to fall back on, which really then means a set that you can move forward from.

concentricity fixture
One of the “big four” goals I set for handloads is concentricity, run-out. Most of the tool and die upgrades I ever suggest making, as well as many case-preparation steps, seek to improve the straightness and centeredness of a loaded round. “Start in the center, finish in the center.”

I look at new things from a perspective of how and how well I can apply one of them to satisfy the same old needs. These needs are a filter, more or less, that helps determine if the new things are indeed improvements, or just new.

I am a competitive person. Our club CRO, Col. Floyd, once announced to the crowd at a local High Power Rifle tournament that I could smell gold-plated plastic through four feet of reinforced concrete… I admit to the truth in that. So, I am in no way suggesting that new things aren’t good, that we should all stay only with what we know. I’m always looking for ways to do better; but for me it’s not been so much trying something new, but rather taking another step using what’s been working pretty well for me thus far. That usually involves more focus on consistency.

I have a lot of stories about ultimate failures eventually resulting from initially wild successes, including lost championships, but the only value telling any of them would have is to make me sound way too old school. They are, again, never (ever) taken to mean that new things aren’t worth pursuit. Just shoot a lot of it under varied circumstances before packing it up along with the suitcase to attend a big event.

Back to setting down some tangible point to all this: most tool choices and case preparation steps I take have a goal of improving loaded round concentricity, which is to say centeredness or straightness. No doubt about it, a bullet looking dead center into a rifle bore is going to shoot better than one that’s cockeyed.

Cases with more consistent neck wall thicknesses, sizing die designs, and bullet seater designs can either enhance or detract from concentricity. Likewise, operations like outside case neck turning are done ultimately to improve concentricity. It matters!

The comment earlier about not getting too greedy for speed gets preached a lot by a good many, and the reason is avoiding anything that’s edgy. “Edgy,” to me, means something that’s going to take a turn for the worse on a day that’s 20-degrees warmer, or (in the case of the lost event mentioned earlier) 20-degrees colder.

pressure check carrtidge cases
Don’t get greedy on speed! An essential component in handloading success is consistency, predictability. Find a “tolerant” propellant, which means it demonstrates flexibility: shoots well at a little lower-than-maximum velocity, and shoots the same at different temperatures. No matter how small the groups were in testing, if pressure starts spiking due to some unaccounted for change those great test groups are likely to open up.

The best advice I can offer on this is, first and most obvious, use a little discretion working up a load to a ceiling higher than what equivalent-spec factory ammo can produce. It can take more than a few case and primer inspections to know if a “max” load is truly safe. Next is to get to work on finding a propellant/primer combination (mostly propellant) that’s showing good accuracy at less-than-max velocities. By that I mean I will not trust anything that seems to shoot well only when it’s running “hot.” Accuracy is, after all and always, what ultimately defines success.

(Since this piece is kind of a “year-end” thing, I plan to start the new year up fresh with a whopping lot more about specific new (and old) things that will help ensure you’re getting the most you can from your time spent at the loading bench.)

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.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity Passes U.S. House of Representatives!

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Great news for gun owners everywhere! H.R. 38 passes! Read all about it…

house of representatives

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

In a resounding show of support for the Second Amendment, on December 7 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a legislative package that included H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, and H.R. 4477, the Fix NICS Act of 2017. The bipartisan vote of 231 to 198 advanced a measure that would allow law-abiding Americans who are eligible to carry a concealed handgun under the law of a state to do so in all other U.S. states and territories that recognize the right of their own residents to carry concealed. Without a doubt, this is the strongest piece of self-defense legislation to ever come before Congress. It would also help shore up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used for licensing and retail firearm purchases by adding additional layers of transparency and accountability to the system.

With this vote, the U.S. Congress ratified the premise that firearms in the hands of law-abiding Americans are a force for good. This of course has been borne out again and again over the past three decades, as more and more Americans have embraced their right to bear arms for self-defense through concealed carry. The nation’s violent crime rate has fallen to historic lows during this time, and concealed carry licensees have proven themselves one of the most law-abiding populations in America.

Today, all 50 states have laws under which residents may carry or apply to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia broadly recognize a right to do so. The remaining eight states, however, have laws that allow even the most qualified applicants to be denied a license unless they can show an extraordinary “reason” for having one.

This results in an arbitrary and unconstitutional system where people are denied their right to carry not because they’re a public safety risk but because licensing officials simply don’t believe that “ordinary” people should have the right. Meanwhile, favoritism and corruption are permitted to flourish, with licenses handed out to celebrities, rich political donors, and sometimes even applicants with disqualifying backgrounds who can afford to bribe the right people.

H.R. 38 would end this two-tiered system and ensure that no upstanding American would be denied an effective means of self-defense while traveling from state to state.

Needless to say, antigun forces will be marshalling an all-out effort to try to block concealed carry reciprocity in the Senate. The same people who insist that Congress has essentially unlimited authority to pass nationwide gun control that would undermine the pro-gun polices of most states are hypocritically citing “states’ rights” as a reason to oppose concealed carry reciprocity.

Yet under H.R. 38, states would maintain complete control of the standards by which they issue their own concealed carry licenses. And property owners, whether public or private, would maintain discretion over the carrying of firearms on their own premises. The primary effect of the bill would be that a handful of anti-gun states could no longer arrest and prosecute travelers simply for crossing into their territory with an otherwise lawfully carried concealed handgun. Any criminal behavior committed with that firearm, of course, would still be subject to the full force of local law.

Opponents of H.R. 38 argued against the bill by citing statistics concerning firearm-related crime and suicide. They did and could not, however, establish that lawful concealed carriers are the driving force of these incidents. Indeed, violent crime and criminals who recognize no restrictions on their own actions are the very reason law-abiding people wish to have their own means of self-protection. Concealed carry reciprocity simply helps even the playing field between law-abiding Americans and predatory criminals.

If the Senate is to send the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to President Trump for his long-promised signature, American gun owners will have to make their voices heard as never before in the nation’s history.

This vote was a huge step forward for the right of law-abiding Americans to carry a firearm for self-protection, but the fight is not over yet.

GUN NEWS: Springfield Armory Announces 6.5 Creedmoor M1A

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Not that anyone needs a reason to want a Springfield Armory M1A, but chambering it in 6.5 Creedmoor? Oh, yeah.

SOURCE: NRA American Rifleman Staff

Springfield Armory just announced that it is offering three variations of its M1A rifle in the powerful 6.5 Creedmoor caliber.

“Having a 6.5 Creedmoor caliber in the M1A lineup gives long-range shooters more choices with the precision and accuracy they require,” says Springfield Armory CEO Dennis Reese. “They can choose the round they prefer, and take advantage of the legendary accuracy of the M1A platform to make the most of their shooting prowess.”

The new M1A 6.5 Creedmoor is offered with a choice of a solid black composite stock or a precision-adjustable stock that lets shooters dial in individual fit and feel. A 10-round magazine comes with each rifle.

The M1A’s National Match Grade, 22-inch medium weight stainless steel barrel provides a long sight radius for optimal iron sight accuracy, with a 4-groove 1:8-inch right-hand twist and muzzle brake. The NM Grade 0.062 post front sight is paired with a NM Grade non-hooded 0.0520 aperture rear sight that’s ideal for distant targets and adjustable for 1/2 MOA windage and 1 MOA elevation. The two-stage trigger is National Match tuned to 4.5-5 lbs. Paired with a SA scope mount and the right optic, the new 6.5 Creedmoor M1A can be a “true 1000-yard rifle.”

M1A 6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 Creedmoor with Flat Dark Earth Precision Stock MSRP: $2045

M1A 6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 Creedmoor with Black Precision Stock MSRP: $2045
M1A 6.5 Creedmoor CA
6.5 Creedmoor with Black Composite Stock MSRP: $1985. This model is also CA-Compliant.

For more, visit Springfield-Armory.com

SKILLS: Did the Single-Stack Nine Kill the Carry Revolver?

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As goes the duty gun so goes the concealed gun… Are small revolvers a dying breed? Read more…

single-stack 9 vs. snubnose revolver

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated

Once upon a time, police officers who patrolled our streets carried revolvers on their hips. Guns like the Colt Police Positive and the Smith & Wesson Model 19 were their primary defensive firearm, and they toted .38 Spl. snub-nosed carry revolvers like the Detective Special and J-Frames for backup guns and when they were off duty.

They carried those small revolvers because they were easy to conceal and had a manual of arms that was more or less the same as the guns they carried for a living. The snub-nosed carry revolver also had the advantage of using essentially the same type of ammunition as their service revolvers, so the transition from full-sized service revolver to compact concealed-carry gun meant dealing with more recoil and less accuracy from the smaller gun, but that was about it.

Today, though, police officers are far more likely to carry a Glock or a SIG Sauer or a Smith & Wesson M&P semiautomatic pistol for a duty gun than they are a .38 Spl. or .357 Mag. revolver, and guns like the Smith & Wesson Shield, Ruger LC9s, and the Glock G43 are reflecting that new reality. Smaller, lighter and easier to conceal than their full-sized cousins, small single-stack 9mms are becoming a popular option for people who want to carry a pistol with them, but find that carrying a larger gun like a Glock G19 or SIG P320 is just too much to deal with on a day in, day out basis. I myself prefer carrying a larger pistol whenever I can, but there are times when the occasion demands more discretion than firepower, and that’s where the thinness and light weight of a single-stack 9mm really comes through.

A miniature 9mm also offers you the advantages of the same manual of arms your larger gun. If you’re used to a striker-fired gun, the operation of the Ruger LC9s or Glock G43 will seem like second nature to you, just like the operation of snub-nosed revolvers mimic the operation of their larger cousins. My fingers goes naturally to the magazine release on my 9 mm Smith & Wesson Shield because that’s where it is on the large semi-automatic pistols that I occasionally carry, and the methods I use to clear malfunctions are pretty much the same between those guns as well.

The reasons to carry a subcompact, single-stack 9mm over a larger pistol are also essentially the same as reasons to carry a small revolver instead of full-sized gun. With the right holster and appropriate cover garment, it’s fairly easy to discretely carry a full-size 9mm on a daily basis without tipping people off that you’re carrying a pistol with you. However, it’s even easier to conceal a smaller gun, and a smaller gun also opens other options, like pocket carry, that are even more discreet.

When it comes to defensive applications, the subcompact single-stack 9mm has several advantages over snub-nosed revolvers. The thinner, slimmer design of the semi-automatic means it can slide into locations for concealed carry that aren’t available to thicker, bulkier revolvers, although, counter-intuitively, I’ve found that unless you pay attention to holster choice, a small .38 Spl. revolver forms an indistinct lump in a front pocket that’s easily mistaken for a wallet and keys, while the flatter, more angular form of a mini 9 mm sticks out and says “gun” more readily.

Another advantage of a mini-9mm over small revolver is ammunition capacity. Subcompact single stacks typically have at least six rounds of ammunition in the magazine and one more in the chamber, and extended magazines that pack in eight rounds or more are common. By comparison, six rounds is the maximum amount of ammo in most pocket revolvers, with five rounds being the more common option available.

Firing a full-power cartridge from a pint-sized frame, sub-compact 9 mm pistols can be a handful to shoot, just like their smaller, lighter weight revolver cousins, and there are many factors working against shooting a small 9mm quickly and accurately. The short sight radius of a pocket gun can affect accuracy and their smaller size means there is less of the gun to hold on to as it recoils. Also, the lighter weight of a subcompact gun means there is less gun mass to soak up recoil, slowing down follow-up shots, and less mass to resist a bad trigger pull, which can dramatically influence accuracy.

Whether or not a subcompact single-stack 9mm is a good choice over a small revolver is up to you and your set of circumstances. For myself and many other gun owners in America, though, those trade-offs in accuracy and firepower are worth having a small, easily-concealable defensive pistol with features and functionality that mimic the larger, full-size defensive pistols we use in competition and in our jobs.

GIVING A FIREARM AS A GIFT?

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Great idea! Here are some important reminders to consider from NSSF. Read more!

gun gift

SOURCE: National Shooting Sports Foundation

The holidays are HERE. As hunters, shooters, collectors, or just plain plinkers, it’s a natural instinct to want to share our enjoyment of firearms with others. What better way to do that than to make a gift of a firearm to a family member, close friend, or relative?

The first thing to remember if you’re thinking about giving someone a gun is that . . . it’s a gun! You already know that ownership of a firearm brings with it some serious legal and ethical obligations that other consumer products don’t. So let’s look at some questions you may have about giving a firearm as a gift.

Buying a Gun as a Gift
Consider using a gift certificate from a firearms retailer near where the recipient lives.

The first question you have to ask is whether the intended recipient can legally own the firearm where he or she lives. With more than 20,000 different gun laws on the books, even the kinds of firearms that law-abiding citizens can own vary from place to place; for example, juveniles (under age 18), generally speaking, are precluded by law from possessing a handgun. Check out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) website for an overview of local laws and, whatever you do, don’t forget that you can never under any circumstances transfer a firearm to someone you know — or have reasonable cause to believe — who legally can’t own one. That’s a federal felony, so be careful.

There’s no federal law that prohibits a gift of a firearm to a relative or friend that lives in your home state. Abramski v. United States, a recent Supreme Court decision involving a “straw purchase” of a firearm did not change the law regarding firearms as gifts. The following states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington State) and the District of Columbia require you to transfer a firearm through a local firearms retailer so an instant background check will be performed to make sure the recipient is not legally prohibited from owning the gun. Maryland and Pennsylvania require a background check for private party transfer of a handgun. There are exceptions, so it’s important to carefully check the law of your state or ask your local firearms retailer.

Consider a Gift Card
The BATFE recommends that if you want to give someone a new firearm, rather than going to a gun store, buying it on your own, and giving it to, say your father, consider instead purchasing a gift certificate from that retailer and giving it to Dad as his present. That way he’ll get the exact gun he wants, and there’s no question about who is “the actual buyer of the firearm,” which is a question any purchaser must certify on the Federal Form 4473 at the time of purchase.

gift card
BEST IDEA!

Shipping a Firearm
You can only ship a handgun by common carrier (but not U.S. Mail) and a long gun by U.S. Mail or common carrier to a federally licensed retailer, but not to a non-licensed individual in another state. With all carriers, federal law requires you to declare that your package contains an unloaded firearm. To be safe, always consult your carrier in advance about its regulations for shipping firearms.

Giving a Gun as a Gift
What if you want to give “Old Betsy,” your favorite deer rifle, to your son or daughter as a college graduation gift? Again, in most states, there’s no law that says you can’t, but some states require even inter-family transfers to go through a licensed retailer. Remember, you can never transfer a firearm directly to another person who is a resident of a different state. In that case, you must transfer the firearm through a licensed retailer in the state where the person receiving the gift resides. Using a gift certificate from a firearms retailer near where the recipient lives might be a good solution. Pre-1898 antique firearms are generally exempt from the retailer requirement. Be safe and check with your retailer or local law enforcement before you hand over your prized possession.

It’s often an emotional moment when a treasured family heirloom is passed down to the next generation. These moments are part of what our cherished enjoyment of firearms is all about and represent that unique bond that sportsmen have with their fellow enthusiasts.

So enjoy the holidays and do it right!

EDITOR’S NOTE: If someone on your list is a firearms enthusiast don’t forget that there are a mountain of accessories and supplies anyone would be happy to find wrapped under the tree, and consider also giving what I think is one of the best gun-gifts: a daily pass or two for a local range, or even a membership. Oh, and of course a gift certificate to Midsouth Shooter Supply! (Reallly, I’d love that one myself…)

HUNTING: The 26-Yard Hunting Zero

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Unsure of the correct zero range for different shots out in the field? Here’s an idea to help end the confusion! Read all about it…

riflescope

SOURCE: NRA American Hunter, by Jeff Johnston

Much has been written on the ideal distance to zero a hunting rifle. There is no best sight-in range for everyone, because the range at which hunters expect to shoot their quarry differs considerably. For example, if you hunt exclusively from a ridge top that overlooks a food source that is 150 yards away, you should zero for that distance. But if you hunt various terrain that offers both short- and long-range shots, here’s a technique that’ll allow you to hold the crosshairs on the vitals of deer-sized game or larger and keep your bullet inside the vital zone out to 280 yards, give or take a few yards depending on your caliber. It’s called point-blank range, and to maximize it you should alter your sight-in range for a particular load, rather than letting your traditional sight-in distance dictate your rifle’s zero.

“Point-blank” range defined is the range of distances at which you can hold your rifle on the center of a bullseye and never fall in or out of your target’s kill zone. The point-blank range for a deer, for example, is generally regarded as six inches. In other words, if you hold dead center on the vitals, your bullet can be 3 inches high or 3 inches low before it misses the vital zone. An elk’s vital zone is larger of course — we’ll say 8 inches. But I like to stay with the 6-inch rule of thumb because is allows for some shooter error, an occurrence that you’d be naive to assume doesn’t happen while in field positions shooting at wild game.

So many hunters zero their rifles at 100 yards that it’s almost become standard practice. But the following examples will illustrate why that’s not a great zero for a rifleman who wishes to be able to take shots quickly, without calculating, from point-blank to nearly 300 yards.

As an example, let’s use a common hunting round, a .270 Win., loaded by Remington with a 130-grain Premier Accutip boattail bullet that has a .447 Ballistic Coefficient (BC). It’s got a muzzle velocity of 3,060 fps. Ballistically, it falls in line with a whole class of moderately fast calibers. The scope (line of sight) is mounted 1.5 inches over the center of the bore. Zeroed at 100 yards, the bullet will impact 0.76 inches low at 25 yards (this is just fine for hunters), and will be 2.98 inches low at 203 yards. But after 203 yards it falls below the 6-inch vital zone. (That’s missing the 6-inch circle, 3 inches below the center, or point of aim.) At 250 yards, it will impact 6 inches below the point of aim, (3 inches out of the vital zone.) So, with a 100-yard zero, a hunter can simply aim at a buck and expect to hit it in the vitals anywhere from 0 to 203 yards.

Other riflemen who routinely hunt areas where shots of 300 yards or more are common sometimes opt for a 200-yard zero. This places that same .270 bullet 0.4 inches low at 25 yards, 1.41 inches high at 100 yards, 2.51 inches low at 250 yards and finally slips below the 6-inch vital zone at 257 yards. So with a 200 yard zero, a hunter can hold dead on from 0 to 257 yards and kill the animal, assuming he does his part and fires an error-free shot. As you can see, the 200-yard zero is very effective, and if your target range will accommodate it, great. But many hunters don’t have the luxury of zeroing at 200 yards. No worry, there’s a better zero anyway…

Using ballistic software downloaded from Remington.com, I manipulated the zero range input data until it was optimized for the greatest point-blank range. I found that by zeroing my rifle in at 26 yards, the .270 will deliver its bullet 2.81 inches high at 100 yards, 2.80 inches high at 200 yards and 2.12 inches high at 250 yards before finally falling out of the 6-inch vital zone at 310 yards. This means that with a 26 yard zero, I can hold dead-center of a deer’s vitals and kill it cleanly from 0 to 310 yards without adjusting my hold.

Of course, this is an on-paper estimate, and until you actually shoot your rifle at those distances, you can’t be sure, but I’ve found it to be pretty close. For most rifles, a 25- to 28-yard zero (depending on the caliber’s velocity and bullet’s BC) will maximize its point blank range. My technique for shooting is to zero at 26 yards (if using the .270 noted above), then shade slightly low (an inch or two) when shooting at 100 yards, and hold slightly high at 300. This increases my margin of shooting error, while allowing me to not have to calculate or hold off the animal at 300 yards. I simply see the animal, range it and shoot — out to 310 yards. Any further than that, I can either use my scope ballistic reticle, or know my caliber’s ballistic data and hold over appropriately.

If you choose to employ this 26-yard technique, beware that when zeroing at close range, you must strive for perfection. Place a dime-sized spot on the target and do not deem your rifle “good” until the bullet actually punches that dime on a consistent basis. If you are an inch high or low, or to the left or right, you will be way off at longer range, and it defeats the whole purpose of zeroing in at such a specific range. If you can’t hit the dime at 26 yards, it indicates that your rifle (and/or you) probably isn’t accurate enough to be shooting at long range anyway, because if your rifle is grouping 1-inch at 25 yards, for example, it will likely be 4 inches off at 100 yards and off the paper at 300. But with the technique mentioned above, you can simply aim for an animal’s vitals out to 300 yards and concentrate on a smooth trigger pull.

The Data

100 YARD ZERO
.270 Win. at 100 Yards:
This graph illustrates that with a 100-yard zero, your bullet is on at 100 yards, then starts falling rapidly, and is 3 inches below the point-of-hold at approximately 200 yards.
26 YARD ZERO
.270 Win. at 26 Yards:
The graph shows that your .270 Win. bullet, when zeroed at 26 yards, angles above the line-of-sight 2.81 inches at 200 yards, crosses the line of sight (zero) again at approximately 275 yards, before falling beyond 3 inches low at 310 yards. Therefore, with a 26-yard zero, you can hold on the target and expect to hit a 6-inch vital zone from 0 to 310 yards.

 

 

SOFTWARE 

REVIEW: Mech Tech Carbine Conversion Unit

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With the fast-growing interest in Pistol Caliber Carbines driving new options onto the market, here’s an idea that’s easy, efficient, and effective. Read more!

Mech Tech CCU
The CCU is compatible with most single- and double-stack frames, however, the bolt does not lock back on an empty magazine.

SOURCE: NRA, American Rifleman Staff

Installing without tools onto a full-size M1911 frame (not included), the Mech Tech Carbine Conversion Unit (CCU) legally coverts John Browning’s venerated pistol into a 16.25-inch-barreled carbine.

Essentially functioning as an AR-style upper receiver once mounted in place, the non-serialized CCU (which is deemed by the ATF to be an accessory until installed atop an autoloading pistol frame) replaces the host gun’s slide and barrel assembly. The new configuration allows the carbine to retain the pistol’s superb single-action trigger and comfortable grip angle, as well as to utilize some of the host handgun’s operating controls — which will be seen as real boons to fans of old Slabsides — while increasing the firearm’s ballistic performance and accuracy potential.

Made of rolled steel with a powder-coated finish and a corrosion-resistant interior coating, the CCU’s cylindrical housing encases a simple blowback operating system that uses the energy exerted by expanding propellant gases on the cartridge case to cycle the action. An extractor located on the bolt draws the spent case from the chamber where it can be expelled from the upper by the lower’s ejector. The bolt’s rearward motion is then stopped upon contact with a thick rubber block, and the gun’s recoil springs (located along the top of the bolt assembly) drive the action closed again, stripping a fresh cartridge from the detachable box magazine and chambering it along the way. The CCU does not lock back on an empty magazine.

A reciprocating charging handle is found on the left side of the unit, and the bolt can be locked in the open position by retracting the handle and then pushing in on it until it engages a notch in the wall of the housing. Even after conversion to a rifle, the CCU still utilizes the host M1911’s grip and frame-mounted thumb safeties, as well as its magazine release button, which should make the carbine’s manual of arms familiar to handgunners.

Mech Tech offers the CCU with four different buttstock options. The unit reviewed here includes an adjustable M4-style stock that can be replaced in typical AR fashion; however, fixed and telescoping versions are also available. Base models all come with a 6-inch segment of Picatinny rail along the top of the receiver and a molded foregrip. Many optional accessories — such as additional rails, sights, lights and vertical foregrips — can either be factory-installed at the time of purchase or bought separately. While federally permissible, state and local laws in certain areas may prohibit some configurations of the CCU, so care should be exercised to ensure legality.

No permanent modification needs to be made to the host M1911 in order to install the CCU, and the process is easily reversible. First, separate the slide and barrel from the pistol’s frame, leaving the hammer cocked. Next, retract the unit’s bolt and lock it in the open position. Now, mate the rails inside the CCU with those located on the frame, pushing the frame forward as far as it will go. Finally, reinstall the M1911’s slide release to lock the components together.

Mech Tech assembly

Mech Tech CCU assembly
Once the host gun’s barrel assembly and slide have been removed, installation of the CCU requires only aligning the rails inside the unit with those on the frame (1.) and then sliding the frame forward as far as it will go (2.). Re-installing the M1911’s slide release (3.) secures the components together.

Our evaluation CCU was chambered in .45 ACP, with a 16.25-inch stainless steel barrel and 1:16-inch right-hand twist rifling. Mech Tech also offers 1911-compatible uppers in 10mm Auto and .460 Rowland — with 9mm Luger models likely coming in the future. According to Mech Tech, the CCU should be compatible with nearly all single- and double-stack 1911 frames, however, it would be prudent to check with Mech Tech regarding suitability with a specific model.

In addition to the M1911 unit tested here, Mech Tech produces CCUs that are compatible with both compact and full-size Glock models and most Springfield XD/XD(M) platforms. The Glock conversion kit is offered chambered in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and .45 ACP, while the Springfield uppers are being produced in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.

In order to function- and accuracy-test the Mech Tech CCU, we installed it atop a Colt Competition, same one that we tested previously. Through approximately 400 rounds, the CCU did not have a single function failure. We elected to conduct accuracy testing using a load that had previously been shot through the gun during its prior evaluation — SIG’s V-Crown 230-gr. jacketed hollow point.

With help from a Bushnell AR Optics 1-4X 24 mm scope, we followed our protocol of firing five consecutive, 5-shot groups through the unit. Taking advantage of the host gun’s 4-lb., 4-oz. trigger pull, the CCU managed a solid average group size of 2.35 inches at 100 yds — not much worse than the Colt Competition had managed with that load at 25 yds. (1.91-inches) while still configured as a handgun. We also chronographed SIG’s load through the CCU and found that the longer barrel of the rifle did manage to squeeze extra velocity out of the .45 ACP cartridge. Through the 16.25 barrel, the 230-gr. V-Crowns produced 968 fps and 479 ft.-lbs. of energy, up from the 839 fps and 360 ft.-lbs. exhibited by the same load from a 5-inch pistol barrel. The ballistic gains achieved through the CCU could be expected to be even more pronounced when chambered in higher-pressure cartridges.

For fans of the M1911, Mech Tech’s CCU represents a paperwork-free accessory that grants improved terminal ballistics in a platform that is familiar to, yet easier to shoot well, than their favorite pistol. Given the level of accuracy and reliability that we encountered during our testing of the CCU, it is easy to see why someone already in possession of a compatible host handgun would find such a product appealing.

Mech Tech CCU testMech Tech CCU specifications

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REVIEW: Winchester XPC Chassis Rifle

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This venerable rifle maker jumped on board following the modern trends in bolt-gun construction and design in a big way with a new “chassis rifle.” Here’s all the details…

Winchester XPC
Winchester XPC

SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated
by Steve Adelmann

The bolt-action rifle world sure has changed over the past 10 years. Even after the Y2K scares, rifles with traditional lines were still very much the norm. Contrast that with today’s bolt-action offerings: a plethora rifles with skeletonized, aluminum “chassis,” fully adjustable stocks, and copious rail-mounting space. That is a good thing in my book; it’s called progress, or maybe it’s just the natural evolution of things. Turnbolt purists may object, but I am fairly certain rifle purists of a century ago were still scoffing at any rifle that held more than one cartridge. Rifle manufacturers wishing to get into the tactical or long-range-precision markets all have at least one modernized bolt-action model in their catalogue now. Winchester Repeating Arms is no exception, and its new-for-2017 offering, the Winchester XPC chassis rifle, is a solid entry.

Now, I have to be perfectly honest before diving into my evaluation of the Winchester XPC. I am definitely not the best guy to cover the finer points of Winchester bolt-action rifles — at least not in any historical context. I have not had much exposure to them, but that also means my slate was clean going into this test. Uninfluenced by brand experience and bias, my approach to evaluating the new Winchester rifle was the same as any other new design: I looked at it in terms of reliability, durability, accuracy, practicality, and affordability. And performance.

The Winchester XPC is billed by the company as a “full-house precision chassis rifle,” and at first glance it seems to fit that category. But, you have to go deeper in to get the real details. It is based on the company’s existing XPR action, and strikes a nice balance between a precision target rifle and a long-range tactical tool. Its 20-inch, chrome-moly, button-rifled barrel wears Winchester’s “Permacote” matte-black finish and comes threaded with standard 5/8×24-tpi at the muzzle. My test gun was chambered in.308 Winchester. A knurled thread protector is included for use while you decide what to ultimately mount on it, if anything. At 0.75-inch in diameter at the muzzle, the meaty barrel balances nicely in its Cerakoted alloy chassis. A floating recoil lug is nested in that chassis, mating to a slot machined into the underside of the barrel. The fit is tight on both ends, and the lug can be removed when the action is out of the stock. A pair of screws mate action to chassis, one in front of the magazine well and one behind, concealed under the paddle-style magazine release.

Winchester XPC mag release

An extended freefloat tube continues the 20-MOA-slope receiver rail and provides ample space for day and night optics or other ancillary devices. The fore-end tube slides over a curved protrusion on the bottom of the chassis and is held in place with three Allen screws. Additional M-Lok-compatible rail sections can be added along the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock sections of the fore-end.

Winchester XPC bolt

Ammunition feeding is handled by way of the increasingly popular AICS-pattern .308 Win. magazines. They drop free from the XPC action after pressing an easily accessible, paddle-style release located in front of the trigger guard. A beefy, three-lug, 60-degree throw, cock-on-opening bolt is the heart of the XPC action. A conical, oversize bolt handle is threaded-on in case the shooter wants to change it. The bolt head and fluted body are machined from a solid piece of steel and wear a nickel-Teflon coating to enhance smooth operation.

Extraction on the Winchester XPC rifle is well-managed by a Sako-style extractor with a spring-loaded, recessed plunger doing the ejecting through an oversize ejection/loading port. The bolt release is set into the tactical-familiar left-side of the receiver at the stock line. Incorporated is a two-position safety that locks the bolt when engaged; a separate button just in front of the safety unlocks it while on “safe” so the action may be opened. This is a bit cumbersome; however, the safety and bolt controls worked as designed.

Winchester XPC rail

Winchester chose to use an AR15-compatible buttstock and handgrip, giving a near-endless range of possibilities to customize the XPC to their needs. Unfortunately, I could not get close enough to any riflescope I tried for proper eye relief due to the length of the Magpul PRS Gen III stock that comes standard on the XPC. It is adjustable for cheek height, buttplate height, and length-of-pull and well-suited for modern sporting rifles, but is not the best choice on this platform. The rail on top of the rifle’s receiver is significantly forward of where it would be on an AR’s upper receiver, so a riflescope mount has to be placed in the rearmost slots and the scope must be slid as far back as possible in the rings or mount to see the target clearly.

Were this my rifle, I would swap the A2-style buffer tube for a carbine buffer tube and go with a collapsible stock. The stock has a socket for a QD sling mount and a longer sling-routing loop, and both can be swapped from one side to the other. The MOE-K pistol grip is also an odd choice here. I love this grip on light, fast-handling carbines or AR-type pistols, but it is a bit small for a precision rifle like the Winchester XPC.

Winchester XPC details

Winchester’s “MOA” trigger system provides an advertised adjustability range of 3 to 5 pounds, and my Timney scale measured the test sample at just a hair lighter than 3. The trigger was very clean and consistent, so I left it alone. Adjusting the trigger requires removal of the action from the stock to access weight and overtravel screws with a 1/16-inch Allen wrench. After ensuring the rifle’s bore was clean, the action and scope mounting screws were torqued to 65 inch-pounds, and after applying light grease to the locking lugs I headed for the range. Production rifles are supposed to have a 1:10-inch twist, but my test gun’s barrel turned out to have a 1:11.5-inch twist. I made sure to include a couple of lighter-projectile loads in the mix to ensure twist rate did not hamper accuracy testing.

I elected to shoot from the bench using a bag rest because being seated brought my eye closer to the scope eyepiece than when prone. Still, I struggled to maintain a clear target image throughout the test due to the Winchester XPC’s excessive length-of-pull. The only other problem I had was that the bolt knob loosened up every few shots. A couple drops of a thread-locking compound could solve that problem easily enough. The action was slick as a small-town lawyer and worked efficiently. The barrel’s weight helped the rifle remain settled during recoil. Federal Premium American Eagle’s 130-grain varmint JHP load managed the tightest group and barely edged out Black Hills’ match load for best accuracy. The 125- and 130-grain loads’ light recoil made the XPC particularly fun to shoot.

XPC testing

After testing three supersonic loads, I attached a SureFire muzzle brake and a SOCOM762 suppressor for subsonic-ammo testing. The rifle did not care for the 175-grain subsonic load and with a low standard deviation in muzzle velocity, I cannot really blame that on the ammunition. The subsonic Nexus ammo had very little recoil and my shots were clean, so the loose barrel twist combined with slow velocity were the likely culprits. Overall, accuracy was solid. Any production rifle that displays sub-MOA averages from multiple factory ammunition types has strong potential for a wide range of uses. If all Winchester XPC rifles shoot like my test gun, this model should be a solid performer for anyone.

I put a total of 125 rounds through the XPC without any hiccups. The rifle showed itself to be a capable shooter with a weight and size best-suited for long-range precision work. If I were in the market to buy a new tactical turnbolt, the Winchester XPC rifle would be hovering near the top of my list of possibles, alongside rifles that cost three or four times as much. I can no longer claim to have zero useful Winchester rifle experience, and I am a happier man for it.

The Winchester XPC is available in .308 Win., .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor with an MSRP of $1599.00

Winchester XPC

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RELOADERS CORNER: Priming 3

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Correct primer ignition is a key to consistent velocities and good accuracy, and maybe even survival! Let’s make sure the primer pops proper. Read how…

Glen Zediker

Last two times we’ve looked at the tools and process of seating primers and also the thing itself. This time let’s take it another step and perfect the important step of priming a centerfire case.

primer pocket uniforming
Very important step, in my mind, in the reloading process: uniforming primer pockets.

 

As gone on about in the first article, it’s very important to seat each and every primer flush to the bottom of the cartridge case priming pocket. Tool choice has a whopping lot to do with how well attaining that goal can be reached, and that’s because it is a “feel” operation.

However! Probably the biggest asset to correct primer seating is a primer pocket that’s correctly dimensioned and correctly finished. And this, in effect, removes some of the importance or contribution of the “feel” needed and that’s because when the primer stops it will stop flat and flush. If the pocket is what it should be.

With the exception of a very few (and expensive) cases, the primer flash hole and the primer pocket itself are punched, not drilled and milled. That’s done, of course, in the interest of efficiency in producing the case. That manufacturing process, though, hain’t perfect.

Cross-section a case head and you’ll see that the inside bottom of the pocket is a little bowl-shaped; the corners aren’t square, which means the bottom of the pocket isn’t flat all across. Since the bottom of a primer cup is indeed flat, it’s way on better if these surfaces are a match.

primer pocket uniforming

A “primer pocket uniformer” fixes this to the same level it would be had it been machined: it will be at “blueprint” specs. A uniforming tool also sets pocket depth and will correct a shallow pocket. And again, the flat primer cup mated with an equally flat primer pocket bottom results in a truly well-seated primer.

In my estimation, I think this is an even more important procedure or preparation step for those using any automated or semi-automated priming process, such as encountered on a progressive-style press than it is for “precision” handloaders. In short: the less feel in the tool that’s available to guide you to know the primer has seated completely is offset a whopping lot by the assurance that flat-to-flat flush contact results pretty much just from running the press handle fully.

primer pocket uniforming tool
Primer pocket uniforming is done fastest and easiest with a tool that chucks into a drill. There are many available, and I recommend getting a “fixed” depth design. One thing: unlike virtually all other case-preparation steps, pocket uniforming is usually best one on once-fired, not new, brass. That’s because the pockets can be a little difficult for the tool to enter when the pockets are at their smallest, which they will be as new.

It’s another step, though, that adds time and tedium to the reloading process. Add power and it’s a lot easier, and, for the majority, has only to be done once. True, after enough firings a pocket will get shallower, and it will also be getting larger in diameter. Usually the increased diameter outruns the loss of depth in signaling the end of case life.

I use mine in place of a primer pocket cleaning tool. There is zero harm in running a uniformer each use for reloading. Uniformers are available as fixed- and adjustable-depth. I generally recommend getting a fixed tool, and then trusting it. Setting depth on an adjustable model is tedious, and critical. Too deep can weaken the case.

uniformed pocket
Here’s a little (important) something that you might notice after uniforming primer pockets. The case on the right shows very clear primer anvil impressions, and that’s because this primer was seated fully flush into a uniformed pocket; the case on the left was not uniformed and likewise the primer was not fully seated flush (couldn’t be).

If you’re wanting to load once-fired mil-spec cases, or have to load once-fired mil-spec cases, then the original primer crimp must be removed. A primer crimp is small lip of brass that’s pinched into the primer edge during the primer seating process. It holds the primer in place against inertia-induced movement that might unseat it. Now, you never ever need to worry about crimping your own ammunition. All that matters to us is removing the excess brass residual from the original crimp. The most simple, and fastest, way is using a primer pocket swaging tool. These are either press-mounted or stand-alone stations. Just run it, run it out, and the pocket has been swaged to unimpeded roundness again. It is possible to use a uniformer to remove crimp, but it’s a tool for another job and, almost always, it’s best to use specific tools for specific jobs. It’s a difficult chore with a uniformer, and the uniformer also may not smooth the entryway adequately.

primer pocket swaging tools
If you need to remove the crimp from mil-spec cases, get a swager. It’s the best tool for the job. They’re easy to use, and, as with other such processes, has only to be done once for the life of that case. After swaging, by all means run a uniformer if wanted. Check out tools HERE

Overall, get a swager and keep it simple. They’re not expensive, they’re easy to use, and, as with other such processes, has only to be done once for the life of that case. After swaging, by all means run a uniformer if wanted.

Should primer pockets be cleaned? Why not… There is probably no influence on accuracy if the pocket is dirty or spotless, but, why not… Deprime prior to case cleaning to get that area treated. I preach heavily on the virtues of a stand-along decapping station to keep grit out of the sizing die. A primer pocket cleaner is fast and easy to use, but, as mentioned, I instead just run a uniforming tool in its place.

As said a few times in this series, the most important thing is to know that the primers (all of them) have seated to at least slightly below flush with the case base. Just seeing that does, in no way, mean each primer is seated to perfection. There are variances in (un-uniformed) primer pocket depths. At the least, one more time, uniformed pockets will or sure should take a big step toward providing more certainty.

A “high” primer, one that’s not seated fully to the bottom of its pocket, results in a “soft” strike from the firing pin, and that’s because some of the inertia/energy in the speeding pin is siphoned away because it first will fully seat the primer… However! There’s another, even more important reason all primers should be seated fully: When used with a rifle having a floating-style firing pin, which is an AR15, the normal and unavoidable inertia-induced firing pin movement upon bolt closing will result in the firing pin tip contacting the primer. It will bounce or tap off the primer. If the primer is sitting out farther, there’s a greater likelihood of setting off the cap. That’s called a “slam-fire” and its aftermath ranges from shaken nerves to shrapnel infestations about the facial area.

AR15 firing pin indentation
Yikes! Here’s a round chambered and then pulled from one of my AR15s. Floating firing pins can “tap” off a primer, it’s intertia-induced. A more sensitive primer, and it could have gone off. This is not “supposed” to happen via rifle design, but, well, here it is. Make double-dang sure all the primers are seated below flush with the case head! It’s a problem with any floating-pin equipped rifle: M1A, M1, AR10, AR15. Primer composition matters. In this case, its resistance to detonation, and it should influence decisions on primer brands.

See what’s available at Midsouth 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.

Muzzleloaders Now Targeted by “Giffords” Gun Prohibition Lobby

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More deceit, lies, and the emergence of a very clear agenda from the anti-gunners: read how the “Giffords” seeks to disarm Americans and even take away great-grandad’s gun…

muzzleloader

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

It didn’t take long after the events in Las Vegas, Nevada for gun control advocates to resort to their usual tactic of blaming hardware for the acts of an evil man. Numerous anti-gun bills were introduced almost immediately, with arch anti-gun Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) leading the charge. “This is written in clean English,” Feinstein insisted of her bill. “It does not take anyone’s gun.” Less than a month later, however, Feinstein abandoned the pretense of “not taking” guns and introduced perhaps the most sweeping gun and magazine ban in U.S. history.

Close on her heels last week was the recently-rebranded “Giffords” gun control consortium, which released a report that used the current debate over firearm legislation to, well, advocate for gun bans too. But the Giffords report went well beyond the usual gun control talking points in extending its attack all the way to muzzle-loading firearms. From the modern to the archaic, no gun is safe from the newly-emboldened prohibition lobby.

Considering these proposals, it’s hard to imagine how any firearm can thread the needle through all the justifications gun control advocates use to argue for additional bans.

Semiautomatic carbines that use detachable magazines must go, they say, because they can fire too many (relatively small) rounds too quickly.

But muzzleloaders — which fire one shot at a time and must be laboriously loaded through by hand down the barrel — can deliver what “Giffords” calls “a particularly lethal .50 caliber round” and are therefore unacceptable as well.

Bump stocks should be banned, according to the report, because they increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle held against the shoulder.

Yet dispensing with the stock entirely — as in the case of AR- or AK-style pistols — also presents a problem for the “Giffords” group because that creates guns capable of firing rifle-sized cartridges that are “concealable like handguns.”

But concealability of course isn’t the only problem for “Giffords.” Exceptionally large guns are out, too. The Giffords report goes on to fault modern .50 caliber rifles for combining “long range, accuracy, and massive firepower.”

Of course, the actual use of .50 caliber rifles to commit crime in the U.S. is vanishingly rare, thanks to their considerable weight, bulk, and price tag. A five-foot long gun that weighs nearly 33 lbs. and costs as much as many used cars is not likely to be the sort of tool most common criminals will lug from one crime scene to the next.

Where does this all lead? The Boston Globe answered that question this week with an article headlined, “Hand over your weapons.” It states: “The logic of gun control lies, at bottom, in substantially reducing the number of deadly weapons on the street — confiscation is far and away the most effective approach.” This thesis is accompanied by the usual celebration of Australia’s mass gun confiscation effort, an almost mandatory feature of any journalistic exploration of gun control these days.

And while admitting that “America is not Australia,” the Globe writer nevertheless asserts “there’s no way around” the conclusion that widespread gun ownership is to blame for violent crime in America and that the solution must involve confiscating “millions of those firearms.”

It’s telling that the “Giffords” organization — once among the more moderate of the gun control advocacy groups — now demands curbs on the sorts of muzzleloaders that it admits “fell out of favor as a firearm of choice almost a century ago, and are generally seen as primitive antiques.”

But what’s really out of favor and antiquated, in the unforgiving worldview of gun abolitionists, is your Second Amendment rights. The values of America’s Founding Fathers are just as obnoxious to them as the revolutionary-era rifles that helped win America’s freedom.

What do you think?

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