Category Archives: Reloading Components

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

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullet Ballistic Coefficient

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

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

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

meplat uniformer

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

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

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

Federal Premium Launches All-New Hydra-Shok Deep Personal Defense Load

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New for 2018, a proven self-defense handgun load gets a performance boost! Read all about it HERE

Hydra-Shok Deep

Federal Premium Ammunition announced  a new high-performance self-defense load: Hydra-Shok Deep. This new offering builds off the time-tested Hydra-Shok platform with design improvements that better meet modern performance measurements. Shipments are being delivered to dealers.

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok ammunition has proven itself for self-defense since 1989. Hydra-Shok Deep’s redesigned bullet features a more robust center post and a core design that provides as much as 50 percent deeper penetration than classic Hydra-Shok.

 

Larry Head, director and chief engineer of handgun ammunition: “Hydra-Shok Deep offers consumers a round that results in consistent, reliable performance through typical defensive barriers and penetrates to the depth deemed optimum by the leading law-enforcement agency in the United States.”

Hydra-Shok has been a self-defense staple since its debut in 1989. At that time, the FBI had requested a projectile with better terminal ballistics than traditional cup-and-core bullets, and Federal responded with Hydra-Shok, which uses an expanding bullet with a notched jacket, non-bonded lead core and unique center-post hollow-point design. That provided better penetration and more consistent threat-stopping expansion than other bullets at the time.

 

The new Hydra-Shok Deep bullet features a core design that provides up to 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok and similar loads from competitors, and the center post has been improved so it’s more robust, which provides better integrity and performance through barriers. Testing shows that Hydra-Shok Deep penetrates 15 inches in bare ballistics gelatin, which is the optimal depth, according to FBI standards.

“The primary goal of Hydra-Shok Deep was to penetrate to the FBI’s optimum depth of 14 to 16 inches and at the same time provide more consistent performance though the intermediate barriers,” Head said. “We also wanted to develop a round that would score significantly better through the FBI protocol testing than standard Hydra-Shok. Hydra-Shok Deep does all of this with a 70-percent improvement in FBI protocol score.”

Hydra-Shok deep bullet

Although the bullet’s performance in ballistic gelatin is impressive, many shooters might wonder how Hydra-Shok Deep will boost their real-world performance. Head explained why the remarkable improvements in expansion, penetration and integrity through defensive barriers are especially important to self-defense.

 

Hydra-Shok Deep will initially be offered in a 135-grain 9mm Luger, with other loads coming soon.

Check out Federal Hydra-Shok at Midsouth HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: Cartridge Case Headspace

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Knowing, and controlling, this dimension is a crucially important step in the case sizing operation, especially for semi-autos. Here’s what it is and why it matters. Read all about it!

Glen Zediker

Last time, and to start the new year off, I hit a few highlights on the first of what I think are some of the most important things to understand in reloading for bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles. A majority of those differences is in what’s allowable and possible in cartridge case sizing.

The reason I’m running these articles is to clearly define the differences in, essentially, what you can get away with (and can’t get away without) depending on the action type. Don’t confuse some of the tactics, tools, and techniques used for bolt-actions and (mis)apply them to semis. That can range from frustrating (function issues) to disastrous (blowed-up guns). I hope that these focused articles will clarify the basics before moving on to the finer points respecting each.

case headspace illustration
Here’s headspace: it’s a height based on a diameter. A .223 Rem. uses a 0.330-inch-diameter datum; the height to the diameter on the case shoulder that equals 0.330 inches is the headspace dimension, measured from the case base (this is measured from the bolt face to determine headspace in a rifle chamber). There are only 5 datums that apply to all standard bottleneck cartridges; the correct number for your cartridge will be referenced in the cartridge specifications. (Belted magnums and rimmed cartridges are different stories, for a different story.)

Following on that, here’s one: cartridge case headspace. A rifle chamber has a headspace; a cartridge case has a headspace. The second cannot exceed the first. Here’s how it goes:

The area in point is the case shoulder, the area between the bottom of the case neck cylinder and the case body. There are two dimensions associated with case headspace: the diameter of the “datum” line, and the height (measured from the case base) to that line. So, headspace is determined by the location of the datum line. There are only 5 datum diameters in use over the range of bottleneck rifle cartridges. Datum diameter will be indicated in the cartridge description in any good loading manual. (Belted magnums, which headspace off the belt, are the exception, and different stories, and so are rimmed cases.)

Chamber headspace is determined by the chamber reamer and also the one operating the reamer. There are SAAMI standards for all standard cartridges (which are coincidentally those having SAAMI specs). Ammo manufacturers set their cartridge case dimensions to work within those same specs, and almost always with (literally) some room for variations. That means that, usually (and, again, I’m talking about factory-chambered rifles) the cartridge case headspace will be a little shorter than the rifle chamber will accommodate.

When a round fires, as is by now well-known, the case expands in all directions under pressure, swelling and conforming to the chamber, then retracts immediately afterward when pressure dissipates. Since brass has a plastic property, dimensions are not going to return to exactly what they were prior to firing, and that’s what all the sizing tools and operations seek to rectify. So, among other changes, the case shoulder will have “blown forward,” after having snugged up into that area of the rifle chamber. That will have moved the datum line upward. As hit upon last article, semi-automatics are notorious for exhibiting a little more than they “should have” in expanding, and that’s because there’s a little (to a lot) of pressure latent in the case when the bolt starts to unlock and move rearward. This can effectively create additional space for case expansion within the chamber. The case shoulder measurement after firing in a semi-auto might actually exceed that of the actual chamber headspace, or, at the least, be a little taller than it would have been in a bolt-gun having the exact same chamber dimensions. The hotter the load, the more gas system pressure, the more this might show.

case headspace tools
Get a few de-primed once-fired cases and a gage and get to work. Here’s a Forster Datum Dial gage. Works well and works for all standard-architecture bottleneck cartridges, as does the Hornady LNL. Each or either gives a “real” headspace number (although it’s not perfectly congruent, without mathematical manipulation, to the figure from a headspace gage used for chambering; that doesn’t matter though: as long as the gage is zeroed it shows the difference, and that’s what matters). By the way, the old standard “drop-in” style case gages might keep ammo safe, but won’t provide this sort of detail in information. The numbers we need to get from our gage are these: new, unfired case shoulder height (where we started); fired, unslzed case shoulder height (where we went to); sized case shoulder height (where we need to get back to).

To be rechambered, this case has to have its case shoulder “set back,” which means that the sizing die has to contact the shoulder area enough to budge it, bump it, down to a tolerable height. Here next is how to find out what that “tolerable” height is.

The process of adjusting a sizing die to produce correct cartridge case headspace is plenty simple and easy, and requires a specialty tool (and you knew that was coming): a gage to determine datum line height.

CHECK OUT MIDSOUTH Selections HERE

First, and important: this has to be done on the first firing of a new case, either a factory-loaded round or your own creation. For more conclusive accuracy, measure 4-6 cases, and, very important: de-prime a case before taking a read (the primer might interfere).

Measure a new case. Write that down.
Measure your fired case. Write that down.

Again, in a semi-auto the chamber might not actually be as long as the fired case reading says it is. In a bolt-gun, the post-firing case headspace dimension is going to be a closely-accurate indicator of the chamber headspace (but always subtract 0.001 inches from any reading to account for the predictable “spring back” in brass).

headspace reading
New — 1.458 inches.
headspace reading
Fired — 1.464 inches
headspace setting
Die setting — 1.460 inches.

To set the die, take the fired case reading and reduce it. How much set back? I recommend 0.003-0.004 inches for something like an AR15 or M1A. That’s playing it safe, considering, again (and again) that there may likely have been additional expansion beyond chamber dimensions. I’d like to see folks set back their bolt-guns at least 0.001, but I’m not going to argue! I don’t like running sticky bolts.

Set up case sizing die
Thread the sizing die down to touch the shellholder when the press ram is at its highest point of travel (whether it “cams” or not). Then back the die up (off) one full turn. Lightly seat the die body lock ring against the press top, and repeat the following process: lube and size the case, check the headspace; adjust the die downward, check the headspace. Rinse and repeat. For a 7/8-14 thread, which is virtually all presses, a full turn equals 0.0714 inches. That little nod of knowledge helps keep from going too far too soon, and also shows just how fine the adjustments get right at the end. When you think you got it, size a few more cases and read them. When you know you got it, lock the die ring. Note: the expander/decapping assembly was removed from this die, for one, because t doesn’t factor in establishing headspace, and because I set it all up separately on a new die. Headspace is the first thing I set.)

A little extra space ahead of the case shoulder helps ensure safe and reliable functioning in a semi-auto, and also, importantly, reduces the chance that the case might bottom out on the shoulder area in the chamber before the bolt is fully locked down. Firing residue in a semi-auto chamber is also effectively reducing chamber headspace, and that’s another reason for the little extra shoulder set-back. Keep the chamber clean!

headspace reading
Don’t just set the die bottom flush against the shellholder and commence to shucking cases! Most die makers provide that as instruction, and some say drop it down another quarter turn or so beyond that. That’s excessive. Here’s the read I got from flush die-shellholder contact on a new Forster.

Why not just set the shoulder back, for either action type, to what the factory set for the new case? Doing that really wouldn’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” that the brass has to endure, that much shorter serviceable brass life. However! That’s not nearly as bad as leaving the shoulder too high! That’s dangerous.

NOTE: 
Bolt-Gun Only!
Do you have to do this with a bolt-gun? I say yes, but freely admit that, at the least, from zero to “just a tic” is safe enough. What you do need to do is know what you’re getting! For a bolt-action it is possible, and some think wise, to determine the necessary case shoulder set-back based on what is needed to close the bolt on the resized case: adjust the die down a tad at a time until the bolt closes. Depending on how stout the load is, it might be 2-4, or more, firings before the shoulder needs to be set back for a bolt-gun. But, rest assured, it eventually will. Just keep up with it. I think the bolt should close easily (and if you’re having issues with that in your handloads, there’s the first place to look for a cure). It’s really not possible to follow this plan with a semi-auto because the bolt will close with much greater force during actual firing. 

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

 

RELOADERS CORNER: Priming 3

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Correct primer ignition is a key to consistent velocities and good accuracy, and maybe even survival! Let’s make sure the primer pops proper. Read how…

Glen Zediker

Last two times we’ve looked at the tools and process of seating primers and also the thing itself. This time let’s take it another step and perfect the important step of priming a centerfire case.

primer pocket uniforming
Very important step, in my mind, in the reloading process: uniforming primer pockets.

 

As gone on about in the first article, it’s very important to seat each and every primer flush to the bottom of the cartridge case priming pocket. Tool choice has a whopping lot to do with how well attaining that goal can be reached, and that’s because it is a “feel” operation.

However! Probably the biggest asset to correct primer seating is a primer pocket that’s correctly dimensioned and correctly finished. And this, in effect, removes some of the importance or contribution of the “feel” needed and that’s because when the primer stops it will stop flat and flush. If the pocket is what it should be.

With the exception of a very few (and expensive) cases, the primer flash hole and the primer pocket itself are punched, not drilled and milled. That’s done, of course, in the interest of efficiency in producing the case. That manufacturing process, though, hain’t perfect.

Cross-section a case head and you’ll see that the inside bottom of the pocket is a little bowl-shaped; the corners aren’t square, which means the bottom of the pocket isn’t flat all across. Since the bottom of a primer cup is indeed flat, it’s way on better if these surfaces are a match.

primer pocket uniforming

A “primer pocket uniformer” fixes this to the same level it would be had it been machined: it will be at “blueprint” specs. A uniforming tool also sets pocket depth and will correct a shallow pocket. And again, the flat primer cup mated with an equally flat primer pocket bottom results in a truly well-seated primer.

In my estimation, I think this is an even more important procedure or preparation step for those using any automated or semi-automated priming process, such as encountered on a progressive-style press than it is for “precision” handloaders. In short: the less feel in the tool that’s available to guide you to know the primer has seated completely is offset a whopping lot by the assurance that flat-to-flat flush contact results pretty much just from running the press handle fully.

primer pocket uniforming tool
Primer pocket uniforming is done fastest and easiest with a tool that chucks into a drill. There are many available, and I recommend getting a “fixed” depth design. One thing: unlike virtually all other case-preparation steps, pocket uniforming is usually best one on once-fired, not new, brass. That’s because the pockets can be a little difficult for the tool to enter when the pockets are at their smallest, which they will be as new.

It’s another step, though, that adds time and tedium to the reloading process. Add power and it’s a lot easier, and, for the majority, has only to be done once. True, after enough firings a pocket will get shallower, and it will also be getting larger in diameter. Usually the increased diameter outruns the loss of depth in signaling the end of case life.

I use mine in place of a primer pocket cleaning tool. There is zero harm in running a uniformer each use for reloading. Uniformers are available as fixed- and adjustable-depth. I generally recommend getting a fixed tool, and then trusting it. Setting depth on an adjustable model is tedious, and critical. Too deep can weaken the case.

uniformed pocket
Here’s a little (important) something that you might notice after uniforming primer pockets. The case on the right shows very clear primer anvil impressions, and that’s because this primer was seated fully flush into a uniformed pocket; the case on the left was not uniformed and likewise the primer was not fully seated flush (couldn’t be).

If you’re wanting to load once-fired mil-spec cases, or have to load once-fired mil-spec cases, then the original primer crimp must be removed. A primer crimp is small lip of brass that’s pinched into the primer edge during the primer seating process. It holds the primer in place against inertia-induced movement that might unseat it. Now, you never ever need to worry about crimping your own ammunition. All that matters to us is removing the excess brass residual from the original crimp. The most simple, and fastest, way is using a primer pocket swaging tool. These are either press-mounted or stand-alone stations. Just run it, run it out, and the pocket has been swaged to unimpeded roundness again. It is possible to use a uniformer to remove crimp, but it’s a tool for another job and, almost always, it’s best to use specific tools for specific jobs. It’s a difficult chore with a uniformer, and the uniformer also may not smooth the entryway adequately.

primer pocket swaging tools
If you need to remove the crimp from mil-spec cases, get a swager. It’s the best tool for the job. They’re easy to use, and, as with other such processes, has only to be done once for the life of that case. After swaging, by all means run a uniformer if wanted. Check out tools HERE

Overall, get a swager and keep it simple. They’re not expensive, they’re easy to use, and, as with other such processes, has only to be done once for the life of that case. After swaging, by all means run a uniformer if wanted.

Should primer pockets be cleaned? Why not… There is probably no influence on accuracy if the pocket is dirty or spotless, but, why not… Deprime prior to case cleaning to get that area treated. I preach heavily on the virtues of a stand-along decapping station to keep grit out of the sizing die. A primer pocket cleaner is fast and easy to use, but, as mentioned, I instead just run a uniforming tool in its place.

As said a few times in this series, the most important thing is to know that the primers (all of them) have seated to at least slightly below flush with the case base. Just seeing that does, in no way, mean each primer is seated to perfection. There are variances in (un-uniformed) primer pocket depths. At the least, one more time, uniformed pockets will or sure should take a big step toward providing more certainty.

A “high” primer, one that’s not seated fully to the bottom of its pocket, results in a “soft” strike from the firing pin, and that’s because some of the inertia/energy in the speeding pin is siphoned away because it first will fully seat the primer… However! There’s another, even more important reason all primers should be seated fully: When used with a rifle having a floating-style firing pin, which is an AR15, the normal and unavoidable inertia-induced firing pin movement upon bolt closing will result in the firing pin tip contacting the primer. It will bounce or tap off the primer. If the primer is sitting out farther, there’s a greater likelihood of setting off the cap. That’s called a “slam-fire” and its aftermath ranges from shaken nerves to shrapnel infestations about the facial area.

AR15 firing pin indentation
Yikes! Here’s a round chambered and then pulled from one of my AR15s. Floating firing pins can “tap” off a primer, it’s intertia-induced. A more sensitive primer, and it could have gone off. This is not “supposed” to happen via rifle design, but, well, here it is. Make double-dang sure all the primers are seated below flush with the case head! It’s a problem with any floating-pin equipped rifle: M1A, M1, AR10, AR15. Primer composition matters. In this case, its resistance to detonation, and it should influence decisions on primer brands.

See what’s available at Midsouth HERE

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

RELOADERS CORNER: Priming, Part 2

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Last time the tooling and process of seating a primer got detailed, and now more details about The Thing Itself. Read all about it…

primer close up

Glen Zediker

A primer consists of a brass (usually) cup filled with impact-detonated explosive compound, lead styphate specifically. Right. Primers explode. The compound starts as liquid, not that that matters, and while it’s still wet, a triangular metal piece called an “anvil” is positioned in the opening. When it’s hit by the firing pin, the center of the cup collapses, squeezing the explosive compound between the interior of the cup and the anvil. That ignites the compound and shoots a flame through the flash hole. That ignites the propellant.

There are two primer sizes, and then type variations. The two sizes are “small” and “large.” For example, .223 Rem. uses small, .308 Win. uses large. Rifle primers and pistol primers are not the same, even though they have diameters in common. Rifle primers have a tougher cup, and, usually, provide a hotter flash. Do not substitute pistol primers for rifle primers! Some pistol shooters using very high-pressure loads substitute rifle primers, but also often need to increase striker impact power.

Variations: There are small variations in primer dimensions, heights and diameters, and also variations exist in new-case primer pocket dimensions, among various brands, and, of course, lot-to-lot variations can and do exist within any one brand. Usually, these variations are not influential to suitability. Usually. However! On occasion, small diameter variations can affect how well different primers will feed through various make priming apparatus. This can and has become a hitch in some progressive loading machines. Cup height variations can lead to seating depth (primer height) issues.

Remington 7-1/2 primers
I have my “go-to” primer, as do most, but I’ve found best results in certain circumstances with another brand. I will not vary primers, though, in my tournament ammo for any one day: as with propellants and bullets, each leaves a different residue in the bore, and that will, not can, influence zero making the switch. In other words, I won’t use CCI for short-line loads, and Remington for 600-yard ammo, not on the same day.

There are also “magnum” primers. These have a hotter spark. They are engineered to deliver a stouter kick-off to larger, more dense columns of slower-burning propellant. They also work well with spherical-type propellants (less air space between the granules). There are also “match” primers. These ostensibly are more consistent quality. Not all manufacturers offer these options. If they do, unless you have a scheme or more carefully-considered reason, just go with what fits your application. There’s no need for match primers in blasting ammo. There are, no doubt (and no doubt significant) differences among varying brand primers with respect to “output.” As mentioned earlier on, there are also pretty well-known tendencies that are either more or less preferable among varying primer brands.

The primer is, in my experience, the greatest variable that can change the performance of a load combination, which is mostly to say “pressure.” Never (never ever) switch primer brands without backing off the propellant charge and proving to yourself how far to take it back up, or to even back it off more. Don’t deny this one.

I back off one full grain of propellant to try a different primer brand.

Finding the best-performing primer for any particular combination of cartridge, bullet, and propellant isn’t just always as easy as putting a “match” primer in there. I have my preference, and it’s what I try first, but, to be certain, sometimes best accuracy and consistency (related) come with another. Again, it’s a combination of propellant fill volume, burning rate, propellant type (single-base, double-base, extruded, or spherical), and column “packing” density that favors either a “hotter” or “cooler” flash.

Priming cup composition also factors mightily in my final choice, and that’s a big factor in some semi-autos. More next time.

primer tray
Here’s handy. A primer “flip” tray puts all the primers in the sams orientation and orients them for easy loading into a primer magazine feed tube for use in many automated systems. See what’s available at Midsouth HERE

SAFETY
Do be extra careful handling primers! No kidding. It’s the most explosive element in a cartridge, and it’s intended to be detonated from impact, so… Wearing safety glasses at the loading bench might seem nerdy, but it’s wise. Likewise, and this has happened way on more than once, but, fortunately, never yet to me, is a mass detonation of primers contained in a feeding device, such as a primer feeding magazine tube. Such circumstance is grave indeed. Progressive loading machines, as well as many bench-mounted appliances, use a tube magazine that contains the primers. This tube must be filled, like any magazine. Make sure you know when full is full, and don’t try to poke in one more. This is usually when “it” happens. Remember, primers are detonated via pressure. Said before, but important enough to say again now: Never (ever) attempt to more deeply seat a primer on a loaded round. And keep the priming cup (the tool part that holds the primer for seating) clear of all debris. I’ve heard tell of brass shavings, leftover tumbling media, and the like, getting between the primer and the tool cup, and forming its own little firing pin.

See what’s available at Midsouth HERE

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

New Hornady Products for 2018

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Hornady has just announced their new products for 2018, from the much anticipated new reloading tools, to innovations in ammo and projectiles, Midsouth is eager to fill our shelves with their new offerings! Read on for a brief breakdown of what’s coming soon!

New in Reloading:

Cordless Vibratory Powder Trickler:

Some cool tools are on their way from Hornady MFG., like this Vibratory Trickler, which makes “quick work of various reloading chores!”

The Vibratory Trickler, powered by two AAA batteries, features variable settings to trickle all kinds of powders, ensuring the precise amount for each charge. Its modular design means you can use it with or without the base and also makes cleanup quick and easy.

Featuring:

  • Trickles all powders
  • Light-up LED screen
  • High, low, and variable trickle settings
  • Use in base or outside of base
  • Weighted for stability
  • No-slip base

Hornady Rotary Case Tumbler:

hornady rotary case tumbler

Clean and polish brass cartridge cases to a brilliant shine with the rotary action of this tumbler, coupled with its steel pin tumbling media (included). Use in conjunction with Hornady® One Shot® Sonic Clean Solution.

Six-liter drum holds 5 pounds of brass cases. Set tumbler to run for up to eight hours in half-hour increments using the digital timer.

Check out all the new items coming to our reloading category by clicking here!

New Projectiles:

Speaking of reloading, lets take a look at some of the new projectiles being developed by Hornady!

hornady dgx bonded bullets

DGX Bonded®

The DGX® Bonded (Dangerous Game™ eXpanding) bullet features a copper-clad steel jacket bonded to a lead core to provide limited, controlled expansion with deep penetration and high weight retention. Bonding the jacket to the core prevents separation from high-energy impact on tough material like bone, ensuring the bullet stays together for deep expansion.

DGX® Bonded bullets are built to the same profile as the corresponding DGS® (Dangerous Game™ Solid) bullets but expand to 1½ to 2 times their bullet diameter.

Thicker Jacket

The thicker 0.098” copper-clad steel jacket of DGX Bonded sets it apart from other dangerous game bullets, allowing it to tear through tough material like hide, muscle and bone.

Controlled Expansion

DGX Bonded features a flat nose with serrated sections to deliver a uniform expansion from 100 to 150 yards and straight penetration, reducing possible deflections.

Bonded Jacket and Core

The bonding process locks the jacket and lead core together, improving the retained weight of the expanded bullet.

ELD-X and ELD Match Bullets:

eld-x hornady bullets

There’s also a few new calibers coming to the ELD-X line of projectiles. The Extremely Low Drag – eXpanding bullets are a technologically advanced, match accurate, ALL-RANGE hunting bullet featuring highest-in-class ballistic coefficients and consistent, controlled expansion at ALL practical hunting distances. You can find them right here at Midsouth!

New Ammunition:

There’s some interesting complete cartridges coming out this next year, and a few to really examine will be the subsonic line, the 6.5 PRC, and the new line of .223 ammo called Frontier®

New 6.5 PRC

The Ultimate Trophy Magnet

The name says it all! The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge was designed to achieve the highest levels of accuracy, flat trajectory and extended range performance in a sensibly designed compact package.

The name says it all! The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge was designed to achieve the highest levels of accuracy, flat trajectory and extended range performance in a sensibly designed compact package.

Utilizing moderate powder charges that result in repeatable accuracy, low recoil and reasonable barrel life, the 6.5 PRC produces high velocities for target shooting with performance well beyond 1000 yards.

Rifle makers currently chambering the 6.5 PRC include GA Precision, Gunwerks, PROOF Research, Stuteville Precision and Seekins Precision. Check back often as additional gun manufacturers confirm chambering the 6.5 PRC.

There’s a lot more to cover, and information is still coming in daily on the new products announced for next year. Stay tuned for a more in depth look at these items as we get a chance to demo them.