RELOADERS CORNER: Cartridge Case Headspace

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Knowing, and controlling, this dimension is a crucially important step in the case sizing operation, especially for semi-autos. Here’s what it is and why it matters. Read all about it!

Glen Zediker

Last time, and to start the new year off, I hit a few highlights on the first of what I think are some of the most important things to understand in reloading for bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles. A majority of those differences is in what’s allowable and possible in cartridge case sizing.

The reason I’m running these articles is to clearly define the differences in, essentially, what you can get away with (and can’t get away without) depending on the action type. Don’t confuse some of the tactics, tools, and techniques used for bolt-actions and (mis)apply them to semis. That can range from frustrating (function issues) to disastrous (blowed-up guns). I hope that these focused articles will clarify the basics before moving on to the finer points respecting each.

case headspace illustration
Here’s headspace: it’s a height based on a diameter. A .223 Rem. uses a 0.330-inch-diameter datum; the height to the diameter on the case shoulder that equals 0.330 inches is the headspace dimension, measured from the case base (this is measured from the bolt face to determine headspace in a rifle chamber). There are only 5 datums that apply to all standard bottleneck cartridges; the correct number for your cartridge will be referenced in the cartridge specifications. (Belted magnums and rimmed cartridges are different stories, for a different story.)

Following on that, here’s one: cartridge case headspace. A rifle chamber has a headspace; a cartridge case has a headspace. The second cannot exceed the first. Here’s how it goes:

The area in point is the case shoulder, the area between the bottom of the case neck cylinder and the case body. There are two dimensions associated with case headspace: the diameter of the “datum” line, and the height (measured from the case base) to that line. So, headspace is determined by the location of the datum line. There are only 5 datum diameters in use over the range of bottleneck rifle cartridges. Datum diameter will be indicated in the cartridge description in any good loading manual. (Belted magnums, which headspace off the belt, are the exception, and different stories, and so are rimmed cases.)

Chamber headspace is determined by the chamber reamer and also the one operating the reamer. There are SAAMI standards for all standard cartridges (which are coincidentally those having SAAMI specs). Ammo manufacturers set their cartridge case dimensions to work within those same specs, and almost always with (literally) some room for variations. That means that, usually (and, again, I’m talking about factory-chambered rifles) the cartridge case headspace will be a little shorter than the rifle chamber will accommodate.

When a round fires, as is by now well-known, the case expands in all directions under pressure, swelling and conforming to the chamber, then retracts immediately afterward when pressure dissipates. Since brass has a plastic property, dimensions are not going to return to exactly what they were prior to firing, and that’s what all the sizing tools and operations seek to rectify. So, among other changes, the case shoulder will have “blown forward,” after having snugged up into that area of the rifle chamber. That will have moved the datum line upward. As hit upon last article, semi-automatics are notorious for exhibiting a little more than they “should have” in expanding, and that’s because there’s a little (to a lot) of pressure latent in the case when the bolt starts to unlock and move rearward. This can effectively create additional space for case expansion within the chamber. The case shoulder measurement after firing in a semi-auto might actually exceed that of the actual chamber headspace, or, at the least, be a little taller than it would have been in a bolt-gun having the exact same chamber dimensions. The hotter the load, the more gas system pressure, the more this might show.

case headspace tools
Get a few de-primed once-fired cases and a gage and get to work. Here’s a Forster Datum Dial gage. Works well and works for all standard-architecture bottleneck cartridges, as does the Hornady LNL. Each or either gives a “real” headspace number (although it’s not perfectly congruent, without mathematical manipulation, to the figure from a headspace gage used for chambering; that doesn’t matter though: as long as the gage is zeroed it shows the difference, and that’s what matters). By the way, the old standard “drop-in” style case gages might keep ammo safe, but won’t provide this sort of detail in information. The numbers we need to get from our gage are these: new, unfired case shoulder height (where we started); fired, unslzed case shoulder height (where we went to); sized case shoulder height (where we need to get back to).

To be rechambered, this case has to have its case shoulder “set back,” which means that the sizing die has to contact the shoulder area enough to budge it, bump it, down to a tolerable height. Here next is how to find out what that “tolerable” height is.

The process of adjusting a sizing die to produce correct cartridge case headspace is plenty simple and easy, and requires a specialty tool (and you knew that was coming): a gage to determine datum line height.

CHECK OUT MIDSOUTH Selections HERE

First, and important: this has to be done on the first firing of a new case, either a factory-loaded round or your own creation. For more conclusive accuracy, measure 4-6 cases, and, very important: de-prime a case before taking a read (the primer might interfere).

Measure a new case. Write that down.
Measure your fired case. Write that down.

Again, in a semi-auto the chamber might not actually be as long as the fired case reading says it is. In a bolt-gun, the post-firing case headspace dimension is going to be a closely-accurate indicator of the chamber headspace (but always subtract 0.001 inches from any reading to account for the predictable “spring back” in brass).

headspace reading
New — 1.458 inches.
headspace reading
Fired — 1.464 inches
headspace setting
Die setting — 1.460 inches.

To set the die, take the fired case reading and reduce it. How much set back? I recommend 0.003-0.004 inches for something like an AR15 or M1A. That’s playing it safe, considering, again (and again) that there may likely have been additional expansion beyond chamber dimensions. I’d like to see folks set back their bolt-guns at least 0.001, but I’m not going to argue! I don’t like running sticky bolts.

Set up case sizing die
Thread the sizing die down to touch the shellholder when the press ram is at its highest point of travel (whether it “cams” or not). Then back the die up (off) one full turn. Lightly seat the die body lock ring against the press top, and repeat the following process: lube and size the case, check the headspace; adjust the die downward, check the headspace. Rinse and repeat. For a 7/8-14 thread, which is virtually all presses, a full turn equals 0.0174 inches, and an 1/8 turn is about 0.009. That little nod of knowledge helps keep from going too far too soon, and also shows just how fine the adjustments get right at the end. When you think you got it, size a few more cases and read them. When you know you got it, lock the die ring. Note: the expander/decapping assembly was removed from this die, for one, because t doesn’t factor in establishing headspace, and because I set it all up separately on a new die. Headspace is the first thing I set.)

A little extra space ahead of the case shoulder helps ensure safe and reliable functioning in a semi-auto, and also, importantly, reduces the chance that the case might bottom out on the shoulder area in the chamber before the bolt is fully locked down. Firing residue in a semi-auto chamber is also effectively reducing chamber headspace, and that’s another reason for the little extra shoulder set-back. Keep the chamber clean!

headspace reading
Don’t just set the die bottom flush against the shellholder and commence to shucking cases! Most die makers provide that as instruction, and some say drop it down another quarter turn or so beyond that. That’s excessive. Here’s the read I got from flush die-shellholder contact on a new Forster.

Why not just set the shoulder back, for either action type, to what the factory set for the new case? Doing that really wouldn’t affect load performance, but, in my belief, deliberately creating what amounts to excessive headspace is not wise. It’s just that much more expansion, that much more “working” that the brass has to endure, that much shorter serviceable brass life. However! That’s not nearly as bad as leaving the shoulder too high! That’s dangerous.

NOTE: 
Bolt-Gun Only!
Do you have to do this with a bolt-gun? I say yes, but freely admit that, at the least, from zero to “just a tic” is safe enough. What you do need to do is know what you’re getting! For a bolt-action it is possible, and some think wise, to determine the necessary case shoulder set-back based on what is needed to close the bolt on the resized case: adjust the die down a tad at a time until the bolt closes. Depending on how stout the load is, it might be 2-4, or more, firings before the shoulder needs to be set back for a bolt-gun. But, rest assured, it eventually will. Just keep up with it. I think the bolt should close easily (and if you’re having issues with that in your handloads, there’s the first place to look for a cure). It’s really not possible to follow this plan with a semi-auto because the bolt will close with much greater force during actual firing. 

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.

 

REVIEW: Springfield Armory XD-E

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

This outstanding handgun flaunts a rebirth of a trigger mechanism, and design, that has been overshadowed in the vast array of common striker-fired pistols, but one that has strong merits. Read more…

springfield armory XD-E
The defining feature of the Springfield Armory XD-E is highlighted above, the DA/SA hammer-fired system that signals a return to an action often overshadowed by modern striker-fired defensive pistols.

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Tamara Keel

There was a time, back in the 1970s and ’80s, when giants strode the earth of the desert Southwest. At the time, semi-automatic handguns came mostly in two flavors: Single-action pistols — which were endorsed and carried by these giants –and pistols that were double-action on the first shot and single-action on subsequent shots, which were derided by the giants as “crunchentickers.”

The logic behind these sorts of pistols was that they could be carried safely decocked, yet be ready to fire with just a pull of the trigger. The downside was that the transition between the long, heavy initial trigger pull and the subsequent lighter, shorter pulls required more initial training and sustainment practice to maintain proficiency. So, the “crunchenticker” was seen as the lowest-common-denominator issue gun, while the real shooters used single-action pistols.

And, fast-forward to 1985, then came the striker-fired Glock and soon after all of its market competitors. Featuring only a single trigger pull to master, these pistols quickly became the singlemost-common variant in domestic law enforcement (and, anecdotally, coincided with a jump in qualification scores at police departments across America) and private-citizen use.

Fast forward to the present day, and in some sectors there’s a renewed interest in hammer-fired, traditional double-action (TDA, for short) pistols among a varied spectrum of serious shooters, and for a number of reasons.

In the competitive-shooting world, TDAs started owning Production Division in USPSA and IPSC. This was partially because so many current models were metal-framed and heavier than their striker-fired, polymer competitors. The TDA trigger itself was a big factor, too. As a friend explained to me, “You get one lousy trigger pull and 10 great ones, rather than 11 mediocre ones.”

On the tactical side of things, I know a few instructors who strongly favor the longer initial pull of the TDA in defensive guns for the reason that these pistols are threat-management tools. Guns get drawn — and even pointed — a lot more often than they get fired, they explained, and that longer trigger pull can be an added cushion against a nervous trigger finger getting into the wrong place.

One last reason for the renewed interest in hammer-fired TDA pistols is the increase in popularity of Appendix Inside-The-Waistband (AIWB) carry. When holstering in an AIWB holster, the user can control the hammer of a TDA pistol with the thumb of the firing hand. This serves the purpose of alerting the shooter to any unnoticed obstructions that may have gotten into the trigger guard and snagged the trigger by letting them feel the movement of the hammer.

Unfortunately for enthusiasts of the hammer-fired pistol, the selection on the market isn’t what it used to be, especially in the concealable, mid-priced variety. Furthermore, while Beretta, SIG Sauer, and Heckler & Koch all offer concealable TDA pistols, all but a couple up-market offerings from SIG are double-stack guns, and right now the market is madly in love with slim, single-stack concealment pistols for CCW.

The Springfield Armory XD-E, a single-stack, polymer-frame 9 mm, took the market by surprise early in 2017, representing a new addition to the company’s line of XD pistols.

While it uses the name and familiar styling elements of the XD series of guns, including the prominent “GRIP ZONE” markings on the grip, the Springfield Armory XD-E is pretty much an entirely different pistol. It shares almost nothing but the magazine and sights with Springfield’s existing single-stack line, the XD-S, and even there it only uses the XD-S extended magazines.

XD-E controls
(l.) One trigger, two trigger pulls — that’s the reality of the XD-E’s DA/SA system. (ctr. & l.) A red fiber-optic pipe sets the front sight apart from the twin-white-dot rear sight and makes rapid sight acquisition easier.

In size, heft and overall concept, the Springfield-Armory XD-E reminds one of the long-discontinued Smith & Wesson 3913. It’s just slightly larger than the Glock G43 or Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, since the standard magazine holds 8 rounds and the spare that ships with the gun is a 9-rounder with a grip-sleeve adapter. The magazines both come fitted with pinky rest extensions on their floorplates, but these can be switched with flat floorplates (included) for those who prefer a flush-fit contour for concealability.

The grip is as slender as you’d expect from a polymer-frame, single-stack gun. The widest point of the pistol, measured across the low-profile ambidextrous thumb safeties, is only 1.125 inches.

XD-E details
(l.) Ambidextrous controls and Mod.2 updates are evident in the XD-E. (ctr.) Slim in profile, the XD-E is a natural choice for carry. (r.) Two magazines, one with an extended baseplate, ship with the XD-E

Those ambi thumb safeties function in the same fashion as the classic 1911 thumb safety: up for safe and down for fire. Pressing down further past the off-safe position safely de-cocks the hammer. The magazine release is also fully ambidextrous, but the slide release is single-sided. The slide stop was a little difficult to run when the gun was new, but became easily useable after a few boxes of ammo.

Atop the slide on the Springfield Armory XD-E are sights compatible with the current XD dovetail dimensions (which are, entirely uncoincidentally, the same as the classic SIG Sauer P-series.) There’s a Novak-esque no-snag rear sight with two white-painted dots, and the standard front sight on the gun is a fiber-optic unit with a very visible red light pipe. Between the front and rear sights is the familiar loaded-chamber indicator of the XD-series — a hinged tab that pops up when there’s a round in the chamber.

Springfield Armory XD-E
(l.) A light, laser, or combo unit can be added to the accessory rail. (r.) Thumb-activated, the safety also serves as a decocker.

The slide has six broad, but shallow, grasping grooves on each side at the rear, and forgoes the current trend toward forward cocking serrations, which is probably a good idea on a pistol with a 3.3-inch barrel. All in all, the ergonomics on the Springfield Armory XD-E are solid. The textured areas are grippy without being too aggressive, and it’s not textured where it doesn’t need to be. The trigger guard could be a little larger, though. Folks with big fingers might have difficulty while wearing gloves when the trigger is in its fully forward, double-action position.

While it’s technically possible to carry the Springfield Armory XD-E cocked and locked in “Condition One,” the low-profile thumb safeties don’t exactly encourage it. Instead, the simplest thing is to load the pistol, chamber a round, use the safety/decocker to safely drop the hammer, and then holster up. Personally, I’d be interested in a decocker-only version to avoid the possibility of inadvertently actuating the safety when I didn’t mean to, but enough folks like the belt-and-suspenders approach of both a double-action pull and a manual safety that Springfield Armory chose to introduce this version.

At the range, the pistol shot well — frankly, better than I expected. I was anticipating an experience along the lines of what I’ve had with a G43 or a Shield, but the slightly larger size of the Springfield Armory XD-E pays dividends in shootability, thanks to a larger grip and enhanced recoil control. At the pistol’s launch event in Las Vegas, stages were set up with targets as far as 50 yards, and the better shooters among us were knocking those over with aplomb.

XD-E takedown
Adding a hammer did not change the XD-takedown procedure significantly; the XD-E breaks down easily for cleaning and maintenance.

This was aided by a very usable trigger. My Springfield Armory XD-E test sample’s double-action trigger pull gauged at 11 pounds and, while it stacked noticeably prior to break, it was plenty smooth. Single-action measured 5.5 pounds, with a short take-up before hitting a fairly abrupt “wall,” and then finished in a rolling break. Most impressively, through all the demo guns I fired over the course of the launch event, plus 750 rounds of assorted ammunition through my T&E sample, I have yet to see any malfunctions.

The Springfield Armory XD-E has a niche to itself for now. The only hammer-fired TDA single-stack 9 mm in the same size class is SIG Sauer’s metal-frame P239, which is 5 ounces heavier and has an MSRP nearly double that of the XD-E. Sitting right at the confluence of two trends, AIWB carry and single-stack, subcompact 9 mm pistols, it will be interesting to see how well the XD-E does in the marketplace. If it sells, will other models be spun off the gun’s TDA lockwork? Maybe a full-size, single- or double-stack service pistol? Stay tuned…

XD-E overall

XD-E specs

CLICK HERE FOR MORE

3 Ways To Talk To Parents Who Fear Guns

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Education, not confrontation, is the best way to handle a communication problem, and that’s what irrational fears and misunderstandings about firearms in a family setting revolve around. Read a few ideas on how to resolve it. MORE

nervous parents

SOURCE: NRA Family, by Brad Fitzpatrick

When I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital, my wife and I received a lot of advice, both solicited and unsolicited, on topics ranging from sleep cycles to feeding to treating diaper rash and colic. Most of the advice was thoughtful, and it helped me wade through those first few exhausting weeks of fatherhood. But one particular directive struck me: A woman that came by the house to give my daughter’s cheeks a squeeze, stuck a bent finger in my face, and said, “You need to do something about all those guns. Keep them locked up, at least.”

Admittedly, I know precious little about diaper rash or colic, but I know guns. And I could read between the lines when she said keep them locked up, at least. Translation: You really should get rid of your guns because you have a kid.

I grew up in a house with guns. Maybe you did too. If guns were innately dangerous we wouldn’t have made it this far in life. But there are those that feel that all guns are dangerous, in large part because the only exposure they have to firearms comes via news outlets that paint all guns and gun owners with a broad, bloody brush. There will come a day when my daughter will climb onto the school bus for the first time and step out into the big world. And I know too that she will make friends with kids whose parents don’t want their child hanging out with that gun writer. So, how do we handle those parents? How do we help them to understand that just because I own guns does not make me irresponsible? Here are a few key points that you need to keep in mind when talking to parents who don’t want their child playing in a house with guns.

1. Find Common Ground:
The parent who refuses to allow their child to come to a house with firearms doesn’t want their child to be hurt or killed. Guess what? I am a parent, I have guns, and I don’t want to see my child or anyone else’s hurt or killed, either. Guns are like automobiles, votes, or gasoline and matches in that their use — good or bad — depends on the merit of the individual who controls them. Frankly, there are people with whom my daughter doesn’t ride in a car, not because cars are inherently bad, but because I don’t trust the driver.

2. Educate:
The first key to dealing with a parent who is anti-gun is not to engage in a war of words but rather to explain to them that the myths perpetuated by anti-gun outlets are not true. Tell them that, as a gun owner and a parent, you are acutely aware of the fact that irresponsible gun handling can lead to injury, but help them understand that groups like the NSSF and NRA are working to help educate people about safe gun handling. There’s a widespread notion among anti-gun forces that groups like the NRA are somehow against gun safety, which could not be further from the truth. Tell these parents that gun groups are at the forefront of gun safety, leading the charge toward better security for firearms and gun education for all. Ask them if they’ve ever shot a gun and invite them to the range, or invite them to review NRA safety programs designed for kids, like Eddie Eagle.

3. Shoulder the Responsibility:
I don’t know your kid. I don’t know if they’ve had any exposure to guns save the endless theatrical violence they witness in television and movies, but I’m certainly not going to allow my guns to reach your child’s hands. The responsibility of safe gun handling lies on the shoulders of gun owners, and we need to accept that responsibility. That’s a powerful message to advocates of strict gun control; I don’t believe that this responsibility lies with the government but rather with the individual, and to preserve that right I intend to take care to see that my guns are safe and secure. Parents ultimately have the right to allow their child to go or not go into anyone’s home. But it needs to be understood that if you don’t allow your child to come to my home for fear that there are guns then that is an attitude of ignorance, and it perpetuates the belief that all guns — and all gun owners — are bad.

gun with lock

EDITORS NOTE: I have been through this raising my sons. I got them involved in 4H Shooting Sports as soon as I could, and even had a couple of “converts” come join us after accepting an invitation to attend an event. I was a stay-at-home dad and came into contact with many concerned parents. My general response to “Aren’t you afraid of your kids being around guns?” Was: “No. I’m afraid of your kids being around guns…” Point clearly made. It’s all about education and experience.

HUNTING: 4 Questions You Should Never Ask a Backcountry Outfitter

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

A professional guide addresses expectations, reality, preparedness, and mistakes made by his clients. It’s all about your own preparation, research, and showing some respect! READ MORE

western guide

SOURCE: American Hunter, by Jim Zumbo

Part of my career included giving seminars on big-game hunting in the West, mostly elk hunting. I’d also typically have a booth to chat with hunters, sell my books, and converse with other exhibitors, many of whom were outfitters. Most of the time, these seminars were at outdoor expos in large venues located in big cities. Many of the attendees had little or no experience in elk country. Their questions to outfitters were all over the board — some had merit, some did not. As an editor for a major hunting magazine, I was asked many questions as well, and, because I lived in Wyoming, I was the go-to guy for my editors who wanted to experience their first western hunt. Here are four questions that we never want to hear.

1. What’s Your Hunter Success Rate?
While this seems to be a sincere question, let’s look at the meaning of hunter success. Of course, it’s an indicator of how many hunters were successful in taking their animal. The only problem is, it doesn’t reflect reality. Here’s an example. I was on a wilderness elk hunt with four other hunters. I got my bull, along with one other hunter. That means the success rate was 40 percent — not very good when this is a costly dream hunt that you’ve been counting on for years. Why didn’t those other three hunters get their elk? One missed two bulls. He didn’t take the time to find a solid shooting rest, and he shot offhand. He was excited, and he never really had control of his firearm. Another hunter couldn’t see three different bulls in time for a shot. His guide pointed them out, but by the time the hunter saw them, the bulls had disappeared in the timber. The last hunter was reluctant to ride his horse out of camp in the dark. He feared the night woods and was reluctant to ride his horse when it was totally dark. As a result, he never arrived at the hunting area in time to see elk moving from meadows to bedding areas in the forest. He never saw an elk. The result: three hunters failed to score because they weren’t able to capitalize on opportunities — and that’s the key word. It wasn’t the outfitter’s fault that the hunter success wasn’t much higher. So the question to ask is: What is your average hunt opportunity rate? That’s a much fairer question when evaluating the outfitter’s success record.

2. How Far of a Shot Can I Expect?
Some outfitters who mainly hunt heavy timber might tell you that you can expect a 50-yard shot, or no more than a 100-yard shot. Another, who hunts in more open country where longer shots across meadows are common, might say to figure on 200 to 300 yards. But the truth is, most outfitters prefer not to offer this advice, because there’s nothing predictable on a mountain hunt. The danger is that you might not be prepared for variable distances. If the average shot in the timber is expected to be 100 yards or less — and that’s where you’ve sighted in your rifle — what will you do if your bull appears in an opening across the draw 300 yards away? Can you make that shot? Have you fired your rifle at that distance at the range to know where your bullet will hit?

Once, while hunting elk on a bitterly cold day, I stood quietly in heavy forest when I heard elk crunching in the snow. I had expected a close shot on that hunt, but saw several bulls come into view on a small open ledge 300 yards away. Luckily, I made the shot work, primarily because I’ve practiced with the rifle I was carrying repeatedly at distances up to 350 yards. Another mistake is bringing along that .30-30 that’s perfect in your Pennsylvania hardwood forest with plenty of thick mountain laurel, but not so good when that long shot in elk country presents itself. The answer is to be prepared for any eventuality. Bring a rifle you know can take out a gnat’s eyeball at any reasonable distance, and you’ll be comfortable that your gun is up to the task in the elk woods.

3. If I Score at the Beginning of the Hunt, Can I Leave Early?
This seems like a fair enough question — and some outfitters may allow it — but it can be a logistical complication for a backcountry hunt, when the outfitter would need to pack up you and your gear and send a guide down the trailhead with you. This is especially bothersome if it’s a long horseback ride to the road. In the area where I live in the mountains of northwest Wyoming, the average horseback ride to the wilderness tent camp can be 20 miles, some as far in as 30 or more. That means it would take two full days to make a round trip.

Prepare to stay the duration and enjoy the wild surroundings. You might consider bringing a camera with a telephoto lens to take outdoor images, or a couple books. Many mountain camps have streams or lakes close by, sometimes within walking distance of camp. Check with the outfitter beforehand. If fishing is available, pack a compact fishing rod and be sure to buy a fishing license before you head into the woods.

4. Should I Bring Binoculars?
Dumb question? Believe it or not, many hunters will ask it, though most are inexperienced in western mountain country. Some have expectations that their guide will do all the glassing and point out the quarry. The inherent danger here is that the guide might be looking at an elk standing in the timber, being able to see it clearly, but you can’t because you don’t have binoculars. Borrowing your guide’s isn’t a good idea because he’ll no doubt be reluctant to take them off when he’s having a staring contest with a bull. What about substituting your scope instead of binoculars? This is a really bad idea for two reasons. First, binoculars are far more effective in making out a distant or partially hidden animal than a scope. The second and more important reason is for safety purposes.

Here’s a scenario. You see movement in the brush. You can’t make it out, so you raise your rifle to look through the scope. As it turns out, a person appears out of the brush. You are then aiming your rifle directly at a human being. If an outfitter catches you doing that, he’s apt to send you home, and rightly so. Bring binoculars on your western hunt. You don’t have to buy a four-digit set if you can’t afford it. There are plenty that are far less expensive and perfectly adequate in the elk woods.

By avoiding these questions, your outfitter won’t have to second-guess your woods savvy. You’re already ahead of the game even though you’ve never stepped into the western mountains before — and that’s a big advantage as you prepare for that big, long awaited hunt.

NEW: Wilson Combat .458 HAM’R Tactical Hunter

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Bill Wilson upped the ante on successfully hunting with an AR-15. This new round sets a new standard for power. Read all about it!

wilson 458 HAM'R

Billed as the hardest-hitting, most powerful AR-platform rifle on the market today, the Wilson Combat .458 HAM’R Tactical Hunter looks to be a force to reckon with.

The new .458 HAM’R cartridge has a rebated rim that fits a standard AR-10-size bolt-face, but the hybrid receiver design allows for the use of a bolt-carrier group that’s 0.75-inch shorter than a standard AR-10 bolt, and the rifle feeds using standard AR-15 magazines from Lancer Systems.

Designed exclusively by Bill Wilson and the Wilson Combat staff, the .458 HAM’R produces up to 46,000 PSI and better than 3,000 foot-pounds of muzzle energy from an 18-inch barrel, exceeding the energy produced by other big-bore AR cartridges like .450 Bushmaster, .458 SOCOM, and .50 Beowulf. The energy produced by the round enables it to be used easily to hunt all big-game animals in North America, as well as for tactical applications.

Wilson Combat released two rifles chambered in the new cartridge, both with similar specifications: the Wilson Combat Tactical Hunter and the Ultimate Hunter. The Tactical Hunter is built with an 18-inch fluted barrel complete with a threaded muzzle and features a billet upper and lower receiver, the upper receiver providing a flattop Picatinny-rail section for optics mounting. With the stock collapsed, the gun measures 34.25 inches long and weighs 7 pounds, 11 ounces. The Ultimate Hunter variation features a carbon fiber fixed stock. There are barrel options.

The rifle uses a mid-length gas system controlled by an SLR Rifleworks adjustable gas block. The barrel and gas tube are surrounded by Wilson Combat’s own 14.6-inch M-Lok accessory rail and comes with three Ergo Grips rail covers. Other furniture provided on the rifle includes a Rogers/Wilson Super-Stoc and a Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter pistol grip.

Finish-wise, the rifle comes with the company’s durable green-and-black Armor-Tuff finish. Other finish options are available at an additional charge. The bolt-carrier group features a durable, low-friction NP3 coating, and the gun is equipped with the Wilson Combat Tactical Trigger Unit. The suggested retail price on the Tactical Hunter starts at $2,905, and Ultimate Hunter starts at $3055.

READ MORE HERE

2018 SHOT SHOW

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

The biggest event in the industry is coming up soon! Read all about it…

SHOT SHOW 2018

The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries. It is the world’s premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, and related products and services. The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

At the 2017 SHOT Show, industry professionals packed the aisles from the opening bell, and attendance totaled nearly 65,000, to make it the second most attended SHOT Show ever.

2018 will see the 40th Anniversary event and is not to be missed!

DETAILS HERE!

2017: Another Year Millions of Americans Bought Firearms

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Good news: Looks like we all worried too much. Here’s the truth about guns sales last year… MORE

2017 gun sales

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

We, like many of our NRA members, watched the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) numbers all year. We read — and fact-checked — all of the claims about the “Trump Slump” and the imminent collapse of the entire firearms industry. Month after month, the narrative around the NICS data framed gun sales as waning because a new record wasn’t set. Bloomberg headlined its latest entry, “Gun Sales in America Drop.” The Chicago Tribune reported that “Holiday gun sales dip after record Black Friday.”

The FBI released the final NICS numbers for 2017. There were 25,235,215 total NICS checks in 2017 — making last year the second busiest year ever for the NICS office. Across all states, territories, and the District of Columbia, there were 7.2 million NICS checks related to handguns (not including private sales, rentals, returned, pre-pawn, or pawn redemption checks); 5.2 million for long guns; just under 400,000 for “other” firearms; and 236,167 checks for multiple purchases. More than 9.9 million Americans initiated a NICS check for a permit last year.

In terms of individual categories of NICS checks, 2017 ranks third for handgun-related NICS checks and second for “other” checks. In terms of total sales-related checks (handgun, long gun, other, and multiple), 2017 was the fourth-busiest year ever. It was also the second busiest year for permit checks.

Interest in defense and the shooting sports clearly remains strong; sure, NICS doesn’t provide a 1:1 proxy for gun sales but the FBI saw more than 13 million sales-related checks and almost 10 million permit checks. That equates to more than 27,000 permit checks and nearly 36,000 sales-related checks every single day of the year.

Hopefully, we can put the claims of “Trump Slump,” and of the demise of the firearms industry to rest along with the year 2017. The continued strong NICS numbers all year indicate that Americans’ interest in defending themselves and their families, and their interest in the shooting sports, is not dependent on the White House occupant. We fully expect the firearms industry to continue to support the passions shared by millions of law-abiding Americans throughout 2018.

3 Great Drills for a Home-Defense Shotgun

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

As effective as one might be, just owning a shotgun doesn’t mean you’ll be prepared to use it! Here are 3 great practice drills to make sure you are! Keep reading!

shotgun drills

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Jeff Johnston

Thinking you’ll come out on the winning end of a home invasion just because you keep a shotgun by your bed is wishful at best. When the adrenaline surges, you’ll revert back to your training, and if you haven’t had much training, you can easily revert back to the way it was before you were born. Point is, you should practice shooting, reloading, and moving with your shotgun, all while under pressure, until those skills become routine. Here are three drills to help you survive an attack.

You’ll need your home-defense shotgun, a couple boxes of shells (birdshot will suffice, but it’s always best to practice with the loads you intend to actually use, if possible), a large cardboard box or other portable barrier, and a shot timer. (If you don’t have a dedicated shot timer, there are a number of apps that will work, such as the IPSC Shot Timer app, on your smartphone.)

Note: While all of the following drills are intended for those who are already proficient at mounting and shooting a shotgun, drill Number 1, “The Pointing Drill,” is intended for those who intend to become masters of the shotgun. If you have no illusions of practicing until you master this arm, then skip to drill Number 2. That’s because pointing the shotgun rather than aiming can be detrimental, and result in a miss, if it’s not practiced until it becomes second nature.

1. Standing 5 yards from a silhouette target, load one round in the shotgun’s chamber. From a high-ready position, and while keeping both eyes open, look at where you intend to hit the target — center mass. Start the shot timer. On its beep, and at about half-speed, smoothly push the shotgun’s barrel out and level it so that the gun’s stock comb comes up to your cheek. Do not lower your head and cheek to the gun, or shoulder it like a rifle. Without consciously looking at the shotgun’s bead sight, but rather the target, pull the trigger as soon as your cheek and shoulder make contact with the stock, your mount is solid and the shotgun’s bead intersects your line of sight to the target. When the trigger is pulled, keep the gun up, but look around to assess the situation. Check the target to make sure your pattern was center mass. (If not, it means you were either going too fast and pulled the trigger before your head was down on the stock, or the shotgun is not printing where you look. If the latter, seek advice on proper shotgun fit and consider adjusting its stock.)

Finally, check the timer, then make ready to repeat the drill. Try to beat your previous time. If you begin missing, slow down. After hundreds of rounds over multiple training sessions, your mind and hands will learn to point the shotgun exactly where the eyes look, and you’ll become very fast and accurate, all the while increasing your situational awareness. Once point-shooting is mastered, shooting a shotgun becomes easy, and you can always revert back to aiming when necessary.

2. Shooting a shotgun while moving is one of the toughest things to do, because most of us seldom do it, and because shotguns really kick hard. But moving, sometimes as much so as shooting, is often a key to surviving a gunfight. For this drill, set up a barrier (a refrigerator box works great) 10 yards from a target. Starting 10 feet behind the barrier, start the timer. On the beep, shoot the target as you walk forward to the edge of cover behind the box. (Remember not to get so close to the barrier that your barrel sticks past it.)

When you reach cover, shoot twice more without pausing. Then, from a high-ready crouch, walk backward from where you came, keeping cover between you and the target, while reloading your magazine with your weak hand. (Remember to pick your feet up and not slide them to minimize your chance of tripping.)

Check the timer. Repeat the drill, and try to get faster each time. Eventually, you’ll be able to shoot on the run and reload on the retreat.

3. There are many techniques to reloading a shotgun, but all of them take quite a bit of practice to master. For the “move and groove drill,” load spare shells in a bandolier, sidesaddle, or the back pocket of your weak side if that’s all you have. Then ask a friend to load your gun’s magazine with any number of shells without you knowing. Keep the chamber unloaded. When you get the gun back, rack the slide to chamber a round. (If you don’t have an assistant, load the gun yourself.) Facing two targets 7 yards away, shoot one and then the other center mass, back and forth, until the gun goes dry.

When you realize the gun is empty, take a step toward cover while lowering the gun to low ready with your strong hand and reaching for a shell with the other. Load a single shell in the open port by going over or under the receiver with your support hand — whatever you prefer — so long as you quickly shove a shell in and rack the action forward as you step from cover to shoot the next target. (If your shotgun is semi-automatic, practice punching the bolt-release button with the support hand while on its way to the fore-end.)

After the next shot, repeat the single shell-reloading process as fast as possible. Then repeat the drill. Notice your split times on the timer and try to make them faster with each repetition. There are a lot of things going on here, so start out deliberately slow, and build speed with practice.

When you master shooting, moving, and reloading your bedside shotgun, surviving a home invasion will become more than just a pipe dream. In addition to providing confidence in your chosen defensive firearm, it will also become somewhat of a nightmare for any attacker who dares to breach your domain.