Category Archives: Reloading

Everything from case prep, to components, the reloading category will be home to articles about reloading and reloading items.

RELOADERS CORNER: What I do…

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

dial indicator

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

case trimming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELOADERS CORNER: Meter Use Tips

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

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

precision powder

by Ken Johnson, Shooters World

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

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

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

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

Fair enough. But we have to digest this.

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

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

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

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

precision data

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thrown precision results

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

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

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

precision test results

308 and 6.5 precision target

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

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

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

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

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

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

ken johnson

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

Check it out HERE at Midsouth

RELOADERS CORNER: Throwed Vs. Weighed

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

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out Midsouth offerings HERE and HERE

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

.300 BLACKOUT — Take The Plunge!

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Here’s a compelling argument in favor of this relatively new cartridge for an AR15 enthusiast wanting to expand the capabilities of this firearms platform. Read why…

300 blackout

SOURCE: Team Springfield, posted by Steve Horsman

Historically, I have been hesitant to jump on the bandwagon of newly introduced cartridges. I am already heavily invested in several pistol and rifle calibers. When a new caliber comes out, I usually wait to see how it’s received and if it’s going to stick around. So when the .300 Blackout made its appearance several years ago, I took the “wait and see” approach.

As time went on, and it was apparent that the .300 Blackout was here to stay, I took the plunge and built an AR-style rifle with parts that I had on hand. I had to buy a barrel in .300 Blackout, so I invested in a 16-inch. When I put it all together, the rifle worked great. I’ll admit that I have only put a few hundred rounds through that gun, but like any good firearm enthusiast, I purchased the dies and components to eventually handload .300 Blackout.

As time went on, I continued researching the caliber, but my .300 Blackout rifle largely remained in the gun vault due to other firearm projects taking priority. #FirstWorldProblems

saint 300 blk

DUTY CALLS
In late 2017, Springfield Armory® introduced the SAINT™ Pistol in 5.56, and to say it has been successful would be a huge understatement! Prior to the release, I was tasked with testing the pistol and subsequently penned a blog about it shortly after it came out.

After literally shooting thousands of rounds through my 5.56 SAINT™ Pistol (and having a lot of fun), I started to think that a cool, new version would be if it were available in .300 Blackout. Well, the decisio- makers at Springfield Armory® were on the same track (great minds think alike), and designed the newest SAINT™ Pistol chambered in .300 Blackout.

I was excited to get my hands on one of the early production samples and I admit, though I really like the first 5.56 SAINT™ Pistol, I LOVE the newest chambering of .300 Blackout.

My .300 Blackout test firing consisted of shooting multiple steel and paper targets at 80 yards, and I also performed some reload drills. The only ammunition I had on hand when testing the .300 Blackout was 125-grain supersonic FMJs. Even though that ammo may not have been the optimal choice, the .300 blackout SAINT™ Pistol functioned perfectly and shot amazingly well. I was able to put one round on top of another at the 80-yard distance. I was very pleased to say the least.

BALLISTIC COMPARISON
There is a ton of ballistic data available for the .300 Blackout on the internet, so I will share just a little of the basic info with you here.

Compared to the 5.56 round, the .300 Blackout performs really well, and it actually excels in a short-barreled gun (primarily because it doesn’t lose velocity as rapidly as the 5.56 out of a shortened barrel).

The 5.56 REQUIRES velocity for peak performance whereas the .300 Blackout’s peak performance is based much more on the combination of bullet weight and velocity.

What I am basically saying is that the lightest bullet (commonly a 110-grain projectile) in the .300 Blackout is double the weight of the most common 5.56 bullet weight (a 55-grain).

A quick comparison shows that a 55-grain 5.56 round out of our 7-inch SAINT™ Pistol comes out at about 2300 FPS, creating about 650 foot pounds of energy. On the other hand, the 110-grain .300 Blackout round comes out of the 9-inch SAINT™ Pistol at about 2100 FPS, creating about 1090 foot pounds of energy.

If you’re more of a visual learner like I am, this may process better:

SAINT™ Pistol 5.56 — 55 gr. bullet — 7-inch barrel — 2300 FPS — 650 FT LBS

SAINT™ Pistol .300 — 110 gr. bullet — 9-inch barrel — 2100 FPS — 1090 FT LBS

Ballistically speaking, because of the huge difference in bullet weight, the comparison is pretty incredible!

SIDE BY SIDE SAINT PISTOLS
At first glance, the SAINT™ Pistols in 5.56 and .300 Blackout visually appear similar, but on closer inspection you will notice that the .300 Blackout version does not share the muzzle blast diverter that the 5.56 has. Also, the barrel on the 5.56 model is 7 inches long, whereas the .300 Blackout has a 9-inch barrel with a conventional A-2 flash hider.

NOTABLE SIDE NOTE
Most gun enthusiasts know that all 5.56 / .223 AR-style magazines and ammo work and function perfectly with .300 Blackout chambered guns. This may seem like a small detail to some, but the reason this is critically important to talk about is that the opposite is NOT true. Do NOT try to shoot a .300 Blackout cartridge through a 5.56 firearm!

While it may take some effort to get the .300 Blackout round into the chamber of the 5.56, it is extremely dangerous and will cause great damage. Just do a Google search to see photos and video of what actually happens. It’s not good and it’s not pretty. #ChamberDanger

Needless to say, I was very happy to see that the SAINT™ Pistol .300 magazines are smartly marked “.300 Blackout” on the side. This makes it easy to quickly differentiate from my 5.56 mags when I put my new SAINT™ .300 Blackout into the gun safe with the rest of my arsenal.

WRAP AND ROLL
The Springfield Armory® SAINT™ Pistol in .300 Blackout just might be the perfect size-to-power ratio in an AR-based pistol. The .300 and I will be spending a lot of time together this summer both at my backyard range and in my truck. Now, I’m not getting rid of my first 5.56 SAINT™ Pistol in the truck. I’ll just have two now — one for me and one for my lovely Mrs. The sleek, compact size of the SAINT™ pistol family makes that totally doable.

I’m also making space in my reloading bunker, because I’m now committed to another proven caliber.

Click HERE to check out AMMO at Midsouth!

saint pistol

Click HERE for more on the SAINT

NEW: Shooters World “Precision” Extruded Propellant: Part 1

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There’s a brand new propellant on the market that claims to be equivalent to Hodgdon’s Varget, maybe better… READ MORE

PLUS! A Special Offer at the end of the article!

precision powder

by Ken Johnson, Shooters World

Beat Varget? It couldn’t be done. After all, THAT powder has got just about the most fanatical following in the industry.

It was a tall order that we placed on our Shooters World designers and quality assurance folks. Much discussion. Much head nodding, and head shaking, finger waving, white-board writing, graphs, arrows, derivatives and integrals, shoulder shrugging…and time. Much, much time. Trial after trial. Improvement after improvement. That was back in 2014 that we made the first appeal for this powder, this technology, and this burn speed.

We had tasked our manufacturer with the creation of a propellant that would out-perform Varget®. We wanted the same burn speed. We wanted the same density. We wanted easier and more consistent volumetric charging. But most importantly, we wanted superior ignition, and superior temperature insensitivity. We wanted it more accurate.

Shooters World Precision
Shooters World Precision
varget
Hodgdon Varget

Since receiving the early samples of this propellant, and our first production lot, I have made it my A-number-one objective to proof this propellant. If my personal name was to be associated with it, it had to be very, very right.

After what seemed like an eternity, made even longer by my eagerness to get my hands on this new propellant, I have run it through many cartridges. I have charged with it through numerous meters. I have run it at temperatures ranging from -65F to +165F. I have shot it for accuracy. Repeatedly, I have compared it directly to Varget®.

As I reviewed the published charge weights, velocities, and pressures of Precision and compared them to Varget®, there’s very similar performance. When I was directly comparing charge-for-charge, and load-length-to-load length, I found in numerous cartridges and bullet combinations that my ballistic results were within 25 fps of the published Varget® data. Same charge weight, similar pressure. Same charge weight, similar loading density.

That said, keep in mind that I’m an accuracy nut, and I’m not exactly one to follow the herd. I’m an Olympic shooter, and an Internal Ballistic Engineer. I don’t arbitrarily assign a cartridge overall length. If the goal is accuracy, I purposefully set each and every one.

precision testing
Testing has been extensive! Look closely at the chronograph display, and this is why I’m saying what I’m saying about how good this new propellant is!

And as you may know, cartridge overall length (COAL) can and does affect the pressure/charge weight/velocity relationship. It also affects accuracy, efficiency, and barrel life. So, I take it seriously.

One of the advantages of handloading is being able to define your own load length. Knowing this, we further assist the handloader by publishing resultant pressures, velocities, and charge weights, when a specific projectile is positioned very close to the optimal location. Why? Because it’s all about hitting the target. FIRST you’ve got to hit the target, only then you should concern yourself with velocity.

Our load lengths are purposeful. And because of that, as well the inherent (small, but significant) variations in testing results from barrel-to-barrel, our data is not an exact match to that data published by other companies. But rest assured, if you’ve got a SAAMI or NATO chamber, know that Shooters World reloading data is optimized for your chamber and/or your system. If you’ve got a European CIP chamber, know that we also support those chambers and cartridges with European load data too!

Some folks believe that “Temperature Sensitivity” is something that you sprinkle into propellant as it’s being made, like an ingredient. I’m here to tell you, there ain’t no “throw a couple scoops of Insensitivity-Pixie-Dust into the powder vat,” any more than there’s laces for your trigger shoe. Nope. Temperature insensitivity has everything to do with how the propellant burns before the system hits max pressure. That’s it. That’s the secret. And there’s no “secret sauce” that is going to change that fundamental principle.

precision propellant graph
Actual temperature data fired in .308 Winchester/168 Sierra MatchKing at various temperatures against Varget.

In validating Precision against Varget®, we used this fundamental principle in our testing. We took both Varget® and Precision out of their intended “happy place” and forced them to perform in numerous environments where they should fail. These methodologies will remain proprietary to Shooters World. But please understand that our boastful claims of superior temperature insensitivity and velocity standard deviation are founded on real-world results in overly demanding environments.

And it’s this combination of know-how, propellant technology, and shooter-to-shooter empathy that makes us different. We shoot. And we know shooting. All the load building work we do is tedious, but through virtuous and diligent work, we hope you find our products, services, and data the best.

shooters world logo

Want to give it a try, and skip paying the HAZMAT? Just buy 4lbs of ANY Shooters World Powder, and get FREE HAZMAT on your ENTIRE ORDER!

Check it out HERE at Midsouth

ken johnson

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

RELOADERS CORNER: SD Pt. 2

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Here’s how Standard Deviation calculations can figure in ammo decisions (or not…) READ MORE…

Glen Zediker

Seems like the last couple of articles on load testing and velocity data got some pretty good responses and attention, and so that means there’s more! Of course there is…

As said, Standard Deviation (SD) plotted out forms a bell curve. A bell curve indicates the “probability density” of the normal distribution, or range, for something like velocity consistencies. For our purposes that’s the likely speed of the next shot.

Chances are outstanding that running all the numbers gotten from a chronograph session will plot into what’s called a “normal curve.” Like any normal bell curve, it gets divided into three segments and values, and these divisions are the “standard deviations.” And remember it is “a” standard deviation.

(I’ve said many a time that I’m sho no mathematician, and I am aware that there’s more and different ways to apply and model a curve, and to manipulate standard deviation results for different applications, but I’m trying to keep it more simple and use this “normal curve” for examples, it’s also called “population standard deviation.”)

We’ve been working with the right-respectable SD example of 12.

standard deviation curve
Here’s the same old curve I’ve been using, but at least in a different color!

Assuming that normal curve, the distribution of “some number” of shots is forecasted like so: some 68 percent will lie within 1 standard deviation of the mean, about 95 percent lie within 2, and over 99 percent lie within 3 standard deviations. Again, since our SD is 12, then about 68 percent (approx. 2 out of 3) of all “next shots” will be +/- 12 feet per second. Since, though, the curve is in threes, that means that a scant number of the shots pose a chance for +/- 24 and some much (much) smaller chance remains for some shots to go to +/- 36. SD estimates how likely it is for those “head-scratchers” to show up, and also what might be the most realistic extreme any shot can deviate.

Data is a record of numbers and I do know that there’s 100-percent chance that the highest and lowest velocities collected for an SD calculation did, in fact, happen. To me, that’s what matters. No matter what the collected shot results calculated into for an SD, those were the two that represent the highest and lowest prints on the target.

It’s mathematically not possible for an SD to be higher than the greatest single measured deviant, and an SD can sho be lower than any single “bad” shot. Given how it’s calculated, along with how many samples contributed to the calculation, it’s plain that the nearer the majority are to themselves the less impact a bad one or more has. The more input the better.

ppc
Cartridge choice has a whopping lot to do with it! Some cartridges are seemingly destined (designed really) to produce better velocity consistency. Many magnums, for instance, are notoriously sporadic, while others, like the 6XC or one of the PPC cartridges (shown), seem to deliver constant velocities without a lot of special effort. It all has to do with internal ballistics and “efficiency,” and architectural analysis I don’t claim to understand, but I do know that’s one of the reasons 6XC holds the NRA High Power Rifle Long Range record, at the hands of David Tubb.

Many of us have heard or read the frequently-sung “…seen good accuracy with high SDs…” And we’ve probably also all decided that can’t be taken at literal value. Well, it can’t. Three things: what is “good accuracy” to this fellow, at which distance were the groups printed, and what’s he say is “high,” because without knowing these things there’s no accounting for the accuracy, believability, or interpretative definitiveness of what’s being said. So I say it’s 12. A 12 should not be responsible for a points loss, also considering the edge limits of usual group size. Getting into more and more numbers derived from more and more “what if’s” plotting out bullet trajectories and wind drift amounts, and, always assuming a consistent bullet ballistic coefficient demonstration (also not likely) running “12” through all these mathematical-hypothetical scenarios will show that 12 doesn’t lose many, if any, points.

One last that isn’t really a strong point, but is a point… If we’re shooting something like a .223 Rem. then a half-grain is about 40 feet per second. If that 12 SD shows its worst and pops one out +36 feet per second, to me that represents something akin to a pressure spike (logic dictates that more velocity had something to do with more pressure). I know my loads are running a tad amount edgy, and seeing a small velocity variation is likewise a tad amount more reassuring that a primer won’t go over the edge.

tubb 1000 yard clean
Here’s the ultimate result of low velocity deviations. It’s up to the shooter to apply the left and right, but it’s up to the ammo to keep vertical stringing to a minimum. David Tubb does a stellar job on both. 1000 yards, fired prone with a scope. 6XC.

TESTING TIP
If you’re testing much beyond 200 yards, and especially beyond 300, pay no mind to the left and right, but keep a close watch on the up and down. In ideal conditions, groups are supposed to be round (I’m convinced they’re actually square, but there’s no need to go into that). If there’s any wind, don’t even try to correct for it (as long as impacts are on the target). I honestly don’t need a chronograph to confirm load consistency if I’m seeing small vertical dispersions. I’ll already have speed-checked the load I’m down on the mat with, and, again, I’m just wanting to see how level I get my perforations. If I come out with a 600-yard group that’s a foot wide but only three inches tall, I’m happy.

6 TIPS FOR LOWER SDs
Aside from finding the perfect and magical load combination, ha, there are a few things that do seem to help tighten shot-to-shot velocity deviations. They’ve all be talked all the way through and back again in this space in other articles, but, considered ultimately that this is the overall effect they have, here they are again:

One. Primer seating: fully seated onto a flat pocket bottom.

Two. Consistent propellant charge: weigh the charges if metering isn’t dead-on.

Three. Ignition efficiency: consider trying that inside flash hole deburring routine…

Four. Consistent case neck sizing, and, believe it or not, about 0.003 worth of “tension.” Don’t go too light…

Five. Temperature insensitivity: choose propellants that exhibit stability under extremes.

Six. Balance: strive to find a propellant that fills the case, but “loosely” (no compressed charges); even more, avoid an overage of air space. These both allow too much variance in ignition pattern.

inside deburring tool

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

2018 Crawfish Cup: Road to the Cup Starts Here!

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Two things happen every spring in Lake Charles, LA which shouldn’t be missed: The wonderful folks at Choupique Crawfish start up the giant boiler, and serve pounds upon pounds of delicious crawfish, and The Midsouth Shooters Crawfish Cup prepares the Action Pistol competitors for another year of excitement.

2017 Midsouth Shooters Crawfish Cup
Welcome to the 2017 Midsouth Shooters Crawfish Cup!

There’s nothing in this world quite like gathering around a newspaper-covered table, and dumping a huge pile of boiled crawfish, potatoes, onions, and sausage. You get to break bread with friends and family, throw most of your good manners to the wind, and enjoy.

the 2018 Crawfish Cup carries the same essence as the communal table. We gather, hungry for the competition. We trade stories of past victories, or near losses. We remember those who can’t be with us. Most importantly, the family comes together to share in a special event.

Kevin Angstadt, Tony Holmes, Troy Mattheyer, Bruce Piatt, and Jeremy Newell
Kevin Angstadt, Tony Holmes, Troy Mattheyer, Bruce Piatt, and Jeremy Newell

The event itself is a will be held on April 27th and 28th. It’s a prelude to Bianchi Cup, where the best of the best come to compete, hone their skills, and get in the Action Pistol mindset; the Zen Trigger Mode. What makes the Crawfish Cup unique? It’s not just elite competitors like Doug Koenig, Julie Golub, and Bruce Piatt! It’s novices, it’s intermediates, and it’s professional shooters like Midsouth Shooter Kevin Angstadt! It’s a great place for those new to the discipline to learn from the best in Action Pistol. It’s a place where all pretenses are dropped, and the competition brings everyone together, on a level playing field.

We’re excited to travel back to Lake Charles, and we hope you’re ready to join us for some of the best Action Pistol events in 2018. Make sure to follow all the action on the Crawfish Cup Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Crawfish Cup Facebook

The Crawfish Cup Twitter

The Crawfish Cup Instagram

RELOADERS CORNER: Standard Deviation

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Improving longer-range accuracy has a lot to with consistent bullet velocities. First comes understanding it! Here’s a start on it… KEEP READING

chronograph

Glen Zediker

It’s springtime (finally) and one of the things on your list might be working up a load for a new rifle, or new bullet. I’ve talked about testing processes and procedures, and also some about those bullets, and especially those with higher ballistic coefficients. The more aerodynamic bullet, by itself, is no guarantee of a smaller group (and whether you’re shooting one shot or 20 shots, you’re always shooting a group…).

To make the “magic” of a high-BC bullet come to life, they all need to be arriving at the destination at really close to the same speed. On target, that’s all about elevation consistency. It’s pretty commonly accepted among long-range competitive shooters that points losses come more from errant high and low impacts than from missed wind calls. High-BC bullets traveling at more consistent speeds reduces dispersions in all directions. But only if they’re traveling at consistent velocities!

The first step to improving velocity consistency is getting a good way to measure it. That there would be a chronograph. Nowadays especially, there are a number of simple-to-use and inexpensive chronographs available, that are accurate. Some have more features, which mostly revolve around providing printouts, digital records, and calculations, but what matters most (to me at least) is one that lets me easily read the velocity of each shot.

Check Misdouth offerings HERE

MagnetoSpeed
The newer barrel-mounted electro-magnetic chronographs make it really easy. I like the idea of being able to chronograph from shooting position, not just from a benchrest. This is a MagnetoSpeed.

So. What’s next is understanding the terms associated with this area of data-gathering.

“Standard deviation” (SD) is the most common measure of shot-to-shot consistency. It reflects on the SD reflects on the anticipated consistency of bullet velocities (some number of recorded velocities). The “standard” part reflects on a sort of an average of the rounds tested.

[Phrases like “sort of” upset mathematically-oriented folks, so here’s the actual definition: SD is the square root of the mean of the squares of the deviations. More in a bit.]

I pay less attention than many to standard deviation because: I don’t think standard deviation is near as important as is the “range,” which is the lowest and highest speeds recorded. Another that matters is “extreme spread,” which, by definition, is the difference between this shot and the next shot. I watch the speed on each shot. I compare this one to the next one and to the last one, and, as said, find the highest and the lowest.

Why? Well because that’s how I shoot tournament rounds. This one, then another, and another. A low velocity difference means that the accuracy of my judgment of my own wind call has some support.

standard deviation
Standard deviation calculation forms a bell curve. The steeper and narrower the apex of the bell, the narrower the fluctuations were. But there’s always a bell to a bell curve and the greatest deviations from desired standard are reflected in this portion of the plot. Depending on the number of shots that went into the SD calculation, these deviations may be more or less notable than the SD figure suggests. So? Watch each shot. That’s the way to know how a load performs with respect to velocity consistency. SD allows you to estimate how likely it is for “outliers” to show up.

A load that exhibits a low SD is not automatically going to group small, just because a low SD. I’ve had Benchrest competitors tell me that sometimes their best groups don’t come with a low-SD load, but do not apply that to greater distance! At 100 yards a bullet’s time of flight and speed loss are both so relatively small that even what some might call a big variation in bullet velocities (+/-25 fps or so) isn’t going to harm a group, not even the tiny groups it takes to be competitive in that sport. On downrange, though, it really starts to matter. (And keep in mind that “it” is a reference to velocity consistency, whether denoted by SD or otherwise.)

For an example from my notes: Sierra 190gr .308 MatchKing. Its 2600 fps muzzle velocity becomes 2450 at 100 yards and 1750 at 600 yards. (These numbers are rounded but serve for a example.)

If we’re working with a just awful 100 fps muzzle velocity change, that means one bullet goes out at 2550 and the next leaves at 2650, in the worst-case. The first drifts about 28 inches (let’s make it a constant full-value 10-mph wind to keep it simple) and the next slides 26 inches. But! Drop… That is THE factor, and here’s where inconsistent velocities really hurt. With this 190, drop amounts over a 100 fps range are about three times as great as drift amounts. This bullet at 2600 muzzle velocity hits 5-6 inches higher or lower for each 50 fps muzzle velocity difference. That’s going to cost on target, big time. And it gets way, way (way) worse at 1000 yards. Velocity-caused errors compound on top of “normal” group dispersion (which would be group size given perfect velocity consistency). Now, it’s unusual for a wind to be full-value and dead constant, so on-target left and right displacement is even relatively less — but elevation displacement is consistent regardless.

So, my 100 fps example is extreme, but half of that, or a quarter of that, still blows up a score, or an important hit on a target.

propellant charge consistency
This is probably the most influential factor in improving SD: consistent propellant charge. It’s not only that each case has an identical powder load, though, because primer factors, and finding the right combination ultimately is why we do all the testing…

So what’s a tolerable SD? 12. There have been, rest assured, much calculation to lead  up to that answer. That’s the SD that “doesn’t matter” to accuracy, meaning it’s not going to be the leading factor in a miss. It’s more than I’ll accept for a tournament load, but for those I’m looking for an extreme spread never more than 10 fps (the range might be higher, but now we’re just mincing terms). More later…

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullet Ballistic Coefficient

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Ballistic coefficient is a term that’s often used but sometimes not fully understood. Keep reading to find out exactly what it is, and what it isn’t…. HERE

nosler rdf
BC is essentially a race between a real bullet and a mathematical bullet. Real bullet never wins… The closer the real bullet gets to the “standard” bullet, though, the higher its BC and the better it’s going to fly. I’d love to get a Kroger-sack full of G1s… Until then, one of these Nosler RDFs will do nicely.

Glen Zediker

A “ballistic coefficient,” or “BC,” is a number that suggests a bullet’s aerodynamic performance.

BC is a component in bullet design that matters much, and it matters more the farther it travels. Bullets that flat out fly, fly flat far out, are of great interest to any longer-range shooter. A bullet with a high(er)-BC is also an advantage at shorter distances, especially when there are variations in the shooting distance. A flatter-shooting (one of the traits supported by a higher BC) bullet means a more flexible zero, a smaller difference in the elevation hold from, say, 100 to 300 yards. BC is influenced by sectional density, bullet weight, and, mostly, its shape or profile.

BCs are derived by comparison. Here’s how that works: There are “standard” bullets that are mathematical models. Bullet designers and ballisticians know which model to apply to different bullet styles. Pistol bullets, for instance, are calculated from (compared to) different models. For the majority of rifle bullets we’ll encounter, one common model is a “G1” (there are others, like G7, which is becoming the popular standard for boat-tail bullets; G1 is based on a flat-base). The flight of this G1 bullet has been calculated at varying velocities and distances. It’s “all math” because a G1 doesn’t exist in a tangible sense.

vld blueprint
Here’s a bullet blueprint. It’s the Bill Davis original 105gr 6mm “VLD” (very low drag). Design factors that influence BC are pretty much every design factor: length, ogive, boat-tail, meplat, weight. All these factors, in this instance, calculate a BC of 0.560. By the way, there’s about a 5 point BC increase for each added 1 grain of bullet weight.

The standard bullet has a BC of 1.000. An actual bullet that’s compared to, for example, the G1 at points, distances downrange, will either be flying faster or slower than the G1 model. If it’s faster, its BC will be greater than 1.000; if it’s slower, it will be less than 1.000. So it’s a percentage of the standard or model bullet’s performance.

Comparing bullets with different BCs, the one with the higher number loses less speed over distance. Losing less speed means its flight time will be shorter and it won’t drift and drop as much as will a bullet with a lower BC. So, a 0.600 flies better than a 0.550.

Depending on the bullet-maker, assigned or published BCs are either calculated or measured. More mathematics than I can wrap my mind around can get these calculations done based on a blueprint. Measured BCs involve chronographing at the muzzle and then at other points on downrange, same bullet, same flight.

Which method — math or measure — provides the best information? Some, and this only “makes sense,” believe that a measured, tested BC is more realistic and, therefore, more valuable. But, if the point is to compare bullets, calculated BCs might be more reliably accurate. I know a number of very serious NRA High Power shooters who have gone to great lengths to “field test” different bullets. It’s not easy to chronograph at long range. Given that information, measured BCs are quite often lower, but not nearly always. Reasons follow.

All the drift and drop tables (whether printed or digital) you’ll see are based on a bullet’s assigned BC. The accuracy of those tables clearly revolves around what the actual, at that moment, BC performance is from the bullet you’re shooting. Also, some bullets have a different stated BC based on muzzle velocity to start.

A whopping lot of things affect the actual, demonstrated BC: anything that can influence bullet flight influences the actual BC performance.

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

Atmospherics, which add up as a list of factors, influence BC mightily. Air density is probably the most powerful influence. Any conditions that allow for easier passage of a bullet through the air don’t detract as much from its BC as do any conditions that serve to hinder its flight. BCs are based on sea-level so can easily show as a higher number at a higher elevation.

uniformed meplat
BC uniformity is important to a long-range shooter’s score (less elevation dispersion results). There will be variations in any box of hollowpoint match-style bullets, and a source for variation is the meplat (tip). These variations are the result of the pointing-up process in manufacture. I’ve measured as much as 0.020 inches sorting through a box of 100. A “meplat uniformer” tool eliminates this variance. Uniforming reduces BC 3-4 points, but it’s a trade many serious long-range shooters say is worth the effort. Uniformed on right.

meplat uniformer

Range-realized reality is that the demonstrated BC changes from morning to afternoon and day to day and place to place. The calculated BC is not changing, of course, but the mistake is assuming that a BC is a finite measure of bullet performance. If you’re interested, there’s some valuable information from David Tubb (visit DavidTubb.com). He’s done a volume of work on calculating influences from atmospherics as it applies to his DTR project, which, in one way of seeing it, gets down to understanding why it’s really rare to dial in what a ballistics table says for a particular bullet and speed and distance, and hit the target.

One last (for now) bit of information I’ve always found valuable: a BC is a finite thing in one regard, and that is that any BC derived from a G1 model, for instance, fits all bullets with that same BC. This was helpful before ballistics apps were as common and easy as they are now. For instance, if there was a new .224-caliber bullet with an advertised BC, but no tables, just find another bullet, of any caliber, with that same BC, plug in the velocity, and the drift and drop figures will be accurate.

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.