Category Archives: Ammunition

ammo, or ammunition category will be host to all topics related to factory ammo and ammunition. Everything from 22 LR to Bulk Pistol Ammo will be discussed here.

RELOADERS CORNER: Gas Port Pressure

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It’s not always possible to separate guns from loads, and there are some important things to know to get the most from your semi-auto. Here’s one! KEEP READING

casing in air

Glen Zediker

I have spent the last couple of segments taking a big step back recollecting my own (early) experiences and education as a handloader. Hope you’re happily indulging me, and hope even more that there’s been some good ideas that have come from it.

I started reloading as a matter of economy, and because I wanted to shoot more. Said then and said again now: if the impetus for reloading is saving money, you really don’t save money! You just get to shoot more for the same cost. Hope that makes sense, and likely you already understand that. Clearly, there are other reasons or focuses that attract folks to handloading, and personalizing ammo performance, improving accuracy, are leading reasons.

I’ve been at least a tad amount (to a lot) biased all along in my department topics toward loading for semi-automatic rifles. That’s been done for a few reasons, and the primary one is that, no question at all, there are specific and important details, a lot of dos and don’ts, in recycling ammo for a self-loader.

This is the reason I’ve been careful to specifically point out the “semi-auto” aspect of any tooling or preparation step. I’d like some feedback from you all with respect to your motivations and applications in handloading. Why do you do it?

Another reason is that, and I know this from much input, as happened with me 45 years ago, my interest in learning to reload came with ownership of a semi-auto that I absolutely loved to shoot! Here of late, my plumber, for a good instance, proudly announced to me outside the local hardware store that he had just purchased his first AR15 and showed me the paper bag full of .223 Rem. cartridges he had just purchased there. A scant few weeks later: “Could you help me get together some tools and show me how to reload?” I did.

Back to the focus, finally (I know) of this topic: what are those differences comparing semi-autos to anything else?

There are a few points, but one of the first, and one of the most important, is component selection. Case, primer, propellant. Propellant first.

AR15 gas port
As .224-caliber bullets get heavier, there’s a tendency toward many using slower-burning propellants. Often, the slower-burning fuels produce lower chamber pressures, which means more velocity potential (that’s true with just about any rifle cartridge). But! Gas port pressure will increase with slower and slower burning propellants. Can’t have it all, and make sure “function” is first on the list. That’s safe and sane function, by the way, not “over-function!”

I’ll assume, pretty safely, that the semi-auto we’re loading up for is an AR15, or some take on that platform. If so, it will have a “direct impingement” gas system. That’s a pretty simple arrangement whereby the gas pressure needed to operate the system, which cycles the action, is bled off from the barrel bore via a port. From there it goes through a manifold and then into a tube, and then back into the bolt carrier via the bolt carrier key. Gas piston operation is more complex, but what’s said here applies there also respecting propellant selection.

So, it’s kind of a wave. The idea is to get the wave to peak at a point where there’s not excessive gas entering the system, but there is sufficient gas entering the system. Mil-spec. 20-inch AR15 calls for 12,500 psi, for what that’s worth. And “piston” guns are nowhere near immune from concerns about port pressure.

The burning rate of the propellant influences the level of gas pressure at the gas port, and this, easy to understand, is referred to as “port pressure.” The original AR15 rifle gas system component specs (20-inch barrel, port located at 12 inches down the barrel) were created to function just fine and dandy with 12,000 PSI port pressure. Much less than that and there might not be enough soon enough to reliably cycle the works. Much more than that and the operating cycle is accelerated.

Port pressure and chamber pressure are totally separate concerns and only related indirectly.

Rule: slower-burning propellants produce more port pressure than faster-burning propellants. As always, “faster” and “slower” are relative rankings within a variety of suitable choices. The answer to why slower-burning propellants produce higher pressure at the gas port comes with understanding a “pressure-time curve.” A PT curve is a way to chart consumption of propellant, which is producing gas, along with the bullet’s progress down the bore. It’s what pressure, at which point. I think of it as a wave that’s building, cresting, and then dissipating. Slower propellants peak farther down the bore, nearer the gas port. Heavier bullets, regardless of propellant used, also produce higher port pressures because they’re moving slower, allowing for a greater build-up about the time the port is passed.

RE15
I put the (very safe) cut-off at H4895 burning rate. I’ll go as slow as RE15, and have with safe success, but its influential differences are noticeable. I can tell you that a 4895 is well within the optimum range to deliver intended port pressure (“a” 4895, mil-contract variety, was actually the early original 5.56 propellant).

To really get a handle on all this you have to picture what’s happening as a bullet goes through the barrel in a semi-auto, and keep (always) in mind just how quickly it’s all happening. Milliseconds, less than a few of them, define “too much” or “not enough.” As the bullet passes the gas port, there’s still pressure building behind it, and there’s more pressure building still with a slower propellant. After the bullet exits the muzzle, the pressure doesn’t just instantly go away. There’s pressure latent in the system (all contained in the gas tube and bolt carrier) that’s operating the action.

The symptoms of excessive port pressure come from the consequence of a harder hit delivered too soon, and what amounts to too much daggone gas getting into and through the “back,” the bolt carrier: the action starts to operate too quickly. The case is still a little bit expanded (under pressure) when the bolt starts to unlock and the extractor tugs on the case rim, plus, the increased rush of gas simply cycles the action too quickly. That creates extraction problems and essentially beats up cases. They’ll often show bent rims, excessively blown case shoulders, stretching, and so on.

Getting gas port pressure under control makes for improved function, better spent case condition, and less wear and stress on the gun hisseff.

There’s a huge amount more to talk about on this whole topic, and a good number of ways to get everything working as it should. But. For this, the most a handloader can do, and it’s honestly just about the most influential help, is to stay on the faster side of suitable propellants. Without any doubt at all, there will be rampant disagreement with my advice: no slower than Hodgdon 4895. Most all published data lists propellants from faster to slower, so find H4895 and don’t go below it. That’s conservative, and there are a lot of very high scores shot in NRA High Power Rifle with VARGET and RE-15, but those are edgy, in my experience, and define the very upper (slowness) limit.

m14 gas system
This doesn’t only apply to AR15s. The M1A is VERY sensitive to port pressure, which is also propellant burn rate. It’s a gas-piston gun. Same cut-off on burning rate is advised for these: H4895. I sho learned this the hard way by dang near wrecking my first M1A: bolt stuck back after firing a dose of H4350. That was before I met Sgt. Jim Norris and got the lecture I’me giving you. Thanks Sarge!

That alone doesn’t mean all AR15 architectures will be tamed (carbine-length systems are particularly over-zealous), but it does mean that port pressure will stay lower, an important step.

A caution always about factory ammo: some is loaded for use in bolt-actions (especially hunting ammo(, and might bea very bad choice for your .308 Win. semi-auto. AR15s are actually fairly more flexible in showing clear symptoms, some no doubt due to the buffered operating system and overall mild nature of the .223 Rem. cartridge.

This article is adapted from Glen’s books, Handloading For Competition and Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information about other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

 

PRODUCT NEWS: Shooters World SW4350 Propellant

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A newly-formulated old-favorite propellant gets put to the test by Olympian Ken Johnson. READ THE RESULTS

Ken Johnson

I’ve been having dreams about 4350. But not the kind of dreams you’d think a ballistician would have. The book, “The Art of Memory” therein provides clues as to why my brain thought it would be smart to sprinkle this stuff on my ice cream. WAIT! Before you wave your magic finger and go back to Facebook…

Well, sure enough, it’s a useful propellant. Moderately slow. Too slow for .308, but in terms of propellants better suited for higher chamber-to-bore ratios, it’s a wise choice to have on hand. And it seems to be the favorite punch to serve to the Prom Queen (Miss Jezebel Creedmoor) at the Prairie Revival School dance. More soon…

I shot 4350 in .243 Winchester with a 107 Sierra Match King, back when I won the very last 300-Meter 3-Position Rifle event at the Pan American Games, Argentina 1995. I have fond memories of Argentina. And, the accuracy of that 4350 powder.

Our manufacturer has been making 4350-speed propellant for approximately 70 years. They know the burn speed, and they know how to make it right. Recently, they upgraded the chemical stabilizer from 1940s technology to that of the European Chemical Hazards Agency compliant goop. Current vernacular describes this propellant as “REACH Compliant.” It’s good to know that you won’t be poisoned by this powder now, if you sprinkle it on your ice cream… That was a joke. Don’t do that.

Now, for those who’ve followed the history and application of THIS propellant in a parallel universe, you’ll know it to be slightly slower in burn rate than other 4350 offerings. In our analysis, we found that to be largely true.

So…about that dance with Miss Creedmoor… I decided to run a test of our SW4350 data against H4350 data to determine relative accuracy performance. It was a relatively warm July day in the Panhandle of North Florida, a few miles inland from the Forgotten Coast.

The thermometer read 94.5 degrees. The humidity would be classified as “swamp.” Mirage was switching left-to-right, and right-to-left again. Heavy at times, like shooting through a swimming pool, but as easy to read as Dick and Jane. Hornady virgin, unmolested brass. I did absolutely nothing to the brass, other than seat a primer, dump some powder, and cram in a bullet. All charges were weighed to 0.10-grains. Federal 210M primers. Nosler Accubond 130s. Fired at 250 yards. Standard SAAMI 6.5 Creedmoor chamber. I did all the gun plumbing. 1-7 twist 5-R Rock Creek 24-inch barrel. Predator action, torqued to 65 inch-pounds.

Now I’ll grant you, I didn’t shoot hundreds of rounds of each sample. But, I did double-blind the test. So, I didn’t know which ammunition I was shooting. All I knew was “1” went on top, and “2” went on the bottom. And, my apprentice had a good time playing with my head. She tends to do that, especially when “doing the dishes” is on the line! That bride of mine, she keeps life interesting.

Below, the various groups shot alternating between the two samples. According to my results, SW4350 had less vertical dispersion than the H-version.

SW4350 vs. H4350

I can tell you that the mirage was running that day. And I never noticed it boil at all. So, I cannot find cause for the vertical shots. But you be the judge, and let me know your thoughts!

ken johnson

As an added bonus to celebrate the release of the new SW4350, Shooters World Powder is covering your HAZMAT! When you buy 4 pounds of Shooters World Powder, you get FREE HAZMAT on your entire order. This is your chance to try one of the most popular powder types out there, at a better price, with some exciting results!

Click Here to shop all Shooters World Powders!

About the author: Ken Johnson works with Shooters World in the capacity of Ballistics Managing Partner, Laboratory Manager, and Ballistician. In addition, Ken has had a long and distinguished career as a championship shooter both with the USAMU and USA Olympic Team, having won numerous gold, silver, and bronze medals in the Pan American Games, World Championship, and other international events, as well as national championships at Camp Perry. 

RELOADERS CORNER: Blissful Moderation

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Glen Zediker recollects and reflects on the first advice he ever got on choosing a load: all things in moderation, pressure and velocity included! READ IT ALL

range load
When you just want to load up and go have a go at the range, there’s no need for speed. But! There is a need for enough pressure-power for reliable, clean function. I suggest trying something in the “medium” range for daily use. Your rifle, your barrel, your cases, and your senses will all thank you for reducing the shock by taking “two steps to the left” to find a load. Promise: you will not notice anything at all negative from any lack of “power.”

Glen Zediker

I spend a great amount of space in this department warning, and I hope educating, on the signs, signals, dangers of excessive cartridge pressure. That’s all been and being done because, for the majority, maximizing velocity is an ammo-goal. Hunters, varmint and game, competitive longer-range shooters, usually want the most they can get from bullet flight performance, and also impact strength.

For me, there’s zero doubt that more speed is a better score on a full-length NRA High Power Rifle course. (Side note: it is a fallacy that lighter loads are more accurate. They’re not, or not because they’re lighter. Some of the best perforations I’ve seen are with maxed loads.)

But! I shoot a toned-down load for reduced-distance courses (as well as for the 200-yard events on full-length), and my general-purpose clods-and-cans load is a lower-stress recipe.

I mentioned last time that I had recently fired a good deal of current NATO-spec ammo and was, I guess “impressed” is the right word, with its power level. The stuff I make up for afternoon fun-runs is a good deal less stressed.

I’m not at all recommending a “light” load. Just let’s call it a solid “medium.” Looking over my notes for the past umpteen years, going through my last most current load-data notebook, I saw what was to me an interesting happenstance. I tended to be pretty much right at one-and-one-half grain less than maximum (and about two grains with .308-class rounds).

dirty case
Signs of a load that’s too “light” include, clearly, one that won’t cycle the action reliably on a semi-auto. Another couple, for any action type, include an unusually dirty chamber and sooted-up cartridge case necks and shoulders. A little lighter still and you might see a primer that’s backed out a tad. Those all result from the case not expanding fully to seal the chamber forward and stretch to comply closer to chamber dimensions end to end. A little reduction won’t normally show any of this, and, tip: go a tad toward the faster end of suitable burning rate for general use.

Thats not a light load! It’s “three halves,” three one-half grain drops. That half-grain, and some might recollect my mentioning this a few times in the past, is my always-recommended “come-off” step for any pressure sign (not a tenth or two, but a “full” half grain). Any other over-pressure indicator from that point then signals need to come off another “full” half-grain. So I pretty much come off those two halves from the get go, add another, and, guess what? Never nary a pressure concern.

Slightly faster-burning propellants, in my experience, lend themselves better to the “medium” power level reduction in terms of maintaining accuracy. As always, “faster” and “slower” are values within a small range of propellant rates suitable for a particular cartridge and bullet. And, in following this plan, when needed bump it up to full speed with predicatable results.

For .223 Rem.-class cartridges, a half-grain is worth ballpark 40-50 feet per second, again depending on propellant.

The advantages of a “medium” load are predictable, but here’s my list: plain old easier on the gun, and on the barrel, and on the self. Again (and again) I’m not talking abut a “light” load, just one that’s maybe 95-percent, a solid 150-200 feet per second less than published maximum. Case stress will be reduced, and that’s associated with length trimming frequency and overall “life” before primer pocket enlargement and general stretch-thinning, cracking symptoms retire the brass.

Back to my “story,” which was the interesting happenstance (all this was all brought back to me by the initial outing with my new old AR15 I talked about last edition, and my 16-year-old son asking me if I could teach him how to reload because we ran out of ammo so quickly…): So. When I first learned to reload I was 15. This event coincided with my first AR15 rifle, which was purchased new at a Skaggs drugstore. Right. My mother did not eagerly agree to sponsor a reloading setup, but, being a wise-enough woman, did interpret the math the same way I did: I could shoot a lot more for a lot less if I was doing my own. So, I had a friend, Gary. Most fortunate man to know. Gary, and I see this more clearly each year that passes, knew more about guns and shooting than any 10 people I have since encountered.

We went to Bald Bob’s Sporting Goods in Rifle, Colorado. He chose an RCBS kit for me, a piece at a time. Bob sold RCBS only. Press, dies, scale, meter, case lube, doo-dads, and, of course some propellant and brass and bullets and primers. And a Sierra Bullets loading book. So, back home, and a short time later, there I sat before my new array of green pride-and-joys. After stern lectures about things I was never supposed to do, and at least an equal number of things I was always supposed to do, we got this show flowing downriver.

Gary had chosen IMR 4198 for me for a propellant. He said it was clean-burning and economical. Didn’t take much of it. I had some Speer 55-grain full-metal-jacket bullets, some Remington cases to go along with the empties I had saved in a paper bag, and some CCI primers. Now. We looked at the loading tables in the Sierra Manual, and he had me find my cartridge and bullet. (He already knew exactly where we were going, so this was for my benefit.) He pointed out the “maximum” load and the “starting” load, one on the far right and the other on the origin point of the table on the left. He then counted back two places from the far right: 20.5gr. He said, “There. That’s the one. It’s not going to give you any troubles, and it’s adequate for function.”

“That was easy,” I thought.

I have since learned that advice was too good not to share.

If you’re looking for a good load, and you know the propellant is wisely-chosen, going two steps down from the manual-listed maximum should, indeed, be a great place to start, or to stay if you are sans chronograph. Time after time, I have noticed over the many, many years I have now been doing all this, that the “two steps back from max” procedure is safe, sane, and satisfying.

reduced load list
Here’s a page (“the page”) from my now-ancient Sierra manual. Not all manuals agree (not nearly) on max loads, and not all are done in multiple increments, but the essential advice is reducing the max load by two steps, or about one-and-one-half grains of propellant in this case (reduction amounts vary, certainly, based on the cartridge). It’s wise advice from a wise man, and I’m talking about Buddy Gary. I just pass it along because it sho works for me!

I shot about a gozillion rounds of 20.5 grains of 4198 through that SP1. Since it was not a max load, I could also change the bullets without worry, going from one brand to the next at the same weight, of course. I could change cases and even primers. It was a tenth shy of one-and-one-half grains under maximum. I don’t recollect ever grouping that rifle on a paper target. I zeroed it based on preference and I also don’t recollect ever missing anything I aimed at by more than a little bit, and never twice.

This article is adapted from Glen’s books, Handloading For Competition and Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information about other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

RELOADERS CORNER: 5.56 NATO: “GO,” “NO-GO”

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This “warning” has been around, and around, for years, but it’s still not always heeded, or understood. Read why and how it matters HERE.

nato stamp
The circle-cross stamp is a NATO-spec cartridge. Your barrel might be marked “5.56” or a more lengthy disclosure referencing its specs. If it’s “.223 Rem.” do not fire a NATO round through it! Your barrel might also not be marked at all. I’ve increasingly seen that. Get it checked. A NATO round will chamber perfectly in a .223 Rem. All exterior dimensions are patently the same, again, it’s the pressure level.

Glen Zediker

I know this is “Reloaders Corner,” but, every now and again at least, I rip open the end of a cardboard factory cartridge box, or five.

I just got finished building up a “retro” AR15 for a new book. Reasons for that are a few, but probably the main one was that I wanted to recollect the one that “got away,” well, the one that I let go. Errant short-sighted judgment, as is common in youthful people. So I built a replica M16A1, circa mid-60s, well, of course, with only two selector stops. At the heart of that rifle is an original-spec barrel, chrome-lined, NATO chamber.

5.56 stamp
This is a NATO chamber stamp. If it’s “.223 Rem.” that’s NOT the same!

That’s leading to this: I opened up a few boxes of “genuine” NATO 5.56 to check it out with, something I honestly haven’t fired for years and years. Dang. That stuff is potent. Over the past several years, the pressure level has increased. Current standard is a little over 62,000 PSI. (NATO is technically measured differently than commercial, but the figures I give here are accurate for comparison.) Compared to SAAMI specs for .223 Remington (commercial) that’s a solid 7,000 difference. (That SAAMI-spec figure has likewise increased over the years, judging from recent test figures I’ve seen respecting commercial .223 Rem.; most references heretofore were max at 52,000 PSI.)

The main impetus for this article, though, came from a recent experience at a local gun shop. I went in search of a sub-sonic .300 Blackout load, and they had one in .300 Whisper. The counter person told me that it was “exactly the same as .300 Blackout, just like .223 is the same as 5.56…” Whoa. Neither statement is true, although Whisper specs are plenty close enough to Blackout that no differences factor in safety or function. However! I didn’t take the time to lecture, but, dang, .223 Rem. and 5.56 NATO are not nearly the same.

First point: do not fire NATO-spec ammo in a rifle with a chamber marked “.223 Remington.” It will, not may, be over-pressure. Reasons have to do with chamber specifications for 5.56x45mm NATO and those for SAAMI-spec .223 Remington. There is a significant difference in the leade or “freebore” cut comparing SAAMI to NATO. That’s the space in a chamber ahead of the cartridge case neck area that leads into the rifling. NATO is radically more generous, meaning “bigger”: longer, more volume. (About 0.150 inches, based on my measurements of bullet seating depths that touch the lands.) There is relatively much more room for expanding gases to occupy in a NATO chamber. In a SAAMI chamber there’s much less room for expanding gases to occupy. The additional pressure is about the equivalent of another full grain (or more) of propellant in the case. Yikes.

high pressure nato
Here’s what happens putting a factory-fresh NATO round through a .223 Rem. chamber. This case is clearly beat. Sure, it might, should, hold up for that firing, but the case is done and the gun took a needless hammering.

nato beat case

There are other little nit differences to pick between the SAAMI and NATO cartridge, and, therefore, chambering specs, but they don’t really factor in a material sense. There’s bound also to be just as many small differences in cartridge dimensions from one maker to the next. I’ve measured enough to tell you that’s true.

Now. What this has to do with reloading (finally, I know) is based on a question I’ve gotten over the years, a concern to some, or at least, as said, a question. And the answer is that you’re better off going with .223 Remington loading data for any ammo intended for “general” range use. That means blasting away on an afternoon. Just because it’s a NATO chamber does in no way mean you’re supposed to run NATO-spec ammo through it! Back it off and enjoy it more.

If you’re relying on a factory-published data manual to give a place to start, or stop (something from Sierra, Hornady, Lyman, or so on) pay very close attention to the test barrel specifications. Clearly, barrel length has a big influence on attaining the published velocities, and some load combinations are going to be worked up using considerably longer barrels than what the most of us have on our AR15s. But the biggest factor is the chamber used in the test barrel. If it’s a SAAMI-spec (sometimes called a “SAAMI-minimum”) chamber then the data should be on the conservative side. Should be. Do not, however, bank on any idea that you should jump straight to the maximum load listed if you’re loading for use in a NATO. There are, always, too many factors that otherwise create more or less pressure (primers, cases, propellant lot, and more).

As time goes by it probably is less likely to encounter a semi-automatic “.223” that’s not a NATO, but it will be marked as such! Clearly, most ammo is used in the most popular guns. That’s not going to be a bolt-action anymore. Make no mistake, though, AR15s exist plentifully that have SAAMI chambers, and I see a lot of aftermarket barrels that are cut with that minimum-dimension reamer.

ANOTHER OPTION
So what’s a “Wylde” chamber? This is a chambering spec developed by Bill Wylde, one of the early and leading pioneers in the quest for improved AR15 accuracy. It is popular and available, especially in aftermarket barrels. What it is, is a chamber that’s in-between SAAMI-minimum and NATO, leaning closer to NATO. Rumors are true: it’s safe to fire NATO-spec factory loads through a Wylde. The Wylde was designed upon the introduction of the heavier competition bullets with the idea of providing more freebore to accommodate the necessarily longer cartridge overall lengths necessary with something like an 80gr. Sierra, but keep the amount of jump to a minimum with shorter bullets fed from the magazine.

This article is adapted from Glen’s books, Handloading For Competition and Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information about other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

Anti-gun Efforts to Expand U.N. Regulations to Ammunition Continue

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United States stands firm in its goal to exclude ammunition from PoA agreement. Read all about it HERE

UN gun control

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Shortly before 4:00am July 7, the two week long Third Review Conference (RevCon3) on the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA) finally came to an end.

Entering into the meeting several critical issues were on the agenda, none of which was more significant than attempts to include ammunition into the fold of the PoA. Getting ammunition into the PoA has been at the top of the anti-firearms agenda since the PoA’s inception in 2001, as it opens the door for calls to mark, trace, limit and require global register of its users. To understand this, you must recognize that everything at the U.N. must be viewed not in the present, but in the future, and just like the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) it is never about what is in the document when it is initially adopted, but what that language will allow it to become. Ammunition was the real issue at RevCon3, as including it in the PoA would mark an even more significant step forward in the anti-firearm agenda of the U.N. than the adoption of the ATT.

It is for this reason that the United States’ policy has always been to object to attempts to include ammunition, and why this meeting, more so than any other on the PoA in the past, was so critical. Review conferences provide a forum for enacting change, and while RevCon3 was the third time such a review had taken place, it was the first time a united front had been assembled to push for ammunition’s inclusion. Regrettably, even with a strong U.S. delegation staying true to the original red lines established by former U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, nothing could have been done to stop the final outcome.

For the United States, trouble began during the first week of the conference. While the meeting started with the U.S. position receiving support from roughly half a dozen nations, the tide began to shift as the President of the Conference, French Ambassador Jean-Claude Brunet, emerged from the shadows of supposed impartiality to openly encourage the anti-firearms agenda represented by the majority in the room.

The critical turning point occurred mid-week, following statements from anti-gun group Civil Society, when the supposedly neutral President stopped the meeting and left his podium under the purported purpose of thanking those from Civil Society for their attendance. But instead of thanking everyone he pushed past the pro-firearm groups to have his picture taken with only those representatives supporting his shared anti-firearm agenda, a picture he proudly posted to his official Twitter account.

Brunet was sending a message, “I am on your side and will do what I can to help.” This message was clear and repeated throughout the remainder of the meeting, with his official Twitter account retweeting the messages of the anti-firearm groups in attendance and even carrying his own messages of support, including a picture celebrating wearing orange against “gun violence” and publicizing his closed meeting with the groups. Had his actions been limited to Twitter they might have been easier to swallow, but instead they carried onto the floor and began to impact and influence the course of the meeting. Brunet was supporting their calls to include ammunition in the PoA, and he was going to do whatever he could to help them achieve that goal.

As the body worked through five draft outcome documents, it was clear that the objections being noted on the floor were not being reflected in the progressive drafts. By the time the meeting had advanced to draft three, explicit calls to exclude ammunition from half a dozen countries, including the United States, had failed to be reflected.

Picking up on the President’s unwillingness to adhere to the objections from the floor, a coordinated effort focused on the most outspoken of the ammunition opponents, the United States, began to take hold. Challenges that should have been directed at all those who opposed the inclusion of ammunition instead became directed attacks, and while others remained in opposition it became far too easy for them to go silent and allow the United States to become the punching bag.

Round after round the onslaught continued, with the United States defending its position countless times. But the United States would not bend. At no point was this more clear then when the delegation took the floor to make three short, succinct points: ammunition was specifically not a part of the PoA when it was adopted in 2001, there has never been consensus on ammunition in any subsequent meeting of the PoA, and, as far as the United States was concerned, there never will be. As bold and direct as this was, the two paragraphs in every draft outcome document pushing for its inclusion remained, and it was clear the fight was going to go the distance.

By the second to last day Brunet and his cohorts were beginning to panic. The United States had not budged on the issue and was showing no signs that it would. This was not a delegation operating under the marching orders of our past administration, but instead a firm and solid team holding line.

Attempting to use the clock to his advantage, Brunet took the meeting late into the night on Thursday, hoping exhaustion might encourage compromise. But by 11:00pm he finally called the meeting, providing him with just enough time to strategize with his minions, and by Friday, the last day of the meeting, a plan was in place.

Working alongside Ghana and over 60 other countries pushing for the inclusion of ammunition, and utilizing the German delegation to work the floor to garner support, a coordinated attack was launched. Ammunition would be mentioned, requiring the United States to object, at which time the President would call for a break. During the break, proposals for alternate language would be quietly negotiated throughout the room, and then the meeting would reconvene for open discussions on the new language. Every time the result would be the same; no compromise. But this was expected. Brunet was trying to wear out the United States.

As the circus continued, by around 2:00am frustration started to set in with the President. Brunet had made the United States out to be a villain, the only country holding up consensus on the document and preventing everyone from going home, but the only way to end it was for the U.S. to call for a vote, which the United States was holding out on. In an effort to expedite the process he attempted to pass a motion by bringing the gavel down at almost the exact moment he finished speaking. The meeting had now gone from bad to ugly, and the United States was not having any of it.

In the U.N., it is never looked upon fondly to be the one to break consensus, after all, delegates are trained to compromise, but knowing the United States would not back down from this issue allowed Brunet to use it to his advantage. Finally, the United States made the call for the vote, and Brunet and his staff could implement their plan.

Up for vote were two paragraphs. The first, and less controversial of the two, called from the regulation of surplus ammunition stockpiles. The second, and far more significant, acknowledged States apply the PoA and other, undefined “relevant international standards” to ammunition. Again, a seemingly innocuous statement, but one that opens the door to full incorporation of ammunition into the PoA and its associated International Tracing Instrument, providing justification for later calls to globally regulate ammunition through such requirements as marking, tracing, stockpile limitations and registration.

Even before the votes were cast, it was clear the United States would not win, but it was a matter of principle. Majority rule does not apply to a consensus document, and the United States had to break consensus to keep ammunition out.

The results of the vote read like something out of the Human Rights Council (before our withdrawal); the United States and Israel on one side, 63 third world and Latin-American countries on the other, and 28 who supported our position but abstained nonetheless.

On to the second paragraph, or what would better between described as the second act of Brunet’s circus, but not before a two hour strategy session. When the meeting resumed, and before the vote could be cast, a motion was made and Brunet’s gavel was struck. No time for discussion, no opportunity to object. In what was clearly a coordinated effort, the original language on ammunition was reinserted into the document and passed at almost the exact moment the reading of it finished, forcing the vote to now be on language even more pervasive on the issue than that with which the U.S. had called to a vote. In other words, Brunet had got the ammunition language he wanted in, knowing full well that the voting results would be the same.

As the clock inched towards 3:00am the votes were cast and the results were are almost identical as the first. The United States and Israel on one side, 62 on the other, and 29 abstentions. Ammunition was in the final draft. All that was left now was for the remainder of the document to be adopted and the meeting to adjourn, but the show was not over. The circus had an encore.

In the push to get ammunition in the outcome document, a lingering issue with Syria remained. Syria had objected to the inclusion of references to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and specifically any in excess of target 16.4 since day one. The SDG’s are a collection of 17 global goals encompassing 169 targets the U.N. established in 2015 in order to promote their agenda of sustainable development, ranging from gender equality to significantly reducing illicit arms flows. They are used to push agendas far outside the scope of specific meetings.

Regrettably, the hour was late and the room was exhausted, so when voting was finally opened most were half asleep or too busy celebrating their “win” on ammunition to take note. Even Syria itself failed to object, but that was not the end of it for them.

Syria continued to express their issues with the document, noting that it could not be adopted because there was no consensus. But in a bizarre twist, they failed to express their own objection to it or call for a final vote. When all was said and done, Madagascar took the floor, called for a vote, and the final draft outcome document was adopted, albeit with the U.S. reinforcing its objection to the two paragraphs including ammunition.

What we were left with as the hour approached 4:00am and the meeting came to a close was a very dangerous document and even worse precedent having been set. The requirement for consensus had been set aside, and a document containing references to ammunition was adopted; a document that will form the backbone of future calls by anti-gun proponents to regulate and restrict ammunition globally.

While there are others out there reporting on this meeting, a lot of what they take issue with in the outcome document is simply the reassertion of language contained in the PoA. Furthermore, they have selectively excluded any limiting language included, such as that contained in the introductory language to each section. Make no mistake, ammunition was the real issue at RevCon3. They would have also recognized that the United States’ objection to ammunition resulted in a document that does not conform to the PoA’s consensus requirement, and for this we sincerely applaud their efforts. The attacks they faced were ugly and while they held firm and kept true to their red lines, nothing more could have been done to stop the U.N.’s anti-gun agenda from moving forward short of withdrawing from another U.N. farce incapable of adhering its own requirements.

RELOADERS CORNER: Why Not Flat-Base?

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A better question, given that the vast majority of popular rifle bullets are boat-tail, is why flat-base? KEEP READING

flat base bullet

Glen Zediker

Good question! I have something that at least has elements of an answer.

A boat-tail bullet is the standard for the majority of rifle bullets, and the domineering choice of long-range shooters. Competitive Benchrest shooters favor flat-base bullets. Flat-base is also popular with varmint-hunters: the stellar Hornady V-Max line for good instance.

Hmm.

We all want best accuracy, so why the difference? Consider the overriding characteristic of a flat-base bullet: it’s shorter. Now, since not all flat-base bullets are shorter overall than a same-weight boat-tail (they’re usually not), I seriously need to clarify that!

Clarification: a flat-base can be shorter, and lighter, than it would be if the same ogive or nosecone profile used then added a boat-tail. More: if they’re both the same weight and at least similar in profiles, a flat-base often has a longer bearing area than a boat-tail bullet, again because the boat-tail is sticking down there, or not. These are both a bonus to Benchrest or any other shorter-distance circumstance where utmost precision is the goal. (When I refer to capital-b “Benchrest,” I’m not talking about a shooting rest, but a competitive sport.) Shorter bullets allow slower barrel twists (bullet length, not weight, chiefly governs needed twist). Slower twists offer a miniscule improvement in damping a bullet’s orbital pattern in flight, and considering the likewise near-caliber-size 5-shot groups these folks are after, that matters. Bullets fly in a spiral, like a well-thrown football. Again comparing those with similar profiles, flat-base bullets stabilize faster and sooner than boat-tails, it’s a smaller spiral. Bullets with longer bearing areas tend to shoot better “easier,” less finicky. And, flat-base bullets can provide more cartridge case capacity.

vld and ld compare
Here’s unique. Jimmy Knox of the original JLK Bullets once made flat-base versions of his Davis-designed VLD (very low drag) boat-tails. So this is a .224-caliber flat-base 65gr LD (low drag), which is the same as his 80gr VLD shown with it, just no boat-tail. Why? It was more of a “Why not?” Idea was to provide better downrange performance for those with slower-twist-rate barrels, and to retain the flight pattern and in-barrel characteristics he liked about flat-base (and way on more speed). This idea was popular among some better High Power shooters about 15 years ago.

All those good points make it sound like flat-base provide superior accuracy. They might. By my experience, they do, but! Distance defines the limit of that truth.

The boat-tail provides an aerodynamic advantage, and the farther it flies, the greater this advantage. There are well-founded beliefs that boat-tails are less influenced by gas pressure thrusting against the bullet base. A good and most knowledgeable friend at Sierra told me that a boat-tail has an effectively more concentric radius at the base due to the junction point created by the angle on the tail and the bearing surface. Further, a flat-base, is, in effect, harder to make so that the base will have a radius that’s as concentric with the bullet bearing surface. Manufacture care and quality (related), of course, makes that more or less true or false. If the idea is that a good boat-tail is “easier” to make, that this shape makes the end product more forgiving of manufacturing errors, then I’ll accept that since it’s pretty hard to argue against, but, again, I really don’t think that boat-tail designs simply take up slack in quality tolerances. I’m sho no rocket-surgeon but I know that the tail slips the air better.

LD_ and Hornady 68
Same LD bullet compared to a Hornady 68gr HPBT. The 65 is a tic shorter overall but, because it’s a 15-caliber (!) ogive, way less bearing area (exception to the “rule” big-time) than the boat-tail next to it. The 65 had a higher BC but was über-tricky to get to shoot well. I could get these to just over 3000 fps in a 20-inch .223 Rem. Mostly because of the tiny bearing area.

This can get pounded completely into the ground because adding a boat-tail (and I’ll show a great example of just that) to a similar nosecone also adds weight to the bullet, and that increases BC. It’s not exactly a chicken-egg question, though, because the tail helps otherwise.

barts bullet
Here’s a 52gr boat-tail from Hornady (right) next to a 52gr custom Benchrest bullet. I said the overriding difference is that a flat-base bullet is shorter, but that’s not referring to overall length. A flat-base is shorter than it would be as a boat-tail, if the other dimensions were the same, and usually has a longer bearing area.

You might have also heard said that boat-tails shorten barrel life because the angled base directs burning propellant gases more strongly at the barrel surface. They do, and many steadfastly uphold that as a reason against them. More in a bit. However! Beyond 300 yards, at the nearest, there are no disadvantages in using boat-tail bullets that come close to surpassing their advantages.

There’s another debated advantage of a flat-base and that is they tend to shoot a little better in a barrel that’s about to go “out.” I’m talking about a good barrel that’s pushed the limit of its throat. That one is true too!

And speaking of barrel life, another is that flat-base bullets produce less flame-cutting effect than boat-tails. A barrel lasts longer if fed flat-base. True! Flat-base bullets “obturate” more quickly. Obturate means to “block,” but here it means to close a hole, which is a barrel bore, which means to seal it. The angled boat-tail creates a sort of “nozzle” effect. Can’t much be done about that, though, because when we need boat-tails we need them. That is, however, a big score of help for the varmint hunter.

There is a relatively obscure “combo” out there called a “rebated” boat-tail. This has a 90-degree step in from the bullet shank (body) to the tail. It steps in before the boat-tail taper is formed (they look like a flat-base with a boat-tail from a bullet a couple of calibers smaller stuck on there). It’s common for competitive .308 NRA High Power Rifle shooters, for instance, to switch from the popular Sierra 190gr MatchKing to a Lapua 185 rebated boat-tail when accuracy starts to fall off due to throat wear. Sure enough, the Lapua brings it back for a couple hundred more rounds.

rebated boat tail
Here’s a rebated boat-tail. 115 grain 6mm from David Tubb.

If anybody with heavy equipment making bullets for sale out there is listening: I’d like to see some more rebated boat-tail designs! It is, though, a challenge to make precisely.

So. What? So what? Well, if you are big into small groups, I very encourage some experimentation with flat-base bullets. Again, distance is the only limit to their potential goodness. 100 yards, yes. 200 yards, yes. 300 yards, no!

vld chamfer
One thing is for certain: Flat-base bullets are not nearly as easily seated! Some have an edge-radius, some don’t, but, they are very easy get started crooked, or difficult to get started straight, same effect. I strongly recommend taking steps to square case mouths and use a generous chamfer.

This article is adapted from Glen’s books, Handloading For Competition and Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information about other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

RELOADERS CORNER: What I do…

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There are a lot of ideas and options when it comes to loading the “most important” ammo. Here’s the 5-step process I ended up with… READ MORE

dial indicator

Glen Zediker

I spend a lot of time telling everyone else what they should do, and probably more time telling them what not to do, or what they could do… I thought it might be best to tell you all exactly what it is that I do to prepare a batch of ammo for a tournament.

That’s a quick way to show you what, clearly and obviously, matters to me. I admit: I don’t always do all the things that I talk about. A big part of my role here is to pass along information, answer questions before they’re asked, in a way of looking at it. There’s information, and then there’s action, and that’s not a contradiction, to me. For instance, I can tell you all about case neck turning, and metplat uniforming, and many other preparation steps. I have done them all, sometimes do them, but dang sho not always.

Believe me: I have tried everything and much, much more than I’ve ever talked about in these paragraphs.

Following is what I have found works to my satisfaction. Since I’m dealing with a fair amount of cartridges at any one time, there is, no doubt, a time and effort element that’s important to me. In other words, what’s coming next are the things I really think I must do to give my score the best boost I can reasonably give it.

Step One: Get my cases together and size them. I load in 100-round batches, so I start with five boxes, or whatever corresponds to 100 rounds. Without so much as a second glance, I run them all through my full-length sizing die: lube each and cycle it through. If nothing else, most new cases are not nearly ready to load. The case necks are usually banged up, not round, so at the least I’d need to size the inside and outside of the case neck, and I’ve found that, while other appliances will suffice for that, it’s just easiest to use my sizing die.

Step Two: I trim them all. This isn’t done as any matter of safety, just consistency. I set my trimmer to at the least touch each case mouth. This is very important! The next prep steps rely on having cases that are all the same length.

case trimming

Step Three: After chamfering inside and outside (I use a 17-degree on the inside and a standard tool for the outside) I run a flash hole uniformer through each. This is why it’s important to have them all the same height. That way the uniforming tool cuts to a consistent depth.

inside uniformer
After full-length sizing all my new cases (to mostly get the necks shaped up), I trim all the cases to ensure length consistency to start, because the next procedure, inside flash hole deburring, demands it. Shown is from Hornady. CHECK IT OUT HERE

Step Four: Primer pocket uniforming. I run each through this process. Now, I have had some lots of brass that make this normally simple process a chore, and that’s because the reamer is too snug a fit to the pocket. We all know that primer pockets are at their smallest on new cases. That is, by the way, one reason I’ve mentioned that the primer pocket “feel” is a leading indicator after the first firing as to the pressure level of the load. In keeping, there are times when I wait until recycling the first-fired cases before running the uniformer. It depends on how readily the cases will accept the reamer.

primer pocket reamer
Primer pocket uniforming is an important step in my own process, but sometimes I wait until the first-firing. Depending on the tool used, and how much power can be applied to assist, this job can be a chore on a tight pocket. Shown is a Lyman tool. CHECK OUT TOOLS HERE

Note: I consider my “best” ammunition to be that which I load on my once-fired cases. At the same time, I won’t hesitate to use new cases for a tournament (but not for a Regional or bigger event). Over a whopping lot of time keeping notes, my “second-firing” rounds tend to shoot a tad better, but it’s a miniscule amount. That’s why I don’t really sweat over the primer pockets on the first go-around.

Step Five: Roll them all! I run all the cases through a concentricity fixture, aka: spinner, to check runout. I segregate on the following criteria: “flatliners” no visible runout, less than 0.001, 0.001, up to 0.0015, more than that… Five piles. One reason I do 100-round batches is because I need, technically, 88 rounds for a tournament. Since I am using “name-brand” brass, I easily find my 44 prone-event cases that are going to be no more than 0.001 out of round. The remainder are proportioned better to worse for the 200 yard events. It’s not that I don’t think each round matters, because it does, and, honestly, the 200-yard Standing event is what wins a tournament, but that’s way on more on me than the ammo. A case with 0.015 runout is not going to cause a “9.” That case will produce groups way inside the X-ring.

Co-Ax Case and Cartridge Inspector
I segregate using a runout indicator, a tool shown before in these pages. Some argue, logically, that the best way to find cases with the most consistent wall thicknesses is to measure wall thickness, but, my experience has shown that, ultimately, concentricity is the result of wall thickness consistency. Sho is faster. Shown is a Forster Co-Ax Case & Cartridge Inspector

Now. I fully realize that segregating by runout, concentricity (“centeredness”), is not the same as actually measuring case neck wall thicknesses. However! “Flat-liners” are what ultimately result from consistent case neck walls. Since I have also sized the inside of the case neck, not just the outside, the spinner does give an accurate indication of case neck wall consistency.

case segregation
After sorting by runout, here’s what I get, or what I got once… These were graded (left to right) 0.0000 (no perceptible runout), up to 0.0010, 0.0010, 0.0015, and more than that. So, here, there were 37 cases that were at or near the level of neck-turned cases, and another 37 showing only 0.001, but way on easier.

Since it’s often the night before that I’m doing this, spinning is way on faster than measuring…

Then I prime, fill, seat. Get some sleep.

This article is adapted from Glen’s books, Handloading For Competition and Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information about other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

RELOADERS CORNER: Meter Use Tips

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How well you set up and operate a powder meter has a lot to do with ammo consistency. Here are a few tips on getting the most from this tool. READ MORE

Glen Zediker

Going back to our last conversation, the topic was dispensing propellant charges, and whether to weigh each charge or dispense each charge using a powder meter. Generally, most seem to agree that weighing each is the sure way to better consistency. I don’t always agree with that, and I say that mostly because my chronograph and group size numbers don’t support superiority of either approach. However! I sure do know that metering charges is way on faster and easier than weighing them all out!

Once again: the only answer that works is to experiment for yourself and settle the question based on empirical evidence. Right: shoot it and see!

This next offers a few tips I’ve had good success with over the years. I can tell you that, without any doubt, learning how to set up and operate a meter has a decided influence on those chronograph and group size measurements.

scale weight
I am adamant about following this process to set a meter: Don’t throw and weigh single charges to adjust the meter. Throw and weigh 10-charge portions, with the scale set, of course, to 10-times the desired single-charge weight. I do not recollect one time when my meter adjustment did not change following this process from what I first arrived at weighing single throws. Here’s how I set it to adjust for a 24.0 grain throw.

First: I very strongly recommend setting the meter throw based not on one single charge, but on multiple charges. Here’s my method: After running a few single throws to get it close, I set my scale to 10 times the desired single-throw propellant charge weight, then throw 10 charges into the scale pan. I have done this (so) many times over (so) many years that I can tell you that I have no memory or record of this tactic not influencing the final setting I have dialed in. Do this 3-4 times and see what you see. There’s a huge likelihood there will be an adjustment needed. And for some reason, supported by my notes at least, the final setting is usually a tick lower than I gauge for one-throw-at-a-time weight checks.

Now, I know that if the meter is accurate then each single charge will weigh what it should, but maybe the difference that makes this method work best is that scales aren’t perfectly accurate. Maybe it’s the damping system, or continual issues with calibrations, but a 10-throw lot ultimately results in a more precise setting. I’ve proven that too many times to myself to qualify it with a “may.” No, it does.

As mentioned in a past article, the smaller the propellant granules the more precise each fill can be. Longer-grained kernels provide more air space and “stack” more than smaller-grained kernels. It’s also clear that the higher degree of precision on the meter internal sliding surfaces, the more “clean” the strike-off will be.

And, meter operation has a whopping lot to do with the consistency of filling the meter drum. Just like tapping a case bottom settles the propellant to a lower fill volume, same thing happens filling the drum in a meter.

powde meter operation
Not too heavy, not too light. Work the handle the same each time, and have it come to a positive stop. “Thunk. Thunk.” Focus on a consistent speed. This has a huge effect on how consistent the throws will be.

The trick to good throws is working the meter handle consistently, and also settling on a contact force when the meter handle comes to a stop in the “fill” direction: It should bump but not bang… I wish I could be more clear on that, but it’s a feel. Don’t go too slowly, gingerly taking the handle to its stop, and don’t slam it there either. You want a positive, audible “thunk” when the handle stops. If it’s the same each time, fill consistency will, not can, improve. Focusing on operating the handle at a constant rate of speed teaches this in short order. It’s a positive movement that, for me, takes about one second to lift the handle.

harrells meter
I recommend longer drop tubes (meter or funnel). The longer tube has the same effect as tapping the case to settle the propellant. This helps in loading stick propellant into small-capacity cases. Rubber-band a dryer sheet around the propellant container to static influence, which can be an influence, especially in the Western regions.

There’s a few more tips in the photo captions, and here’s another: Do not leave propellant in a meter! Return it to a sealed container when you’re done for the day.

This article is adapted from Glen’s books, Handloading For Competition and Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information about other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

 

NEW: Shooters World “Precision” Extruded Propellant: Part 2

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A brand new propellant was introduced last time in this space that’s competing with Hodgdon’s legendary Varget. HERE’S MORE

precision powder

by Ken Johnson, Shooters World

I presented a challenge to the common sense of the reloading world. In my last blog article, I introduced Precision to the readership. You might call that article a “tickler,” and it certainly generated a lot of questions! When we hear about questions, it means that people are paying attention, reading, and thinking! Good stuff!

Being a ballistician, several of those questions really stood out. I want to address them in this article. I’d also like to present data to support our claims.

First, relating to the burn speed and performance of Precision versus VARGET:

Some folks took the results of one test to state that Precision was 25 fps slower than VARGET. Therefore, they reasoned that it couldn’t have the same performance.

Fair enough. But we have to digest this.

We in the industry estimate a true burn rate differential by witnessing a velocity of 30+ fps at equal pressure. And in some ammunition, 1/10 of a grain can represent a better part of that 30 fps. The performance of Precision and VARGET do fall within the guidelines. Likewise, we found across several test loads, VARGET and Precision exchanged velocity supremacy. This is perfectly indicative of equivalent burn rate.

As an example, you may find the included .30-30 Winchester data and .223 Remington data interesting. These are the same lots of VARGET and Precision. At equal charge weight in .223 REM, Precision is within 26 fps and 955 psi of VARGET. Were we to add back that 955 psi, we’d also add back the better part of that 26 fps. In other words, in .223 Remington, Precision and VARGET the same velocity/pressure relationship.

Now, taking the same exact propellant lots, we performed a cursory test in .30-30 Winchester. At equal charge weight, we found 6 fps and 200 psi difference between the two propellants. And indeed, as we tested these propellants in other calibers, we found similar results.

Thus, we attest that if you like the velocity and charge weight of VARGET, you’ll find very similar velocity and charge weight in Precision.

precision data

Next, folks wanted proof of temperature insensitivity (and no marketing fluff!). And one person in particular wanted to see ballistic data BELOW 165F. So, we shot a test at 150F, to help the readership visualize the relative performance of these two propellants.

A common load for VARGET is the heavier class of .223 REM. We fired a baseline velocity and pressure test at ambient conditions. We found the VARGET ambient velocity from an 18-inch test barrel at 2544 fps. When we shot this same load at 150F, the velocity DECREASED to 2505 fps. The velocity change between ambient and 150F was 39 fps. And the pressure at 150F decreased by 2202 psi.

The Precision ambient velocity from the same 18-inch test barrel at ambient conditions was recorded at 2518 fps. When we shot this same load at 150F, the velocity increased to 2521 fps. The velocity change between ambient and 150F was 3 fps. Pressure at 150F decreased by 562 psi.

Precision’s temperature insensitivity beat that of VARGET, both in pressure and in velocity. Likewise, the velocity standard deviation of Precision at 150F outperformed that of VARGET in our tests.

To challenge both propellants in foreign environments, we further witnessed these same standard deviation results in .30-30 Winchester. Precision had better ignition characteristics than VARGET. And those differences were especially noted when ignition was challenged. What does this matter? Accuracy! The Grand Poobah of all importance.

Now, if you’ve ever read anything by me over the years, you know I’ve made the boisterous claim that weighing your powder to the 0.10 of a grain (let alone a single kernel) is tantamount to trying to teach a pig to sing. Folks, I’m here to tell you that all this craze of “weighing your propellant” to perfection is a waste of time. There are FAR more variables more important than the weight of your propellant in your case. IMHO, powder weight consistency is NOT a key to accuracy. Is it a contributor? Sure. But as long as you’re within +/- 0.2 grains of your intended charge weight, you’re doing pretty well.

Sure, if you’re off by a half a grain, you’ll see a minor effect in accuracy at 100 yards. And you might witness a half MOA shift at 200 yards in some cartridges. But unless you’re actually weighing each and every projectile, and documenting each and every case neck hardness, and measuring and documenting the internal volume of every case, I can tell you that 0.10 of a grain of consistency in powder weight just ain’t gonna matter even a little bit.

So, before I receive flaming hate mail and am declared a heretic in this sport and industry, here’s my statement:

If you’re an accuracy nut who enjoys (REALLY enjoys) shooting PRS matches or NRA High Power Rifle, or even just poking it out to 1,000 yards for fun, your time will be far better spent studying the art and science of MARKSMANSHIP than it will in trickling grains of powder. No, really…

To that end, I took the liberty to DUMP charges of Precision and VARGET in .308 Winchester, 175-gr Sierra Match King loads. I threw caution to the wind, and had at it. Oh — about 42.5 grains of powder, dumped through a Lyman 55 and into some plain-old Norma cases. Federal 210M primers. Fired at 250 yards. Results?

thrown precision results

0.6 MOA for Precision. And 0.49 MOA for VARGET. Could have been better, sure. But how much better do YOU need it to be? Both powders appeared to dump fairly well. And shoot fairly well without even trickling. As a matter of fact, both of those non-weighed groups were some of the best groups I shot. But you just go ahead and keep on trickling those charges! LOL. Just know that some folks are practicing marksmanship, while you trickle your time away….

Okay, what about accuracy between Precision and VARGET? After all, we’re claiming great accuracy with Precision, right?

We completed 6 each, 5-round group tests at 250 yards. This, with a .308 Winchester and 175-gr Sierra Match King bullets. All loads were tested at 42.5 grains of both Precision and VARGET. According to calculations, this charge weight should yield identical velocity with both propellants. Those results:

precision test results

308 and 6.5 precision target

Once we finished that .308 Winchester test, we decided to continue into the 6.5 Creedmoor. It seems that caliber is everybody’s latest darling. And it seems that everybody claims H4350 as the perfect propellant. Our brief test showed that there’s room for other propellants in that particular cartridge! We’re happy to assist…

Precision’s accuracy out-performed VARGET, and H4350, in the 6.5 Creedmoor.

Now, for the next question posed in the blog: Data. When we founded this company, and when we decided to start selling in the reloading market, we knew we had our work cut out for us. I told the partnership that Americans are insatiable for data. And that we’d have to focus for years and years on feeding that need.

Well, here we are. The new kids on the block. And just as sure as the sun rises, we’re being inundated with requests for more calibers, more projectiles, more propellants. The matrix of possible combinations is bewildering. But, we chose the path, so we’re working furiously to meet the demand!

Many folks don’t know that we actually support two data sets for reloading. Both are accessible directly from our home page (www.shootersworldsc.com). The first data set is SAAMI-type reload data. The second set is derived from tests conducted by Explosia under the Lovex brand. That data set is tested to European CIP standards. While there can come ballistic differences due to bullet hardness, cartridge overall length, and bullet form, both data sets are complimentary. And both support reloaders across a myriad of cartridges and propellants.

I do hope that my efforts described in this blog article have helped folks better understand the nature and capabilities of Precision. It’s quite a good powder.

ken johnson

Should you have further questions, or suggestions, our most important job is to listen. We’re always happy to help, and always interested to hear from folks!

Check it out HERE at Midsouth

RELOADERS CORNER: Throwed Vs. Weighed

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This is an age-old debate among precision reloaders, and here’s to hoping you can find your own answer. Here’s a few ideas on how…

Glen Zediker

Since we (well, I), have been on the topic of velocity consistencies, clearly, this next here factors mightily among points in this general topic. I would also very much appreciate feedback on your own experiences. This, therefore, isn’t so much me trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather an effort to give some credibility to “both sides” of this question. The question, as suggested by the article title: Are meter-dispensed propellant charges equal in performance to singly-weighed charges?

Most are going to own a powder meter. Technical tickiness (that’s actually important): such a device is a meter, not a “measure.” Meters don’t measure. It’s most accurately called a “dispenser.” That’s what it really does. The “measure” is comparing a meter drum volume to a weight on a scale. It’s a volume, not a weight. The volume corresponds to a weight that was arrived at through adjusting the meter volume.

And this kind of keeps going in circles: is it a weight or a volume, then, that matters? A good many chemistry-inclined folks have told me over a good many years that any and all chemical measures are always weight, never volume.

harrells
I think a truly good meter is necessary to provide reliable results, especially if you want to ignore weighing each charge and rely on thrown charges for your record rounds. There are good meters available, but this is one of the best: Harrell’s Precision. It uses the proven Culver-style mechanism. See one HERE

Now then there’s a question about adjusting volume for that weight. I don’t know if you’ve ever experimented with this, but I’ve weighed the “same” powder charge at different times and had different weights (storing it in a sealed film canister and weighing on different days). It’s not much, but it’s different. It pretty much has to be moisture content that’s changing the reading, and, most lab-standard dispensing recipes (such as used in pharmaceuticals) have a set of condition-standards that accompany compound weight. Compounding that, using some electronic scales, I’ve had to re-zero, more than once, in a loading session weighing out charges. I have an inherent suspicion of scales. Old-trusty beam scales with a magnetic damper can finish a little high or low due only to the magnetic device. There’s a certain amount of inertia the beam has to overcome. Tapping the beam a few times will show that, indeed, it can come to rest variously +/- 0.10 grains, or more.

I don’t have a definitive answer to this question!

I can safely say that “it depends,” and what it depends on is a long list. First, as suggested, is scale accuracy. I don’t know that it’s always all about money, but that, no doubt, is a leading contributor in product quality. As said, I become suspicious of any device that requires a re-set during one use-session. For myself, I have confidence in my meter, and that’s come from countless “quality checks” I’ve run over the past couple of decades. I’m not a mathematician, so perhaps those who are can tell me if my logic is flawed in making the next assumption, but I developed confidence in metering charges based on collectively weighing multiple charges. Like so: throw 10 into a scale pan, weigh it. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and make note of how much plus-minus there is in each try. Using the propellant I stick to for competition NRA High Power Rifle loads (Hodgdon 4895) I get never more than 0.2 grains variance for a 10-throw batch. I don’t know how many single throws might be more or less than that and maybe it’s pure luck that all unseen errors offset rather than compound, but I prefer, at least, to believe that means my meter throws pretty well.

reloading scale
A truly good scale is likewise important if you’re going to rely on weighing each charge. If not, then just about any scale is accurate enough to set a powder meter. Speed factors heavily in being happy with a constantly-used scale.
trickler
You’ll need one of these too! A powder trickler. It’s used to drop in one kernel at a time to perfect the weight on the scale.

That’s for me. A different propellant, different meter, different scale, might all mean a different way of thinking, a different method to follow. So, to be most clear: I am not saying not to weigh each charge, and I am not saying not to trust a meter. Let your chronograph and on-target results give you the best answer for your needs. This debate is probably as close to a religion as exists in reloading (well, along with full-length case sizing and neck-only case sizing). And most of the answer is plainly anticipated: if you’re throwing large-granule stick propellant (especially large amounts per charge), you might better ought to weigh them out, but if you’re throwing a small-grained stick propellant, a good meter might actually prove more accurate, given any questions about scale accuracy. Spherical propellant? Weighing that is truly a waste of time.

The point to this, beyond bringing up a topic for input-discussion, is to find some way to settle such questions for yourself. For me, and likely for you, the ultimate answer is founded in the confidence we can have in whichever is the primary dispensing apparatus: the scale or the meter.

[Ballistician and Olympic Shooter, Ken Johnson, shares his thoughts on this topic in his piece on Precision propellant.]

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This article is adapted from Glen’s books, Handloading For Competition and Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information about other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com