Category Archives: AR-15

RELOADERS CORNER: Gas Port Pressure

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

casing in air

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RELOADERS CORNER: Blissful Moderation

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

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

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That was easy,” I thought.

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW: PWS MOD2 MK107 AR15 Pistol

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Designed to replace MP5-style weapons, this “Daiblo” is a sleek and sturdy AR15 pistol. READ ALL ABOUT IT

PWS AR15 pistol

Major Pandemic

While almost every other manufacturer of AR15s is chasing the entry-level price-point customer, Primary Weapons System introduced a $2000 fully-loaded AR15 pistol which sold out immediately! Every inch of this reliable push-rod long-stroke piston-driven AR pistol is dripping with custom and innovative parts.

The market success of the MOD2 MK107 should be proof enough that customers are craving something different, something exclusive, and are more than willing to shell out the cash for feature-loaded AR15s. PWS is regarded by many as one of the top tier of high-tech combat AR platform guns, and has a long history of delivering super premium AR platforms complete with their famed and super reliable piston system.

PWS MOD2 MK107
Feed it good ammo and the accuracy will astound you! Reliability in my test was 100-percent.

CONCEPT
It is important to understand that this AR15 pistol is unlike any other. It’s more than a standard pistol with a cool set of receivers and fancy flash hider. Instead this pistol represents PWS’ latest AR15 platform refinements from its push-rod long-stroke piston-driven MOD1 predecessor. Many consider the PWS piston system as the best on the market. It is in essence a reduced-size AK-47 piston system. PWS modified this design into the AR platform which delivers a push-rod attached to the carrier, a much lighter recoil impulse than other piston systems and a significantly better platform for suppressor use. Disassembly is easy and simple. Break open the upper, removed the charging handle, BCG, and attached long stroke piston, clean the piston and reassemble. Since there is no gas blowback with the piston system, the BCG and upper stay clean and cool even after 1000s of rounds of suppressed shooting.

PWS MOD2 MK107
The gas piston system is a scaled down AK type, and it’s been well proven. Gun stays clean even with a suppressor.

The intent of this pistol was to offer a transitional firearm which could be purchased and shot as a pistol. If the owner wants to have a registered SBR, this configuration delivers a lot of fun shooting during the long wait for an ATF short-barreled-rifle tax stamp. Once a tax stamp is in hand, the rearmost cheek brace and guide rods can be swapped to a Maxim Defense buttstock. Of course some people may elect to just leave it as an AR15 pistol to allow more flexibility in ownership and transportation over state lines.

FEATURES
The MOD2 series adds additional refinements. Additional weight savings is one. A new custom-forged receiver incorporates weight reducing reliefs. Yes I did say “forged.” These are not modified mil-spec receivers, or billet, but rather custom forged upper and lower. For the record, forging does deliver a stronger part.

In the process of strategically lightening the receivers they ended up looking amazingly cool!

PWS MOD2 MK107
Proprietary design forged receivers are lightened and feature full ambi controls.

The lower ambi controls are similar to the Sig MPX with ambi-selector and bolt release in the same position. The lower receiver features an integrated trigger guard, larger flared mag well, and inlets for all the extra ambi-parts. The upper receiver has been trimmed down though reliefs, but also lightened with the omission of the forward assist. Other nice touches are beefing up certain areas to increase strength such as near the barrel extension union on the upper and also adding a captured ejection port door pin.

PWS reduced the number of piston gas pressure adjustment points to just three on the MOD2. To assure the hammer-forged 1-8 twist .223 Wylde barrel’s bark was directed away from the shooter, they attached the PWS CQB brake. I have used this brake on many firearms over the years and personally believe any AR or AK intended to be shot indoors should not be without it. There is magic within that CQB flash hider that I have not found any other muzzle device to deliver.

PWS MOD2 MK107 brake
The PWS QCB muzzle device is amazingly effective, really taking the blast and bark away from the shooter.

The bolt carrier group is PWS’ own anti-tilt piston design finished in a lithium embedded salt nitro treatment (Nitromet). Trigger group is a tuned ALG NiBo which feels extremely good for a duty trigger. The PicMod handguard is yet another PWS innovation which delivers standard picatinny rails which are also KeyMod compatible.

PWS maxim defense adjustable cheek rest
The Maxim Defense Adjustable Cheek Rest gives a solid cheek weld and is easily adjusted, collapsed, and extended via a lower paddle latch.

The most noticeable accessory is the Maxim Defense Adjustable Cheek Rest which delivers a solid cheek weld in a variety of shooting positions. The cheek rest is easily adjusted, collapsed, and extended via a lower paddle latch. The cheek rest can be easily swapped out with an arm brace accessory, or with prior ATF SBR registration, a buttstock using the same paddle latch. PWS has officially switched from Magpul to Bravo Company furniture, and the angle of the Bravo Company grip is excellent for a compact shooting format.

THE EXTRAS
Included is an exceptionally well-made Crossfire soft case capable of accommodating many accessories, 1 Lancer 30-round (depending on state) magazine, BCM Keymod Quick Detachable Sling Mount, a set of Keymod RailScales, $50 gift card to PrimaryWeapons.com, $70 discount card off a Vertx backpack which is sized to fit this pistol, a PWS patch, brochures and manuals. In total, about $300 worth of accessories and coupons is a well appreciated package that lets PWS customers feel the love on a firearm of this caliber.

SHOOTING
With the MOD2 version, PWS did drop factory sights off the installed equipment list, so some type of optic is needed. I elected for the brand new Vortex 1x Prismatic Sparc. This true 1X optic features a button changeable red or green illuminated double-circle dot reticle. It’s freaky fast to get on target, runs on 1 AAA battery, has an etched reticle reticle that is visible even if the battery is dead or removed, a swappable MOA or 5.56 BDC turret, and enormous field of view and stunning clarity.

Vortex 1x Prismatic Sparc
Vortex 1x Prismatic Sparc optic is an outstanding choice.

Due to the fun involved of shooting this setup, I went far beyond my typical 400-round testing and had not one single issue with any ammo tested. Switching to a 1-6 Lucid scope, the PWS MOD2 MK107 AR15 pistol is more than capable of 1-inch 100-yard groups with Federal Gold Match or Hornady Match ammo, but back with the Vortex mounted it was fun to bang away on 6-inch steel all the way out to 400 yards. I found the Vortex Sparc BDC turret settings put me on the target and offered accurate holdovers at the extended ranges.

CARRY
This is a pistol… So based on your local, you should be able to carry it concealed inside a pack just like you would your Glock if you have your concealed carry license. As mentioned, PWS includes a discount for a  Vertx pack which will enclose the entire pistol, but I did had a Sneaky Bags 27-in. SPYDER case which has the look of a tennis racket bag. The SPYDER was a perfect single-sling pack for the fully assembled PWS pistol with 20-round magazine loaded plus offered a ton of storage. Most importantly, this clandestine concealed carry “Sneaky” setup allowed a very fast presentation.

PWS case
A well-made Crossfire soft case is included, and it has plenty of room for accessories. I prefer a much smaller package, so choose a SPYDER bag.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Where the budget AR15 rifle market is softening, the short-barreled PDW AR15 pistol and SBR market is blazing hot. There has been so much un-needed attention to the AR pistol segment from the “Arm Brace ATF re-clarifications,” I am sure some dealers are throwing their hands up on whether to carry AR15 pistols at all. PWS has side-stepped all that with the Maxim EXO adjustable cheek rest while clearly laying out two options for owners — buy and shoot now as a pistol and/or register as an SBR.

PWS pistol

This pistol is targeted toward those who want all the benefits of an SBR without the headaches of going through the long wait and registration process…and want the best AR in the process. The PWS MOD2 MK107 AR15 pistol is an ideal PDW firearm for personal protection without legal headaches and oversight that a rifle or registered SBR might bring. After all it is “just a pistol!”

READ FULL SPECS HERE

SOURCES
Primary Weapon Systems
Vertx
Crossfire
Bravo Company
Vortex Optics
Sneaky Bags

Major Pandemic

[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. Click HERE to learn more.]

 

Fired FBI Director James Comey Pushes Gun Control, Bashes NRA

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Comey advocates for stricter gun laws and delivers harsh criticism for NRA in a UK address. READ MORE

james comey

 

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Fired FBI Director James Comey’s self-aggrandizement tour continued apace last week. Momentarily turning his attention from attacking President Trump, Comey used the occasion of a trip to the largely-disarmed United Kingdom as an opportunity to advocate for stricter U.S. gun laws and to level barbs at NRA.

In an interview with the UK’s iNews published last Tuesday, Comey appeared to express his support for ongoing efforts to restrict young adults ages 18-20 from acquiring firearms and for a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. Comey told the media outlet:

“Surely there are things we can agree upon that relate to who’s able to buy a weapon, what kind of weapon and at what age, what the capabilities of the weapon are, how many rounds does it hold, and things like that, that in no way threaten the rights under the US constitution of people to keep and bear arms.”

Comey’s statement on gun control is puzzling. Legislation that extinguishes young adults’ ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights is by its very nature a threat to, “the rights under the US constitution [sic] of people to keep and bear arms.” Moreover, so is a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. That’s not just NRA’s position; that’s the position of the U.S. Supreme Court, which affirmed an individual right to keep and bear arms in the District of Columbia v. Heller case.

In Heller, the late Justice Antonin Scalia explained that the Second Amendment protects the ownership of firearms, “of the kind in common use at the time.” The AR-15, the favorite target of current gun ban legislation, is America’s most popular rifle. Moreover, Scalia Joined Justice Thomas to dissent from a denial of certiorari in the case of Friedman v. Highland Park, which concerned a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. In the dissent, Thomas wrote:

“The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting. Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.”

Addressing NRA, Comey stated, “One of the worst things that goes on in the US is the current voice of the National Rifle Association, because it sells fear in the wake of any incident.” The former FBI director went on to add:

“[NRA’s] constant argument is: ‘It’s a slippery slope. If we restrict a particular kind of weapon or raise the age of purchase, it means the end of gun ownership in the US.’ And that argument is a lie… There’s no slippery slope in America when it comes to guns. It’s a concrete staircase, which is our constitution…. We just have to decide should we go up a stair or down a stair.”

While Comey might liken U.S. gun laws to a, “concrete staircase,” it’s unlikely many gun owners in jurisdictions such as California, New Jersey, and New York feel confident in their footing. For them the slippery slope of gun control is an everyday reality. Faced with a federal judiciary that is often unwilling to honor the rulings of the Supreme Court, as Justice Thomas has pointed out on numerous occasions, the Second Amendment offers these Americans little security.

Moreover, the slippery slope isn’t pro-gun fear mongering, it’s gun control advocates’ stated policy. In a 1976 New Yorker interview, National Council to Control Handguns (precursor to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) Chairman Nelson T. Shields stated:

“I’m convinced that we have to have federal legislation to build on. We’re going to have to take one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily—given the political realities — going to be very modest… So then we’ll have to start working again to strengthen that law and then again to strengthen the next law, and maybe again and again. Right now, though, we’d be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal — total control of handguns in the United States — is going to take time.”

Moreover, the character of recent gun control efforts has made Comey’s position untenable. In March, John Paul Stevens took to the opinion page of the New York Times to call for the repeal of the Second Amendment. In recent years, the New York Times and the Boston Globe have run pieces calling for firearms confiscation. On the 2016 campaign trail, Hillary Clinton lamented the Heller decision, refused to acknowledge that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and endorsed Australia’s confiscatory gun control measures. Anti-gun protests are replete with calls to disarm citizens.

An exchange that appears near the end of the iNews item might reveal the most about Comey. The fired FBI director explained that he chose not to carry a firearm while at the FBI, stating, “I was surrounded by armed people all day long. If I wasn’t safe in the hands of the FBI, then our country was really in trouble.” Here Comey admitted that despite being one of the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement officials, he was unwilling to concern himself with any personal responsibility for his own safety and the safety of those around him.

Government Admits AR-15s Are Not ‘Weapons of War’

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State Department and Department of Justice offer definitions of “military equipment,” and it’s NOT an AR-15… READ MORE

ar15

SOURCE: Breitbart
AWR Hawkins

In its settlement with Cody Wilson’s Defense Distributed the government admitted that semi-automatic firearms below .50 caliber are not weapons of war.

On July 10, 2018, Breitbart News reported that the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) brought a suit against the State Department on Wilson’s behalf. The suit was filed in 2015 and was the result of State Department action to force Wilson to quit sharing 3-D gun files online.

Wilson and SAF fought the suit on First Amendment grounds and secured a settlement with the State Department and the Department of Justice, the latter of which finalizes the settlement.

The amended regulations proposed in the settlement show the government will no longer look at semi-automatic firearms below .50 caliber as “military equipment” or weapons of war.

In offering a definition of “military equipment” the settlement says:

“The phrase ‘Military Equipment’ means (1) Drums and other magazines for firearms to 50 caliber (12.7mm) inclusive with a capacity greater than 50 rounds, regardless of the jurisdiction of the firearm, and specially designed parts and components therefor; (2) Parts and components specifically designed for conversion of a semi-automatic firearm to a fully automatic firearm; (3) Accessories or attachments specifically designed to automatically stabilize aim (other than gun rests) or for automatic targeting, and specifically designed parts and components therefor.”

Attorneys in the case expounded on the amended regulations by pointing out that the settlement “expressly acknowledges that non-automatic firearms up to .50 caliber widely available in retail outlets in the United States and abroad [a scope that includes AR-15 and other assault-style rifles], are not inherently military.”

Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Alan Gottlieb spoke to Breitbart News about the settlement, saying:

“Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby. For years, anti-gunners have contended that modern semi-automatic sport-utility rifles are so-called “weapons of war,” and with this settlement, the government has acknowledged they are nothing of the sort.”

The federal government now saying semi-automatic firearms below .50 caliber are not inherently military means that they are admitting that rifles like the AR-15 are civilian in nature. This makes perfect sense, as they existed years before the military adopted the fully automatic version.

Gottlieb added, “Gun rights organizations like the Second Amendment Foundation will now be able to use this government admission in debate and courtrooms from New York to California.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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

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

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

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nato beat case

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELOADERS CORNER: Why Not Flat-Base?

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

flat base bullet

Glen Zediker

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

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

Hmm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIREARMS: Justification for Packable AR15 Pistols in Vehicles

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Much more than a fun-day-at-the-range curiosity, the Major offers compelling reasons why an AR15 pistol just might belong in everyone’s roadside assistance kit…

Ms Pandemic Trump Trunk Gun

by Major Pandemic

Just a few years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the idea of having a packable AR15 pistol tucked into my vehicle although I have kept a cased and stowed AR15 or Tavor in the truck for years. More times than I can remember that rifle came in handy for impromptu range trips plus the assurance 30-rounds of M855 5.56 can provide if stranded at night alongside the road. It also delivered personal assurance that I would have more than just a handgun in an extended survival or personal defense situation, and greately increased range. Over the past months I have worked through a set of theories based on some discussions with experienced friends which I would like to share. One high-ranking Army friend, formerly a Night Stalker, said, “There is no one perfect small arm for any situation, the dynamics of the environment you expect to be engaged in dictate the armament.” For several reasons, it is my theory that an AR15 pistol is the better personal defense and road-travel firearm to have stowed in your vehicle.

ar pistol
From stowed to ready to shoot in under 3-seconds.

THE POTENTIAL NEED
Beyond the zombie-apocalypse type events, there only a few logically probable scenarios which could occur:

One is personal defense and security during an active shooter situation.

Two is general support of survival and security needs (such as being stranded or coming home to a forced-entry situation).

Another is support of movement to a safe location during a hostile/riot situation.

The logical needs were for a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) which could deliver 90-percent of the capabilities of a full-length rifle with an acceptable tradeoff of shooter comfort. In all those situations — accuracy, legal transportation, accessibility, maneuverability, and concealment would all be factors for a firearm stowed within a vehicle.

short ar15
A 7.5-inch barreled AR15 pistol slips into even small ultralight day packs.

ACCURACY & SHOOTING
Over the last couple years I have changed my perspective of AR15 pistols from just range toys to serious viable PDWs. The accuracy of these little AR15s has shocked me. One in particular I own can deliver sub-MOA groups from its 7.5-inch barrel, easily out-shooting most rack-grade rifles. Most of my other AR15 pistols with premium barrels can stay under the 1.5-inch 100-yard group mark and will keep a 6-inch steel target clanging away out to 400-yards. After all, AR15 pistols are in essence just short-barreled rifles without the stock or rifle classification.

KAK Buffer Tube
An extended KAK Buffer Tube greatly improves comfort

Statistical reality of most urban combat shooting engagements is that they occur well under 100-yards, a sweet spot for an accurate PDW. Statistically, it is also unlikely that more than 10-20 rounds would be needed to address a situation, but this PDW can plenty more. A few extra mags thrown into the carry bag provides substantial capability. From light 40gr high-shock hollow-points to M855 steel-core rounds, the 5.56/.223 offers many effective options for defense, survival, and threat engagement. It is also unlikely to have a need for supporting a long-term armed engagement, this PDW can handle that requirement as well. Though I was a little sore afterwards, I spent an afternoon hammering 500 rounds through my truck AR15 pistol. That problem-free beatdown of that pistol changed my perception of what AR15 pistols could deliver. I gladly suffer a little discomfort for a one-foot shorter gun that’s 2-3 lbs. lighter for this particular use.

LEGAL TRANSPORTATION
One important point as a civilian is assuring that you’re arming yourself in a legal manner. If you have a rifle stowed in your car, it can be problematic as you drive from one city to another or across state lines. Many cities and states have goofy rifle laws which can include requirements for rifles to be partially disassembled and cased and almost always unloaded. Conversely, if you have a concealed carry permit, carrying an AR15 pistol is covered under your permit because, after all, it is a pistol.

PWS MOD2 MK107
A PWS MOD2 MK107 Pistol nestles nicely into a Sneaky Bags SPYDER.

STOWING, CONCEALMENT & MOVEMENT
Aside from legality, it’s accessibility that’s also in the favor of the AR15 pistol, compared to a rifle. Plus, maneuvering a rifle inside a vehicle is tricky and most would agree that an AR15 pistol is easier.

Being able to move discretely with an AR15 pistol is probably the biggest advantage of all. A 10.5-inch barreled AR15 pistol equipped with a Law Tactical folding buffer tube adapter or stowed with the upper and lowers receivers unpinned slips nicely into any standard backpack or messenger bag. A 7.5-inch barrel means that same setup can fit into just about any smaller pack.

I think that any firearm permanently stored in a vehicle should be easily concealed, and able to be clandestinely moved in a public setting. There was one situation where my truck needed unexpected overnight service and another where the hotel only offered valet parking. In both situations I had to de-weaponize my truck and walk through some clearly public areas with what was clearly a gun case. Those incidents taught me that discrete cases should always be used to house firearms in vehicles.

DISCREET CARRY OPTIONS
AR15 pistols, of course,  drop easily into almost any backpack and no one pays any attention to your standard Swiss Army or Eddie Bauer backpack. 5.11’s Select Carry sling pack is designed specifically for PDW use. It has an innocuous shape/style and rapid-draw feature that makes it one of my favorites.

ACCESSORIES TO MAKE COMPACT EVEN SMALLER
If you own an AR15 pistol you are missing half of the functionality of the firearm if you have not installed a Law Tactical Folding Buffer tube adapter. This accessory negates the need of disassembling an AR15 pistol to stow it in most backpacks. Deployment is fast — pull from the pack, slam the buffer tube over and charge the AR15 pistol.

Other options worth looking into to include the DOLOS V2. The DOLOS delivers a ratcheting quick takedown option to remove the barrel with assembly and disassembly occurring in under 5-seconds.

Dolos Quick Disconnect barrel adapter kit
Dolos Quick Disconnect barrel adapter kit.
Dolos
A Dolos and Law Tactical equipped AR15 is a tiny package

DON’T PUSH THE LAW
Any firearm within a vehicle has a high potential to be viewed, handled, and checked during any routine traffic stop. It is my belief that most law enforcement folks are tragically uninformed about what “is legal” when it comes to anything other than a classically sized rifle or pistols.

Additionally, if your AR15 also looks like an SBR with something a non-firearms educated officer presumes as a stock, you can double the hassle. Sure Sig Braces are legal, however this is where I suggest a standard buffer tube might be the better less-gray option to avoid extra hassle.

OUR RIGS
After a whole lot of shooting, I like the compromise of a 10.5-in. barreled AR15 pistol. Its has an exponentially quieter bark and fireball, delivers a bit more velocity than a 7.5-in. barrel, and provides a shooting platform that gives more room to stretch out.

major pistol
This Faxon barrel and Nikon 1-4 optic equipped ultralight AR15 pistol is very capable at intermediate ranges.

Parts breakdown: Faxon Ultralight 10.5-in. barrel; Faxon BCGs; Aero Precision upper; a billet lower; CMC Match trigger; Clark Carbon Fiber handguard; Rogers rail light; Nikon 1-4X scope, Aero Precision optic mount; YHM Quick Pull Take-Down Pins; Law Tactical Folding Buffer Tube Adapter.

Major Pandemic

[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. Click HERE to learn more.]

A Guide To Traveling With An AR15

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While some might think it’s not possible at all (it is) here are a few tips on how to reliably transport your AR15, and other firearms, to your next destination. READ MORE

gun case

SOURCE: Team Springfield, posted by Steve Horsman

One question that I see frequently on the Internet and in forum chat rooms has to do with flying with firearms. Whether you are traveling domestically with a handgun or a long gun, following the guidelines set forth by the individual airline and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is of the utmost importance.

Note that the airlines and TSA can (and do) change requirements occasionally, so be sure to always check current regulations. Click HERE to get the regs.

LOCAL LAWS
Equally as important as knowing the airline and TSA rules about flying with firearms is knowing the local firearm (and ammunition) laws where you are traveling through (layovers) and to. You also need to know the laws of your return flight / departure location — where you will be traveling out of when going home. What might be legal in one state, may just be a felony in another. It is always YOUR responsibility to check the laws of local jurisdictions any time you travel. And keep in mind that laws change regularly and that laws often vary for rifles, shotguns, and handguns.

SHORT AND SWEET
Before I get into the deets, here is the short and sweet on air travel with guns. Firearms must:

Be unloaded
Be locked in a hard-sided case / container
Be transported in checked baggage only
Be declared each time you present checked baggage

FREQUENT FIREARM FLYER
I frequently travel with firearms, and whether I’m heading to a shooting competition, a work-related convention, or a training event, the process has become familiar. I’ve learned how to make traveling with firearms as easy as possible.

For many though, flying can be stressful, and bringing along guns may create some additional anxiety. However, if you are knowledgeable, polite, and just follow the rules, traveling with firearms should become a smooth, streamlined process. And even if things don’t go as planned, keep calm and carry — creating issues for the people at the ticket counter will NOT make things easier.

CLARIFICATION
Before we go any further, and just to be clear, when I reference flying with firearms I mean, and only mean, flying with firearms that are in your checked luggage. Unless you have federal law-enforcement credentials, it is illegal to have a firearm in your carry-on or on your person when boarding an airplane!

POLICY PARTICULARS
Over the decades, I have flown on almost every big-name domestic airline. During my travels, I have noted that many of the airlines have slightly different policies as they relate to flying with firearms, especially if flying with ammo or internationally (but that’s a different topic entirely). My advice again is to know the airline’s policies before you leave for the airport (policies can be found on the airline’s website), to abide by the airline’s requests and to be polite, even if one airline’s policy is different from another.

TSA rules and procedures should be standard. Click here to go directly to the FIREARMS and AMMUNITION page.

And it’s not a bad idea to print the regulations so you have a copy with you at the airport, should the need arise to reference them.

PROPER PACKING
Let’s start with how to pack the firearm. Successful flying with firearms starts at home, with an unloaded gun. When I travel with my SAINT™ Edge AR-15, I always put the unloaded rifle inside a soft case and then place the soft case inside a hard plastic case — one that is specifically designed for carrying long guns. Some of my favorite hard-case brands are Pelican, Storm, and Explorer. I know there are other manufacturers out there, but these are the cases that I have tested and traveled with. You can also get some hard cases with foam inserts that are custom formed or cut specific to your model of firearm. And that’s pretty cool!

These hard, impact-resistant rifle cases are rugged. They are touted as crush-proof, dust-proof, and water-tight and stand up to frequent travel, and the abuse of baggage handlers who are having a bad day. Such cases have handles and wheels to make transportingmuch easier. There are also designated areas on the cases for placing padlocks. I highly suggest purchasing TSA-approved cables and locks for all of your gun cases. Flying can be a strain on the brain, and approved locks just make dealing with TSA that much easier and fast.

CURBSIDE — NO GO
Note that when arriving at the airport, you cannot check your luggage with the baggage handlers outside, which is sometimes referred to as “curbside check in.” You must take your gun case to the ticket counter to “declare” your firearm.

When it’s your turn with the ticketing agent, notify them [nicely] that you have an unloaded firearm to declare in your luggage. The ticket agent will ask you to fill out a firearm declaration card (for each firearm). Write your name and mailing address on the card, and then sign and date the back side. READ this card. You are declaring that you have a firearm and that the firearm is unloaded.

The agent may ask to see the unloaded firearm. They then will ask you to place the orange copy of the declaration card inside the case with the firearm and then LOCK the external hard case. The TSA agents are going to want to see this card when they scan your bag, so make sure it’s easily viewable / accessible.

Once you are checked in and your bags have been tagged, most airlines will have a representative escort you to the TSA area. Once there, the TSA agent will scan your bag and may open your bag for inspection (in my case, every single time). Once TSA gives you the green light, you are allowed to leave and head to security (hope you are TSA Pre-Check). And that should be the end of your firearm-related duties, until you land.

I have run into virtually no issues when traveling with firearms, with the rare and one exception of flying out of New York City. But that too is a topic for another article.

AMMUNITION ASIDE
Sidenote: I pack my ammunition and unloaded magazines in separate, small storage containers, in the same hard case as the gun or in another case if weight is an issue. If you pack ammunition in the same case that your firearm is in, it must be in the original ammunition packaging, or a hard box that is designed for ammunition.

I have had people advise me to load the ammunition into the firearm’s magazines. I would NOT, I repeat, NOT, do this. Also note that airlines have a weight limit on the amount of ammunition you can check in your luggage. And it’s never enough! So consider shipping your ammunition “ground” if you need a considerable amount, as might be the case for a multi-day match.

WHEELS DOWN — PRIORITY ONE
Once you’ve landed, head straight to baggage claim. Your gun case may come out on the carousel or it could be with over-sized baggage or held in the airline customer service area. Again, different airlines, different airports, do baggage delivery differently. Ask questions to locate your gun case as soon as possible.

Once your case is in your possession, and before you leave the airport, make sure your firearm(s) is actually still in the case. Always keep a description of the firearms you travel with — makes, models, and serial numbers minimum — with you in the event of loss or theft. Report loss / theft to the airline customer service rep and local law enforcement IMMEDIATELY.

HI-TECH TRACKING
Technology continues to improve our lives, and with the availability of smart luggage tracking devices, our future travels may become even more worry-free. I have not personally tested any of the GPS luggage trackers, but it’s on my list of to-dos. If you have a device you trust and like, drop me a line. I’m going to buy one soon, as these GPS tracking units seem like a good investment, an affordable piece of insurance, to guarantee that my gun arrives safe and sound to my final destination — and back home again.

READY TO FLY WITH FIREARMS
So now you have no excuse NOT to travel to the USPSA Multi-Gun Nationals. Registration is still open. 🙂 By following these simple travel guidelines you shouldn’t have any issues when flying with your new SAINT™ Edge rifle. Your only concern will be how well you are going to perform at the match! Best of luck with your travels and match results, fellow shooter — go book your airfare and get ready to “declare.”

Editor’s note: Since an AR15 can “come apart” easily, separating upper from lower, it can fit nicely into a shorter but perhaps deeper case, one that’s not so overtly screaming “RIFLE CASE.” I transport mine in this manner, and it’s also easier to carry a shorter case around.
— G. Zediker

RELOADERS CORNER: What I do…

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

dial indicator

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

case trimming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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