A Canadian Special Forces [sic] sniper looks to have taken out an ISIS fighter from a world-record distance of 11,316 feet, or about 2.2 miles away.
Now, as shooters and reloaders, we know there are a myriad of details which went into making a shot like this successful. “The spotter would have had to successfully calculate five factors: distance, wind, atmospheric conditions and the speed of the earth’s rotation at their latitude,” Says Ryan Cleckner, a former U.S. Army Ranger who served several tours in Afghanistan, and wrote the “Long Range Shooting Handbook.”
Atmospheric conditions also would have posed a huge challenge for the spotter.
Cleckner says, “To get the atmospheric conditions just right, the spotter would have had to understand the temperature, humidity and barometric pressure of the air the round had to travel through.”
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HARDWARE???
“While the ammunition that Canadian special forces use in the TAC-50 is “off-the-charts powerful,” with some 13,000 foot-pounds of force when it comes out of the muzzle, the speed of a bullet, a 750-grain Hornady round, is not as important as the aerodynamic efficiency of the bullet.”
Yes. You read it correctly. The rifle is great, the spotter was spot-on, the shooter held to his technique.
One of the largest factors was the bullet. A HORNADY bullet.
“The key to having a sniper round travel that far and hit a small target has less to do with speed and more to do with the efficiency with which the projectile moves through the air,” he said.
“That’s because while sniper bullets exit the muzzle at several times the speed of sound they eventually slow down to less than the speed of sound, and at that point they become less stable. An efficiently designed bullet reduces that instability, he explained,” Says Michael Obel of Fox News.
“When it all comes together, it’s ‘mission accomplished’.”
Well done, soldier! We appreciate you essentially disrupting a deadly operation about to take place in Iraq by these barbarians.
Understanding the relationship between bullets and barrel twist helps prevent mistakes. Here’s what you need to know…
Why am I devoting this space this time to such a topic? Well, because it’s commonly asked about, and, no doubt, because it influences some of the decisions and options faced in choosing the best-performing load for our needs. Making a mistake in choosing twist can limit both the selection and performance in the range of usable bullet weights and styles.
First, barrel twist rate is a component in the architecture of the barrel lands and grooves. The lands and grooves form a spiral, a twist, that imparts spin to a bullet, and the rate of twist is expressed in terms of how far in inches a bullet travels to make one full rotation. “1-10” (one-in-ten) for example means “one full rotation for each ten inches of travel.”
Bullet length, not weight, determines how much rotation is necessary for stability. Twist rate suggestions, though, are most usually given with respect to bullet weight, but that’s more of a generality for convenience’s sake, I think. The reason is that with the introduction of higher-ballistic-coefficient bullet designs, which are longer than conventional forms, it is easily possible to have two same-weight bullets that won’t both stabilize from the same twist rate.
The M-16/AR15 barrel changes give a good example. Short history of mil-spec twist rates: Originally it was a 1-12, which was pretty standard for .224-caliber varminting-type rounds, like .222 Remington, which were near-universally running bullet weights either 52- or 55-grain. That worked with the 55-grain FMJ ammo issued then. Later came the SS109 63-grain round, with a bullet that was a bit much for a 1-12. The military solution was total overkill: 1-7. That’s a very fast twist.
Commercially, the 1-9 twist became the standard for .223 Remington for years. It’s still popular, but is being replaced, as far as I can tell, by the 1-8. An increasingly wider selection of barrels are done up in this twist rate. I approve.
I’d always rather have a twist too fast than not fast enough. For a .223 Rem. 1-9 is not fast enough for anything longer than a routine 68-70-grain “magazine bullet,” like a Sierra 69gr MatchKing. 1-8 will stabilize any of the newer heavier bullets intended for magazine-box cartridge overall lengths, like a Sierra 77gr MatchKing. An 8 twist will also shoot most of the longer, higher-BC profiles, like the Sierra 80gr MatchKing (which is not intended to be assembled into a round that’s loaded down into a magazine).
Other popular calibers have likewise edged toward faster and faster “standard” twist rates, and that includes 6mm and .308. Once those were commonly found as 1-10 and 1-12, respectively, but now there’s more 1-7s and 1-9s offered. Reason is predictable: longer and heavier bullets, and mostly longer, have likewise become more commonly used in chamberings like .308 Winchester and 6XC.
The tell-tale for an unstable (wobbling or tumbling) bullet is an oblong hole in the target paper, a “keyhole,” and that means the bullet contacted the target at some attitude other than nose-first.
Base your next barrel twist rate decision on the longest, heaviest bullets you choose to use, and at the same time realize that the rate chosen has limited those choices. If the longest, heaviest bullet you’ll shoot (ever) is a 55-grain .224, then there’s honestly no reason not to use a 1-12. Likewise true for .308-caliber: unless you’re going over 200-grain bullet weight, a 1-10 will perform perfectly well. A rate that is a good deal too fast to suit a particular bullet may cause damage to that bullet (core/jacket integrity issues), and I have seen that happen with very light .224 bullets, like 45-grain, fired through, say, a 1-7 twist. At the least, with that great a mismatch you might not get the velocity up where it could be.
Bullet speed and barrel length have an influence on bullet stability, and a higher muzzle velocity through a longer tube will bring on more effect from the twist, but it’s a little too edgy if a particular bullet stabilizes only when running maximum velocity. My failed 90-grain .224 experiment is a good example of that: I could get them asleep in a 1-7 twist 25-inch barrel, which was chambered in .22 PPC, but could not get them stablized in a 20-inch 1-7 .223 Rem. The answer always is to get a twist that’s correct.
Effects on the load itself? Yes, a little at least. There is a tad amount more pressure from a faster-twist barrel using the same load, and the reason is initial bullet acceleration is slower.
The HAP (Hornady Action Pistol) bullet is the renowned XTP jacketed hollow point without the grooves cut into the jacket, simplifying the manufacturing process. What you end up with is an accurate, consistent, and economically priced jacketed bullet. Reloading data is available for this bullet from multiple manufacturers, there’s no coating to shave off or exposed lead to worry about, and it doesn’t break the bank when you want to buy in bulk. In the video below I put the HAP 9mm bullets up against a few steel targets, and give you some more info. The sound on the video is a little muffled, due to a windy day at the range.
I load and shoot over 20,000 rounds of ammunition a year, so when I’m shopping for loading components, the main things I look for are economy, ease of use, and consistency. The Hornady 115 grain HAP bullet meets all of those requirements and more for competition and target shooting. 115 grain bullets are an industry standard for 9mm and most guns should be able to run them right out of the box, so using it as a go to bullet weight makes a lot of sense.
Midsouth now exclusively has the Hornady 9mm HAP bullets at plated bullet prices. Click Here to head over, load your own, and put them to the test!
Over the years, I’ve used quite a bit of spray lube for case sizing, most of the time Hornady One-Shot for pistol, and Dillon DCL for rifle. As my supply of Dillon DCL dwindled, I started looking at other options. Dillon DCL has worked well, but leaves a sticky residue that’s hard to wipe (or tumble) off the cases. Then I talked with the 6.5 guys who swore by (not at) their home brew lanolin case lube (a formula they found online if memory serves).
One of the challenges with picking up a “new” cartridge to reload is finding the right dies at the right price. .25-45 Sharps is becoming more popular with AR-15 shooter and reloaders, and the industry is responding with new products that give reloaders more options. One such example is the new .25-45 Sharps dies from LEE. This “Pacesetter” die set includes a full-length sizer/de-primer, a dead-length bullet seater, and a Factory Crimp Die- everything you need to form .25-45 Sharps brass and reload .25-45 Sharps ammunition for your AR-15. These dies are “Very Limited Production” – but I’ll note that Midsouth Shooters Supply has these dies for ~$35. and they are in stock as of today! That’s about 1/2 what other .25-45 Sharps die sets cost!
If you are curious about LEE rifle dies, I posted an in-depth write-up that covers pretty much every detail you can think of. I also posted the following in-depth write-up that covers .25-45 Sharps precision reloading from start to finish, a great resource if you are going to use these LEE dies to load .25-45 Sharps:
Bullet coatings promise better performance, but are they the right choice for you? Find out.
There are a few bullet coatings available, and Moly (MoS2: molybdenum-disulfide) is the best known, and also the most notorious. More in a bit.
First, here’s how and why bullet coating works: Fire a coated bullet and a bare bullet using the same propellant charge. The coated bullet will go slower. However. The pressure will be lower. The reason is easy to figure: the increased lubrication reduces friction, resistance to movement, especially upon entry into the bore. It gets kind of a head start. The deal is that the pressure drops relatively more than the bullet speed, so, the bullet speed can be increased by adding more propellant and still have the same level of pressure. Win. Win. And, since there’s what amounts to a barrier between the bullet jacket and the barrel steel, the promise of more accurate rounds between cleanings is all true too. The bullet jacket isn’t leaving much of itself behind on the bore.
Among competitive shooters there was a huge shift toward coated bullets a few years back, but they’ve since fallen from favor for many. It wasn’t because they don’t perform well, because they do, but there are ancillary, and important, liabilities. Mostly: moly-coated bullets can corrode barrel steel, including stainless. Molybdenum disulfide outgases (outgas is the release of an occluded gas vapor that was part of the compound; a state change, pretty much) at temperatures lower than firing temperatures, and that creates a residue that, when mixed with water (moisture from condensation included, like what happens after firing), is pretty much sulfuric acid. Yikes. Right. If a moly-coated barrel is cleaned (correctly) each use, no problems. But one of the big draws is the potential to get literally hundreds of rounds, on zero, before the barrel needed cleaning. After a conventional cleaning (solvent and brush) it also takes time, which is rounds through the barrel, before zero will return.
I am a fan of coated bullets, and they’ve convincingly demonstrated their superiority to me after many thousands of rounds reaping rewards from the ballistic advantages. The improvement can be significant, and some bullets in particular escalate in performance more than others. Shorter bearing surface designs, by my notes, get that much more additional speed with no pressure trade-offs. Coating seems to have a disproportionately positive effect on thinner-skinned bullets, for reasons that likewise are clear. The effect here is smaller group sizes. Anything with a “J4” jacket responds well to coating (common in custom bullets).
My solution to the worries about moly was, as suggested, simply to clean the barrel each time back from the range and, also, to change my cleaning method to better accommodate the residue composition. More in a bit.
I don’t use moly any more, though. I’ve switched to Boron Nitride (BN) because it has all the advantages with none of the drawbacks, so far. BN is virtually the same in its effects as moly, based on my notes (same level of velocity drop and subsequent future increase). It’s easy to apply using a vibratory-style case cleaner.
I do not recommend any sort of lubrication inside a barrel, not for a promise of increased bullet performance. PFTE, for instance, has been touted as a great “break-in” agent for a barrel. Some use it after each cleaning to prep a barrel. Well. When it outgases, and it does outgas, it releases fluorine, a very powerful eater of all things metal.
Cleaning: Don’t use copper solvent with moly! The ingredients don’t mix well. Use only petroleum-based solvent. I switched to Kroil pentrating oil in conjuction with something like USP Bore Paste, JB Bore Compound, or similar (abrasive paste-type formulations). No room here now to convince anyone that abrasives are a safe and wise choice, but used correctly they are both. “Correctly” means a rod guide, stainless-steel rod, and keeping the rod shaft clean each pass. With that combination the bore is being protected against corrosion and the residues get gone, and, of huge importance, zero returns right away.
Last on this: Just in the same as how I do not recommend “mixing” bullets or propellants through the same barrel, same day, coatings are pretty much the same. Zero will, not can, change for the number of rounds it takes to “re-season” the barrel. If you use it, use it.
I’ve seen great gaps in the quality of coated bullet finishes. Factory-coated bullets are the way to go. It’s tough to get a good job at home, and the reason is the carnuba wax application is temperature sensitive, and also because commercial coaters use industrial-level tumblers to apply the powder. The wax is necessary to avoid a smudgy mess just from handling the bullets. If you want to do it yourself, make sure the bullets are cleaned before application. Likewise, moly can build up in a bullet seating die so clean it out every now and again.
The preceding was adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available here at Midsouth. For more information on this book, and others, plus articles and information for download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com
Since Nosler’s press release on the new RDF™ bullets was announced, the product has been shipped to Midsouth Shooters! We looked to an independent poster for their review of the new offering, and we were more than impressed with the results.
“We’ve been shooting these for the last month or so and the 70’s have been shooting extremely well and we’ve been running a BC of .211. Basically the same as the 75 Amax but you can run these a lot faster. With our 223AI’s we were running the Amax at about 3100. These are closer to 3200. They like to be run fast. I also measured a bunch and they are beyond consistent.”
He went on to add,
“I have the 6mm’s arriving any day in quantity to shoot and I will tell you they will be giving the Hybrids a run for their money. If they are anything like the 70’s (and they are the same design) the BC will blow the Hybrid away and these will cost less. I’ll keep you all posted but these will be a bullet to watch.”
You can see the difference in meplat from left to right below:
The difference in meplat is definitely noticeable, reducing drag, and flattening trajectory over greater distances for each bullet. For those not in the know, Meplat (from the French word “méplat” meaning “flat”) is the technical term for the flat or open tip on the nose of a bullet. The shape of the meplat is important in determining how the bullet moves through the air.
The original article, as well as Nosler’s official press release, is below:
Nosler Inc. of Bend, OR, announced recently the first of several new innovative products slated to roll out over the coming weeks with the release of their new RDF™ Reduced Drag Factor bullet line. RDF™ features the highest BCs and smallest, most consistent meplats of any hollow point match bullet line on the market.
“Long-range competitive shooting has quickly become one of the fastest growing shooting activities in the world, and quality bullets are the cornerstone of the sport” said John Nosler, Executive Vice President for the company. “Our engineers were challenged with delivering a bullet that would drastically reduce aerodynamic drag and increase ballistic consistency, providing shooters with an indisputable advantage in the field. What we achieved is a leap in match bullet technology that we predict will become the winning differentiator for shooters across the country, and around the globe.”
The RDF™ line was designed from the ground up by Nosler’s world-class team of engineers with the goal of delivering exceptionally high BCs that result in the flattest trajectory and least wind drift possible. Several key design factors contribute to the RDF’s game-changing performance. Nosler’s meticulously optimized compound ogive, which bridges traditional tangent and secant bullet shapes, is insensitive to seating depth, allowing handloaders to seat bullets with ease, an advantage for competitors who often load hundreds of rounds per sitting in preparation for a match. Also lending itself to the bullet’s sleek form factor is a long, drag reducing boattail, making the product optimal for long range efficiency.
When compared side-by-side, shooters will immediately notice a striking visual contrast between Nosler’s RDF™ and today’s leading industry match bullets, with a hollow point so small it’s nearly undetectable to the naked eye. The bullet’s tightly profiled design boasts a 40% average reduction in meplat size, completely eliminating the need to point and trim tips—a laborious step performed by match shooters in order to achieve increased ballistic efficiency and an edge over the competition.
Nosler’s RDF™ bullet line will initially launch with the following offerings in both 100 and 500 count boxes:
· 22cal 70gr.—G1 Ballistic Coefficient 0.416 | G7 Ballistic Coefficient 0.211
· 6mm 105gr.—BC field verification in process
· 6.5mm 140gr.—BC field verification in process
· 30cal 175gr.—G1 Ballistic Coefficient 0.536| G7 Ballistic Coefficient 0.270
So you have a sack full of trimmed cases. Now what? Here’s what! A few tips on final preparation that may even promote better accuracy. Keep reading…
The most basic and necessary tool or tools we’ll need to get the freshly-trimmed case into shape to take on a new bullet is an “outside” and “inside” chamerfing appliance. These are most popularly housed in one hand-held tool: one end does the outside and the other does the inside. Of course (of course) there are options, and some are right dandy.
After trimming the case mouths will be square, flat, and appear wider-walled than before. That’s normal.
There will usually be a little edge-ring of brass on the exterior surface of the case neck, and that’s the reason for the wider appearance. That’s easily remedied. It takes only a light skiff using the “outside” function of the tool.
Don’t cut into the outside, just remove the ring. No bevel is necessary; that only thins the case mouth. If the ring is left standing, the case might not want to feed, and then there will be little shards of brass here and there.
Next, the inside. The inside edge of the case mouth needs to be broken and also beveled to more easily accept a bullet. Now we’ve got options in depth of the bevel and angle of the bevel.
The long-time “standard” is a 45-degree chamfer. That functions okay to allow most bullets to sit unsupported in the case neck prior to seating. I believe, and I’m not nearly alone, that a steeper angle is better. For anyone loading bullets that are of a longer, “spikier” form, I strongly recommend something closer to 30 degrees, or less. These are often called “VLD” cutters or chamfer tools, and that is because these tools followed the “low-drag” style bullets that, among other attributes, featured relatively longer, more steeply angled boat-tails. They also have relatively thinner jackets (“J4”). Essentially, a 45-degree pathway and the geometry on the bullet didn’t mate up.
The result of a greater angle mismatch is that the bullet gets a pretty hard start into the case neck, and it can also get a crooked start, and that’s because it’s not sitting “into” the neck very far. It’s in a precarious position and easily tilted. These long bullets create what amounts to more leverage in less-than-perfect case necks, which is going to be the most of our case necks unless we’re neck turning. (It’s also why I’m a big believer in a bullet-seating stem that engages farther down the bullet nosecone; this also helps reduce the angular deflection in seating.) I’ve seated and then pulled bullets from cases with 45- and 20-degree chamfers, for instance, and those from the shallower angle show noticeably less scuffing. (Plus, many of the custom-made low-drags feature a “pressure ring,” which is a tiny elevated ring right at the boat-tail/shank junction, usually about 0.0005 diameter, which helps obturation. That ring can get deformed by a 45-degree chamfer.)
It’s not the depth into the case neck cylinder that improves the transition into the case neck, so a “bigger” cut with a 45 won’t do a thing. A steeper cutter is going to make a deeper extension into the case neck simply because the angle is steeper.
Cutting the inside, do not go for a knife edge! For a yardstick, I suggest going about halfway on a 45-degree cut and 2/3 on a VLD-style chamfer tool. By that I mean that the appearance of the wall thickness at the case mouth is roughly half after chamfering that it was before.
It is important, at least in logical thought, to have the same chamfer depth on each case to ensure perfectly consistent engagement with the bullet shank. Honestly, I don’t know if that shows up on a target, but it’s easily attained using either an LE Wilson or Forster case trimming base, as well as some others, with the addition of a chamfering tool in the apparatus to replace the length trim cutter. It’s an extra step in retooling and adjustment, but then if the cases are all the same length and the stops are set, each case mouth will have an identical chamfer.
The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen Zediker’s newest book Top-Grade Ammo. Available right’chere at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, as well as others.
I’m going to load a bunch of 9mm today! That was my plan, and I couldn’t wait to go shoot a bunch of the ammo with my Glock 17. Everything was going “great” until I noticed the powder level seemed to be getting higher as I was loading. “That just doesn’t look right” I thought. I took a charged case off the press, and soon determined I was 2.2 grains over my 9mm load- way too far over to risk shooting. I won’t repeat what I said right then: something like @$#&. In disgust, I put the ammo aside in a tub with a sheet of paper laid inside with a Sharpie scrawl that read “Over, not safe”. I didn’t even want to think about breaking down 500 rounds of ammunition with my impact puller. That would probably take (:30 per cartridge X 500 cartridges = 250 minutes = ~4 hours and 15 minutes!). Later I decided it would be a good time to get a press-mounted collet puller. Hopefully that would save some time! Fast-forward a year later and I’m finally getting around to fixing this 9mm ammo. Feels good to take care of this pile of unsafe ammo.
As you saw in the video, this tool is pretty simple, but it’s magic when you need to pull a large quantity of bullets. I wouldn’t attempt this kind of job without such a tool! Here’s a look inside the die opening where the collet sits:
Also pictured above: a “bad” cartridge before the bullet was pulled, the case, powder, and bullet after pulling (note the slightest ring from the taper crimp previously applied). I feel great about reusing these bullets for anything but a bullseye match- I don’t think the crimp groove or any of the “scratches” will affect the re-reloaded ammunition’s performance for most types of pistol shooting.
This puller worked great for me for the ~500 9mm cartridges that I had to tear-down and re-reload. I’m going to order more collets as the need arises, because I really like the way this tool works. Almost makes the process fun! If you’re looking to pull bulk bullets, check out this tool!
UPDATE: New Info added about the self-centering shell holder, and new pictures added, as well! Read more below:
For decades, MEC Reloading has been THE go-to reloading press for shotshell reloaders around the world. Recently, we heard tale of MEC building their first offerings in a series of metallic reloading tools. Enter the MEC Marksman, a heavy duty, single stage press attempts to set itself apart from the heard with their sights set on quality, and precision.
Check out the press (pun) release below!
Official Press Release: 11/1/2016
MEC Shooting Sports is pleased to introduce its latest new product offering, the all new MEC Marksman™ to the metallic reloading enthusiast. As an industry-leading manufacturer of shotshell reloading equipment and clay target machines, MEC brings its knowledge and expertise to the metallic reloading marketplace. The MEC Marksman™ single stage metallic reloader and accessory products are made in the USA in Mayville, WI.
The MEC Marksman™ is made from ductile cast iron for superior quality and durability. Our patent-pending self-centering shell holder provides metallic reloading users greater accuracy and consistency to every load compared to competing models. The MEC Marksman™ is compatible with all 7/8-14 thread dies to change calibers quickly. Reload .22 Hornet to .416 Rigby all with one convenient machine.
In addition to the MEC Marksman™, the Metallic line will include reloading accessories and essentials. Powder measure, powder trickler, scale and calipers are available to complete the MEC Marksman™ reloading experience. An additional base is available for easy installation and is compatible with the MEC Jig Fixture mounting system. Case prep tools and components are also available.
With over 60 years of shooting sports experience, the addition of the MEC Marksman™ continues the reloading heritage from the brand you trust.
So, what does this mean to us here at Midsouth Shooters? Quite a bit, actually. We’re excited to welcome another offering to our customers, who will undoubtedly put this press to the test. There are truly no better product testers in the world, than our reloading community. We look forward to hearing from you, but for now, we have to settle for the early reports from bloggers, as well as a few early adopters, who’re giving the Marksman rave reviews.
The MEC Marksman, as well as other essential reloading accessories from MEC are available Here, and Here! If you’re looking to get into shotshell reloading, we know MEC presses are some of the best on the market, and we gladly offer them Here.
Fun Fact: MEC stands for Mayville Engineering Company
When we looked a little further into the self-centering shell holder, for which MEC has sought out a patent, we find we’ve covered such an idea from our own Glen Zediker. You can find the article on “Float” by clicking here. Ultimately, what they’re trying to accomplish, and reduce is bullet run-out, as well as maintaining the best concentricity possible during the ammo creation process.
How many of you have tried MEC reloading presses before? What’s your take on the new metallic reloading offerings from MEC? Will you be pulling the handle of the Marksman?