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.

Barnes Offers New VOR-TX Ammunition and Component Offerings

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Barnes Bullets has added three loads to the VOR-TX ammunition lineup and new 300AAC Blackout and 450 Bushmaster components for handloaders.

The VOR-TX line extensions will bring three new loads to the Barnes VOR-TX family: A 308 Win. load featuring the 130-grain TTSX bullet, a 300 Winchester Magnum load with a new 190-grain LRX bullet, optimized for long-range performance, and a 35 Whelen load featuring the Barnes TTSX 200-grain projectile.

Click here to see our stock of Barnes VOR-TX ammunition and to check to see when the new loads are in stock.

For handloaders who want to fine-tune and optimize their 300 AAC Blackout and 450 Bushmaster ammunition, Barnes will now offer the 300 AAC BLK 120 grain TAC-TX BT bullet, previously only available in VOR-TX ammunition, as a separate item.

Also available for the first time, Barnes will offer a 275-grain TSX FB bullet specifically designed for 450 Bushmaster platforms.

Click here to see our stock of Barnes bullets and to check when the new bullets are in stock.

Barnes Bullets 300 AAC BLK 120 grain TAC-TX BT
Barnes 300 AAC BLK 120 grain TAC-TX BT
Barnes Bullets 275-grain TSX FB Bullet 450 Bushmaster
Barnes Bullets 275-grain TSX FB Bullet 450 Bushmaster
Barnes Bullets 300 Winchester Magnum 190-grain LRX BT
Barnes Bullets 300 Winchester Magnum 190-grain LRX BT

Top Hunting and Shooting Equipment Brands for 2015

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

shooting-hunting-survey graphicSouthwick Associates, a Fernandina Beach, Fla.–based market research and economics firm specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing, and outdoor-recreation markets, released what it says are the top brands for many hunting- and shooting-product categories in 2015. This list was compiled from internet-based surveys completed in 2015 HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com panels.

Midsouth Shooters Supply looked over Southwick’s product-category winners and assembled the 10-most-popular category winners for 2015:

Reloading Components

Top Reloading Bullet Brand: Hornady

Top Reloading Primer Brand: CCI

Top Reloading Powder Brand: Hodgdon

Ammunition

Top Shotgun Ammunition Brand: Winchester

Top Rifle Ammunition Brand: Federal

Top Handgun Ammunition Brand: Winchester

Top Blackpowder Brand: Pyrodex

Shooting Equipment

Top Scope: Leupold

Top Muzzleloader: CVA

Top Holster/Ammo Belt Brand: Blackhawk

In a previous survey of people who said they reloaded, 88 percent cited “saving money” as the key reason. The survey, conducted in September 2015, said that “improving accuracy” was the second largest interest of handloaders at 70 percent. “Obtaining rounds difficult to find in stores” came in third with 40 percent, and “reducing waste” was cited as a reason by only 30 percent. Survey participants could choose more than one reason.

Of the types of ammunition reloaded, 76 percent reload rifle ammo, 64 percent reload for their handguns, and 30 percent reload shells for their shotguns.

“Over time, ammunition can be the most expensive aspect of recreational shooting, so it makes sense that avid shooters see reloading as a way to cut costs without cutting time at the range,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates. “Of course, a key byproduct of saving money through reloading is a person also becomes more knowledgeable about their firearm’s performance and can even potentially achieve better performance by fine-tuning a specific load to their firearm.”

You can participate in the surveys at HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com.

How do these survey results stack up, in your opinion?

 

 

U.S. Army Engineers Patent Limited-Range Projectile

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube
limited-range-projectile bullet
Awarded U.S. patent 9,121,679 B1, the limited-range-projectile bullet is equipped with a reactive material that will ignite when the bullet is fired and burn during flight, causing the bullet to become aerodynamically unstable.

Midsouth Shooters Supply customers may find it hard to believe, but three U.S. Army engineers have received a patent for a bullet that will become “aerodynamically unstable” after flying a certain distance.

The proof-of-concept bullet developed by the U.S. Army will disable after flying a certain distance, helping to prevent injuries from stray rounds.

Recently awarded U.S. patent 9,121,679 B1, the bullet is equipped with a reactive material that will ignite when the bullet is fired and burn during flight, causing the bullet to become aerodynamically unstable at the desired range.

Brian Kim, Mark Minisi, and Stephen McFarlane filed collectively for the patent on May 7, 2013 and were notified of its approval on Sept. 1, 2015.

“We wanted to protect the US government’s interests and position,” McFarlane said. “The biggest advantage is reduced risk of collateral damage. In today’s urban environments, others could become significantly hurt or killed, especially by a round the size of a .50 caliber, if it goes too far.”

The concept for the limited range projectile includes pyrotechnic and reactive material. The pyrotechnic material is ignited at projectile launch. The pyrotechnic material ignites the reactive material, and if the projectile reaches a maximum desired range prior to impact with a target, the ignited reactive material makes the projectile aerodynamically unstable.

The original idea was intended to apply to .50 caliber ammunition. However, the patent covers the idea and technology, so it could theoretically be used in various small arms munitions.

The concept for the limited range projectile came to fruition when the small caliber ammo development team was funded to investigate the feasibility of a pyrotechnically actuated disassembling limited range .50 caliber bullet.

“It was essentially my idea to create a self-destructing small caliber round akin to the larger caliber ones,” Minisi said. “The type of reactive materials to use and how to test it was Steve’s idea.

“Brian was instrumental with executing the effort, particularly the modeling and simulation to confirm the concept,” he said.

Currently, funding for the project has ceased. However, engineers hope that their concept will resurface as the constant need to provide greater technology for the warfighter increases.

Kim, Minisi, and McFarlane are employees of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) based at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

 

Federal Adds 90-Grain Bullet to Fusion 6.8 SPC MSR Lineup

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Federal Premium Ammunition is expanding the popular Fusion MSR line with a 90-grain option in 6.8 SPC. The load joins the existing Fusion MSR lineup, which includes 223 Rem. 62-grain, 6.8 SPC 115-grain, 308 Win. 150-grain and 338 Federal 185-grain options. Shipments of this new product are now being delivered to dealers.

Modern sporting rifles (MSRs) are the most adaptable class of firearms in history, handling everything from tactical applications to elk hunting. Fusion MSR loads are specifically designed for hunting with these rifles, performing to their ballistic peak through 16-inch barrels for AR15 platforms and 20-inch barrels for AR10 platforms.

The skived bullet tip ensures expansion at long ranges, and a fused jacket around a pressure-formed core produces excellent accuracy. Federal’s part number for the new 6.8 SPC 90-grain Fusion round is F68MSR2 and it lists for $29.95 per box of 20 rounds.

Midsouth Shooters Supply currently offers 112 Federal Ammunition loads. Click here to see when the new 90-grain round is in stock.

Federal Premium Fusion 90-Grain 6.8 SPC
Federal Premium Fusion 90-Grain 6.8 SPC

Reloaders Corner: Setting Cartridge Case Headspace

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

The following is a specially-adapted excerpt from the forthcoming book, “Top-Grade Ammo,” by author Glen Zediker, owner of Zediker Publishing. Click here to order.

by Glen Zediker

A rifle chamber has a headspace; a cartridge case has a headspace. The first is set by the chamber reamer and its operator; the next is up to us on the loading bench.

This is the loose working definition for headspace necessary to understand for this next: It’s the space from the bolt face to the “datum line” on the case shoulder. SAAMI sets standards for this dimension for each cartridge, and a gunsmith or manufacturer can have a little leeway in establishing the exact dimension in a rifle chamber.

In practical terms: Chamber headspace dimensions are fixed; cartridge headspace dimensions are variable. In a semi-auto, there should be some room, space, ahead of the case shoulder when the round is fully chambered, not be a perfect, flush fit. This is necessary for safe function in a semi-auto. In a bolt-action, the difference between chamber headspace and cartridge headspace can be miniscule to non-existent.

A little extra space helps ensure reliable functioning in a semi-auto, and also, mostly, precludes the chance that the case might bottom out on the shoulder area in the chamber before the bolt is fully locked down.

Back to more definitions. A datum line is actually a diameter; the line itself (the point set by the headspace dimension) is the point along a case shoulder that coincides with this diameter. There are only 5 datums that apply to virtually all bottleneck rifle cartridges. (Modern bottleneck rifle cartridges headspace off the case shoulder. Belted magnums and rimmed cartridges are different stories, for a different story.)

To correctly resize cases, we need a gage. Of course we do! I prefer the one shown in this article. It reads from case base to datum line, just as it’s done in chambering a barrel.

I talked before about how semi-autos can often exhibit case shoulder growth in measurable excess of the chamber. Meaning: the case shoulder can be free to expand beyond the confines of rifle chamber dimensions, and that is from the premature bolt unlocking that accompanies most every gas-operated rifle. Even when the system is working optimally, the case shoulder can advance slightly as the bolt just begins to unlock and move away because the case is still containing pressure. The severity of the discrepancy has mostly to do with how much the gas system is overloaded.

To refurbish a spent case, the case body outside needs to be shaped up to near-to-new dimensions, and also the case shoulder needs to be “set back” an adequate amount to ensure positive chambering with just a tad of “rattle” between the chamber shoulder and the case shoulder. In a bolt-gun, the case emerges from the chamber holding essentially a dimensional mirror of the chamber itself (minus, always, the 0.001 “spring back” inherent in the brass material).

For best results, and case life, we need to figure out how much to set the shoulder back. Too much really won’t affect load performance, but, in my belief, deliberately creating what amounts to excessive headspace is not wise. It’s just that much more expansion, that much more “working” the brass has to endure. However! That’s not nearly as bad as leaving the shoulder too high! That’s dangerous.

For day-in, day-out use, I suggest setting back the case shoulder 0.004 inches from fired case dimensions for semi-auto ammunition. If you keep the chamber clean, then go with 0.003. I think that 0.002 is not enough in a semi-auto, but that is plenty enough in a bolt-gun, and 0.001 is the minimum. Commence argument, but I’ll stick by those numbers.

The numbers we need to get from our gage are these: new, unfired case shoulder height (where we started); fired, unsized case shoulder height (where we went to); sized case shoulder height (where we need to get back to).

 

 

 

Case Sizing 1: Sizing Die Selection

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

 

The following is a specially-adapted excerpt from the forthcoming book,” Top-Grade Ammo,” by author Glen Zediker, owner of Zediker Publishing. Click here to order.

by Glen Zediker

Most discussions about reloading tend to center around tools, and the cartridge case–sizing die used to refurbish a spent case is one of the most important. Last time, we were left with a case that had been expanded to the limits of the chamber, plus maybe just a little. The sizing die gets it back in shape for a reuse.

First, I only advise the use of a full-length sizing die for bolt guns or semi-autos. As suggested, a full-length die contacts the full length of the case, the full diameter, from case mouth to case head, and can also contact the shoulder area. There are neck-only dies that, as suggested, only resize the case neck so it will hold another bullet. They don’t touch the case body, and many don’t contact the case shoulder.

As far as brands go, I’m partial to Forster. I like the expander design. It’s located high, so there’s more support about the case when the neck is withdrawn back over it. I still polish this appliance, and recommend always doing so if it’s possible.
As far as brands go, I’m partial to Forster. I like the expander design. It’s located high, so there’s more support about the case when the neck is withdrawn back over it. I still polish this appliance, and recommend always doing so if it’s possible.

A full-length sizer will compress the case body down to the die interior dimensions, which are close to those of factory new ammo. Keep in mind that we’re talking about scant thousandths of inches, but those add up.

Whether it’s a bolt-action, lever-action, semi-automatic, a rifle has to function, and ensuring that cartridges feed into and out of the chamber is the clearly most critical functioning necessity.

If you’re big into or only into single-shots, neck-only sizing is possible, certainly. But even then there’s honestly little to no accuracy or performance benefit from it. The idea is that maintaining the case-body dimensions that more closely replicate the rifle chamber generally tightens up everything and produces better accuracy. Makes sense. But unless we’re working with measurably perfected brass and perfectly concentric rounds and seating bullets to touch the lands or rifling, none of those attributes matter a whit. Any rifle with an ejector is going to warp case bodies, for instance, so the dream of case-to-chamber harmony just can’t exist.

This is a Redding Type-S conventional full-length sizing die. On these, the die interior is pretty much the same as the rifle chamber interior, just a little smaller.
This is a Redding Type-S conventional full-length sizing die. On these, the die interior is pretty much the same as the rifle chamber interior, just a little smaller.

If neck-only sizing was all that influential, then new cases wouldn’t shoot the good groups that they will.

Another thing a full-length sizing die does, or can do, is contact the case shoulder. This is critically important in sizing for repeating rifles.

Last time we talked about what happens to a cartridge case during firing, and it’s not pretty. One of the things that happens is that the case shoulder gets blown forward, which means that if the case were standing up on the bench, that the shoulder will be higher (taller) than it was before firing. To ensure function, and safe function, that dimension needs to be corralled and brought back to what it should be.

To polish the expander, chuck the stem (lightly) in a drill and use a wrap of masking tape to cushion the threads. I first run the edges of the expander over a hard stone to break them and smooth them over, but I don’t run the stone against the body of the expander. Then run it over wet 600-grit emery paper. I use emery paper available at many auto-parts stores. Aluminum-oxide lapping compound works well also. There should be no measurable reduction in the expander body diameter after using the 600-grit paper, but if there is, it’s not going to amount to anything that can have a harmful effect.
To polish the expander, chuck the stem (lightly) in a drill and use a wrap of masking tape to cushion the threads. I first run the edges of the expander over a hard stone to break them and smooth them over, but I don’t run the stone against the body of the expander. Then run it over wet 600-grit emery paper. I use emery paper available at many auto-parts stores. Aluminum-oxide lapping compound works well also. There should be no measurable reduction in the expander body diameter after using the 600-grit paper, but if there is, it’s not going to amount to anything that can have a harmful effect.

There are full-length sizing dies with interchangeable bushings that size the case neck. The idea is to control the amount of case neck reduction, and it also allows the use of a sizing die without an inside-neck sizing appliance (usually called an expander). Good idea. Still, I don’t recommend this style of die for most shooters. One reason why is that there’s a small amount of case neck that doesn’t get sized. Over time, this can create or increase the “case neck donut,” the small raised-up ring of brass that exists inside the case at the case-neck/ case-shoulder juncture. But the die is not the sole cause. Suffice it to say, the additional and inconsistent additional constriction against the bullet isn’t a good thing.

I also do not advocate running a sizing die without an expander or sizing button to control the case neck inside diameter (i.d.). That’s another touted advantage of the bushing dies. That only works well if case necks are perfectly uniform in thickness. Otherwise, it creates off-center case mouths, and ultimately, inconsistency, in bullet pull.

Neck-bushing-style dies (in conjunction with full-length sizing die body) seem like a really good idea, and they can be — but they are another step in controlling case dimensions that most of us don’t want to take or need to take. My biggest issue with bushing dies is that they don’t size the full length of the case neck, and that can create problems. The arrow points to the small area of the case neck that is sized.
Neck-bushing-style dies (in conjunction with full-length sizing die body) seem like a really good idea, and they can be — but they are another step in controlling case dimensions that most of us don’t want to take or need to take. My biggest issue with bushing dies is that they don’t size the full length of the case neck, and that can create problems. The arrow points to the small area of the case neck that is sized.

One of the reasons that the neck-bushing dies came about was from the warranted complaints that conventional sizing dies sized down the case neck outside too much. Most do. Then the expander or sizing button has to open it back up that much more. That’s a lot of stress on the case and the reason for polishing the expander. Another easy fix is to have a machinist open up the neck area in the die. That’s a good idea. I can’t get after the factory techs too much in setting the specs for their dies because they’re trying to cover their bases on all the potential combinations out there, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve it. There doesn’t have to be more than 0.005 difference between outside diameters and inside diameters to ensure fully adequate sizing. In other words, if the case O.D. is sized down to 0.005 smaller than the measured O.D. after the expander has passed back through, that’s plenty. Check your die by sizing a case without the expander in place. Less is better, but don’t cut it too close; keep room to account for different brass brands, which have different wall thicknesses. This trick will help maintain more material consistency over the life of a case. Otherwise, it’s like bending a piece of metal back and forth until it breaks; the same effect does influence case life when there’s excessive material movement.

One of the best ideas in sizing dies is incorporating a neck-shoulder bushing. These work well because they allow for control over dimensions, including case-shoulder compression, and without the criticisms made against neck bushings. This is a set from Superior Shooting Systems LLC. It’s for 6XC but can also be used, with an appropriate bushing, for .308 Win. Full-length dies with neck/shoulder bushings can control the neck diameter and still get the full neck cylinder sized.
One of the best ideas in sizing dies is incorporating a neck-shoulder bushing. These work well because they allow for control over dimensions, including case-shoulder compression, and without the criticisms made against neck bushings. This is a set from Superior Shooting Systems LLC. It’s for 6XC but can also be used, with an appropriate bushing, for .308 Win. Full-length dies with neck/shoulder bushings can control the neck diameter and still get the full neck cylinder sized.

A small-base full-length sizing die is an option in some die makers’ catalogs. As implied, this reduces the lower portion of the case a tad amount more. I’ve never encountered the need for one in an AR-15. Most have fairly generous chambers, especially if it’s a true NATO-spec. However, I always use one in my M1As, especially when working with a tough case, like a Lake City, that has to fit back into a relatively undersized match chamber. One of the best I’ve used is from Dillon (just the standard die that comes on the Blue machines); Redding also makes a “National Match” sizer engineered just for that rifle.

Next time, I’ll go step-by-step on how to set up a sizing die.

Get looking around this website and locate a cartridge headspace gage, and get it bought. I’ll show you how to use it next time. Either the Hornady LNL Cartridge Headspace Gage or the Forster Datum Dial (shown here) is my recommendation. They both work well. There are also drop-in style gages that will suffice to keep your ammo safe, but won’t give a number to work from.
Get looking around this website and locate a cartridge headspace gage, and get it bought. I’ll show you how to use it next time. Either the Hornady LNL Cartridge Headspace Gage or the Forster Datum Dial (shown here) is my recommendation. They both work well. There are also drop-in style gages that will suffice to keep your ammo safe, but won’t give a number to work from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Custom Products

17217 Brookhouser Rd.

Saegertown PA 16433

814-763-2769

 

Superior Shooting Systems LLC

800 N. 2nd St.

Canadian TX 79014

806-323-9488

 

HODGDON’S RIFLE-CARTRIDGE LOADING HELP

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

As we’ve previously noted, Midsouth Shooters Supply customers enjoy using Hodgdon powders, in part because the company makes great products, but also because the company’s experts supply plenty of help for shooters who want to get started in reloading.

We previously noted here that some of the company’s available materials appear in the Hodgdon Reloading Education section. Click here to see the landing page on which Hodgdon begins the education process. Click here to see Safety precautions. Then click the Reloading for Beginners tab to get an overview of the basics of handloading. This time, we want to probe more deeply into the data available for reloading rifle cartridges.

The Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Data page gets you started by asking you to select a cartridge from a pulldown menu. The lineup of available cartridges begins at the 17 Ackley Hornet and continues through the 50 Browning Machine Gun, or 50 BMG. What’s nice is there are dozens choices of currently available commercial favorites, such as the 30-06 Springfield, as well as popular wildcats (219 Wasp), new entries, such as the 28 Nosler, and proprietary rounds, such as the 240 Weatherby Magnum and others.

The Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Ackley Hornet through 50 BMG. Magnum and others. Step 2 is selecting a bullet weight, then a powder manufacturer, then a specific powder.
The Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Ackley Hornet through 50 BMG. Magnum and others. Step 2 is selecting a bullet weight, then a powder manufacturer, then a specific powder.

Once you’ve selected a cartridge, which for our purposes here is the 25-06 Remington, you’re then able to select a range of bullet weights. In the case of the 25-06, that ranges from weights from 75 to 120 grains and a variety of bullet profiles.

When you select a bullet weight (or weights), the site returns a range of data for that load. Our search was to “select all,” which provided load data beginning with the 75-grain Hornady V-Max bullet. We then expanded that window and saw additional information about that choice, including Case: Remington, barrel twist (1:10”), primer (Remington 9 1/2, Large Rifle), barrel length (24 inches), and trim length for the case (2.484 inches).

Then, in more detail, the window for the 75-grain Hornady V-Max load lists the recommended powders, starting loads, and maximum loads, along with estimated pressure outcomes. The lowest-pressure starting load for the 25-06 75-grain Hornady V-Max round was with 58.0 grains of Hodgdon H1000, which will produce a velocity of 3,135 fps and develop 35,300 copper units of pressure (CUP).

The highest-pressure choice for the 25-06 75-grain Hornady V-Max round came with IMR 4451 (58.5 grains), which will produce 3,781 fps and 60,300 PSI (not CUP in this case).

Of course, you can deselect various elements to narrow your search. One particular bolt gun we have chambered in 25-06 Rem. has proven it can shoot commercial 115-grain Winchester Ballistic Tip ammunition (SBST2506) into three-quarters-inch groups if the shooter does his part, and its downrange performance with a 200-yard zero gives a bullet drop of -6.0 inches at 300 yards, so we can hold top of deer — but still on the target — and expect a center hit at 300 yards.

Unfortunately, that specific bullet isn’t available in the Hodgdon tables, but the data are still useful in building a test load to create something like it. We could select a similar bullet weight, such as the 117-grain Hornady SPBT, then look at which powders we wanted to work with to get the commercial round’s stated 3,060 fps muzzle velocity. (There are other considerations besides velocity of course, such as the bullets’ different ballistic coefficients, but first things first.) Or we could buy another 115-grain bullet, such as the Nosler Ballistic Tip, then use the 117-grain powder recommendations to begin working up profiles to build our own home-brew commercial load.

We’d choose one whose maximum load had a little velocity headroom in it — such as the Hodgdon Hybrid 100V that produces 3,111 fps with a maximum load of 50.5 grains and not the highest pressure. In this case, that’s 50,400 CUP. But there are plenty of other choices if that recipe doesn’t produce the results we wanted.

Also, you can narrow your selections by manufacturer or specific powder if you have already have pet loads you like to work with.

And that’s really the value of the Hodgdon rifle-cartridge reloading table: You’re able to select proven, safe, and varied mixtures of bullet weights and powder to begin making your own tack-driver loads.

SIG SAUER TO OPEN AMMO PLANT IN ARKANSAS

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that SIG Sauer is finalizing plans to locate a new ammunition manufacturing facility in an existing building in Jacksonville, Arkansas, where it anticipates creating about 50 new jobs.

The company’s plans were announced in Las Vegas at the 2016 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show). Hutchinson is the first Arkansas governor to attend the SHOT Show.

“Firearms and ammunition is a growing industry, and we came to Las Vegas to share the many reasons Arkansas is a natural fit for this sector,” said Governor Hutchinson. “The fact that a world-class company like SIG Sauer is choosing to do business in the state adds to our momentum in manufacturing and we appreciate this significant commitment they are making to locate in Arkansas.”

Forbes has ranked Arkansas as the third most gun-friendly state. For every 1,000 residents, there are 42 registered firearms in the state.

SIG Sauer manufactures pistols, rifles, silencers, optics, ammunitions, airguns and accessories. The company traces its roots to 1853 as a wagon factory named Swiss Industrial Company (Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft, more commonly known by the acronym SIG).

“We’re excited about SIG Sauer, a world renowned manufacturer of firearms, locating a facility in Jacksonville,” said Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher. “This is great news for our workforce with the opportunities and jobs they will provide for the community.”

Headquartered in Newington, New Hampshire, SIG has more than 900 employees. The worldwide business group of firearms manufacturers also include J.P. Sauer & Sohn and Blaser, Gmbh. in Germany and Swiss Arms AG in Switzerland.

SIG Sauer is finalizing plans to locate a new ammunition-manufacturing facility in an existing building in Jacksonville, Arkansas,
SIG Sauer is finalizing plans to locate a new ammunition-manufacturing facility in an existing building in Jacksonville, Arkansas,

Reloaders Corner: The Cartridge Case

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

The following is a specially-adapted excerpt from the forthcoming book,” Top-Grade Ammo,” by author Glen Zediker, owner of Zediker Publishing. Click here to order.

Bear with me! We’ll get started on the process of handloading next time when I talk about setting up a sizing die. But before that, it’s good to keep in mind what we’re dealing with, and that is a cartridge case, and also what happens to it during firing, which is what we’re setting out to remedy when we reuse it.

Rifle cartridge cases are made of brass, well, the reusable cases are (they can and have been made from steel and aluminum). There are no brass mines; brass is an alloy composed of copper and zinc and sometimes tiny amounts of other metals, like lead. The mix is usually about 70/30 copper to zinc. Different manufacturers use a different mix or blend, and that influences the nature of the material, and more about that shortly.

When a round is fired, here’s what happens.

When the firing pin or striker point contacts the primer, the cartridge is driven forward into the rifle chamber (as far as it is able to go).

When the primer detonates and its flame enters the cartridge-case flash hole to ignite the propellant, gases are produced that begin to expand the case.

As the propellant is consumed, gas pressure increases, the case head is driven backward against the bolt face, and the case neck and case shoulder are pushed forward as the case neck expands to release the bullet. The case essentially swells up like a balloon to fit the chamber, to the limits of the chamber, and this expansion is in all directions. So the back of the case is pushed into the bolt face and the front area is pushed or blown forward, while, during this, the case body is sealing (essentially sticking to) the chamber walls.

A cartridge case begins to contract just about immediately after it expands. The firing process takes scant milliseconds. Brass is both elastic and plastic. “Elastic” means it will stretch and contract. “Plastic” means it will stretch and stay. The elastic quality makes it expand and seal the chamber and then shrink back enough to be removed or extracted from the chamber. Plastic qualities mean it will also have sustained permanent change. Well, some of it isn’t really permanent because it can be changed again using tools, but some changes are permanent, whether they are literally smoothed over or not. Some cases tend to be harder — less plastic and less elastic — and that is almost always good, or so I say. It’s easy to see that since brass used in a semi-auto has to deal with at least some premature bolt unlocking, a harder composition is less “sticky” in extraction. Even for a bolt-gun, though, harder alloy tends to be smoother cycling. In a semi-auto, case life is strongly influenced by brass composition, and the harder the longer.

Thinking about what happened to the case, what it went through, during firing means we can anticipate the results and effects of dimensional changes. The areas of the chamber that have the greatest dimensional difference between those and the loaded round will have the greatest influence on the dimensions of the spent or fired case. Specifically, the spent case neck will now be too oversized to hold a bullet in place. The case shoulder will have lengthened (elevated if we’re standing the case on its bottom). The case body will have gotten larger in diameter. The case will also have lengthened overall (more about this in another article). What else? Some case material will have moved forward (brass flows in firing) toward the case neck. This material will have come from the area around the case head. The primer pocket will be larger in diameter.

Each firing, brass gets harder overall. In the areas where it expands the most, it gets even harder as it is “worked” through expanding and then being contracted. The tools we use to restore dimensions, the sizing die for good instance, create the contraction. And as suggested, the wall area near the case head gets thinner and the case neck walls get thicker.

All this means quite a bit to the handloader. First, get a clear picture of what’s happened to the spent cartridge case. Essentially, it’s expanded to more closely match the chamber dimensions. Of course, that means different spent-case dimensions from different chambers. Likewise, not all brass cases expand, or stay expanded, in the same way.

Case capacity, by the way, isn’t always as important as it might seem. Greater volume does mean more room for propellant, and expanding gases. With faster to medium propellants, it’s a “trade,” in a way of looking at it. A little less propellant in a little smaller capacity case nets about the same as a little more propellant in a little larger capacity case. Pressure and velocity will be about the same, either way. Now, in larger cartridges, and also often with double-base propellants in any size cartridge, more internal volume will very often mean more velocity at suitable pressure. Point is, don’t worry too much about more or less case capacity in .223 Rem. or .308 Win. I think the alloy composition is more important.

Now we can get started on patching them back up for another use…

SHOT Show 2016 Special Edition: New Ammunition

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Guest post by Richard Mann, courtesy of SHOT Daily.

Though it is often overlooked, ammunition continues to be the area where we see the most innovation in the firearms world. For 2016, we have new and exciting ammunition products for any gun you choose to shoot, from muzzleloaders to itty-bitty handguns. Two firearms manufacturers have also stepped into the branded ammunition arena. This is very good news, because of all the firearms-related gadgetry sold, ammo is the one consumable you can never have enough of.

Alliant

Alliant Powder Blue MZ
Alliant Powder Blue MZ

Yes, hunters are still going to the field with muzzleloaders. Early seasons still offer great opportunities for trophy animals, and the inline muzzleloader is the tool to put ’em on the ground. Muzzleloader hunters need propellant that ignites reliably and burns consistently even in extreme weather conditions. New Blue MZ from Alliant Powder delivers on this tall order. The 50-grain equivalent pellets produce higher velocities than do competing pellets at safe pressures and ignite reliably with 209 shotshell primers. Blue MZ provides outstanding accuracy with a wide range of popular bullets. The clean-­burning formulation allows for fast, easy cleaning with water-based solvents. Blue MZ is available in 48-count packs. (alliantpowder.com)

Barnes Bullets

Barnes Bullets has added two new loads to the VOR-TX line of premium ammunition. The first is a 130-grain Tipped Triple Shock load for the .308 Winchester. It is rated at 3,170 fps, and it takes the .308 Winchester into a new realm of velocity. SRP: $45.69 for a 20-round box. The second load is an 190-grain LRX bullet for the .300 Winchester Magnum. This bullet’s ogive and cannelure design gives it a high B.C., and the nose cavity engineering ensures it expands reliably at lower velocities. This combination makes it a good choice for hunters who intend to take longer shots. It is rated at 2,860 fps. SRP: $61 for a 20-round box. (barnesbullets.com)

Browning

The biggest ammunition surprise might be the news that Browning is now offering, via licensing, a full line of ammunition. This includes hunting, shotshell, personal protection, target, and, maybe most surprising, even rimfire loads. What is probably not a surprise is that this new line of ammo will be manufactured by Olin-Winchester. The Buck Mark–logoed centerfire rifle hunting loads fall into two categories. First is the BXR Rapid Expansion Matrix Tip, which is designed for rapid expansion and high energy transfer. It could be considered a deer-specific ammunition. Available chamberings include .243 Win., .270 Win., .30/30 Win., .308 Win., .30/06, .300 Win. Mag., and .300 WSM. The other centerfire rifle loads are topped with the BXC Controlled Expansion Terminal Tip bullet. These bullets have a brass tip and the jacket is bonded to the core for deeper penetration through thick muscle and bone. These boattail bullets are available in the same chamberings, with the exception of the .243 and .30/30 Win. and the addition of the 7mm Rem. Mag.

The shotshell loads come in three categories. The BXD Waterfowl Extra Distance loads are launched at high velocities utilizing an optimized long-range wad and plated round steel shot. Combining round steel with an innovative wad design results in a lethal combination of energy retention, penetration, and pattern density. Five 12-gauge loads are offered in No. 2, No. 4, and BB shot sizes at 1½- or 1¼-ounce payloads. The single 20-gauge load delivers 1 ounce of No. 2s.

The BXD Upland loads launch premium plated No. 5 or No. 6 shot. The nickel-plated shot helps keep the shot round, resulting in high velocity retention and energy transfer as well as tighter downrange patterns. There are three 12- and three 20-gauge loads to choose from. The BPT Performance Target loads are designed for busting clays. They are loaded with hard shot to help deliver tight patterns and maximum target-breaking energy. There are four loads total in this category: three for the 12-gauge and one for the 20.

The BXP Personal Defense X-Point defensive handgun loads are loaded in black nickel-plated cases, with bullets utilizing the X-Point technology. This technology allows the hollowpoint bullet to deliver consistent expansion and penetration, and rapidly transfers energy to the target. There is also a line of Target Performance BPT loads for defensive handguns. It is a matched training counterpart to BXP Personal Defense loads. The usual defensive handgun ammo suspects are represented in both lines, with one load each in .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 Auto.

And last but most certainly not least, we have Browning’s rimfire loads. It is offering three, all for the .22 LR. There is a 40-grain lead round-nose bullet at 1,255 fps, a 40-grain lead hollowpoint at a sizzling 1,435 fps, and a 37-grain fragmenting bullet for varmints, small game, and such, at 1,400 fps. They have a distinct black-oxide coating on the bullet and will be offered in 100- and 400-round packages. (browning.com)

CCI

CCI Big 4 10-Round Packs
CCI Big 4 10-Round Packs

The unquestioned king of rimfire ammunition is CCI, so it is surprising that for 2016, it has only one new rimfire load. But this load makes sense, and for West Coasters it will be much appreciated. It is loaded with a California-legal bullet and is called CCI Copper-22. The projectile is constructed from a unique mix of copper particles and polymer compressed into a potent 21-grain hollowpoint bullet. Combined with CCI’s reliable priming and propellant, Copper-22 loads achieve a wickedly high muzzle velocity of 1,850 fps and provide superb accuracy.

If CCI is the king of rimfire ammo, then it is also the emperor of centerfire shotshell loads for handguns. Even with no competition in the marketplace, CCI has decided to offer four new centerfire handgun shotshell loads. But these are not your average snake-killing loads. The new CCI Big 4 loads extend the range and capabilities of these downsized shotshells, thanks to a payload of No. 4 lead shot. The resulting energy and patterns enable Big 4 loads to take down larger pests at longer distances. The 10-round packs will be available for the 9mm Luger, .38 Spl./.357 Magnum, .44 Spl./.44 Magnum, and the .45 Colt. SRP: $17.95 to $19.95. (cci-ammunition.com)

Federal Premium & American Eagle

As one of the largest ammunition manufacturers in the world, Federal Premium is not going into 2016 lightly. It is offering three new 3rd Degree 20-gauge loads. 3rd Degree uses a multi-shot, three-stage payload to deliver larger, more forgiving patterns at close range while still providing deadly performance at long distance. The pattern of No. 5 Premium lead, No. 6 Flitestopper lead, and No. 7 Heavyweight shot is maximized by the Flitecontrol wad, which opens from the rear and stays with the shot column longer than do conventional wads for full, consistent patterns.

For defensive handguns, a new 9mm Luger load has been added to the Micro HST line. This load utilizes a 150-grain HST bullet optimized for terminal performance and low recoil from micro-sized handguns. SRP: $31.95 for a 20-round box.

Federal’s American Eagle Syntech loads in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 Auto are also new. Conventional ammunition causes metal-on-metal contact between the bullet and bore, which can shorten barrel life and rob accuracy. But the all-new polymer-encapsulated Syntech bullet prevents this while eliminating copper and lead fouling. Combined with specialized clean-burning powders, your gun will stay cleaner longer.

The exclusive Catalyst primer provides the most reliable, consistent ignition possible. SRP: $19.99, 9mm; $33.95, .45 Auto. Both are available in 50-round boxes.

There are also 10 new loads in the American Eagle rifle line. It’s no surprise that the line now includes a .300 Blackout load, but the OTM 120-grain 6.5 Grendel and 140-grain 6.5 Creedmoor are a bit of a surprise. Now devotees of both of these .264-caliber rounds, which continue to grow in popularity, have an affordable factory-ammo option. The other seven new American Eagle rifle loads are specifically intended for varmint hunters. They include a 20-grain Tipped Varmint bullet load for the .17 and .22 Hornet, a 50-grain JHP load for the .223 and .22/250 Remington, a 75-grain JHP for the .243 Winchester, a 90-grain JHP for the 6.8 SPC, and, uncharacteristically, a 130-grain JHP load for the .308 Winchester. They are available in 40- or 50-round bulk packs for high-volume shooting.

In the law-enforcement line, Federal has two Tactical Ballistic Tip loads—one in .223 Remington and one in .308 Winchester. The Tactical Ballistic Tip bullet’s polymer tip provides excellent accuracy, while the tapered jacket allows rapid—yet controlled—expansion on impact. The new .223 Rem. and .308 Win. loads are specifically designed for use in semi-automatic rifles, including M-16 or AR-15 variants. The ammunition is built to military specifications and utilizes low-flash propellants, the best Federal brass, and crimped primers.

The Fusion MSR line from Federal has a new 6.8 SPC load specifically designed for hunting and performing to perfection through a 16-inch barrel. The molecularly fused 90-grain bullet transfers tremendous energy on impact for lethal terminal performance. SRP: $29.95.

Although it seems the bullet trend is all-copper projectiles, Federal is returning to the roots of the muzzleloader with the Lead Muzzleloader Bullet. Federal transformed muzzleloader capabilities in 2015 with the B.O.R. Lock MZ System and the Trophy Copper Muzzleloader Bullet. For 2016, that technology expands to include a new hard-hitting lead version. Like its predecessor, it provides outstanding accuracy in a non-sabot design that’s easy to load, scrubs fouling from the breech, and ensures consistent bullet seating. The rear of the B.O.R. Lock MZ cup features a hard fiber-reinforced polymer ring that scours fouling from the breech as the bullet is pushed into place. These 350-grain hard-hitting .50-caliber projectiles are available in packs of 15. SRP: $24.95. (federalpremium.com)

Hornady

The big news from Hornady this year is the introduction of the ELD-X and ELD-Match bullets, and the inclusion of these in the new Precision Hunter and current Match ammunition lines. Both the ELD-X and ELD-Match bullets feature a Heat Shield tip that resists heat deformation in flight. This not only flattens trajectory, it also eliminates ballistic coefficient degradation during flight. Ultimately, this improves long-range accuracy and helps with wind resistance to provide better precision at long ranges. ELD-X component bullets will be available in 6.5mm, 7mm, .30, and .338 calibers. Those same calibers will be loaded in Precision Hunter ammo for a variety of long-range cartridges. The same calibers will be offered with ELD-Match bullets, and Match loads will be offered for the 6.5 Creedmoor and .338 Lapua. ELD-X bullets just might be the most important projectile advancement since bonding.

Hornady Precision Hunter Line
Hornady Precision Hunter Line

Hornady has also added five new loads to the American Whitetail line of ammunition. These include a 140-grain .270 Winchester load, a 154-grain 7mm Rem. Mag. load, a 165-grain .308 Winchester load, and a 180-grain .30/06 and .300 Win. Mag. load. Continuing with new offerings in affordable ammunition, Hornady has added four new loads for the American Gunner line. These include a 55-grain JHP load for the .223 Remington, a 110-grain BTHP 6.8 SPC load, a 155-grain BTHP .308 Winchester load, and a 125-grain hollowpoint load for the .300 Blackout.

New Hornady Superformance loads include a 180-grain GMX for the .30/06 and the .300 Winchester Magnum. There are also four new GMX loads in the Full Boar line, one each for the .25/06 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, and the .300 Blackout. There is also a 140-grain Full Boar MonoFlex load for the .30/30 Winchester.

Hornady’s Critical Duty line of personal protection/law enforcement ammunition gets a new addition with a 175-grain FlexLock 10mm Auto load. And, though not a true ammunition product, Hornady’s unique Ballistic Band is a simple and handy way for shooters to record and reference their ballistics information. It should be a great companion for any long-range hunter. (hornady.com)

PolyCase

The big news from PolyCase is its new partnership with Ruger. Aside from that, PolyCase has also teamed with Alexander Arms to offer its ARX projectile in loaded .50 Beowulf ammunition. The .50 Beowulf, developed and produced by Alexander Arms for the AR-15 platform, is designed to deliver exceptional terminal performance at short to moderate range. PolyCase’s ARX projectile is an advanced injection-molded copper-­polymer bullet that transfers energy to targets without expanding like a hollowpoint. The .50 Beowulf ammunition loaded with the PolyCase ARX projectile is available direct from Alexander Arms. (polycaseammo.com)

Lehigh Defense

Staying true to form, Lehigh Defense continues to offer alternatives to traditional ammunition. The new .380 ACP Xtreme Defense (XD) load will penetrate more than 14 inches in 10 percent ordnance gelatin while retaining 100 percent of its weight. This barrier-blind projectile is an intense tissue-damaging, deep-penetrating alternative to traditional shallow-penetrating, expanding .380 ACP self defense loads. (lehigh defense.com)

Liberty Ammunition

Liberty is continuing its trend of offering high-velocity, light-for-caliber projectiles, and new for 2016 is its copper monolithic, a fragmenting, hollowpoint lead-free hunting load for the .308 Winchester. With a 3,500 fps muzzle velocity, it generates 2,700 foot-pounds of energy. (libertyammo.com)

Remington

Remington has a variety of new loads for 2016, with shotgun ammo being the category with the most to see. It has introduced a new category of shotshell loads called American Clay & Field that uses 100 percent high-antimony hard-round lead shot and the power-piston wad. There are five 12-gauge loads, three 20-gauge loads, and two 28-gauge and .410 loads. It has also increased the velocity of four Nitro Steel loads, boosting the 10-gauge 3.5-inch No. 2 shot load to 1,450 fps, the 12-gauge 3.5-inch No. 2 and BB loads to 1,500 fps, and the 20-gauge 3-inch No. 4 load to 1,500 fps. There are also five new loads in the XLR shotshell line, all offering higher velocities and lighter payloads at a lower price, with moderate recoil.

Remington has also introduced the 12-gauge to the Hog Hammer line, offering two 12-gauge Hog Hammer loads for 2016. The first is a 2¾-inch 000 buck load at 1,325 fps; the second is a 3-inch 7⁄8-ounce slug at 1,875 fps.

Finally, there are two new Ultimate Defense loads for the 12-­gauge. There is a 9-pellet 00 buck load at 1,325 fps and an 8-pellet 00 buck load at 1,200 fps. Both will work in 2¾-inch chambers.

For defensive handguns, Remington has two important contributions. It will finally be offering the excellent Golden Saber Black Belt loads for civilian sale. This will include a 124-grain +P and a 147-grain 9mm Luger load, 164- and 185-grain .40 S&W loads, a 185-grain .45 Auto +P, and a 125-grain .357 Magnum load. The Golden Saber Black Belt bullet is a fantastic, less-expensive alternative to bonded personal protection ammo.

Remington has also added a full-size handgun category to the Ultimate Defense line of handgun ammunition. Last year it launched the compact handgun category with loads purpose-built for little pistols. Now, it has essentially rebranded the original Ultimate Defense handgun ammo for full-size pistols. For those who like to shoot a lot and spend a little, Remington has two new Range Bucket offerings. One big plastic bucket—The Range Bucket—is filled with 350 rounds of 9mm Luger (SRP: $98); the other contains 300 rounds of .223 Remington ammo and is called the Freedom Bucket. (remington.com)

Ruger

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc., has entered the ammunition business by partnering with PolyCase. This new ammo, called the Ruger ARX, is designed and produced by PolyCase under license from Ruger. These loads use PolyCase’s revolutionary ARX bullet technology. By design, the non-expanding Ruger ARX exploits the bullet’s velocity to redirect energy laterally via flutes in the bullet ogive. The bullet’s design allows it to feed like a round-nose, yet still transfer energy to targets effectively over a wide range of velocities. The ARX penetrates many barriers without deformation and penetrates through clothing without clogging and degrading terminal performance. The four loads are a 56-grain .380 ACP, a 74-grain 9mm Luger, a 107-grain .40 S&W, and a 118-grain .45 Auto. (ruger.com)

SIG SAUER

Last year, SIG shocked the ammunition market with the introduction of a full line of products. For 2016, SIG has added to that line with several new loads. First up is a .38 Super +P Elite 125-grain V-Crown jacketed hollowpoint load at 1,230 fps. A 125-grain FMJ load at the same velocity is also available for the .38 Super. SIG has also added four new revolver loads for the .38 Special and .357 Magnum. The .38 Special loads are available with either a 125-grain FMJ or V-Crown bullet at a muzzle velocity of 900 fps. The .357 Magnum loads deliver 1,450 fps with either the FMJ or JHP bullet. The most interesting new load from SIG might be the Elite Performance 300 BLK round designed specifically for hunting. This 220-grain subsonic V-Crown load offers excellent penetration, increased expansion, and maximum terminal ballistic performance, creating an ideal hunting round for the .300 Blackout. (sigsauer.com)

Weatherby

Weatherby 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum
Weatherby 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum

Weatherby is doing something in 2016 it has not done for 17 years. It will be offering a new cartridge, and in Weatherby tradition, it’s a screamer. It’s the 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum, made by necking down the .300 Weatherby Magnum to 6.5 caliber. With the 6.5-300, Weatherby has created the fastest 6.5-caliber rifle cartridge ever. It is capable of pushing a 127-grain bullet in excess of 3,500 fps. Just as new and important is the fact that Weatherby will be loading all of the ammo for the 6.5-300 WM here in the United States at its Paso Robles, California, factory, Initially, three loads will be offered. A 127-grain Barnes LRX, a 130-grain Swift Scirocco II, and a 140-grain Swift A-Frame. (weatherby.com)

Reporting by SHOT Business Daily, reprinted with permission. SHOT Daily, produced by The Bonnier Corporation and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, covers all facets of the yearly firearms-industry show. Click here to see full issues. Product pricing and availability are at of time of publication and subject to change without notice.