Category Archives: Reloading Components

Ultimate Reloader: 300 Blackout PLUS

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HERE is a great piece by Gavin Gear at Ultimate Reloader featuring Midsouth MATCH MONSTER bullets in his 300 Blackout Build and Loads!

ultimate reloader

RELOADERS CORNER: Primer Tech

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It may be the single-most influential reloading component, so learn all about it: the primer! READ MORE

rifle primer

Glen Zediker

This is one component in the collection that might not get all the attention it warrants. That’s because it is the one thing, above all other components, that you don’t want to just swap and switch around.

We’ve all heard cautions about testing new lots of every component, especially propellant, but primers not only change lot to lot, they vary greatly in their influence on any one load, brand to brand. The difference in one brand to the next can equal a good deal more or less pressure, for instance. While there are “general” tendencies respecting the “power” of various-brand primers, always (always) reduce the load (propellant quantity) when switching primers.

This has become more of an issue over the past few years as we’ve faced component shortages. I can tell you without a doubt that going from a WW to a CCI, or from a Remington to a Federal, can have a major influence on a load. I establish that from chronograph readings. No doubt, it’s best to have a good supply of one primer brand and lot that produces good results, and when that’s not possible, it’s a hard sell to convince someone to stop loading ammo and get back to testing. But. It is important. I can tell you that from (bad) experience. How I, and we all, learn most things…

When I switch primers, whether as a test or a necessity, I reduce my load ONE FULL GRAIN. There can be that much effect.

The Thing Itself
A primer is made up of a brass cup filled with explosive compound (lead styphate). Lead styphate detonates on impact. Primers don’t burn – they explode! In the manufacturing process, this compound starts as a liquid. After it’s laid into the cup, and while it’s still wet, a triangular piece or metal (the “anvil”) is set in. When the cup surface is struck by the firing pin, the center collapses, squeezing the explosive compound between the interior of the cup and the anvil. That ignites the compound and sends a flame through the case flash hole, which in turn lights up the propellant.

Primers are dangerous!

Don’t underestimate that. I’ve had one experience that fortunately only created a huge start, but I know others who have had bigger more startling mishaps. These (almost always) come from primer reservoirs, like fill-tubes. Pay close attention when charging up a tube and make sure all the primers are facing the right way, and that you’re not trying to put in “one more” when it’s full! That’s when “it” usually happens. What will happen, by the way, is akin to a small grenade. Static electricity has also been blamed, so keep that in mind.

primer tray
Take care in filling primer tubes! Make double-sure all are facing correctly, and a good primer tray helps. This photo shows the correct orientation for using primers one at a time. To fill a primer tube, make sure the “shiny side” is facing up! Flip the tray over.

Sizes and Types
Primers come in two sizes and four types. “Large” and “small”: for example, .223 Rem. takes small, .308 Win. takes large. Then there are pistol and rifle in each size.

Rifle primers and pistol primers are not the same, even though they share common diameters! Rifle primers should have a tougher cup, and, usually, a hotter flash. Never swap rifle for pistol. Now, some practical-style competitive pistol shooters using their very high-pressure loads (like .38 Super Comp) sometimes substitute rifle primers because they’ll “handle” more pressure, but they’ve also tricked up striker power. That’s a specialized need.

Further, some primer brands are available with a “magnum” option. Some aren’t. My experience has been that depends on the “level” of their standard primer. A magnum primer, as you might guess, has a more intense, stouter flash that travels more “deeply” to ignite the larger and more dense powder column. It reaches further, faster.

large rifle primers

large rifle magnum primers

There’s no real reason not to experiment with “hotter” and “colder” primers, whether the case is stamped “mag” or not. Keep in mind that the experiment is all about the initial flash effect. And keep in mind that this (without a doubt) demands a reduction in the propellant charge at the start.

Over a many years I’ve seen some tendencies respecting flash effect. Using routine cartridges, like .308 Win., single-base extruded propellants tend to shoot well with a cooler spark to start, and the double-base, especially spherical-types, seem to respond best to a hotter flash. Many seem to think that the coating (necessary to form the spherical) and the inherent greater density (less air space between granules) in a spherical demands a little faster start.

Flash consistency is very important, shot to shot. The consistency of every component is important: bullet weights, diameters, case wall thicknesses, and all the way down the list. We’re hoping to get more consistent behavior from a “match” or “benchrest” primer, and we’re paying more for it. I can tell you that some brands that aren’t touted as “match” are already consistent. That all comes from experience: try different primers, just respect the need to initially reduce the load each test. I can also tell you that my notes tell me that the primer has a whopping lot to do with how high or low my velocity deviations plot out.

One last: there are small variations in primer dimensions (heights, diameters) among various brands. These variations are not influential to performance. But! Small diameter variations can influence feeding through priming tools. This can be a hitch especially in some progressive loading machines. Manufacturers usually offer insight (aka: “warnings”) as to which are or aren’t compatible, so find out.

Check out Midsouth products HERE
Primer trays 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

Hodgdon Adds 224 Valkyrie to Load Data Site!

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Hodgdon Logo

One of the hottest calibers of 2018, the 224 Valkyrie keeps the hype comings and suppliers are working hard to keep up with customer requests. It continues to impress shooters across the nation, but as it’s popularity gains, more and more people are hungry for better standardized data to build their own ammunition.

Hodgdon Powders, one of the most trusted names in reloading powder, and reloading data, has stepped up to the plate with their amazing reloading web tool, and offered a full menu of reloading data for the 224 Valkyrie. Use this guide to hone your reloads!

Hodgdon Valkyrie Reloading Data

Much to the excitement of our Do-It-Yourself customers, the reloading data comes at a time when there are more component options available than ever. You can find everything you need to load your own 224 Valkyrie right here at Midsouth shooters Supply!

Will this wicked new caliber continue to live up to the hype? Have you started reloading for it yet? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

New Sierra GameChanger Bullets Coming to Midsouth Shooters!

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Sierra Gamechanger Bullets Now At Midsouth Shooters!

When a new projectile enters the reloading market, it’s a pretty big deal. It’s always exciting to see innovation coupled with precision, and performance. The GameChanger Bullets, a new offering in the tipped GameKing bullet line, are touted as the “…perfect blend of exceptional Ballistic Coefficients (BC), Accuracy, and Deadly Terminal Performance on tough wild game.” The bullets feature a synthetic tip for smoother chambering, improved flight and better expansion on target (game) impact. The open pocket design below the poly-tip further expands the lead core, while the precisely engineered jacket wall concentricity makes for an incredibly accurate bullet.

  • Tuned ogive for industry-leading BC.
  • Boat tail design creates stable flight and accuracy.
  • Open pocket (Hollow Point) expands lead core instantly on impact.
  • Precisely Engineered Jacket wall concentricity ensures accuracy.
  • Wall thickness controls expansion and retains weight

For individual bullet info on the Sierra GameChangers, check out this article at Midsouth Shooters!

Sierra Gamechanger Load Data

All Available GameChanger Load Data:
When it comes to the release of new projectiles, reloading data can be difficult to find. We’ve obtained some load data from the ballisticians at Sierra for select calibers. For more calibers not listed, please contact Sierra for assistance! The load data provided is to be used to their exact specifications.

RELOADERS CORNER: Gas Port Pressure

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

casing in air

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PRODUCT NEWS: Shooters World SW4350 Propellant

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A newly-formulated old-favorite propellant gets put to the test by Olympian Ken Johnson. READ THE RESULTS

Ken Johnson

I’ve been having dreams about 4350. But not the kind of dreams you’d think a ballistician would have. The book, “The Art of Memory” therein provides clues as to why my brain thought it would be smart to sprinkle this stuff on my ice cream. WAIT! Before you wave your magic finger and go back to Facebook…

Well, sure enough, it’s a useful propellant. Moderately slow. Too slow for .308, but in terms of propellants better suited for higher chamber-to-bore ratios, it’s a wise choice to have on hand. And it seems to be the favorite punch to serve to the Prom Queen (Miss Jezebel Creedmoor) at the Prairie Revival School dance. More soon…

I shot 4350 in .243 Winchester with a 107 Sierra Match King, back when I won the very last 300-Meter 3-Position Rifle event at the Pan American Games, Argentina 1995. I have fond memories of Argentina. And, the accuracy of that 4350 powder.

Our manufacturer has been making 4350-speed propellant for approximately 70 years. They know the burn speed, and they know how to make it right. Recently, they upgraded the chemical stabilizer from 1940s technology to that of the European Chemical Hazards Agency compliant goop. Current vernacular describes this propellant as “REACH Compliant.” It’s good to know that you won’t be poisoned by this powder now, if you sprinkle it on your ice cream… That was a joke. Don’t do that.

Now, for those who’ve followed the history and application of THIS propellant in a parallel universe, you’ll know it to be slightly slower in burn rate than other 4350 offerings. In our analysis, we found that to be largely true.

So…about that dance with Miss Creedmoor… I decided to run a test of our SW4350 data against H4350 data to determine relative accuracy performance. It was a relatively warm July day in the Panhandle of North Florida, a few miles inland from the Forgotten Coast.

The thermometer read 94.5 degrees. The humidity would be classified as “swamp.” Mirage was switching left-to-right, and right-to-left again. Heavy at times, like shooting through a swimming pool, but as easy to read as Dick and Jane. Hornady virgin, unmolested brass. I did absolutely nothing to the brass, other than seat a primer, dump some powder, and cram in a bullet. All charges were weighed to 0.10-grains. Federal 210M primers. Nosler Accubond 130s. Fired at 250 yards. Standard SAAMI 6.5 Creedmoor chamber. I did all the gun plumbing. 1-7 twist 5-R Rock Creek 24-inch barrel. Predator action, torqued to 65 inch-pounds.

Now I’ll grant you, I didn’t shoot hundreds of rounds of each sample. But, I did double-blind the test. So, I didn’t know which ammunition I was shooting. All I knew was “1” went on top, and “2” went on the bottom. And, my apprentice had a good time playing with my head. She tends to do that, especially when “doing the dishes” is on the line! That bride of mine, she keeps life interesting.

Below, the various groups shot alternating between the two samples. According to my results, SW4350 had less vertical dispersion than the H-version.

SW4350 vs. H4350

I can tell you that the mirage was running that day. And I never noticed it boil at all. So, I cannot find cause for the vertical shots. But you be the judge, and let me know your thoughts!

ken johnson

As an added bonus to celebrate the release of the new SW4350, Shooters World Powder is covering your HAZMAT! When you buy 4 pounds of Shooters World Powder, you get FREE HAZMAT on your entire order. This is your chance to try one of the most popular powder types out there, at a better price, with some exciting results!

Click Here to shop all Shooters World Powders!

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. 

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

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