Bullet structure should play an important part in your selections. Here’s a short course in bullet architecture, and why it matters!
These days we don’t have to settle for much of anything. Pretty much whatever it is, there are options. That’s a good thing, as long as we figure out how to sort through all the options. I didn’t count them all, but there are way on more bullets available now than ever. This article sets out to help you all understand the essential engineering of this all-important ammo component.
The reason there are so many bullets is because there are so many different ultimate uses we put them to.
All bullets are designed or intended to do something, and, clearly, the first idea is to hit a target.
There are bullets engineered to perform variously on target, including the proximity of impacts on target. I say it that way because a “match” bullet’s job is to perforate a piece of paper. A bullet designed for varmint hunting, on the other hand, is designed to produce explosive impact, and one for larger game hunting strives to strike a balance between expansion and penetration. All bullets have to meet their target to be effective, and different premiums often also result in a few trades. Specialty hunting projectiles, for instance, don’t usually out and out group as well as those engineered for target shooting.
However! No matter how it’s built inside, there are universal elements of any bullet design, and those are found on the outside.
Bullet parts: base, that’s the bottom; boat-tail, or not (flat-base); shank, portion of full-caliber diameter; ogive, the sloping “nosecone,”; tip, either open or closed (open it’s called the “meplat”). The shape of the ogive and the first point of “major diameter” are extremely influential elements. The first point of major diameter can vary from barrel brand to barrel brand because it’s the point on the bullet that coincides with land diameter in the barrel — the first point that will actually contact the barrel as the bullet moves forward. When there’s a cartridge sitting in the rifle chamber, the distance or gap between the first point of major diameter and the lands is called “jump,” and, usually, the less there is the better. More in another article.
The first point of major diameter and the shank combine to determine the bullet “bearing area.” This is how much of the bullet is riding the barrel surfaces. Usually, bullets with greater bearing areas tend to shoot accurately, but, might not get to velocities as high as one with a shorter bearing area. Longer bearing area creates more drag in the bore. Longer bearing area bullets also tend to be more tolerant of jump.
The two essential profiles a bullet can take are “secant” and “tangent.” This refers to the shape of the ogive. A tangent is a more rounded, gradual flow toward the tip, while a secant is a more radical step-in, more like a spike. Secants fly with less resistance, but tangents are more tolerant of jump.
Ogives are measured in “calibers.” That’s pretty simple: an 8-caliber ogive describes an arc that’s 8 times caliber diameter; a 12-caliber is based on a circle that’s 12 times the caliber. The 8 will be a smaller circle than the 12, so, an 8-caliber ogive is more “blunt” or rounded. (So I don’t get comments from engineers, there’s more to it than this, as it applies on blueprints to different profiles; it’s the ratio of its radius to the diameter of the cylinder. But my description is accurate as an overview.)
Bullets with lower-caliber ogives are more tolerant of jump and (usually) shoot better, easier. Higher-caliber ogives fly better, farther. This is an important component in the “high-BC” designs. Same thing comparing tangent and secant: the first is easier, the second beats the air better.
When you see terms like “magazine bullet” or “length-tolerant bullet” that is referring to those with tangent profiles and lower-caliber ogives. (“Length-tolerant” means that it’s not sensitive to seating depth.) If you want to experiment with the longer “high-BC” style bullets, you might find they don’t group well until they get close to or right on the lands when the round is chambered.
Check Midsouth for a massive selection of bullets of all calibers HERE
The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HEREat Midsouth. Also check HEREfor more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.
Innovation is in the very core of the American spirit – we aspire to be independent, to build our own solutions, to constantly improve. It was that core trait that drove Marcus Leupold – son of Fred, the legendary co-founder of Leupold & Stevens, Inc. – to throw aside a riflescope that failed him and build something better. More than 70 years later, that spirit still thrives at Leupold, and it’s embodied tenfold in the new VX-Freedom line of riflescopes.
You want relentless reliability? The VX-Freedom delivers it. You want elite optical performance at a price you can’t ignore? Consider that box checked. You want to unleash your rimfire rifle, dominate from any tree stand, or tag out across an open draw? The VX-Freedom’s got you covered.
The entire VX-Freedom line is designed, machined, and assembled right here in the U.S.A. with one purpose in mind – to give you the freedom to put a Leupold on any long gun you own, knowing it will perform for a lifetime.
Elite Optical Performance
Only a company with Leupold’s history and engineering expertise can deliver an American-made optic that boasts performance and affordability like the VX-Freedom. You’re looking at best-in-class optics – crisp, clear images with unmatched edge-to-edge clarity. It’s complete with military-spec lens coatings that provide abrasion resistance, protecting the riflescope in the most challenging terrain. As Tim Lesser, vice president of product development for Leupold & Stevens, Inc., explained, the new line has been built from the ground up to deliver on the promise of the Leupold brand.
“The VX-Freedom is built to deliver the versatility and performance hunters and shooters have come to expect from our brand,” Lesser said. “Whether you’re looking for your first scope or your fortieth, there will be a VX-Freedom that’s purpose-built to suit your needs.”
Every scope line that comes out of the Leupold factory is “punisher tested and verified” – a relentless process of pounding the optic in a way that replicates a lifetime of abuse. On top of that, it’s engineered to disperse energy during every shot, which adds to its rugged nature. Finally, the VX-Freedom’s new, ergonomically advanced power selector ring is low-profile but provides exceptional grip, making it easy to use even in the cold, wet, or while wearing gloves.
Let There Be Light
It’s no secret that the first and last 20 minutes of any big game hunt are often the most crucial – it’s when the animals are most likely to be up and moving and when you’re most likely to get a shot. Thing is, that’s also when there’s not much light to work with, and you can’t hit what you and your optic can’t see. That’s why the VX-Freedom line incorporates Leupold’s Twilight Light Management System, a proprietary lens coating system that increases the amount of usable light that reaches your eye.
Translation: Your optic will still be able see Bullwinkle during those last five minutes of legal light, even if your naked eye can’t. That means you’re more likely to be calling buddies to help you pack out a kill under the stars.
At launch, the VX-Freedom will be available in some of the industry’s most popular magnification ranges: 1.5-4×20, 2-7×33, 3-9×40, 3-9×50, and 4-12×40 – all featuring second focal plane reticles and 1-inch maintubes. They’re great for muzzleloaders, rimfire rifles, and centerfire rifles. But Leupold didn’t stop with just improving the riflescope design, they also decided to offer three brand-new reticles with the VX-Freedom. Alongside the standard Duplex and Pig-Plex offerings, the Freedom is available with a Tri-MOA, Rimfire MOA, or UltimateSlam reticle.
The Tri-MOA reticle is designed to fill tags – hash marks in 1-MOA increments give you precise reference points for quick, accurate shots, and the upper portion is clear, making it easy to keep an eye on the game animal in your sights. The Rimfire MOA reticle stretches your favorite plinking rifle’s legs out to 200 yards and beyond. The vertical hash marks are set for rimfire rifle ballistics at 1-MOA increments. The UltimateSlam, meanwhile, offers hold points from 50 to 300 yards for muzzleloaders and shotguns.
Built to Last
The VX-Freedom series is everything you’ve come to expect from a Leupold optic. It’s tested to the very same ruggedness standards as the company’s top-tier riflescopes. It’s also backed by the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee – you’ll be able to put it through its paces and not have to worry about it holding up.
“We’re relentless because we know our consumers are relentless,” Lesser said. “At the end of the day, you don’t quit, and you don’t back down. Our products won’t, either.”
This is one of the first questions any new handgun buyer has to answer, and here’s Jason Anderson’s take on finding your own answer. READ MORE
by Jason Anderson
I’m often asked which type of handgun is better, a revolver or a semi-automatic? Well, the truth is there are pros and cons to both — it all depends on which one you’re more comfortable using. So allow me to break down the facts to help you decide which type firearm fits your needs best.I’m often asked which type of handgun is better, a revolver or a semi-automatic? Well, the truth is there are pros and cons to both — it all depends on which one you’re more comfortable using. So allow me to break down the facts to help you decide which type firearm fits your needs best.
First, let’s go over some of the reasons people prefer revolvers for self-defense:
1. They’re easy to fire. A typical revolver has a cylinder that rotates with each fired shot. There is no need to feed the next round, and each round is separate, so there is no way for the rounds to jam or double-feed. Anyone who shoots often has at some point experienced an ammunition malfunction or feeding issue with a semi-auto. While it’s not something that happens all the time, it does happen. And if you don’t know how to fix it, you could be in trouble.
2. A revolver is simple to reload. It’s easy to reload a revolver, because all you have to do is push the cylinder out and remove the expended cartridges. Then reload each chamber with fresh ammo and push the cylinder back into place. It’s not exactly a quick process, but it’s very basic. Reloading a semi-automatic weapon can be difficult for some people, because first, you have to pull back the slide to chamber a round. Someone who is elderly or has weak hands may not be able to manipulate the slide very well, which is another reason to consider a revolver.
3. They require less maintenance. I’m a big believer in keeping your guns clean and properly oiled. Even if you don’t shoot often, it’s important to make sure you oil your semi-auto to keep the contact points lubricated. While this is especially important for a semi-auto, it’s less important for a revolver. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you never need to clean or oil a revolver, but you don’t need to do it as often as with a semi-automatic. When semi-autos first arrived on the scene, most people agreed that revolvers were more reliable and dismissed them. But over the years, handgun manufacturers have improved the durability and functionality of semi-automatic weapons.
Now here are the top three reasons to consider a semi-auto:
1. They have a higher capacity. Most revolvers have a five- or six-shot capacity. However, semi-autos have a much wider range of magazine capacity — usually anywhere from 7-19 rounds depending on the firearm. Obviously, if I was in a gunfight, I would rather have more rounds. In fact, when police departments around the country began switching to semi-autos, one of the biggest reasons was so officers had more rounds in the event of a shootout.
2. They’re quicker to reload. There are people who will tell you that they can reload a revolver faster than you can reload a semi-auto. And someone who has practiced reloading a revolver can probably do it pretty quickly. However, the average person will likely always be faster at reloading a semi-automatic than a revolver.
3. They have better accuracy. The majority of people will be more accurate shooting a semi-automatic than a revolver because of the more modern design. Most semi-autos have less recoil and muzzle jump than revolvers. Also, semi-autos tend to have a smoother trigger pull than revolvers, and when you combine these factors, they usually allow for better accuracy.
When it comes down to which type of handgun is better, it really depends on personal preference. If you suffer from arthritis and can’t pull the slide back on a semi-auto, then you might want to consider a revolver.
However, if you carry concealed often, you probably want a semi-auto that can hold more rounds. To figure out which side of the fence you’re on, I recommend going to your local gun range. Rent a few different guns of each type and see what works best for you.
Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit SpyEscape.com.
“The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits…* Anti-gunners display this truth. READ MORE *Albert Einstein
On March 2, gun control über matron Shannon Watts issued a tweet taking the online retailer Sportsman’s Warehouse to task for making a certain firearm available to adults as young as 18. No doubt Watts hoped to shock her Twitter followers with the gun’s supposedly menacing appearance.
The rifle she depicted, however, was a Ruger bolt action .22 rimfire, a platform that has safely introduced untold numbers of preteens to the fundamentals of marksmanship and firearm safety, including through programs at summer camps, scouting organizations, and even some public schools. It is a platform so common and uncontroversial, in fact, that it would remain untouched by even the most far-reaching “assault weapon” ban introduced in any American jurisdiction to date. The large knob protruding from its action must be manually operated between shots, and the ammunition it uses is among the mildest of the commercially available rifle cartridges, illegal for taking game bigger than a squirrel or rabbit in most places.
Needless to say, this was all lost on Watts, who was manifestly reacting to features of the particular model in question that have absolutely nothing to do with any lethal potential it might possess. These include its dark color; its polymer furniture; the adjustability of the stock’s comb and length of pull; its vented, free-float handguard; and its accessory rails. Leave it to Watts — who recently lectured a crime victim on her supposed “privilege” — to be triggered by mere appearances.
Of course, it’s also possible that Watts knew exactly what sort of gun she was tweeting a picture of and was simply making the point that there’s no firearm too benign for her regulatory ambitions.
Either way, Shannon Watts once again made herself look ridiculous to anybody with a basic understanding of firearm technology, if not basic common sense.
That might be forgivable for the average suburban adult with no prior firearm experience who knows no more about guns than their dubious depictions in mass media and entertainment. But it’s a pretty sorry showing for someone whose only claim to fame is imperiously hectoring the rest of the country on the evils of guns and gun owners and pushing prohibitory firearm policies and laws.
Indeed, of all the manifestations of childish entitlement that characterize the gun control lobby, perhaps none is so pronounced as the inverse relationship between their ignorance and their outrage. It’s of course easy to fear something you don’t understand. But gun control advocates take it a step further, resisting attempts by gun owners to set them straight on the facts as a form of “bullying” or mocking efforts at education on firearms as “gunsplaning.” Then they go further still by insisting that not only should their obliviousness inform their own choices about firearm ownership and use but yours as well.
And while their ineptitude might be a source of amusement to gun owners to the degree it’s confined to social media rants, there’s nothing funny about its very real potential to infect public policy as well.
Firearm technology can no doubt seem bewildering and intimidating to the uninitiated. And gun owners should have patience and sensitivity to those who are trying in good faith to come up to speed.
Watts and her likeminded Twitter followers, however, aren’t just uninformed. They are deliberately indifferent, if not actively hostile, to any fact that gets in the way of their agenda.
So don’t expect embarrassment or apologies from Shannon Watts. She doesn’t actually have to know what sort of gun she’s talking about to “demand action” to keep you from having it.
It does work both ways… Anti-gunners need to be reminded that gun owners not only have rights, but clout too! READ ALL ABOUT IT
Based on the results of a Zogby Analytics poll released earlier this month, Second Amendment supporters may have a counter-intuitive message for virtue-signaling Hollywood heavyweights pledging their support for restrictive firearm laws: keep up the good work!
Gun control is gaining renewed social currency in some circles in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. tragedy. Hollywood, to no one’s surprise, has eagerly jumped on the bandwagon, with stars, starlets, and studio honchos displaying their usual self-importance and grasping desire for the spotlight.
Celebrities issued tweets within hours of the event making vague demands for America to “do something,” parroting antigun talking points, and attacking the NRA. Barely two days later, some of Tinseltown’s richest denizens were shoveling money toward the so-called March for Our Lives in support of gun control. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown gun control organization, meanwhile, distributed orange American flag pins for “actors and allies” to wear at the Academy Awards ceremony in solidarity with the group’s agenda. That event’s featured musical number also included a rapper insisting God disapproves of the NRA. And of course late night talk show hosts have recently devoted entire segments to demonizing the NRA and hyping gun control.
The antigun themes emanating from the West Coast entertainment establishment were so pervasive that they seemed almost scripted and coordinated by some unseen hand. Perhaps some of this was due to the work of the Everytown Creative Council, a coalition of gun-averse celebrities that pledges to use their “communications skills and the power of culture to galvanize many more Americans” in support of gun control and to “drive real change.” Members of the council, for example, organized the cast of a sitcom to create a video that promotes the March for Our Lives, takes shots at the NRA, and pretends that more restrictive laws could end firearm-related violence once and for all.
According to the Zogby poll, however, all these efforts have actually done a great service to the Second Amendment.
The 869 likely voters polled where asked, “When Hollywood actors and actresses speak out about gun control, does that make you want to support or oppose our constitutional right to bear arms (the 2nd amendment to the constitution)?”
The results indicated that the antigun opinions of Hollywood’s elite were twice as likely overall to elicit support for the Second Amendment as they were to provoke opposition to the right to keep and bear arms.
The pollsters noted:
A majority (56% strongly and somewhat support combined) of voters want to support their constitutional right to bear arms when they hear Hollywood actors and actresses speak out about gun control. This is compared to 28% (strongly and somewhat oppose combined) of voters who want to oppose the 2nd amendment when Hollywood talks about banning guns.
The pro-Second Amendment effect of Hollywood’s antigun intervention held across every age group, race, and political affiliation represented by the poll. And in a finding sure to worry the film industry’s financiers, Millennials were the age group most strongly moved in support of the Second Amendment by actors and actresses speaking out about gun control (65% support/23% oppose). This echoed the findings of another poll that Millennials identified the right to bear arms as “very” personally meaningful at the highest rate of any age group, with 60% providing this response.
Zogby’s own analysis of its result stated: “As we approach the November midterms, gun control will be a hot button issue, but according to the data, Hollywood interjecting itself into the debate makes even the Democratic base want to bear arms.” It further warned: “The numbers among young voters, African Americans, Hispanics and even Democrats prove the gun debate could be a tricky strategy for Democrats looking to take back power in both houses of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.”
We have often mentioned the obvious hypocrisy of Hollywood elites lecturing the rest of the country on the evils of firearms, including here, here, and here. As annoying as their posturing is, however, it seems they have been doing gun owners a favor by pushing opinion in favor of the Second Amendment across virtually every segment of American society.
What else can we say at this point but … hooray for Hollywood (and thanks to Everytown for its role in this drama as well)! Perhaps, as Zogby’s analysis noted, their continued involvement could contribute to making the 2018 elections end happily for supporters of the right to keep and bear arms.
I am often asked about my handgun carry position and the reason for my choice. There are some subtle, yet important, differences in the defensive draw process versus the competitive draw process. There are several crucial steps to performing a lightning-fast concealed draw.
While drawing a handgun quickly under the stress of an attack is important, there are other critical factors in accessing your handgun.
THE CONCEALED CARRY TASTE TEST
In previous years, I always used some sort of strong-side carry method, including belt-type concealed carry holsters in leather gear made by Bianchi and Safariland, as well as duty holsters when I was a police officer in Knoxville, Tenn. I also carried in a custom shoulder holster for a bit of time after I moved on to the Federal Air Marshal Service and spent a significant amount of time in a seated position.
It was during that mission that I began to consider the downsides to carrying a handgun in the typical strong-side position, simply because accessing the gun while seated was so difficult. I began my first experimentation carrying in the appendix position at that time. In the end, I had key reasons I ended up picking the appendix position as my primary carry method.
The appendix carry position offers me more flexibility — the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Whether seated at a desk or in a car, it’s my position of choice. And with shorter, more compact guns like the XD® Mod.2™ Sub-Compact, comfort and concealment are not an issue. Appendix carry allows me to draw the handgun quickly, efficiently and with my support hand if necessary.
Finding the ideal holster that allows for safe re-holstering is a primary consideration when appendix carrying. If safety rules are violated in any way, you will get hurt. Years ago, I took a class with Todd Green that was specific to the appendix carry position. He taught a very deliberate method of re-holstering that stressed keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times. In my own classes, I make students that wish to carry in the appendix position demonstrate safe re-holstering several times with an unloaded gun before allowing it in the class.
The bottom line? The one risk to the appendix carry position is that the gun can be pointed at the lower extremities while re-holstering if the shooter is negligent. This carry position requires attention to detail and training. If you are not committed to both, select a different carry method. Remember:
Select a high-quality holster designed for IWB (“inside the waistband”) carry, and never try the appendix carry position without a holster.
Keep the muzzle pointed away from your body while safely indexing the muzzle in the holster.
Keep your finger indexed along the slide — not in or on the trigger guard.
Use the support hand to clear your cover garment.
Be very slow and deliberate — there’s no rush to put the gun away once it is out.
Wake up! Not everyone agrees with the anti-gun movement, and here’s an example of how forcing that view creates that much more division. MORE
SOURCE: Arkansas Online By CAROLYN THOMPSON and MICHAEL MELIA The Associated Press
As she addressed the crowd during the walkout at her Idaho high school, Kylee Denny faced heckles and name-calling from a group of students carrying American flags, she said. The counterprotesters included many familiar faces, including her boyfriend’s stepbrother.
To avoid making a difficult situation worse, Denny’s boyfriend stayed in class during the rally at Hillcrest High School in Idaho Falls, which was part of Wednesday’s national school walkout.
“I’m dating his stepbrother, which is really incredibly awkward and it’s very tense because he was being so hostile about losing respect for me because I was walking out,” said Denny, a 17-year-old junior who helped organize the protest.
The walkouts to protest gun violence that mobilized students across the country also created tensions in hallways and classrooms as a new generation was thrust into the debate over guns. While those calling for new restrictions stood in the spotlight, the surge of youth activism has exposed sharp differences of opinion.
Administrators and student leaders are also sorting through the fallout as some schools hand out discipline for those who defied school instructions and participated in the walkouts exactly one month after the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
In some cases, personal relationships have been strained.
Ryler Hanosky said he was disappointed that his stepbrother, Denny’s boyfriend, did not join the counterprotest.
“He’s a hunter just like me. He likes his guns,” Hanosky said. “I told him, ‘You need to come with us,’ and he’s like, ‘No I’m just going to stay out of it.’ It kind of makes me mad a little bit.”
The rally Denny helped organize was supposed to be for school safety, not gun restrictions, she said, but some misunderstood, becoming angry and calling names.
“You’re just like, ooh, wow, OK, I have second period with you and I don’t want you to think I’m trying to destroy your constitutional rights,” she said.
In Woodbury, Conn., about 75 students walked out of class Wednesday at the 750-student Nonnewaug High School, meeting in the auditorium before walking outside. They were followed by another group of about a dozen counterdemonstrators, including some who chanted, “NRA is the only way!”
One student, Jess Dooley, 16, said the school in rural western Connecticut is small enough for her to know nearly everyone, but that she did not feel comfortable joining the walkout because of comments by gun-rights supporters. Tensions already had been high since the Parkland shooting as debate grew vehement over arming teachers, school shootings and gun control.
“Everybody knows how everyone feels about it,” she said.
The day after the walkout, Dooley said, her civics teacher defused some tension by letting students take turns sharing their opinions on the walkout.
Organizers of the national walkouts called for such measures as tighter background checks on gun purchases and a ban on weapons like the one used in the Florida shooting. A protest against gun violence is also scheduled in Washington on Saturday , and another round of school walkouts is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High shooting in Colorado.
In last week’s walkouts, some students tried to steer clear of politics entirely, including Jacob Shoemaker, a senior at Hilliard High School in Ohio, who was suspended a day for not following instructions because he stayed in a classroom instead of joining protests or the alternative, a study hall. School, he said, isn’t the place for politics, and he wasn’t taking sides.
In Pennsylvania, a superintendent issued detentions to 225 Pennridge High School students who walked out Wednesday instead of attending an assembly honoring the Parkland victims.
Elsewhere, scuffles broke out between walkout participants and students who had other ideas for how to spend the time. At Blythewood High School in South Carolina, students were packed together in a school atrium when some began talking during the moment of silence for the Parkland victims. Shoving broke out as some called for quiet.
“These kids, who were probably younger, they weren’t against the protests,” said Andrew Kilgore, an 18-year-old senior who said students would be better organized for the next demonstration. “They were just being disruptive. They wanted a reason to get out of class.”
For the record, here’s what the National Rifle Association has to say about the rights to own rifles and shotguns. Read it HERE
Federal Law prohibits adults under the age of 21 from purchasing a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer. Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection. We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms. Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20 year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals. The NRA supports efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms. At the same time, we will continue to oppose gun control measures that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens. These are not mutually exclusive or unachievable goals.
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.
We usually want the most velocity we can SAFELY get, and here’s all about how to stay safe. Keep reading!
I’ve been on the topic of load development — “working up” a load — for the past couple of editions, and, based on the excellent feedback from you all, here’s more. As always, there’s only so much I can write before I have to cut myself off.
I’ve said that velocity is the initial leading indicator of pressure. Velocity, in itself, however, is not a definitive indicator of pressure. I’d like to clarify… The first point is that I am a big believer in establishing a goal for load development, and, for me (and likely most others) that is a velocity. Accuracy is a given! I will never consider a combination that’s not shooting little knots downrange, but accuracy and velocity are not mutually exclusive. I also would never consider a combination that produced very small groups at an unacceptably low velocity, and that’s because I’m shooting (always) beyond 200 yards. The super-accurate low-velocity load gets its bullet shifted that much more in a variable wind, so it’s way on less likely to maintain those small groups.
I want to hit the velocity ballpark I have in mind and that’s why chronograph readings as I’m incrementally increasing the propellant charge are my leading indicator to how close I’m getting. I am also, always, looking for pressure signs on the spent cases — each and every one ejected.
So about those pressure signs…
Primer condition gets first attention.
A primer should have a smoothly dimpled firing pin indention, a shiny appearance, and a visible radius on its edge. If any of those are missing or compromised to varying degrees, there’s your sign… A dull and flattened primer has been abused, as well as one with a pitted or cratered appearance. Clearly, a crack or leak (indicated by black fouling) is way over the limit. After experience, backed up by gauged measurements, you’re liable to find that judging what’s “normal” and “safe” from one rifle can be different from another. I have had individual guns that flattened primers at any point near a safe-maximum charge. And, I’ve had them that just lied. Unfortunately, small-rifle primers don’t show always show pressure signs as reliably as large-rifle primers (structural differences). I’ve had experiences where the primers are all nice and shiny like and then blow out with the next increment. Shame on me for taking it there, and, speaking of: don’t get greedy! That’s one reason a velocity goal is important. Despite what your kindergarten teacher told you, you’re not that special… If you’re reading another 50+ feet per second more than what consensus says you should, better bet you’re over-pressure. “We” went through a lot of that when coated bullets got popular: those changed all the rules for “maximums.”
The best pressure indicators show at the loading bench.
The reason I suggest (strongly) doing load work-up with new cases is because you then have a baseline. Measure the case head diameter (on the case, not the rim or groove) on the new case and compare it to the fired case. Up to 0.0005 (that’s ten-thousandths) is really high but some say acceptable (not me), and 0.0002-0.0003 is what I’d prefer. Plus, since a new case is at its smallest, meaning it will have a little less capacity than a fired case, you’re getting some assurance that the pressure will likely be a little lower from the same load in subsequent reuses of that case.
All dimensions are at their minimum in a new case. Primer pocket expansion is related to case head expansion. I get (what’s proven to be) a very accurate indication of pressure based on the resistance to seating a primer in that resized case. You have to use a priming tool that gives adequate feedback (meaning low leverage) but if the primer just slips right back in, that load was over-pressure. In a more extreme circumstance, the primer won’t stay seated. Yes. I have seen that. Shame on me, again.
Finally, a new case easily points out the difference between a “pressure ring” and a “sizing line” that can show just above the case head along the case body. A bright ring there indicates excessive stretching (a sizing line comes from the die reducing that area, and is perfectly normal). That “pressure ring” sign is also likely an “improper headspace” sign, but that’s another article.
This is a common malady on AR-platform guns, and especially on the big-chassis versions (SR-25, AR-10, and similar). Pressure both isn’t and is the culprit and the solution. Lemmeesplain: What causes the pierce is a firing pin hole that is too large. It is not the fit of the firing pin tip to the hole! An engineer can explain it, but it has to do with surface area covered by the firing pin hole, and then along with it the surface area of the primer. Simply: the firing pin hole turns into a cookie cutter. A primer pierce creates all manner of ills, including wrecked firing pins, gas flow through the charging handle area (where your face is), and abrasive debris scattered throughout the lower interior, including the trigger parts.
Excessive pressure gets blamed for a pierce but what’s really going on there is that it’s not certain that amount of pressure would be judged as “excessive.” It’s just gotten high enough to bring on this result. So, yes, lightening the load will stop the piercing, but, in my experience and that of many others, the pierces can start happening before reaching what most might agree on is a max load. I say that because “we” are all shooting about the same bullet/primer/case/propellant combinations in NRA High Power Rifle (with respect to Service Rifle division AR15s, for instance). Seeing pierced primers before hitting the proximity of competitive velocities points to “something else,” and that is the firing pin hole.
In a truly over-pressure load, the primer can crack or blow slap out, but it won’t pierce.
The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HEREat Midsouth. Also check HEREfor more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.
Looking for a SERIOUS AR15 pistol? Check out this one… READ MORE
Last year Barnes Precision Machine (BPM) added AR15 pistols to its line-up. Being a long-term fan of BPM, and reasons for that will come out in this article — I had to have one.
WHY BARNES PRECISION MACHINE?
Generally, as a reviewer of a continuous stream of AR15 rifles, I have to strain a bit to understand the benefits X-brand delivers vs Y-brand…because in most cases 99-percent of AR15 manufacturers all use the same parts from the same OEM manufacturers. Barnes is one of those OEM manufacturers in the list who makes parts for the biggest names in the industry.
With nearly every part being made in-house Barnes has the ability to assure every part they use comes together in the most optimal fashion. The result is a tighter fitting and feeling rifle with a higher potential for accuracy.
Barnes has both the build and part quality down; however, what sets them apart is the 100-percent in-house production (excluding springs, trigger, and furniture). I know of four manufacturers in the US actually making a majority of the AR15 parts in house — LMT, Daniel Defense, Colt, and Barnes Precision — however there are a few others starting to pop up here and there.
BPM DOES NOT DO IT BECAUSE IT’S COOL
Many manufacturers are creating ARs and AR accessories because they look cooler than the original. Do they work better? No, generally it is about blinging out your AR versus increasing any real level of performance. Barnes Precision takes a different route with the belief that the overall AR15 platform and design is excellent as is, but some smart tweaks can make it exponentially better without huge cost increases — and still maintain the integrity of a Mil-Spec rifle. Little things make a difference like a captured take-down detent spring that doesn’t go flying when you remove the buffer tube, a tight receiver-to-receiver fit that can even be tightened with an internal receiver tension screw, a sub-MOA match-grade barrel included even in their least expensive rifles, and softer-shooting mid-length gas systems. BPM includes their own Barnes NiBo (Nickel-Boron) coated bolt carrier group and a nice lockable hard-sided Patriot Case with die-cut foam inserts.
There are other innovative design concepts BPM pioneered to improve reliability and durability of the AR15 platform. The in-house made bolt’s cam pin hole is reamed versus being peened which increases the strength of the bolt. BPM designed the first long extended barrel nut design for free-float handguards which does not require indexing, allows perfect torquing of the barrel, and delivers a significantly stronger rigid handguard (in my opinion it is the most solid in the industry). The design is so rigid that certain Military units are using the handguard to mount precision sighting systems. BPM was also the first in the industry to offer NP3 coating on AR15s not because it was cool looking, but because it protected all those typical phosphate coated parts from rust and corrosion in a marine environment. Of course all these great features are included in the BPM-15 Pistol as well.
NOT JUST ANOTHER AR15 PISTOL
Back in 2014, I had several discussions with Andrew Barnes (President BPM). His perspective was that he did not want to offer an AR15 pistol because everyone else had one, he wanted to assure it could be a tool for military, law enforcement, and civilians from a practical perspective. With the rise of the Sig Brace and civilian comfort with Trusts to register SBR — Short Barreled Rifles — he believed there was a niche. Input from his military and LEO contacts really wanted a fast AR15 pistol or SBR which could get in and out of vehicles fast with all the same features as the BPM-15 rifle, including good accuracy. College campus security wanted something light and fast which could address terroristic threat on campus, but be light and small enough to carry every day on the golf carts and Segways used on campuses.
The base of the pistol is exactly the same as their rifles, but with a shorter 7.5-in. barrel, shorter handguard, and Sig Brace with extended buffer tube. The result is a civilian-legal short, fast, and powerful defensive and sport pistol that is a tool versus a toy.
The handguard for instance is not the cool-looking extended-over-muzzle-length style because the handguard length is sized to assure clearance of any muzzle device or suppressor without worrying about handguard interference. Barnes also used a heavier barrel to assure it could satisfy the demands of sustained continuous fire versus a faster-heating skinny barrel. Instead of just slipping a Sig Brace on the back of a standard pistol buffer tube, BPM used a KAK buffer tube to provide a more comfortable shooter platform with the Sig Brace. The end result is a tight, well-thought-out AR15 pistol which is useable out of the box as a defense and sporting tool, but can be easily converted to a shoulder-stocked SBR with the properly acquired tax stamp.
BPM ROBAR NP3 & MELONITED MARINE AR15
Almost every other manufacturer who offers some fancy diamond hard finish are only at best delivering a upper and lower receiver with a really hard finish. The problem is that they are coating the hard anodized items which are already the most impervious to corrosion, but all the other phosphate parts are left exposed which can rust of corrode quickly in a marine or wet environment. Barnes offers 100-percent NP3 coated firearms as a BPM NP3 Parts Upgrade Package.
The package includes NP3 coated trigger assembly pins, a trigger set, ejection door components, forward assist components, charging handle, selector, take-down and pivot-pins, springs, castle nut, egg plate, even the detents, te handguard bolts, barrel nut, crush washer, and flash hider are are NP3 treated. On my model, the stainless match barrel, gas block and gas tube are Nitrocarburization treated (AKA: Melonited) inside and out which is better than chrome because it delivers superior corrosion resistance and does not degrade accuracy like chrome can.
In the end, the coatings deliver a totally corrosion-resistant AR. All this was done not to deliver the stunning custom-look it has, but, as Andrew Barnes was quick to point out “the cool factor is only a side benefit…it’s all about performance.”
My testing did not center around the conventional accuracy testing, but instead testing the pistol for what it was designed for — fast shooting on man-sized targets from 0-300 yards. For this task, I attached an Israeli Mepro 21 sight which has proven itself easy in combat environments as one of the best combat reflex sights on the market. My Mepro 21 features the triangle dual (fiber optic and tritium) illuminated reticle. Frankly I love this optic and it proved perfect for this BPM15 Pistol.
Once I established a 25-yard zero and confirmed no additional tweaks were needed at 300 yards, I started having A LOT of fun. With my steel Action Targets set up at 25, 100, 200, and 300 yards, I was extremely impressed how easy the Barnes pistol was to shoot. They had done their homework. I was able to keep my hostage 6-inch swinger swaying on the 200-yard line. Of course I missed a few shots here and there, however for an AR15 Pistol, this gun is well-suited to serious work whether for defense or sport.
AR15 pistols are, of course, just as legal and easy to acquire as any other handgun through your local FFL. An AR15 pistol is a great path to acquiring a Short Barrel Rifle complete with any rifle shoulder stock you might want. A buyer can purchase and enjoy the AR15 pistol while waiting for ATF SBR tax stamp to come through and then swap out the Sig Brace for a rifle stock. I cannot wait to push my SBR stamp through on this build to convert from pistol to Short Barrel Rifle.
About a year ago, I was very skeptical of the usefulness of an AR15 pistol in the home and urban environment. Today I stand converted. Once I shot a well-designed AR15 pistol and realize how quick the gun is for urban home interiors, I began to believe that the AR15 pistol is actually the best home defense option that combines the accuracy, power, and capacity of the AR15 with the maneuverability of a pistol. This BPM-15 pistol embodies that concept perfectly.
[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. Click HERE to learn more.]