Category Archives: Reloading

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

Case-Sizing Addition: Apples, Oranges, and Bananas

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

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

by Glen Zediker

First, I want to thank everyone who’s reading “Reloaders Corner,” and especially those who take the time to post comments and questions. That’s the fun of the web for me: it’s a closer connection to my readers and fellow shooters. Judging from a few responses to the last couple of articles on case sizing, I’d like to offer a little more detail to ensure there’s been no misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

Here’s a nice 1000-yard target from David Tubb, 11-time NRA National High Power Rifle Champion, 6-time NRA High Power Long Range Rifle Champion, two-time Wimbledon Cup winner, and current Long Range World Champion. This target was fired from prone using full-length-sized cases, with carefully constructed rounds. The rifle is a TUBB 2000 bolt-action chambered in the 6XC cartridge. Tubb sizes the case bases an additional 0.0005 smaller than SAAMI specs, and sets the case shoulders back 0.002 inches.
Here’s a nice 1000-yard target from David Tubb, 11-time NRA National High Power Rifle Champion, 6-time NRA High Power Long Range Rifle Champion, two-time Wimbledon Cup winner, and current Long Range World Champion. This target was fired from prone using full-length-sized cases, with carefully constructed rounds. The rifle is a TUBB 2000 bolt-action chambered in the 6XC cartridge. Tubb sizes the case bases an additional 0.0005 smaller than SAAMI specs, and sets the case shoulders back 0.002 inches.

I don’t have a lot of space here to cover all the smaller but often important peripherals associated with any larger topic. In the few hundred words I have available, it has to be a more specific treatment of a more specific thing, and that’s why I’ve been doing some of this material as series installments. There are a number of folks who claim neck-only sizing is necessary for best accuracy, and, in effect, that full-length sizing is a compromise, favoring function over accuracy. I want to use this space here this time to clarify a few potential confusions. And I’m not even really disagreeing with anyone.

To review, neck-only sizing is when only the case neck, all or some portion of it, is sized to adequately retain a bullet for another firing. The case body is not touched by the die interior, and the case shoulder may or may not be set back; that depends on the die design and operator preference. The idea is to better preserve the fired case dimensions; that is, make the case more closely mirror the rifle chamber’s dimensions. One advantage of neck-only sizing comes to those who expect dozens of loadings from a case. This tactic does, indeed, minimize case stretching on subsequent firings.

Mostly, do not get the impression that full-length sizing — essentially following the steps and methods I suggested in the past two articles — is short-circuiting on-target accuracy. It’s not. Not if tooling is what it should be and the operator makes the investments in money and time to gauge influential dimensions.

ejector and spring
One old accuracy trick is to reduce ejector pressure. That’s easily done in most rigs: just shorten the ejector spring, if you know what you’re doing. The author does that, or has it done, on all his rifles. The ideal amount is to have a stress-free contact of the spring against the ejector at installed height, such that the spring isn’t compressed until the ejector moves in as a round is chambered. That’s usually the minimum pressure needed to make it functional and doing its job 100%.

There are some who maintain that they only get good groups from neck-only sizing, and, moreover, that they get gatherings rather than groupings when they full-length resize, or when they use factory ammo. There can be some reasons for that, and they may have something to do with rifle-chamber dimensions.

A lot of factory-produced bolt-actions have fairly generous chambers; they are a little larger diameter and usually favor toward the longer end in headspace (but with all numbers within SAAMI tolerance). A rifle produced for across-the-counter sale needs to accept virtually any commercially available ammunition. If someone measures as many representatives of factory ammo as I have, it’s pretty clear that there are dimensional differences, significant differences. Additionally, it’s common to find some slightly oval chambers in factory guns. That has a lot to do with the freshness of the tooling when that barrel was reamed.

So, let’s construct a circumstance where we have a chamber that’s a tad amount big and a cartridge case that’s been manufactured on the smaller end of SAAMI blueprints. And this rifle has an ejector. As soon as the bolt closes, the ejector is bearing against the case, and it’s bearing well off-center.

For more clarity: rifles have extractors and ejectors. The extractor is the “claw” that rides in the case rim groove. It’s there to pull the case from the chamber. The ejector is a small, cylindrical piece that’s spring-loaded; its job is to lean or tilt the case toward the ejection-side of the action as the case is withdrawn from the chamber. It’s not commonly possible to encounter a bolt-action that doesn’t have an ejector (custom Benchrest actions and some Long Range Rifle specialty actions don’t).

Ejector Detail in Bolt and Ejector Case Leverage
Here’s an ejector and here’s what an ejector does. Pressure levered against the case will warp the case. It’s a small amount — all these things are small amounts. Case-body sizing helps straighten out the “banana,” that is, a curve in the case body, making it a smaller banana.

Back to the reason I said anything about ejectors in the first place. It makes a banana out of a case. This is unavoidable. The pressure steadily being put against the case base by the ejector warps the case under fire. It’s going to happen on each and every case fired. The bigger the dimensional differences, the greater the warp. Of course, as the uses and reuses add up, the nature of expansion changes. A case can warp one way, and then another way, and then another. Brass has a “memory,” by the way, and we’re always fighting that. Cases tend to follow the same expansion pattern regardless of orientation in the chamber.

There are some, and I’m among them, who think case-body sizing is a good thing to help allay the effects of warped cases, when they return to a correctly-dimensioned chamber. If a rifle chamber is on the larger side, then I honestly think that neck-only sizing may be doing a better job working around it, or working with it, and that’s the primary source of accuracy improvement. I also know that little bit there will get pounced upon.

The “70” on the dial indicator isn’t a measurement of anything; it just happened to be the position of the indicator. What matters is the area the indicator sweeps, measuring points about the circumference of the case. More needle movement means more warping. This pair of photos shows the amount of warp on a new case measured using a V-block-style concentricity fixture with a dial indicator. Even new, they’re not perfect.
The “70” on the dial indicator isn’t a measurement of anything; it just happened to be the position of the indicator. What matters is the area the indicator sweeps, measuring points about the circumference of the case. More needle movement means more warping. This pair of photos shows the amount of warp on a new case measured using a V-block-style concentricity fixture with a dial indicator. Even new, they’re not perfect.

I’m shooting custom-chambered custom-made barrels in my rifles. I do not request “tight” chambers (in any dimension), but they sure aren’t oversized. I like to have headspace set to closely accommodate the case brand I plan to use; doing that minimizes case stretch from the get-go.

Using a concentricity fixture that’s designed to allow isolation of points of measurement along the cartridge, it’s easy to see the warp. Spin a new case, spin a fired case. Some experiment with marking the “high” (or low) point and reinserting the round in the same orientation each time. That’s tedious but possible using a single-shot approach to firing. The point is, that after full-length sizing, I see less runout. I have also seen additional body sizing improve the accuracy of rounds destined for use in rifles with smallish chambers, and that’s one of the first steps many competitive Benchrest shooters take when they’re losing the gilt-edge on groups. For that, they use a die that doesn’t touch anything but the case body.

This pair of photos shows the amount of warp on a fired case measured using a V-block-style concentricity fixture with a dial indicator. As before, the “70” on the dial indicator is just the position of the indicator. What matters is the area the indicator sweeps, which shows they are a little less perfect than the new ones above.
This pair of photos shows the amount of warp on a fired case measured using a V-block-style concentricity fixture with a dial indicator. As before, the “70” on the dial indicator is just the position of the indicator. What matters is the area the indicator sweeps, which shows they are a little less perfect than the new ones above.

If a case becomes a banana, it should be a smaller banana rather than a bigger banana. More technically, it’s a question of if the chambered round can sit in the center of the rifle chamber.

When David Tubb designed the sizing die for his 6XC cartridge, he added an additional 0.0005 inches downsizing right at the case head area. He maintains that is a key to good accuracy at long distance. He’s also setting the case shoulders back 0.002 and running a little more “neck tension” than you might imagine (difference between sized case neck inside diameter and bullet diameter). Tubb maintains that the consistency of case expansion has been an overlooked element in accuracy. Believe me, he’s tried everything, including neck-only sizing, to improve scores at 1000 yards.

And this pair of photos shows the amount of case-diameter variation after they’ve been full-length sized — the variation amount is nearly back to where it started in the new cases.
And this pair of photos shows the amount of case-diameter variation after they’ve been full-length sized — the variation amount is nearly back to where it started in the new cases.

If you’re running a factory bolt-action rifle, by all means try neck-only sizing. If you want to compare results to full-length sizing, just make sure you’re doing that second operation correctly.

Top Hunting and Shooting Equipment Brands for 2015

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

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

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

Reloading Components

Top Reloading Bullet Brand: Hornady

Top Reloading Primer Brand: CCI

Top Reloading Powder Brand: Hodgdon

Ammunition

Top Shotgun Ammunition Brand: Winchester

Top Rifle Ammunition Brand: Federal

Top Handgun Ammunition Brand: Winchester

Top Blackpowder Brand: Pyrodex

Shooting Equipment

Top Scope: Leupold

Top Muzzleloader: CVA

Top Holster/Ammo Belt Brand: Blackhawk

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Reloaders Corner: Setting Cartridge Case Headspace

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

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

by Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Exploring Hodgdon’s Pistol-Cartridge-Load Website

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Midsouth Shooters Supply customers buy a lot of Hodgdon powders because the company makes great products and because Hodgdon’s staffers support the efforts of reloaders in a number of ways.

We previously noted here that some of the company’s available materials appear in the Hodgdon Reloading Education section. Click here to see the landing page on which Hodgdon begins the education process. Click here to see Safety precautions. Then click the Reloading for Beginners tab to get an overview of the basics of handloading. Click here to  prob

The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. Here’s a closer look at the detailed data for the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.
The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. Here’s a closer look at the detailed data for the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.

e more deeply into the data available for reloading rifle cartridges.

This time we’re going to explore the Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page. Like the Rifle page, the Pistol page gets you started by asking you to select a cartridge from a pulldown menu. The lineup of available cartridges begins at the 17 Bumble Bee and continues through the 500 S&W Magnum. There are dozens choices of currently available commercial favorites, such as the 380 Auto, 9mm Luger, and 45 ACP, plus a bunch of popular high-performance loads that can be chambered in handguns as well as rifles.

Once you’ve selected a cartridge, which for our purposes here is the 45 ACP, you’re then able to select a range of bullet weights. In the case of the 45 ACP, that ranges from weights from 155 to 230 grains and a variety of bullet profiles.

When the user selects a bullet weight (or weights), the site returns a range of data for that load. We’ve been looking at building a lower-recoil training load with a 155-grain bullet, so we clicked “155” from the bullet-weight menu, and then perused the two load-data selections the site presented: a 155-grain cast bullet and an SFire projectile. The cast load was what we’re looking for, so we then expanded that window and saw additional information about that choice, including Case: Winchester, barrel twist (1:16 inches), primer (Federal 150 Large Pistol), barrel length (5 inches), and trim length for the case (0.893 inches).

Then, in more detail, the window for the 155-grain cast LSWC (lead semi-wadcutter) load lists the recommended powders, starting loads, and maximum loads, along with estimated pressures. For our training load, a promising starting load for the 45 ACP 155-grain round is 4.9 grains of Winchester WST, which will produce a velocity of 919 fps and develop 13,100 copper units of pressure (CUP).

If we wanted to work up hotter and hotter loads, there are plenty of powder choices — 15 others, to be exact. Just among the starting loads we could run up to 1,019 fps with 7.8 grains of IMR 800-X, which is estimated to produce 13,600 CUP. Then, if we wanted to really push that 155-grain round, we could work up to maximum loads producing as much as 1,132 fps and 17,000 CUP with 6.2 grains of Hodgdon’s Titegroup.

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

The Hodgdon pistol-cartridge reloading table lets you select proven, safe, and varied mixtures of bullet weights and powder choices to build nearly any recipe of handgun performance you need.

The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. See the image above for a detailed look at the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.

Case Sizing 1: Sizing Die Selection

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

 

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

by Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Custom Products

17217 Brookhouser Rd.

Saegertown PA 16433

814-763-2769

 

Superior Shooting Systems LLC

800 N. 2nd St.

Canadian TX 79014

806-323-9488

 

HODGDON’S RIFLE-CARTRIDGE LOADING HELP

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How We Work with Local Customers

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Midsouth’s not your traditional retailer. If you go back and look at our history, we’ve always been the same thing. We’re all about reloading, and mostly a mail order catalog since New Market, Tennessee back in 1969. With the advent of the internet, we grew into the retailer you know and love today. Click Here for more info on Midsouth History.

Welcome to Midsouth Shooters Supply
Welcome to Midsouth Shooters Supply

With that in mind, we started a new side of our business to better accommodate the growing interest from local customers to allow them a place to pick up their orders placed online, over the phone, or to stop in and place an order there at the counter. Thus, the pickup room was born, and with it a whole new phase of Midsouth came to be.

The Pickup Counter where you can place or pickup your orders
The Pickup Counter where you can place or pickup your orders
a sneak peak into our warehouse
a sneak peak into our warehouse

Using our pickup room helps local customers to save time, and money on shipping and hazardous fees. Furthermore, you have our friendly staff there to ask any questions you may have on reloading items, ammo, or upcoming seminars and reloading classes. That being said, check out the video below with some best practices when it comes to placing your order:

Now more than ever, we’re ready to serve our local customers. The next time you’re cruising down Interstate 24, stop in and pick up some powder and primers, avoid that hazmat fee, and experience our friendly customer service for yourself. We’re here Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM till 5:30 PM. We hope to see you soon!

Shop - Pickup - Save!

Reloaders Corner: The Cartridge Case

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn How to Keep Loading During a Powder Shortage (as best you can)

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

It sometimes seems like the powder crisis will never end. As a retailer, we feel your frustration on a whole different level. We feel bad that we can’t get you the items you need. We feel worse that we don’t have the items available to sell. We feel even worse that our excuse is simply, “We don’t have it, and we haven’t gotten word as to when it will come in.”

It’s critical for any reloader to follow their recipe to develop an accurate load that works for them 99.99999% of the time, especially for distance or competition shooters. For those of us that bulk load for fun and frugality, the MOA accuracy isn’t as crucial, but by the very nature of reloading, we tend to develop more consistent ammo than what a factory can provide. Beyond that, reloading is exciting! You are working with a products that require care when handling, to create a piece of ammunition that can be used to train your skills, destroy varmints, or put food on the table. That’s incredibly satisfying, and warrants the attention to details that reloading deserves beyond most hobbies.

If this powder crisis has taught us anything, it’s how to develop a new recipe for our existing loads. As a community, we never shy away from doing research, keeping records, and paying special attention to detail. That being said, you don’t want to have to delve into your stacks of reloading manuals every time you want to load the same cartridge you’ve been loading for years. With the advent of Hodgdon’s newly revamped load data center, that process has become much easier. With just a few clicks, you can search for a powder that will replace your current powder, and check it’s availability at Midsouth Shooters Supply.

Hodgdon Reloading Data Center

Let’s say, for example, you’re loading 300 AAC Blackout because factory ammo is expensive, and a little hard to come by at times. You’ve been using H110 for over a year, but it’s constantly out of stock. Thanks for the fine folks at Hodgdon, you have new options at your fingertips.

Choose the load type

So, you just bought the Federal American Eagle 300 Blackout New Primed Brass, and a box of the Nosler 30 Caliber Custom Competition 220 Grain Hollow Point Bullets for a nice subsonic load, but you’re out of powder. According to Hodgdon, you can start using Lil’ Gun, a trusted powder that’s been used for years. That’s not your only option, but with the supply chain constantly being limited, it’s great to have any option.

Choose the Powder that will work with your cartridge, then check if it's in stock at Midsouth Shooters

Once you press “Get Data” you’re off to the races. Below, you can see that your options for starting, and maximum loads populate, as well as recommended primers, rifle specs for use, and other helpful pieces of information.

Load-Data-Loads

Using the data center, and cross-referencing Midsouth Shooters Supply’s In-Stock powder listing, you can get back to loading as soon as we deliver your powder, which we try to do as quickly as possible. Midsouth also has one of the lowest hazard fees around, but that’s a whole different article.

In-Stock-Smokeless-Powder

Have you used the data center to work up a new load due to powder unavailability? Have you noticed more of your favorite powders coming into stock lately?

SIG Sauer Introduces Elite Revolver Loads in 38 Special, 44 S&W Special and 45 Colt

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

 

SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 125-grain 38 Special
SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 125-grain 38 Special

 

SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 230-grain 45 Colt
SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 230-grain 45 Colt

SIG Sauer Ammunition has introduced its first personal defense revolver cartridges, with loads in 38 Special, 44 S&W Special, and 45 Colt.

“With the recent proliferation of small-frame revolvers for personal defense, the demand for ammunition in these calibers is growing significantly,” said Dan Powers, president of the SIG Sauer Ammunition Division.  “SIG Sauer continues to expand caliber offerings for handgun shooters, which now includes the revolver market, and there will be introductions of additional revolver calibers in the coming weeks.”

All three cartridges are available in the SIG V-Crown jacketed hollow point (JHP) round of Elite Performance Ammunition in the following bullet weights:

— 125-grain 38 Special with a muzzle of velocity of 900 fps;

— 240-grain 44 S&W Special with a muzzle velocity of 800 fps; and

— 230-grain 45 Colt with a muzzle velocity of 950 fps.

Bullets are SIG Sauer’s proprietary V-Crown stacked hollow point. Ducta–Bright 7A coated brass cases provide enhanced lubricity and corrosion resistance.

The 38 Special is also available in SIG FMJ full-metal-jacket loads. Designed specifically for practice and competition shooting, these premium target rounds feature solid brass cases and copper-jacketed bullets that remain intact on impact. Clean-burning powders are used to reduce barrel fouling.

Click here to see ballistics for the SIG Sauer Ammunition line.

Click here to see our selection of SIG V-Crown bullets.