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.
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…
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.
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 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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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 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 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)
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)
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 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.
SIG Sauer Ammunition has introduced its first personal defense revolver cartridges, with loads in 38 Special, 44 S&W Special, and 45 Colt.
“With the recent proliferation of small-frame revolvers for personal defense, the demand for ammunition in these calibers is growing significantly,” said Dan Powers, president of the SIG Sauer Ammunition Division. “SIG Sauer continues to expand caliber offerings for handgun shooters, which now includes the revolver market, and there will be introductions of additional revolver calibers in the coming weeks.”
All three cartridges are available in the SIG V-Crown jacketed hollow point (JHP) round of Elite Performance Ammunition in the following bullet weights:
— 125-grain 38 Special with a muzzle of velocity of 900 fps;
— 240-grain 44 S&W Special with a muzzle velocity of 800 fps; and
— 230-grain 45 Colt with a muzzle velocity of 950 fps.
Bullets are SIG Sauer’s proprietary V-Crown stacked hollow point. Ducta–Bright 7A coated brass cases provide enhanced lubricity and corrosion resistance.
The 38 Special is also available in SIG FMJ full-metal-jacket loads. Designed specifically for practice and competition shooting, these premium target rounds feature solid brass cases and copper-jacketed bullets that remain intact on impact. Clean-burning powders are used to reduce barrel fouling.
Click here to see ballistics for the SIG Sauer Ammunition line.
Click here to see our selection of SIG V-Crown bullets.
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.
Last time I gave a caution about respecting one of the differences between semi-auto and bolt-action rifles, and that was with respect to propellant burn rates. The summary reason for that is that different rate propellants will “peak” at different areas as the expanding gases and the bullet travel through the bore. Slower-burning propellants peak farther, and that means more pressure is available at the gas port location in an AR-15, for instance, as the bullet passes it. If the system is oversupplied, then the system is overworked.
Compared to ideal function when gas supply is delivered as engineered, mistimed peak pressures can result in the bolt unlocking too quickly and excessive bolt carrier velocity rearward. The system just gets hit too hard. The extractor tries to yank the case out of the chamber too soon, before the case is released from its grip on the chamber walls (from being expanded through firing). Spent-case condition shows a measurably more abused hull. Probably the worst popular example of these effects is the M1A. I’m doing an entire column or two on reloading for this beast. Essentially, a spent case from an M1A will show dimensions that don’t seem possible. These come from the bolt unlocking too quickly. AR-15s actually handle excessive pressure better than some other designs.
Always keep in mind that this is all happening in about 2 milliseconds. Average time a bullet spends in the barrel, for most modern centerfire rounds, is 0.002 seconds. Timing is everything.
Keeping in mind the behavior of a pressure curve, which is like a wave cresting, factors that influence the amount of gas-port pressure, using the same load, include barrel length, gas-port size, and gas-port location. When the bullet is sealing the bore, the longer the barrel, the more pressure is contained for a longer time. The smaller or larger the gas port size, the slower or faster the gas enters the system. The farther back or forward the port is located, the sooner or later. Bullet weight is a factor also: heavier bullets accelerate more slowly (and also the reason heavy bullets erode the chamber throat more than lighter bullets).
And, the amount of volume inside the bore has a huge influence on all this. That matters when we’re using another caliber than .224 in an AR-15 or .308 in a big-chassis AR (like an SR-25). For instance, in that rifle chambered for .243 Win., but retaining the gas system specifications (gas port size and location) of the .308 Win.–chambered rifle, there’s way more pressure only because there’s less space, less volume, in the bore. The opposite is usually true when we’re running an AR-15 with a larger caliber bullet.
Selecting a propellant with a suitable burning rate, which, again, is something in the vicinity of H4895, is really the only thing we can do on the loading bench to ensure that we’re not contributing to these symptoms. Beyond that, dealing with excessive pressure gets technical.
All my NRA Match Rifles, which usually have 26-inch barrels, get their gas ports moved forward one to two inches. These, of course, are custom-barreled. I also usually install an adjustable gas manifold.
Moving the port forward effectively delays the wave of gas moving through the bore, kind of repositioning its peak with respect to its outlet; there is more space available for expanding gases. It also allows a little slower-burning propellant, which can take more advantage of the longer barrel. It’s common in a similarly constructed AR-10 to get a port moved as much as 5 inches forward to accommodate a .243 Win. or .260 Rem. chambering.
The adjustable manifold allows some tuning. There are essentially two forms these take. One way is to restrict or limit the through-flow; the other just bleeds it off. I like the first kind the best.
Also, I have searched far and wide for a consensus on gas-port sizes, and came up empty.
All this changes with different chamberings and rifle configurations. Carbine-length barrels are particularly sensitive to port pressure because the port is located farther back.
There are a few surefire things that will alert you when your rifle is exhibiting “over-function” symptoms, such as spent-case condition showing excessively blown (extended) case shoulders, extractor marks on the case rim, and a generally explosive sensation in functioning.
In a more extreme circumstance, an over-accelerated carrier can “bounce” back from its rearmost travel so quickly that a round can’t present itself in time to be picked up by the bolt, or the bolt stop can’t engage quickly enough to hold the bolt carrier.
Sometimes what appears to be a “light” load is actually not. I’ve seen excess pressure leave a spent case in the chamber because the extractor lost its grip, and I’ve seen chunks pulled right off case rims. That’s severe. That’s also another cause for the “short-stroke” appearance of over-function: the extractor issue has slowed the carrier.
If you’re having any problems with “over-function,” solutions include retrofitting an adjustable manifold, increasing carrier mass, installing a stouter buffer spring. I do all those things on my rifles. Keep in mind that I am primarily a Service Rifle shooter, and I am trying to push an 80-grain bullet as fast as reasonably possible from a 20-inch barrel that can’t get the modifications mentioned. I know a thing or three about delaying bolt unlocking — I’ll cover more on this topic if you all want to know.
Midsouth Shooters Supply sells a ton of Hodgdon powders, because, of course, the company makes great products our customers love. But Hodgdon powders are also popular because the company’s experts are willing to help folks get started in the craft or guide experienced hands toward new reloading ventures. Whether you’re new to reloading or a seasoned vet, there’s always something more to learn.
That’s where Hodgdon’s Reloading Education section comes in. The company has stockpiled a wealth of information that can help take your handloading to the next level. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at Hodgdon’s online system for building top-rate rifle, pistol, and shotgun loads and give you some pointers on how to make time-saving and money-conserving choices on brass, bullets, and powders.
Click here to see the landing page on which Hodgdon begins the education process.
Select the Reloading for Beginners tab to learn the basics, from the effect of crimp depth in shotshells to reloading the .223 to matching shot type and size to reloading data.
Midsouth also recommends you spend some time learning about Safety. Click that tab to brush up on the do’s and don’ts of reloading, starting with the basic reloading precautions created by the NRA.
Then, select the Tips and Tricks tab for informative posts on key topics in the reloading community.
Here’s a sample of some of the things you’ll find on the site:
A few years ago, one of our Midsouth staffers asked an FFL friend to find him a Kel-Tec PMR-30, which were in short supply at the time. He purchased one for $600. Now, at a vastly better price, “The Shot Report” e-letter readers have a chance to win one in our giveaway.
Besides just the sheer joy of getting something cool for free, there’s a lot to like about the PMR-30 pistol. So, to fill you in on some of the best aspects of this handgun, we compiled a top-ten list of great things to like about Kel-Tec’s PMR-30, and we wish you luck when it comes time to draw for it.
Ammunition for the PMR-30 is affordable, if sporadically available recently. A lot of shooters love the similarly sized FiveseveN handgun, but just the 5.7 ammo that runs that handgun will turn a big wad o’ cash in your pocket into a small wad o’ cash PDQ. The PMR-30, on the other hand, chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, offers a lot of load availability and pricing. We currently list 14 different .22 WMR packages from CCI, Hornady, and Federal in bullet or shotcharge weights of 30, 40, 45, 50, and 52 grains. You can shoot this surprisingly powerful round for as low as 20 cents a round (actually, 19.88 cents/round for the Federal FMJ 40-grain load #129-737).
First reaction of most shooters who handle the PMR-30: “It is so light, it feels like a toy.” The gun and magazine together, unloaded, weigh only a pound, and with a full complement of 40-grain cartridges, it comes in at 20.2 ounces.
You can shoot the heck out it. Our staff has poured about 1000 rounds through one PMR-30, and everyone who shot it has loved it. But note that Kel-Tec says, “The PMR-30 pistol functions best with high-power ammo, often with bullet weights of 40-grains and up. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: CCI Maxi Mag 40gr, Winchester Super-X 40gr, Remington Premier Magnum 33gr.” Also, Kel-Tec notes, “Low-power ammo and/or lightweight bullets may cause failure to feed problems due to the lack of energy to cycle the slide all the way back. The following are currently low power, and may not function reliably in the PMR-30 pistol, especially if the grip is not held firmly: Winchester Dynapoint 45gr, Winchester Supreme 30gr.”
Capacity. The “full complement” mentioned above is 30+1 rounds. Start shooting the first of the month, keep shooting all month. If you like to do math and not have loose rounds in your range bag, then cipher this:
We added three steel magazines to the two polymer mags purchased with the handgun, which gives a loaded-round count of 150 rounds in magazines, or the tidy equivalent of three 50-round boxes of ammo.
The PMR-30 uses a double-stack magazine, and loading 30 rounds into it takes time, and holding pressure on the cartridges to put 30 in can tire your hands. To make this process easier, loading tools are available and recommended. Just do an online search for “PMR-30 loading tools” and several sources will pop up.
The trigger is a crisp single action with an over-travel stop. Our staff PMR-30’s trigger breaks at 3.9 pounds, with no creep and a clean reset.
Another favorite feature on the PMR-30 is the fiber-optic orange rear-sight dots and green fiber-optic front-sight dot. Even newbies understand and can see how to align the three dots, and they’re very visible on almost every target color. In fact, the color scheme is superior in low-light conditions.
The sights and good trigger translate to pretty good accuracy. With Winchester Dynapoint 45-grain JHPs at 15 yards, we can shoot some 2-inch groups off sandbags, but the average group size is closer to 2.5 inches. Our older version also likes Remington Magnum Rimfire 40-gr. PSPs, which come in around 2.7 inches as a group average.
The PMR-30 produces surprising power and penetration. Super-X 22 WMRs are rated at a muzzle velocity/muzzle energy of 1910 fps/324 ft.-lbs. out of a rifle barrel, and in the PMR-30 itself, we got 1339 fps/159 ft.-lbs., only a 30% decrease. In Ballistic Technology’s wax-like, easy-to-use Handgun Bullet Test Tubes, we were able to accurately measure penetration and wound-cavity size. We fired a round into two 11-inch-long, 3.5-inch-wide Handgun Test Tubes set end to end. The Remington PSP had enough energy to punch a quarter-inch-wide hole 4 inches deep into the second tube (15 inches overall penetration).
We have tested ten .22 WMR samples in the Kel-Tec for function and reliability. We encountered no function problems with any of the 10 brands. Some of our friends have mentioned two instances where the 30th round stuck in the magazine and didn’t feed. It only happened with Winchester Dynapoints in both of the polymer factory mags, so it may be an ammunition-specific issue. More likely, it’s that they did not follow the recommended loading sequence religiously. Failure to load the magazine properly can result in rim-lock, which will lead to a failure to feed. Most likely, after they got 15 to 20 rounds in the magazine, they didn’t tap the magazine on the bench to seat rounds.
All in, the lucky winner of the PMR-30 we’re offering will likely have himself or herself a ball with this handgun — with a red-dot or laser, it would be a wicked squirrel gun out to… as good as you are. Most of us are happy when the gun is better than we are.
A heads-up: You’ll notice we’re currently out of stock on all .22 WMR. Unfortunately, right now, ammunition manufacturers just can’t keep up with demand, and they won’t give us any expected dates of delivery, so we’re leery of letting folks backorder, when it may be a while before it can be fulfilled. If some looks to be coming in, we’ll try to let you know as soon as it hits the receiving dock.