Category Archives: Rifles

Why You Need Iron Sights

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This is part one of a three-part series on sighting options for your rifle. This first entry covers iron sights. READ MORE

iron sights

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Kit Perez

While the AR-15 (or “Modern Sporting Rifle”) continues to balloon in popularity for competition, hunting, and defense, there is one facet of it that does not seem to get that much attention: iron sights. Why is that? Many people who are enamored with the AR-15 are equally infatuated with optics. Whether it is magnified optics or red dots, both types of sights are tremendously popular compared to iron sights. So, with optics coming to the forefront of shooter preferences, why and when would someone want to still run iron sights? Fully knowing what a basic set of irons are capable of might be half the battle.

Always On
The misperception of iron sights might stem from the various upbringings we have all had with firearms. If you were introduced to guns as a child with a single-shot, bolt-action .22 Long Rifle with iron sights you likely progressed from there to bigger, better and more modern firearms. Other factions of shooters may have joined the arms bandwagon later in life and began with an AR-15 with an optic, or potentially a different scoped rifle. If you initially skipped over iron sights in your start with rifles, it would be admittedly difficult to regress back to “lesser” technology. Unfortunately for that aforementioned group, lacking a rudimentary understanding of iron sights means you’re missing a basic skill of marksmanship.

When the conversation of “should you use iron sights,” or at a minimum understand them, comes up, I immediately think of Murphy’s Law: What can go wrong, will. Moreover, the technology in optics can fail. Whether it’s a battery dying or glass being irreparable damaged, if you have back-up iron sights you can always remain in the fight, hunt, or competitive event.

Old-School Rangefinding
So, removing the thought of Murphy’s Law from your mindset, why else should you understand and deploy iron sights? For one, the width of a mil-spec front sight post (FSP) can be used to measure the relative size and distance of objects. A mil-spec FSP such as the one present on the Springfield Armory SAINT AR-15 is 0.07” wide. Some fast math tells us that is loosely 3.2 mils at 100 meters.

iron sights
The SAINT’s rear sight has two peep apertures you can use — one is for normal aiming and the other for quick, close-quarters shooting.

More people should become comfortable and familiar with this view because if your optics fail this may be all that you have to work with, for better or worse.

The military teaches that a mil-spec FSP at 150 meters is the average width of a military-aged male’s torso (approximately 19” across). So, for example, if a whitetail deer is facing you straight on and your FSP completely covers the deer’s chest, that particular deer should be at loosely 150 meters. While this is a very primitive ranging technique, in the 21st century it’s great knowledge to keep tucked away in your mind. And it always works. No batteries to run out or glass to break.

Even More Options?
With many sets of iron sights such as on the SAINT, you also get multiple rear apertures through which to aim. Sometimes they’re referred to as day-time and night-time peeps (small and large) while more modern shooting manuals identify each aperture as being utilized for normal shooting and faster close-quarters target acquisition. The ability to have two choices in a rear aperture and greater awareness by not being forced into “tunnel vision focus” with an optic can be quite valuable.

iron sights
While you might think you don’t need those iron sights that come on your SAINT rifle, they are actually a highly capable aiming system.

Since iron sights can serve a two-fold purpose in their peeps and there are handy secrets in their dimensions, when should you use them then? Some of the best applications are for hunting and competition. If you’re going to be participating in a 3-Gun competition, an educational carbine course, the Tactical Games or a similar style AR-15 course of fire, then iron sights could be immensely valuable. In regards to hunting, the ranging ability and fast target acquisition could be handy for unpredictable game appearances. Also, when Murphy’s Law finds you, the likelihood of a nearby gas station stocking your obscure watch battery for your primary optic will be abysmally low. When you’re competing or hunting, it’s often better to “have and not need iron sights than need and not have.”

iron sights

So, if you just added an AR-15 to your arsenal and are thinking of stripping the factory iron sights off of it, think again! They offer a lot of value. Possibly consider using them as a back-up and know that you’ll be more informed and prepared. Be safe out there, and happy shooting!

Adam Scepaniak
Adam is a manager at The Guns And Gear Store in Waite Park, MN. He’s also a writer for the NRA Shooting Sports USA, TheFirearmBlog, Sierra Bullets, All Outdoor, OutdoorHub, and Boyds Gunstocks. He is a Glock and Smith & Wesson Certified Armorer as well.

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

No Protection for the Law that Protects the Firearm Industry: Supreme Court Passes on PLCAA Case

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The Second Amendment and laws designed to protect the right to keep and bear arms are meaningless if they are not adequately enforced in court. READ MORE

PLCAA

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

A law designed to protect the firearm industry from frivolous litigation is now in jeopardy thanks to inaction by the U.S. Supreme Court, which earlier this month passed on a petition to review a case creating a new exception to the law’s protection. The case before the Supreme Court was Remington Arms v. Soto.

It’s hard to imagine a more ridiculous or implausible legal theory: a gunmaker intentionally marketed its products to criminals through macho ad copy, patriotic images, and product placement in video games, thus causing the criminal to carry out a mass attack.

It’s particularly ludicrous when the murderer himself stole rather than bought the gun (after killing the person who actually bought it) with no evidence the murderer saw any of the gunmaker’s ads.

In a sane world, this lawsuit would have been recognized as an abuse of the legal system, a cynical exploitation of tragedy for political and ideological ends. That world used to exist under a law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).

The PLCAA was enacted by Congress in 2005 with broad bipartisan support for the very purpose of stopping coordinated lawsuits seeking to hold the firearm industry liable for the acts of criminals who used guns to commit their offenses. Few of the cases ever had any chance of success in court, but that didn’t matter. Bankrupting the companies by forcing them to defend the suits, or to accept settlements that required “voluntary” adoption of punitive gun control measures, was the real agenda.

There is certainly nothing “unusual” or “extraordinary” about a legal rule that says a business is not responsible for the wrongful acts of a third party that misuses its products, absent some special connection to the offender or the victim. The victim of an accident caused by a drunk driver cannot ordinarily sue the car manufacturer or dealer, for example.

What was unusual was the determination of gun control advocates to press these meritless claims in court, which resulted in Congress making clear with the PLCAA that courts could not create especially unfavorable rules around the manufacturing and selling of guns. The entire point of the law was to ensure activist litigants and courts could not sue the U.S. firearms industry out of business.

As of Nov. 8, however, the sane world of the PLCAA came dangerously closer to an end. That was the day the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court that denied a firearm manufacturer the PLCAA’s protection because, so the argument went, the company knowingly engaged in illegal advertising.

That case will now proceed in a Connecticut court. And while even gun control advocates admit the plaintiff’s claim might not prevail at trial (if the case gets to trial at all), it will cost the defendants a king’s ransom to continue fighting the case.

It’s true the PLCAA was never intended to protect businesses that knowingly flaunt laws governing the sale or marketing of firearms. Congress created narrow exceptions for when the manufacturer or seller violated specific types of gun control laws, sold a firearm to a person the seller knew couldn’t be safely trusted with it, sold a defective product, or violated a contract or warranty relating to the purchase.

These exceptions also included knowingly violating a state or federal statute “applicable to the sale or marketing of the [firearm or ammunition],” such as making or facilitating false statements in required recordkeeping or disposing of a firearm or ammunition to someone legally prohibited from having it. Both examples relate to provisions in the federal Gun Control Act, indicating that gun-specific laws are what Congress intended the exception to cover.

Yet the plaintiffs in the Remington Arms case sought to get around the PLCAA by claiming that violation of any state or federal statute that could conceivably be applied to the sale or marketing of a firearm should count, whether or not that statute was enacted with firearms or ammunition in mind.

Because the sale of the firearm to the original purchaser in the case complied with all applicable state and federal regulations on firearm sales, the plaintiffs had to stretch the existing bounds of the law to find a statute they could claim was violated. They finally settled on the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), which prohibits “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” The plaintiffs argued that a similar federal law has been interpreted to include ““immoral, unethical, oppressive and unscrupulous” advertising.

They then went on to argue that Connecticut law thus effectively prohibits the sorts of advertisements the defendants used to promote their firearms, because those ads were specifically designed to appeal to and incite deranged individuals like the criminal who killed the victims they represent.

In other words, the plaintiffs are essentially claiming that but for the defendants’ supposedly illegal ads, the victims would still be alive.

Even the Connecticut Supreme Court recognized proving that claim may prove to be impossible. But by allowing the case to proceed, the court also empowered the plaintiffs to force the defendants to turn over copious amounts of documents and information about their marketing and advertising strategies. The plaintiffs hope this fishing expedition will turn up material that, if it doesn’t lead to victory in the case, could at least be used to embarrass and shame the defendants in the court of public opinion.

Why the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene when the lawsuit falls squarely into the type of abusive litigation that Congress sought to prevent is unknown. No written opinions on the order were issued by any member of the high court.

The case, however, could set a very ominous precedent, as states across the country have laws similar to CUTPA, and the question of what a company intended with an image or phrase in advertising is an inherently subjective determination.

What is clear, however, is that the Second Amendment and laws designed to protect the right to keep and bear arms are meaningless if they are not adequately enforced in court. That did not happen here, and future anti-gun opportunists may now have roadmap to navigate around the PLCAA.

 

RELOADERS CORNER: Learning To Load Again, pt. 1

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Whether you’ve been loading for 50 years or 5 minutes, it’s a good idea to revist the basics from time to time. READ MORE

Glen Zediker

[I know that my readership for this column has a pretty broad range of experience, and, therefore, a broad topic-interest range, plus expectations on what I hope to communicate or relay. I’ve been asked both to go into more details about specialized processes and procedures and also to stick more with broader topics, and keep it simple. Can’t win on all topics each edition with everyone, so I do my best to mix it up. This one is leaning heavily toward simple, but, as always, I hope there’s something to absorb, or at least think about.]

A few issues back I wrote about how I had been teaching my son how to reload. After doing all this for so long (I started when I was 15) and likewise going fairly far “into it” over many years, the basics are pretty much ingrained in me. That doesn’t mean, in no way, that I don’t have to check myself or remind myself (which usually comes after the checks) to follow the procedures and the rules to the letter.

calipers

Short digression into the backstory on this project: Charlie wanted to reload for the very same reasons I got my start in this process. For his 18th birthday, he became the proud owner of a retro-replica “M16A1.” This was his choice, of all the choices he could have made, because it’s an “original.” Of course, his is a semi-auto with only two selector stops, but otherwise is straight from the late 1960s. He found out right quick like and in a hurry that it was a hungry gun, and, as an equally hungry shooter, the need for feed exceeded the factory ammo budget in short order.

Back to the project: So when I set out to teach Charlie how to produce his own ammunition, I sat back a while (a good long while, and longer than I imagined) and ran it all through my mind and realized that I knew so much about it that it was hard to know where to start. Now! That’s not some sort of brag, just the facts, and the same would be said for most of you reading this. I knew so much about it because there’s so much to know! Handloading is a multi-faceted task, made up of many (many) tasks, all and each important.

So where did I start? With a breakdown of the cartridge itself. Which components did what, when, and how. And, of course, the long list of “always, only, and never.” This article isn’t about a step by step on how to load, but in going over the separate points, point by point, some things stood out as more or less easy to communicate, and more or less easy for my son to grasp (related no doubt).
I know that my readership for this column has a pretty broad range of experience, and, therefore, a broad topic-interest range, plus expectations on what I hope to communicate or relay. I’ve been asked both to go into more details about specialized processes and procedures and also to stick more with broader topics, and keep it simple. Can’t win on all topics each edition with everyone, so I do my best to mix it up. This one is leaning heavily toward simple, but, as always, I hope there’s something to absorb, or at least think about.

Setting up the tooling to get started on our project, I had Charlie do it all himself. One of the very first points to pass heading up the learning curve was learning to measure.

Depending on someone’s background and specific experience, something like operating a measuring tool can range from old-hat to no-clue.

calipers
A caliper is an essential, absolute must-have tool for reloading. It doesn’t have to be the best to be entirely good enough. We need to measure to 0.001, so get one that does that. Make sure it’s steel so it will hold up.

Honestly, the only measuring tool you really need to handload is a dial caliper. You’ll use this to measure cartridge case overall length, over cartridge length, case neck outside diameter, and also to check the results of a few difference gages, like a cartridge case headspace gage.

That, therefore, was the first tool he learned how to operate.

Here’s a question I had to answer, and it’s a good question to be answered especially for those unfamiliar with measuring tools. That question is how “hard” to push on the tool to take a read. How to know that the reading is correct.

It’s full and flush contact, but not force. It’s as if the part being measured was making the same contact as if it were sitting on the benchtop: full, flush contact but no pressure. In measuring some of the things we measure, like bullets, and considering the increments of the reads, pressure against the tool can influence the read if the material surface is actually compressed. That’s from flex. I usually very gently wiggle the part being measured to feel if the contact with the tool is flush, that there’s no skew involved. There is, no doubt, some feel involved in measuring. I know some say that there should be pressure to get an accurate reading, and I would agree if we’re measuring materials that are harder than bullet jackets and brass cases. But again, it is decidedly possible to flex and actually displace soft materials if there’s too much pressure applied to snug down caliper jaws or mic heads. Get a feel for flush, the point just when the movement stops firmly and fully.

calipers
Measuring correctly and accurately involves feel, which comes from experience. Contact must be flush but not flexed!

Caliper Quality
More about the tool itself: My experience has been that there’s really no difference in the at-hand accuracy of more expensive measuring tools, especially a caliper.

calipers
Tips: Don’t store the caliper with the jaws fully closed. Keep it clean. Keep it cased. Make sure to zero the caliper (dial or digital) before every session.

Digital is great, but not at all necessary. Digital is not more accurate or precise, it’s just “easier.” As with a scale, it really depends on how much you plan on using it. If you’re going to measure everything, then digital is better because it’s faster to read — there’s no dial-mark interpretation involved. If you only want to check neck diameters and case lengths when you’re setting up your tools, then a dial-style is entirely adequate.

Get steel! Something that reads to 0.001 inches.

There are several industry-branded dial and digital calipers from Lyman, Hornady, RCBS, MEC, and more, available here at Midsouth. These range from $30-50 or so. They are all good, and they all are entirely adequate. If you want to spend up and get better, Mitutoyo and Starrett are the brands to know. Those easily double that cost.

These tools do wear. All will wear. Better tools wear less for a longer time. Conversations with folks who use calipers, along with other measuring tools, not only daily, but continuously during a day, has taught me to be confident in that statement.

Calipers can measure other things, but there are specialty tools that replace them for specific tasks. For instance, yes, it’s possible to measure case wall thickness with a caliper, but it’s not very precise.

calipers
Hopefully you’ll be able to use your caliper to measure groups like these. It’s really the only tool you need to get them.

Check out Midsouth tools HERE

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s book Top-Grade Ammo. Available HERE at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

RELOADERS CORNER: Extending Barrel Life

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Good barrels aren’t cheap. Here are a few ideas on getting the most accurate life from your investment. READ MORE

barrel life
Flat-base bullets obturate more quickly than boat-tails, and that reduces some of the flame-cutting effect from propellant gases.

Glen Zediker

Rifle barrel chamber throat erosion was the topic last time, and mostly its causes and the effects. Short retake: The barrel “throat” is the area directly ahead of the case neck area cut into the chamber. This is the area that receives the majority of the “flame cutting” created by burning propellant gases. When a barrel “quits” it’s from deterioration in the throat. The greatest enemy to sustained accuracy is the steel surface roughness.

The throat is also advancing, getting longer, as the steel deteriorates; it’s wearing in little bit of a cone shape. The gap, or “jump,” the bullet has to cross before engaging the lands or rifling therefore is increasing, and also plays its part in poorer on-target performance. Last time I talked about using a gage to measure and record the actual amount of this increased gap. One way to preserve more consistent accuracy, which means not only group size on target but also shot impact locations (zero) is to adjust seating depth for the lengthening throat.

A chronograph also comes into this picture.

barrel life
Use this gage, along with a chronograph, to adjust the load to maintain the “same” as the barrel throat erodes. More propellant, longer cartridge length to maintain jump. GET ONE HERE

Routinely chronographing your load will show that velocity drops as the round count increases. Since the throat is getting longer (and slightly larger) there is more and more room for expanding gases. Pressure will, therefore, be lower and, along with that, so will bullet velocity.

Increasing the propellant charge to maintain original velocity is a tactic used by a good many good NRA High Power Rifle shooters. Bumping the charge in this way to maintain velocity is a safe and sound practice, by the way. I mention that because, over enough rounds, you might be surprised just how much change is needed. Middleton Tompkins, one of the true Jedi Masters of competitive rifle shooting, used this — propellant charge level increase — above all else to determine when a barrel was “done.” On a .308 Win., for example, when Mid was +2.0 grains to keep the same speed, that barrel became a tomato stake.

Moving the bullet forward to maintain the same amount of bullet jump, or distance to the lands somewhat offsets the result of reduced pressure and velocity as the throat lengthens, but, overall, and if it’s done in conjunction with bumping up the charge, both these tactics are a safe and sage help to preserve on-target performance for a few more rounds, maybe even a few hundred more rounds.

Either of these tactics, and certainly both together, requires a level of attention that many (like me) might not be willing to give. To actually see some reliably positive effect from maintaining velocity and jump consistency, you’ll need to make checks at least every 300 rounds. That’s a fair amount.

Another point I need to clarify is that moving the bullet out to maintain jump only matters to rounds that don’t have some magazine box overall length restriction. Otherwise, propellant charge for loads for rounds constructed with box restrictions can be wisely increased to maintain velocity, but the increased jump will take its toll on accuracy sooner than it would if jump could also be adjusted for.

Other Ideas
A few more ideas on keeping a barrel shooting better longer: Bullet choice can matter, if there’s a choice that can be made. Flat-base bullets will shoot better, longer in a wearing barrel. Trick is that when we need a boat-tail we usually need a boat-tail! Flat-base bullets “obturate” more quickly. Obturate means to “block,” and here it means to close a hole, which is a barrel bore, which means to seal it. The angled tail on a conventional boat-tail creates a “nozzle” effect intensifying the cutting effect. Flat-base will result in a longer barrel life, and, in the way I’m approaching it here, is that they also will extend the life of a barrel after erosion might otherwise have taken its toll. Erosion tends to, at least effectively, become exponential: the more it wears the faster it wears more. An obscure but well-proven boat-tail design does increase barrel life, and also usually shoots better though a worn throat, and that is a “rebated” boat-tail. This design has a 90-degree step down from the bullet body (shank) to the tail. It steps down before the boat-tail taper is formed. These obturate quickly. It is common for competitive shooters to switch from a routine boat-tail to a rebated design when accuracy starts to fall of. Sure enough, the rebated design brings it back for a couple hundred more rounds.

barrel life
Uncommon design, but very effective, all around: DTAC 6mm 115gr RBT (rebated boat-tail). The step-down to the tail mimics a flat-base in its capacity to seal the bore. It’s a sort of “best of both worlds” design.

A Welcome Set Back
Another common way to (really) extend barrel life for a bolt gun is to “set-back” the barrel. Pull the barrel, cut some off its back end, and then re-chamber and re-thread, and re-install. New barrel! Well, sort of. Given that there’s no significant wear on the barrel interior elsewhere, overwriting throat erosion does put that barrel almost back to where it started, except being overall shorter. That tactic works very well for chromemoly barrels but not so well for stainless steel. The difference is in the “machine-ability” of each steel. It is possible to set back a stainless barrel, but it’s difficult to then get a “chatterless” cut when the reamer engages. A little more usually needs to be removed to get good results with stainless, and this, of course, is making the barrel overall that much shorter. You have to plan ahead for a set-back, and that means including enough extra length to compromise. Usually it takes a minimum of 1 inch to get a worthwhile result with chromemoly.

In case you’re wondering, coated bullets don’t have any influence on throat erosion, but they do seem to shoot better through a roughening throat. Boron-nitride is the only bullet coating I will recommend.

barrel life
And make sure you’re not eroding your own barrel! Get a rod guide and a good rod and keep the rod clean! A log of throat damage can result otherwise.

One last for the semi-auto shooters. Throat erosion is also creating more volume to dissipate more pressure, which reduces the pressure that gets into the gas system. If you’re running an adjustable gas block, it’s liable to need readjustment, or, as also suggested, altering the propellant charge should likewise overcome any issues. This is one reason that savvy builders tended to increase gas port diameter on an NRA Service Rifle, for instance, to ensure good function after a fairly high number of rounds had done downrange.

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s book Top-Grade Ammo. Available HERE at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

REVIEW: Rossi SR22 Rifle

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At about $100, this may be the best inexpensive rifle on the market. It is certainly worth the money. READ MORE

Rossi RS22
The Rossi .22 rifle is a great buy and a good rifle at any price.

Hayward Williams

Like many of you I fired my first shots with a .22 rifle. It was some time before my grandfather allowed me to graduate from a single shot .22 to a self loading rifle. The .22 self loader is a great all around plinking, small game hunting, and training rifle. In many rural areas the .22 rifle is the first line of defense against predators both bipedal and quadraped. The Rossi RS22 is a among the most affordable. Despite a retail of less than one hundred and forty dollars the rifle not only performs well it is more attractive than the price tag would indicate. The Springfield and Stevens rifles I grew up with were the product of my grandfathers generosity and were well worn and older than I. I did not feel disadvantaged and took game and helped feed the family.

Rossi RS22
The red dot front sight offers excellent visibility.

The Rossi RS22 has options that were not available for any price in those days. As an example the rifle features an all weather synthetic stock. The target crowned 18 inch barrel is free floated for accuracy. The receiver is well machined and bears a close resemblance to the Marlin 60. The front sight features a bold fiber optic insert protected by a generous size hood. The hood doesn’t crowd the sight picture. Since these rifles get beat up in the field when used hard a hood is a good choice. The rear sight is a bonus in such an affordable rifle. The sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. The rear sight features dual green fiber optic inserts to contrast the red front insert. This is an instant sight picture if you are in a hurry, but precise if you need accuracy. A lot of .22 rifle shooting and small game hunting occurs around 25 yards. The rifle is properly regulated for this range. You do not need a tool to adjust the sights. If you prefer to mount a red dot sight or a rimfire type rifle scope the iron sights are easily removed.

Rossi RS22
While the rear sight offers fast acquisition it also offers real precision when properly lined up.

The Rossi RS22 is a standard blowback action like so many millions of others. The action is proven. The bolt features an extended cocking lever, an excellent option. The bolt locks open on the last shot. It requires only a push to the rear to release the bolt. The rifle features a ten round detachable box magazine. The magazine catch is positive in operation. While I began with tubular feed rifles and still use them, the detachable magazine is neat, reliable, and makes for a cleaner package. Remember the free floating barrel? The safety is positive in operation, located in the plastic trigger guard. The impressed checkering in the stock feels good in the hand. Checking trigger compression on the Lyman Electronic trigger gauge the trigger broke at a clean 6.25 pounds. This is a reasonable weight for a standard rimfire rifle. It is possible to do good work with this trigger and it is at a good weight for training young people.

Rossi RS22
The Rossi action isn’t an original, but is based on proven principles.

I really like this rifle. A good .22 is perhaps the most underrated of all rifles. The .22 kills game out of proportion to its size. The cartridge is affordable, accurate, and with the proper bullet, well suited to many chores. If there is such a thing as a one gun man- and I have known a few who owned but one rifle- the rifle is usually a .22 and the owner knows how to use it. .22 Long Rifle high velocity ammunition these days is much better than the loads I used as a pre teen hunting rabbit and squirrel- and ridding uncle Jimmy’s barn of destructive starlings. As an example the CCI Mini Mag HP breaks 1250 fps in the Rossi. But the CCI Velocitor was even faster at a hot 1340 fps. Function was excellent with each load. The CCI Stinger with its light 32 grain bullet was just over 1500 fps. This is serious smash for a rimfire.

Rossi RS22
These are sighting in shots at 25 yards.
Rossi RS22
The author held on the ear at 40 yards and fired twice. With a bit of sight adjustment he will be right on.

I have fired a tad over 1,200 cartridges in the Rossi, not a big deal for the time and small expensive involved. There have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject. This is unusual in my experience. A few years ago if you fired a thousand rounds of .22 LR, four or five or more would be misfires and fail to ignite. Rimfire quality is much better these days. The rifle is more than accurate enough for most chores. At 25 yards two inch five shot groups are easy to come by. After the initial familiarization with the rifle I took a solid firing position and carefully fired ten rounds at a long 50 yards. The rifle put all ten into right at 4 inches. With quality optics the rifle should be a solid two inch gun at 40 yards. The Rossi Rs22 is among the best buys in modern .22s and a solid performer well worth its modest price.

Note: the Rossi RS22 is very similar to its stablemate the Mossberg Plinkster, which is also made in Brazil. 25 yard magazines intended for the Plinkster will fit the Rossi. This makes the rifle even more fun.

See more HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: Barrel Throat Erosion

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How long does a barrel last? About 5 seconds. KEEP READING

throat erosion
Well, it’s hotter than this, but it’s flame cutting over time and distance, and hotter for longer is the issue.

Glen Zediker

As is by now common enough in this column I write, ideas for topics very often come from questions that are emailed to me. As always, I figure that if someone has a question they want answered, then others might also like to know the answer. This question was about barrel life and, specifically, this fellow had been reading some materials on the interweb posted by some misinformed folks on the topic of bullet bearing area and its influence on barrel life: “Is it true that using 110 gr. vs. a 150 gr. .308 bullet will extend barrel life because of its reduced bore contact?”

NO. Not because of that.

However! The answer is also YES, but here’s why…

Wear in a barrel is virtually all due to throat erosion. The throat is the area in a barrel that extends from the case neck area in the chamber to maybe 4 inches farther forward. Erosion is the result of flame-cutting, which is hot gas from propellant consumption eating into the surface of the barrel steel. Same as a torch. There is very little wear caused from passage of the bullet through the bore, from the “sides” of the bullet, from friction or abrasion. The eroding flame cutting is at or near the base of the bullet.

When the propellant is consumed and creates the flame, the burn is most intense closer to the cartridge case neck. There are a few influences respecting more or less effect from this flame cutting. Primarily, it’s bullet weight. Time is now the main factor in the effect of the flame cutting. Slower acceleration means a longer time for the more intense flame to do its damage.

The slower the bullet starts, and the slower it moves, the more flame cuts in a smaller area for a longer time.

Bullet bearing area, therefore, has an influence on erosion, but that’s because it relates to acceleration — greater area, more drag, slower to move.

The amount of propellant, and the propellant nature, do also influence rate of erosion. Some assume that since there’s more propellant behind a lighter bullet that would create more erosion, and that’s true, but that is also not as great a factor as bullet weight. Other things equal, clearly, more propellant is going to cut steel more than less propellant. A “lighter” load will have a decidedly good effect on barrel life.

throat erosion
It’s heavier bullets that have the most influence on shortening barrel life.

Heavier bullets, without a doubt, are a greater influence than any other single factor. “We” (NRA High Power Rifle shooters) always supposed that it was the number of rapid-fire strings we ran that ate up barrels the most, but that was until we started using heavier bullets and found out in short order that our barrels weren’t lasting as long. That was moving from a 70gr. to an 80gr. bullet.

The “nature” of propellant is a loose reference to the individual flame temperatures associated with different ones. There have been some claims of greater barrel life from various propellants, but, generally, a double-base will produce higher flame temperature.

Even barrel twist rate plays a role, and, again, it’s related to resistance to movement — slower start in acceleration. Same goes for coated bullets: they have less resistance and move farther sooner, reducing the flame effect just a little. And, folks, it’s always “just a little.” It adds up though.

There are bullet design factors that influence erosion. A steady diet of flat-base bullets will extend barrel life. There’s been a belief for years and years that boat-tail bullets increase the rate of erosion because of the way the angled area deflects-directs the flame. And that is true! However, it’s not a reason not to use boat-tails, just a statement. We use boat-tails because they fly better on down the pike, and, ultimately that’s a welcome trade for a few less rounds. An odd and uncommon, but available, design, the “rebated boat-tail” sort of splits the difference and will, indeed, shoot better longer (they also tend to shoot better after a barrel throat is near the end of its life).

The effects or influences of barrel throat erosion are numerous, but the one that hurts accuracy the most is the steel surface damage. It gets rough, and that abrades the bullet jacket. The throat area also gets longer, and that’s why it’s referred to as “pushing” the throat.

The roughness can’t much be done about. There are abrasive treatments out there and I’ve had good luck with them. Abrasive coated bullets run through after each few hundred rounds can help to smooth the roughness, but then these also contribute their share to accelerated wear. I guess then it’s not so much a long life issue, but a quality of life issue. I do use these on my competition rifles.

lnl gage
Use the Hornady LNL O.A.L. gage to record and then track barrel throat wear. This isn’t technically a “throat erosion gage,” which do exist, but I’ve found it an easy and reliable way to keep up with an advancing throat. As the seating depth gets longer, it’s indicating how far the throat is advancing. Get one HERE 

Keeping in mind that the throat lengthens as erosion continues, using something like the Hornady LNL tool shown often in these pages can let bullet seating depth that touches the lands serve as a pretty good gage to determine the progress of erosion. On my race guns, I’ll pull the barrel when it’s +0.150 greater than it was new. Some say that’s excessively soon, and a commonly given figure from others in my circle is +0.250. One reason I pull sooner is that I notice a fall-off in accuracy sooner than that since I’m bound by a box magazine length for my overall cartridge length for magazine-fed rounds with shorter bullets, and I’m already starting with a fairly long throat (“Wylde” chamber cut). And another is because gas port erosion is having some effect on the bullet also by that number of rounds. Which now leads into the “big” question.

So, then, how long does a barrel last? Get out a calculator and multiply how many rounds you get before pulling a barrel by how long each bullet is in the barrel and barrels don’t really last very long at all! At full burn, maybe 4-6 seconds, some less, or a little more.

Another misgiven “fact” I see running rampant is associated with comparing stainless steel to chromemoly steel barrels for longevity. Stainless steel barrels will, yes, shoot their best for more rounds, but, chromemoly will shoot better for an overall longer time. Lemmeesplain: the difference is in the nature of the flame cutting effect on these two steels. Stainless tends to form cracks, looking like a dried up lakebed, while chromemoly tends to just get rough, like sandpaper. The cracks provide a little smoother surface for the bullet to run on (until they turn into something tantamount to a cheese grater). The thing is that when stainless stops shooting well it stops just like that. So, stainless will go another 10 to 15 percent more x-ring rounds, but chromemoly is liable to stay in the 10-ring at least that much longer than stainless steel.

throat erosion
Stainless steel barrels keep their “gilt-edge” accuracy for about 15% more rounds, but hit the wall head-on and in a big way when they reach their limit. Chromemoly steel tends to open up groups sooner, but also maintains “decent” accuracy for a longer time, by my experience — the groups open more slowly.

Do barrel coatings have an effect? Some. A little. I’ve yet to see one that made a significant difference, or at least commensurate with its extra expense. Chrome-lined barrels do, yes, tend to last longer (harder surface), but they also tend not to shoot as well, ever. Steel hardness factors, but most match barrels are made from pretty much the same stuff.

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s book Top-Grade Ammo. Available HERE at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

REVIEW: Kel-Tec Model RDB17

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“Low budget, high value bullpup” so says the author. If that’s what you’re looking for, read all about this one HERE

kel tec rdbkel tec rdb

Wilburn Roberts

The Kel-Tec RDB17 could be considered the working man’s bullpup: nothing fancy, but it sure performs. The RDB17 is a no frills bullpup that is very functional with a simplistic approach.

Features and Function
The RDB17 is constructed of two polymer halves that sandwich around a steel action and barrel. The gas piston system has a gas regulator so a user can regulate the weapon to run on all sorts of ammunition and also be adjusted for a suppressor. The gas regulator can be adjusted with the open mouth from an empty 5.56 NATO case. It’s click adjustable and comes from the factory ready to run on standard M193 type ammo.

The RDB17 features a left side charging handle that is non-reciprocating. It locks against the forend when not being used. The cooking handle provides good leverage when cocking the weapon with the support hand on the charging handle and firing hand on the grip.

kel tec rdb
The charging handle folds out and provides plenty of leverage to cock the RDB.

The outside texture of the polymer features a very coarse grid pattern that is comfortable and offers plenty of grip purchase. A picatinny rail at 12 and 6 o’clock allow mounting of and optic or vertical grip.

kel tec rdb
The ambidextrous safety selector on the RDB17 is located under the thumb of the firing hand and easy to manipulate. The simple magazine release is designed so a magazine can be stripped away with the support hand.

The controls include an ambidextrous rotating safety selector that is easily manipulated by the thumb of shooing hand like an AR15, but requires less rotation than the typical AR15 selector. The magazine release lever is also suited for left or right hand users. The lever is designed so the magazine can fall free as the operator grasps the magazine to remove it since the operator’s hand naturally falls on it. The simple metal magazine release is pressed to drop or strip away the magazine.

Field stripping the Kel-Tec is simple. Push out two pins and it disassembles similar to an AR15. Rotate the grip downward and the barrel and bolt carrier can be removed from the stock/grip assembly.

The RDB uses a unique downward ejecting system. As the bolt move rearward the extractor pulls the cases out of the chamber and into dual ejectors that push the case down a chute so empties fall at the shooter’s feet.

kel tec rdb
That slot aft of the magazine is the ejection port on the RDB17. It dumps empties straight down.

The Kel-Tec comes with a 20-round magazine and is also compatible with standard AR15 magazines, which I and I’m sure many others will appreciate. I used Brownells’ aluminum body magazines, Magpul Pmags, and Hexmag, all 30-rounders.

Firing
I tested the Kel-Tec with a SIG Romeo4B red dot sight which excels at close to medium range. At ranges out to 100 yards the dot suffices and while most red dots tend to cover a lot of target at far distances the Romeo4B allows the user to toggle between four different reticles: 2 MOA dot, 2 MOA dot with ballistic holds, 2 MOA/65 MOA Circle Dot, or 2 MOA/65 MOA Circle Dot with ballistic holds. The ballistic holdover points are calibrated for 5.56 NATO and 7.62x51mm NATO rounds. An activated motion sensor immediately powers up illumination when the red dot senses motion and powers down when it does not in order to extend battery life. A nice feature for those of you like me who forget to turn off the red dot and find it dead the nest time you use it.

kel tec rdb
The SIG Romeo4B red dot was well suited to the RDB.

Three brands of ammunition were used including Aguila 5.56mm NATO with a 62-grain FMJ bullet, .223 Rem. Federal Fusion loaded with a 62-grain soft point, and SIG Sauer .223 Rem. ammo loaded with a 77-grain OTM Match bullet.

At 25 yards using a rest I could create one large hole in the target. At 100 yards and using the same rest the accuracy ranged between 2.5 to 3 MOA. In speed testing, the RDB17 ran well with no malfunctions. The handguard incorporates a ridge so your support hand does not get too close the muzzle. Hot brass falls at your feet. The trigger was not as refined as I would like, but usable.

kel tec rdb

The Kel-Tec is a basic bullpup that in my opinion and it will get the job done. If you have a need to own a bullpup and have a limited budget this would be an excellent option.

kel tec rdb

See more HERE

REVIEW & RETROSPECT: Colt’s AR 15 — Trail-Dirty Deeds and Off Road Shooting

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The author says the Colt’s is still the AR-style rifle by which all others are judged. READ WHY

colt ar15

Bob Campbell

There are several variations on the Colt’s AR 15 rifle. While I have my favorites any of the Colt’s will give long service in the harshest environments. It is like the old question of do you know the difference between an elephant and an ant? An ant can ride an elephant — many companies have done the AR 15 and some have done it well but the Colt’s is still the one that all others are judged by. On that subject the same may be said in spades concerning the Colt 1911. The pistol has been first with the most since 1911. While there are high grade handguns that are good examples of the maker’s art, those that cost less than the Colt are, well, cheaper guns.

colt ar15
This is the Colt’s LE carbine with standard forend.
colt ar15
This is the author’s long serving M4.

Field Test
I elected to go a field test of these guns. You have to get down and dirty sometimes. I appreciate my firearms but they are workers. I also love my shiny near new Jeep, but I took it across the Jeep Beach at the Outer Banks. That is what it is made for.

colt ar15
Note M4’s quad rail.
colt ar15
Each Colt’s features a birdcage type muzzle brake.

The Colt’s LE6940 was good enough to cause me to retire my long serving Colt’s HBAR. The LE6940 carbine is about as accurate in practical terms as the longer rifle and carries much easier. I like it better. With a flat top, a CNC machined 7075-T6 Aluminum forging, and Colt’s quality, this is a winning combination. A chrome lined bore, four position collapsible stock and the classic flash hider are all hallmarks of the carbine. It uses .0154 inch hammer and trigger pins so be certain to specify Colt when ordering an aftermarket trigger or parts. The chamber is a 5.56mm NATO, and the barrel twist is 1-7. The barrel is .750 inch diameter at the meeting of the gas block, slightly less the rest of its length. The trigger and safety are crisp in operation. One example is fitted with the XS sights rear aperture that allows using the conventional sight picture at longer range while using the sight notch at 7 yards. The Paul Howe designed CSAT makes for great utility for home defense use. The other sports a Redfield Battlezone optic.

colt ar15
The Colt’s collapsible stock is a good feature.

Firing Test
I fired 80 rounds in each rifle, firing from 25 to 100 yards, firing at quickly as I could regain the sight picture. The iron sighted rifle was by no means hopeless at the longer range but very fast at close combat range. The scoped rifle is a joy to fire and use at longer range. Both rifles, using PMag magazines, were completely reliable. The rifles have been fired extensively but this was the first outing with SIG Elite ammunition. The combination proved a happy one. I used the SIG 55 grain FMJ loading with good results. There were no function problems of any type.

colt ar15
The author really likes the XS rear sight. It is useful for close range and long range depending on which aperture is used.

The next step was firing for accuracy. I used the Sig Sauer Elite Match .223 Remington Open Tip Match (OTM) 77 grain E223M1-20 loading. This load has proven accurate in a number of rifles and I thought now was a good time to qualify its performance in the Colt rifle. I fired twenty cartridges in the open sighted Colt first. While I am not quite as sharp as I was once with iron sights I did well enough at a long 100 yards, placing three shots into groups of 1.7 to 3.0 inches. I suppose that is good enough for government work. The other Colt, with its optical sight, made things much easier. This time I realize the full accuracy potential of the loading. At 100 yards the Colt/SIG Ammo combination posted an average group of .88 inch, measuring the group from the center of each of the most widely spaced holes in the target. That is good enough to ride with.
Neither rifle was cleaned during this test.

sig 223 ammo
SIG Sauer Elite ammunition gave excellent results.

SEE MORE HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: Picking Propellants

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There are a whopping lot of propellants on the market. How do you choose one? Well, usually it’s more than one… READ WHY

PROPELLANT

Glen Zediker

All we ever really want is a propellant that provides high consistent velocity, small groups at distance, safe pressures over a wide range of temperatures, and burns cleanly, and, of course, it should meter perfectly. Dang. I know, right?

Ultimately, propellant choice often ends up as a compromise and it may well be that the smallest compromises identify the better propellants. Getting the most good from your choice, in other words, with the fewest liabilities.

There are two tiers of basics defining centerfire rifle propellant formulas. The granule form can be either spherical (round granules) or extruded (cylindrical granules). Next, the composition can be either single- or double-base. All propellants have nitrocellulose as the base; double-base stirs in some nitroglycerol to increase energy.

There’s been a good deal of effort expended and applied over the past several years to reduce the temperature sensitivity of propellant. Coatings come first to mind, and I use nothing but these “treated” propellants.

This attribute is very (very) important! It’s more important the more rounds you fire throughout a year. A competitive shooter’s score hinges on consistent ammunition performance. Test in Mississippi and then go to Ohio and expect there to be some change in zero, but a change in accuracy or a sudden excess of pressure and that’s a long trip back home. It’s common enough for temperatures to (relatively speaking) plummet on at least one day at the National Matches, so my 95-degree load has to function when it’s 50.

extruded propellant

Some are decidedly better than others in this. There are several propellants I’ve tried and will not use because I didn’t get reliable results when conditions changed. Some gave outstanding groups on target, on that day, at that hour, but went goofy the next month when it was +20 degrees. Heat and cold can influence pressure in a sensitive propellant.

Single-base extruded (“stick”) propellants are my first choice. A good example of one of those is Hodgdon 4895. These tend to be flexible in maintaining performance over a wider range of velocities, related to a wider range of charge weights. For instance, I’ll vary the charge weight of the same propellant for ammo for different yard lines. I’m reducing recoil or increasing velocity, depending on what matters more. Zero and velocity are different, but accuracy doesn’t change.

H4895
There are a few single-base extruded propellants that show impressive flexibility in load levels as well as in different round structures. This is one of the most flexible I’ve used, and I use a lot of it!

Spherical or “ball” propellants (these are double-base) are a good choice for high-volume production, and also tend to be a great choice for highest velocities at safe pressures. These meter with liquid precision. They, however, tend to be less flexible. That means they tend to work best at a set and fairly finite charge and don’t do as well at much less or more than that, and especially at much less than that. More in a minute.

spherical propellant
Spherical propellants tend to be volume sensitive. My experience has been they’ll perform best when the fill level is a good 90-percent. That means there’s a little smaller gap between one that’s good with, say, 50gr bullets and one that works well with 60s. It’s likely to be two propellant choices, not just one. Generally, spherical propellants do their best when loaded near-to-max.

Double-base extruded propellants (sometimes called “high-energy”) do, yes, produce higher velocities at equal pressures compared to single-base but also tend to be less flexible and exhibit performance changes along with temperature changes. Vihta-Vuori and Alliant are the best known for their formulations in these. Double-base usually burns at a hotter temperature (not faster or slower, just hotter) and can increase throat erosion rate. Some double-base spherical propellants claim to burn cooler. I’m not certain that this is a huge selling point, either way, for a serious shooter, but, there it is.

VV540
Double-base extruded propellants are mighty fuels, but, they tend GENERALLY to be more temperature sensitive and also burn hotter. Now. That’s not always true (I think NONE one of this is always true). With Viht. you can have a choice of double- or single-base in the same essential burning rate; N140 is single-base, N540 is double.

All propellants are ranked by burning rate. That’s easy. That’s just how quickly the powder will consume itself. All reloading data manuals I’ve seen list propellant data in order from faster to slower. For instance, if you’re looking at .223 Remington data and start off with tables for 40-grain bullets, you’ll see faster propellants to start the list than you will moving over to the suggestions for 75-grain bullets.

It’s tough to find a perfect propellant for a wide range of same-caliber bullet weights. Faster-burning propellants tend to do better with lighter bullets and slower-burning tends to get more from heavier bullets. That’s all about pressure and volume compatibility. Again, I have found that a single-base extruded propellant will work overall better over, say, a 20-plus-grain bullet weight range than a single choice in a spherical propellant.

scale pan with powder
Extruded propellants vary greatly in granule size, and, usually, the smaller the better. More precise metering. This is VV540, strong stuff, meters well. There are a few now that are very (very) small-grained (like Hodgdon Benchmark).

The idea, or at least as I’ll present my take on it, is that we want a fairly full case but not completely full. I don’t like running compressed loads (crunching a bullet down cannot be a good thing), and excessive air space is linked to inconsistent combustion. We ran tests upmteen years ago with M1As and found that out. Many details omitted, but here was the end: Settling the propellant back in the case prior to each shot absolutely reduced shot-to-shot velocity differences (the load was with a 4895, necessary for port pressure limits, and didn’t fully fill the case).

Generally, and that’s a word I’ll use a lot in this (and that’s because I know enough exceptions), spherical propellants have always performed best for me and those I share notes with when they’re running close to a max-level charge. More specifically, not much luck with reduced-level charges.

Too little spherical propellant, and I’m talking about a “light” load, can create quirky pressure issues. Workable loads are fenced into in a narrower range. This all has to do with the fill volume of propellant in the capped cartridge case, and, as suggested, that’s usually better more than less. That further means, also as suggested, there is less likely to be one spherical propellant choice that’s going to cover a wide range of bullet weights. That’s also a good reason there are so many available.

With some spherical propellants, going from a good performing load at, say 25 grains, and dropping to 23 can be too much reduction. One sign that the fill volume is insufficient is seeing a “fireball” at the muzzle. Unsettling to say the least.

Spherical propellants also seem to do their best with a “hot” primer. Imagine how many more individual coated pieces of propellant there are in a 25-grain load of spherical compared to a 25-grain charge of extruded, and it makes sense.

However! I sho don’t let that stop me from using them! I load a whopping lot of spherical for our daily range days. We’re not running a light load and we’re not running heavy bullet. We are, for what it’s worth, running H335.

So, still, how do you choose a propellant? Where do you start? I really wish I had a better answer than to only tell you what I use, or what I won’t use. There are a lot of good industry sources and one I’ve had experience with, including a recent phone session helping me sort out Benchmark, is Hodgdon. You can call and talk with someone, not just input data. Recommended.

When it’s time, though, to “get serious” and pack up for a tournament, I’m going to be packing a box full of rounds made with a single-base extruded propellant that meters well. As mentioned before in these pages, I have no choice in that, really. I’ll only run the same bullet jackets and same propellant through the same barrel on the same day. I need a propellant that works for anything between 70- and 90-grain bullets.

With time comes experience, and I know I sure tend to fall back on recollections of good experiences. I admittedly am not an eager tester of new (to me) propellants. I have some I fall back on, and those tend to be the first I try with a new combination. There are always going to be new propellants. That’s not a static industry. I may seem very much stuck in the past, but I no longer try every new propellant out there. I like to have some background with a propellant, meaning I’ve seen its results in different rifles and component combinations. Mostly, I ask one of those folks who tries every new propellant…

There is a lot of information on the internet. You’re on the internet now. However! There’s also not much if anything in the way of warranty. If you see the same propellant mentioned for the same application a lot of times, take that as a sign it might work well for you. Do not, however, short cut the very important step of working up toward a final charge. Take any loads you see and drop them a good half-grain, and make sure the other components you’re using are a close match for those in the published data.

One last: Speaking of temperature sensitivity: Watch out out there folks. It is easily possible for a round to detonate in a rifle chamber if it’s left long enough. Yes, it has to be really hot, but don’t take a risk. A rash of rapid-fire can create enough heat. Make sure you unload your rifle! Here’s an article you might find interesting.

CHECK OUT CHOICES AT MIDSOUTH
Hodgdon
Shooters World
Vihtavuori
Alliant

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s book Top-Grade Ammo. Available HERE at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

 

Washington: New Lead Regulations Would Target Shooting Ranges

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Stricter regulations could mean great expense for shooting ranges and retailers. We’ll keep up with this one, but here’s where it starts… READ MORE

lead on ranges

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries Division of Occupational Safety & Health (DOSH) has released an updated draft of the lead rules they originally released last year following stakeholder meetings. These proposed regulations will impose complicated and expensive burdens on shooting ranges and retailers, potentially making it difficult for some to continue operations. DOSH will be holding additional stakeholder meetings to discuss these proposed regulations. Shooting ranges are vital to the safe practice and exercise of our constitutionally protected Second Amendment right to self-defense, and maintaining access to shooting ranges is a top priority for NRA.

Existing federal and state law already provides extensive regulation of lead in the workplace. In addition to the federal requirements under the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington also has regulations in place regarding workplace lead exposure and has enforced these regulations through inspections and citations. This draft regulation proposes new and much more demanding requirements that significantly exceed compliance under existing law without providing any clarification on their need. Furthermore, there have been no economic impact studies on the effect these regulations will have on small businesses.

Your NRA will continue to actively participate as a stakeholder in the development of these new rules in meetings with the Department of Labor and Industries. We will provide ongoing input on the impact the proposal will have on gun ranges, retailers, and our shooting community.