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: Understanding Ballistic Coefficient

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Math and myth both get involved in bullet Ballistic Coefficient discussions. Keep reading to separate the two and learn exactly what BC is, and what it isn’t. MORE

bc

Glen Zediker

Years ago I explained in great detail to a fellow here all about ballistic coefficient and how it was calculated and how it could be used and how it can change and so on, and he stopped me: “So you mean it’ll hit furtherer on up the hill…” That’s it.

A “ballistic coefficient,” or “BC,” is a number assigned to a bullet that suggests its aerodynamic performance.

That’s a key word, “suggests.” The main suggestion is how well this bullet will fly compared to that bullet, and the one with the higher BC ought to fly better. Fly better means less drop and drift, and those, factually, are a product of the higher-number BC. My best all-inclusive definition what a higher BC does for us: less speed lost over distance. Regardless of the muzzle velocity or the distance, one bullet with a higher BC will lose relatively less velocity over the same distance.

bullet blueprint
Here’s a blueprint. All the information needed to calculate a BC is contained here. It doesn’t have to be a real bullet because a BC model is not a real bullet either. Design factors that influence BC are virtually every design factor: length, ogive, boat-tail, meplat, weight. These factors, in this instance, calculate to a G1 BC of 0.560. By the way, there’s about a 5 point BC increase for each added 1 grain of bullet weight.

BC is calculated based on a standard bullet model. There are 7 of those. Two are normally used to determine BC for conventional rifle bullets, like what the most of us reading this use. Ballisticians and designers know which model to apply to different bullet types. The common model is a “G1” (another is G7, which is becoming the popular standard for boat-tail bullets; G1 is based on a flat-base). The flight of this G1 bullet has been calculated at varying velocities and distances. It’s “all math” because a G1 does not in fact exist. BCs are derived by comparison.

g1
The older standard for most rifle bullets was the G1. The newer, and better, standard is the G7. However! BC is never chiseled into stone regardless of the model. It’s a way to compare bullets, and a place to start figuring yours out.

g1 and g7

The standard bullet of any form-factor has a BC of 1.000. An actual bullet that’s compared to the model at points downrange will either be flying faster or slower than the model. If it’s moving faster, its BC will be greater than 1.000. If it’s going slower, it will be less than 1.000. It’s a percentage of the standard or model bullet’s performance.

Now. That is also all that it is!

BC is not an infallible factual statement about precisely what a bullet will be doing when it’s loaded and fired at that target than moment with that rifle. Not nearly, not hardly.

To me, BC gives us a place to start estimating drop (elevation) and also clues to how much it will get moved by a wind. It’s a way to compare bullets.

BC changes! Day to day, place to place, hour to hour.

Some bullet makers publish a BC for a bullet based on actual testing (chronographs) but now it’s pretty much “just math.” That’s fine. Which — math or measure — provides the best information? Some believe that a measured, tested BC is more realistic and, therefore, more valuable. But, if the point is to compare bullets, calculated BCs is more reliably accurate.

We (NRA High Power Rifle shooters) have gone to difficult and frustrating lengths to collect data to calculate “real” BCs (chronographing at 500+ yards hain’t always easy). Measured BCs are quite often lower, and they are quite often higher. Reasons follow.

The accuracy of drift and drop tables clearly revolves around what the actual, at that moment, BC performance is from the bullet you’re shooting (compared to what it’s “supposed” to be).

Anything that can influence bullet flight influences the actual, demonstrated BC performance.

BC uniformity is important. Bullets that show uniform BC performance produce less elevation dispersion. A source for variation is the meplat (bullet tip). Hollowpoint match bullets are notorious for inconsistency in this area. There’s a tool, a “meplat uniformer,” that fixes it. That’s pretty much the point to the plastic points on bullets like Hornady’s A-Max line.

Atmospherics, which add up as a list of factors, have a huge influence on BC performance. Air density is probably the most powerful influence. Any conditions that allow for easier passage of a bullet through the air don’t detract as much from its stated BC as do any conditions that serve to disrupt its headway. BCs are based on sea-level so can easily show as a higher number at a higher elevation. I can tell you that bullets fired at The Whittington Center in New Mexico have a noticeably better BC than those shot at Port Clinton, Ohio.

Range reality is that the demonstrated BC changes from morning to afternoon and day to day and place to place. The calculated BC is not changing, of course, but the mistake is assuming that a BC is a finite measure of bullet performance.

Bullet stability is even a factor. For a stated BC to be shown on a shot, the bullet has to be “asleep.” If it’s not stable, it’s encountering disruptions that will slow it down. The rotational speed of a bullet in a test can influence BC. We’ve seen differences comparing different twist-rate barrels, and the faster twists often show a little lower tested BC.

Factors that don’t matter in BC? Caliber. I’ve been argued at often over this next, but it is perfectly and absolutely true: BCs work the same regardless of caliber or bullet weight. Two bullets that each have a 0.550 BC, for instance, behave the same. That’s helpful, and at one time was more helpful than it is now. When we had to use paper tables to get drift and drop data and there was a new bullet that didn’t yet have those tables done, all you had to do was find data for another bullet with the same BC, go to the same muzzle velocity, and that data was 100-percent accurate. A .308 and .224 that both have the same BC share the same table. Remember, it’s not “real,” it’s a mathematical model.

So if you take a load to the target one day and you’re putting on more elevation than the BC-based calculation says you should, the BC isn’t wrong. The day is just different.

Finally, does it matter (really) if a bullet BC is based on a G1 or G7 model? Debates continue. But, not really, and I say that because BC is still only a suggestion. G7 is a more closely matched model to what we’re usually shooting when we think of a “high-BC” bullet, but all the same factors day to day also influence its accuracy. Given access to the data, I definitely, though, go with G7 calculations to have a place to start from. My experience has been that there is less difference in varying conditions, but, again, it’s still (plenty) enough change that you cannot dial it in and win anything…

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s book Handloading For Competition. Available HERE at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

Joe Biden’s “Education” Plan Aims to “Defeat” the NRA, Reprise Failed Gun Control Law

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Looks like Creepy Uncle Joe wants to retry the “Assault Weapons Ban” that failed under Bill Clinton and Big Brother both. READ MORE

biden

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Last week the campaign website for presidential hopeful Joe Biden published what it called an “Education … Plan for Educators, Students, and Our Future.” Among its agenda items was to “[d]efeat the National Rifle Association” by “championing legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — bans [Biden] authored in 1994.” In other words, Biden would reprise a law that was widely recognized (including among gun control advocates) as a failure and the cause of his party losing control of Congress in 1994.

Halfway through his first term, President Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 into law. That 356-page bill included a ban on certain semi-automatic firearms and limits on the capacity of firearm magazines. It’s ghoulish and Orwellian short title was the “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act.”

Firearms misleadingly dubbed “assault weapons” were banned by the law in three ways: by name, as “copies or duplicates” of the named firearms, and by a test that limited what features could be incorporated into a semi-automatic rifle with the ability to accept a detachable magazine. Firearms that were lawfully possessed before the ban’s effective date were exempt.

The ban included a provision that required the U.S. attorney general to “investigate and study the effect of this subtitle and the amendments made by this subtitle,” and in particular, “their impact, if any, on violent and drug trafficking crime.” The study was to be reported to Congress not later than 30 months after the law’s enactment.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) contracted with the Urban Institute to complete that assessment, and it was published on March 13, 1997. The study, while bemoaning the necessarily limited amount of data for review, failed to substantiate any significant reduction in violent crime attributable to the ban. In particular, the authors “were unable to detect any reduction to date in two types of murders that are thought to be closely associated with assault weapons, those with multiple victims in a single incident and those producing multiple bullet wounds per victim.”

The authors did posit a “6.7% reduction in total gun murders between 1994 and 1995, beyond what would have been expected in view of ongoing crime, demographic, and economic trends,” but they admitted this could simply have been a year-to-year variation, “rather than a true effect of the ban.” They also acknowledged that other provisions of the 1994 crime bill, “or a host of state and local initiatives that took place simultaneously,” could have accounted for the drop.

More fundamentally, the authors pointed out that the ban from the outset missed the point when it came to reducing violent crime. “At best,” they wrote, “the assault weapons ban can have only a limited effect on total gun murders, because the banned weapons and magazines were never involved in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders.”

The ban, in other words, actually went after guns and magazines that were underrepresented in firearm related homicides.

What debate over the law did seem to accomplish, according to the study, was to raise interest into the firearms targeted for banning. Production of the targeted guns surged during 1994, “so that more than an extra year’s normal supply of assault weapons and legal substitutes was manufactured during 1994.” The upshot was that prices for grandfathered and substitute guns remained near pre-ban levels for the early years of the law, and consumers could go on as before purchasing them for legal uses.

But that’s not all.

The lead authors of the study later received another NIJ grant to update their findings, which they did in July 2004 under the auspices of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Again, the authors indicated that the ban missed the point. “The AW provision targets a relatively small number of weapons based on features that have little to do with the weapons’ operation,” they wrote. They also reiterated that “AWs were used in only a small fraction of gun crimes prior to the ban: about 2% according to most studies and no more than 8%,” with most of those “assault weapon” crime guns being pistols, rather than rifles.

The authors also conceded that the ban had no effect on the criminal use of what today’s gun control advocates consider the paradigmatic “assault rifle,” the AR-15. “There has not been a clear decline in the use of ARs,” they wrote, an assessment that was “complicated by the rarity of crimes with these weapons … .” Likewise, the authors saw no drop in the use of banned magazines in crime and could not “clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.”

Overall, the authors concluded that “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

The only good thing about the ban’s language was that it contained a 10-year sunset clause, the expiration date of which just happened to coincide with the waning days of President George W. Bush’s first term. Congress allowed the law to expire, giving it the ignominious death it so richly deserved.

Since then, even staunch gun control advocates have often admitted that trying to ban certain types of semi-automatic firearms under the guise of “assault weapons” is a fool’s errand.

The Atlantic, in a June 25, 2016 article, referred to the law as “Bill Clinton’s Costly Assault Weapons Ban.” The article quotes a lengthy oral history by Clinton’s chief congressional affairs lobbyist, who indicated he was caught off guard when he learned that Clinton was committed to pursuing the law. “It was,” the lobbyist said, “a disaster from day one.” Democratic party leadership pleaded with Clinton not to pursue the ban. When he insisted, they tried to distance themselves from the effort as much as they could.

While deals were made, the lobbyist recounts, they “were not necessarily made on the substance of the issue. The candy store was open. . . It was a very transactional kind of setup.”

In the 1994 midterm elections soon after the ban’s enactment, Clinton’s party lost a net of 54 seats in the House, as well as 8 Senate seats. The lobbyist attributed at least 40 of those losses to the “assault weapons” ban. Clinton himself later concurred that he had pushed too hard on the ban, effectively handing control of Capitol Hill to the opposition party.

Bill Clinton had no stronger critic in 1994 than the NRA.

Yet that episode is what Joe Biden now calls a “defeat” of the NRA.

Of course, Biden and his fellow Democrats are counting on the idea that the politics around “assault weapons” have changed since then.

And while it’s certainly true that the Democratic base remains committed to the idea of resurrecting an “assault weapons” ban, it’s not true that the American public at large agrees with them or is showing any sustained fervor around the issue. As we reported last October, Americans oppose a ban on AR-15s and similar semi-automatic firearms by robust double-digit margins, with support for such a ban 7% lower than the historical trend dating back to 1996, when Gallup first began polling on the issue.

Defeating the NRA may be a nice rallying cry for people who maintain committed to disarming law-abiding Americans, but taking their semi-automatic rifles won’t improve public safety. Some of the more honest members of the gun control movement admit this, including in articles published in such staunchly anti-gun publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, the Los Angeles Times, and Vice.com.

And let’s not forget, Joe Biden himself was the figurehead for Barack Obama’s post-Newtown federal gun control blitz in late 2012 and early 2013.

But, as Politico recounted, “Biden did not deliver.” In that same article, a Senate aide recounted how even as Biden was publicly calling for restoring the federal “assault weapons” ban, “[b]ehind the scenes, [he] was ‘instrumental’ in convincing more liberal Democrats that there was no point in fighting for anything beyond a background check bill … .”

You might even say ol’ Joe himself recognized he was already defeated by the NRA.

It of course remains to be seen if Joe Biden will even prevail in his party’s presidential primary, much less have the opportunity to pursue his legislative agenda from the Oval Office.

But it only takes a little homework to show that when it comes to gun control, all he is offering with his “education” plan are empty promises and failed policies.

 

RELOADERS CORNER: Seating Depth Issues

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Don’t take anything for granted! Safety and suitability are both at risk if you don’t take time to analyze and act on this important topic. READ MORE

land illustration

Glen Zediker

As said often, it’s sometimes recent experience that leads to my Reloaders Corner topics. Whether it’s a question I’ve been asked, usually, or, in this case, a malfunction I’ve had, those things are fresh in my mind. I hope to believe, and have to believe, that any such topics aren’t only a question for them, or for me.

That brings us to bullet seating depths, which really means overall cartridge length, using some particular bullet.

Usually, when we’re loading for a rifle with a box magazine, either bolt-action or semi-auto, the cartridge overall length — that’s measured from the base of the case to the tip of the bullet — defines and determines the maximum length. Usually.

What ultimately determines the cartridge overall length maximum, though, is really the first point of contact that the bullet makes (will make) with the rifling or lands ahead of the chamber throat. That space, and therefore overall round length, has a whopping lot to do with the chamber reamer specs, and also the reamer operator’s judgment in some cases, but we need to know.

It also can have a whopping lot to do with the bullet! And that’s what the most of this next is all about.

So here’s the lesson to learn, and, for me, to relearn: Do not assume that if the round fits into the magazine it will be fine. I will, at the least, freely admit to my mistakes because, one, I dang sho should know better, and, two, if I know better and still don’t do better confession is my punishment. Well, not really, but it’s always a wake-up call.

Different bullets have different profiles, different ogive architectures. The ogive is the “curve” beyond the last point up the bullet that’s caliber diameter (meaning full diameter) ending at the bullet tip. My slang but descriptive term for this is “nosecone.” Tracing up this curve, some point will be equal to land diameter. So where this point is on the seated bullet and where this point is ahead of it in the chamber matters a lot.

Unless it’s done as a deliberate tactic, there needs to be some space, some distance between the land diameter point on the bullet nosecone and the lands. The amount of that distance is referred to as “jump,” because that’s descriptive. It’s the gap the bullet has to cross through to engage into the rifling. Usually the closer the better, and that “tactic” used often by precision shooters (mostly long-range and Benchrest competitors) is to purposely seat the bullet so it’s touching the lands. That’s done in the belief that if there’s no jump, then there’s no ill effects from jump. It’s very often right, and I’ve proven that to myself many a time. It’s not always right, but then if it was this all would be too easy.

The reason there needs to be some space is because when a bullet goes from just off to just on the lands, pressure jumps. It’s a “spike,” not a surge, but it’s enough to put a load that’s nearing the edge over the edge. In something like a .223 Rem. it’s about a half-grain-worth of propellant.

hornady 52
Here’s one I messed up with. The ogive or nosecone profile on this bullet is much “higher” than normal for a match bullet of this weight and it encountered the lands at a much shorter overall length than any others I had used. I learned the hard way, even though I already knew better.

So. Here’s the lesson I learned again, but this one wasn’t my fault! Honest! Several years ago, however, here’s one that was my fault: new (to me) match bullet, a short 52-gr. I wanted to try for reduced-course NRA High Power Rifle events. Rifle had a Wylde .223 Rem. chamber. A Wylde has a throat length between a 5.56 NATO and a SAAMI-spec. .223 Rem. That means the throat is fairly much more generous than commercial .223 Rem. specs. The maximum cartridge overall length in an AR15 box magazine is 2.260 inches, and I go 2.255 for a margin. I checked some industry manual data for this bullet and did notice that the overall cartridge length listed in the data spec table was a good deal shorter than that. I quickly did some “math” but without numbers (so it wasn’t really math) and decided that since I had a longer chamber I’d ignore that and just seat the bullets to 2.255. Blew primers right and left.

Back home and gage in hand and, dang, they weren’t kidding! I was about 0.020 into the lands at that cartridge length. That’s a honking lot. That’s also ultimately dangerous because of the free-floating firing pin tapping off the primer when a round is loaded into an AR15. A bullet that’s getting jammed into the lands is greatly more resistant to chambering freely and fully.

I humbly learned my lesson.

Get a gage and use it! The best out there is the Hornady LNL Overall Length gage. This tool lets you very easily find the overall round length that touches the lands with your bullet in your barrel. Very valuable, that.

lnl oal gages
A Hornady LNL OAL Gage will show right quick like and in a hurry with the seating depth that touches the lands is with your bullet in your gun. Valuable!

Use it in conjunction with its companion “bullet length comparator” insert for the very best precision. That tool measures a bullet at a point on its ogive that (usually) corresponds closely with land diameter. It won’t be perfectly the same, but it doesn’t have to be. What matters is that it gives a more accurate figure. Avoiding the bullet tip in a measurement eliminates that (guaranteed, by the way) inconsistency in accurate measurement because of bullet tip variations.

LNL comparator
A “comparator,” like this one from Hornady’s LNL line, is a much more accurate way to measure seating depth because the bullet tip doesn’t get involved. I like the curved one: easier and more accurate by my experience.

Now. To the recent experience: It was with a .300 Blackout (AAC) subsonic. I did not have the means to gauge this using my tools (then, but I do now). However, that wouldn’t have mattered in this case, and why is next.

Tested a factory load. Liked it. Noticed nothing unusual. Functioned perfectly, shot well. Brought it home and filled a magazine, loaded one in the chamber, and set it aside. Folks, just so you don’t think I’m irresponsible, that gun is what I keep at the ready for home-defense. So, my son, who had gone in to unload and then dry-fire the gun, came up and said, “Dad. The bolt won’t open.” Dang. It wouldn’t. I started thinking up all reasons that might be behind that. The bolt carrier would retract a little way, which was the limit of usual “play” in the bolt travel inside it, so I didn’t think anything was broken. To remove the round I pulled off the upper, took it to the shop, and pried back the bolt carrier from the underside. A couple of careful but firm enough strokes and it opened.

The bullet had really jammed into the lands! I mean really jammed. Extracting the round and looking at it, land impressions were clear, and measuring the extracted round showed it was 0.022 longer than the new, un-chambered round. Unseating the jammed round pulled the bullet that far out from the case neck.

I manually inserted another round of the same into the chamber and gave it a nudge-in with my finger, and, sure enough, there it sat not nearly fully into the chamber. Had to tap it back out.

jammed bullet
Here’s the “stuck” round, right, talked over in the article. Land impression is pretty clear, and pretty deep. Notice also that the bullet got pulled out a might upon finally opening the action. On left is the same round out of the same box that was pushed into the chamber; land marks also, just a lot lower!

So. Since it’s a factory load, I really couldn’t have had a clue that it wasn’t compatible with my chamber throat. But now I do. And, for a clue, do that same yourself. If the round won’t drop in and out of a chamber fully and easily, that might be a problem. I still don’t know what the actual measured amount of the excessive length might have been. To find that I’d have to get a box of those bullets and gauge them using the LNL tools. I’m not going to do that. I’ve chosen another load that’s no-issues.

I say “might be” because, again these rounds functioned well, but, also, well, that can’t be good…

I suppose I will now need to start handloading for that contraption. I have also written down 100 times: “I will always check the chamber throat, even if it’s not a long-range rifle…”

Find gages at Midsouth HERE and HERE

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s book Top-Grade Ammo. Available HERE at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

Does Shannon Watts Want a Ban on all Centerfire Rifle Ammunition?

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NRA asked a simple, straight question — and got no answer. Read about what’s behind this HERE

shannon watts

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Shannon Watts has developed her persona as a “full-time volunteer” who wants nothing more than to bring “common sense gun laws” to this country. However, she once again reminded gun owners of her true agenda with a recent tweet. We are used to individuals misrepresenting our message to push their own political agendas, but, in this case, we thought it necessary to correct the record.

In an attempt to attack an NRA-ILA article, Watts tweeted: “They’re proud of this? ‘In response to claims that ‘armor piercing ammunition’ could penetrate police body armor, … the @NRA stepped up, once again, and performance-based ammunition bans have been repeatedly defeated at the federal level.’”

We responded by pointing out “that all centerfire rifle ammunition pierces soft body armor” and asked Watts if she wanted “to ban all rifle ammunition used for self-defense, sport, and hunting?” If she had done a bit of research Watts would have discovered that NRA wasn’t alone in our opposition to “performance-based ammunition bans,” even ATF opposed the same legislation. In congressional hearings in 1982 and 1984, Department of the Treasury (where ATF was then located) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement, Robert Powis, testified against the same bills that NRA opposed.

Instead of answering a simple yes or no question Watts took it upon herself to delete a large number of comments on her instagram account from individuals who just wanted a simple answer. After disabling her comments we decided to pose the question again, “Do you want to ban all rifle ammunition used for self-defense, sport, and hunting?”

Naturally, the question was not answered. Instead Watts decided to declare to her followers that “I couldn’t be more thrilled that they’re [@NRA] terrified of a middle aged mom.” Falsely claiming that the NRA encouraged its followers to threaten her. While we certainly don’t condone making threats, we do think that someone who attacked us for our policy position should at least answer a simple question about that policy.

If she had done a bit of research Watts would have discovered that NRA wasn’t alone in our opposition to “performance-based ammunition bans,” even ATF opposed the same legislation. In congressional hearings in 1982 and 1984, Department of the Treasury (where ATF was then located) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement, Robert Powis, testified against the same bills that NRA opposed.

We’re not so sure that Watts didn’t already understand why we opposed these ammunition bans. In her tweet, the ellipsis just happened to remove the sentence where we identified the main problem with the bans: “Had they succeeded, all centerfire rifle ammunition would have been banned.”

This isn’t the first time Watts has let slip a position that even the most ardent gun control supporters would struggle to characterize as “reasonable.” Just last year, Watts was appalled that an 18 year old could purchase a .22 bolt-action rifle because it looked scary. As we noted at the time, focusing your gun control agenda on a bolt-action rimfire because it looks scary is “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.”

To answer your question Shannon, yes, we are proud of our defense of rifle ammunition that millions of law-abiding gun owners use every year for self-defense, hunting, and target shooting.

Now, will you answer our question?

 

SKILLS: A Beginner’s Guide To Choosing Pistol Ammo

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If you’re new to all this, there is an overwhelming amount of ammunition options. Team Springfield Armory’s Kyle Schmidt helps sort through them. READ MORE

pistol ammo

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kyle Schmidt

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

The authors of the Declaration of Independence were brilliant. The wording they used was so profound that it still has a tremendous impact on our lives today.

Sure, all people were created equal – but when it comes to ammunition, not so much.

THE AMMUNITION SPREAD
As a newer shooter, choosing ammunition can be a daunting task. Full-metal jacket, ball, hollow point, wad cutter, round nose, flat point, plated, coated and the list goes on. These terms can seem pretty overwhelming, and these are just common types of pistol bullets.

So, how is a new shooter supposed to know what kind of ammunition to buy?

KEY COMPONENTS
Centerfire pistol and rifle ammunition are made up of four components:

Case
Primer
Powder
Bullet

(NOTE: I often hear people refer to ammunition as a bullet. Although this is generally accepted slang for some, it can be confusing when discussing ammunition. For the purposes of this guide, when referring to a “bullet,” I am referring to the individual component that is a part of a single round of ammunition.)

Generally speaking, the two biggest variables in ammunition come from the powder and the bullet. The type and quantity of powder will predominantly affect the velocity of the bullet. The bullet design has a significant effect on accuracy and performance once the bullet impacts the target.

PURPOSE
When determining what ammunition to choose, the first question to ask is, “What’s it for?”

Ammunition is designed with a variety of purposes in mind — hunting, target shooting, competition, and personal defense among them.

hornady critical defense

HUNTING & PERSONAL DEFENSE
In general, ammunition made for hunting and personal defense is designed to have a higher velocity, a heavier bullet, and a bullet designed to expand when it strikes the target. Commonly, this type of ammunition is sold in containers of smaller quantities and often comes with a higher price tag. This ammunition generally has more felt recoil, which is more commonly referred to as “kick.”

match ammo

COMPETITION
Ammunition made for competition is usually designed with the specific requirements of a given type of competition in mind. Some competitions heavily favor extreme accuracy, while others may be more speed-oriented. Because some events require a great deal of accuracy, this may lead to an expensive bullet design and a higher cost. But it’s typically still less expensive than hunting ammunition.

Generally speaking, competition shooters look for ammunition that has less felt recoil. So, keep in mind that many competition shooters modify their guns so they will work with ammunition of different lengths and with ammunition that requires very little energy to function the gun. Be cautious when purchasing ammunition designed for competition, as it may not function all firearms.

target ammo

TARGET SHOOTING
“Target ammunition” is a general-purpose term. This is the ammunition you might see in bulk packaging at the sporting goods store. The bullets and powder used vary significantly. Unlike competition ammunition, this ammo is generally designed to function a wide variety of firearms reliably but does not have the same high level of felt recoil as the hunting or self-defense ammunition. This ammunition is probably the most common type purchased by the typical shooter for practice. This ammunition also gives shooters the most “bang” for their buck, as it can be the least expensive option.

Most importantly, the ammunition you purchase needs to safely and reliably function the gun.

JUST REMEMBER
When purchasing ammunition, there are a couple of other things to consider before filling your home with a new type of ammo.

Quantity: Start in small quantities when purchasing new ammunition. Most places will not take ammunition back, so if you find out the ammunition does not function your gun and you just purchased thousands of rounds of it, you’ll be stuck with trying to sell it to someone else.

Function: Some guns just don’t like some ammunition. The ammo may work fine in one gun, but cause constant malfunctions in another.

Accuracy: Some bullets shoot better out of some guns than others. Even if you buy the latest, greatest new ammunition that your favorite YouTube video depicted to be the most accurate ammo in the history of galaxy, it may not shoot well out of your barrel. Conversely, you may find that a particular bullet shoots well out of your gun that your know-it-all buddy says is terrible.

Manufacturer: Consider the source. I have seen numerous problems with ammunition over the years, including ammunition that did not have any powder and ammunition that had way too much powder. Occasionally, I have seen ammunition destroy a gun. I have even seen this happen with ammunition from well-known manufacturers. However, they have been responsive when paying for repairs or replacing the gun if needed. That same expectation may not be realistic for the small, garage-based ammunition companies.

ASK YOURSELF…
At the end of the day, the ammo questions you need to ask yourself are:

Will you shoot it?
Does it meet your reliability requirement?
Does it meet your accuracy requirement?
Does it meet your felt recoil requirement?
Does it meet your cost requirement?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you probably shouldn’t purchase the ammo, as you likely won’t enjoy shooting it. If you don’t enjoy shooting it, the ammunition will just stay in the box and you won’t get any practice. If you don’t get any practice, you definitely will not get any better.

And if you don’t get any better, you won’t ever get to experience the great enjoyment that comes from being a competent gun owner.

 

President Trump Withdraws U.S. from United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

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President Trump vows to get the United States out of the UN Arms Trade Treaty. READ MORE

trump att

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

During his speech to the 2019 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, President Trump announced that he would “unsign” the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) effectively withdrawing the United States from the treaty.

Officially signed onto by the United States in 2013 by former Secretary of State John Kerry, the ATT represented the most dangerous step yet taken by international gun ban advocates. By announcing that he will officially withdraw the United States from the treaty, President Trump made clear that he would not abdicate control over the rights of law-abiding gun owners to foreign bureaucrats. He then signed, in front of all in attendance, a formal letter to the Senate requesting that it halt the ratification process and return the treaty to the Oval Office, where President Trump would “dispose” of it.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of President Trump’s actions to protect gun owners from international gun control. As NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox put it, ?“today in front of 15,000 NRA members, President Trump once again demonstrated his commitment to our Second Amendment freedoms and American Sovereignty. His commitment to un-sign the anti-gun United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that was forced on us by John Kerry and Barrack Obama, gives NRA members one more reason to enthusiastically support his presidency. Donald Trump isn’t afraid to stand on the side of freedom and defend our God-given right to self-defense and we couldn’t be prouder to stand with him.”

While never ratified by the United States Senate, even unsigned treaties can be dangerous when they attempt to bind the United States to refrain from any act that would defeat the “object and purpose” of the treaty. This type of vague policy statement is typical of the many intentionally unclear provisions of the ATT that we have repeatedly warned could be used by future administrations or foreign bureaucrats to restrict the rights of law-abiding American gun owners.

In fact, the ATT was drafted with the express purpose of allowing future foreign officials to be able to amend the treaty without the agreement of the United States. By requiring only 3/4 of the treaty signatories to create an amendment to the treaty, the future danger of the treaty to American gun owners was effectively limitless.

Please join us in thanking President Trump for putting the constitutional rights of American gun owners ahead of the interests of foreign gun control advocates.

RELOADERS CORNER: Case Trimming

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We all have to trim bottleneck cases sometime. Question is when and how much, and then “how,” and here’s a place to start. KEEP READING

case trimmer

Glen Zediker

After going through that last series on keeping up with changes in cases resulting from their use and reuse, “flow” was a culprit behind the majority of detrimental changes. That is: Brass flows during firing. It moves from where it was to somewhere else. Since there’s a finite amount of material in a case, one place is getting thinner and another is getting thicker. The sources of the material, where the flow starts and where it stops, are primarily case necks and case heads.

To completely finish up on all this, the most obvious indication that there’s flow is measuring case lengths from base to mouth.

case trimming
The primary reason to trim is to keep overly-long cases from overrunning their space in the chamber. If the case mouth encounters the end of its allotted space, it can pinch in on the bullet, elevating pressure. Now, there’s usually a good deal of leeway before safety can be a question, but don’t push it…
measure case length
A caliper is the only tool needed to measure case length. It’s not really necessary to measure each and every case each and every time. It’s a whopping lot faster to set the trimmer so it just touches the shortest case you have (revealed through the process itself in setting up the trimmer) and trim all the cases using that setting locked in place.

First, and very (very) important: The ONLY time to check case length, or to trim cases, is after they have been sized! A fired, unsized case will be shorter than it was going in. The reason is because of the expansion in the case that resulted from firing. When the expanded areas are squeezed back to spec by a sizing die the case gets longer as it gets smaller in diameter, same as rolling a ball of modeling clay out on a table. After sizing is also the only time we can we know that the case shoulder area is consistent in dimension.

You’ll see two length figures published for your cartridge of choice: maximum length and trim-to length. Published trim-to length is usually 0.010-inches under what’s listed as maximum.

I got a gage umpteen years ago that could indicate the maximum case length a chamber could accommodate — technically, a “chamber length gage.” Man. I checked the chambers in my main rifles and found that they were all well more generous than the SAAMI-maximum. That didn’t really mean a lot, in fact, to how I proceeded. And it also didn’t mean I can advise ignoring the potential for danger in exceeding SAAMI-maximum. It just pointed out that there are differences in chambers, gun to gun, and at least showed me that not exceeding max stated length should easily keep you safe.

chamber length gage

If a case got too long, exceeded the amount of room given to it in the chamber, that would be a safety problem! The bolt may not close fully. And, if it did, the extra length would create a pinching-in constriction, and that would spike pressure.

We can easily imagine that there’s an influence from relatively longer or shorter case necks in their influence in consistently encasing the bullet. And I’m sure we’d be right. Trimming cases all the same should mean that all the case neck cylinders are the same height. Someone looking to maximize accuracy is liable to get worked up about that enough to trim each firing. I trimmed my tournament cases each use. And, no, none were remotely approaching maximum length. It’s reasonable to further suppose that more or less retention will influence velocity consistency.

Another performance asset may or may not happen, depending on the trimming tool chosen. But. A good trimmer will square the case mouth. I’ve seen a many new cases with a “half-moon” cut after trimming. A square case mouth helps a bullet start and finish straight when it’s seated.

case trimmer
Not all case trimmers are equal. We’ll talk more about some I like next time, and I’ll tell you why.

My routine for this sort of “accuracy-oriented” case trimming is simple — tedious, but simple. I don’t measure each case. I just run them all through a trimmer set to “some” length. Some are trimmed more or less, some just show a bright scuff on one little bit of the case mouth, but they are then all the same length. If I can’t prove it in group sizes, it sho does set my mind at ease that all the cases are holding all the bullets more nearly the same.

For those rifles that aren’t tournament guns, the only concern is that none, indeed, become too long. Those I will check at that “4-firings-in” point. Some may have reached SAAMI-maximum, most won’t have, but all will be longer than when started. I start them at a figure close to suggested “trim-to.” Stop and think about it, and if there’s been overall a 0.010-inch length increase, that’s significant.

As with all things associated with use and reuse in semi-autos compared to bolt-actions, cases are going to grow more and faster in a gas-gun.

Another instance where it’s important to keep up with case lengths, and that, again, really has to do with making them all the same, is for those who crimp (with a conventional cannelure method).

Now, there’s zero harm in using a longer “trim-to” length, and that may be more popular than my method. These lengths are stated in reloading manuals. Keeping up with it over years, I’ve seen no difference in the rate of lengthening trimming longer or shorter; I trim “shorter” solely as a matter of consistency over the (short) life of my semi-auto cases.

Next time more about the tools.

Get started shopping HERE

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen Zediker’s book Top-Grade Ammo.

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

Glen’s newest book, America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Check it out HERE

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RELOADERS CORNER: Four Firings In: Final

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Yikes. Gremlins. Case neck “donuts” are a common development in an aging cartridge case, and it’s often unknown. Read this and know! MORE

case neck donut
Here one is! Or was.

Glen Zediker

Even if the case neck passes the “drop test,” there might be something amiss within that cylinder, and it might not show up until after case sizing, and that is the “dreaded donut.”

What exactly is a case neck donut? It’s a tiny elevated ring of brass on the interior circumference of the case neck, right at the juncture of the case neck, case shoulder. It is pretty much a little o-ring, in effect.

This “tight spot” reduces the case neck inside diameter at that point, which will, not may, have an influence on the amount of constriction surrounding a seated bullet. And since it won’t be perfectly consistent from case to case, accuracy will, not may, suffer.

And, without a doubt, there’s going to be cartridge pressure changes, which can create velocity changes. A donut is not likely to create anything like a pressure spike similar to what an excessively thickened (overall) case neck can, but it can’t be a Good Thing no matter what.

Now. I can’t say this is always a symptom of aging cases (based on the “four firings in” idea I’ve been running with). I’ve seen donuts in new cases. However, in my experience with the brass I normally use, and, therefore, that which I have the most notes on, the formation of a donut seems to coincide at the same time I measure what I think is excessive case neck wall thickening. Again, though, I spent an afternoon at the loading bench with David Tubb trying to solve donut issues he was having after one firing on commonly known “good” brass. We solved them, and more in a bit.

Culprits
There is a difference in the case wall tubing thickness at the case neck, case shoulder juncture. The neck walls are a consistent thickness — it’s a parallel cylinder (or they start off that way). At the shoulder wall thickness increases steadily in a taper as it goes down the case shoulder to then intersect with the case body walls.

There is diverse speculation about exactly what causes or creates the donut. My own experience suggests that there can be more than one factor or influence. But at the root of it is simply this difference in wall thicknesses. The difference has an influence in this area with respect to brass flow. Seems certain that there’s material movement forward from the case shoulder.

If that’s it, then the chamber dimensions (neck diameter and headspace) and cartridge case headspace play their parts. Same old: with respect to case headspace, it’s another reason to set back a shoulder the minimum amount needed for faultless function. Also old news: that’s going to be more for a repeater than a single-shot, and well more for a semi-auto.

I’ve seen it said that the expander ball or sizing button coming back up through a sized case neck “drags” the metal up with it, but also I know without a doubt that sizing without an expander means there’s a more pronounced donut. Checks I’m made sizing with and without an expander (using a neck-bushing-style die), show that an expander or, my preference, an expanding mandrel, reduces the donut influence. That, by the way, is from selecting bushings that produce the same case neck outside diameter with and without the inside neck sizing. I think the expander is just pushing it to the outside… But that’s good!

case neck donut neck turning
This helps! Turning a tiny bit off the start of the shoulder gives some relief in this area and holds off the donut for at least a while.
neck turning cutter angle
The neck turner, however, has to be configured to allow for this. Note the bevel on this cutter.

Fixing It
This one is pretty easy, after a little math at least. The most direct means is using a correctly sized reamer on a likewise correctly sized case neck, and that’s where the math comes in. The reamer should be the diameter of your sized neck inside diameter; that will pare away the donut without changing the case neck wall thickness. The idea is to get the donut without universally thinning the case neck walls, and the reason there is maintaining consistency. That, after all, is why we’re doing any sort of fixing on cases in the first place: get the same performance the maximum number of firings.

Another way, which is primarily preventative, is with an outside case neck turner, if its cutter has an angle or bevel (see photo for example). Turn down onto the case shoulder about 1/16 of an inch. Do this on new cases since that’s the only good time to turn case necks. This area is then “relieved” enough that the donut won’t form, or not for a while. In firing, this thinned area essentially relieves itself. I got this tip from Fred Sinclair eons ago and it’s the only thing I know of that heads off the donut. If you are worried about weakening a case in this area, don’t do it, but I can tell you that’s a moot worry. It’s very common practice among competitive Benchrest and NRA High Power Rifle long-range shooters. That’s how we came to a quick and permanent (well, for the short life of those cases) solution to David Tubb’s donut problems with a 6mm-.284.

neck reamer
This is a “special” reamer, meaning ordered to a custom and specific size. Choose carefully, and it’s an easy fix.

Short aside note that’s being revisited from other articles I’ve done here, but the VERY BEST way to never worry about donuts is to never seat a bullet into this area! That is the reason the better (in my mind) cartridge designs feature long necks.

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

Glen’s newest book, America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Check it out HERE

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Federal Court Finds California Magazine Ban Violates the Second Amendment

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Major 2nd Amendment boost! Judge overturns California’s ban on “high-capacity” magazines, the ban was “turning the Constitution upside down.” READ MORE

high capacity magazine

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

In one of the strongest judicial statements in favor of the Second Amendment to date, Judge Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California determined last Friday that California’s ban on commonly possessed firearm magazines violates the Second Amendment.

The case is Duncan v. Becerra.

The NRA-supported case had already been up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the question of whether the law’s enforcement should be suspended during proceedings on its constitutionality. Last July, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld Judge Benitez’s suspension of enforcement and sent the case back to him for further proceedings on the merits of the law itself.

Judge Benitez rendered his opinion late Friday afternoon and handed Second Amendment supporters a sweeping victory by completely invalidating California’s 10-round limit on magazine capacity. “Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” he declared.

In a scholarly and comprehensive opinion, Judge Benitez subjected the ban both to the constitutional analysis he argued was required by the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller and a more complicated and flexible test the Ninth Circuit has applied in prior Second Amendment cases.

Either way, Judge Benitez ruled, the law would fail. Indeed, he characterized the California law as “turning the Constitution upside down.” He also systematically dismantled each of the state’s purported justifications for the law, demonstrating the factual and legal inconsistencies of their claims.

NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox hailed the decision as a “huge win for gun owners” and a “landmark recognition of what courts have too often treated as a disfavored right.”

“Judge Benitez took the Second Amendment seriously and came to the conclusion required by the Constitution,” Cox said. “The same should be true of any court analyzing a ban on a class of arms law-abiding Americans commonly possess for self-defense or other lawful purposes.”

Unfortunately, Friday’s opinion is not likely to be the last word on the case. The state will likely appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which has proven notably hostile to the Second Amendment in past decisions.

Nevertheless, the thoroughness of Judge Benitez’s analysis should give Second Amendment supporters the best possible chance for success in appellate proceedings, particularly if the case ultimately lands before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the meantime, Friday’s order prohibits California from enforcing its magazine restrictions, leaving its law-abiding residents safer and freer, at least for the time being.

To stay up-to-date on the Duncan case and other important Second Amendment issues affecting California gun owners, click HERE. And be sure to subscribe to NRA-ILA and CRPA email alerts HERE and HERE.

RELOADERS CORNER: 4 Firings In, Part Two

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Cartridge cases always fail on the “next firing.” Question is which one that might be. Need to know! KEEP READING

beat case
I apologize for the image quality, but these were taken a while ago. Fortunately, for me, I didn’t have anything on hand that shows even close to the beating this one took. Cracked neck, head crack. Rare to see one case with both of the most common failures. It was attacked by an M14.

Glen Zediker

I’d always rather say it all at once, but the realities of tolerance, and space, sometimes mean I have to split a bigger topic into smaller installments. The “tolerance” part is how many pages you all are willing to scroll through!

This multi-part topic is when, and then how, to check after the progress of changes commencing with the firing on a new case. It’s the “progress of degeneration,” in a way of looking at it because the concern is getting a handle on when enough change in the brass has come about to require attention. Or abandonment. As said then, for me that’s 4 firings. That, as said last time, is when I might see changes that need attention. Also as said, that figure didn’t come out of a hat, but from my own notes in running my competition NRA High Power Rifle loads.

The areas most affected are the case neck and case head area. Case neck walls get thicker, and that was the focus last time. Well, the case head area body walls get thinner. Primer pockets get shallower and larger diameter.

As started on: Brass flows during firing. It expands, then contracts, and when we resize the case, it contracts, then expands (a little). This expansion and contraction makes the alloy harder over the entire case, but with more effect in areas of more expansion, and flow. Replace “hard” with its effect, “brittle,” and that’s a clearer picture. This increasing hardness influences its reaction to being sized or otherwise stretched. As with many metals, bend it back and forth enough times and it will break. It will also fail if it loses enough resilience, or thickness, to withstand the pressures of firing.

Case Head
When a case is under pressure during firing, the brass, like water, flows where it can, where it’s more free to move. Of course, the chamber steel limits the amount it can expand. The case shoulder blows fully forward and the case base is slammed back against the bolt face. There is, therefore and in effect, a tug on both ends — it gets stretched. The shoulder area is relatively free to expand to conform to the chamber, but the other end, the case head area, is not. Since that’s the area of the case with the thickest walls, it doesn’t expand “out” much at all. What it does is stretch.

The “case head area,” as I refer to it here, is the portion of the case above the web, which is just above the taper that leads in to the extractor groove. The “area” extends approximately an eighth-inch up the case body.

case pressure ring
Here’s a “pressure ring.” You’ll see this after firing, if you see it. And, if you see it, that case is done. The bright ring indicates excessive stretching, which indicates excessive thinning.
head separation pic
Closer view of another sectioned case. This one here was fixin to pop. 

That portion of the case does not fully expand and grip the chamber, but the area immediately ahead of it does. So the case body expands and grips the chamber, and that last little bit back to the base can and does move. It stretches. If you see a ring circling the case, noticeable because it’s lighter color than the case body, and it’s in this area, I’d say that case is done. The ring will be evident after firing, not after; don’t confuse a shiny ring around the case in this area with what can be normal from sizing, especially if it’s been a hotter load. That is pretty much a scuff from the sizing die squeezing down this expanded area.

And that’s right where a “head separation” occurs. It can crack and also blow slap in two, and that’s the “separation” part of case head separation.

This is a spot to keep close watch on as cases age. It is also the area that is more “protected” by sizing with less case shoulder set-back. That is, pretty much, where the freedom for the stretching movement in this area comes from (the case shoulder creates a gap). However! As said many a time, semi-autos need some shoulder set back for function, and it’s the reason to use an accurate gage to determine the amount of set-back needed.

case head separation
Ultra-high-precision gage, made by me. Not really. It’s a selectively bent paper clip, and running this down inside the case and and then back up the case wall can signal a dip-in in the head area, which signals thinned walls. Feel it? Case is done.

Some folks unbend a paper clip and run it down inside a case and drag it up against the inside case wall as a sort of antenna to see if they detect a dip-in near the head area, which would indicate that the wall in this area has been stretched thinner. If there’s enough to feel it, that case is done.

Since I’m working off this “4 Firings In” checklist, if you’re seeing a sign that a head separation might be nigh in that few uses, chances are the shoulder set-back is excessive, and also too may be the load pressure level.

Primer Pocket
Another case-head-area and pressure-related check is the primer pocket. As said, the primer pocket will get larger in diameter and shallower in depth each firing. As with many such things, the questions are “when” and “how much,” and the main thing, “how much?”

If the pocket gets excessively shallow, and that’s judged by a primer that seats fully but isn’t at least a tick below flush with the case base, there could be function issues. There’s a risk of a “slam-fire” with a semi-auto that uses a floating firing pin, and, if there is actual protrusion, that has the same effect as insufficient headspace.

primer pocket uniformer
A primer pocket uniformer can reset the depth of a shallowed primer pocket to what it should be, but the real test for me is how easily the next primer seats into it. If it’s significantly less resistance, I’ll say that case is done.

Shallower can be refurbished. That’s a primary function of a primer pocket uniformer. Larger diameter, though, can’t be fixed. I’ve mentioned in another article or two that, any more at least, my main gauge of load pressure has become how much primer pocket expansion there’s been. I judge that without using the first gage, well, unless my primer seater is a gage. If a primer seats noticeably easier, that’s the clear clue that the pocket is too big. Another is seeing a dark ring around a fired primer, indicating a little gas leakage.

Measuring primer pockets is a waste of time, say my notes at least. First, it’s not easy to accurately (truly accurately) measure a pocket, especially its diameter, but, that’s not really what matters. It’s how much grip there is to maintain the primer in place during firing.

I pay close attention to resistance in primer seating and won’t reuse a case that’s too easy.

Good deal on what I think is good brass, especially if you’re an AR15 loader — HERE

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

Glen’s newest book, America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Check it out HERE

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